Living in China – Flag Day Update

I talked to some kids in a countryside school and offered to help them learn English:

In order to give that talk, I had to drive for three hours on an expressway, stay in a hotel, and then have breakfast (in the hotel). The trip down was fine, and the hotel looked normal.  It was a free breakfast, but I came prepared. When I go to a small countryside place I always take my bottle of instant coffee. I was ready for this trip.

The tea pot had a short cord, so I had to plug the pot in beside the bed, on the bed-stand.  Unfortunately, the TV in the hotel didn’t work, but I got up a couple hours before my little talk and played with my cell phone while laying in bed. When I finally got the coffee done I put it on the bed-stand with the tea pot, cell phone, etc. Sharing the electric for charging phone etc was awkward and as I moved on the bed the pillow fell on the coffee and tipped the cup over, almost drenching the cell phone . . . I moved fast. I avoided the worst of it and, in my stocking feet I went to get a towel from the bathroom. I got the towel wet in the sink, but the sink leaked, and I soon found myself standing in water in my stocking feet. I wrung out the socks, cleaned up the coffee and got out of that funky room and down to breakfast . . .

Fortunately I had plenty of coffee that morning, and together with the annoyance of the wet socks I had no problem waking up. The breakfast was typical cheap, elaborate Chinese breakfast. As expected, no coffee. There were noodles and a sauce with precious little meat. There were eight or ten different shaped pastries, all of which seemed to be made of the same sweet bread dough (yuck). Anyway, the smokers at the next table didn’t bother me much and the hard boiled eggs were done just the way I like them. Breakfast was OK, EXCEPT I kept hearing coughing and sneezing. 

It is my experience that I shouldn’t look at the people coughing or sneezing. Gross. It was very close to me and I decided to look up. I was relieved to see the guy holding a big napkin and I figured that maybe I was safe from air-born germs. WRONG. I looked up and noticed that he was sneezing and coughing without covering his mouth, and then he used the napkin to wipe his nose and mouth after sneezing and coughing. I hurried out of breakfast and went to the school assembly.  I had volunteered to talk to a class or two, but this turned out to be the my biggest group since visiting China. I tried to talk in Chinese, but it was suggested that English would have a better chance of being understood . . . 

Flag Day Pep Talk

Guiyang Black Taxi Blues

Recently I got two painful reminders about black taxis. They are not professional and don’t know that moving a seat can hurt people.

The first one was when I was maneuvering my ample buttocks into the front seat of a black taxi.  The seat was pulled all the way up, but I thought I  could get in.  In the middle of the process, the driver pulled the lever which freed the seat to slide back about a 18 inches. I simply fell into the car and got hit in the back of the head by the top of the car. It was a big ouch.

The same week, I got in the back of a black taxi and the driver, again without warning, slid the passenger seat backwards and nailed both of my shins.  Remember. black taxis are driven by amateurs. Be careful of that front passenger seat.  Also, don’t hang your arm out the window. Drivers often close these windows without notice.