Archive for the ‘Dalian’ Category

rambling weekends

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012  More at http://dalian.neuage.us/videos/Boee_Brilliant_Villas_.Hill.html

photo album for this is at http://neuage.us/BLOGS/photos/

Last Sunday we changed our day around – I suppose if it was my classroom we could say it was the flipped classroom model but I am not going to equate a day of leisure with an academic day. Not that every day is anything but learning; life the classroom and all that crap, but a flipped something is not the same as a non-flipped something.

Now that we got that out of the way and yes I do sometimes do the flipped classroom approach when it is suitable which in China is not always possible because students cannot use youtube or participate in western social sites due to the great firewall of China.

Instead of going out in the afternoon; we tend to spend the morning on the Internet doing books, keeping up with family, and Facebook, and other schools – are they offering a better package for next year, is it more interesting than living in the part of China that is more Ikea than historic China; for example, Myanmar (Burma) really has our eye at the moment and of course who would not want to live in and teach in India?

I had my first Skype session with Canyon H.S. School in Bhopal, India doing an ISA (British Council  International School Awards) project “Festivals and Aborigines”  with my Broadcast Publication class last week. It took a bit of effort and time to understand each other, us their accent and them ours (I have Korean, Chinese, Trinidad, and American students), our Skype connection went down as well as the whole Internet a few times but overall it was really successful and students from both schools were really excited. I am starting a unit I am calling “Foreign Correspondent” with the longer term plan of having our students do a collaborative documentary which will really test our technology as well as my planning and implementation skills.

Damn! Talking about work again…

So we headed out on our bikes at 9 AM last Saturday; we were going to do the same today but already it is eleven AM, we are still in our pajamas, on-line, and I want to ride our bikes to the Jinshitan Port – which we have never been to and no doubt is just a small fishing port or kelp port, but I want to go nevertheless. But it is cold and windy outside so no doubt we will take the # 1 bus from the light rail station, if how I am reading the map is correct. Then again we may spend the day indoors which is not my ideal. Yesterday, Saturday, Narda went to an orphanage in Dalian City – all babies and the oldest I think was in the two year old range. She went with a group of teachers. Apparently it was all heart-wrenching. These are children that are left for whatever reason; the one baby policy of China or because they are deformed and etc. Teachers volunteer to go just to hold the babies and have a bit of play because they are stuck in their cribs all the time otherwise. We brought up the ideas of students visiting in our middle school assembly last week asking if any students would want to spend a Saturday morning at the orphanage – and I was extremely surprised when every single student in grades 6 – 8 stood up. My day yesterday was not so altruistic as I spent nine hours at school working on standard based lessons – something everyone at school is so opposed to, but again I am not talking about work now.

Near us is yet another huge apartment development, Boee Brilliant Villas Hill. We tromped in with cameras in hand and viewed the first smaller apartment that they were selling for 7 and a half million RMB, about one and a quarter million dollars US. See our video of this exploration at http://youtu.be/gQ0Noz1pF_c  Or other related blogs at http://neuage.us/BLOGS/

The outside is quite nice –


Boee Brilliant Villas Hill six months from an empty lot to this


The child’s loo – upstairs – spa bath, stone garden – part of what one gets for 20-million RMB


The child’s bedroom – no wonder they have only one child who could afford more?

We saw two apartments the one above on the right was 20 million RMB or about three-million US. Going along with the one child stuff of China it had a spa bath and little glass garden in the child’s room as well as two walk in closets and a study.The picture on the left above is the kid’s bath with spa and stone garden and on the right is the parent’s room – through the window they can see how us lowly teachers live in campus Village off next to the hills straight through the window.

We wandered on to the new city being built down the road – Xiaoyaowan (an earlier video I made of this is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-drgVo45WWs&feature=share&list=UUzGrI_yggI56Gpp2ZyNQAXw) and drove along the three and four lane empty roads leading to huge holes which I suppose will be for a river they are putting in and bridges and skyscrapers. I made a clip of the day and put it on youtube at http://youtu.be/NyME0iqSMhs.

In the distance is the end of the bridge which is not built that will go over the new river.

Narda at the first part of a large bridge to be built over a river that will be put in soon?

The infrastructure is in place – large highways to large holes in the ground.

This is what is happening to the old village to make room for Xiaoyaowan.

The future mega city or a part of Dalian – who knows?


