End of term and end of Xintian.
It's been a mere 6 months since I left the UK and now it is time to actually start traveling! The end of term finally arrived and my contract is up with Buckland. My last 2 lessons involved showing the kids the movie "High School Musical 2" which they just loved! It went down a storm! After signing most English text books and taking lots of photos it was time to say goodbye to my senior students. A few tears were shed by students so it's nice to know that I have made some kind of impact!
I managed to get a week off for myself and headed back to Yangshuo (were I first started) to say goodbye to friends and see the things I missed out on. First stop was a good bar crawl! Next was hiring bikes in Yangshuo to explore the local towns which was cool (see pics) and then a visit to the Yangshuo mud caves, a big tourist attraction. As we arrive we are given a yellow hard hat and a pair of sandals! As we enter the caves our concerns include the lack of waiver forms or health and safety information! We are climbing up and down these caves following our guide, jumping over big gaps bashing our heads on the rocks above (thank goodness for the hard hats!) and losing sandals (because they didn't fit or have any grips!) Quite frankly it was scary! Not for the fainthearted or claustrophobic types! However, it was pretty cool to see exactly what is inside the mountains in and around Yangshuo.
After my break in Yangshuo it was time to head back to my Chinese home in Xintian as I was asked to teach in the summer program that my school is running for four weeks. It is for local children aged 7 - 13. Which is quite good fun! Its good fun to be teaching the ABC's instead of grammar and that Olympics topic! I have three classes each day, the primary school which have the youngest, including a very intelligent 5 year old who comes with his grandfather. He's close to knowing more English than I know Chinese!!! Then the Junior 1 class is incredibly excited and just full of sugar every morning! Iv never had to think of so many games in my life! All they want to do is play everyday! Time to make school fun for these kids! Then the older juniors, again they want to play. So my teaching life has turned into a game master! Which as you can imagine makes me rather popular with the kids!
My Chinese had been coming on really well until one day recently it managed to land me in trouble! One evening in a restaurant I impressed my brother Kelly by ordering for us. I ordered what I thought was "pork" however, somehow what appeared in front of me turned out to be "pig stomach and intestines"….! Oops! I questioned how this was pronounced in Chinese and it turned out it's actually what I ordered….! Not on purpose may I add. So of course it was beer down the hatch and time to just get on with it!! Actually not too bad ya know! Let that be a warning to you readers, don't let me order at a Chinese restaurant in the future!
On the subject of food…finally the inevitable happened one night, whilst out drinking in Xintian with my brother. A dish was ordered, which I was "instructed" that I could not eat, because it was a "man's only" dish. Apparently this particular dish would make the "man" more handsome and stronger. After my initial enquiry about its identity, I was told by Kelly he could not explain its identity in front of his friends because they would laugh! (Given his actions of the word) Now, being a woman of the world I managed to guess what it was (with the aid of an embarrassing text to my Chinese teacher!) Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a plate of pigs' penis's appeared right before my eyes! I leave it to your imagination on whether I tasted it or not…
(Discreet answers on the notice board please!)
Another interesting item also became part of the dinner table arrangement just recently. What looked like a plate of steamed egg (delicious) actually turned out to be "steamed egg with pigs' brain" What a combination I hear you cry! Again I leave it to your imagination on whether I tried it or not. (Did I mention beer was involved?) It seems the pig is literally the bottom of the food chain in China !
And, I write this part with a nice big hangover after an awesome day and night had yet again in Xintian. My day consisted of shopping, cookery lessons, swimming in the river, facial at the beauty salon and KTV! Just to broaden my horizons and push the comfort zone boundaries a little further my friend Elizabeth decided to show me how to make blood duck (again) from the VERY beginning. It has been decided that I will need to show the butcher in the UK how to kill the duck "correctly" in order to make the dish of blood duck! So I met her in the market having just purchased a live duck! We head back to her home in a rickety little local taxi with the duck quacking all the way. Back at her home I witness the "killing" process and also the extraction of blood from the ducks neck. Lovely. Then the plucking of feathers begins and the cleaning of the duck, inside and out. Our dinner that night consisted of only traditional Xintian dishes, blood duck, beer duck (complete with snails), boiled and baked pigs leg (skin and fat included), fried pumpkin (delicious!), fish soup (fins, heads and scales also included) sour beans in garlic and steamed egg. A meal fit for a king! What I will eat when I get back to the UK I just don't know!
Xintian - my China home.
The town Xintian, in a word is "magical" to me. I have had the absolute time of my life here. A time I will never forget. The experiences, the crossed comfort zones, the tasted culinary delights, learning and being submerged in a special, amazing, romantic, magical and traditional culture will be a part of me that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I have not seen Beijing , Shanghai or Xian but I have lived China . It was my original goal and I encourage many to do the same, unless you are a vegetarian! As many of my Xintian friends put it, I lived "our China ". I am overwhelmed by this town, by the people, the kindness, the people's honesty, their love and receiving their gratitude of a foreigner coming to work here for pennies. I have made great friends here and it actually breaks my heart to leave people I have lived and grown with who now mean so much. China 's people are hospitable, kind, generous, friendly (even though they stare!) and generally lead innocent, carefree lives. Whilst being in Xintian you would not realize the rest of the world existed, it does feel like China is the world! I think it's a wonderful feeling to have, and so relaxing. Xintian is a liberal community and people do what they want and whenever they want. I have never felt so welcomed in a place, so relaxed, laughed so much and on the day I left, cry so much. An indication of my happiness and peace is reflected by the fact that I have cried once since I left home! The day i left Xintian 25 of my friends came to see me off at the bus station with gifts, warm wishes, hugs and kisses. It was so emotional and i was in floods of tears all the way from Xintian to Guangdong. (during an uncomfortable 9 hour bus ride)
My emotional bus journey took me to Sanya in hainan again, to see some good friends and relax a bit. I had the most perfect time. I toured most of Sanya, chilled on the beach with beers with a very close friend, played beach volleyball, got a great tan, went swimming, learnt to surf (bring on Aus...!) and (checked out jobs and schools in Sanya....!) My last Chinese meal was a great one!!! In a Hunan style restaurant with my good friends i enjoyed spicey frog hot pot and pi jiu. Fantastic. I will miss China alot.
I only spent a mere week in Sanya but had such a great time. So today (14th August) it was time to offically check out of China and get the stamp. Not having visited Beijing , Shanghai , Shangxi or Xian is a shame; however, I like to look at it in a different way. It means I HAVE to come back!!! Hooray!
So its on with the travels and I write this today in Hongkong with an extortionatley priced latte in an internet cafe. Having just had a disappointing (non spicey meal lacking frog or dog or mouse or the use of chopsticks) western type lunch. I am visiting good friends, Ray and Annie in Discovery bay in Hongkong, which is full of expats!! I have never seen so many foreigners! I now understand why the Chinese stare so much, a sight for sore eyes i tell you!!! So after some small visiting here in Hongkong and some practicalities (having nails done, sorting photos and going to an english speaking bank etc...) i will head to Nepal tomorrow (15 August) to climb some large mountain! On 1st of September I head to Bangkok and then to Singapore . Hopefully ill have time to upload another blog and some awesome Everest pictures!!!
Love to hear from you all as usual and I send the UK some sunshine from China !
"Good luck to China in the Olympics!!!" " Beijing huan ying ni" !