Christmas In China and Some Exciting News

You spent Christmas in China?

Yes.

I have to say, that I was feeling a little homesick in the run up to Christmas. We always expect to be going home at this time of year, and especially after being at uni. Yes, it’s only one day but it’s still fairly important in the family calendar. However, the Christmas party on Friday really got me in the Christmas mood. Wenzel and I headed over to school early to help with the preparations, taking some doughnuts with us for the CTs, who screamed very loudly in delight when I presented them. We then headed to the hotel room that’d been hired (the same hotel we did the modelling in) to help with the decoration of that.  We were also given Father Christmas outfits, which I duly wore (though without the beard as it just wouldn’t stay on). Christmas in China so far wasn’t letting itself down.

Once the students started arriving, Wenzel and I were mingling, playing silly games and trying to avoid the snow/silly string that most of them seemed to have bought with them.

Father Christmas in China

Father Christmas?

The FTs started off the evening’s entertainment. The four of us and Phil sang “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” acapella and despite the fact that we did little to no practice, it seemed to go quite well. Then the students who had signed up to do a performance started doing theirs. We had a few instrument players, though no guitars or clarinets here. Instead, we had traditional Chinese instruments and portable keyboards. Quite a few of my students did performances; one of my younger students did a Tae Kwon Do demonstration, including using some bars attached with chains,

With Paul after his demonstration

and one of my other students did an amazing Latin dance.

With Peter after his dance

Clearly, they are as talented as their teacher. I was part of the CT performance of “Do Re Mi” which went really well and we did some of the dance through the students themselves, which was really fun. Did I mention I’m far too talented and modest before? 😉 Anyway, in  lot of respects, the Christmas party was much better than the Halloween one. 

We worked on Christmas Eve, but I was lucky to have my last lesson cancelled because I didn’t want to finish too late. I played pass the parcel in every single lesson and it was pretty funny, as some of the classes didn’t want the parcel to land on them, and others were very keen to be the ones opening the parcel. I made one of my younger kids cry because she didn’t win the prize in the middle.

Bob, Beth, Robin and Jerry. Emma is missing because she was crying…

With my boys Bruce, Andy and Tom

I would have bet money on that happening before, so I had my “I don’t care that she’s crying” face on once she started. She also missed out on a photo. We had hotpot for lunch,

tàng cài – literally meaning “treasure soup”

which I think is my favourite restaurant right now. I can also order from this menu: which I have to say I’m pretty proud of.

Can you tell what it is?! I can.

Also, it’s a tradition on Christmas Eve in China to give out apples. This is because they call Christmas Eve píng ān yè, which means peaceful night, and apple is píng guǒ, so they think that as it sounds similar, they give each other apples as a sign of peace on Christmas Eve. I just feel more like a real teacher to be honest!

Now I feel like a real teacher!

Christmas Eve evening was first spent in the gym doing a mile run and then having a shower. For some reason, our shower and sinks decided not to work so Morgan and I went to shower at the gym. Afterwards, we all went out for a really nice meal, and had camel again (seriously, it’s really good!) As there were seven foreigners spending Christmas in China together, we attracted some attention in the restaurant as per usual, however three drunk men decided that they wanted to take photos with us and buy us beer.

Drunk Chinese men with Wenzel

This is all ok until one got a little too friendly, and told Rachel (One of our Chinese friends) that he wanted to marry me; I got proposed to on Christmas Eve! Fortunately, I was wearing a ring and for the first time in China played the “I’m engaged” card. After this he said congratulations and then seemed to try his luck with David, as it didn’t look like he was picky. We headed back to our place where we were joined by Jack, an English teacher from Kang Bashi, and I made mulled wine. We stayed up fairly late singing Christmas songs, which, being from my iPod, the American and South Africans didn’t know, whilst the UK contingent sang them heartily!

Christmas Day itself started slowly, as we had to clean the house and wait for everyone to arrive.

Christmassy house

I busied myself with opening my presents. Parentals had sent me the new Swindon shirt, along with a pair of trousers I wanted; Roxanne sent me some chocolate (including coins, yes!), and some lovely Body Shop stuff; and Nichola sent me a lovely letter and picture of us, a pen with a picture of us on from Halloween of first year, and lots of Toblerone, win! Morgan’s mum also sent some presents over, so I now have an American snowman mug (ironically made in China) and some shortbread too. Morgan and David also got me a bottle of vodka, yum! I did a “man” lucky dip which went down very well. They were all confused as I ran around giving out the numbers, but everyone seemed happy.

Luke came back from Wuhai, whilst Jack came back and brought another teacher from Kang Bashi, Floyd, who’s from New Zealand. Matthew also came back from whichever town he is in now, and Phil and Rachel came too. Here’s a group photo, however, obviously not everyone is in it!

Happy Christmas!

Morgan, David and I went food shopping late afternoon for the meal. As we had no oven, we couldn’t do a traditional dinner, but we did want to make something western.

Busy preparing a feast!

I made some dips (a tzatziki yoghurt dip and an onion dip I concocted with mayonnaise and cheese triangles) and we had some pepper, celery, cucumber, crisps and bread as an appetizer. I managed to Skype home before cooking the main meal, which was nice. Morgan and I then cooked the main meal: steak, mash, beans and pasta. In the end, as we had also invited the CTs over, Morgan and I cooked for around 20 people and we were, and I think everyone, was happy with the result, despite the fact that Morgan and I were getting more and more drunk as we continued to cook, oops.

Meat, pasta and beans on the go.

The party really got going after we had food, we turned the music up and made our living room into a dancefloor.

Everyone had a really good time though I don’t think we got past midnight.

Cheers!

I’ve no idea as I woke up on Boxing Day morning not remembering when I went to bed. Apparently I was singing on the stairs for a while and everyone was worried about me this morning. I was fine, though I thought I still had another bottle of wine on the windowsill. Turns out I drank all three the previous evening. Oh well, it’s Christmas! On a side note, the window sill is a very good place to put food and drink, as this picture demonstrates!:

Freezer?

To Boxing Day, we headed over to Phil’s in Kang Bashi in the evening. I couldn’t do anything in the morning! Rachel cooked hotpot and Phil had set up a pool tournament.

Phil’s baby…

I left early because I wanted to listen to the football, despite Matthew’s protests, and we lost, probably because I didn’t stay but my email was read out on the radio, so that was good! He wanted me to stay for cocktail hour, but I needed a break from alcohol though. We saw Jack and Floyd again and they were very grateful for the previous day’s food and entertainment! Floyd was also happy that he’d met us, as in Kang Bashi they are pretty much the only foreigners. We’re lucky that the towns are very close to each other and I’m sure we’ll see them again soon.

Christmas in China isn’t so bad after all!

EXCITING NEWS
Now, to some very good news. I’ve known about this for a while, but haven’t really said anything as I was waiting for things to be confirmed. So I’m working all of January and Phil is giving me February off. I’ll do some travelling and then at the end of the month, I will be moving cities! Phil is opening a new school in a town called Zhangzhou, which is in Fuijin province, way, way down south and is sending me there to be an FT. I’m basically going to go from one of the coldest places in China to one of the hottest! I’ll also be able to do some travelling down there hopefully, and go to Hainan and Xiamen, two very beautiful places. So I’m feeling very lucky and honoured to be doing that, I just hope it goes well!

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Author: Bennett

2 years as an expat in China and now doing the same in New Zealand, Bennett sure likes to experience "slow travel!"

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