What it will look like they think, in a few years – now just empty holes.Well here it is 8 pm – we ended up going into Dalian and eating at Tapas Spanish restaurant which is a couple of blocks past the Korean Market  which is great – I had ‘berenjenas gratin adas’ (grilled eggplant), and ‘cremade espinacasy esparragos’ (spinach and asparagus cream).

We had a driver – one of Jack’s mates takes us in and wait for us to eat and go to the Korean Market to get a winter coat that Narda wanted me to get – one of those hundreds of dollars coats that one gets cheap. Narda had the coat go from 450 RMB down to 250 meaning about $35 US.  All in all as a last minute thought it was a five hour round-trip including dinner and getting my coat when all I really wanted to do was write some blogs for the day.

A lot more to say but I will ramble on next time…

Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節)

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

How are some weekends different from other weekends? When there seems to be no end to the particular one being experienced is my favourite way; for example, this weekend syncs with next weekend in that the days between are part of the holiday of the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) and no I have not advanced in my Mandarin to have written that – it is a paste job; saying that, I know that this character 大 is the start of Dalian and we watch for it to get on the correct bus or is it the start to Jinshitan, our local hood? – we get lost a lot but at 1 RMB – 15 cents US for a bus ride it is affordable to hop on another bus and if we get way to far afield we grab a cab, show our business card which is in Chinese on the opposite side to what we can read. Unlike New York City cabs or Sydney, Paris, Rome and other cities we tromp about these are quite cheap. To get home from Jinshitan is 15 RMB – a tad bit over two bucks US for a fifteen minute ride. NYC it would be like going from the West Village to Harlem and cost about $20. Not that I had planned to write about money.

So we are here at the start of the Mooncake Festival (Zhongqiu Festival) 3000 years in the advancing and most everyone I work with is out of here. We did get our fair share of mooncakes on Friday, one of my favourite Chinese foods, well actually, aside of tofu, just about the only thing I eat that is not western. I tried to be more culturally globalized but my stomach had other ideas.

It is Saturday and most teachers have flown off to Viet Nam, Korea, Thailand and various spots in China. We are staying home a few days then flying out Monday to Yantai in northeastern Shandong province. Sound exotic but actually we could not make up our minds where to go until it was too late. I had wanted to go up to Dandong but last week when we finally decided to go there all buses and trains were booked out. Being one of the most traveled times of the year for the locals flights out of Dalian seemed to be doubling by the hour. One of the few places left was Yantai – half an hour away. There is a ferry to come back on that takes a few hours so we are flying there and cruising home on Thursday or Friday or if we get to wandering around various other cities we may come back on the weekend by ferry from Weihai or Yantai or some such service, it is just across the bay.

I started last week off quite excited about our new laptop program. I went home with the new Zenbook with Windows 8 installed and spent a few days downloading lots of stuff. But now I am not so sure whether I like this; the speed is great – I get onto the Internet (more about that in a moment) quickly and programs run well: Adobe Flash, Dreamweaver, Sketchup and etc. but it jumps when keying. It is impossible to write more than a couple of letters before it jumps to another line – or maybe it is for incredibly fast people – read young.  I need to plug in a keyboard to keep from going nuts. Or switch to my older true and sure laptop like I am doing now. The keypad is way too sensitive and it will be an issue when the kids get it if I cannot tighten it up. The Zenbook would make a great travel companion (when the wife is shopping or printing off grand- daughter photos) and I am left to my own devices.

Friday, yesterday, it was like being in the stone ages. Holy cow – no Internet for a day! It started the night before during a thunder storm; it was a dark and rainy night or is that stormy? Whatever it was up to no good was going to happen with lightening all over the shop, of which, one wayward bolt knocked out the server box. In the middle of uploading photos, videos, words of wisdom/scattered thoughts or whatever I was uploading to one of my sites my ftp-server crashed and that was it. So what was there left to do? I could always talk to my wife, but I have done that before, so we watched another episode of Dexter. We are on season 4 and it is wonderfully horrific – just the show to watch on a stormy night with a banging door and chairs blowing across the porch. The next day the server was still down – I put up a note for my students that there was no Internet due to a lighting strike and they thought I was joking.   They often think I am joking though I am not sure why they think that. Not using the Internet is fine, I had some classes using Google Sketchup and we were not able to do stuff we were to do on the last day before a holiday like getting grades done, submitting lesson plans and all those wonderful time absorbing tasks that will just have to wait until after the holidays. I found time to even clean my room which given the choice of being online or cleaning has always been put at the bottom of the pile of to-do projects. We have had other times when the Internet was down for a bit and even a couple of times when the electricity was off for most of the day but this time it seemed more OK. No one got to play our DAISlive video which I had spent several hours just on the introduction to but I am sure I can get staff to play it when we are back in session.

