A Travellerspoint blog

May 2007

International Children's Day in China

HeyHey and a Huge G'Day Toya What is International Children's Day? Why is International Children's Day held on June 1st here in China? From what I have found there was in a meeting in Moscow in December 1949 where the Women's International Democratic Federation (WIDF) declared June 1st as International Children's Day to ensure children's survival, health care, rights of education and against the ill-treatment children. In 1949 the Chinese government formally regulated June 1st as 'International Children's Day'. Believe me when I say that every year in China the 1st of June is celebrated in a huge and special way. Children are the future custodians of the Chinese Nation, and to do its best to provide them with a good family, social, and educational environment is a goal worked upon. Of course many think it could do better and like every country in the world, it probably do better! China is the perfect country to celebrate Children's day. They have a huge love for festivals and celebrations so it really is a great time. The day is enjoyed with friends, families, students and fellow teachers. Many schools put on a song and dance contest and allow the students to put on a party in their classroom. The morning is usually spent watching a DVD in class, followed by a party where the children go absolutely berserk. The students are then free to go home for the afternoon to be with friends and family. This year, the afternoon before Children's Day (or yesterday afternoon) the school held a 'Trash N Treasure' afternoon for the students. The students got to bring in a heap of what they don't want or use anymore and sell it to each other. Most of what the students earned was donated to a local charity and the left over was used to help buy supplies for the Children's Day classroom party. Eg; balloons and sweets etc. It was a great afternoon. The students spent it out of the basketball courts with their little bundle of 'Trash N Treasure' and they all walked around and purchased from each other. I spent my time either racing from pile to pile or being dragged along by students. I would then purchase a heap of things which I then gave away to other students for them to sell again. The night of Children's Day or the night before is usually when the song and dance contest is held. It is usually a beautiful and colourful event! My school in Tianyang went all out for their students on Children's Day. I know many people think China is not such a 'giving' country. In some ways they can be said to be right but in other ways until you have lived here for a time and have got past everything you have read and actually become part of society they can also said to be completely wrong. Remember that what the government is known for is hardly what society is really like. Education really is hard here for the students but in some ways the country really does show its love of its people. Just like back home, each city, town and village is responsible for its children. On a more sad note though, it really does seem that Children's Day isn't celebrated in many countries. In fact I don't remember celebrating it at all in any of the Australian primary schools I attended. Sadly I remember celebrating the Queens birthday every year during primary and secondary school and continuing the celebrations every year after. Luckily for its workers Australia will celebrate the Queens birthday next weekend with the usual granting of a public holiday. Until coming here I always thought it was funny that we celebrated the birthday of a Queen none of us had ever met (and for many, nor really want) along with celebrating a three minute horse race called the Melbourne Cup. Don't get me wrong, public holidays have become rare in Victoria Australia and I'm happy to celebrate any 'Old Jack or Jills' Birthday to get a public holiday. But should we really celebrate the Queens birthday over celebrating Children's Day? In fact to make it even funnier, we choose to celebrate her birthday many months after her actual birthday. Here is something I found to explain what I mean when I say that most of us really have no idea that Children's Day actually exists; Sandwiched between Mother's Day and Father's Day is the little known holiday of Children's Day that occurs on the second Sunday of June. Am I the only one who remembers such a day? Research leaves me with a feeling of frustration as I look for the origin of this holiday. Even desk and wall calendars fail to note this holiday which is perplexing. It seems that the holiday has lost its significance through the years. I have been hard pressed to find any of my colleagues at work who knew or had ever heard of Children's Day although they agreed it was an excellent sentiment. [/i] However, I do have a calendar book that lists Children's Day as June 10th this year proving that I am not chasing an esoteric figment of a confused and befuddled mind! [/i] [/i] Traditionally our family would return home and have dinner together. Then our parents would give us a gift as a token of their love. The excitement and anticipation of what we would be given was second only to Christmas! We would excitedly open our gifts and then express our gratitude to our parents. We felt special as children and were treated as royalty.

Depending upon family traditions, each family would continue the celebration in its own way. Our family loved to go on Sunday rides so Children's Day was sometimes celebrated by going on a family ride in our station wagon with our ever burgeoning family (10 children being the final count). [/i][/i][/i] [/i][/i] So I leave you with wishes and hope that all the children in our world will one day get to celebrate International Children's Day! Beers N Noodles to you all....shane The soundtrack to this entry was by a band called Ride. The album was 'Going Blank Again' For those like me who love the 90's 'English Guitar' sound, Ride really are an awesome band to listen to.

Happy Childrens Day

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School Sale Afternoon

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Village N Temple Bike Ride Second Leg

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day Toya

I've finally found a new add on for my daily Village and Temple bike ride.

I've been trying to find a ride like back in Tianang that takes me way out into the villages and then around and back again. I've found and taken many off tracks but they always end at another small village. It's always great to find a new village full of yapping dogs and small grubby children chasing chickens around the place..

Several weeks ago I finally found a track that takes me through a small village and back into town. Not as long as I wanted it to be and its not really that far out of the town but it's good enough for now

Heres a few Happy Snaps for you Beers N Noodles to ya...shane

Afternoon Ride Second Part

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Bugs Slugs N a Wonderful Weekend

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to you, WOW, what an awesome weekend it has been so far. I've finally got to spend some time with my friend Mary again. You should know her from the 'Village Marriage' blog from some time ago. We speak on the phone a lot but actually catching up in person has been impossible due to her schools demands of her doing weekend classes for her Grade 6 students to prepare them for their Middle School entrance exams. She gave me a call Friday afternoon and told me she'd be in Shaowu that very evening. When she arrived myself, Mary and Joyce headed out to a favourite eatery Daniel, Aleca and I dubbed 'Yellow'. Mainly because its front and inner walls are all yellow. I think I've written about it in a prior entry. The girl is from Guilin and her English is cool. She came to Shaowu to marry her boyfriend. The three of us spent a wonderful few hours devouring dishes like sweet and sour pork and Japanese Tofu etc. We then headed up to Peoples Square to watch the dancing and the Music Fountain. Yesterday morning Mary had her Middle School Teaching Exam. I rose early to meet her at the Numnber Six Middle School where she sat the exam. The poor thing was so nervous whilst waiting for the result. Happily she passed the exam where several didn't. Needless to say her English and love of teaching English shone through and as of next term she will leave her Primary School duties and begin teachng Middle School. Sadly the rest of the day was spent indoors as the the end of the wet season hasn't actually arrived and it has continued to rain for most of the last few days.

We happily spent hours chatting over chicken burgers and watching the De Vinci Code. Last night I headed out with the Martin and Georga for a night on the town. I introduced them to the wonderful friendliness of 'Yellow' and its delicious menu. We then took a walk though the neon coloured streets and we then headed to Shaowu's newest bar called the Miami Bar. BUT, some of the signs actually say the Maiam Bar. I really don't know how they can get it both right and wrong, but this is China. From there we headed to Ting Tings Bar that we now have to rename as Ting Ting has left the building.

Ting has left Shaowu and moved back to her parents place in a small city a few hours away. How sad I was when she called me to tell me the news. Maybe we will leave the name as Ting Tings Bar in her memory. We spent the following many hours getting to know each other more over many local beers and too many Dice Games. When we left Tings Bar I introduced the Aussie Couple to the Great Northern After Bar Noodles. Needless to say they were as impressed as Daniel and Alexa were. Man I love those noodles. I am writing this late Sunday evening. Until this morning I lived in a first floor apartment (for those out of China this actually means I lived on the ground floor. Here the ground floor is the first floor). This evening I write to you all from a wonderful fourth floor apartment. Why the move? Until the the humidity began its great knock on Shaowu's front door my apartment was anawesome place to live. I was asked if I wanted to look at this fourth floor apartment when I arrived but I love to live on the groudn floor so I said no. Once the humidity began to slowly kick in things began to change. Horrible toilet smells began to enter my living and bedrooms a the sewer drain runs along the front of the apartment complex. Usually this wouldnt be a problem but right outside my window there is a little garden bed and on either side of the garden bed are openings. Not a good thing for anyone living in my apartment! Secondly the tiles in my kitchen and empty room (between the loungeroom, bedroom and bathroom) constantly sweat, meaning they are always wet!

A real bugger when you wake up in the middle of the night and forget to put on slippers.

Thirdly due to the smell and dampness I had so many bugs and slugs lurking around. A few slugs and mozzies you say. Think again. The slugs were found in my coffee cup, beer mug, on my chop sticks etc. Last night was the last straw. Luckily for me I looked into the beer mug before I drank. There was a drunken slug floating in my mug. Then during the night on a toilet trip I stepped on two slugs with bare feet. ARGH! Get me out of here! Thankfully the Aussie couple still had the keys to this apartment as they spent two nights here when they first arrived. So I grabbed them and spent a big part of the day moving all the stuff from my old place to my new place. This apartment is wonderful and pretty much what I had in Gansu. The lounge, kitchen and bedroom are in the centre and on the outter of them are two rooms to keep the heat out in Summer and in in Winter. I have ceiling fans in the lounge and kitchen which is really cool so now I don't have to carry my little fan around each room. There are two front doors. The usual one and then a thick steel security door. Perfect for when I get my Laptop. So now I am all settled and everything is in its place.

Also a big thankyou to my friend Paris for a wonderful afternoon. We met in the street and spent the next few hours happily chatting whilst walking along the river and then over two delicious slurpy bowls of noodles. Now there is a future Ms China entry! Also the strangest thing has happened. Talk about keeping in contact and living life through Travelpod.com. Four people in the past week have contacted me and asked if I was ok. As I write this I have only just begun downloading the last months entries online due to this ball busting computer. My new Notebook has arrived in Shaowu but we are still awaiting the arrival of the English software so I haven't been able to pick it up and begin working with ease. So I guess I will have to continue to pretend XP Word 2002 is my blog and remain calm enough to continue writing and doing my best to transfer from Word to Travelpod. What should take twenty seconds now takes around twenty minutes.! Due to the lack of even a single entry in the last month a close friend from Australia, and two people I don't know have contacted me to see if I have been very sick. The people I don't know contacted me several months ago via Travelpod to comment on my blog and ask a few questions. They actually got worried that something bad had happened to me. How sweet is that! The fourth, my beautiful friend Shania from Shanghia gave me a call yesterday morning as I was waiting with a very nervous Mary. I met Shania (or Fanjing in Chinese) when I was in Sanchung. She had checked my blog to see what my thoughts were of her beloved Shanghai and found not a single entry to be found. We were supposed to catch up whilst I was in Shanghai, but due to her thesis demands and my walking and bar adventures it became impossible. It was a real pity as I really wanted to spend some time in Shanghai with someone who knew the place and could give me some realistic information on what it was like to live there. I could get the same info from her on MSN but it's really not the same as catching up in person along with the fact that this computer doesn't like me chatting to people and working at the same time. It becomes too much and it has to stop to think about life. I'm sure it hits the bar as once it freezes it just chugs along at a slow pace for the rest of the night and refuses to swap between MSN and any other package. Add to that the fact that I really don't know when or if I will return to that city, then you have a bit of a downer. So I hope she returns to visit her family in Sunchang before I leave Shaowu. To my Aussie buddy Judy, I'm really sorry mate.

I know I have text mail but with the complete friendship turn around between my computer and myself along with all the 'Goodbye and Welcome Dinners' for both English and Aussie couples life really has just flown by. I can't believe May is nearly over and I flew to Shanghai on the first of the month. If I was in Shanghai for six days then where has the rest of the month gone? I'm serious, I have no freaking idea where it's gone. There have been several bar nights and school has been over the top awesome but as for the rest of the time...maybe Area 51 is really here in Shaowu. I only wrote that cause Tools 'Faaip De Oaid' is on at the moment. Beers N Noodles to all you caring friends and readers! The soundtrack to this entry was from Tool The album was 'Lateralus' Awesome!

Mary The Middle School Teacher

Mary The Middle School Teacher


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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

The Yunnan Snow Mountain Minority Peoples Evening

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day Toya Today was just like all days here in China, 'another beautiful day here in Shaowu'. Did someone mention the weather? The humidity my friends has really kicked in. Over the past week or so it was knocking on Fujians door but yesterday someone heard that knock and went to see who was knocking. There was no chance of quickly closing the door to the big bad wolf. He barged in with the rest of his army. Classes have been like teaching in a swimming pool. This is the only school I have been to that doesn't have a single fan in even one room. Even my little poor school in Tianyang had three fans in each room. Two ceiling fans for the students and a wall fan for the teacher. Every one is almost entirely soaked through by lunch time. The students spend a a lot of their time faning themselves and by mid afternoon they are doing their best to keep themselves awake. This is not a poor school in comparison to Tianyang where half the students still came to school in sandals during winter because their families couldn't afford to dress them properly. But then again maybe it has less money than I think it has. I had to get myself a fan last week and have been carrying it around the apartment most days since. As of two days ago it even comes to the bathroom door as the water is now room tempreture which means it can't be called cold and refreshing. Once you turn the cold water off, unless you have air movement you'll need another shower in several minutes. Give it a week or two and it will become normal to me again like in Guangxi. Now that the weather report has finished we can get to the spectacular evening I have just experienced.

During the afternoon I had a ticket to a performance delivered to my door by Shirley the Super English Teacher. It was to a Minority singing and dancing event. The Minority Peoples were from Shangri-la in Yunnan Province and as I have visited this area on several occasions I was instantly excited. Hey, minority girls in minority dresses. They could spend the night playing chess and I'd still be happy! The show was absolutely stunning. I couldn't give it higher praise. The minority costumes were so colourful and brought back memories from my several journeys to that extremely lush part of China. They also reminded me so much of my life back in Tianyang and Guangxi. Being an autonomous area, colourful minority dresses and minority music were pretty much normal life in most parts. The dancing reminded me of living in Gansu as my schools students were taught a style of dance used mainly in the west of China. The main attraction, apart from the actual dance and the beautiful girls ofcourse were the long sleeves. Swooshing and swirling they created colourful patterns in the air like fireflies dancing on a rainbow. The singing became normal for me in Gansu as everyone listens to this style of music there. Some do in Guangxi and Fujian but it is not as common. I think it comes from further west in Xinjiang Province and can be found all through Gansu, Sichuan, Yunnan, Tibet etc It's like, well it's hard to explain really. Those who have been to China and those who have heard a Chinese Opera will know that a lot of Chinese female singers have high pitched voices but this goes one step further. The only way I can explain the difference is to say that it kind of reminds me of being China's 'Country and Western' style. It doesn't sound like 'our' Country and Western but the costumes, where it's from, attitude etc give it that air.

I guess if you read about my journey along the Sichuan - Tibet Highway and places like Xiangcheng and Litang and China's 'Cowboys' you may understand. They are the people and they create the music. It's sung in local dialect so for a few hours everyone in the room felt like I do most days. None of them could understand a bloody word of it. In between songs a translater had to explain certain details as to what certain people were saying. The performers were all from little villages that are found beneath the awesome Snow Mountain. All the songs were based around present life, myths and offering thanks to the mountain for its protection of the people whom live in the area. I had such a wonderful evening and I was really sad when it ended. It wasn't a short show either but I didn't want it to end. Though it had to end I think it was the most awesome way to welcome both Martin and Georga to Shoawu. Gone are the English accents and like a slap in the face the full on Aussie accent will become a normal part of my day again for the next three to five weeks, depending on the end of term dates that is. They will then head back to Yangshuo and resume teaching there for several weeks before donning the pack and traveling around China and across to Nepal and India etc. Needless to say, it was a real strange experience when we all first spoke. It really did take me back six years ago to the Melbourne Mall when I returned home from my big adventure. Life really couldn't get more beautiful! Beers N Noodles to ya....Shane The sound track to this entry was by a band called Sepultura The album was an awesome release for its time. From memory the members of the band went to live with a tribe of people in the Amazon Jungle for a time learn about their 'beats and roots'. Hence the name of the album 'Roots'.

The Minority Peoples Dance

The Minority Peoples Dance


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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Mate Whats Been Happening N A Quick Catchup

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to you all, That's it mate, they've gone home! I can't believe they've gone. Shaowu will never be the same again. The English couple have left the building. Daniel woke up one morning and the need to be around his family and friends was just too much. I had no idea there was an internal struggle going on between wanting to stay here in China and going home. In the end family, friends and all things normal won and within days tickets home were booked, huge goodbye feasts and bar nights passed by and today the three of us said our sad good byes. I've seen this happen to several foreign teachers. Some even had plans to stay for many years and then one day they woke up and that's it, it is time to go home. Maybe one day it will happen to me. I have huge doubts that it will but then others thought the same. When it does happen it is a huge pitty for not only the foreign teacher but also for the teachers and the students. I've helped some teachers through home sickness before but like several others this was too much to get through.

Last night an Aussie couple flew in to replace them. I got to meet them today at lunch time. Mate it was so strange to hear that thick Aussie accent again. I remember when I flew home from Norway years ago and I sat in the Melbourne Mall for many hours just listening to the way we speak. So strange to hear. The last week has been huge. Full of huge dinners, a lot of beer and many hangovers. But it has been alot of fun and worth it. So if anyone reading this has the following album put it on, grab a beer and lets offer a huge cheers to Daniel and Alexa. They were both great teachers and everyone here in Shaowu loved them heaps, especially the students. We will all miss them heaps. Thanks you two English Gits, you made life here in Shaowu a wonderful place to be. Once you finish Uni Daniel I'm sure you'll be able to afford a better beer than Castlemain and Fosters! Unlike here in China where Carona and Heiniken were the drink of choice! Hey Lek, Ya Right There Lek! Thanks Champ! Bloody Oath and Shit Yeah Mate! I wish you both had stayed till the end but life is life and all good things move on to become good things elsewhere Anyhow, to life and what else has been happening and also to why the hell there has been almost a complete month between entries in my Travelpod. Mate I really can't believe it's been nearly a month since my last entry. Things here have been pretty full on and my computer is very lucky it is still alive. If it was my computer it would have been thrown against a wall. Any wall! Mate just give me a wall and a week ago I would have happily thrown it again it. It's running so slowly that half the time I just don't bother using it. It died on me the night before I flew to Shanghai and when I got back the schools 'Computer Guy' put a 'ghost' imprint of his Chinese XP and Office on and ever since it has been running like a complete bitch. A computer purchased around 1984 would run faster. It's never been fast and has always frustrated me but this is now past being a complete joke. It's running so badly in fact that one night I timed its 'thinking time'.

Seriously, out of four hours work time the little bugger made me wait for nearing one and a half hours. For no reason it stops and thinks for minutes at a time. When trying to go between word and the internet or use photos and cross between them and another package it is like slow death. I haven't been able to formatted it until now as I only received an English copy of XP a few days ago. But if I format I will lose my internet access and it will probably take days for someone to come and connect me again. On a more happy and less frustrating note. The main reason I haven't done anything about it is I have just purchased a new Notebook. For people my age, you will know it as a Laptop Computer. Why the name change? I can't seem to figure it out. Nothing much has changed as they still sit on both your lap the desk the same way. And then there are the smaller awesome ones called Tablets. Maybe we should change the name of a Lap Dancer to a Note Taker. Then if she is smaller than a normal Lap Dancer we can call her a Note Taker on Tablets. My new 'Notebook' is a Wizz Wizz Wizz Bang one that makes coffee and turns into a lap top dancer when ever I want it to. Har har.. No really, it is the latest and greatest HP Notebook. Its waiting for me in the store but they are waiting on English versions of both Vista and Office 2007 for me. Working with Chinese versions is ok until you want to do something out of the normal then it is just impossible. Now let's talk quickly about Shanghai. For a city I never wanted to visit, mate I found it totally awesome. I loved it so much. Enough of Shanghai as soon you will be able to go back a month and read about it for yourselves. What else? Life is as awesome as usual. Teaching is the best thing since the bikini. I love it so much. The weather has been awesome. The rainy period has finally ended...I think. Over two months with nearing all day rain every day. In the end it got a little too much to take. I missed my riding each day. If it wasn't pouring it was raining but raining was ok as I'd head out in the rain and ride for hours. At the moment I've got a lounge full of grade one, two and three students who play out the front each break. When I'm home they run in and out happily chirping on about what ever. To me it sounds like they are telling me about the noodles they ate the night before. I've no idea what they are saying, they know that but they are happy to just chirp on for minutes and then run back outside again. They are so funny. Well that's it for now. I've a heap of 'back dated' entries to add but until I get my new Wizz Bang it really isn't worth the frustration of trying to cross between word and the internet and getting really angry with my computer. So I offer you all my usual Beers N Noodles and happy smiles. So the soundtrack to this entry can only be one band. The crazy band that Daniel put me onto. The band is Marz Volta and the album 'Frances The Mute' Go for it and beer it up mate!

A Selection of Goodbye Shots

A Selection of Goodbye Shots


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Catchya Later Mate

Catchya Later Mate


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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)