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Posts from ‘July, 2006’

Our Summer Housing


As I promised, here is an entry about our housing this summer. If you go back into history in the Asian blog entries, you will see that our apartments this summer were a definite up-grade from last year's and that we are far from suffering. Our apartment last year was one of the ones where they house their foreign teachers. It is in one of those that our friend Ruth lives. Apparently none of those was available this year, so they found Chinese staff members who would be traveling on their summer break and subleased their apartments for us. My wife and I have been staying in the apartment of a married couple who teach here. He has a doctorate, and so their apartment is quite nice. Below are two shots of the living room in our apartment, one from each direction.

living room

living room

The kitchen is also very nice. Below are two shots of the kitchen. The first one shows the counter on which is sitting the bottled water we must drink since tap water isn't safe.

kitchen counter

This picture shows the one side of the kitchen where we have a microwave, dish sterilizer, and refrigerator. (We don't know how to use the dish sterilizer, so it is just for dish storage. It helps keep the resident ants and roaches off the clean dishes.

kitchen appliances

Our bedroom is quite comfortable and beautiful with a bed larger than ours at home.

bedroom

The bathroom is quite nice too, as you'll see below.

bathroom

There's an office with one wall completely lined with books. On the other side of the office is "IV Central."

IV Central

Becka has especially enjoyed the laundry facilities this year. Below are two pictures - one of our washer and another of our "dryer." And it's all on a screened-in balcony.

our washer

our clothes drying facilities

From that balcony, we feel like we're in a real-life version of Alfred Hitchcock's thriller "Rear Window." We can observe and hear the goings-on of the 18 apartments across from ours. We hear piano practice, singing, arguments, and you name it. Last Saturday we were awakened for the first time to a rooster crowing. We didn't hear it the next morning. Now, where could that rooster have gone??? Here's a view from our "rear window."

rear window

In addition to the roaches and two kinds of ants, others share our apartment with us. Most notably are several geckos. It's really weird and scary when they scream for no apparent reason! Below are two pictures - one near the ceiling and the other silhouetted on a window.

gecko near the ceiling

gecko in silhouette

Jean and Yvonne stayed in our apartment for the first four nights until a dean left on vacation. They insisted that Becka and I take the bedroom and they would sleep in the living room. Below is a picture of our living room where Yvonne slept in mosquito netting on foam on the floor and Jean slept on our couch. This shot is Yvonne trying to get the fitted sheet onto the foam.

Yvonne getting in tent, not intense

So when they moved into the dean's apartment, they were *really* upgraded! However, since the dean's forte does not seem to be housekeeping, we are not able to show as many pictures of their place. Below you will several rooms of that apartment so you can see how beautiful it is. First the living room, complete with a huge plasma TV.

the dean's living room

Here's a peek into the kitchen....

the dean's kitchen

Here's a view down the hall leading to the three bedrooms....

the hallway

Here's a shot of the master bedroom....

master bedroom

I will probably not be able to add an entry about our classes until after we're back home and I have internet access again. Tomorrow is our last day here, and I will not have time to do any blogging. Fortunately, there will *always* be time for blaguing.


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That’s Amore!


People sometimes ask me how I choose what to send each week. This week's thought process was really quite complex. For those of you interested in getting into ivman's pysche a little, here ya go....

Today's iv is the coming together of three threads of recent life here. The first is that my middle school class just finished watching Princess Bride on Monday of this week. They *loved* it! The boys loved the action and adventure, and the girls were really tuned in to the "true love" theme in the movie. The second inspiration for the sending of this particular iv is that on Monday evening I tried eel at a restaurant. Eating eel reminded me of something in my files that mentions eel. (By the way, the eel was quite tasty, and I would order it again.) Come to think of it, one of the scenes in Princess Bride was waters infested with shrieking eels, so maybe there's even more cohesion to the inspiration than I had thought! In fact, I'll treat you to a picture of the eel before I enjoyed it.

my eel dinner

The third reason was actually the thing that originally brought the thing in my files to mind. Last week at the apartment building next our ours we saw a blanket hung out to dry that was emblazened with AMORE in huge letters. (For those of you from Rio Linda, "amore" is Italian for "love.") Today's iv is a number of variations on the song "That's Amore." Some are better than others, but hey, I didn't write this! I don't know who did, but several of the variations indicate it could have been a Canadian, eh? 😎

That's Amore

(the original wording...)
When the moon hits your eye
Like a big pizza pie
That's amore.

When an eel bites your hand
And that's not what you planned
That's a moray.