DAISlive is our news/events video that I do with my high school broadcast class. It is shown two times a week and lasts around three minutes. I spend way too many hours editing it. I started it last year as a way to get my middle school publication class to do some real-time speaking. By the end of the school year every single middle school student had appeared several times as anchor, news-reader, and creator of an ad, usually for the school store. My publication class is a six-week unit in our applied studies course. There are six applied studies units ranging from robotics to ‘The Odyssey of the Mind’ and a student government component. I found this a very effective way to get students who had English as a second language to become surer about their speaking. My favorite example was during my first few week. Everyone in my class had to present in front of the camera but one girl would break into tears whenever she had to speak English. She would whisper a few words and that was it. We got her to say ‘thanks for watching DAISlive’ then she gave a big smile. After that she would be the first to volunteer to be on our show. This year I am doing DAISlive as part of my high school broadcast journalism course. We have been given a large room in the basement of the school which I am gradually turning into a video studio. So far since starting more than a year ago all I have had is a cheap video camera and I used AVS Video Editor until recently when we purchased a site license of Power Director 10 with the hopes the students would do all the editing. They are still learning the program and last week I spent like four hours just making a new introduction. I have had one short session with them using Boinx TV to make a real-time newscast but after holiday we will dive into that and have wonderful blue screen backgrounds. soon my hours of editing will be turned over to the students and my too much editing will end and I will have all that extra time, hopefully, to learn new stuff.  I was told yesterday we may be getting Adobe CS6, which I put in for last year but at about ten-thousand dollars it got knocked back and now it appears we may get it which excites me to no end and I am looking forward to Narda printing more granddaughter photos and shopping for more shoes and me doing fantastic stuff like more web pages to add to my current thousands, and more video clips and finally finishing my e-book “Tofu Again – ‘The lost book of tofu”  http://tofu.neuage.us/ which is not just another book of tofu recipes but has lots of stories about my days as a tofu maker (eight years) in Australia whilst raising two children by myself (Try This ~ http://neuage.org/trythis.htm) along with tofu recipes.  Needless to say creating an eBook with InDesign and making phone apps with Dreamweaver will be my first endeavors. There is also talk of getting some good video equipment and lights for the video studio.

My real excitement is bundled into our next step in DAISlive when we go global, sort of.  I have been corresponding with five schools in India to add a section of Collaborative Broadcast Journalism to our program.  I got involved with the British Council programme called International School Awards last year then hooked up with the British Council Schools team “World Class” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldclass/) and out of that five schools have been corresponding with me about doing projects http://neuage.us/edu/blogs/collaborative-broadcast.html. Then this past week when the head of ISS (more further down) came to visit he got me in touch with Raphael Raphael (that is his real name, first and last) at an International school in Kazakhstan. Raphael has a doctorial in film and like me is the tech dude at his school. We will do some real-time news broadcasts with our students and hopefully I can bring in India too. “and now to our reporter in India… Kazakhstan (No! not Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan). I did several projects like this when we lived in New York City. Narda’s school, St. Luke’s and my school, Ross Global Academy did several live interactions together from Narda having her 3rd grade and our 3rd grade class do songs together to my 8th graders doing a hip-hop workshop with her 8th graders. We went with three schools a couple of times but never internationally.  A school I taught at two summers ago in south Australia wants to be involved too so maybe we will have this incredible learning space between Kazakhstan, India, Australia and us in little old Jinshitan. My ultimate, though it will probably never happen, is to get involved with a school in North Korea and do this. It would not be political – just students of the same age hanging out talking about stuff in their life, about what is going on at the moment at their school.

Overall it has been a good week here at Campus Village/Dalian American International School in Jinshitan – (Golden Pebble Beach) in the DDA (Dalian Development Area which is also Kaifaqu), Dalian, Liaoning province, China.

