Firstly, welcome to my new blog! I've just copied everything over exactly as it was from getjealous, I hope you'll agree that despite losing my comments and the page visits counter this site is far better. Talking of page visits I have noticed that the amount of times my 'changes' entry has been read is much lower than the one that rob 'adjusted' and I'm therefore slightly concerned at how many people still believe rob's version of events regarding a thermometer and my backside...
I missed something hugely important from the last update; teacher's day on the 10th of September! Teacher's day is basically this genius idea (if you're a teacher) that there should be a national celebration of your profession which involves the students buying presents and a meal (I hope you all guessed there would be a meal with beer toasts...). Anyway, I had a fantastic day which saw me receive 29 presents from my wonderful students and classes, it took three trips with a full basket and rucksack and a precarious stack in my arms to get them home where I instantly piled them on the dining room table to take photos to send to the other envious volunteers. My gift tally was by far the best, poor rob received 12 and many of these were from my students who took pity on his moaning every time he saw me with another bag. We asked why rob's students appeared to hate him and it turns out they don't thankfully. He teaches senior one and their younger age and first time in a new school means they haven't settled in enough to start doing this kind of stuff where as my students knew exactly what I expected of them and did not disappoint. I say expected, me and rob didn't know about teacher's day and were pretty amazed to wake up to numerous texts wishing us what appeared to be a made up holiday. I got... two oranges, a bottle of sprite, two bracelets, a cap (matching with rob's), a traditional Chinese flute, a traditional Chinese instruments for tofu making, a statue of two fat cartoon people in a Chinese wedding (I don't know either...), three lucky Chinese ornaments for the house, a mounted white feather with a mandarin inscription on glass, a calligraphy set, a handmade lamp, multiple roses, some lovely cards, a bouquet of flowers and various other things. In comparison Beth got 6 and Cat got three with most other vols not reaching double figures and a few receiving absolutely nothing hahahaha. I win!
The 14th of September marked the beginning of a big weekend - we were about to increase Yiihuang's foreign population to unfathomed new heights. This saw rob and I waiting at the school gates (take note, they're huge and you cannot miss them) with our waibans for Beth and Cat to arrive. They informed me they're by the school basketball courts and confused so I took matters into my own hands and biked to the other side of school to find... nothing. Somehow they went to the wrong school and left us waiting for ages but they finally turned up and Beth practically fell out the car before it stopped moving. I could feel the excitement from quite a distance and she jumped up and down, squealing and clutching a pillow before jumping on us. Cat managed to restrain herself slightly better and then we had the pleasure of meeting their waiban Mrs Mung (this is the first day we met her and at this point we still think she's fun and cool...). The lucky girls were given a 'tour' of the school which involved sauntering around the 400 metre running track at a painfully leisurely pace and then returning to the dining hall via the rear of the school. Can't imagine why anyone would want to see inside the school on a tour but the girls were happy enough with their comprehensive sightseeing visit; partly due to the attention the four of us were receiving from the goggle-eyed students. My conversation with beth was interrupted by a female student shouting to ask if she was my wife! The banquet was unusual in that there was now a majority of English speakers with huan, marian, ivy and mrs mung switching to our native tongue to accommodate us. The headmaster and secretary looked a little bit lost and mr luo resorted to sitting back and chain smoking bless him.
