PART32, A JOB INTERVIEW AND BEING A RACIST


FRIDAY, 26TH, FEBRUARY, 2010. We
got up at 8:00 and I was about to go over my lesson plan again with Sarah when Mrs.
Zheng texted me and asked me to come at 3:00 instead of 10:00 because she had
to take her Mother to the hospital. We stayed inside until 2:30 and then took a
taxi to the school. It was the 9th floor in a large block of flats in the
shopping part of Haikou. We were shown into a colorful waiting room by a smiley
pretty young girl called Vivi. Sarah said she had dreamed about this room a few
nights ago. There were multi colored chairs everywhere and English quotes all
over the walls. That Sarah dreamed about this place is a good omen.  Mrs. Zheng came and greeted us, she was a
middle aged short woman wearing smart cloths and she had wrinkles around her
eyes from smiling too much. She greeted us both and we were taken on a short tour
of the school. They had the whole floor so there where about 20 big rooms, some
class rooms some offices and waiting rooms and a large reception desk. There were
lots of pictures of students and teachers on the walls. It seemed like a
relaxed and friendly school.

 

We had a chat with one of the other foreign
teacher. Lindsey was a young woman from Canada. She and her boy friend had been
in Haikou for 11 months. She gave a good impression of the school and Haikou,
which was reassuring. We also met her boy friend after he had finished a
lesson. We arranged to meet up soon and discussed going out drinking “it can be
quite cheap to drink here, at a bar a bottle of vodka is only 300yuan”. I
thought that was way too expensive. You can get a perfectly good bottle of rice
wine for 20 or 30 Yuan and a big bottle of beer here is only 3 Yuan. He said
that at bars you get 12 small beers for 200 or 300 Yuan. It’s far too
expensive. There is only one place I am willing to pay through the nose for
alcohol and that is in the UK. I am not going to shell out loads of money for
the privilege of sitting in a silly bar when I know that I can get a beer for
30p over the road. I think I have been in china long enough now, I can have as
good a time in a dirty looking noodle bar as a slick looking bar.

 

I started my demo class. Mrs. Zheng, Vivi
and another Chinese man called Joe who is also a teacher were to be my pretend
kids for the lesson, Also Sarah pretended as well. That helped a lot to calm me.
I felt very relaxed and confident. I had prepared a good lesson and we all had
fun.

 

 Later I taught a group of middle school
student. They were about 14 years old but some of them looked about 9 years
old. They all looked like typical teenagers, slumping over their desks, slack
jawed and uninterested. After the first 3 minutes of my lesson plan warm up I realized
that their English and more importantly their enthusiasm were not up to my
lesson plans so I changed the lesson and basically passed a ball around the room
asking questions and getting students to remember other students’ answers. There
was one little girl called Olivia she looked very tired and grumpy. I asked her
what my name was and she looked at me as if I had just farted directly in her
face with my trousers down. I laughed and eventually she said my name. By the
end of the lesson most of the class seemed happier than I had seen them at the beginning(probably
because the class was over) and I was also friends with stroppy Olivia who had
turned out to be very bright. I learnt all their names and their dreams for the
future, such as Sandy who wants to be a teacher, she looked a bit embarrassed
when she said it, she seems like the sort of girl who does not have many friends
and is always frustrated because other students are misbehaving or the class is
too slow. Jessica, a big wide eyed tall girl who was sitting at the front wants
to have lots of money, she stared at me throughout the whole lesson and could
not stop giggling especially when I said I don’t like getting up in the
morning. In fact all the students laughed at this. Then there is Tom who wants
to go to England, but I think he was just saying that to please me, I called
him John for about half of the lesson until he could not take it any longer. “IAM
TOM!” he said . I apologized profusely and then laughed because he looked very
scared that I was apologizing.

 

At the end of the lesson Mrs. Zheng told me
that they had just had a 2 hour class before I had come in and that I managed
to get them active, she seemed pleased.