Charles Gregory, the head of ISS (International School Services – https://www.iss.edu/) which runs our school, visited for the week. We get to see him a couple of times a year. He lives an incredible life, having personally started 16 schools internationally the past nine years. He has so many stories from cobras in the hallway of a school in the Congo to students trying to push a large bear over the fence to starting a school in Myanmar a decade ago when supplies had to be carried on the backs of people through jungles. He has such a great and positive view of education throughout the world and I have inspiration for my next writing project because of him. The life of being an international school teacher is really special and I wish I had started a few decades ago back when I was a single parent living in a coastal town of Australia. My children would have loved living in all the places other teachers tell us about. I hope to teach in one more country before it is all over though at 65 then 66 next school year and I think another year older after that the choices are dwindling. I have a list of countries that issue work visas for teachers and the list is quite small with maybe a dozen with no age limit and a few with 70. But then again if they let me stay in China we could be here quite some time. I hear that our area is one of the few places in China that will issue a visa past 65. Several of the southern provinces won’t issue them to anyone past 58. Damn I may have to retire someday and write books about tofu.


Dalian Bingyu National Geopark

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

The youtube video for this is at http://youtu.be/nKQkC-qTqaM
a slideshow with heaps of photos is at http://neuage.us/BLOGS/weekend/index.html

We needed the weekend off – something different, calming, invigorating and maybe even fun. There were about 30 of us from our school, teachers and the like – well actually teachers. There was another bus, parents and children – that is a thing about our school we all live in the same place – Campus Village. Work and after work get intertwined. Teachers that had been in Tunisia were concerned about what happened yesterday there – a mob attacked the US embassy and destroyed the school they had been at. What put our ears to the conversation was that we had a letter waiting to send with our resume for jobs there. There is a music job and we were asking if there was something for me too. The letter would have gone out when we got back from our trip but maybe not now. Maybe we are best staying in an Asian country. China is so much safer than a lot of places. There is even less violence than in the states. We are fenced in and have guards everywhere but I cannot image something like what is happening in the Middle East happening here. Of course people at our school that were in Libya last year and barely escaped and from Damascus which is being leveled as we speak keep us thinking that where we are is probably best. We are still hoping to teach in India/Viet Nam/Cambodia and etc. before we retire – though the countries taking people over 65 are dwindling. Maybe a country in turmoil would be good at least we would end our career with stories to tell.

The Dalian International Club hosted our weekend trip to Dalian Bingyu National Geopark and got us the Binguanzhuanyong Hotel – just slides off of the tongue doesn’t it? Bingyu Valley Scenic Area is called ‘Oriental Miniature Switzerland’ though we are not sure why. There is some resemblance but hey China, China is not quite Switzerland.

Dalian Bingyu National Geopark
Dalian Bingyu National Geopark

What I find about China that I had not realized before was how, at least from highways, it looks like most anywhere else.  We could have been going through upstate New York except the signs were not legible but otherwise driving on the same side as the States and the other side if Australian. Even the road stops were dissimilar to the ones on the New York State Thruway. The toilets were squat toilets – something I will never use to and the food was in Chinese but for the most part a sort of similar copy to an American brand and of course like the NY Thruway not a good place to eat except for chips and candy and ice coffee.  I was disappointed that I was unable to get a fridge magnet – something I try to get everywhere I go – the side of my fridge is totally covered with about a hundred magnets. It is the one thing I can collect that easily fits in my bag.

I started collecting metal signs from train stations but after getting two; one from a Paris train station and the other from Lyon when I was traveling the world with my children in 1990 and I still have them. But I am sure the station master would take a slim view of me if I had been caught. I tried pulling this sign off but it was nailed in – I thought it would like good in my classroom. 

I suppose the suggestion is one should throw away things with vigor. Cautiously? spelt causiously is just as good. We what know what you mean mate.

Dalian Bingyu National Geopark was where we were headed. What a great place and less than three hours from home.  We rode a few boats along the way before hitting the river in rafts ourselves. 

But being the one who is rowing – no that is not entirely true, Narda rowed too – but she had the umbrella… 

The town of Bingyu is quite the place. There was a lot of singing in the streets – see our video clip on youtube – listed at the top… and dancing…. and fireworks… it is a great place to go. And I am too tired to add more but here are some photos from our weekend the rest are on our slideshow… cheers

why I eat tofu - because animals that don't have legs are no fun to catch

Why I ate tofu – why eat something that can not run away because its feet are stuck in bucket…

The opium cart and other herbs – including poppies – something that looked and smelt like hash along with other carts of weird things all appeared in front of our hotel – I suppose they figure a bunch of teachers need a break


the opium cart and other herbs – including poppies – something that looked and smelt like hash along with other carts of weird things all appeared in front of our hotel – I suppose they figure a bunch of teachers need a break

Below is the hotel we stayed at – Binguanzhuanyong – it said on our toothbrush packet so probably the name of the place. 

was Buddha a drag queen?