Mrs mung was delighted with rob and I and said we were 'big drinkers' because we made it past 1 bottle of beer each and told everybody my voice was 'beautiful, like an announcer's or a presenter's.' That threw me a bit and for some reason I've since heard that strange compliment twice more from other people. The meal went on for a long time and at the end beth and cat's party animal waiban practically dragged us to KTV for a night of throat destroying karaoke. We were gutted to discover there were no rooms available. Fortunately, a room of rowdy policemen saw us and invited us in which also meant paying for us so we hit the jackpot! We started out singing some nice English songs and in return the policemen and their wives belted some Chinese back at us. When you sing people randomly come and hand you bouquets of flowers as well so by the end of the song you return to your seat as a walking garden. Things picked up a bit when cat and beth were asked to dance so obviously rob and I went and grabbed the nearest Chinese women who were lucky enough to have their feet occasionally trodden on and be spun round the room to some fat Chinese man belting out a love song, with a dodgy beat, in mandarin. Somehow the karaoke become rave music and everybody was on their feet (including 50+ year old women in high heels) jumping about. The Chinese have some strange notions of dancing which saw cat get trapped in a sweaty jostling circle for a while and all of us get randomly grabbed by the shoulders to find ourselves in a chain of people shaking each other's shoulders. I did the worm which went down a treat and then when dancing returned to 'normal' I felt a pair of arms around my waist. Suddenly I was being bounced around by a tubby bloke who was laughing hysterically in my ears, I managed to break free then responded by lifting the pot-bellied man up and dancing/throwing him about everywhere resulting in some funny pictures. The night continued with mrs mung managing to keep sitting with me on my own and speaking very loudly in my ears and ended with her insisting on dueting eidelweiss with me.
Rob and I were up bright and early (we're talking before 6 here) ready for our tai chi lesson which is more than can be said for the girls who moaned a lot and for some strange reason preferred to stay in bed rather than get up for tai chi in the mist. It was around this time that beth had snuck into rob's now vacant bed and so in a last ditch attempt to persuade them to join us I did the only thing that sprang to mind which was jumping on her. The bed made a strange noise (so did beth, albeit slightly muffled) and I may have broken rob's bed oops. When we took it to pieces to examine the damage we found that it wasn't actually my fault since there were 4 very thick planks completely snapped in two on the wrong side of the bed that I jumped on. It had been broken before and these were pretty hefty planks of solid wood so I'm not sure how the previous owner had managed to break them so badly. Anyway, this discovery made me feel slightly better and we set about fixing rob's bed. Replacement planks couldn't be taken from the other rooms as the bed's were all slightly different sizes so we settled for some manly DIY. Rob still sleeps on broken planks but they are now propped up by a bucket, a drawer and some cushions from the sofa. This means the mattress lies flat so you can't tell it's even broken - genius!
We learnt a bit more tai chi then returned home to wake the girls again to be ready for mr wu (the cool PE teacher/driver who speaks no English) to rock up. He was taking us to a temple and the language barrier meant we were under the impression we were visiting the ruin on a mountain that you can see from our house (to be fair that is what they were pointing at). Instead we were taken on a pretty scary journey along lots of winding mountain roads; we distracted ourselves by reminiscing about various favourite English meals and describing them in great detail. We arrived at a very scenic but seemingly newly built temple which we spent quite a while wandering around and admiring the various Buddhist sculptures and art forms. Cat was told off by an old woman in very rapid Chinese because she had bare legs (not sure why she singled out cat because we were all in shorts) and it was only after about half an hour that I realised that the monks weren't monks. They were all nuns I just hadn't noticed they were female because they all had shaved heads. After posing for some photos with some Chinese visitors to the temple (no matter where we go, no matter what the Chinese people are visiting, we invariably end up as the most exciting thing for miles around) we headed back. We all went to eat lunch in our school dining hall where we introduced beth and cat to some of our Chinese friends and then went to play some ping pong and badminton. Saturday afternoon is the only free time the students get so there were plenty of Chinese kids to play sport with - we're improving drastically at ping pong and rob and I beat loads of them. Surprisingly, they're not all that amazing although probably better than English kids and a few are really good. I also managed to beat one girl at badminton! I'm not sure this is something to be proud of, I'd just beaten her 11-0 at ping pong and I don't think she was the sporty type but I'm still taking the win - even more impressive considering beth was encouraging 'monkey' (one of rob's students) to lob bits of pomegranate at my head. We posed for some photos then headed home where I went to bed for the rest of the night because I had an insanely painful stomach ache again. Sunday morning was spent chilling then after the girls returned home in the early afternoon we planned lessons and tidied up after the whirlwind of destruction they'd left in their wake...
I'm writing this well after things actually happened; we've just returned home from travelling! But because of travelling I haven't had any time to write up my blog and no internet to upload stuff so I'll backdate you with more recent tales soon. Now we're both going to bed at 8 because it's taken 3 whole days of transport to get back to Yihuang and we're shattered!