National Holiday In Hohhot
Back from another adventure in Hohhot!
We had a great holiday weekend in Hohhot spending a lot of time with Colm, Kurt and Faisal. I took everyone back to the temple which Luke and I had visited previously so they could see what it was like too. I also bought my first souvenir in China, a picture of a dragon.
The brown bits you can see are made by burning the fabric using something like a soldering iron. A dragon because I am born in the year of the dragon, which coincidentally will be the next animal in the next new year. Obviously we went out a lot, and one night David did get quite drunk, so the next day when he said he couldn’t remember anything we did play a bit of a mean trick on him. But serves him right for forgetting what happened anyway!
We spent a lot of time in the large park in the middle of Hohhot, mostly because the weather was glorious but also because as it was National Holiday, it was a lot busier in the park and it was fun to see what was going on and also people watch. It was also Morgan’s birthday on 1st October, National Holiday too! We had a good wander around the whole park and found a pagoda style structure for us to have a group photo at.
Later on, Morgan and Johan went on the big wheel, however, having been up before, David, Faisal and I decided to do something else, so went on the Haunted House ride instead. The guy was charging 20RMB per person but somehow the boys, without my knowledge, managed to get it for 30RMB for all three of us. They then hopped onto one of the carts together, leaving me on my own as they only took two people at a time
They went round and just before I went into the house, a Chinese man with his friends got on as well, and he had to sit next to me. Needless to say, we were fake screaming all the way around this house. We spent an hour or so just sat at the needle in the park in the sun and I commented at one point how we’d been sat there for a while and it was surprising that no-one had asked for our photos, especially as there was quite a gathering of foreigners. I shouldn’t have opened my big mouth as not 5 minutes later the first people asked for photos and then it just didn’t stop!
When we were in Hohhot too, some of the Aston students had found a small puppy which was terrified. Kurt took it home and to be honest, it didn’t look very good. To our surprise, the next day the little thing was wagging its tail and running around the flat like a mad thing. Morgan and David are pretty keen on having a dog, as our boss has Ruby, who is gorgeous and they want one too. I’m pretty indifferent as I don’t mind dogs, but I’m more into the idea of travelling and looking after a dog whilst doing that would be difficult.
So when they both said they wanted to take Khan, (yes, after Genghis) home, on the 3 hour bus journey, I wasn’t surprised but wasn’t sure that we’d be able to do it! Somehow we did, and he spent the next couple of days running around our larger house and having a good time. However, the poor little mite, having done so well up to now took a turn for the worse. Obviously, we did expect the worse and at one point we were all considering the rabies shots we’d have to have the next day, but David took him to the vets and he was just suffering from malnutrition. His tiny little body wouldn’t digest anything, even the IV that the vets tried to give him, so unfortunately he had to be put down. We all gave him a good life while he was with us though, however David and Morgan won’t be bringing a stray dog home in the future, we’ve learnt our lessons!
We’ve had a busy week since being back. As the weekend lessons got cancelled last weekend for National Holiday, we had to catch up with these on Thursday and Friday and also thought that we’d have to work Saturday and Sunday too. As it turned out, the students had to go to actual school at the weekend to catch up there. Pretty incredible really, but the school system works them pretty hard here. We did have to work in the evenings though, but only with game-orientated English Corner type lessons.
On the Saturday, Morgan and I went out for dinner as the lads were having a ‘date’ with some Chinese girls they’d met, or so we thought anyway. Morgan and I decided that we’d try a new restaurant, and settled for one not too far from Location 2 were we’d been working. We saw pictures on the wall so thought it would be easy to order. Or not. We were presented with a menu full of characters and although I know meat characters, I barely saw any. In the end we plumped for one of the dishes we saw on the wall, which I knew would have chicken in it because I at least recognised that character. We also had to choose a sauce and it was pot luck, just pointing at one out of the four we could choose from. In the end, we didn’t even get the dish we’d ordered, because as well as having chicken in this large dish in front of us, we also had prawns, whose symbol we have both now also learned! It was a really nice meal though, the sauce we chose wasn’t too spicy and there was celery, cauliflower, potato, coriander and many other nice things in the bottom of the large pan we managed to polish off between the two of us. We reckon the dish could have probably fed about 3/4 people, but Morgan and I both like our food so it was no problem eating practically the whole thing between us, with rice too. We paid 146RMB for the meal, including beer, which is more expensive than what we’d normally pay, but we got so much food and the same price in the UK would probably only just get you a half chicken with 2 sides and a drink in Nandos, so it’s all relative really! After we’d finished our meal, we joined the boys in the pool hall and met the Chinese lasses. They were nothing special really, a bit dolly bird-ish and they soon left. I did manage to win a few games of pool though, it seems like I might be getting a little better anyway!
I’ve had a haircut now, after complaining pretty much since I’ve been here about the length of my fringe and the state of my split ends. Jenny took me to a salon just around the corner from work in our lunchbreak and it only cost me 20RMB, £2, a tenth of the price I’d pay in the UK! Whilst the guy was cutting my hair, the girl on the desk was trying to take a sneaky photo, forgetting that I could actually see what she was doing, what with there being a whacking great mirror in front of me. She was also playing with my hair, because of the colour of it at the moment. Obviously they don’t have my colour hair in China, and even less so because I haven’t dyed it for a while, and I won’t while I’m travelling, to give it a break and a chance to grow out, so it’s all sorts of colours at the moment! Speaking of haircuts, Luke left yesterday for Wuhai, another city where Matthew and Phil have an Aston school, but before he left he decided he wanted a mohican. For some reason he entrusted David with his clippers and he didn’t do a bad job in all honesty. Not sure if Luke regretted it the next day or not, but we’ll see what he looks like next time we see him.
Morgan has been in Hong Kong for the last couple of days getting her work visa. Sounds like it’s the route I should have gone down, a free trip to Hong Kong, but in a way I’m glad I got it all sorted out before I came. David and I just got our passports back today. We are now officially residents of China.
Having 2 visas and a stamp in my passport now, I am itching to get more! Speaking of visas, I’m really enjoying myself at the moment. So much so that I’ve had a chat with Phil about staying for another 6 months. As David and Morgan are here for the year I know that there will be constants for this time, and I do feel really settled in. So if you hear soon that I’ve decided not to go to New Zealand until September 2012, you’ll know the reason why!
Our internet is a bit rubbish at the moment. Apparently it ran out of money and although more has been put on, it’s not as good as it was, hence the delayed update. This should give you enough to go on for a while though.