Parent Teacher conference

Friday, September 14th, 2012

We had the first of two-days of parent teacher’s conference at our school today. I have done this at schools before, nothing new, but I did get to thinking about life in general and the turns and twists one takes on the journey.

Sitting there with parents I remembered my days as the parent with my children. Life was so different then. I was a single parent in South Australia (I was the foreigner there, being a Yank and all, though allegedly I spoke the same language as the teacher) and usually there was a problem with at least one of my children, I will not say which one. Of course I blamed the teacher because obviously the reason my child acted out was because the class was not challenging enough and my son was creative and beyond their slowed down standards. Actually I was probably the parent from hell.

This was between 1985 and about 1999. Not sure why but my children attended lots of schools. We started off with Mt. Compass, and then there was Pt. Elliot, Meadows, Victor Harbor, Christies Beach High School, and that was just primary. There was Wirreanda High School later on and a temporary school because of some discipline stuff and maybe Seaton High too; I lost track.

I started my own studies in 1991 and went straight through to 2005; 14 years of university, from starting my BA when I was 44 to collecting my PhD at the University of South Australia when I was 58. I started teaching in 1999 at age 52, when most people start to look at retiring. Before that I had been a tofu maker for seven years, a brother in a religious order, a cook, street artist in New Orleans, NYC, South Australia, Honolulu; a happy hippie living in communes in the 1960s and a variety of things but sitting in front of parents talking about their children always amazes me; especially here in China, where I need an interpreter for Chinese, Korean, German and or etc. and I am happy to present myself as the teacher or as is the case now, the student’s advisor. I try to recall my children in school and think of nightmares – principal’s phone calls, me defending my children, the fire in the boys toilet that many years later a son said yes it was him, to the court appearances for graffiti and on and on. One of my favourite was when I was being showed my son’s diary (this happened with both children). There were lots of absent days with my signature – this was at Wirreanda High School, my children would have been in about 8th and 10th grade. There were days when they did not have their uniform with some excuse about it is in the wash –this was in many entrees. The reasons for missing school were everything from baseball practice at another school (that son was later signed by the LA Dodgers as a pitcher) or meetings at the dentist, doctor and a host of visits I barely could have imagined. All signed by me. When I pointed out it was not my signature anywhere in the diary I was shown the front page of the original signature – my children had signed my name from day one. OK so I never looked at their diaries – poo hoo on me. I had other things to deal with like being a perfect parent.

What I find really fascinating is when two parents are talking a mile-a-minute in a foreign language, and looking up every once in a while at me then going back to saying stuff I have no idea what.  他无法组织一个妓院的螺丝 (He couldn’t organize a screw in a brothel). Today a student was the interpreter for the mother. “How is my daughter doing?” So I go on about if she stopped using her cell phone, talked less during class, did work… I am sure she did not tell her mother what I said. The mother looked at me with a bit of – was that amusement, disdain, surprise, shock…? How would I know? The daughter could have said, “Dr. Neuage says if you do not have enough water in the basin when cooking beans they will burn.” I did hear the Dr. Neuage part.. the result was a blur of sounds and pitches; some going up and some going down. 

I also never know when to bow or shake a hand. The Koreans like to bow when greeted the Chinese will go for the paws. But then I never get the Europeans and Aussies kissing on one side then the other thingy. I lived in Australia for 22 years and still never know which cheek to peck first. I am not saying I still can not tell the difference that would be rude I suppose but truth be told I do. And what happens if we bow at the same time and hit heads and one of us gets knocked out?

I love my job – teaching broadcast journalism and being our video media person and creating our school news shows and working with teachers with technology and teaching my middle school publications class. It is just a long ways from being a single parent living on a pension with naughty children and a tenth grade education until one day I thought shit I am in my 40s and doing not much and then 14 years later I was Dr. Neuage. Whats next? The only thing that is the same is that I am, as always, in a foreign country.

