Very, very many thanks to everyone for their kind birthday wishes, they are very much appreciated!
Well, it's Labour Day today in The People's Republic, so we are all having 4 days holiday! I've taken myself off to Guilin to stay in a nice hotel and explore the surroundings. Bianca, my erstwhile fellow volunteer, had no such plans but found herself the only person remaining in the school with no food and someone's alarm clock going off in the room next door, so she has joined me in Guilin (different hotel though). The two of us set off on a mission to explore an old Chinese village'nearby' (it's all relative!). Two hours and 4 buses later we were deposited in the vicinity and in the company of a group of very kind, friendly Chinese students, with a few English words between them. We walked with them to the village, went round it with them and then they got us back on the right bus again! The village was very tumbled-down with narrow cobbled lanes between old 'courtyard' houses. A few people still seemed to be living in unlit houses, using pumps and a well for water. It was all very picturesque and very genuine.
The teaching schedule is proving quite tough! We both teach 14 lessons a week to these terribly large classes. We can't share material as we teach the same classes so coming up with new ideas is quite difficult and probably more than should be expected of volunteer teachers! There is no imput form the schooil at all. They don't even check on what we are doing! I am also without my lovely, but extremely dirty, computer. The Chinese don't seem to have a problem with dirt and everything is very, very grubby amd that was the downfall of my computer - water in the electrics, I suspect! I am now waiting to see whether I will be expected to replace it or whether I will be left without one altogether.
I forgot to mention that last Saturday a group of us were taken to watch the cormorant fishing - the birds have rings around their necks to prevent them swallowing the fish that they catch. The fisherman squeezes the bird's neck and out pop the fish. The bird is then given a small piece of fish that he is able to swallow. It was interesting but so obviously staged for tourists that one felt that the birds were under a lot of pressure to perform. It didn't last long though, so that was something.
Bianca and I have settled down well at the school. We both feel that it was a good move. The pupils are delightful - so friendly and eager to talk (in private - put them in a classroom and they are mute!). The town of Yongfu is pretty horrible - 'modern', utilitarian, ugly, no redeeming features at all, in fact! We have also come face to face with the reality of the Chinese treatment of animals! This is something that I can accept, given the low value, generally, that they put on human life, but Bianca, an animal lover, finds it terribly distressing.
Thank you so much again for the birthday wishes - better get on with the celebrations! Bianca and I are hitting the high spots of Guilin...
(Monday) Not many high spots were hit - Bianca is not only teetotal but broke! Also the reality of being now nearer 70 than 60 hardly provides a good reason for celebrating.
I ommited to mention that we have had not rain for a week and heat has descended on Guilin like a blanket, leaving one very hot and sweaty. It is not always sunny, I'm not sure whether ii's mist or pollution that blocks out the sun, perhaps a bit of both.
Because of the hoiday, Guilin has been heaving - the shops were heaving, the pavements, the buses and the traffic are all heaving. The mass of Chinese humanity has to be seen to be believed! As for driving, well, I wouldn't for all the proverbial tea! Cars weave their way extremely tentatively between cyclists, pedestrians, vendors of every kind, kerbside barbeques, buses and taxis and are definitely in the minority and at every disadvantage.
Guilin is a very lively, buzzy place, especially at night. It has a night market which stretches for half a mile along the main road (adding to all the other driving hazards!), and the streets throng with people, including families with tiny babies, shopping, eating and just wandering about.
Well, my time is up,so until next time. Bye!