Monday, April 11, 2011

Hangzhou

Since we had a 3 day weekend for some Chinese holiday,I took a day trip to Hangzhou, which is a pretty city about an hour and a half south of Shanghai and where the other half of my cohort lives. Known for the famous West Lake, it is noted as one of the most beautiful cities in China. Having only been there once for less than 18 hours to attend a dinner in the fall, I went with Kirsti, Paulette, Sherry and Annie to actually see the city and the West Lake, not to mention some of the other members of the Cohort. Once in Hangzhou, it was a mad house, filled with tourists, who also wanted to see the West Lake on this beautiful sunny day. We hopped on a bus from the train station which was supposed to take us four stops to the lake, but since the traffic was so bad, after an hour on the bus and only going two stops, we decided we could walk must faster than the bus. We were supposed to meet up with our friends Mo, Jared and Phyllis who were waiting at the lake but that also turned into an adventure in itself. Overflowing with tourists, the lake was definitely a hot spot. Everywhere you looked there were people walking and taking pictures. The girls wanted to get Starbucks and there was one somewhere near the lake so we told Mo, Jared and Phyllis to meet us there. I should have known better than to take directions from women, as we went the complete opposite way and even backtracked multiple times. In what should have been a 10-minute walk, turned into almost and hour and a half trek. No worries, though I was able to take in the beautiful scenery and snap some photos of it.
            I also encounter another ridiculous scuffle with an Asian. As the streets and walkways were filled with pedestrians, some idiot decided it would be a good idea to ride his bike even though there was no room to maneuver a bike yet alone walk. He ended up rolling over my foot without apologizing and giggled as he rode on, so I did the only sensible thing I could think of to show him that his actions were unacceptable. Yes I could have screamed at him or dropped a few profanities or even have brushed it off, but instead I decided to kick the back tire of his bike, making him fall off into the crowd of people.  NOT SO Funny anymore is it? You thought he would have learned the first time but he wanted some more of me and decided to ride past shouting nonsense and once again tried to run over my foot, so what did I do? I kicked his bike again making him wobble some more and almost making him crash again. Third times the charm they say, and this time he was out for blood. As I kept walking he decided to stalk me and try to run me over with his bike so I did a little power walking and lost him in the crowd. I must say that some people here do some ridiculous things and the only way to make things better is to do them back.
            We finally met up with our friends and was joined by Carla another one of our classmates. Hanging outside talking, we gathered quite an impressive crowd gawking at us as we provided a diverse group that included multiple white people, some Asians and a black girl, which is very rare in this prominent Chinese city that only has a handful of foreigners.
            After hanging out and enjoying the pretty scenery, the girls went back to Shanghai, but I decided that I would stick around and visit some of the rest of my classmates that I haven’t seen in awhile.  We met up with more friends from our cohort Zach, Saad and Kate for dinner and drinks and then later went to see one of Mo’s friends perform at a club called club 88, which is infamously known in Shanghai as the Asian club. Knowing the performers, we were kinda a big deal and they provided us with free drinks and a table, which made for a fun night.
            Overall my trip to Hangzhou was pleasant, and it was nice to see some of my friends that I had not seen in a long time and also take in some fresh air compared to Shanghai. I must say though that I could never live there happily, as there is not much to do there, but for time being it was nice to get away from the big city.

                  













Friday, April 1, 2011

RIP Dirty Kitchen



       After fighting the temptation for months to make a statement that I shouldn’t be the only one cleaning, I have finally caved and cleaned the kitchen, failing to reach my goal. The last time it was cleaned, seriously was back in December and of course I was the one who did it. Being raised to clean up after yourself and never leave things messy, it has been a hard battle to fight. As my mom likes to say, don’t be living like the Ewells (references to Kill a Mockingbird) I am guilty of this charge not by choice. Whenever I cook, I clean up immediately or soon after I eat, but the same can't be said for my roommates. Living with 4 other people you would hope you that they would clean up after themselves, but that simple task was too much to ask for. With dishes lined in the sink for days and food crumbs scattered everywhere, it has slowly but surely started to be a dirty college kitchen. With the counter tops stained a different color from all the variety of liquids and filled with crumbs, decaying food (pieces of meat from spaghetti) and other filth, it was quite the task. In a kitchen no bigger than 4 by 8 feet, it took me an hour to clean it. In a battle I was fighting over principle, I have lost due to sanitary reasons. So just in time for spring, with that we have a clean kitchen that will probably only last a few days.

Make Love Not War



         After the whole Hannah debacle, she is now officially my TA full time. After putting her in her place and making sure she does her job(How hard is it to yell at kids?), we have made mends and things are fine and t back to normal. With that being said, I have some exciting news.. Hannah and I are now officially a couple and are very happy together… Just joking!!! But for a split second you were shocked and I fooled you right? But on to more steamy office romances, today my coworker Sherry received a phone call from our boss with some surprising news. Supposedly this morning in between getting dropped off and to the school entrance which is roughly less than 100 meters, some source falsely reported to the school that Sherry and I were having a little morning make out session. Let me remind you the walkway is filled with parents and students who are also walking to get into the school, and ironically enough the principle was standing at the entrance greeting people.
        First off, I am usually half asleep when arrive to school so I am incapable of doing something of this sort, and secondly, I hate PDA so why would I do it? Gross.  And most importantly, my students are walking around with their parents, why in the lords name would I ever do such a thing in front of them?!?! As my boss joked about it because he knows better, he said that if this was the case, we should deserve medals because it would take alot of balls or stupidity to do such a thing.  Well, it turns out that one of the students said hi to us and we did not hear them, so we didn’t respond, which upset the parent  so they made this bogus claim. It amazes me how Crazy some of these parents and the things they will do for the “well being “ of their child, but what is even more amazing is how I am involved in these ridiculous situations when half  the time I don’t do anything.

