Archive for the ‘Living in Dalian’ Category

Dalian Zoo, Take Two

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

video of Craig and I petting baby tigers…

baby tigers

Bungee Jump video

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Here is the video of Winston and I bungee jumping back in the fall of 2009.  It was during our October 1st holiday, where we also went to the zoo and fed chickens to lions on the same day.  If you want to read more about this, check out an earlier post titled “David Has an Eventful Day.”

Winston and David bungee jump

Birthday

Friday, March 5th, 2010

There’s nothing like having the schools know its your birthday and canceling classes so you can relax.

Okay, so that wasn’t the case.  The school just got a new paint job and apparently the fumes are still very potent, so they had to take the rest of the week off.  Everybody wins.

The main reason for this post is to use this as a substitute for Facebook and thank all the people who took the time to post on my wall.  So in lieu of wall posting back to you, I want to thank Ali, Terry, Robbie, Glendalys, Mike G, Lizzie, Rachel C, Rachel (from Borders), Melanie, Jay, Leah, Cait, Staino, Jennings, Laura, Gretchen, Christy, TK, Zach J, Lauren, Kaitlin, Danny, J-Tizz, Marrisa, Aaron, Herbie, Kari, Petra, Grace, Elle, Heidi, Sean, Meghan, Monic, Carolyn, Nicole, Sabah, Alexis, Micah, Myra (say hi to your mom for me), Casey, Ben, my BSB, Ceril, Matt, Gracie, Hannah, T-Go, D-Steck, Kristin, Cheetah and Danielle.

Thanks again and I miss you all.

bday dinner (From L-R around the table: Rachel, Joy, Ben, Pat, Matt, Craig, Me, Maria...and Winston is the photographer)

eating noodles (or one really long one) = long life

Rachel surprised me with an authentic DQ ice cream cake

Lantern Festival

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Pictures from the Lantern Festival on 28 Febuary 2010.  We went to Xinghai Park for the fireworks show and Labour Park for some lantern displays.  It was super cold.

cool statue

some of Xinghai Square

the center of Xinghai Square (the statue is on some of the post cards I sent out)

gotta have those foodies

the center of Labour Park

Tian'anmen Square?

a craftsman at work (not sure what he was making)

me and my Chinese zodiac

a lantern breezeway

Chinese New Year

Monday, February 15th, 2010

So after 20 hours of flying I finally returned to Dalian at 11:30am on Feb.13th, which is the Chinese New Year’s Eve.  As soon as I hopped out of the taxi and headed to my apartment building, fireworks were already going off in celebration of this year’s Spring Festival.  This year is the year of the Tiger.  While I was reading the China Daily on the flight to Dalian, an article explained how women born during the year of the Tiger tend to be independent, bad-tempered, wild and unpredictable (Sarah Isaac should have been born during the year of the Tiger).  To find out if you are a Tiger, subtracting 12 from 2010 will give you the last Tiger year, and subtracting 12 from that year will give you that previous Tiger year (2010, 1998, 1986, etc).

Anyways, Matt, Ben, and I are good friends with this woman named Crystal, who is the owner of a bar we frequent called “Friends.”  She invited us to her bar to make dumplings and set off fireworks.  So after napping off my jet-lag, I headed over to Friends and was greeted by my fellow teacher-compatriots.  It was a very laid-back night.  We played card-games, learned how to roll dumplings and exchanged stories (I told Matt and Ben about Snowmageddon, and they recounted their experiences in the go-go bars of Thailand and Hong Kong).  We stayed up til 5am, where I was woken up only hours later to more fireworks.  Throughout the next day, fireworks were sporadically being shot off, with the whistling, popping, and crackling simulating the Invasion at Normandy.  I can honsetly say that only after 3 days of being back in Dalian…I’m sick of fireworks.  And there will be more.  But, I will admit that the Chinese don’t mess around with their toys.  These are just local residents setting off these things at the street corner, and they make the 4th of July look like a church service.  Hopefully you’ll be able to watch the video.

enough fireworks to bring Mao back from the grave

making dumplings ("jiao tze") from scratch.