 

Then we had the adult class with the same
people as the children’s class plus a teacher called Apple, a small cute woman
with a round face and big glasses. Halfway though my class Apple had to go and
teach a lesson and Mrs. Zheng told her to use the game I was using in her
lesson. It was very fun and everyone seemed pleased at the end. Later Sarah and
I had a long chat with Mrs. Zheng and she said she would call early on Monday
to confirm the job. It seemed as if I have got the job but don’t count your
pandas before they’ve hatched, I always say. As we were walking out of the
building a tanned Chinese man walked passed and shouted “HELLO”, he seemed
friendly so I said hello back then when he was walking away he said “hen bie
ren” (very white person) is a condescending voice, I immediately shouted back “hen
huang ren!” (Very yellow person). Later I thought I should have said “hen hae
ren! (very black person), because calling someone yellow in china is not a bad
thing, Chinese call themselves yellow, yellow is more like gold in Chinese and it’s
a royal color of the emperor. Chinese people associate being dark skinned with
poor farmers who work in the sun all day. People have whitening sun cream and moisturizer
to make them selfs less tanned.

 

 Anyway back to come backs. I decided that whenever
some prat says hello on the street I will say “ah Kato my little yellow friend”,
or if there are a lot of them around I will say “it’s a bit slitty around here”
I think it’s going to be really funny. I don’t mind being racist in China
everyone else is. Also they will not understand because I will talk in English,
it’s harmless. I need some kind of lash back otherwise I feel powerless and you
need to let your frustration out somehow otherwise you will just snap one day,
like a fatigued chopstick which has been stressed to the point of breaking.

 

Later Sarah and I went out to celebrate for
the successful interview. We got in a taxi and asked to go to the sea food
market we had heard about. The taxi driver, a man with a bump on the side of
his jaw like someone had clocked him spoke fast and with a thick Hainanese
accent. He advised Sarah to go to another sea food restaurant a little way away
because the market was closed, It turned out to be a long way away and when we
got there the taxi driver seem very friendly with the restaurant owners. Of
course he had taken us to his friend’s restaurant. We looked at the tanks of
crabs which were 80 Yuan per half kilo, almost twice as much as it should be. Everything
seemed over priced and the place was empty, just the owners and waitresses aimlessly
loitering around in the heat. I took the initiative and grabbed Sarah and we
went to a big hotel next to the restaurant. Sarah asked the hotel waitress if
the sea food market we originally wanted to go to was open and she said it’s
always open but mainly during the day, there is less fresh sea food at night.
The bloody taxi driver had cheated us and taken us to his friend’s expensive restaurant.
I was not surprised at all but I was a bit annoyed that I had not picked up
that he was lying. I thought he might have been lying but I could not be bothered
to do anything about it while we where in the taxi.

 

In the hotel we had an amazing crab platter
(only 34yuan per half kilo), and an amazing shrimp soup. We then got the bus
back home and went to sleep fast, both feeling happy about the day. To be
honest I didn’t like Haikou on the first day but slowly it was growing on me…especially
the sea food…mmmm yeah. Also the heat as well. The definition of hot is sitting
in your underpants at night on your computer writing your blog and your still profusely
sweating.

Till the next time

PART31 LEAVING BEIJING WITHOUT TELLING


Thursday, 25th, February, 2010.
We got up at 6 o’clock and swiftly left the hotel and got a taxi to the nearby
small air port. I had my last Cigarette outside the air port. As I puffed away
in the early morning I made myself hate smoking. I visualized the dirty smoke
choking me and some of the lines from Wilfred owns poem “DULCE ET DECORUM EST”
came into my brain

 

                    
“guttering, choking, drowning.”

        

                    “If
you could hear, at every jolt, the blood 
 
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, 
 
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
 
 
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,” 

 

          

 

I got to the point at the end where I
retched on my last drag and then tossed it into the bin along with the half
full pack and my lighter. I was determined not to make it a nostalgic experience.
Like “this is your last cigarette so enjoy it as much as you can”. That just
sets you up for failure. I told myself again and again that smoking is a boring
pathetic pass time and that I am in the prime of my youth. I should be fit and
health.

 

We got our flight which took 5 hours
altogether including the stop off in a province which I forgot the name of.
Before we left Beijing I texted Lily to say we had left. When we were transferring
I got a text from her saying. “Tim if you do this you will have to deal with
the consequences”. WHAT! I could not believe it. First you don’t give me the
job and then you threaten me when I leave. Also how would she know where I am?
If she tried to get the police involved to say I had breached the contract how
would they find me? Also the contract is illegal because they didn’t give me a
work visa. I think Lily was just annoyed. I was going to give her a text
message and tell her she is a disgrace to the Chinese race and she has lost her
face completely, but Sarah just said I should ignore it. I took her advice; I
think it was the right advice as well. What’s the point in getting involved
further? It’s not going to make things better or different.

