Thursday, March 29, 2012

Out There

At DisneyEnglish, a year is divided into 4 terms, each 12 weeks long. We give assessments and report cards at mid term and end of term (the equivalent of after 6 hours of teaching each in the States) and then we have an end of term performance where the parents come and watch about a half hour of class and their kids "graduate" to the next term. That was the past 2 weeks, so it's been a bit hectic. 

Sunday after work, I went to my friend Carol's house. I met Carol in on-boarding, and her parents live in Nanjing, and they invited me for dinner since she was visiting. They live south of here on the top of her parents' sofa factory. Her mom made tons of dumplings (I got to help with some), and halfway through dinner her sister-in-law and 4 year old niece came by. She and I exchanged a few words of English and Chinese. It was fun; everyone was very nice. They invited me to come back another time with more Disney people.
Carol, her parents, and her niece
The dumplings - plus another half of a tray. 

Then on the weekend, I went to Hefei with 2 new FTs, Laura and Alex. Well, I went up Tuesday morning, Laura joined me in the afternoon, and Alex came up Wednesday because her days off are different. Hefei is the capital of Anhui province and an hour or so west by train. It was very important during the time of the 3 Kingdoms, when there were wars as China was becoming modernized. We went to a couple parks, saw the temple, and explored some markets. The weather was hot, but we had a good time. 
Mingjiao Temple, Hefei
Xiaoyao Lake Park
Lord Bao Park

There's a holiday next week, so we all get this Sunday off, and trainers with my schedule have Saturday off, too, so we get a real weekend, which is very exciting. More about that next time. 

Residence of Li HongZhang - famous historical Chinese figure

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Can You Show Me

I think it's spring. When it's not pouring rain, the sunny days are almost warm. I lucked out and this week's sunny days fell on my weekend.

Tuesday I went with Jessi and the Nanjing International Club that she's a member of to see the plum blossoms on Purple Mountain. Apparently there's a Plum Blossom Festival every March (which I presume is something like the cherry blossom festival). There were no festivities when we went but we walked along the paths and the trees were beautiful and sweet smelling and it was sunny outside, so it was good. We had lunch at a surprisingly not very expensive restaurant on the mountain and then Jessi had to leave for work. But Joanne and a girl named Karen and I went to explore the Xiaoling Mausoleum (tomb of the 1st Ming Dynasty emperor). 

Pretty, pretty plum blossoms

First, there are apparently 19 mausoleums from the Ming Dynasty in China. They are all huge. For this one, you cross a bridge and go through the first gate, and that area is where the kitchen and wardrobe hall and things once stood. Then there was a second building: Imperial Tablet Hall. It housed an important tablet with some characters that honored the emperor. Beyond that is the Sacrificial Hall, where sacrifices were made to the emperor. Finally you get to the Inner Red Gate. From there you can see the Ming Tower and the enormous wall that surrounds the Treasure Mound where the 1st Ming Emperor and his wife are buried - 500 meters below ground. Standing on top of that wall was surreal. Joanne noticed inscriptions on some of the bricks and Karen said that they were markings by the people who made the bricks. I had seen that before at other places, and I think it's amazing to have that evidence of the work and time to build something so massive.
Ming Tower and surrounding wall. As an idea of the magnitude of the wall: the little black speck next to the door is me.

Wednesday I slept very late and spent the afternoon exploring the market by Confucius Temple with Nat. Mostly because I couldn't waste the sunny day inside. 

Then it rained. The road I walk to the bus stop was slowly becoming a river this morning. I'll take a picture next time.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Why Should I Worry?

Yesterday was officially 6 months that I have been in China. Hard to believe, isn't it?

Anyway, last Friday, I visited another park in Nanjing. This weekend, I went to Ningbo, on the coast of China about 2 hours east of Shanghai. One of the sales girls who worked at our center in Nanjing just got promoted to Ningbo, so I went to visit her. It was much bigger and nicer and more beautiful than I was expecting. Ningbo is smaller than Nanjing and it was very peaceful. And sunny. And warm. Springtime! On Tuesday, she took me around the city, to the town square, shopping mall, and a food market that is supposedly famous for having food from all over China. We also walked around Moon Lake and visited 2 of the Disney English centers there. That's one of the reasons I love traveling to certain cities - the people at Disney English are mostly all very nice. We went out with them to a bar on the river that night, where we saw a man walking his pet monkey. First one I've seen I think.
Moon Lake
Wednesday we went to a Buddhist temple and to Tianye Ge, which is an old library combined with gardens and museums. I was very excited to go, but then discovered there were no books displayed. There were some books, but they were blank. That was disappointing, but the gardens were pretty and there were a bunch of stone carvings, and we saw a Mahjongg exhibit (the only one in China. I didn't know Mahjongg was developed in Ningbo). After lunch we went back to Moon Lake and went paddle boating and had ice cream by the lake side. We also briefly met up with a girl I did training with back in September, but then it was time for me to catch a train back to Nanjing.
Tianyi Ge Library Pavilion

Garden outside Tianyi Ge Library
Since I've been here 6 months, I took some pictures of a "typical" day. Here you are:
The Kindergarten next to my apartment

The fruit stand by my apartment. If you look closely, you can see the Santa cling on the door.

The trash lot I walk past on my way to work. I believe my old  neighbor called it "soul killing."

A person cleaning a bus

The place where I have started buying breakfast on my way to work when I  run out of cereal and milk.

This breakfast wrap cost 3RMB (about $0.50)

I call them "marshmallow babies" - so bundled up for winter, they look like giant walking marshmallows. This one's not so covered because it's getting warmer, but I like the orange in its mouth.

The rooster that crows in the morning as I walk to work.

The mall where I work - Disney English is the only thing left open in the mall. The rest of it shut down around Christmas