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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chinese wine and dine...

Many, many, many excellent (free) dinners :-)

Last Tuesday I had the very best Chinese dinner ever. Collin was invited by a professor from Beijing University (who is visiting Yunnan University) to have dinner. And Collin asked me to join him. After the obligatory exchange of gifts (we gave mooncakes and wine and got Moutai and Pu'er tea back) we went to the restaurant. We found out that the professor on his turn was invited by the owner of a chain of restaurants and asked us to come along. Lucky us!!!
The restaurant was a pretty luxurious one, specialized in serving abalone (in Dutch: zee-oor). Abalone is an exclusive kind of seafood and cost in China approximately 1000RMB (€100) per serving... It was delicious. Served with an excellent sauce and a sea cucumber we had an amazing starter. After this the table was filled with more great Chinese food and we didn't do anything else but toasting all night long! Superb experience!!!
On Wednesday Shos and I decided to invite some people over to do some home-style hotpot and drink the Moutai I got as a gift (which costs around €55 for 0,5 liter; nice gift...). Once again we enjoyed our food, although it was extremely spicy. We also drank the bottle of Moutai and we all concluded that it was not worth the money, but then again... We didn't pay for it ;-)
And on Friday we (Shos, Aaron, Sophie, I and some other "foreign experts") were invited to join Yunnan University (a.k.a. Yunda) to the Provincial Government banquet to celebrate the 58th National Day of China. Once again a lot of food and drinks, this time in a five-star hotel just outside the city. Lots of important people present such as the consular-generals of Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Fancy, but the food could not match the Tuesday dinner or our own hotpot! But it was nice to be there and witness how Chinese celebrate events like this.

I also had to teach quite a bit this week and weekend, but everything went just fine. Also gave my first "exams" to my students and graded them. Really funny to read the answers some of them come up with. I will collect some of the funniest ones and dedicate a separate post to them sometime soon.

Now, vacation. A week of no teaching, but relaxing and doing some preparation for the coming weeks!

Meester Rudi

Friday, September 21, 2007


Mid-Autumn Festival a.k.a Moon Festival

The celebration of the end of the summer harvesting season. For me this just means that I got a beautiful box full of mooncakes as a gift from the School of Economics. Mooncakes are little, round, dry cakes with some kind of filling in the middle. Too bad I don't like 90% of them and it is very hard too see on the outside what kind of filling you're going to end up with...

Another unfortunate thing is that during the October Holiday I do not really have an entire week off... Every teacher has to make up his/her Thursday and Friday classes. Shos and Aaron happy since they only have a few hours of teaching. I, on the other hand, have four different classes with a total of ten hours to make up :-(
And the really annoying part is that I have to make up for them in the weekend before the vacation. So next week I have to prepare an awful lot of classes and teach them as well. That's going to be a great week and weekend... Oh well, there are worse things! Below I added some pictures of YangPu campus, a campus where I have to teach 2 days a week, some 45 minutes outside town.

And even though it is a holiday, Shos and I are not going anywhere. Just spend a week in Kunming without teaching. We are busy enough as I have to prepare classes and Shos has to study for her GRE and write essays for her graduate school application. But since a few days the weather is very nice again here so we will spend quite some time in parks and other relaxing places :-)

Now we're off to an orientation meeting, tour and banquet organized by the Foreign Affairs Office (little late, but still...) and later tonight there's the housewarming party of Sander and Susan. What a bad life...


Monday, September 17, 2007

Weekend Extravaganza

An absolutely fantastic week and weekend with Mark!!!

On Wednesday morning Mark finally arrived. Picked him up from the airport and after a big hug we went to my place. After lots of small talk I had to go to work and Mark checked out Kunming. At night we celebrated his arrival together with Shos, Sander, Susan, Marc and Marianne (a group of cool Dutch people living here as well). Got some great food at a small Muslim restaurant and ended the night doing drinking games in Sander and Susan's apartment. Which, by the way, is a really cool place and Shos and I are seriously considering moving in there when we get kicked out of our current place, the Yunda Binguan.

