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Published: December 1st 2007
Time in An Ren with it's one main road, motor bikes, lorry trucks passing through with incredibly loud horns beeping at everything and anything even if it's 200 meters ahead; With my kind grandma neighbour and her grandson who bring me chestnuts by the bowl full weekly and just recent brought over freshly made Chinese pancakes; To the kind lady who cooks us as close to a homecooked meal as we get here; To the husband and wife who own the dumpling store on the corner, where we have been saying yi ger jou zer asking for a serving of dumplings, but it really means can we please have 1 dumpling... But they never laugh; To the average person walking down the street that nearly jumps out of their skin to see a Waigoren (foreigner). Life here opens my heart and as long as I am flexible and always take a sense of humor with me, life is comfortable with many enjoyable experiences.
The English Department are a very close group of people. They often do things together like picnics, bike rides, KTV and of course playing cards which I think is manditory to stop the boredom around these parts.
Dana and i went walking to explore our town. We walked along a dusty road in the back streets when a lady came out with almost perfect english and asked if we wanted to go into her shop. We were like, ok. It was a beauty parlour. Then she said she would like to give us a facial for free. YES! Then came the payment. She wanted to take photos of us. Now there is an enlarged poster of our pretty faces proudly hanging in the entrance of her shop. Does that mean her shop is now international?
Im still having a weekly hairwash where they only charge 10 yuan (A$1.50) for an hours worth of luxury. I try to give them more money each time but they just wont have it. Also a weekly massage. I have found a new massage shop where the massures are blind and they are wonderful and incredibly friendly. They happily chat away to me in Chinese while I acknowledge them every now and then with an oh, mm, ah. I know how to say pain in Chinese, so if I say Ton they know it means pain and at first they
thought I was saying there is pain there so go harder when i actually meant that is painful pleeeease stop.
I often go to a foot massage house too. It's quite interesting as I think it is more of a foot wash than a foot massage. Because many peole dont have running water in their homes I think they go to the foot wash place for hygiene. It's not much of a massage as they cut the toenails with a rasor blade and scrap the foot clean over and over, it tickles but feels delightful afterwards.
Usually a Friday night involves having a few beers or wines on the veranda, listening to favourite tunes through an open window, then off to the dumpling garage for a couple of servings of dumplings and yi ping Pi Jiu (one bottle of beer) or maybe more. Then off to try on any kind of sparkling, diamented, frilly, furry, decorated chinese fashioned clothes we can find. Laughing hysterically at how beautiful we look. Once or twice we have gate crashed innocents singing Kareoke. I love KTV (Kareoke) now. Im a terrible singer but I love the stage. Our night usually finishes by
visiting our beef on a stick guy would cooks us delicious, you guessed it, beef (I hope) on a stick.
My English is slowly changing to Chenglish. I have to be so careful that i dont pick up habits such as saying egga (egg) sah (s) or In-ge-lish (English). In this small town the local dialect is more common than Putonwah (Mandarin).
October long weekend or the golden week as it's sometimes called because everything is so damn expensive came and went with me staying at home for the 9 day holiday. I left my plans too late and it was going to be very expensive. Instead i stayed at school, helped some Grade 12 students and played a bit of Badminton with the kids. For me it pretty much came and went without event.
But we did get away to Hengshan, or Mount Heng a couple of weeks ago. It's the second most spiritual mountain in China, with about 10 - 15 temples located on it. Both Taoist and Buddist monks live peacefully beside each other. We took a private taxi to the foot of the mountain which is about 3 hours from our hometown. On
the first day we hiked 3 hours to Ban Shan (Middle mountain). We stayed in student accomodation and woke up very early the next day and caught a motor bike taxi for 20 minutes up through the clouds in the dark. Then walked for 2 hours in the dark to the top of the mountain to see the sunrise. I wish I could tell you how spectacular it was but the morning turned out to have terrible weather, foggy, raining and cloudy. So we didnt really get to see much at all. But it was a joy to be surrounded by nature again and to breathe in the fresh air.
My homesickness got very bad recently and I needed to get away. My students had mid semester exams and i took Monday off so i went away for 6 days. A well needed break from country life. I went to Yangshou where the company I work through is located. They are very kind and treat me like family.
On the first day back in Yangshou I was taken to lunch to The Mountain Retreat where many conferences are held. It is a quiet location about a 20 minute
drive off the main road and set overlooking a river. In the afternoon I sat outside in the sun and peace and quiet and watched the lazy river go by. The air was fresh, the grass green and the water clear. It was the first peace of quietness I had experienced in a long time and it touched me to the core.
Everyday I ate a hamburger ~ so unlike the Daniella I am at home, but i craved it. Good coffee, Aussie Beer, a Margaret River Chardonnay. It was heaven. Yangshou is a tourist town and the main market / shopping area is on a cobble stoned road. It has such character.
While I was away I missed the friends that I have in Anren. My friends here are so kind and patient with me. They have welcomed me into their lives like family. Welcoming my into their kitchens to learn Chinese cooking, welcoming me into the hospital to visit their sick family members and taking me on family outings to the countryside. I feel honoured to be apart of their lives.
If its a lucky day by the lunar calendar fireworks and firecrackers go off
constantly throughout the day and night, I don't think I will ever get used to it. I often wake me up in shock as an extra loud cracker goes off outside my window. I've missed a few heart beats through the night. A lucky day means a good day to move house, so people will start moving house at around 4AM to get everything moved on the lucky date.
A couple of weeks ago we were interviewed at the police station for nearly 2 hours. Turns out we are working here illegally. My working visa is registered in Guangxi Province, where I worked before, but now I am in Hunan Province. My first thought was cool, can I go back to Australia now? I think the police woman was a little shocked at my response. But all is ok and the school is sorting it out.
There were 4 murders in this town and the school said we couldnt go out of the school grounds after dark unless accompanied by a teacher. It gets dark at 5.30 here, so I doubt that's gonna happen!
Besides that, life continues with no real happenings. We go to KTV weekly,
Happy Birthday Dana
Having a party at KTV of course
gunbei beers all night and go to class everyday, we chat with the students and I really like teaching and love my students. I go to the market, I buy bottles of red wine that are made from European grapes. A decent drop, at last! I've found Dove chocolate and nescafe coffee which im addicted to as they seem to be the only thing that gives me a sense of home.
Winter is here, it's a minimum of 3 degrees here today. But the sky is always blue and the sun shines during the day. Sitting on the verandah is a delight during my 4 hour break between my morning lessons and afternoon lessons, the sun shining on my face, the birds singing in the trees and military music echoes in the backgroung. 😊
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