Well well well (3 holes in the ground lol no seriously). It has been a while so I thought I should fill yall in on a few things that I have been doing. So since the anarchy that was AFL there has been a few things, the end of my teaching grade 2 , a trip to Huaning (华宁) with a couple of students to meet their families and see their home towns, Wednesday night hilarities a water festival and seeing white people!! :P
The end of grade 2 teaching.... for now
Well I had to swap my classes this week, so no more grade 2 students for the next month, grade one it is. It was soooo sad when I told them that it was our last lesson for the next month. Some of them looked like I had told them that the tree outside had fallen over onto their house, others looked like I had just told them that their mother had died, a few times we almost cried!! Don't really want to swap the classes, love the grade 2 kids, they were soooo much fun and so funny it is virtually impossible to put it into words.
Well Wednesday nights are now officially my favorite night of the week! I hope it continues to tell the truth. What happens Wednesday night is that students study from 7.30pm-11pm by themselves in their class rooms, and this Wednesday night a student from my favorite class (Class 4, G2) came to the flat and invited me to come up and help them with some of their English homework, help read the texts etc. Well all I can say is that did not happen. Got there, everyone was screaming "yay" Zoe's back!!" hahaha so funny, love it when they get all excited. So 10 mins in and the "homework" had been done (health anyone?? *yawn*) so we started off with a song; "teach us a song that you learn as a kid" so kookaburra on the electric wire it was, actions included. soooo friggin hilarious!!! Followed by some happy snaps from my laptop, so some (relatively) flattering ones from schoolies, 18ths, Dandiya, "celebration day" and any other random ones that were on my computer, including ones of Melbourne and the Yarra Valley. They seemed to like it, thought Lily and April were so cute and that Sarah was my OLDER sister cause she is tall, twice as funny to see the looks on their faces when I told them she was their age. :P
The evening went until 11pm (been there since 7.30pm) fun as hell, love it, had a talent competition, talked about school life, their future dreams and how much they had changed since they were kids and got taught the national anthem etc. smart bunch of kids, sad that I'm not officially teaching them again for a month.
Huaning was absolutely AMAZING! Got the bus there, 2.5hrs through some pretty awesome scenery. Got there, it was really hot!! Huaning is like a small scale Ringwood, except much more dusty and friendly, less scummy by far!! lol. But seriously, went there and met some of our grade one students, Sarah and Flora. Nice pair of girls. Sarah invited us down to spend Qingmin jie (Tomb sweeping Festival) with her family (3day weekend) and Flora tagged along for the fun. Sarah's father took us down to Fuxian lake, this is what the kids call the beach at Minzhong, was thinking, there is no bloody way there can be a lake big enough to have a full blown beach on it in Yunnan, but oh God, I could not have been any more wrong I am afraid.
Fuxian lake, well what can I say apart from the fact that it is frigging HUGE!! The lake (more like an inland sea) was so awe inspiring, none of my photos really portray it in truth, which was rather sad, but it was a massive white sand beach with lots of holidaying families there (and old men in budgie smugglers.... ewwwww!!) and kiddies playing chicken with the waves, yes I did just say waves. I'm not kidding. The four of us trapped across the blinding sand in our chucks to the long boats that were lined up along the shore. Got in and omg, sooooo scary!!! There was about 3inches of boat between us and the 1m swell (I know sounds like nothing but when it is a minimum 20m deep lake and its got rocky islands, fish the size of you and its bloody freezing you would be bloody petrified too!!) Oh should mention, this lake has the purest water in all of China, you can quite literally cup your hands in the lake and drink it straight, it tasted good in case you were wondering. Pretty cool eh??
