The couple of weeks in Yihuang before we went to Jiujiang weren't all that exciting but a couple of things happened I'll tell you about. Firstly, Beth and Cat came for another visit with their waiban Mrs Mung; the insanely annoying one. She took us all for a big meal with some of her classmates at 'Milo Coffee' just across the street from us. We'd been meaning to check out this coffee shop for a while but had never got round to it and it turns out the inside is actually quite a posh restaurant. They also serve English food! We ordered an English dish each which was added to the lazy susan for everyone to have a stab at, I ordered a meat pizza, Rob ordered steak and the girls ordered spaghetti. Yes spaghetti, the Western equivalent of the noodles that we eat all the time here. It tastes a bit different granted but it wasn't quite pizza or steak… Mrs Mung spent the meal telling us that I was becoming less likeable and Rob was becoming more likeable (I had tried my utmost to be nice but you haven't met this woman) but still thought that I was better looking than Rob which she kept cackling between her sips of baiju. After the meal we went and played mahjiang in a little room in the restaurant and Rob and I taught the girls how to play. We gambled with a pack of playing cards again and halfway through our game Ivy rocked up with a parcel for me. She left before she got a chance to see what is was, but I knew that is was from my Mum and Tom, ordered from Hong Kong and I had no idea what was inside. I must say my heart sank a little when I opened it to find lemon yellow woolly material. My first thoughts were 'I am not wearing a bright yellow fleece' and the appearance of buttons didn't help. Then a tail appeared and a face and I realised it was a onesie! A Pikachu onesie! Of course I tried it on straight away and spent the rest of the afternoon playing mahjiang dressed as Pikachu in a cowboy hat. I got stared at more than usual while walking home. Despite their hatred for all things Japanese it appears the kids like Pikachu. I love the suit, thanks guys!
The week after was Ivy's birthday and we were unsure of what to get her. She teaches class 13, the class that had turned an evening lesson with Ivy into a party for us so I told class 13 we were going to do the same to surprise her. Their lesson was two days after her birthday so we let it pass and let her think we'd forgotten it. We bought her a cake and had 'Happy 22nd Birthday Ivy' written on it (we always thought she looked 21) and got ready to deliver it. To add that extra bit of magic to the occasion I dressed as Pikachu, obviously, and we both wore our cowboy hats. When we got to school the kids had everything sorted and we lit the candles outside, they shut the lights off as we walked in and all sang happy birthday in Chinese and then English and I'm pleased to say Ivy looked pretty shocked. When the lights came on and they saw I was Pikachu everyone went a bit mental. I had one present for Ivy, I'd put a bottle of beer into a gift bag, after her display at San Qin San we always tease her about how much she loves beer and she tells me daily how much she hates it. We'd disturbed her lesson pretty well and she was sufficiently surprised. We spent the rest of the time posing for about a billion more pictures with everyone and a girl came and gave me a paper model of Pikachu she'd made since we arrived - I was impressed.
This period of time also saw Halloween, Bonfire Night and Armistice Day, none of which are celebrated in China. I'm here to teach oral English but the kids are endlessly fascinated with English customs and celebrations so each of my lessons for 3 weeks started with a 10 minute powerpoint explaining the 'English custom of the week.' Haven't seen any poppies here so I satisfied myself by cutting up a red carrier carrier bag and shaping it into a poppy with cellotape and sticking a black paper ball in the middle = DIY poppy. I wore it for a day but it kept falling off and so it had to stay in my room. We did make sure we observed the silence though and did it at 19:00 local time to coincide with everyone at home. I kept the kids entertained by pretending to be Guy Fawkes and had a lot of fun acting out being hung, drawn and quartered (he actually jumped off the scaffold and broke his neck before they got a chance but it seemed a lot of effort to explain this and a lot less fun…)
Obviously me wearing a flower to school one day prompted a lot of questions which I tried to respond to by explaining about the 11th of November. Before my explanation got further I was often met with laughter and strange looks which I just didn't understand. Then Ivy explained that in China the 11th is singles day. Obviously the number '1' represents a single person and the date consists of four '1s' so it's become a day for young single people to hold parties with all their single friends and try to meet new people and try their fortune. Every Chinese person I met thought I was wearing a flower to make myself look 'piaoliang (beautiful)' for singles day to get a Chinese girlfriend. Oops. I made sure that my lesson on Remembrance Day was comprehensive and that everyone understood the actual reason for my flower.
Not that much has happened in Yihuang over the last few weeks to be honest though!