Boats on The River
Scenery from Huzhou
My last entry was a little pointless, but I've been feeling guilty for not posting much recently, and in truth thats because life has just been slow and steady. The routine of teaching and working life has settled into almost mundane, I'm constantly lesson planning or trying to find new ways to get the students to talk. I'm challenged everyday with what I've come to call selective shyness and life seems to hold little time for travelling, at the end of the week I'm exhausted and really don't fancy spending hours on a bus, battling the language barriers and ending up lost in a strange city, only to leave the following day feeling embittered and having seen so little and having rested none.
Enough of my complaining however, as last week gave me the chance to do join the school for some domestic tourism. The students have had their nose to the grindstone for weeks, preparing and revising for their mid-term exams and after a week of solid exams they were rewarded with a trip. As all school trips are, this was mainly educational and involved a trip to Shaoxing and the home of famous Chinese poet Lu Xun. Lu
On the bus to Shaoxing
Xun is considered to be the founder of modern Chinese literature, he wrote short stories, essays, aswell as poetry written in both vernacular and classical Chinese. In the 1930's Lu Xun became head of The League of the Left-Wing Writers and Mao Zedong himself proclaimed to be a life long fan of his work. Despite his left leaning tendencies Lu Xun remained primarily liberal. From what I saw in Shaoxing, Lu Xun came from a relatively wealthy, educated family and many of his works are translated into English for those of you interested. (Although his name may be either Lu Xun or Lu Hsun).
I found the trip rather whirlwind, and I wonder if the domestic tourists actually experience anything of the place they visit. This sounds rather negative again, yet I don't mean it offensively. Its a little like those whistle stop tours of Europe, ones where you return with photographs of you by The Eiffel Tower, The Leaning Tower of Pisa, The Vatican, Big Ben and souvenir t-shirts proclaiming your love for a city you spent less than 12 hours in. Please excuse my snobbery, but this is what it felt like to me. When I visit
On the bus to Shaoxing
somewhere I hate being rushed around, told which way to go and when to do it, my distate for authorative tour guides with giant umbrellas and tourists with matching caps was greatly emphasised by actually being part of one! (No I didn't have a hat!).
We arrived at Lu Xun's home a little after 9 and left just after 11, when we moved onto a beautiful park. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the park, but it was huge and wonderfully breathtaking. The park itself was traditionally Chinese in it's layout and architecture, with lakes and canals and an impressive stone buddha in the middle of a lake. I would have like to explore a little more as there was a temple climbing carefully into the mountainside. Yet I was sheparded away from the beauty and peace of the shaded monastry and towards the crowded tourist trap mock town. Where I sat with the students, eating and drinking little snacks.
The day was long, and hot and I arrived back in Huzhou, hot, sticky, and only slightly glowing pink. I was exhausted and glad all I had to do that evening was chill
At Lu Xun's home town
infront of the telly watching the Royal Wedding with a glass of beer. The weekend that followed was a bit of nightmare in some respects and just bloody fabulous in others. First of all my phone began acting crazy and then completely died Sunday morning. Which meant I had to brave the insanity of May Day in the city centre. The weather had been stunning all weekend, and with a holiday on Monday people were out en masse all weekend. Free time in China is spent in a number of ways, but the biggest two are eating and shopping. Shopping is HUGE! The reality of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is not what I had imagined and in many ways China is very like the UK, the consumer culture here can be quite fascinating. My favourite and the most enjoyable part is always the haggling. Although is sometimes quite difficult with my lack of Chinese language skills. I have however got 'Tai gui le!' down to a T and I'm sort of getting the numbers. When people ask me if I speak Chinese I always answer "Yi dien" which means a litle, and then in English I always say very badly!
Chinese Pop Art
So Sunday morning I braved the may day madness and went in search of a new phone, a swimming costume and food for the week. It was crazy busy, and people were everywhere, haggling for bargains, shopping for gifts, sales and sunshine transformed the city into a hive of shoppers and I stupidly had lemminged along and joined the craziness. And glad I was too, as I managed to get a new phone a swimming costume and something I had been craving for weeks and weeks...CHEESE!
Strange as it sounds but Chinese people just don't eat dairy products, milk, yoghurt and cheese are luxury, expensive items and a small block of cheddar is about 35Y a triangle of brie is about 50Y and a tub of camembert costs just over 60Y. Insane prices and luckily when I bought my brie it had been reduced as it was just out of date, that night I can honestly say I was the happiest person alive. Brie, bread, balsmic vinegar. Sheer Heaven!
I have since eaten two full blocks of brie, a block of cheddar and 4 loaves of bread. Gluttony has taken control of me!
Tot: 2.548s; Tpl: 0.055s; cc: 9; qc: 49; dbt: 0.0406s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb