A Travellerspoint blog

June 2006

The Special Moment When It All Comes Together

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to you all,

It's difficult to sleep. It's so hot at the moment. I'm sick of trying to find cool spots on the bed so I thought I'd drop in and stay awhile. Soon I'll be leaving my little Tianyang with not only my travel pak but everything. I'll make the ten hour journey to Yangshuo, drop my bags off, play through the dark hours and sleep during the light. It always seems to turn into Stephen King's 'Salems Lot' when I arrive in Yangshuo.

Anyhow, after leaving Yangshuo and going overland to Kunming and heading north I will at some stage have to return to 'Salems Lot' (Yangshuo) to collect my bags and make the journey to my new school. Soon I will be jumping around before fresh new happy faces. Inside I still feel I needed one more year here in Tianyang. I promised myself when I came here I'd stay with one school for three years.

The reason being...to watch the Grade 3's grow and mature into Grade 5's. They teach me sometimes more than I can teach them when it comes to Teaching and being a teacher.

I had an awesome moment with one of my Grade 4's last week. Her name is Anna and she's one of the moodiest students I've ever met. One of my favourites too. She tries so hard. Her English is better than most but she makes it hard for herself by trying too hard and frustrating herself. When this happens we go though an 'I don't like Shane' period. A day or two later the 'I like Shane' smile appears and she bounces around the school yard saying 'I like Shane' again.

The other day she came into the office for a chat before class. I asked her what she was doing on the weekend. He answer was many sentences all joined together and freely flowing. She didn't even realise she had done it until she finished. She went quiet and then laughed and ran out of the office. A minute later she ran back in, gave me a huge hug and said 'thank you, we talked' and ran off laughing.

I guess thats the kind of thing, or the stage I was about to enter, when more of the students actually 'got it'. I could see it beginning to happen all around me. Another few months and I would have seen, or heard for a better word, the results of much of my work from the past one and a half, or by then two years. I really believe I am a person or a teacher who won't want to go from school to school every year. For me it won't achieve anything.

The future holds what it holds, time will always tell it's story.

Keep reading and follow me through to the next part of my adventure.

Beers N Noodles to ya, it's time to find cool patches in my bed again.

Sad Good Byes

Sad Good Byes


Sad Good Byes (1)

Sad Good Byes (1)


Sad Good Byes (2)

Sad Good Byes (2)


Sad Good Byes (3)

Sad Good Byes (3)

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

A Simple Answer, Yes OR No. Is It So Hard?

Hey Hey and a Big G'day to you all

PART I

It's been really confusing and a bit of a communication mess here in Tianyang the last week. The school thought my contract was ending at the end of this term and wanted me to extent but the person who communicated this made me feel like the school wanted me to go. I was pretty bloody shocked and very sad as nearly every day they tell me how much they like my teaching. Lunar, the main girl who looks after me has not been here so things got real strange and confusing. For two weeks I have been asking simple questions such as:

Q: Would the school like me to stay? Simple - Yes or No Q: If the school would like me to go I am happy to make way for a new teacher - Yes or No

A: Answer to everything: Oh, it's all up in the air, your contract is finishing.

Q: A contract takes five minutes. Would you like me to stay or go? - Simple - Yes or No

A: Same as before: Oh, it's all up in the air, your contract is finishing.

I rang Bucklands and Owen found me another school. From what he could gather from the confusing phone calls he had with the school was that the school now wants a female teacher.

I've felt so horrible the last two days. Luckily tonight Lunar returned and the headmaster rang her and they had dinner. After dinner the Headmaster raced Lunar up stairs to find out why I wanted to leave. I said I didn't want to leave at all and my understanding was that the school wanted me to leave as they wanted a female teacher.

It turns out THEY were shocked that I wanted to leave as every day I tell them how much I love teaching my students. The Headmaster then put PLAN B into action, that being, to get a female teacher. At the beginning of last term I suggested to swap between male and female teachers for the students sake.

PART II

So here I am, completey packed and ready to leave with a sad feeling in my stomach. I am looking forward to a new school but I don't feel ready for one yet. I will be leaving the school early and heading accross to Yangshuo to drop my stuff off at Bucklands.

What is happening around me is now beginning to make me angry. I have asked at the end and beginning of every contract that if they would like a new teacher all they have to do is say thank you to me and yes, it is time for a change. I said this two weeks ago, 1 week ago and every day since.

Instead they began making up lies about a contract between me and the school that ends NOW. They won't show me the contract. If they could show me I would be happy. You see I'm happy to leave here even though I would like to stay, all they have to do is say so. I'm a person who doesn't want to be somewhere someone else should. Now the story changes every day. Yesterday I still had a choice to stay, today I never had a choice as I found out the head master made a decision to change teachers at the beginning of this term.

I wonder what wonderful version will come out tomorrow.

This whole thing was very simple and could have ended very happy for everyone. When I asked, 'do you want a new teacher? Is it time for a change?' A simple yes or no would have been an easy answer. The thing that makes me real sad is I won't get a chance to say Good Bye to all my students. It's too late. In life it is always innocent children who pay for stupid games adults play.

I just got off the phone with Lunar and found out the 'contract' was not on paper but ORAL! I agreed to stay here until the end of this term. RRRIIIGGGGHHHHTTTT! ...do you want a new teacher, yes or no! simple really...instead I get stories now about an oral contract.

OK, do you want to know the real reason behind all this...it's simply FACE!

Someone told the headmaster that they believed I wanted to leave at the end of the term, the headmaster put Plan B into action and now no one will reverse what they have done. Simple really. The headmaster told me to my face she wanted me to stay...BUT, she had already put Plan B into action. A simple phone call to Buckands is al it would have taken. No new teacher will be chosen until the end of August. After explaining this I was given a simpe, Plan B has been put into action.

Don't you just love 'Face' and 'Plan B'. They want me to stay as the kids love me, YET we can't make a simple phone call. RRRIIIGGGHHHTTT, it's really time to go! So I'm completely packed and ready to go and say a guick yet sad good bye to my kids. They still haven't been told and it's the last day.

So, my Plan C is simply to Getdarfarkouttahere! I'm off to Yangshuo where night is day and day is night. Beers N Noodles to ya...shane

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

World Cup 2006: What Does 12:00am Mean To You?

Mate, what does 12:00 mean to you? Does it mean tomorrow or tonight?

Oh, I forgot,

I missed the Australia and Brazil game. Everyone was waiting for me at bbq but after a slight, yet typical communication mishap I missed the game.

Here is the reason. It's such a simple thing but could actually cause alot of confusion!

I asked when the game was and THEY (many Chinese people) all said 'Monday 12:00'.

To me or us in Australia and other western countries that actually means Monday night at midnight as we include midnight and the early hours in our 'night' when we speak.

Over here or in non-English speaking countries when they say 'Monday 12:00' they mean it literally. They actually do mean Monday morning 12:00am which for us is Sunday night 12:00.

Turning up a night late to bbq was a REAL BUGGER FOR ME!

All I can say is thank gawd it was only a football game and not a plane flight or a date with a girl who loves the pigs eye experience!

Beers N Noodles to ya

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

Do You Spit or Swallow

thumbnail.large.life_in_china.1150700640.pigs_eyes.jpg

Hey Hey and G'Day to you all,

Hope you all had a great weekend and are full of smiles.

Mine was rather cool. Sarah (Canada/Baise) and Judy (Aussie/Tiandong) ventured to Tianyang Friday evening. Sara wanted to get a good ride in so she rode the 40kms from Baise. She nearly rode into some rather bad luck. Tianyang had been without water ALL DAY! In fact, all week our water had been off and on but for some reason it never really effected my building. Luckily for Sara water began gushing through my pipes about thirty minutes before she arrived.

When Judy arrived we headed to the market place for beer a 'side walk Wok em Up'. Poor little Tianyang, the three of us sitting together freaked a lot of people out. Sara's got pretty cool looking hair. She used to have long dreads but they are now very short and died blonde. It's kinda strange as she also has a normal fringe. Yes, sounds strange but it all looks rather cool really.

thumbnail.large.life_in_china.1150700640.bbq_weekend_sara_n_judy.bmp Sara & I eating BBQ Pigs Eyes. It was her first experience! In the large tray is Tianyangs awesome slow cooked fish. Man it is delicious!