When our habits are strange
And our customs deranged
That's our mores.

When your horse munches straw
And the bales total four
That's some more hay.

When Othello's poor wife
becomes stabbed with a knife
That's a Moor, eh?

When a Japanese knight
Used his sword in a fight
That's Samurai.

When your sheep go to graze
In a damp marshy place,
That's a moor, eh?

When you ace your last tests
Like you did all the rest
That's some more "A"s!

When your boat comes home fine
And you tied up her line
That's to moor, eh?

When on Mt. Cook you see
An aborigine,
That's a Maori.

Alley Oop's homeland has
A space gun with pizzazz,
That's a Moo ray....

A comedian-ham
With the name Amsterdam
That's a Morey.

When your chocolate graham
Is so full and so crammed
That's s'more, aye?

When you've had quite enough
Of this dumb rhyming stuff
That's "No more!", eh?

divider

Yet another time of mixed emotions is fast approaching! We're in our final week of classes here at Hainan University. Our classes have been very enjoyable, and we have grown to love our students. Parting truly is sweet sorrow. This Saturday morning we fly out early for Beijing where we'll spend several days. While there we hope to visit several places we've heard are quite nice in the city, as well as taking a day trip to see the Great Wall. On Tuesday, Jean will fly to Cambodia to spend two weeks with her daughter and her family who live there. The other three of us will fly back to GSP, via Chicago, seeing the Arctic Ocean on the way. It's weird that, if our plane is on time (and why would we *ever* assume that?!), we will arrive in Chicago timewise slightly before we left Beijing. (Things that make you go, hmmm.)

I will not be going online again after this Friday 6:00 p.m. (Greenville time) until I'm back in my home again. So please do not send anything from July 28-August 1 to which you need an immediate answer, 'cause you won't get one! I sent a quick email to our kids from Beijing when we arrived, and it ended up being a pretty pricey "service" of our hotel. I'll forgo that amenity this time around.

quotation...

"What we do shows what our heart desires." - Dr. Randy Jaeggli

=^..^= =^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Invertebrates make no bones about it. (After some of our dining adventures here, I'd say that maybe invertebrates merit further consideration.)


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This Past Week


I would *love* to be updating the blog with all sorts of exciting and unusual experiences we're having, but actually our lives this past week have been rather humdrum and in many ways routine. Our typical day consists of beginning classes at 8:30 and ending at 11:30. We go to our apartments for lunch and then for a short nap, usually just a time to cool off and rest rather than sleep. After that we spend the rest of the afternoon planning lessons, cleaning, doing laundry, shopping for necessities, and/or proofreading. Yes, proofreading! Last Monday evening, two teachers from this university invited us out for dinner. We thought it was just a nice gesture on their part. The one had been in charge of us last summer, but his duties here have shifted and we have had next to no contact with him this summer. The other man has a daughter in my wife's class and has himself attended several of the classes for university students, mostly to get new ideas in the area of teaching techniques. At the end of our meal at the restaurant, they asked us if we could proofread some materials they had put together for testing their students - about 400 pages, 4 copies. We thought we could handle it - 100 pages each, with two weeks in which to accomplish the task. W-E-L-L, when they delivered the materials to us, it ended up being about 400 pages of 4 *different* sets of testing materials = 1,600+ pages to proofread! So, the four of us have each attacked our personal stack of 400 or so pages after keeping up with our regular schoolwork, which is higher on our priority list. Nuff said....

With all our school and paper work to attend to, our big activities have been restricted pretty much to dining out each evening, always with a different mix of people and different hosts. The variety of food has been incredible, and we find ourselves thinking more and more that people back in America only *think* they know what Chinese food is! Below I will place a few pictures of highlights from some of our recent meals.

These are the two teachers who wined and dined us....

winers and diners

Among the items they ordered for us was potatoes covered with some kind of hot caramel. We had to eat it right away before it hardened into a sweet mass. Here's Ruth pulling some of it from the hot from the plate....

Ruth's hot potato

We got to eat twice this past week at one of our favorite restaurants - the JiaoZi place. Not only is the food always good, but also it's rarely "controversial." Below is a picture of our of our nights at the JiaoZi restaurant....

