KEVIN PUSHES MY BUTTONS


BUTTON PUSHING

I have been away for 5 weeks. I had not
taught any of the kids and Sarah said that most of them have made a lot of
progress, but some have been very difficult to handle. Sarah said that Kevin
was being very naughty, this didn’t really surprise me. I always felt that I
could handle Kevin better than Sarah could. I thought this because Kevin does
not seem to like women very much. It was Friday night and we had a long day of
teaching the next day. I had the most vivid dream that night. I drempt that I
went out with a bunch of friends and for some reason I knew that one of them
would die, even though this deeply disturbed me I just went home and didn’t
prevent him from dying, I woke up just as I had run out again from home to try
and help him but he was already dead.

Maybe it was to do with the film ‘dead man’s
shoes’ I watched a few days. It’s about a marine whose disabled brother was
abused by a bunch of villager drug dealer while he was away in the Marines and
then he came back and dealt out some revenge. That’s the only connection I can
make unless there is another one that I am too blind to see. So anyway I got up
and the day began with lots of teaching. Indeed many of our students had made
amazing progress. It was so sweet to listen to one of my students, a 6 year old
incredible stubborn student called ‘Only’ she had remembered a small book of nursery
rhymes while I was away. For the whole lesson I just listen to her singing as
she drew animals on the white board. Even Peter, AKA “bloody Peter” was on good
form and we had a good lesson, he even learned a bit as well. Peter and I threw
paper planes around the room reciting “throw” and “catch”, I had a good laugh
when my plane flew right out the door next to Peter and he didn’t realize and
looked very puzzled as to where it was.

 

 Sarah was very tired and ill that day so I
took most of the students. I was very tired myself by the time Kevin arrived.
As Sarah was taking the end of Onlys class, Kevin’s negligent father dropped
him off 20mins early. They both came in, Kevin with a slightly demented rebellious
look on his face and his dad looking especially weary. Kevin is 8 years old but
every time I ask him how old he is tells me a different age. Today he was 6. He
hurtled around the apartment with an air of destruction and attention seeking. First
going for mum and dad’s room, I swiftly locked it and then he ran around to the
balcony and in an irksome and disrespectful manner violently twanged away at Sarah’s
guitar.

 

This I took away from him and ushered him
back into the living room. His eyes darting and locking onto any object that he
could cause trouble with. All the while his Father just sat on the sofa and in
a half arsed effort tried to control him. Suddenly he got up and left, leaving
me with his child 20 minutes before he was meant to start. Because I had been
teaching that day and had really had enough of it he flicked all of my switches
very quickly and expertly. He was incredible taxing and endlessly tried to get
into Dads room to go on the computer. I tried shouting at him but it didn’t
work at all, so whenever he tried to get in the room I just calmly closed the
door off and pointed to the sofa. He made 1001 excuses and tried to get his own
way.

 

My limited experience with children has
taught me that you should never get involved in there excuses or reasoning just
let them know you’re the boss and they are not getting their way. Easier said
than done. I gave him a piece of chocolate but he just kept on pushing my
buttons. A silent white hot rage was festering inside me and I was glad when
Sarah had finished her lesson so I could just get him in the room and teach.
This didn’t really help matters. I tried to teach him but it was near
impossible. After half an hour of getting nowhere I told him that if he didn’t
want to learn Sarah would call his parents and he can go home. He didn’t really
understand and though I said his father was outside waiting. He got up and put
his shoes on and went outside. Sarah called his mum and asked her to come but
she said she was busy and could only come to pick him up at the end of the
lesson. I asked Sarah if she could tell Kevin to come back in and I would teach
him for the rest of the lesson. She just stood there blank faced and didn’t answer,
something that really ticks me off. I waved a hand in front of her face and she
angrily snapped out of her day dream. “you tell him, you always dump things on
me”

 