Well tomorrow is Friday and early Saturday morning we are off with the International Club of Dalian for a two day trip to one of Dalian’s best getaways destinations – Bingyu Valley 冰峪沟! “Beautiful scenery, exciting white water rafting, fresh air and interesting people…” More about that next week, after the trip.

Victor Harbor 1987 Pt Elliot South Australia – 1989 Sacha 8 and a half and Leigh six – me – 42.

Sacha Terrell Leigh 1997 Hackham South Australia
Sacha Terrell Leigh 1997 Hackham South Australia

September 13 2012 – parent teacher conference

Parent Teacher conference

Friday, September 14th, 2012

We had the first of two-days of parent teacher’s conference at our school today. I have done this at schools before, nothing new, but I did get to thinking about life in general and the turns and twists one takes on the journey.

Sitting there with parents I remembered my days as the parent with my children. Life was so different then. I was a single parent in South Australia (I was the foreigner there, being a Yank and all, though allegedly I spoke the same language as the teacher) and usually there was a problem with at least one of my children, I will not say which one. Of course I blamed the teacher because obviously the reason my child acted out was because the class was not challenging enough and my son was creative and beyond their slowed down standards. Actually I was probably the parent from hell.

This was between 1985 and about 1999. Not sure why but my children attended lots of schools. We started off with Mt. Compass, and then there was Pt. Elliot, Meadows, Victor Harbor, Christies Beach High School, and that was just primary. There was Wirreanda High School later on and a temporary school because of some discipline stuff and maybe Seaton High too; I lost track.

I started my own studies in 1991 and went straight through to 2005; 14 years of university, from starting my BA when I was 44 to collecting my PhD at the University of South Australia when I was 58. I started teaching in 1999 at age 52, when most people start to look at retiring. Before that I had been a tofu maker for seven years, a brother in a religious order, a cook, street artist in New Orleans, NYC, South Australia, Honolulu; a happy hippie living in communes in the 1960s and a variety of things but sitting in front of parents talking about their children always amazes me; especially here in China, where I need an interpreter for Chinese, Korean, German and or etc. and I am happy to present myself as the teacher or as is the case now, the student’s advisor. I try to recall my children in school and think of nightmares – principal’s phone calls, me defending my children, the fire in the boys toilet that many years later a son said yes it was him, to the court appearances for graffiti and on and on. One of my favourite was when I was being showed my son’s diary (this happened with both children). There were lots of absent days with my signature – this was at Wirreanda High School, my children would have been in about 8th and 10th grade. There were days when they did not have their uniform with some excuse about it is in the wash –this was in many entrees. The reasons for missing school were everything from baseball practice at another school (that son was later signed by the LA Dodgers as a pitcher) or meetings at the dentist, doctor and a host of visits I barely could have imagined. All signed by me. When I pointed out it was not my signature anywhere in the diary I was shown the front page of the original signature – my children had signed my name from day one. OK so I never looked at their diaries – poo hoo on me. I had other things to deal with like being a perfect parent.

What I find really fascinating is when two parents are talking a mile-a-minute in a foreign language, and looking up every once in a while at me then going back to saying stuff I have no idea what.  他无法组织一个妓院的螺丝 (He couldn’t organize a screw in a brothel). I had one student be my interpreter – now that is messy. “How is my daughter doing?” Of course that was in Korean so I went on about she would do better if she would put away her phone, not talk in class, pay attention – stuff like that. So what does the daughter say to the mother? I have no idea. “Dr Neuage says that if the water boils out of the pot of beans they will burn on.” How would I know what is said? Though the mother did look at me in a puzzled way. 

I love my job – teaching broadcast journalism and being our video media person and creating our school news shows and working with teachers with technology and teaching my middle school publications class. It is just a long ways from being a single parent living on a pension with naughty children and a tenth grade education until one day I thought shit I am in my 40s and doing not much and then 14 years later I was Dr. Neuage. Whats next? The only thing that is the same is that I am, as always, in a foreign country.

Well tomorrow is Friday and early Saturday morning we are off with the International Club of Dalian for a two day trip to one of Dalian’s best getaways destinations – Bingyu Valley 冰峪沟! “Beautiful scenery, exciting white water rafting, fresh air and interesting people…” More about that next week, after the trip.

Victor Harbor 1987 Pt Elliot South Australia – 1989 Sacha 8 and a half and Leigh six – me – 42.