 

When we arrived in Haikou and exited the
plane I was hit by a strong gust of hot wet air. Poor Sarah still had her thick
long johns on and she changed quickly when she got to a loo. She came out in a
skimpy pair of shorts.

 

We left the air port and the first thing I
noticed in contrast with Xin Zhuo is that it was so green. Life was just
erupting from the ground and it was everywhere. As I was telling Sarah this I
noticed we were walking past a long row of dead dry pot plants. I think God was
showing his disagreement. I also noticed that people looked much different from
the northern Chinese I was used to. In the north people are stocky and bigger
and with paler skin. But here people have much more delicate features, dark
skin and are smaller and thinner. Also the language is different. They speak Hainanese
as well as Mandarin. For me it is so hard to understand people’s accent here.
Hainanese seems to sound a little like Cantonese. I think it sound ugly
compared to Mandarin or English.

 

Sarah haggled down the price of the taxi
and we left the air port and traveled along palm and coconut tree lined road,
listening to cheesy techno music from the radio until we reached our room. I
noticed that the city Haikou is not as modern as I imagined it to be. There were
lots of shack like shops. Square holes in the wall where dirty restaurants and
other kinds of shops were. It looked like a small city rather than the luxury
capital city I had envisaged. It reminded me a lot of the island Penang in Malaysia.
Although there were only Chinese here, where as Penang has Chinese, Malay, Indian
and many foreigners as well. I was also expecting to see loads of westerners in
Haikou, seeing as I had heard that it has been made an international island(what
ever the hell that means, I think it means that it has the intention of
developing into an international city).

 

We arrived at our room; the land lady was a
nice woman from Chongqing in Sichuan province. She showed us both to a room.
Being used to -20 and then suddenly coming here and getting 30 degrees in the
face, I felt a bit shocked and faint, especially traipsing round with a great
big rucksack on my back. Sarah, myself and the landlady went into the room.
They started chatting and I lightened my load and sat down on the bed. I
changed the channel on the TV and slipped on the small rubber slippers from the
room. Then Sarah said we were going to our room. “I thought we were already in
our room?”. Apparently not. The land lady giggled a bit as I sighed and put the
slippers back and got my shoes on again. I felt like a bit of a pilluck. What
if I had started to unpack? I was just about to. Why did we go to the room? Was
it like a starter room? Just a taster maybe. Lots of confusing things happen in
China every day for me. I find the best thing to do is just go along with it.
Which is exactly what I did.

 

 We
went to another building and took a very rickety looking lift to the 16th
floor. The lift had panels of ply wood attached to the walls and also layers of
ply on the floor. It was all unpainted and looked like a wooded box. I will try
and put a picture up of it. We got to our room which was big and cleanish. A
small bathroom and a very small balcony.

 

We were left alone and I had a much needed
cold shower. Then I got a call from a language school in Haikou. The principle
wanted me to give some demo lessons the next day. The principle Mrs. Zheng
sounded straight forward and said that all the teachers who she employs get a
work visa and medical checks and health insurance. It sounded much more
professional than the company which I used before. So I prepared a lesson for
children, a lesson for middle school students of about 12-4 years old and also
a lesson for adults. Sarah helped me plan but I didn’t feel confident teaching
her lessons so I planned my own while she ironed my shirt and smart trousers. I
was pretty nerves. I have never really had an interview before most of the jobs
I have had have been very informal and I just turned up for work.

 

After planning the lessons Sarah and I went
to the beach, on the way to the bus everyone was looking at me, I had hoped
that Haikou would be a bit more foreigner friendly but it was almost as bad as Xinzhuo.
They also have the motorbike taxis here, who in my opinion are the scum of the
earth, They will take any opportunity to cheat you and they hang around on
street corners and leer at girls and shout loudly like hyenas, so when a foreigner
comes along they go crazy, one jumped off his motor bike and looked Sarah up
and down and then shouted HELLO! Very loudly while the other taxi men laughed
away, I walked very close to him and stared at him which scared him a little
but not half as much as I would have liked it to. I still go by the rule that I
am in someone else’s country and that you have to be tolerant. If you are a
guest in someone else’s house then you have to be respectful it’s the same. If
someone looked at Sarah that way in England and shouted at me I would have a
very different reaction and it would probably involve a back fist.

 

When we arrived at the beach I was much relieved
to see that it was just like the pictures. Smooth yellow sand and a lovely blue
sea. We walked along the beach for a while and I worried about my interview the
next day. When we were walking back home I noticed a lot of men with large
snake or scorpion tattoos all over their bodies. This is usually a sign of a
gangster in China. It’s not like in the UK where every Tom, Dick and Harry
seems to have tribal ink scribed on their bodies. As Sarah puts it “only bad
people have tattoos in China”, I think in general that is true.