That was the noodle which broke the pandas
back (if you get my drift). “Dumping on you even though I have done twice as
much teaching as you today?” I thought. I just wanted to be left alone, why is
everyone so dam difficult? I grabbed my book and retired to the corner of the
bed. Privacy is hard to come by here and sticking your nose in a book is about
as private as it gets. I brooded and fumed and took great delight in telling
Sarah that I didn’t feel like getting some noodles when she asked if I did.
After a hour of really really good angry reading in which I relished every criticism
of China that Rob Gifford was dishing out in his political travel book “China
road”, Sarah came back in and asked if I wanted to go out with a couple of
friends that night. My anger melted instantly. I was shocked at how quickly it
had just disappeared. Generally even though sometimes I wish I could, I cannot
keep very angry for very long. It just takes too much effort and makes me feel
a bit mad after a while. I wondered if I should keep up a fake annoyance toward
Sarah but then I remembered a time when I was a kid.

 

Mum was taking me swimming and I wanted
some sweets. She went to the organic shop in our village and brought me some.
They were not the ones I wanted so I refused to eat them or go swimming. I just
sat in the car while she went swimming. I learned a very good lesson from that
day. Don’t be a dick because you will miss out on sweets and swimming.

 

We met Lu Yuen outside. She was in a car
with two of her friends. Jiang mao and Chen Bing. Chen Bing was driving. We
drove to the 6 meat noble restaurant and got out. “Do you like drinking?” asked
Jiang Mao. “I like drinking” I replied. We both went into a small supermarket
and under the light of the shop I saw that Jiang was a policeman. Short stocky
with short hair and an energetic boyish face. He got a bottle of baijiu (rice
wine) and we left. “Do you like Chinese alcohol?” he asked me “yes I love it,
but it’s very strong, England does not have many strong wines like this. We
drink a lot of beer”. We all crammed into the noodle restaurant and it was
packed. We had to wait for 5 minutes for a seat. While we were waiting Jiang
went and got some Chinese hamburgers from a nearby stall.

One thing I love about China is that in
most restaurants you can bring in some of your own food as well, obviously you
cannot bring a whole meal but a few hamburgers are ok. Also you are allowed to
bring your own alcohol as well which is brilliant. I chatted a bit with Chen
and saw that he was also wearing a policeman’s uniform as well, but slightly
different. He was a traffic policeman. He was a bit taller than Jiang and quite
a bit fatter, 99kg he told us, sounding a bit ashamed. He had a podgy baby face
and seemed kind.

 

Finally we sat down and ordered 2 large
pots of nobles with bacon, sausage, tofu, green vegetables and the most amazing
spicy soup. Jiang and Chen and Lu Yuen had a little argument about who should
drink. They didn’t want Chen to drink as he was going to drive. “ you will be
punished if your caught” Lu Yuen said. “but I am the police” he said laughing.
In the end and quite surprisingly and contrary to what I have seen before he didn’t
drink so Chen and I were left to polish off the noxious wine all by our self’s.
Chinese drinking is extreme and altogether not healthy at all, but the one
thing I will say for it is that they eat lots of food while they drink so in some
ways not as unhealthy as some instances in the UK when one goes to a bar and
may not have eaten anything and the alcohol just burns into your unprotected
stomach. We ate and when we finished our large pots of noodles we left and
exited into the refreshing freezing cold. It was very nice and woke me up after
the wine and hot spice noodles. We got back in the car and headed for the best
KTV in town.( KTV is where you get a dark room with sofas finger food and a large
projector and a computer to select the songs you want to sing. Sometimes you
get varying standards but generally I have only been to very good KTVs. So we
arrived and we had to wait for 20 minutes for a room to open up, but due to
regular harassments and maybe because of Jiang and Chens job positions we got a
room ahead of everyone else.

 