Well we were paddled around in this massive, wet and cold swell by a couple of guys and their oars, looked lilke pretty hard work if you as me they took us once around the island that was in the middle then back to the shore. Stood up and all were laughing, I knew that water had gone down the back of my shirt, but I didn't realize that it had made me look like I had pissed my jeans, awkward...... lol. This followed by a quick trip in the car to have some dinner, and truely epic dinner it was. 铜锅鱼 (tongguo yu) or Copper pot fish and a few bits and pieces were yumm as! (see www.yummies.travellerspoint.com for how to make it). Returned to Huaning for the night and spent it with the students, went to the square, learn some traditional Dai minority dances, took photos in those photobooths that the kids seem obsessed with (so funny) then quite literally collapsed into the bed at the hotel (after freaking out over a few 'roaches in the bathroom.... *shudder*)
Following day, Flora and her mother showed us around (as Sarah and her family went up to the tombs for the festival). We went to the hot springs (but it was way too hot to go into them) so instead we went and climbed the mountains that surrounded them. Soooo beautiful. If I could get the uploader to work I would show you, but for now, you are going to have to take my word for it. :P Back to Huaning for lovely halal lunch (so good) and to chill with her family in their flat whilst watching utterly insane Chinese T.V. We were later collected for the main part of the weekend, dinner with Sarah's family.
Home cooked meal in her home, cooked by her lovely mother (I now see where Sarah gets her lovely nature from) around the kitchen table with her uncle and mother. Grandma walked in halfway through and was greeted by "chile ma??" (have you eaten?) which was respond to with "chile" (eaten thanks) and a double stare in my general direction which was kind of funny. Dinner was washed down with some rather interesting red wine from Xingjiang Provence and some music and more crazy T.V. Her mother pulled out the tea set and treated us to a home tea ceremony with various kinds of tea and some funny conversation (translated by Sarah, her English is amazing just so you know). The Pu'er tea was soo good, yum yum yum damn that's some good tea I will say. Sarah pulled out the guzhen (or zither as it is known in the west) and taught us a simple song on it, sooo much harder than it looks!!
Home the next day and back to school. Go the car ride home!! :
景洪 water festival
OMG THE WATER FESTIVAL!!! HIGHLIGHT OF THE TRIP SO FAR! WOOT WOOT WOOT!!!!! :P (in case you cant tell, it was pretty freaking sick man).
Well, Friday night, bolt from class, bolt to flat, pick up clothes then bolt to the bus station to Yuxi to meet Lewis and Maddie to make our way to Jinghong on a sleeper bus. Got on, super excited, a new white face in the last 2 mths which was nice, and all excited on the sleeper bus on the top 4 bunks. Come 9.30pm we were being "shhhh'ed" cause we were to loud apparently. So on and off sleep as we wound through the mountains for like 9hrs in the pitch black on a very narrow road and lacking seat belts (apparently sleeper buses have the highest incidents of road accidents in China with something like a quarter having or just avoiding an accident nightly) but we arrived in Jinghong at 3am and slept on the bus til 6am when we were turfed out into the humidity.
I should tell you now, 景洪 or 西双把那 as it was formerly called (Xishuangbana) was just like a tropical get away, and the second we got off that bus it was holiday mode from the get go, I don't know what it was, the 70% humidity and 27degrees at 6am or the palm trees everywhere but was such a good feeling. Walking up the road to find this notorious Swiss bakery we stumbled into KFC for coffee (only decent place in China for the stuff) we spent something like 1.5hrs in there just recuperating from the lack of sleep and looking out the window in our air conditioned comfort.
I should mention now that 景洪 looks a lot like Thailand (but in China) it was kinda weird at first, then we realized we were right near the Thai border thus the strong Thai/Burmese influence.
We met up with Cathy, our Chinese teacher/sister from our Kunming orientation and she took us back to her flat. We were expecting that we would be staying in a hostel, but she put us up in her house!!! So kind of her, thanks for it all Cathy!! and thanks for putting up with us too! :P So a shower (never thought I would be so thankful for one) then off for breakfast at the Swiss cafe. May I say, real bread, butter and jam. Real orange juice (none of this concentrated cordial crap) and crusty salad and REAL cheese roll. mmm..... (don't diss it till you miss it guys) AND a knife and fork, which was kinda awkward seemings I hadn't used one in 2 months. :P then waited for Adam and Odette to show up from Simao and we were all good! :P They got there and all I have to say is thank God for Odette and her familiar accent!!! Never thought I would miss an Aussie accent so much in my life!! lol. kinda sad right? Well now that all 6 of us were together (Natalie, Lewis, Odette, Adam, Maddie and I) Kathy took us to see the sight of Jinghong, showed us the botanical gardens (which were amazing, 120 hectares of gardens) where there were stacks of fruit and nut trees, flowers etc. very nice, and VERY humid! (85%) then made our way slowly back to the flat to chill in the coolness. Took showers, played monopoly cards and watched Step Up, who doesn't love a good dance film?? Dinner at a western restaurant and I dont mean one of these ones that are run by wannna bes. Despite the fact that it was run by a Chinese lady (with great english) the chefs were a mix of Caucasian and Chinese. So there was great pizza (with out a sweet base! yes!) and a variety of other yummy stuff followed by some absolutely wicked and indulgent desserts (well as far as normal standards go they weren't fantastic, but dude, better than a swift kick in the pants). Yumm.... And there were so many WHITE PEOPLE!!! which was so weird to see. Oh and more knives and forks. lol weird to say the least.
Walking back through the night market we all checked out different things. By this stage I was almost asleep whilst walking, about 3hrs max sleep on the sleeper bus, high humidity and lots of excitement and talking had absolutely slaughtered me. So went back to Cathy's house and quite literally passed out on the tiles (on top of a dooner) so nice and cold on the floor. nice...
Following day we got up early, got onto a bus bound to 普文 （pu wen), a small village about an hours bus ride north east into the jungle and valley. So pretty, lots of rubber trees. Got there and omg, it was so much like what I had imagined!! It was perfect!! The little Dai village in the sticks. Dumped our bags at Cathy's brother's house then walked through the village (with a million eyes following the cluster of waiguo, foreigners) as we made our way to the water festival. Goldfish, monks, rabbits, parrots, peacocks and god only knows what else lined the narrow dirt track to the festival grounds. The smell of mud, gun powder and BBQ filled the air, the sounds of chatter in Dai, Thai and Mando filled the air inter mingled with the rhythmic thud of the drums and gongs, children's laughter as we passed. As we walked deeper into the festival we thought it wise to seal our passports and cameras in plastic. and no sooner had we done it we were bombarded by kids with buckets, water bombs and water pistols of freezing river water!!! Sooo much fun!!
soaked foreigners! Human targets
Kids were coming at us left right and center absolutely drowning us (which was nice cause it was about 35degrees and 85% humidity)dumping buckets over our heads, bursting water balloons against us, a few of us chasing them back and puncturing their bombs when they held them over their heads whilst taking aim at the rest of us. All I have to say is omg soooooo much fun!! If you EVER get the chance to go to the water festival GO!! DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT JUST GO!! :P
Hung around the festival all day, had lunch with some of Cathy's school friends who later invited us back to their traditional Dai style house (more or less a wooden house on stilts with no walls and a barn under it) to have some traditional Dai food and home made baijiu (so good, it was really smooth). We talked, (well I did in Chinese which was cool) sang traditional Dai, Aussie, English and Scottish songs and before we knew it we had to go and collect our things and attempt to catch a bus to Simao to meet up with the guys that didnt come down.
Had it not been for Adam and his St. Christopher medallion I swear we would not have got a bus to Simao (Pu'er). We got there and they were all sold out, not cool. But then they agreed to run one extra bus so it was all good!!! Bus to Simao, dump our stuff in Adam and Laurence's flat, checked out the school, so HUGE!! then all 8 of us off to dinner up the road where Becca joined us. Later tramping down to "the locker" as they had so aptly dubbed it (its a bar) and just chilled, talked and listened to music whilst drinking Dali beer (about as strong as water). Before having to leave to catch our sleeper bus back to Yuxi and Kunming.
The bus home was not particularly awesome, twice as windy and bumpy, didn't find the seat belt till about 2am which by that stage i was terrified I was going to be launched out of the streamlined bed if I didn't find some way of anchoring myself. Got to Yuxi at 5am, crashed for a few at Lewis' flat then bailed to home to Minzhong as I had a class to teach at 11.20am (no lesson plan and about 5hrs sleep all weekend) but is was good.
Having a ball here, I will try to upload some photos soon, the internet is being an ass atm.
Talk to you soon guys,
2 months down, 5 to go!!!! :P
Congrats Jezz and Alex, the wedding pics were amazing!