Oh, what a week. WELL…
Sunday, I woke up to Chat with Chris – expecting a casual ‘hey-o.’ I found myself quickly back on track, as if he’d rolled into Tucson for the night and my obligatory senses kicked on. About 3 hours later I was beyond help and neither Dan nor Becci could help. I spent the rest of the day sleeping off my early morning drinking binge. Here’s a photo of what such an encounter can look like, when you’re video chatting with someone who is 12 hours opposite you.
Monday, we hit up the pool – YES! and it was awesome. YES! and I got to find out how my lungs are doing. NO! But impressed all of Hohhot with my ability to egg-beater my chest out of the water, float on my back, and jump into the water using the classic flying squirrel pose. Dan and I also helped a couple of young wipper-snappers toss their buddy headlong into the pool, shirt, shoes, and all. Becci gave a photo of herself to one of the pool cleaning staff, who proceeded to show it to all 400 people there. The pool is awesome and except for an eye infection Dan may now have because of it, I’d recommend everyone visit.
Then, in the evening, in order to celebrate the weekend for those who still work regularly we went out for dinner, then drinks, and then KTV. I don’t think I’ve had such an experience since my arrival to China, apparently this kind of all nighter is common. However, by the looks of the photos I took. I think I seriously progressed my age. Fortunately I’ve been drinking green tea to reverse the effects.
On Wednesday morning, while Shanghai and the rest of the center of the country enjoyed what scientists have proven has no correlation with misfortune, we enjoyed a partial solar eclipse. I woke up at about 8 AM and rode my bike over to the local city square where hundereds of folks had gathered with telescopes, large informational signs, and bundles of sharp looking shades. After milling around for a bit in an attempt to find out who i should buy my killer moon watchers from I ran into a student who I had taught the Monday previous (this is a perfect time to tell you I’m moonlighting). His friend handed me a pair of super lookers and I was set, now with a sense of confidence in the crowd of many I relaxed a bit.
The student and I spoke casually while we both waited for the sun to peek out from behind the clouds. However, once a foreigner starts talking with a local everyone starts talking to the foreigner. It was fun. I got to answer questions about all sorts of things and my words were authoritative. I then took an interview with Inner Mongolia Television where I spoke about what was happening and then demonstrated the proper procedure for sporting the silver-solar-lookers, concluding with a “and that’s how it’s done.” After the interview I enjoyed a series of photographers asking for various poses where I was to look either puzzled, or engrossed with the phenomenon and finally I enjoyed one last casual interview with a young reporter with the Hohhot Newspaper. By this time the eclipse was about over and I was off.
I got home and my computer notified me of the GREAT news. Dan and I had one week left before our plane departs for Shanghai. I high-fived myself (Dan was at work), sent off a slew of email reminders for our expected hosts along the way and started packing my things.
Thursday I woke up early and said farewell to my good friend Lisa as she boarded her train home (44 hours away) as it is now the summer holiday for college students all across China. Returning to the apartment, our internet was shut off so Dan and I shipped our bicycles to Shanghai via rail, and then proceeded to spend the better portion of the day (11:45-9:00) at a hotel sipping tea and researching our accommodations for Hong Kong (which now may include a balcony at the top of a tower looking over Kowloon Bay from the edge of a hot tub next to some good friends [identities will be release upon confirmation]) We’ll see. During this all day internet festival Dan produced some excellent post-cards, see the following post.
Friday started in a fascinating way, with class at our local Mosque. A student of mine had invited me to join her, so I attended a free class (classes offered throughout the summer to anyone) which was discussing modern Islam. Today we discussed Islam in China. The teacher was very passionate and reasonable. She discussed the origins of the Muslim people in China, how they have been assimilated, distinct, troublesome, and integrated throughout history. The discussion also include the observation of how other religions have also integrated, or disintegrated themselves in China. We spoke after class about her beliefs and mine. It was a delightful and encouraging conversation. She finished, by describing her (and her community’s) goal to write and publish a series of Chinese children’s books based on the teachings of Islam, of which there exist only a few in print. Her enthusiasm and motives for the project were, again, refreshing and encouraging. A second class started soon after. It was an Arabic language class, taught in Chinese. While, initially I was not energetic about spending another two hours behind a man who routinely blew his nose into his hand and then waited while it slowly oozed off his hand and onto the floor, I stuck with it. By the end, I was repeating sentences with the class. Though I didn’t understand when the instructor asked me to do anything. I felt like I had them all when it came to rolling my r’s. A trick not many Chinese can preform. Wo Shi XiaoChou. I also found I could identify, or correlate, sounds with the script. I was impressed with my progress in just two hours. CIA here I come!
Now the water at the apartment is out, our kitchen sink drain broke, and our internet is still offline. Irritated, I’ve escaped to another hotel lobby to sip tea and answer emails. Plus I needed to debut what you might expect in your mail box in the very near future. – Dan just got a call. Our bikes are in Shanghai – we are pumped!