 Sarah ordered a lot of beer then we started to
select songs. My view of most pop songs in Chine is of sloppy love songs about
people who love one another but in the end cannot be together. A stab in the
dark about the reason is because when the communists came into power it was noble  to sacrifice your life for the party. Also
even before the revolution it was expected to put the need of your family above
your own. So the group sat there pouring there hearts out into the microphone
with surprisingly skillful singing. Many Chinese people practice a lot for KTV
and have amazing voices. Sarah asked me what I wanted to sing. I jumped on the computer
and selected our standard English songs. Beauty and the beast, lemon tree, a
whole new world and any other Disney song that was there. Also “if you’re happy
and you know it” was there and I selected that without a moment’s thought,
Sarah also selected a rap song by Akon. When beauty and the beast came on I was
so enthusiastic that even before the little dot indicating the time to start
singing had emerged I blurted into the microphone. “TAIL AS OLD AS TIME!!!”
then when it did start Sarah whacked me and said “I am supposed to sing” indeed
the writing was in pink which was for the female to sing. When my lines came I finally
let loose. Then when the rap song came on I desperately tried to keep up with
the fast lyrics but it was too much for me. Then there were a few Chinese songs
which I knew a little of. Everyone else sung them beautifully then when my line
came along a microphone was thrust into my hand and I proudly sung much to the surprise
and enjoyment of everyone. After more of the same, I went to the loo. As I
walked along the long sparkling corridor with smart looking attendant standing
at every door I occasionally saw into some of the rooms as a man or woman
opened the door to ask for more beer or complain about something or rather. Usually
the songs that were being sung were hellishly loud and diabolically sung and
for some reason it made me think of hell ( although I have never been) walking
along a surreal long flashing corridor, occasionally blasted with load sound as
I passed. Saying all that I have become very used to the general noise in China.
People (including me) slurping noodles, horns honking incessantly, people
shouting, fireworks every day. Kindergarten music played at decibel levels religiously
every morning. It’s not that bad, it’s just the way it is, you get used to it.

I returned after the loo, we sung for a bit
longer and when the beers had been drained I suddenly became very bored.
Thankfully it was10: 45 and at 11 everyone’s apartment gates would shut, so we
all got up and left. As I got in a taxi with Sarah, Chen asked me if I remembered
his name. Embarrassed I said I didn’t remember, he just smiled and shook my
hand and I got into the car. I felt a bit ashamed, I thought it was time that I
started taking a bit more time to use my brain for what it was meant to be used
for. That night I drilled both the policemen’s names into my head and am proud
to say that I have not forgotten them. I wanted to go out with them again soon
mainly because they are good fun but also I want to show Chen that I remember
his name, unfortunately they were only here on a quick visit from another near
bye city. When we arrived back the large rusty gate was locked and the old man
who was the gate master was asleep. In my inebriated state I contemplated
climbing the fence. I started to houst myself over and then realize that the
top of the fence had jagged spikes on it to deter such activity. I stopped and
eventually we managed to wake the gate master up. Xie xie (thank you) I said as
we past him. “oh he can speak Chinese” he said in Chinese even though I had
spoken Chinese to him many times before. While Sarah and I lay imbed waiting
for sleep to come she told me a horrible story which was a continuality of the
poor girl who was run over by the school a week or so ago. Apparently a drunken
official was taking his daughter to school in the afternoon and after dropping
her off he turned around and ran over a small girl. One stander by said she
only saw a shoe a hair clip and a lot of blood. The man tried to pay the
parents money. I think it was 500000 Yuan roughly about 50 thousand pounds but
they refused. Sarah asked the police how long he would go to jail for and he
said “maybe a few years”. I don’t believe it would be this little but then
again I would not be that surprised. We then fell asleep.

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FOR SARAH


When I was in that most blissful state between
sleep and being awake, when things merge into each other and it’s possible to
remember dreams even if only for a short while, I noticed that Sarah was on the
laptop reading my blog. Then of course I fell asleep again and had a dream
about meeting a Buddhist monk or something like that.

When I eventually got up I asked Sarah what
she thought of my blog. She hesitated for a fraction on a second “mmm it’s good”.
I could tell she was not telling me something. Eventually though much prying
she admitted that she was not altogether happy with it. “You say China is so
dark, is it really?” I thought about this and then said “yes”, but it made me
think about my blog and if I was giving a bad picture of my stay here. “If
people read your blog they would think that China is a dark and bad place”, “westerners
always criticize China, it’s so rude, why don’t you sort out your own problems?”.
Or as my Bro would say “don’t throw stones in glass houses”. a very valid
point, and might I add a very Chinese one. Although I am interested in politics
and the book I am reading called “CHINA ROAD” by Rob Gifford is teaching me a
lot that I didn’t know about China, I quickly grow board with politics.
Especially the narrow ignorant views a lot of westerners have of China. So
politics aside and dark things aside I have been thinking about all the things
I love about China and the reasons why I am here.

