Saturday, March 27, 2010

Favorite conversations

Here are some brief conversations I've had with the young staff of the company I work for (relatively recent college grads - note: China doesn't include "critical thinking" in their college curriculum...and it shows):

(When practicing teaching the first weekend I was here):

Me: You visited the Great Wall?
Staff: Yeah! In Beijing!
Me: Oh cool! Is the Wall anywhere else?
Staff: No! Only Beijing!
Me: ...are you sure about that?
Staff: Yes! I am Chinese!
Me: ...kay.

(The Great Wall is 3500 miles long)

Staff: You need to buy a modem for your internet.
Me: Ok. What kind?
Staff: Modem.
Me: Right, but cable modem or DSL?
Staff: ...modem.
Me: Hmm ok. Is the internet through the TV or phones?
Staff: .........modem.
Me: ....kay.

(On my lesson plan including singing "If You're Happy and You Know It"):

Staff: Maybe you can change the song so it isn't the same every class.
Me: Um, ok? Like, how?
Staff: Maybe you can say "If you're happy and you turn around"
Me: Wait...what?
Staff: "If you're happy and you...something else" - something different.

I then ran the song through my head to the tune of "If you're happy and you turn around, clap your hands" - uh yeah that wasn't going to happen.

Me: Uh, yeah! Sounds good! Thanks for your help!

(In all fairness, they have provided good assistance for my lesson plans! I just thought this was hilarious.)

And finally, when I got a little lost and arrived late to meet another rep from the company:

Staff: What time did you get there?
Me: Ah yes, sorry, I was late. I got confused about getting to the metro station by my apartment. The roads didn't really make sense and then when I actually got there, buying a ticket was a lot more complicated than I expected. I had to get help from someone and I ended up buying some kind of a card...
Staff: You got lost?
Me: Well, no, not really. I know you took me there once, a few days before, but it was a lot different on my own. Plus, I had to buy the ticket and figure out where to go, exactly...
Staff: But we go there before.
Me: Right...we went there once...but this time I was
Staff: We go there that weekend.
Me: Right...


General Update

Just a general update from the last week:

Guangzhou gets a facelift before the Asian Games: bamboo scaffolding is going up all over the city as they try and make the facades look better than they do now, but I have yet to see any finished products of this process. I also find it interesting how workers let the general public get so close to their seems dangerous, but it's pretty common. I try and steer clear when I can.

Makeshift dormitories are commonplace at construction sites for the workers of high-rise projects (unrelated to the last picture).

Traffic was so bad the other day, that cars and trucks were using this sidewalk area to drive on. This was not very fun for me on my walk home...

 I finally remembered to get pictures! The two kids in the front were hilarious; they had some kind of weird cheerleader energy to them and I couldn't stop laughing in class because of how insane they were.

I like how blurry the kids came out in these pictures, because it really shows their energy, haha!

Pictures of my other school.

I have yet to see anybody use this track...

On Tuesday, one of the teachers from my first school invited some of her colleagues and myself to visit her brand new apartment, about 300 feet from the school! She lives on the 14th floor, and I couldn't stop taking pictures of the view:

I absolutely could not get enough of this view!


That's all for now!


More about food (no dogs...I think)

This one's addicting: an awesome spicy chicken sandwich, fries, and a coke from McDonald's. 15 yuan from 11 am to 2 PM (lunch time) equals about $2.20 USD - they have this special every day at this time!

Okay, I might have splurged on Monday. Sushi combo meal + more sushi + drink = 41 yuan, or $6. Still not bad!

The sushi place is on the left. Both places are owned by the same person, who is incredibly friendly to me. He brought me a newspaper while I waited for my sushi; it was in Chinese, so I just looked at the pictures, but it was still nice of him!

Much better for my wallet: 7 yuan for the beef noodles and 3.5 yuan for the beef...wrap...things on the right = 10.5 yuan, or about $1.54.

Also good: this dish of some kind of fried rice with what I hoped was beef. It was delicious! 7 yuan ($1.02) from some kind of small, ethnic restaurant a couple blocks away.

Another addiction of mine: some kind of sweet bread I find all over the place at the bakeries everywhere. Super cheap (3 yuan to maybe 9 yuan) and always good!


On the subject of dog meat

This is a pretty touchy subject between many different people, even within the same countries of origin.

CNN just did a story here in Guangzhou about it, and there doesn't really seem to be a consensus of thought on the matter in the US nor here in China. To some people I talk to back in the US, it's no different than the concept of cooking chicken, and to others, it's morally outrageous.

The reason I bring this up is that this morning, when I was walking to one of my schools, I came across a man cooking a whole dog on a stick on the side of a back street. Refer to the following set of pictures:

 The artificial lake in the neighborhood; there are plenty of fish in it, but I'm not exactly sure what the condition of the water is.

Dog on a stick: I'll keep the thumbnail small and advise you not to click the image if you are sensitive to the subject matter. I originally just kept walking, but then decided to go back and snag a picture for the sake of blog-journalism...blogalism?

"Oh look, stuff!" - I took this image because I thought the man wasn't exactly thrilled with me taking his picture. Either that, or he just made a random noise and I misinterpreted it...

Chickens further down the street.

Now, let me be clear that I'm not here to make any judgments whatsoever on the people nor the culture. I think this is an extremely complex topic that involves a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, personal opinions, and many other elements. I'm not in any sort of position to address the myriad of issues involved with this subject, but I am willing to address the debate as to whether or not it is the same as cooking chicken or other, more common meats. 

Chicken and Dog Meat: Is There a Difference?
I think the root of this part of the debate is whether or not there is any sort of empathy that a person involved in the debate may have to one or more species used for their meat. Most people lack, what I assume, is a certain required amount of empathy toward common meat sources (chickens, cows, pigs, etc), so they are disinclined to pass up a tasty burger or other meat product nor would they express any objection toward its consumption. Most vegetarians, I assume, would have this level of empathy toward these meat sources and, if not express their objections, would at least pass up on that burger or other meat product. China kind of seems to be stuck in the middle right now in terms of their relationship with dogs: they are becoming more and more popular as pets, yet are still consumed as meat.

I don't really believe there is a "right" answer or a correct side-of-the-fence on the matter.

I do, however, believe there is a strong difference between meat from dogs and meat from chickens. It's simply based on the connection our race as a whole has to the different species:
First, chickens are not generally known as pets, but dogs are. However, the situation goes much deeper than this: dogs have a level of emotional and mental maturity that chickens do not; nor can chickens really express any emotion beyond distress (read: flailing wings and loud noises). Furthermore, dogs express a sense of loyalty specifically to humans that poultry cannot. Lastly, you just can't play a decent game of fetch with a chicken, can you?


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tim's Day Out (part 2) - Zhu Jiang Park

Later Sunday, I ended up finding Zhu Jiang Park, in what I guess I'd describe as a rather wealthy neighborhood.

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves, but the park admission was free, and it was pretty big!

Tea House

This was actually darker inside than the picture makes it out to be...hmm...go cell phone!

The IFC building makes its way into my pictures yet again!

You'll notice the kid to the right and how it looks like he fell flat on his face the second before I took this picture. Well, that's exactly what happened.

This one's cool: you take your shoes off and walk slowly over this pathway, like the guy in the center is doing. I probably would have never guessed this if it were not for this man!

There are a couple other big parks in the city I will be sure to share in the future!