JiaoZi dinner

Friday evening we were invited to have dinner with two of my students from last summer's classes - Spring and Peter. Spring invited a classmate to join us, and Peter invited his girlfriend Jessica. I have greatly enjoyed talking to Spring about how much his life has changed since last summer. Below is a picture of some of the group - Jessica is on one side of my wife, and Spring is on the other....

dinner with Spring, Peter, and others

The restaurant to which they took us specializes in food from the NorthEast of this country. I was the "ugly American" of the evening by eating my chicken wing with my fingers instead of with my chopsticks. We reminded them of the saying they knew right away from KFC - "finger licking good" and explained that what I was doing was why KFC has that saying. Below is a picture of some of what we enjoyed, including the bones of a whole chicken that we tore apart....

dinner of NorthEastern specialties

Jessica was pleased to get the chicken foot. Below is a picture of her pleasure before digging in....

Jessica wins!

Saturday of this week our "tourism" was shopping here in Haikou. We explained that we had not had time to shop to find souvenirs for our families. So they took us to some great places to find nice gifts. I will not show you any pictures of the shopping because some of it got a little ugly - especially when our hostess Judy battled it out with one clerk to get our purchase down to 40 percent of the original asking price. I was actually tempted to catch that wonderful Kodak moment, but I was afraid it might derail the haggling.

We ate lunch and dinner in local restaurants where the food was not only tasty, but also more than a little controversial. Lunch below included thinly sliced chicken stomach and also pigs' ears. Can you find them in the picture below?

dinner of NorthEastern specialties

Mid-afternoon, we had "afternoon tea" at a "cafe" (read: Pizza Hut!) Four of us had iced lemon tea (ah... civilization!), Jean had iced coffee, and Judy had hot tea. Five of us had ice cream, and Yvonne had chocolate ice cream cake. Below is our little group....

afternoon tea at Pizza Hut

After two and a half more hours of "window shopping" (read, for me: hostage situation!) we went to a restaurant where they had taken us last year. Their speciality is NorthWestern cuisine - once again, some of it quite delicious and also some of it controversial. Several of us had by this point "maxed out" on dealing with "mystery meat". Below is a picture of a few of the delights. Notice on the left their version of a wrap - the cream-colored wrap is made of bean curd, and the meat on the same plate is made of pork. Jean's hilarious aside to me was, "This puts a whole new spin on 'pork and beans'."

NorthWestern cuisine

After dinner we were entertained by a floor show that was a charming mix of tradition dances and non-traditional things like the theme to Titanic played on a soprano saxophone. Here's one shot (I'll spare you the belly dancers)....

traditional NorthWestern dancers

This evening (Sunday) Alice, a former student of mine from BJ (who was also a fellow teacher with us here last year), and her fiance are taking us out to dinner. This will be the 7th or 8th night in a row that we will have eaten out (I've lost track!) And we're scheduled to do the same with yet someone else tomorrow evening. Believe me, we're all a little concerned about the potential expansion of our waistlines. Fortunately, there seem to be plenty of items that we do no more than politely taste.

Well, this entry has gotten almost as long as our humdrum week, so I'll stop for now. Later this week, I hope to do an entry on our apartments and show you a few more pictures of our students. Thanks for checking in!


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The English Lesson


We are reminded daily here of how difficult and inexplicable our "Engrish" language really is. I can hardly imagine having to learn English as a foreign language. What a task that would be! But I remind my students that their language is also no piece of rice cake either, and I demonstrate at least some of the difficulties when attempting to say some of the few things I know in their language. Suffice it to say, my students are mildly to wildly amused at my feeble attempts in Chinese. I hope they can not only see the reverse problem, but also have more confidence to make mistakes themselves instead of sitting quietly by.

Today's iv is a poem that points out only a few of the anomalies of the English language.

The English Lesson
attributed to Richard Krogh

We'll begin with box, and the plural is boxes;
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
Then one fowl is goose, but two are called geese
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a whole lot of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
When couldn't the plural of pan be called pen?

The cow in the plural may be cows or kine,
But the plural of vow is vows, not vine.
And I speak of a foot, and you show me your feet,
But I give a boot - would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?
If the singular is this and plural is these,
Why shouldn't the plural of kiss be nicknamed kese?

Then one may be that, and three may be those,
Yet the plural of hat would never be hose;
We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.

The masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine she, shis, and shim!
So our English, I think you will all agree,
Is the trickiest language you ever did see.

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough, and through?

Well done! And now you wish, perhaps
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.

And dead; it's said like bed, not bead;
For goodness sake, don't call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat,
(they rhyme with suite and straight and debt)

A moth is not a moth in mother.
Nor both in bother, broth in brother.
And here is not a match for there.
And dear and fear for bear and pear.