 

After my little chat with Sarah I got up
and had a shower. As I did so I looked out of the window from the bathroom
looking into the kitchen. At that time I could already see out of the next
window onto the dusty sun lit road outside. Buses and trucks chugging past
periodically honking at anything that moved. In the early morning the windows
are iced over. The moisture on the panes freezes and leaves surprisingly beautiful
patterns that make you feel like you’re in the middle of an ice berg. After my
shower I scuttled past Mum and Dad in my towel clutching my cloths and heard a
quiet sigh as Mum must have thought I was wearing far too little I went back in
our room to change. While I was putting on my many layers of cloths, Sarah and
I heard the familiar sound of what appeared to be a couple of babies being murdered
(don’t worry Sarah it’s not going to get dark). We eagerly pressed our faces
against the window pane and looked out and down onto the snowy dusty roof tops
of the houses below. Sarah and I have been observing the battles of two cats.
One is a large swaggering ginger cat with a surprisingly handsome clean tail,
and the other one was a fat ball of gray fur. They both had their tails between
their legs and what can best be described as their ears locked like butting
rams. They were both emitting the most ungodly shrieks. People living nearby
were stopping in their tracks in startled wonder as the two beasts vented on
each other.

We both watched for a while as they stood
close to the edge of the building and thrust their heads at each other and
yelled. For some reason I imagined them to be secretly in love with one another
and that if one day the other was not there the other would notice and wonder
were there friend was. As I was thinking this the ginger war cat gave in and swaggered
extra slowly away from the fat fur ball and to my surprise and his  dismal shame he lost his footing on the grubby
snow and almost fell off the roof. Quickly regaining his position he then stiffly
walked over to a piece of rusty corigated iron and began to scratch himself all
over it as if nothing had happened.

 

After that episode I just continued my TEFL
course online and when I was just getting stuck in my student Claire gave us a
call and invited us both out for lunch at a Donkey hot pot restaurant. Donkey
meat is soo tasty. It’s like beef but not so tough and with a chewy texture
that is almost dry because it just falls apart in your mouth. Of course it’s
not always like that. Sometimes it’s like eating an old boot stuffed with old
shoe and seasoned in talcum powder ( Sorry I am not really giving a good
impression of donkey meat, I love it that’s all I can say!). We got even more
cloths on and trekked for 10 minutes down the street and arrived excitedly cold
at the restaurant. It was a typical Chinese restaurant (if there is such a
thing), it was packed, people smoking, drinking and of course eating mounds of
the most sumptuous, fragrant looking dishes. Everyone watched as the foreigner
and that Chinese girl went up the stairs to the third floor. We met Sarah’s
Friend Lu Yuen who surprisingly went to school with Claire ( her Chinese name
in Gaoting ) and was also taught chemistry by Claire’s Mum, who was also
present along with a aunty and Claire’s Father.

 

We all hovered on the outskirts of the room
cajoling each other to take the most important seat which faces the door. I am
usually the one who is asked to sit on that fated seat unless there is someone
really rich or old. At first I was determined not to sit on the important seat
but the extreme modesty of all the Chinese in the room was making it hard to do
otherwise. In the end, after a few minutes of this sickening modesty I just
gave way to the sea of arms showing me were to sit and sat down defeated. I was
very hungry.

 So
in the centre of the table there was a hole with a large gas flame in it and
soon a waitress came in with a large pot of diced donkey in brown soup with
chunks of potato and bitter melon. Then around the hot pot was a lazy Susan
which many dishes such as spicy aubashine with peanuts and a pyramid of caucus
with celery and other vegetables was placed on. Also donkey burgers and cup
shaped rice noodles which you put pickled cabbage and carrot into and fold up
and eat. There were many more dishes but I would be here all day if I described
them all.

 

Claire’s Father asked me if I liked to
drink. I said yes and he smiled and rushed out of the room and came back with a
green bottle of sweet 45% rice wine. 45% in relatively weak compared to some
other wines that are 55% or even 70 %. He poured us both a large glass and we
toasted before we ate, sipping at the surprisingly tasty golden alcohol.

