Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Restaurant fare, Chinese children and travel?

Since my last posting, I've added to my repertoire of restaurant hopping by visiting a Korean, Vietnamese and Chaozhou restaurant. The Vietnamese one was delicious but so expensive that my wallet is severely bruised after dabbling in duck. So, I've returned once again to my experiment-in-progress...the local Cantonese restaurant.

Here I sit at this relatively fancy Cantonese restaurant, chowing down on the simmering mutton dish, which is relatively delicious. It comes out in a clay pot, "simmering" as the name suggests, and very rich tasting. Then came the flies.

By "flies", I mean the housefly variety. Literally hundreds of them, as if summoned to my plate of food by some olfactory signal, which arose from my mutton dish.

Annoying as it was, I was on-guard with my chopsticks, waving them to and fro, cautioning any winged adversary against certain death, should they venture near my dish. But wait! Hark! While dining in this fancy establishment, I was suddenly graced with the ever-astute waitress, armed with a flyswatter. Having noticed my frantic chopstick waving, she came to my rescue.

While nibbling on my mutton, this beautiful and slim-yet highly skilled Diptera murderess whacked a fly on the window near my table, splattering fly guts in a ten-centimeter circumference on the clear windowpane, leaving a red smear on the once clean surface.
She was so proud of herself when she murdered one, that she stood right near my table, guarding the area and smashing, squashing, squishing and generally mauling the little bodies until she was squealing with delight...A wonderful appetite suppressant to say the least.

It's not the restaurants, the low prices, or the cheap travel that keeps me here. It's the kids. I'm their English teacher and for the thirty-five minutes that I have with them, twice a week, we have fun. I try my damndest to make learning a new language a fun process and the kids appreciate it.

This picture is of Sandy and I. She's one of my fourth grade kids and a good student. Last semester we opened, "Jenny's Coffee Shop" (named after the winner of a poster drawing contest for the restaurant sign), and the kids had a blast taking various "jobs" at the restaurant and practicing typical restaurant jargon. Sandy was the cashier and she took her job very seriously.

Chinese kids are awesome. They don't possess the hatefulness that I saw in children in the U.S. Sure, they tease one another and they fight, but the discipline here is the key. Problems here are dealt with swiftly and instead of punishment, they are lectured on the proper decorum expected of a proper lady or gentleman.

These children are not just smart, they are polite and they share things rather than fight over possession of something. It's a pleasure to observe. In this picture, Becky purchased a bucket of instant noodles from the food stand while we were on an outing in Shenzhen, visiting an aircraft carrier museum. She shared the bucket with four other girls. From left is: Genwa (who speaks English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Arabic), Amy, Becky, Chloe and Sandy. Jack is in the background and wanted to know why I always take pictures of the girls and not the boys.

Well Jack, although I admittedly favor the girls, I do take pictures of the boys too! This is little Ben. He is one of the happiest kids I've ever met in my life. This little boy is so glad to see me everyday that he literally chases me down when he catches a glimpse of me. He loves video games and I've armed my computer with several of them, just for him. In-between classes he visits me in the office and says quite clearly, "Let's play a video game!"

Yep, I've always been the ladies man. This is my fifth grade troupe. From left is Rose, Milly, Me, Olina, Connie and Aviva. It's interesting that not only the girls here are affectionate. Many of the Chinese boys love to hug me and cling to me. I show these kids a lot of love and affection, things that a teacher would end up in court over in the U.S. Affection is not only used here in China, it is encouraged, which I think makes a tremendous difference with the kids.

I'm heading to Malaysia! Finally, after over four years, tons of e-mail, numerous telephone conversations, recipe swapping and postal letters, Annie and I will finally meet. I am purchasing a round-trip ticket to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - leaving Guangzhou on May 1st and returning on May 7th. Annie and I will spend five days and two wake-ups together in KL and she'll be my Malaysian tour guide during that time, putting all those experiences she told me about over the years, into reality!

Annie's in Spain right now, enjoying the rewards of yet another contest she has won. She'll be in Spain for about a week and then will return to KL and face her decision to take a big job offered to her in Singapore. She's an interesting woman and one whose personality alone will take her to higher and higher places.

Well cowboys and cowgirls, it's time to sign off again. Hope you enjoy the pics! Thanks again to Meg and her blogging expertise!


Saturday, March 20, 2004

Culinary expertise…

Lately my friends Tanka, Bala, Sebastien and I have been on a literal food binge. We have been eating out at numerous restaurants in Xintang, Phoenix City, Guangzhou and surrounding areas, sampling some true Chinese delights.

This picture is one of our favorite roasted oyster restaurants in Xintang. These two guys cook up oysters on the half shell roasted over an open fire with garlic and green onion and they know us well because we hit this place at least twice a week.

The food here in Guangzhou and its outlying areas is simply delicious. Cantonese, Hunan, Szechuan, Mongolian, Thai, you name it, it's all here. I've gobbled up mutton, ox, frog, eel, duck tongue, pig intestine, turtle, taro, beef heart, dog, goat, pigeon, snake, about fifty different types of mushroom, vegetables that only have Chinese names, tofu, octopus and too many other things to list here.

It is true what they say about Chinese food: They eat everything on land with four legs except a table, everything in the sky except a plane and everything in the sea except for a submarine. Some pretty weird stuff, but delicious all the same.

Yeah, yeah, yeah….you say! Okay Jeeem, enough about food! How's your love life? Well, it is finally doing rather good. After a long period of searching, I've found the (near) perfect woman. Shaoping Liang is a doctor in Guangzhou and we've been dating seriously for some time now. Shaoping is Cantonese, a long time resident of Guangzhou and a lovely woman.

I'm teaching privately in Guangzhou now, on the weekends, so Shaoping and I see each other fairly often. Right now its dinner and a movie, shopping in Tianhe district, a brisk walk along the Pearl River on Shamian Dao or catching the subway to different parts of the city. But, this coming May we're going to take a trip to Beijing to walk the Great Wall, tour the Forbidden City and take in the Beijing opera, a first for her and a repeat for me.


Here are my two Nepalese pals Tanka (the big guy) and Bala, who I see quite often here and who work at the local five-star hotel. Both are from Kathmandu, Nepal and working here due to the Maoist rebel problems in their home city. Being Hindu, these guys make it interesting, going out to eat with them. They don't eat pork or beef and with the local chicken flu scare, there isn't much left to the imagination.

Well, enough for now I suppose. Not too much else happening here with me but I do promise to keep the info updated and the pictures coming. Take care all of you….until next time!


If anyone out there would like to take a peek at my school's website, you can click Click Here.

The website is mostly in Mandarin but several links are in English and you can see some pictures of my kids and the teachers I work with.
Note: Jeem, this is meg. The link isn't working from here. Maybe it works from China?

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