 

We went back to our room and we fell asleep
in the wet heat. Ah there is nothing like a slightly damp bed to send one to
sleep.

PART30 Avatar and the birds nest. Seeing Beijing


Wednesday, 24th, February, 2010.
We woke up early and got the long bus journey into the central ring of Beijing.
There are 5 rings expanding from the central ring and our hotel was in the fifth
ring. We got off and court the underground to the big shopping centre in the
shopping area of Beijing. Our purpose was to watch Avatar3D. Much to our
delight we finally found a cinema which had it in 3D and English. I have seen
it once before but the second time was even better. The facial expressions of
the animated characters is so real. Also the 3D was fantastic. Sarah and I both
came out very pleased indeed. Well I ran out after drinking 2 big cups of coke
and lots of water and while waiting for the epic long film to finish it was all
trying very hard to get out. I had one of my never ending pisses. It just went
on and on. “Does it ever end!!!?”

 

We then got the underground to the birds
nest and water cube stadium. It took about 20 minutes to walk there but when we
got there it was worth it. The birds nest was massive and it must have been a
nightmare to build, with all its large columns intertwining with each other,
then we went around the birds nest and saw the water cube, It was not so great
at first but then it started getting dark and the water cube started to light
up it was amazing. It looks very futuristic with its electric blue bubbles on
the outside. Later after a long walk round we traveled back to the hotel to
pack. I was pleasantly surprised at how polite people are in Beijing compared
to everywhere else I have been in China. The souvenir sellers at the birds nest
only asked once if I wanted to buy their things, unlike the persistence old
hags who follow and harass you in Yangshuo, in the south of China. Also the
taxi drivers we got in Beijing all were friendly and helpful; they always
helped with our bags. I think that because of the Olympics, China wants to give
a good impression to foreigners. I must say I was impressed with Beijing, even
though it is ruddy bloody big.

 

We got back to our hotel utterly exhausted
but happy with the packed day. Lily gave us a text to ask us which school we
wanted to work for but we didn’t reply. We are planning to leave tomorrow at 6
in the morning and leave without getting involved more in this company. Also we
decided not to take the deposit, firstly because we didn’t have the receipt but
also I am not really the sort of person who does things like that. We are just
going to leave and never get involved with this company again. I went to bed
late and I was very excited about our trip the next day. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

PART29, a spanner in the works


Wednesday, 25th, February, 2010.
I got up today at 9 o’clock after sleeping since 10 last night. It was possibly
the best night’s sleep I have ever had. We left the hotel and had some
dumplings at a little shop next door. We knew that Lily would call us in
advance before we left for Haikou so we went out exploring in Beijing. We got
on a bus and went to see Tiananmen square. As we approached I saw the large red
building with a massive painting of Mao zi dong on it. Also I saw the road
which the impressive 50th anniversary of the people’s republic of
china march took place. There was a sea of people and the sky was gray. The square
didn’t look all that big or impressive to me so we didn’t have a look around.
Instead we followed the crowd of people through and under Mao’s painting and
the large gate of the building. We emerged into a large yard where all the
solders who march and raise the flag in the morning train. Sarah didn’t know
about this place and we also found that we could go to the Forbidden City if we
walked to the other end of the yard. We got the tickets and went into the city.

 

Now it’s a nightmare to try and describe it
all so I would just tell you to have a look at some pictures of it. Not that
they would really do it justice. It’s just so utterly massive. It’s got many
expansive paved yards with big red palaces at each end and smaller ones on either
side. It was like what I imaged all China was like when I was a child. Curved
roof tops and wide red palaces with bronze and stone dragon’s everywhere. I
thought about all the kung fu films I had seen and was half expecting a ninja
to fly across one of the rooftops. It’s truly a place of legends, and few loos
as well.

 

After an hour of walking through the middle
up through the palaces, we looked at the endless sculptures and artifacts; I
was bursting for the loo. When we got to the end I ran to the crowded Loos. We
headed back down one of the side alleys of the forbidden palace to where the concubines
(or as Sarah said today by mistake “the cumcumberbines”) but to be honest I was
exhausted and it was all looking the same to me by then. Courtyard, palace, big
square, court yard….repeat…..Bigger palace. There was so much repetition of
similar looking palaces. I find that after a short period of looking at sights
I cannot take any more in. Like going to an art gallery, after half an hour I sometimes
just want to leave and rest my eyes. Maybe I need to train my self and become
more of a sightseeing coinsure.

