As we head to Christmas, there is the realization that our lives have settled into a kind of go to work, go to cardio rehab mundane existence. We have few stories to tell but we still get photos of life in China. For those who care, we do have a busy social calendar over the “holiday” period. Right now Terry is busy making her famous bruschetta and Geoff has made Irish CarBomb cupcakes to take to our staff Christmas dinner. Monday Mr. Xu and the admin of the big school are taking the staff and Geoff (Ed. note: Geoff has resigned his position until he is well enough to return) out to dinner, Christmas Eve we go into to Shanghai to have Christmas dinner with Shelley, Rob, Matthew and Zander our Vancouver transplant friends and then on New Years Day we are hosting dinner here for the staff. On the 8th of January we are taking everyone involved in my October experience to dinner to thank them and then it is only 3 weeks and we are off to Malaysia and the Philippines for a month! Geoff needs to rest now, just thinking of this.
And now the photos.
The Bus Driver
1. The vertical yellow protection bar is down in order to allow him quick exit in case of emergency.
2. He has the warm shin and knee pad leggings to keep him warm from the draft coming up through the floorboards.
3. The ubiquitous thermos of green tea is contained in a blue pail of what started out as hot water which is secured to the S-shaped bar with a small piece of rope.
The Flag Person
We don’t know what the unemployment figure is in China but it seems that if you want a job, you can get one. This is one of the flag people who pop up at intersections from time to time. Their job is to hold the flag up when the traffic light says it is okay for pedestrians to go in that direction – kind of back up to the sign. You can tell how much she likes her job. (Ed. note: I am very good at getting photos while people are blinking.)
The University Students
The two on the left were laughing because the one on the right had waved to Geoff on the bus and got a response. They are also typical of 99% of university students who get on at this stop, which is at the gates to Jiaxing University. Do you know what they have in common?
My First Selfie
We hate selfies. They are stupid and inane, but this isn’t really a selfie. You know how you can feel someone watching you? The man behind me on the bus yesterday was watching me all the time – and paying particular attention whenever a picture was taken. (Ed. note: Face hidden to protect the innocent)
Terry The Shopper
Terry returns from Metro last week – with 6 Red, 6 White, cheese, tuna and some other stuff.. Just like a little old lady with her cart.
Terry also shopped at this store in Shanghai the other day – something lost in translation?
The Taxi Stand
Until this year, getting a taxi at the Jiaxing Railroad Station was an experience. First, as you walk up the ramp from the platform there would be anywhere from 5 to 15 gypsy taxi drivers waiting to grab you. Then when you got to where the “official” stand was, they were lined up but you had to more or less go to them. If there were no cars in front of them, they would either wait for you to get to them or drive past you to where the old head of the line was. Sometimes you would tell them where you wanted to go and they would say no. Or you would get in the car and then they would try to pick up another fare that was on the way. If that worked, they would charge both of you the full fare.
When we came back, however they had solved that. Now they have railings that you line up between and wait as the taxi pulls up to you. Very civilized. This, however, has not stopped the gypsy cabbies who aren’t so civilized and while you are lined up, will try and talk you out of going officially and going with them instead.
The Phone Call
(Ed. note: You know you are not supposed to use all caps in an email as it indicates you are yelling? Well…)
THIS WOMAN SAT NEXT TO ME ON THE TRAIN TO SHANGHAI THE OTHER DAY. SHE WAS ON SPEAKER AND YAMMERING BACK AND FORTH FOR 15-20 MINUTES. SHE COULD NOT BE SHAMED INTO MAKING IT A TAD MORE PRIVATE.
The Bear Bouquet
There are actually 12 bears in this bouquet that he gave to his waiting girlfriend as we arrived in Shanghai. How sweet.
The train home the other day was full in second class ($6.50) so Geoff bought a 1st class ticket ($10). The ticket said row 2 seat B which was next to the guy. He figured, what the heck and sat down alone in the single seat on the right (no one else in the car). Attendant was on him in a flash asking for his ticket and then told him to sit in the seat behind for the 27 minute trip to the first stop. “Why?” “Different price” Ahh China.
We have talked about the Chinese and the lining up or not as the case may be. At the train station, 15 minutes before the train gets in, the sign turns to green indicating that soon they will open the turnstile and allow you on to the platform. Everyone then immediately gets up and rushes to the gate, so that they can wait another three minutes before the guards actually open the gates and then so they can stand outside on the very windy cold platform for another 7 minutes before the train arrives and they can push their way on in order to get to their reserved seating. We usually wait until 5 minutes before the departure time and stroll out. Never even been close to missing it. (Ed. note: Aren’t I smart?)