I was waited on hand and foot. Toasting
with Claire’s father quickly and quite worryingly finishing the whole bottle of
wine in the space of half an hour, Claire and Sarah both placing food on my
plate and ordering me to eat, something I don’t really like this pressure to
eat but most of the time its actually really brilliant. It means you don’t have
to balance slippery noodles and great hunks of meat between your chop sticks
and navigate them to your usually ridiculously small bowl or plate because
people are always putting food on your plate. This all kept going for a few
hours. Talking about Claire going to Australia this year if she gets the right
score on her next English  IELT exam next
month. Claire’s Father orders some beers which were thankfully only 3.1
percent, thankfully because I was having a job holding onto my chair because I
was so drunk. But it was a good drunk, fully satisfied, all corners filled with
food and wine and now some watery beer. I even had a cigarette, which Claire’s Father
gave to me. I don’t know why I had a cigarette. I just did. I sucked away on it
and after about half of it I felt decidedly dizzy so I just placed in the
ashtray and watch as it smoked its self to the filter.

Finally we left and emerged into the crisp
bright cold day. We walked home and on the way went into a cup shop and looked
for a cup for one of Lu Yuen’s friends who was going to America today. Lu Yuen
said she wanted a cup which would remind her friend of her. I picked out a
really cool one which had a classic communist propaganda picture on it of
solders, workers, doctors and farmers looking heroically into the red distance.
I thought it was brilliant but Lu Yuen didn’t and she got one with a flower on
instead.

 

So that’s why I love China, because the
flat feels like a ice berg in the morning
actually I don’t
love that part very much because it f**king cold in the morning
, I love
that Chinese people really know how to take you out a treat you like a king. I
love that there are weird yelling cats outside our room, which sometimes wake
us up in the middle of the night. I love getting drunk and then having to go
back home and teach……. Wait actually I don’t like that last one at all. Generally
I just love the fact that every day you don’t know what’s going to come your
way. Big meals are the norm, amazing food is standard and I am encouraged to
eat as much as I want and often more than I want. I love the fact that Dad
bought me 5 creates of beer and that I have to hide my dirty clothes from Mum
so that she does not wash them for me. I love the fact that I have to sneakily
try and do the washing up and if I get caught trying to do it (my record has
been to wash a few bowls before I am found out) then Mum sets upon me and drags
me out of the kitchen shocked at the thought that her son in law was doing the
washing. There are so many things to love. Also so many things to hate. Daily
if not hourly I change from love to hate and back again. It makes you wonder
how your really feel about things but after a quick think I remember that for
the most part I love it, even the dark parts. You cannot have the light without
the dark, you cannot have the joy without the pain and you certainly cannot
have a meal without at least 2 kinds of meat.

BACK AGAIN


Sarah met me at The Beijing air port after
my 12 hour flight from Heathrow. I was feeling a bit odd after being cooped up
for so long and even the generous flight attendant who asked me with genuine
concern if I wanted another beer and kept me topped up throughout gave little
comfort and quite a lot of discomfort as the beginnings of a hangover started
to emerge and crawl into my skull.

After a brief hug and a kiss and a inspection
of my wife’s new hair cut she handed me a pair of what looked like skiing
trousers. They were in fact long johns to protect me from the -20 cold that was
gripping Beijing at this time. Before I had left from here 5 weeks ago it was
-8 and that was quite cold enough for me.

Our train was leave from Beijing to Xin
Zhuo in Shanxi province in 5 hours so we went and lay down on a very
comfortable seat which was like a declined deck chair. There were about 20 of
them all looking out of the massive glass windows of the air port. I blissfully
lay down and admired the air ports tall ceiling with its strips of wood running
all over it. After a far too short sleep which only served to remind me of how tired
I was rather than actually refresh me we left the relative warmth of the air
port and stepped out into the cold.