 

Completely cream crackerd but very happy
and awe inspired we left and went to a large shopping mall and had a big lunch.
It was a big wok which you chose your own dishes and the cooks fry them with
loads of chilies. We were munching away at our big bowl and when we had almost
finished Sarah told me “there is frog and guts in it”. I was a bit shocked and
disgusted and remembered eating something which tasted like chicken but
certainly didn’t look like chicken. It must have been frog. mmmm tastes just
like chicken

 

Lily called us later and we went to the
office to meet her. We assumed that we were going to get given the details
about the school. When we arrived Lily was not there, but another girl unceremoniously
told me that the school in Haikou took on their old teacher and the job was not
open anymore. So we should choose another school in another province. For some
reason I was not surprised. Sarah and I sat there in silence for a minute.

 

I could actually feel my dream die. I could
feel the images of living by the sea side and teaching 40 middle school
students fade away. I know it sounds a bit dramatic but that is how I felt. I
then got up angrily and walked out the door. I managed to shin a glass table by
mistake on the way out which made the trackless twerp girl jump nervously. This
gave me a bit of satisfaction. I went out of the building and had an angry cigarette.
Puffing away. There was not relaxed drag of the smoke for me. Quick sharp inhaling
with pursed lips was what I was going for. I was standing there out side the
door and I felt like something was about to snap inside of me. A red mist was
creeping in from the outer rims of my eyes I was so angry with the company for
dragging me all the way out to Beijing, signing a contract and then shitting on
me. Then I noticed that a man was trying to open the door with a bike in his
hands. Like a shot I opened the door for him and smiled when he said thank you.
I had managed to unwittingly distract away my anger. Even so the problem remained
that I had been fucked. I had signed a contract for a job and then a day before
I thought I was going to go and do the job it was taken away. My only option
was to find another job now; all the other jobs which this farce of a company
had were in the middle of nowhere and now were where I wanted to teach. I tried
to make myself angry again but it didn’t work. I went back up stairs and told
the girl that I wanted the months pay which was promised in the contract if the
employees canceled the contract without good reason. She sneered at me and said
“we don’t own you money; there is not a school name on the contract”. BOOM! She
had me on that one. I knew something like that would happen. Fucking cheating Chinese
peaces of shit. This always happens in China. The better cheater does better business.

 

 The
girl went back to her computer and Sarah and I were left sitting there in
silence.  I had a great desire to leave, I
had a brilliant idea that we would go back to the hotel and steal the 1000 Yuan
deposit and then bugger off, that would teach them. I whispered the plan to
Sarah and her eyes opened wide in excited agreement. Sarah told the little toe
rag girl that we would consider another school but we have to think about it
for a while. We then made our way back to the hotel. My idea evolved further
more when I thought that we should stay in the hotel for another few nights at
the expense of the company and then take the money and cheese it. Ohhh I though
“what a Chinese way of thinking my Tim”, Yes your right it’s a bit creepy to
speak to myself. When we got back to the hotel Lily (our main contact from the
company) was there dropping another teacher off. She came up and was very
polite and apologetics about the situation much more so than the wench who was
at the office. Even though I was not won over by her apologies. “So what your apologizing!”.
The situation is still the same. I don’t have the job you promised me in the
contract that I signed before I packed my bags and traipsed all the way up to Beijing
before you shat on me. Imagine if I had come all the way from England and this happened.
Anyhow I told her it was alright and that I would consider another job but
could she let me have some time to think about it. I used the image of staying
in the hotel at their expense and them taking off with their deposit to help me
smile and show that I was not too annoyed.

 

After Lily left, Sarah booked two flights
to Haikou, We were going, no matter if we had a job or not. We started to salvage
the situation and laughed together about our plans. We were going and that was
that. I have other schools I can contact, also its going to be fun to job hunt
free style, not over the phone or internet. We are going to have a holiday for
two days in Beijing them go to Hainan.