The Recycling Truck
All those bags hanging off his truck contain recyclables. Don’t know how big his collection area is but there are 4 – 5 million people around here. Draw your own conclusions.
No Tag Day
No tag day for Jay – he’s advertising condos in Jiaxing. (Ed. note: How many people in Jiaxing or even China do you think ever watched the Tonight Show?)
And if you don’t want a condo in Jay’s complex, you can get a Shanghai Lifestyle condo right here in Jiaxing. Now I don’t know why if you wanted that, you just wouldn’t buy in Shanghai and we’re not exactly sure what the Shanghai Lifestyle is, but there you go.
Or, perhaps you wish to live in the England complex, where “After Read In England Again Building” is the advertising slogan.
Expressway Traffic Police
The Jiaxing Expressway Traffic Police Office is, to the best of our knowledge, after looking at google maps and other research sites, at least 15 minutes from the nearest expressway. Secondly in all the driving we have done with the school driver, we have never actually seen a police car on the expressway. Begs the questions “Are they too far away?” or “Do they really exist?”
Does this look like your local Starbucks? Looks like ours except for the guy who just finished trimming his fingernails and letting them drop to the floor between his feet. (Ed. note: Are you kidding me? No way he picked them up when he left!)
Who remembers Dear John with Judd Hirsch from 1988 – 1992? Well, if Jay Leno can hawk condos, why not get Jere Burns (aka Kirk on the show) to hawk whatever this guy is hawking?
How often do you see a deserted forklift on a street corner at 7:45 am? There was no one around and nowhere that it looked like it belonged.
So apparently the car hit the motorcycle and it left parts strewn down the highway as it slid along. (See yellow circle on left). The drivers (Ed. note: I assume they were the drivers) were standing yelling at each other and gesticulating violently while the traffic police (Ed. note: Oh, so they DO exist) stood by watching them. What a hoot.
Take a Picture, Get a Picture
This guy with the cool hair was busy snapping away with his phone taking picture after picture of the blond woman in front of him in line. When he turned around to say something to his friends, he saw a white guy looking at him and was thoroughly embarrassed. In fact, he actually hung his head for a bit.
Houcaller has just opened a second restaurant in the mall. We went last night for dinner. For 168RMB ($30) we each got:
- a trip to the fruit salad bar
- a glass of sweet cold tea
- a bowl of not quite edible corn soup
- 4 pieces of a sweet breadlike substance which Terry described as a waste of calories
- 4 pieces of deep fried breaded fish, about the size of my baby finger
- a steak (cooked to order) with a surprisingly good peppercorn sauce and a choice of two of spaghetti, fusilli pasta, corn, fried egg or mashed potatoes. (Ed. note: Although we were among the first diners of the evening, they were out of mashed potatoes. Go figure.)
- A glass of wine
We also got one scoop of ice cream in tapioca with a garnish of a Ripples Potato Chip to share. Now we each ordered corn – none showed up. Geoff got an egg instead and Terry got pasta. Terry’s peppercorn sauce didn’t come. And the wine. Well that is the size of the glass of wine we each had and it came, well you can see it didn’t come early. Dr. Joey would be proud of the Houcaller.
This is Aaron, our next door neighbour. He is about 20 months old and in September he started NOT screaming and running away whenever he saw me. He calls Terry 奶奶 which is pronounced Nǎinai and means Grandma and calls Geoff 爷爷 which is pronounced Yéyé, and means Grandpa. He is just adorable. We am going to miss watching him grow up when we leave.
Many of you have sent emails asking what we wear to sleep in in Jiaxing. Well, on the left is Terry’s standard attire: her housecoat, and long underwear top and bottom, fingerless gloves, fuzzy socks. Geoff’s is on the green hanger on the right. Both of us sleep quite comfortably all night in our complete outfits under the sheet, heavy duvet and quilt. (Ed. note: We do however turn off the heater which has been trying to heat the room up to about 15º when we turn out the light.)
The Shoe Blog
I want to thank this young woman for this photo. It is hard to look at Chinese women and guess their age, but I am going with early 20s with her. Certainly that was the age of the two guys she was with. What is special about these boots? Well, if you look closely – or not – you will see that her legs are – lets say slender. She was constantly falling behind her friends because those boots were just too darn big and would slide down to maybe 3 inches below her knee and she would have to stop, pull them up and run to catch up – by which time the boots slid down again, the friends moved on, and the cycle would start all over again. Wait for her? Not a chance. (Ed. note: Chinese men do not wait, open doors, help put coats on or any other western idea of common courtesy.)
Next up – Our Christmas Card to You!