Crystal's uncle is showing me how the gods made dumplings

the final product. if you find a dumpling with money inside, its considered lucky (but not if you swallow it)

Crystal and I

Spring Festival 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

On Christmas Eve, I’ll be on an overnight train headed to Beijing, arriving Christmas morning and staying for two days.  Pretty cool, huh?  I’m very excited to see what China is like on Christmas Day, and I’ll make sure to let you know what it’s like too.

Before I go, I just want to say to all my friends and family, Merry Christmas!  Enjoy the holiday, play in the snow (I heard the East Coast has been getting inches and inches of it!), and keep my presents under the tree!  I’ll be back before you know it…

Happy Holidays

Xmas cards from my students

Xmas cards from my students

16 Sept 2009-David stays home, sick

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

So I missed school for the first time today.  I think the pressures of teaching 25 classes a week is finally taking a toll on my body.  I woke up this morning with a throbbing headache, a sore body, a slight cough, a little fever, and no energy.  I even struggled to grab my phone next to me to call my company and tell them that there was no chance I was getting out of bed.  Jessica, one of the main contacts and the sweetest person you’ll ever meet, offered to take me to the hospital.  Apparently this is SOP for the company, because I guess if you are ill to the point of missing class, then it must be severe enough that emergency-care is needed.  I told her that it wasn’t necessary, and she took care of calling the school and notifying them that I wouldn’t be teaching the 5 classes of 7th graders I am usually scheduled.  I did get better later in the day and managed to get myself out of the apartment and to the supermarket to grab some orange juice and fruits, and then to KFC for an old-fashioned chicken sandwich.

I did feel a little bad for staying home today.  I’ve done a lot more in worse conditions before, but I had to consider my health in the long-term.  I did a lot of thinking while laying in my bed till noon (and again from 2-4pm), and I came to the conclusion that this job is kind of grueling.  First off, the teachers in this company have more classes than the actual teachers of the schools.  Secondly, most of us are unfortunate enough to teach at a different school everyday (On Mondays and Fridays, I teach at two different schools).  This requires riding a different bus to each school, trying to remember all of your school’s exact locations (I got lost going to school twice, but I’m getting the hang of it now), trying to remember what floor the teacher’s office and your classes are at each school (thankfully I have the TA’s showing me to each of my classes), and…I won’t even get into trying to remember students’ names.  And thirdly, what I think contributed to my uncomfortable state is that everyday, I’m speaking out of my normal vocal range and trying my best to be energetic and charismatic.  These are qualities I only exhibit after a couple vodka-tonics.

It doesn’t help either that the culture of China allows people to spit on the ground centimeters from your feet (that’s right, I just used the metric system), dogs to poop in the middle of the street, and to have no real garbage disposal system outside of your apartment.  I feel icky every time I come home

Each day we bounce around the city between home, school, the office, and some sight-seeing in between.  I’m only 3 weeks into this journey, and I’ve already missed my first day.  So, it looks like my immune system has some toughening up to do.  I’m pretty sure, though, that when I come home after 10 months here, if someone sneezes on my face I”ll just think its raining.

9/9/09 – Botanical Gardens and Russian Street

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

So I did a little bit of sight-seeing today.

Firstly, this morning I passed by a group of people as I was catching the bus to school.  They were doing some sort of martial art.  I’ve heard two different explanations for this:  either these people are preparing a performance for the National Holiday coming up next month, or they are simply exercising really early in the morning.  Either way, I found it interesting enough to take a picture of what was going on.

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After classes, Ben (a fellow teacher) and I decided to take a stroll through the Botanical Gardens, which is only one bus stop from my apartment.  It was very pleasant.  There were many pathways that take you to a pond where people fish, through forest-like areas, to little grassy hills where you can relax, and to monuments of some famous Chinese people (I’m sorry I can’t be anymore specific than that).  There are also some great views of downtown Dalian from the Gardens, which to me depicts what this whole place is about:  a busy city with a nature-like scenic backdrop.  I really enjoyed walking around, but to avoid any “bro-date” kind of implication, Ben and I thought it best to cut the visit short and meet up with another teacher.