The night was just awesome. I love this time of year in Tianyang. WOW, how cool is that, I've been here long enough to compare years and weather. The days are hot and humid and the evenings are mostly cool and comfortable. Most nights we get an awesome thunder and lightening storm to satisfy my storm hunger. Usually around three in the after noon huge dark clouds roll in from out of nowhere (figure of speech. Of course they bloody come from some where!). What I mean is, man do they come in fast! One minute the sky is blue, then it is dark grey and whamo, lightening is dancing everywhere followed by huge drums of thunder.

People's reactions are so funny. All the girls are so scared of the thunder. The lightening doesn't seem to bother them. I tried to explain that it was the lightening that would hurt them and not the thunder. But it didn't seem to matter. No, this wasn't to my students, these were adults! I was watching one of the female teachers, (we had been watching the lightening at play for about twenty minutes after English Corner), she watched the entire time with her hands over her ears. Yet, there was no thunder the entire time.

Now, that is a huge fear of thunder mate!

After a wok up we headed over to the bbq area for more beer and the famous Tianyang fish that is slowly cooked over embers on your table. Ow man, it is such an awesome dish. It has a heap of other vegetables around it, under it and over the top. Once you begin you can't stop! We sat and happily chatted over our fish and assorted innards and outwards from things that once moved.

I allowed Sara to choose. As she felt it was finally time to discover and live the Chinese bbq experience the selection was that of tiny snakes on a stick, innards and outwards and of course the famous pigs eyes.

I guess the time has come to describe the pig's eye experience

thumbnail.large.life_in_china.1150700640.pigs_eyes.jpg STOP LOOKING AT ME!

There are two ways to describe this experience. The first is clean and the second a little funky! Ok, first. I remember when I was young, Hubba Bubba Chewing Gum had this bubble gum that had a centre that squirted when you bit in. This is kind of what happens when you bite into a bbq pig's eye. You never eat them straight off the bbq as they remain hot inside for some time.

When you put it into your mouth it's kind of rubbery. When you bite down and the skin bursts a huge spurt of warm liquid fills your mouth.

That then takes us to the second description which I'll keep short.

It's as close as I'll ever come to the age old question...Do You Spit or Swallow!

Gee, wasn't the weather nice today.

Yes, yes I swallowed.

Before you begin chewing the skin and swallow the liquid you can actually feel the eye ball lens on your tongue! It's a strange experience but one worthy of a visit to China for.

Anyhow, back to the night. We had been pretty much left alone for most of the evening. But then it happened, a High School student wanted to practice her English and Sara made the mistake of talking to her in Chinese and whamo, they came from everywhere. We had a birthday party behind us and soon cake was brought to our table. Party members dropped in to raise their glasses with us. In the end Sara had to actually ask one of them to leave us alone as she continually pushed in and talked over everyone else. Luckily after this most returned to the Soccer on the big screen.

Oh and some guy threw up all over him self at the table up from us. His friends all stayed there and laughed at him, continued to drink and no one bothered to clean it up. We left soon after. YUKKY!

Saturday morning Sara and I were supposed to ride back to Baise. Well, another storm flew on in from outta nowhere (be quiet, I know!) and man did it bucked down noodles and beers (cats n dogs but the Chinese version). Luckily Judy made it to her bus in time also. She headed back to Tiandong for a dinner party that evening. We had to put our bikes on the bus roof and within minutes a Police car blocked our pathway and began questioning our bikes.

How farken strange and stupid is this.

You can fill your bus with chickens. You can fill the luggage section with chickens. You can even fill the roof with chickens piled high. BUT our bikes weren't chickens. Man, to question two bikes, both on their side and tied down, that guy must have had one hell of a Biajio hangover or never got laid the night before. It took about ten minutes before he allowed us to go. The bus staff would not give in to him at all and good on them!

We had been invited to one of her friend's parent's house for lunch. The food was awesome and luckily for me her friend was an English teacher so we had a great time talking. Her parents were so happy and continually smiled and asked questions about western food and people. Like usual the food was great but the person whom cooked it WAS NOT A GOOD COOK AT ALL! This is so normal in China. They can all cook but no one is actually a good cook. It all tastes incredible to me!

After lunch we head to a Tea Shop where I stocked up on Cool Teas. If you've read most of my travelogue you know why I need these teas. If you haven't heres the short run down. My body heat is huge. In winter I still teach in short sleeves and sometimes shorts. The kids run to me and hug my bare skin for warmth. I've been drinking gallons of the cool tea you by in cans but I wanted to have the same for at home. You can buy this stuff everywhere on the streets and believe it or not, IT BLOODY WORKS MATE and most of them are actually very nice to drink. Not long after drinking them you can actually feel your body temperature fall.