PART28 leaving Xinzhuo


Monday, 22nd, February, 2010. We
got up today at 5 o’clock. I didn’t sleep very well. I kept on waking up
throughout the night. Also just before the alarm went off at 5 I had a scary
vivid dream, I was walking along an apocalyptic dark beach, watching the dark
rusting ships in the sea sinking one after another, then I found that I to was
in the sea and that a big storm was coming, I didn’t know which was to turn
because the storm seemed to be coming from every where. Then I woke up

 

I had a quick shower and Sarah and I both
got our things together. Mum and Dad helped us down the stairs with our bags.
As I was wheeling Sarah’s wheelie bag to the road one of the wheels broke off.
In my morning gloomy spirit I thought that this was a bad omen. We waited on
the dark empty road and after what seemed like an eternity a taxi arrived.
After we had loaded the baggage into the taxi Sarah told her parents to go back
home but they ignored her and bundled into the car with us. It was very sweet.
When we arrived at the train station it was surprisingly busy for 6 o, clock in
the morning. Sarah and I got on the train by barging through the crowds and I
even managed to trap someone’s foot between the door and the step going up to
the carriage. Chinese people have not learnt to queue. I don’t think it’s in their
nature. Its an aggressive experience getting on any sort of transport in China.
You have to fight to get on. People slip past you and no one lets you go first.

 

When I got on the train I slumped against
the wall panting and felt relieved that we had made it. While I was catching my
breath the train started moving and I didn’t even manage to wave good bye to
Mum and Dad.

 

When we arrived in Taiyuan we just crossed
the tracks and waited for the fast train going to Beijing. It was very cold
still and I was glad that I was still wearing my thick long johns. I think I
would have died of cold if I didn’t have them on and to think the only reason I
was wearing them was because I could not find my thin one just before we left.
Fate was on my side in the pantaloon department. It was interesting to see the
modern fast train to Beijing. Before I got the sleeper train which was an old
but quiet beautiful looking emerald green train which looked like it ran on
steam. It took 8 hours from Taiyuan to Beijing, but this fast train only took 3
hours. It had hostesses who looked like air hostess; there was no smoking on
the train either, they had a little bar, I had not had any breakfast so I got a
self heating meal. It was a pork which tastes like fish dish with rice. You squeeze
out the pork onto the rice and then put the cardboard lid onto of the box, pull
a string at the bottom and some liquid chemical reacts with something else
which heats the tin tin and then in ten minutes you have a piping hot meal. I
thought it was very spacie.

 

We arrived in Beijing and slowly worked our
way out of the massive west station and called Ray, the owner of the company
who is employing me. He was small and normal looking, I think he would be a
good spy, I cannot even remember what he looks like. Anyway he drove us
silently to his office and we waited around while he made a photo copy of my
passport. Then he took us to our hotel, on the way I asked “when will I get my
text books?” He looked very shocked and said “oh no no, we do not do the text
books here”, Oh no I thought, so I don’t get a text book to teach and I will
have to do the lesson plans myself. “But Lily (the person I had been talking to
about the job all this time) said that I get a text book to teach”. Ray looked a
bit embarrassed, “oh ok yes yes we give that to you later that is OK”. I realized
that he thought I meant tax book. I though it was very funny but I also got a
little pang of apprehension for some reason.

 

We arrived at our hotel which was clean and
had a big room. Sarah and I were both pleased with it and also with the fact
that the company paid for our stay there. We met another of the teachers there
who was a young man called Steven, he was a Goth from Canada, well not a true Goth
he didn’t have the make up on, but he did have a long black leather coat and a
sullen look on his face. He gave me a limp damp hand shake and then thankfully he
and Ray left us and we relaxed after our journey. I was a bit displeased because
we had been given almost no information. I had been told while I was still in Xinzhuo
that our tickets to Haikuo had already been booked, but when we arrived in Beijing
Ray said that they had not booked our tickets yet and that we might be leaving
in 2 or 3 days. Also the fact that Ray brushed away my question about the text
books. I got a very small gut instinct which told me things were a bit off.

 

After Sarah and I had a shower we had some
dinner at a nearby Si chuan restaurant, we were the only two people their but
it was very nice, the couple who ran it were cheerful and friendly and
obviously from Sichuan Sarah said because of their accent, although I could not
tell at all. They gave us giant portions and we only finished half of the meal.
After that we caught a bus to the centre of Beijing. It took about 1 hour and
made me realize that living in a big city involves a lot of traveling around. We
got to the centre with the intention of watching Avatar 3D, but both of the big
cinemas we went only had it in 2d and with Chinese dubbing. We both noticed
that there were 2 other new Chinese films, one about Confucius and the other
with a cheap captain jack sparrow lookalike as one of the kung fu characters.
They have taken Avatar off lots of screen in China. I think the cinema industry
wants to promote Chinese films.