 

Sacha Terrell Leigh 1997 Hackham South Australia
Sacha Terrell Leigh 1997 Hackham South Australia

 

September 13 2012 – parent teacher conference

Just call me 牛腾然

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

 

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Just call me 牛腾然(niu teng ran)

I have had a few names in my life…
Started off with the most boring name of Terry Miller –

Mavourneen Elizabeth Bellinger
my mother, Mavourneen Elizabeth Bellinger, before putting me up for adobption

How could I go through life like that? So I got myself adopted by the time I was three by some Christians in upstate New York who named me Terrell Adsit.

1918 The Adsit farm in Clifton Park New Yor
1918 The Adsit farm in Clifton Park New York with my father in their midst learning how to raise me

They tried to create me into some unnatural image of their beliefs but they were not terribly successful so I went off and did the 1960s in Greenwich Village, New Orleans and on to San Francisco, Eugene, Oregon

1969 Eugene Oregon
still an Adist with some Adsits who tried to raise me who drove From New York to Eugene, Oregon with thoughts of giving me a haircut – 1969 before going off to Hawaii and ending up in a religious order for a decade

and by 1969 I was in Hawaii and somehow ended up in a cult group for about the next decade. They changed my name to Brother Arthur so I trolled around in a cosmic fog with this name.

Brother Arthur Adsit in the Holy Order of Mans; Wichita Kansas - 1984
Brother Arthur Adsit in the Holy Order of Mans; Wichita Kansas – 1984

In 1980, when I was living in Towson, Maryland I took a trip to Auckland then Sydney for an astrological convention.

astrologer
Australian Astrological convention 1982 after returning to Australia with my new name change

I met someone I didn’t like and she ended up in Maryland a few months later and some stuff happened and we drove across to San Francisco where I put her on a plane back to Adelaide, South Australia and I went on to Honolulu. Well the stuff that happened back in Maryland sort of started to manifest and soon she was in Hawaii and more stuff happened then we needed to get married and I did not like nor was I able to pronounce her Ukrainian name and she did not like the Adsit name so we made up a new name. My mate Randy Dandurand said “well you two think you are such new age people why don’t you call yourselves new age?” We thought that was just dumb. I changed my name to Neuage and by getting married we both were Neuage. Needless to say we were not that new age and a few months after son number one, Sacha, was born, whom I helped deliver in a little hospital on the north shore of Hawaii, we were on our way to Australia; Adelaide, South Australia. We had another son then got divorced and I was a single parent for the next two decades stuck in a foreign country with my Neuage name.  I still have the Neuage name but not to stop at name changes I now have a Chinese name.

picture poems
Neuage selling picture poems in Adelaide, South Australia 1994

What I have always like about neuage is that it is not too common. Can you imagine trying to get any cred on Google or Bing or Yahoo and etc. with a name like Terry Miller? I started making web pages in the early 1990s, soon after the World Wide Web was invented and for decades there were no other neuages in any search engine; just thousands of me. I loved it. Now there are some wankers using the neuage name; there is a rapper, someone hustling stuff on Amazon and a judge off in Nevada or Arizona – one of those dessert places. But there are still thousands of my pages coming up when putting neuage on in a search. I just checked my new Chinese name, “niu teng ran” – and there are none in any search so perhaps I could start again – make thousands of new webpages all under my new name. Damn I just remembered I have some work to do for school – well maybe next weekend I will start…

Terrell:牛腾然(niu teng ran).”niu” sounds like Neuage, which means a family name in China.”niu” also means “ox”. Ox presents diligent and dependable meanings in Chinese culture. “teng ran” sounds like “Terrell”, which means the flying appearance. “teng” is a  splendid character in a Chinese name, which means ‘up’ or ‘fly’ as we wish our family, career, money….everything goes up and up.

Chinese expert visa
Chinese expert visa – think I am at an expert at getting new names

Not wanting to be the only one with a new name Narda, who by the way did not become a Neuage or an Adsit and in fact returned to her maiden-pre-last-married name, now too has a Chinese name.

Narda: 毕娜达(bi na da) “bi” sounds like “Biemond”, which is a family name in China.na “means fascinating elegant, delicate and gentle. It is a good word used in feminine names. “da” means “super” and “fantastic”.