After rendezvous-ing with Matt, we strolled on over to Russian Street, a little strip of tented shops and mini-markets.  While I was disappointed to see no Russians there, there was a variety of the country’s goods:  whisky flasks, dolls, and even a little store that sold military equipment and fatigues.  It wasn’t the prettiest place, but it seemed like a good place to buy street food and/or souvenirs.

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6 Sept 2009 – English Corner

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Every Sunday at 2pm, Chinese men, women and children of all ages and backgrounds come to Dalian’s most popular Zhongshan Square to congregate with each other and with Americans…to practice their English.  It is a very pleasant and encouraging sight to see these people enthusiastic about learning and perfecting the English language.

Today I made my first appearance, but not without hesitation – more on the Chinese’s part.  They were surprised by their discovery of me not being Chinese, which to them explained my fluency in English and my American accent.  Once they got over that, we were able to communicate with ease.  With the young adults and the middle-aged men, we spoke about politics and economics – mainly the latter.  They were curious about the U.S.’s economic situation as they tried to compare and relate to their own economic crisis (although, “crisis” may be considered an overstatement compared to the U.S., but it was the term consistently used by the locals).  My Psychology background also sparked some interest, but I had to help erase the stigma that all Psyc. students constantly psycho-analyze strangers for their own amusement (aside from that, they found the topic very intriguing).

However, my favorite part of the day was talking to the children.  Their English speaking skills were superb, often better than their parents and the older locals.  They are polite, formal, and very willing to speak.  They ask a lot of questions (where are you from, what is your favorite fruit, how long will you stay in Dalian, are you married, etc) because they just simply want to get to know you.  When I ask for their names, most ask if I want their “Chinese name” or their “English/American name” (as is the case with my students in class), which I find very cool that they can have this dual nomenclature.  I even played a word game with a group of 12-year-olds, though they looked like they were 8.

The best sight, in my opinion, was when I saw the Chinese talk among themselves…in English.  By the end of the day, I got the impression that the people that showed up to English corner were individuals dedicated to becoming bilingual.  Even the parents urged their children to approach me and show off what they could say.  When I left Zhongshan Square after 3 straight hours of conversing, they asked me if I was going to be there next week.  I told them that I couldn’t wait.

25 Aug 2009 – shopping and more food

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Today was a really cool day.  I got to explore Dalian some more, and today I saw the commercial aspect of it.

Dalian is organized by squares (think DuPont Circle) in somewhat of a linear fashion.  One of the squares, called Friendship Square (Youhau Guangchang), marked with a giant globe in the middle, has this place called Victory Plaza- a gigantic area filled with malls…outdoor malls, indoor malls, and malls underground that go for five floors beneath surface level.  The department stores are pretty expensive, but when you start hitting the shops underground, the further down you go, the more likely you are able to negotiate prices.

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When I took a taxi to Friendship Square to meet the other teachers, I noticed something about how the Chinese drive – they are reckless and ruthless.  They do not care for the well-being of others.  They do not obey basic driving etiquette we learn in the U.S. (I don’t think they have a Chinese word for “yield”), they like to create their own lanes, and they especially are indifferent towards pedestrians.  It is quite dangerous for people to cross streets, so you have to be quick and aggressive.  Thank god my company pays for health insurance.

I ate out a lot today too.  For lunch we ate at this pizza restaurant, but I paid 30RMB for a small (aka tiny, aka child-size, aka my usual-size snack before I go to bed) pepperoni pizza.  If I had the money, I would have gotten a pizza that has a crust made up of pigs-in-a-blanket.  For dinner, though, we went to this hotpot restaurant (a chinese take on fondue) that was VERY good.  You order raw meat and vegetables, and they bring out a communal pot with boiling soup filled with flavor and spices, and you cook the food in the pot.  I know I’m going to have dreams about that meal.

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