On day two Mark did a day trip to the stone forest and I had to work. The original plan for Friday was for Mark and me to fly to Lijiang. However, for some reason plane tickets got very expensive and we decided to take a nightbus. Getting to the busstation in time was a little tricky since Mark got stuck in traffic when coming back from the Stone Forest... but we made it and had an excellent trip!! We got stuck in the back of the sleeperbus (5 beds right next to each other, so a big chance you will end up sleeping against a smelly Chinese guy) and weren't to happy to start. But... it worked out great since no one else got any of the back beds... five beds for Mark and me :-)

So in the early morning we were in Lijiang, got picked up at the busstation by Mama Naxi (the owner of the hostel we stayed), dropped our bags and started exploring the "authentic" streets of Old Town Lijiang. Of course we also paid a visit to the Black Dragon Pool Park. Unfortunately the weather was shitty all day long and due to heavy clouds there was no sight of the Yulong Snow Mountain. But we don't need sunshine and splendid views to have fun... we are perfectly capable of having fun without any of that ;-)

After a "couple" of beers at the Frosty Morning (excellent English pub) later that night we decided not to go to Tiger Leaping Gorge but go to Dali instead. The gorge is amazing, but due to all the rain of the last couple of weeks it is pretty dangerous and we were there to have fun and not to feel crappy because of a near impossible hike... So on Saturday morning we jumped in a bus to Dali, got a room and checked out Dali. Not too long since we planned to do a small hike, involving two cable cars to get up and down the mountain. Some spectacular views, 11 km and approx. 4 hours later we were back in our hostel.

The people at our hostel told us they would close early because they were going to a party. No problem but how do we get in then..? Well they came up with a very simple solution: they gave us the key to the front door a.k.a entrance to the bar... little strange but good enough for us. After we showed some of our amazing dance moves to the Chinese crowd and drinking a couple of beers with some random Chinese dudes at the Sakura Bar, we decided to check out the party our hostel guys were going to. The place was called Zoola and we had a little drawn map of its location. It was far and strange to get there but.... what a party!!! A big house, fun people, extremely good music (techno, drum & bass all mixed with live acts of people playing guitars, all kinds of drums and one of those big horn flute things...). Got back at around 4.30 in the morning and after a couple of hours of sleep we took the 8 o'clock bus back to Kunming.

In Kunming we had a lazy Sunday afternoon together with Shos in Cui Hu (Green Lake Park) and enjoyed the Chinese people staring at us. At night dinner with "the" crowd, some more beers, tequila and fun at The Box and as a result of that we ended up in a KTV place... After two hours of showing all our non-musical qualities we went back home for a well deserved night of rest.

Tonight Mark is leaving for Beijing. I have no idea what we are going to do today, but not too much since we both still need to recover from the past few days ;-)

Ruudje (& Mark)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

New people and new sports

Another really good week went by...

Last Saturday I met him... I knew he was coming for quite some time, but now he's here! Marc Frencken, my former high school classmate arrived in Kunming and we get along just great! After a few beers on Saturday night, we went to watch and play football on Sunday. I think it was the first time in 15 years I played a real football match on a big field and it was great. Painful, but great ;-) Afterwards we decided to go for a bicycle ride and enjoyed it so much that we got back after dark.

On Monday and Tuesday I didn't do anything special. All I really did was preparing classes for the rest of this week. Preparation is quite some work (at least a lot more than I expected/hoped), but I still like doing it. On Wednesday I started teaching again and in the evening I played a game of indoor football. Again a lot of fun with some great people.

Thursday and Friday teaching again. I am getting used to it by now and am taking it a lot slower in classes. To be effective I need to be careful not to use too many "difficult" words and when I use them I should explain them. This takes some time and I get less material covered, but it does give me the feeling that my students actually understand what I am talking about. Did some more cycling in the afternoon with Marc and in the evening we had a dinner with all the American teachers from Oberlin and Whitman (two colleges in the US). And I must say that we once again have a pretty nice group of people.

Now quickly prepare for classes because on Wednesday Mark (Mennen) will be here!!!

El Rudolfo