Asian Tourist Trap

           As part of our contract for teaching at SHANE, there is a clause that says that we will be having field trips every other month. When the half-year review of the company came up and they asked for suggestions or concerns (Which there was a list full), I hammered them for this breach in contract, insisting that we needed our field trips and it was part of the contract as they ALWAYS refer to that when it benefits them but never us. After months of waiting, we finally got our field trip this month. We went to this water city about an hour and a half outside of shanghai called Zhouzhong, which is called “the Venice of China”, which makes them one of a many to make that claim.  Excited that not only are we getting our field trip but also the owner of the company Mr. Lu was going to pay for half of the trip, which was real surprising since he is beyond a cheap-ass. We met at People Square, the busiest metro station in Shanghai to catch a bus that left at 8 am on a Sunday morning. Yes that’s right I got my butt out of bed earlier than I would normally do to go to work on a weekend to go to this field trip. There were a total of 10 of us from Shane who came on this trip.                               After talking with Ryan, one of my supervisors, it turns out that the place we were going was not originally where they had planned to go for the field trip but it was switched last minute because Mr. Lu also has his foot in the travel agency business and he could get us a “discount” but really just profit off of us. Thanks to Mr. Lu we were signed up for a full on Asian tour group, the ones where they get on the greyhounds and no one speaks English and all they take over all the sightseeing spots. Painfully, I sat the whole trip listening to the tour guide yap in Chinese the whole way their in what felt like a roller coaster ride, as we were driven by a horrible driver who made it impossible to sleep, with his recklessness. As we talked on the bus we also found out that this trip was also not the half-day trip as we had thought but ended at 7pm!!!!!                                                                                                                    What could we possibly be doing for such a long time? Well we stopped at a temple, which was a gated area that was about half the size of the football field. We stayed there for an hour and a half, but the group I was with walked it in less than 30 minutes, and that was with us screwing around and talking. Somehow about 4 people did not get the memo on what time to get back on the bus after the tour guide repeatedly said that we were leaving at 10:50. After sitting on the bus we finally left at 11:30. Where were the lost tourist? Shopping at the freaking gift shop!!! Unbelievable. After the mini temple we finally headed to the water city. After walking around with the tour guide for a while and taking pictures, it was time for lunch. They brought us to a restaurant and said that we had to eat at it even though there were way too many people and the menu was not appetizing. We asked one of the tour people what time we should meet back and he refused to tell us a time insisting we needed to eat there. Finally we walked off and went to find food on our own. We walked around a took more pictures and leaving our tour group behind, since they took forever to see anything since they took pictures of everything. After meeting up on the bus, we were blessed with the opportunity to hit up not one but two more markets, where we could buy local goods and they could make a commission of us.                                                                                                              The longer I was on the tour, the less I enjoyed the field trips as they tried to milk every dime out of you. Dang you Mr. Lu for being so cheap. This field trip could have easily been done in a matter of a few hours and made into a half a day trip. All we needed was a few of the drivers to take us in the work vans and boom we got ourselves a fieldtrip, but instead you are too cheap, and put us through this painful field trip. Sad to say this might be my last field trip if we have to go on one of these horrible things again. Please note these pictures look a bit blurry because of the sizing on the blog, just click on the picture to see it full screen

Iphoney 4

 
 Coming home from a good work out from the gym I was approached by a very sketchy man on the street that wanted to sell me an Iphone 4 outside of my apartment complex. Hidden by the darkness of the night with a glimpse of the streetlight reflecting his shadow, it was beyond a sketchy situation. Normally when this happens I just keep walking but this one particular time, I stopped to check it out as it is pretty common to have phones picked pocketed on the subway, as my roommate was a victim. Typically these people just want to get rid of these items as fast as they can and will sell them real cheap since the money is worth more to them than these phones. Intrigued and a bit greedy for the opportunity to have an iphone 4 I asked how much it was. He quoted me at 3000 rmb but I said that was too much and said 100. I thought that he agreed so I called my roommate Mike to have him bring me some money since I didn’t have my wallet and look at the phone, Mike insisted that if he had the money he would do it in a heartbeat. After it was confirmed the phone was real, the guy tried to counter and say that he wanted 1500. I said no that was too much and you could tell he really wanted to get it off his hands since some number kept calling the phone. We assumed he had just taken the phone from the local KTV bar down the street, where many wealthy businessmen hang out. We finally bartered the guy down to 700 rmb, which was still real cheap. I went upstairs to get more money since I had misheard the amount the first time and mike didn’t have enough on him. Since the situation was so sketchy, I decided to see if I could short the guy and only pay him 500 since obviously it was a hot item. I ran back down stairs to do the trade as mike sat and smoked a cigarette. There where two guys in business suits walking by looking around so it made things worse, scared of both the business people and shorting the guy money, I double checked to make sure the phone was still the same phone traded the guy the money for the phone and ran to get out of there as quick as possible. As I got into my apartment and I asked my roommate who has an Iphone 4 how to switch out the sim cards, after she went to open it, she realized the phone wasn’t real and it was really good fake brick, but not the one that I was playing with earlier. As I took money out of my pocket, he must have switched the phones when I was not looking.  I am not sure what got into me on this random night that made me want this iphone 4 so badly but it was a lesson learned and to his credit, a legit scam. After thinking that I was the winner by shorting this guy money, in the end I was the one that got played, stuck with a POS iphone that doesn’t even turn on. While it was an unfortunate situation, it also makes for an expensive paperweight.  Rumor has it that this same guy has been around multiple times trying to sell phones but the good news is, if he does come around, ill have a nice object to throw at him when I see him.