 

At first I thought “ it does not feel that
cold, -20 BAH!!” but within 2 minutes of waiting for the bus my ungloved hands
started to actually burn with cold. Something I had never experienced before.
It felt like I was being attack. Thankfully the bus for the train station was
prompt and we got on and Sarah and I huddled together for warmth. I then
managed to catch yet another tantalizing nap before we arrived near to the
train station. As we blearily got off the bus One of the many taxi people
shouted “HELLO!!!/” in my ear. An act which puts my back up even on the best of
days. When I first came to china I found it quite a novelty that people would
stop on the street and say hello to you, but after the first few 100 times and
actually being able to understand what they say afterward I have become
increasingly tired of such things.

Out of participle I ignored him and got my
bags from the bus hold. Unfortunately Sarah got in a conversation with him and
I heard him say “30 Yuan to the train station”, Sarah and I ignored him and
started to walk. He clamored after us rapidly dropping his price. “20 Yuan?,
10? 10? 10?”. I was very please when in his enthusiasm to overtake us and
persuade us he slipped over on the condensed grimy ice on the foot path.
Because I had been there last month I knew that the train station was about 2 minutes
walk around the corner, as I though this I heard the taxi driver shout in Chinese
“its 2 kms away its so far get a taxi!!”.

 

We approached the train station after 2 minutes
and saw the grand large building lit up with bright lights, The square in front
of the station had the odd seller with large lighters and colorful lighted
spinning Topps for sail, all with a open bag beside them so that if the police
came they could quickly pack up their goods and make a quick exit. I saw one
seller who was a elderly man who clearly had mental health problems, shivering
in the bitter cold looking far into the distance with a glazed look on his
face. I felt very sorry for the people who were out there freezing away.

 

We got into the train station had out bags
scanned and then went and waited in the departures room. There were no seats available
so we put my bags against a wall and sat against them. Almost immediately a young
woman with a baby came up to us and plunked her baby in front of Sarah and
started to ask for one Yuan. Sarah told her to go away angrily. “GO AWAY, DIDN’T
YOU HERE ME THE FIRST TIME?”.

After a short wait we scrambled though the
barrier mercilessly buffeting people out of the way with my large back pack and
walked along a wide bridge then down the stairs to the train platform. We got
on at the less crowded carriage at the end of the train and found our beds.
They were small and hard but I prefer a harder bed and they also had blankets.
On top of that I was just so glad to be able to lie down and know that I could
sleep for 9 hours until we got to Xin Zhuo.

 

I tied my back pack straps around the metal
bars on the rack and Put my smaller suit case under the table by our beds and
tied the laptop bag strap to the table before putting it under my pillow. When
I was here before I noticed a man putting his hand in Sarah’s hand bag as we
were approaching the train station. I slapped his hand out of the way and thrust
my finger in his face. He backed off slowly giving me a dirty look and cursing
me. I saw that he regrouped with a large group of his friends and they all
sneers at us as we walked on by. They were from the Xin Jiang province. They
were slightly darker and dirty looking and looked more Middle Eastern than the
other Chinese. Many Chinese people are very scared of Xin Jiang people, They
say that they are very violent and steal a lot and most scarily many people I
have spoken to say that police do not prosecute them when they murder or steal
because they are from a minority. I find that part hard to be leave but it just
goes to show they have a sinister reputation.

 

I fell asleep with Sarah in the bed beside
me and I had a fitful nights sleep. Starting off utterly cold even with all my
cloths on and a thick blanket then later on waking up drenched in sweat because
the heating had been put on full blast. I quickly moved my suit case away from
the table and radiator as it was full of chocolate.

 

We arrived at Xin Zhuo at 6 in the morning,
I had been awake for two hours already due to the time difference jet lag. We
walked past the long taxi row of Xin Zhuo station and walked onto the road. The
taxis around the station always charge much more than the normal ones you find
on the road. We waved one down and started to get in and stupidly we didn’t
haggle for the price before. He grossly over charged the price so we got out
again and before stepping into the next one Sarah got the right price.

 

The taxi dropped us off outside Sarah’s
parents flat. We walked up the four flights of stairs and greeted her parents
who were understandably a bit groggy at 6 in the morning, but none the less
they had cooked up a real feast of pork dumplings cucumbers in vinegar steamed,
donkey meat and green vegetables. I wolfed down masses of it but there was
still enough for a few more people. We then went to bed and I slept until 4 in
the afternoon the next day.

