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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Foreign Experts & Queensday

Lang leve Arbeidsdag en de Koningin!!!!

International Labor Day gets celebrated in China. And for this reason "all" of Yunnan's foreign experts were invited to a banquet organized by the Chinese government. Events like this always take place in some fancy hotel, this time the New Horizon in the city centre. After a couple of speeches, telling us how valuable we are for the development of this province, they treated us to several performances of minority dances and music.

video

And then there was QUEENSDAY!!!
At around 19.00 we met at Wei's for drinks, Dutch snacks (including somewhat deformed bitterballs)and pizza's. It was really nice to see al the Dutchies around and being able to speak my own language again for a change. At midnight we called it the night because today we are leaving for Tengchong to see some volcanoes and stuff ;-)


Auf wiederschnitzel,
Oranjeman in Kunming

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Herr Wolf(gang)

Computer, cell phone, coffee, and a birthday party @ The Hump...

One of the "new" students at the School for International Students at Yunnan University is Wolfgang. The main difference between him and the other students is age... the average student is around 23 while he turned 66 last Thursday. Being born German, but spending most of his life on the road and in France he retired a couple of years ago and now lives his life in Kunming.
Since a couple of weeks Wolf and I meet up after class on Wednesday and spend a couple of hours together talking about his cell phone and computer. Never having owned either of these things, all the options are quite confusing for him. So I kinda tutor him in how to get the most out of these "devilish machines". It is a nice thing to do and afterwards we have coffee and lunch together and talk about the fun things in life.

For his birthday he organized a little get-together at The Hump Bar. First a couple of drinks and some food on the rooftop terrace and ending inside the ground floor bar. Being a great host he decided that we had to have some special drinks to celebrate this occasion. So there came the bottles of Jägermeister, Bailey's and Vodka... What happened next... I don't remember... But I do remember that it once again was a great night in the City of Eternal Spring!!!

The only downside to the party: our bikes got stolen :-( When we went to pick up our bikes the day after the party we discovered that they were gone... It sucks since we are only going to be here for two more months. So now it's back to using busses and walking!
Next week Shos and I plan to pay a visit to the West of Yunnan province, known for the volcanic activity. And than there are the mid-terms for my Chinese classes... let's hope my Chinese is considered sufficient to pass them ;-)

Until the next post!
Ruud

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Gāo Wǔ - 高五

Hi Five - Join the Revolution

A while ago Marc discovered that the Chinese have no word for a "high five". So he created one: gao wu, which is just the literal translation of high five! All foreigners think this is cool, but we have a hard time convincing the Chinese that it really is funny... Nevertheless t-shirts have been created and we're spreading the word, getting enough people to support our cause and get this word into the Chinese dictionary :-) This weekend was the Kunming Outdoor Music Festival and that, of course, is an awesome chance to promote the "gao wu" movement! So a bunch of us dressed up in the brand-new t-shirts and went to the festival. The weather was great, maybe even too hot (32 degrees Celsius) to be standing on an open field and drinking beer. But we did it anyway!! The music was good (at times...) and the atmosphere was even better. By coincidence this was also the day Marc's parents arrived so they joined us for this musical intermission of our daily lives.
video


Also Phil (our Chinese friend) got back from France where he gave several lectures on the Chinese law system. So Collin, Phil, Shos and I got together for food and drinks to celebrate his return. It was a great evening with a few too many beers (and champagne and wine...)!

Now it is time for some more serious stuff. Classes need to be prepared, the mid-term for my Finance class needs to be made, and I have to study for my own Chinese mid-term... Let's hope I'll pass ;-)

Greetingz from Kunming!!!
Ruud xuesheng

Saturday, April 12, 2008

One year in China

Wo zai Zhongguo yi nian le
我在中国一年了


A year ago I arrived in Beijing were I was met by Shoshannah. After a couple of days in the capital we flew to Kunming and we lived here ever since (except for a two two-month-long vacations and a couple of other small ones...lol)! And I am still enjoying it over here.

However Shoshannah got accepted at Maastricht University and so I/we are moving back to the Netherlands in the summer. She can study, while I will need to get a job. Before we come to Holland we plan to visit Shos' family in the US first. The current plans are to take a train from Kunming to Guangzhou, a bus to Hong Kong, a plane to Vancouver (Canada), a train to Seattle (US), drive to San Francisco along the West Coast, drive through the middle to Memphis/Atlanta and up north to Chicago, fly to New York and fly home... Sounds like quite a trip :-) The picture below gives you an idea of what we are planning (in the US at least). If you click on the picture you can view the map in detail in Google Maps and it also allows you to zoom in/out and even change the route... I really love this application!!!
I really love the planning of this trip, but there is one thing that frustrates me now more than ever before: the pricing policies of airlines! I simply cannot understand why one-way tickets have to be so expensive. At some airlines it is cheaper to buy a return flight than a one-way flight on the same route... and when you contact them and ask for an explanation of this "policy" you get a standard copy-pasted answer that the prices on their website are correct and it has something to do with availability... yeah right..! Especially members of the Star Alliance seem to be pretty good in this little game. If someone knows how it works, please tell me because I am very interested!

Something completely different, the cycling trip to Fuxianhu was great. Took about 2,5 hours to get there and in particular the last part was spectacular. A 8km downhill ride!!! Overtaking cars and even reaching 81km/h at one point :-) After a big meal and a quick dip into the lake we decided that we should cycle back that same afternoon. Good idea, but to begin with we had to go up that same hill we just came down on... it was a hard climb but we made it and reached Kunming just after dark (the way back took an hour longer than the way there). All-in-all I enjoyed the 140km ride a lot.


So I guess I'll be seeing most of you "soon"!
:-)
Ruudje

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Chinese birthday

Chinese Mick Jagger's Birthday Party...

A couple of months ago we were invited to a performance at a gay bar. It was one of the best nights in Kunming! We started talking to some of them and ended up in a club called "House" (in Kunming known for the number of gay men that are regulars there). One of those guys had a haircut and face that immediately reminded me of Mick Jagger (Chinese style that is, his real name is Xiang Wu) and he is a nice guy. Two weeks ago we ran into him again and got invited to his birthday party.
So last Saturday we went back to the House club to celebrate his birthday. At first we couldn't even find him (he cut his hair and looks like a normal Chinese person now...). But with the help of the bar personell we succeeded and ended up talking, eating, drinking, doing little games and checking out the tricks of our private magician. A night to remember (Rodney, you should have been there with us...).
video
The weather is once again absolutely fabulous here. Sunny but with a some wind so it doesn't get too hot (although sometimes too windy...). Yesterday we had no classes because it was one of the new national holidays: National Grave Cleaning Day. The Chinese are supposed to visit the graves of their deceased relatives and... yes indeed, clean those graves, put some fresh flowers on it and pay a little respect. But since most foreigners have no graves to clean in China, many of them decided to go to a (fresh water) beach approx. 80km south of Kunming near Yuxi. Marc and I (and a couple of guys from gokunming.com) are going down there today as well on our bikes and we'll come back on Sunday. Looking forward to this trip!!! (pictures will follow.)

Shos and I are also planning our trip back home and the exact route keeps changing. Since we are doing one-way flight tickets tend to be very expensive (for some reason these tickets are lot more expensive than return flight for example: one-way Kunming-San Francisco €560, return flight on the same route €700..??? WHY?). But we are getting there. As soon as we have more exact details I'll share them with you! For now the most important thing is that I'll be back in Holland around the beginning of August 2008).

Mazzel,
Batta Laoshi