After purchase we all said our good byes and I headed to the bike shop to get my granks tightened. I then rode the 40kms back to Tianyang beating the afternoon storm by about twenty minutes. Pretty lucky too, the amount of lightening was huge. During the ride I found that though my cranks were not loose anymore they were still making huge grinding noises. I was hoping it was just because they were loose...Nu, the bearings have gone!

NOW THAT'S A BUGGER FOR ME!

Saturday night I spent on the computer doing Lesson Plans and creatively making up stupid and funny games for my kids using assorted teaching books. I hate teaching from a book so usually I make it into a stupid and funny game type thing and the kids love it. I mean, does anyone actually like learning from a book. Not at all, especially Primary School children who don't really speak much English. I headed across to the Market Place around eleven and after many hours of beers N noodles I made my way home, woke the happy gate guard and headed to bed.

Sunday I also spent on the computer creating stupid and funny games. Got some great stuff to if I don't say so myself! That's about it really, I'm outta here mate,

Beers N noodles to you all...Shane

Pigs Eyes

Pigs Eyes

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

World Cup 2006 in Tianyang - Australia Vs Japan

thumbnail.large.life_in_china.1150290960.world_cup_australia_vs_japan.jpg

Huge night last night.

HUGE HUGE HUGE!

In fact it was an awesome night.

Let me set the scene for the evening.

Imagine living in a small Chinese farming town. Imagine being Australian (feels good doesn't it...tee hee!). Imagine being the only foreigner and being Australian. Imagine that nearly everyone in the town, just like everywhere in Asia, is a huge football fan.

Imagine the reaction of these Chinese people when 'their' only foreigner's country is playing...JAPAN!

I'm not going to go into the China and Japan relationship, I think I've written about it in another entry. Let's just say they don't share my warmth and affection towards Japan and its beautiful people.

Anyhow, with all the above in mind imagine the applause I got when I entered the 'Old Peasants' BBQ Area. I was to meet Mike and several people. I was early and when I entered there was clapping and whistling. I had no idea it was for me until people began yelling out...just say 'Our Daily Ya'. This of course means Australia in Chinese and it's the easiest way to explain the sound.

The 'Old Peasant' is the largest bbq area/shed in the huge new BBQ Area. It's huge mate. Ninety nine percent of the other bbq areas are housed in sheds the same size but each shed has about ten or so small areas. So you can imagine how popular this place is. Anyhow, when I realised the clapping was for me I said my 'Hellowwwsss' and was quickly saved by 'Harry' a Chinese English teacher from the High School. A nice table to be at I found as I sat down. There were about twenty girls there all in there early twenties and all smiling at me. We shared some beer, chat and bbq until Mike and friends arrived. Now that was a Real Bugger for me!

There were a few free tables down the back of the shed BUT as Australia was playing, a table was placed at the front of the shed RIGHT BEFORE THE BIG SCREEN TV!

As you would know, Japan led one zero for most of the game. Then it changed. When Australia got that first goal the place went nuts. People ran over and we clinked beers and we guzzled 'em down. I found out it was Australia's first and only goal to that point in the history of the World Cup (Hey, I'm a big fan!). Then the second goal came and then the third. It was actually like it was China playing against Japan.

I'm not sure if they were happier because it was my country who won their first game

OR because JAPAN LOST!

I'm putting my money on the latter!

Needless to say, it was a very late evening!

Not too many Beers N Noodles to ya...shane

thumbnail.large.life_in_china.1150290960.world_cup_australia_vs_japan_x1x.jpg thumbnail.large.life_in_china.1150290960.world_cup_australia_vs_japan_x2x.jpg thumbnail.large.life_in_china.1150290960.world_cup_australia_vs_japan_x3x.jpg

World Cup Australia Vs Japan

World Cup Australia Vs Japan


World Cup Australia Vs Japan (1)

World Cup Australia Vs Japan (1)


World Cup Australia Vs Japan (2)

World Cup Australia Vs Japan (2)


World Cup Australia Vs Japan (3)

World Cup Australia Vs Japan (3)

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