Greetings friends and family,
I'm sorry there is so much in this first post, I haven't been able to get internet access. It's disconcerting to not have access like that. And no phone yet, so feeling a bit invisible, electronically at least. As a foreigner here, I stand out. Apparently, I'm "beautiful" and there aren't many pale skinned people here in my area of Shenyang.
What follows is written very informally and conversationally. It might be overly detailed. Please, leave comments with your thoughts and well wishes. (Or curses, whatever suits your fancy.)
Flight from Seoul:
Sat in the very back of the plane. (A nice place to sit; I’ve never seen a plane back into a mountain.) Met a nice older couple from Shenyang. Had to speak Chinese because their English was near non-existent. I didn’t mind at all. Her name was Jin Yingmin. I didn’t catch his name. She knew enough English to embarrass me: She called me a “beautiful boy.” Then I told her my Chinese name, and she said it was a very good name and that I fit it very well. Yes, I was a little embarrassed with how impressed she was with my Chinese. I thought I was doing horribly.
Breakfast was banana bread, an egg, granola bar, and milk. All in one bowl. No, just joking.
Apparently the sun the comes up at four here. We’re a bit farther north than I’m used to. As Brent, a fellow from Seattle that I talked to briefly in Seoul, said, “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” Har har.
The sun may have gotten up at four, but I got up at seven. Well, I woke up at six and then made myself sleep till seven. They tell me jet lag won’t till five p.m.
At 9:30, John and I biked to another family’s house for fellowship. We sang a few praise songs, had refreshments and then listened to a sermon. I sorta met everyone, it will take time to learn names. Sherilyn Karamitros suggested/invited me to play volleyball with some of the other younger folks.
After fellowship, John and I went to eat, at oddly enough, a Japanese noodle joint. It was good, and plenty of food.
After we ate we crossed the street to a four story building filled with small electronics shops. Soooo much stuff! They love their electronics. All the way on the top floor though were shops that carried RC cars, helicopter, pocket knives, flashlights, mini-microscopes.
Then we just went biking around. Mother would throw a fit if she saw me biking through Chinese traffic. It’s hurried and maybe a bit reckless, but everyone is doing it so everyone expects it and it all works out. Still, weaving through moving traffic on a bike, particularly a bike that I’m not used to, and which I think is a bit irritating to steer, is taking one’s life into one’s own hands.
Somewhere in there I withdrew money. 1000 RMB, about $150.
Then at 4:30 p.m. the Karamitros siblings picked me up from my apartment and took me to play volleyball. It was an asphalt court, so it didn’t get too intense, and we played three on three. Two teachers from the iSC were there, Rachel and Benny. I shouldn’t have played so hard, I was sore later (and still sore two days later when I post this). But I was on my game, how could I resist. Everyone there was great fun.
After volleyball we walked back by the Karamitros’s place then went to eat. The restaurant was near my apartment. That was a good time, good food. I would now that say that Happy Valley in Manhattan has pretty authentic food. Still not likin’ the plain white rice; no taste.
I then went to John’s apartment and called home and Bristen via Skype. So good to hear their voices.
Last adventure for the day. I walked myself home from my apartment. Made it fine to my complex, then couldn’t locate my building. Found my building, but then couldn’t get past the locked door. Fortunately, someone else came home and someone upstairs unlocked the door for us. I need to figure out how to use that tiny blue thing.
Slept on the couch last night instead of the bed and actually slept better. Breakfasted on the same fare as yesterday.
At nine, took a taxi with Ruby, Rebecca, and Sarah to Wu Ai. (I think it’s Wu Ai; Ruby translated it as The Five Loves, so it should be Wu (five) Ai (love) but every time she said it, it sounded like Ooh Wai. I think I was mishearing.) Wu Ai is five multistory buildings filled with small shops that sell anything you could ever want. We visited two buildings while I was there, one full of luggage, backpacks, leather goods, and the top floor was linens. Sarah bought a bag there; Ruby was amazing, explaining to the seller what make of bag and what pattern Sarah wanted, and then haggling over the price, which took probably ten minutes. All in Chinese, but she’s lived here… six years, eight years. I forget which.
The other building was clothing. I saw some shirts I might want, but I’ll have to go back; didn’t feel like stopping just then.
By then I had to leave to meet John at the school; so I didn’t get lunch. Mr. Wang drove John and I to a rich school to hand out flyers about our adult classes, but apparently ten other schools, or more, had similar ideas. The poor parents were fairly mobbed by people handing out flyers. As such, John and I both felt bad trying to hand them one more, and so didn’t hand out very many.
I also got asked by another school representative if I had “free time.” John explained that he wanted me to teach at his school, or, likely, hire me for a short time, take my picture and use it on their flyers to show they employ a true English speaker.
Then Mr. Wang took me to get “registered,” this is, inform the local police of my existence and residence. Mr. Wang is something of a liaison for the Brave School. He’s retiring soon from Northeastern University, with a pension, so he does what he wants and he likes the Brave School. Or rather, as John put it, he has a rapport with Jeff Stone, the regular director of the school, in whose apartment I’m living these first two weeks. (The Stone family is in America for six months.)
Then Mr. Wang drove me home and helped me figure out how to get into my building when it’s locked. Apparently the blue think does nothing, or else I still don’t understand what it does. I actually have a key that fits the door. Mr. Wang figured that out, I guess the key is marked with the building name or something. I can’t read the two characters.
Dinner was with William Duncan, a teacher at the ISC who will be helping with the summer camp. William graduated in 2006 with a degree in political science. I would write what else I know about him, but I’m suddenly not sure I have the timeline straight. We ate at Pizza Hut. Pizza hut here is an upscale affair, go figure. And expensive. William was very generous.
On the way home we bought bottled drinks. I bought my first item in China. Some flavored water for three kuai, less than fifty cents, but locally you could consider it three dollars. So I finally broke one of my 100 kuai bills and have some smaller ones. Smaller in amount and in size. The less it is worth the smaller the bill is. The 100 kuai is shorter in length than a dollar, but wider.
An old lady tried to push ahead of me at the checkout. There’s no way she didn’t see me, I’m twice her size. We had a throwdown. Things got all kung fu and crazy in the convenience store. I held my own and got my place in line back.
No, actually she let me go ahead for some unknown reason. I don’t think it was courtesy, but then I can’t think another reason.
It gets completely dark by eight.
Because I have to...