 

We walked around the shopping centres and
had some Sushi and ate at many of the stalls in the food court. I had a strange
Japanese ice cream with marzy pan and jelly. It was amazing. But I ate it too
fast. Sarah got some sour tangy dried fruit and we both had a fruit drink.
Sarah had a rose drink, which was great. It tasted exactly like roses smell.
Then I had a kiwi fruit drink which was also good. Later both tired we got the
bus back to our hotel and fell asleep fast.

PART27 Sarahs Birthday


Sunday, February 21, 2010. I have had a
very tiring but fun day today. It’s Sarah’s Birthday so she went for a massage in
the morning then in the afternoon we went out with Mum Dad and auntie’s family.
We went to a very big hotel/restaurant. It was a big hotel which looked like it
needed a lick of paint; the furniture looked as if it was in style in the 80s
but it was still very grand. Sarah looked through the picture menu with me and
we say some very wired and expensive dishes. One was shark fin soup, there was
also strange spiky sea slugs, and a thing which was meant to be a fish but it
looked more like a avocado sliced in half. Dad, uncle and myself drank a lot more
than usual, I am sure my alcohol tolerance has gone up because I was very surprised
that I could drink that amount so fast and still feel ok. Saying that when we
finished the meal and walked out, well I think I stumbled out. Into the surprising
sunny day. It was shining right in my eyes and my face felt hot. It’s the first
time in a long time it’s been slightly warm.

When we got back I had a massage with
Master Jiange the blind masseur, I also got a card for mum so that she can get
10 massages which I paid for. I will not tell her about it until just before we
leave, otherwise she will argue and try and give it back. I gave Master Jiang
and his Dad each one of my expensive cigarettes and said goodbye to them.

 

Then at 6 we went out again for another
meal. I cannot be bothered to described it. I am sick of food, eating it, and
talking about it. All I will say is that one of the people who we went for the
meal with gambled so much that he had to sell his flat which his parents in law
gave him and their daughter, then they got a divorce but his wife loved him too
much and they are back together now. Ah love is a strange and wonderful thing.
The gambling is run by the Mafia here. You cannot bring your own money to the
place, you have to borrow the money at a high interest then pay it back later. It’s
a slippery slope, sometimes ending in you and your wife’s flat disappearing
along with everything else you own.

 

I have to get up at 5:00 tomorrow so I am
going to bed now; I am packed and ready to go in the morning.WWWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

PART26,


Saturday, February 20, 2010. It’s been a
very good day today, Like every day before a change is good because it helps
you appreciate things which you usually take for granted. Mums bosses sons, son
was coming over and I had to get up at 10 o’clock. It felt very early seeing as
I went to bed at about 4 o’clock. Sarah panicked when she saw him coming up the
stairs, realizing she had a class in 10 minutes but the room was still a tip.
She shouted at me to get up and I instantly started the day badly. Cursing the
little fucker for coming so early I got up and in a sloppy tantrum tired the
room. I sat outside bleary eyed and stared into space while the 11 year old son
and his grandpa(mums boss) chatted with Mum. While Mum was talking to her boss
she told me to go and play with Sam
her bosses grandsonin the other
room. Thankfully he asked for a pen and paper and we sat there drawing tanks,
robots and Aliens for the next hour.

 

The boss got up and left early saying he
would be back to collect Sam at 2:00. After Sam’s drawing interest had been exhausted
he told me to come and join him on the computer. I found it very annoying; this
little boy was so authoritative in someone else’s house. Telling me, his senior
to join him in my father in laws room to play computer games. He was like a
spoilt little prince. Mum looked at me when he asked so I obediently followed
him into the room and watched him play a violent computer game. Sarah said that
we should all go to lunch and he said “I want to play computer games”, so she
went away and waited until he felt like lunch. Fucking hell if I ever have a
child they are going to have lunch when I say so …..And like it. We went out
later when his blood sugar levels had obviously run short and he was itching
away for his next sugar fix, He could not sit still for more than 3 seconds, he
sat down got up talked like a monkey on speed and generally tested my patience.
We went to Dico’s, Like a Chinese KFC but with blaring loud music and regular announcements
which gave it the atmosphere of a busy air port. Sam ate a rice burger
(glutinous congealed slimy rice baps instead of bread…really ruff looking), a
curry, 3 big chicken wings, a large cup of coke, chips, chicken chips…..and
that was all. Sarah told me that he sometimes eats so much that he is sick.

