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Published: December 20th 2009
Thorn between two roses
Merry Christmas to all.... from Elaine, our Chinese teacher, Dianne and Peter.... This shot was taken at the Maple Leaf Christmas Party, a good time for all.
We have not disappeared since our last blog which described our Yangtze River cruise at the end of September. We just haven't been anywhere but have been busy. On several weekends we take the QingGui down to Dalian and wander around seeing the sights, visiting markets and attending Church. Since I am not burdened with a job I get to scout out many locations so we can find things on our trips together.
I volunteered to help with the ESL Club, a group that meets after school to play card and board games and basically just have a good time talking English. We have played many card games that are popular in Canada but we seem to have hit on a winner: Junior Monopoly. Personally I really don't like "real" Monopoly and got the "Junior" game to play with the grandchildren. I thought it worth the effort to try it with the boys and those who have played really enjoy it. I give them the choice of what games we play and the last couple of times we met, this is the one they chose. It's fun to listen to them explain the game to each other and how fast
The Christmas season is definitely upon us. One of the benefits of our steel doors is that we can put up lots of the Christmas pictures Lise and Claire prepared for us when we were in Canada this past summer. Many people have commented on how they enjoyed the ones posted on the outside if this door. Being held on by magnets, they can be changed every few days, great excitement!
they recognize the good things that happen, as well as the bad. I have actually started to enjoy it again! I think I will have to pick up another JM game when we are back in Canada as the interest is there! One of the new boys was talking to another boy as I locked up at the end of Club. "I like this Club" he said. Boy, I felt like a million bucks! The last thing we do each session is play a version of “31”… I deal one card at a time to each boy until they all have 3 cards. The one with the highest total gets the grand prize: a Chocolate bar! The “losers” get some smaller chocolates that I buy by the huge bag. They seem to enjoy this aspect of Club … and almost invariably, the winner wants to share the bar with me!
One thing that really has struck us here is how friendly the local people are. They go out of their way to communicate with us even if they don't speak any English. And they are impressed with our attempts to speak Chinese. Today, we were trying to decide if
I'm lovin' it!
No, this is not a McDonald's location but the lobby of the hotel where we had the staff Christmas Party. The Chinese have certainly learned how to decorate for Christmas.
a bottle of something was liquid soap or bleach. Some of the things in the store have limited English. The Skippy peanut butter jar has one word of English (other than Skippy). It is "creamy". This had none. One of the shop assistants came over and pointed to the white patches on my jacket to tell us it was bleach! Another day, I was trying to go through a door at the Post Office. I had used this door many times before but no luck that day. Then an older fellow came over and grabbed my arm and took me over to the door on the other side of the entrance way and made sure I knew where to go. All with not a word of English spoken.
We do feel truly blessed. Dianne has a great job, I don't have to work, we have a nice apartment, we get to fly home twice a year, the cost of living here is a fraction of what it is in Canada, and we get lots of time to travel. We don't get to see as much of the children and grandchildren as we would like but when we compare it
We have managed to get into Dalian a couple of times in December to attend the Catholic Church services there. We usually attend the English service on Saturday but have gone to the 11:30 Sunday service which is done entirely in Korean. They certainly know how to celebrate and some of the hymns have familiar tunes even if the words are different.
to what many here have to face, we are lucky. Many husbands and wives live in different cities and can only get together two or three times a year. The husband of one of our Chinese teachers is in the army and just moved to one of the autonomous territories for what could be four years. They have a son just over a year old and he will only be able to see Dad once a year unless she moves there too. But that is away from other family support.
Many people here have tough jobs. We like to shop at the local outdoor markets. These people are outside all day selling their fruits, vegetables or whatever regardless of the weather. Right now that is pretty miserable. Very sunny but extremely cold, especially when the wind is blowing (it always is). We are pretty sure their apartments are heated no better than ours which is pretty pathetic. We at least can afford to buy space heaters and run them as needed but when you are selling lettuce for 2 kuai (35 cents) for a big bag you don't have much revenue to pay the bills. Tough business but they
So, is your turkey fresh?
While we were walking through a street market in Dalian last week we ran into a vendor offering these birds for sale. I guess some people like their chickens really fresh! We still prefer to deal with the Chicken Lady in Manjiatan where the birds are cleaned and cut up.
are always cheerful when we deal with them. They are always amused by the fact we bring our own plastic bags to carry the veggies home.
One of our favourite diversions has been reading. Dianne just finished “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (http://www.threecupsoftea.com/). She was talking to a couple of boys after class one day and the topic of reading came up. One boy asked what she read most of the time. She replied that she read a lot of novels but had just finished a book about a chap who built many schools in the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan. “That sounds like Three Cups of Tea” he said. He was reading it in Chinese and they were at about the same place in the book. She strongly recommends it.
The school librarian recommended anything by Bill Bryson. “In a Sunburned Country” was the only one in the library here. It is the story of his travels though Australia and is well worth a read. Dianne is currently reading it and says it won’t take long because I had already read her most of it. Ouch.
I have just started
This picture could have been taken at our Christmas party too. At both celebrations beautiful birds well cooked with all the trimmings we could ask for. Plus a few Chinese delicacies, some of which we couldn't identify. They certainly know how to put on a feast for the Canadian visitors.
reading a book I was able to download from the Internet: ”Beyond the Edge of the Road”. Reading a book online is a new experience. Not as easy to read in bed as a hard copy. It is the story of a couple who spent the winter in an unheated cabin “up north”. It was written by a friend of ours and based on the first two chapters as well as his last book, “Three Seasons in the Wind” it will be enjoyable. You don’t have to be a canoe enthusiast or a lunatic for winter to enjoy these stories. In a previous blog entry, I mentioned Kathleen and Michael Pitt had moved from waterfront on Pender Island to the hinterlands of Saskatchewan where they now live with four huskies. Based on what we see on the internet about prairie weather this year maybe we will see another book soon!
(both are available through www.amazon.ca!)
We are finally going on another adventure. This year it is Christmas in Beijing. At Church last week, we met a Chinese couple from Canada who are currently living in Beijing. They gave us the low down on great Churches to visit in the
How cold is it here? it is so cold that when Dianne hung her sweater outside to dry it froze solid before any water dripped onto the ground!
capital city. I Google Mapped (is that really a verb) South Cathedral and it is 3 kilometres from our hotel. Who’d have thought we would visit a Church in Beijing on Christmas. Wow.
We just get back from that and will be heading off to Harbin over New Year’s for the Ice Festival. Then it’s back to Canada in mid-January where we hope to touch base with many of you over our Winter Holiday. If we can’t, Dianne and I would like to wish you the best for a holy and happy holiday season and a great 2010!
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