Blogs from Jining, Shandong, China, Asia

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Asia » China » Shandong » Jining October 17th 2010

My water had been severed, my new apartment invaded, leaving me in a state of being chronically apalled by the insanity and stupidity around me. But what I went though was nothing--and I mean NOTHING--compared to what happened next. I had put in my three weeks notice four weeks prior. Knowing that my time in Jining was growing short, I had been discussing my options with my people in Cambodia; after what I had witnessed over the last ten days, I was frankly considering just pulling a midnight run and disappearing off the face of the earth. Then I received an email from Cambodia, informing me that they had a potential job for me if I could make it in for an interview on Monday morning. This was Friday night, mind you; whic... read more

Asia » China » Shandong » Jining October 12th 2010

When last you heard from me, I was holed up in a hotel and in a state of total outrage. The school had 24 hours to solve my water crisis. And, actually, they did, at least by about 90%. I moved into a new apartment which is about the size of our house in Cincinnati. Hardwood floors, a living room with two couches, a kitchen sink with warm water, etc. The internet works faster than my other apartment. Nice place except for the lack of a functioning fridge. If I had known that throwing a big stink would get me these sort of arrangements, I would have done it a lot sooner. The thing is, though... The thing is. I hadn't been here for three days, when I received a knock on the door. Some people ... read more

Asia » China » Shandong » Jining October 7th 2010

I have, in one way or another, informed my readers about my increasingly decrepit apartment. Although it became increasingly frustrating to have to deal with an exploding A/C unit, a moveable washing machine, a leaky toilet, and defunct kitchen/bathroom circuitry that forced me to choke on smoke and shower in the dark (to name just a few) I was able to find ways around them, especially as I was promised a new apartment before the last day in September. It is now October. Am I in a new apartment? No, I am in a hotel. Like I said, I became increasingly frustrated with my apartment--problems were reported and either "fixed" or ignored entirely. I put up with it. But there was one thing I could not--under any circumstances--possibly--accept or tolerate: They severed my water supply. The ... read more

Asia » China » Shandong » Jining October 6th 2010

I is an English teacher now. Today will be my third day of teaching, and I am starting to get the hang of it. (OK, not really.) Putting the kids at ease, making them laugh and helping them with their pronunciation is not a problem; I seem to have natural teaching ability. After all, I was severely reprimanded in the fifth grade for being the "class buffoon". There are, of course, obstacles that are a challenge. For example, cultural habits that inhibit individuality and independent thought are one of the roadblocks for the Western teachers here. These kids have always learned by rote; they have always recited as a group. In Berkeley "schools", it was the exact opposite. I am drawing a lot from my history as a bored pupil, my general distrust of teachers and ... read more
Story time

Asia » China » Shandong » Jining October 4th 2010

The last couple of days have been a blur. My body clock is upside and needs new batteries. I landed, was met at the airport and transported in a new, mid-sized Nissan to the small town of Yutai, which is south of Jining, Shandong. Try and find it on a map. Go on, I dare you. My apartment is shared and dumpy, which is fitting. It's a three bedroom on the second floor of a dusty apartment badly in need of paint. I have my own room. It has most mod cons: Wi-Fi, A/C, washing machine, clothes line, TV, hot water dispenser. Right now, I am sharing the apartment with my mentor (Jasmine) and the school director, a young chap whose name sounds something like "Mr. Zheoung". Eventually, the other foreign teacher will arrive and a ... read more
Haircut
My place of employment!

Asia » China » Shandong » Jining October 3rd 2010

YES!! I have the POWER! I have finally obtained a set of wheels with which I may navigate the illustrious city of Jining! You can see the picture of it over there, faithfully docked in the walkway. It's not mine. Actually, it used to belong to a coworker, but he took off after summer term and left the bike sitting in the back room at school. I was awarded my Octoberly mooncakes and a 5kg tankard of cooking oil, and having no other way to get them home, I simply put them in the bike's basket, took the keys, and sailed on home. You don't really forget how to ride a bike, but when you haven't ridden in five years and have 11 pounds of oil klonking around in the basket beneath your handlebars, steering becomes ... read more

Asia » China » Shandong » Jining September 29th 2010

I have been busy taking care of loose ends, split ends and stuffing my green bag. Once again, let me thank the Jason at Eagle Creek for ensuring such a quality product. My host at the Blue Sky Tengfei English Mill has been holding my hand, virtually, from Jining. She is reassuring, as are my friends who are more excited about this than I am and are more convinced of my abilities. Last minute calls to wish me luck (and to also inquire as to just where the hell, exactly, I am going). This is what I know: Shandong province is sorta in between Beijing and Shanghai. Besides being the birthplace of Confucius, it is the province where Tsingtao beer is brewed. However, I won't be anywhere near the coast or the brewery. Instead, I will ... read more

Asia » China » Shandong » Jining September 28th 2010

Finally...FINALLY...after living in Jining for upwards of six months, and never once bothering to explore the city...I finally explored the city. Seeing my impending status as a quitter of Jining, and having a fellow couchsurfer come down to the city, I knew the opportunity to explore was ripe. I might have learned the city earlier, Dubai-style, by taking buses to the back of beyond and then returning...but when the city's main attraction points are the ferris wheel and the coal-fired power plant...when just walking around outside is an excruciating rendez-vous with public embarrassment...and when you can't really defend yourself with language...well, I didn't really have any incentives to do it earlier. But I did yesterday! I showed my guest around town, and in the process learned a few things about my city. For instance, we discovered ... read more
Through the Gate
Circular Doorway
Dragons and Eggs

Asia » China » Shandong » Jining September 27th 2010

Haven't left for China yet. I am sitting outside this evening at my summer home in the Gold Country of California. It's not my home, an old friend is letting me couch-surf before I depart. I don't actually have a home, having moved out of my lovely ghetto house in Richmond, CA, after fifteen years. Good riddance to the high crime city! No more Police sirens and boom-boom cars. My best friend (Maggie the dog) drove away today. I teared up. She is my buddy, and we have slept together for the last four years. I am confident that she will adjust well to her new home. I just hope to be back in six months to be with her again. This was the hardest part so far. As I put her in my friend's car, ... read more

Asia » China » Shandong » Jining September 18th 2010

Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have. For instance if you wake up to the sound of twittering birds, and find yourself in an enormous canopy bed, with a butler standing next to you holding a breakfast of freshly made muffins and hand-squeezed orange juice on a silver tray, you will know that your day will be a splendid one. If you wake up to the sound of church bells, and find yourself in a fairly big regular bed, with a butler standing next to you holding a breakfast of hot tea and toast on a plate, you will know that your day will be O.K. And if you wake up to the sound of somebody banging ... read more




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