 

 Then
when he had finished, his royal highness got up and commanded “zou ba”, (lets
go) Sarah still had her hot orange juice so she told him to wait. He was not
that pleased and waited for a minute then walked out the door. Sarah was very
worried “what if he walks off?” I hoped that he did walk off. I made sure we
finished the orange juice a little slower than usual and then we went outside to
meet him. He was no were to be seen. I panicked for a moment “oh what will we
tell his rich grandfather?”, then I thought Bugger it! He should never have
just run off it’s not my fault. Unfortunately he popped out surprising us. We
walked back home and as soon as we go back Sarah went to sleep in the bed room.
When I came in to join her she said that I should keep him company. I went out
and watched a film with him on the computer while he munched at some sugar
cane.( how much can this boy eat?!).

 

I grew tired and joined Sarah in bed after
half an hour of the loud Japanese cartoon, which involved crudely drawn characters
farting about doing things which I didn’t understand or care about. This poor
boy. His grandfather has to drop him off at one of his employee’s houses, he
only eats Dico’s or KFC, he is very fat. He is so cleaver, when Sarah taught
him English he learnt at an alarming rate, Because of his Grandfather who is
the owner of the big hotel and the communist training centre he has a future
ahead of him but I can just tell he is going to put everyone’s backs up with
his weird arrogance, Also if he keeps eating like he did today (and he does
apparently) then he is going to have some serious health problems. Also it made
me think that in the UK if your boss asked you to look after his grandson it
would be more than reasonable to say no, but here it’s just not the same. It
would have been very hard for Mum to say no and it might have caused more trouble
than it’s worth. If I stay in China for a long time, which I think I will. I
want to keep this sort of thing to a minimum.

 

I joined Sarah in bed for a nap and then I
woke up again at 4:00 and Sam had left at 3:00 after exhausting the whole
family. Why did he come in the first place?. But just as the relief that Sam
had left enveloped me the realization dawned that Linda was coming up the
stairs so I would have to teach her

 

I taught Linda for her last lesson, giving
her chocolate and sugar cane as we reread the story of the lazy fly. The hour
crept past slowly and I realized that after only one week of not teaching I was
a bit out of shape. She left after the hour and she forgot her identity card so
I called her back up stairs and put it round her neck on the string it was on.
Sarah had just finished teaching an older student of hers also called Linda she
was 17 years old. I had a short chat with her for 10 minutes and she told me
that she practices Erhu( Erhu is played like a cello but only has a few strings
and is much smaller and simpler looking than a cello… here is a link which
describes it in more depth http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erhu ). TEN HOURS!!!! That
is obscene. I remember when I briefly played the saxophone I may be played an
hour a day at best. Also I don’t think she was lying or bragging, I am sure
many people practice that amount, and this is during her holidays when she has
free time from her usual grueling middle school engagements.

 

In the evening Sarah and I went out for a
meal with Lu Yuen and Phiona. Phiona is an old student of mine who is planning
to go to Australia next month. This would be the last time I would see both of
them. They were both a bit glum when we met up. Lu Yuen had some personal problems
and Phiona was a bit nerves about going to Australia. We went to a shrimp restaurant
(well it’s not really a shrimp restaurant but Sarah and I call it that because they
have good shrimps there). But it was too crowded so we went to a Korean bbq place
just down the road. It was also packed but we waited for 20 minutes and then
got a table. We ordered a substantial amount of food. Including Spicy vinegar
noodles, which brew my mind because they were so tasty, sliced salty fish which
equally blew my mind and an array of other dishes including ones which were
cooked for us by a chief in front on our table. Also Phiona brought along some
of her Dads homemade wine ( homemade always rings alarm bells for me when it
comes to drinking). It was about 60 % and apparently he drank a small cup a day
because it has medicinal properties (that’s why I drink everyday as well….for
medicinal reasons) but anywho it did have a herb taste so I think it’s true. I
drank almost the whole (small) bottle and a few beers. I was pretty merry and
even chanced a few rude jokes with Lu Yuen and Phiona, Phiona didn’t understand
them and I think Lu Yuen found them very embarrassing, that only made it
funnier. Also a trio of brave little boys approached me and practiced there
English with me for a second until they got too nerves and ran away. It was a
very relaxing meal. Chatting away listening to Phionas worries about Australia
made me think about my first time in China and I thought that all the things I
worried about before I left never came true…a whole new set of real problems
came along when I arrived.