 

Over the next couple of days I got used to the
time difference. Getting up at four in the morning and feeling tired at about 5
in the afternoon. Yesterday I managed to stay up until 9 in the evening because
I am such a big boy. We went out with one of Sarah’s friends Lu Yuen. We went
to a posh tea house. It didn’t seem too posh to me, more like it was posh 10
years ago and it had dent had a clean for a while. It was a large building
block with small booths that have glass tables and small sofas looking out onto
the main road. As we went up the spiral stair case to the 3rd floor I
saw a white piano on a stage and a large grubby fish tank next to it. We were
given a booth and Sarah and Lu Yuen chose some puer tea which cost 41 Yuan for
a refillable pot. I have never really been a big tea fan. This tea was no
exception it tasted like flavored water and smelt a bit like sea food but it
renched my eyes open with whatever caffeine stuff it had in it and I forgot
about my jet lag. Sarah and Lu Yuen talked about various things, I was not
really listening, I was looking out the dusty window down on the street and despairing
at the chaotic driving which was going on. At least they are going slowly I
thought as a push bike rode out in front of open traffic and was not killed. On
the other hand a young girl was killed yesterday near our house as she ran out into
the road and a car ran over her head.

 

 My
ears perked up when Lu Yuen was talking about people from Henan province. “everyone
knows that Henan people always cheat, they are famous in china for it”. I found
this interesting coming from such a small country as England were there are stereo
types of the Irish welsh Scottish and they are so close to one another in
comparison to Chinese standers of distance. I asked Sarah and Lu Yuen if any
other provinces are known for anything. There was a gold mine of stereo types.

 

According to Lu Yuen and Sarah Shanxi
people are very lazy and the women are very good at making babies, because it’s
so cold most of the time the women keep warm all the time which apparently is
good for baby making, I don’t know if that true but Sarah is very obsessed with
keeping warm and if I am not wearing my slippers or if I am just wearing a t
shirt at her parents her mum gets a bit hysterical and orders me to put more
cloths on. Also Shanxi people always pay in cash, even if they are buying a
house. It can take the whole day to count the money. Real estate people love Shanxi
people.

People from Hong Kong are small ugly and arrogant
and only respect you if you speak English of Cantonese or have a lot of money.
Also Taiwan people are arrogant as well and like to have second wife’s in
mainland china. People from fu Jian travel a lot and if you have not left home
very young it is a disgrace. People from Guangzhou and Guangxi are poor and
like to cheat a lot and will eat anything “we will eat anything with 4 legs apart
from a table, we will eat anything with wings apart from a plane”, is a quote
from that part of china. I lived in Guangxi for a year and a half and every
single day people would try and cheat you. From buying vegetable and getting a
taxi to apartment prices and just about anything you need money for.

People from Tibet are stupid and honest,
because there is not much oxygen. People from Mongolia are very strong and eat a
lot of lamb. People from Xin jiang like to fight a lot and Sichuan girls are
very fiery.

 

I found it so interesting listening to
these stereo types. Some were obviously true and based in fact but others were
so ludicrous it just made me laugh.

After the tea we went to have some noodle
in a small shop. We sat in a steaming fragrant small room crammed in with many
other people in full winter cloths. Sarah, Lu Yuen and myself shared a 6 meats noodle
bowl and listened to 4 men behind us complaining about there wife’s. “ oh I am
so unhappy with my wife these days, she was forced to change her job and now
she is unhappy”

“who does she think she is, the boss?!!”

“My wife is also annoying she always says I
never come home, I hate her”

I could see Sarah slowly working up a rage.

After the meal we all walked home in the
bitter cold with dark stories from Lu Yuen. 
She told us of a knife fight which happen outside her apartment last
week and also of her friend who is with a English man who beats her and most
recently cut her face with a large Chinese kitchen knife.

I was glad to get back home and get under
the covers shocked after my arrival back to china. A country full of dark stories,
extreme cold and adventure. Also 6 meat noodle soup. My favorite.