And then there's dose and rose and lose --
Just look them up -- and goose and choose.
And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword.

And do and go, then thwart and cart.
Come, come, I've hardly made a start.
A dreadful language? Why, man alive,
I'd learned to talk it when I was five,

And yet to write it, the more I tried,
I hadn't learned it at fifty-five!

divider

Our classes are going fine, and our social lives are quite active. We've been invited out to dinner every night this week except Wednesday by students or others here whom we have gotten to know. And dinner engagements for next week have already begun, with Monday already planned.

My wife Becka started getting a cold the other day, and she is sure that it has now gone into a sinus infection. She had brought along a prescription of antibiotic that her doctor back home gave her before the trip, and so she has begun to take that medication. I have completed my Chinese medicine. Phew! I really do feel much better now, and I'm especially happy to have finished the medicine!

quotation...

"One day every knee will bow. Those who see things as they really are are on their knees now." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^= =^..^=
Rob

If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?


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Weekend Tourism


This past weekend our hosts here at the university took us to the southern end of the island to see some of the beauty there. After a three-hour ride in a university van, we made our first stop, which was to visit a Li village. The Li people are one of the minority groups originally inhabiting this island. This Li village is totally a tourist trap, but it does give the opportunity to see some of the traditional dress and customs. Below is one of the buildings that are supposed to be typical of the Li people. (I must apologize that some of the pictures for today's entry are a little blurry.)

typical Li building

One of the fun things we saw there was a wedding hall. They asked Becka and me to sit down and pretend to be a couple getting married.

the groom and his lovely bride

There was a Li man who climbs a coconut tree to retrieve coconuts for tourists.

tree climber

Below is a picture of some tourists enjoying what he retrieved.

drinking coconut milk

In the area through which we had to pass in order to get out (read: stall after stall of trinket sellers hawking their wares) there was a place where we could sit in the shade and enjoy a show. One of the highlights of the show was the dancers' doing the traditional bamboo dance. It is much harder than it looks. We tried to do it with only two *slow-moving* pieces of bamboo when we first entered the village, and we couldn't do it. These kids were skipping across the many pieces of bamboo that were sometimes moving in all directions as if it were nothing! Below is a picture....

Li dancers

After lunch in Sanya, we went to Yalong Bay to see where the rich and famous vacation. The 5-star hotels were incredible! We walked down to the beach behind the Sheraton to wade, not swim, in the South China Sea. The surf was so high that there was a red "Do Not Swim" flag flying. Below are our hosts - left to right, Lulu, Jason (Judy's 17 year old son), and Judy.

our hosts

After our brief visit to Yalong Bay, we went next to the Nanshan Buddhist Cultural Center where we would spend the night in their 5-star hotel. It did not begin to reach the level of the 5-star hotels at Yalong, though. We had to climb 82 outdoor steps in the hot humid weather to get to our rooms; the AC in Becka's and my room never did cool the stuffy room; and Jean and Yvonne's room was BYOTP (bring your own TP, which, thanks to our advice, they had fortunately done).

After dinner, we caught the end of the evening show on the terrace. Below is a picture of some of the performance.

the show at Nanshan

The next day we woke to a steamy, but beautiful morning. After breakfast we strolled around between tour bus rides to see some of the beauty of the place. Below is a picture of our group with someone looking over our shoulder. We were happy that Someone else watches over us all the time.

us at Nanshan

Since we were not really interested in some of the activities going on there, we instead enjoyed the beautiful scenery and flowers.

beautiful scenery

If you have to endure tropical weather, at least enjoy the flowers that that weather makes possible.

gorgeous flowers

Ah, such rare tropical beauties!

rare tropical beauties

Before leaving to return to Haikou, we stopped for lunch at a seafood restaurant in Sanya. I should say at this point that during our weekend adventure, we had all kinds of restaurant experiences and tried all sorts of interesting foods. We were reminded that we "weren't in Kansas any more" when we tried to order "hens' teeth" in restaurants - or at least you would have *thought* that that's what we were doing. Just try getting even just a glass of room-temperature water in a restaurant here, and you'll see what I mean! 🙂 Among the more unusual items we ate this weekend were cooked pumpkin flowers, squid, rabbit, pig hand soup with cooked peanuts, white sweet potatoes, coconut rice, sweet potato greens, and much, much more. Lulu was very pleased that no one else wanted the head of the fish we'd enjoyed for lunch. Below is a picture of Lulu slurping out the contents of that fish head.

yummy fish head!

On that happy note, I end today's blog entry. Till next time!


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