(Thanks to Angelia Guam at our school, Dalian American International School for our new names)

What I really wanted to share with myself as a memory I could look at when I am unable to sleep, like this morning when I was wide awake by 4 AM and decided to get up and go through my email I did not have time to read this past week which took me until 7.30 to get through and now it is 7:45 and I am writing this so either I am taking a break from going through my in-box or I quit. I am too sleepy to keep track of what I was doing. Anyway a silly memory… we were on the way back from Australia a couple of months ago, flying China Southern, and I was looking out the little round window in the back of the plane, taking pictures of something, probably more clouds to add to my thousands of pictures of clouds form the past decades. I suppose Narda was asleep leaning against our window so no doubt that is why I had my camera with me peeping out the window. After stretching and moving about; I had sat frozen in my seat for some dozen hours and the muscles and bones were sticking, I went to the loo. Not to worry it all seemed quite normal to me. After I had gotten myself settled back into my nesting mode a stewardess quizzed me why I had taken my camera into the bathroom. I couldn’t believe it. She said in her few English words that a passenger had report me taking a camera into the toilet. It wasn’t my small digital camera but my Nikon though why would it matter and what stupid human would report such a thing? I just looked at the woman and turned away but low and behold didn’t another twit come up to me and start asking why I took a camera into the toilet. Then there was a third person with more English quizzing me. I said I was taking pictures out the window then I needed to take a piss – they left after that and no one asked any more questions. It was funny but I am amazed at these people. I should have asked which passenger reported me and then asked her, of course it would have been a female, and no male would be that stupid, why she had such perverted thoughts.

morning walks

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Morning walks before school are what creates our day in many ways. We have been doing morning walks before school for years; ever since living and working in New York City. We tried to walk every morning from the World Trade Centre subway stop to Narda’s school in the west Village, St. Luke’s. I was a bit unemployed for a couple of years though it was more of a study period so I could get my teaching degree to supplement my PhD to work overseas. In NYC I could teach in private schools but it was time to be more international and what’s another degree when one is already in their 60’s? The NYC walk would take about half an hour and I would go on to the gym and workout for an hour and a half to keep the rust off the bones and keep the old body going for another couple of years. The walk along the Hudson was one of my favourite walks in the world, and we would walk whether it was hot or snowing and cold – always the best times.

We continued with our morning walks before school here in Jinshitan as soon as we got to Dalian American International School. Only a few times, when the weather was dreadfully cold, we didn’t walk. Our walks were always to the beach, Golden Pebble Beach, a 20 minute walk each way.  This year since we have been back, a month now, we have been riding bikes in the morning. We still spend about 45 minutes, but we get to see more, going further and exploring areas we normally did not get to when we walked.

Yesterday we decided not to bike but walk and instead of going on the road we went bush – well that is what they would say in Australia, away from the rapidly built up area across from us and the school. A couple of years ago this whole area was country but now it is being built up at a rapid rate. Our school is about five years old and teachers who have been here for a while said there were pigs roaming around and living here seemed quite out in the middle of nowhere.

We have drivers here that take us to the light rail, into town or wherever we need to go. Jack, our main driver – we call all the drivers Jack, because they all are his mates; when we need to go somewhere, whether to the airport or shopping, we call Jack and someone shows up within ten-minutes. When we get the real Jack we joke with him that he is the real Jack, though I doubt he understands anything we say. None of them speak English but they know where we want to go because we go to so few places; airport, light rail, Kaifaqu ,Dalian…  What I was going to say and got into a bit of an off spin was that Jack grew up here – really here. He lived where the school’s football/soccer oval now is.

Before I upload some photos from our walk I want to see if I get blocked for writing something. I have noticed that in Facebook, which we have to use a VPN for which should make us out to be in another country, that if I say some things not only does Facebook stop but I get knocked off line for a period of time and what I wrote does not show up. For example, I wrote about a certain group which is banned for their meditative ways and bang I was knocked off as soon as I put the name of the group in. I was telling how our local ex-mayor’s wife was being charged with the murder of a Brit and it was linked with how bodies were obtained for the shows that are so popular in the States showing bodies. They are prepared and done here in our local city of Kaifaqu, a burb of Dalian. The bodies are those of the practitioners of so and so group which I am not saying as I want to post this and not have it blocked. The other thing I said recently in Facebook was just mentioning how our school was closed due to an approaching typhoon – that the government suggested all schools in our province be closed because the storm was the largest in fifty-years, and I wrote; “who am I to go against the Chinese Government?” and those must have been some keywords that blocked me. The storm changed course enough to go over to the right and hit the Koreas and I had put that the  North one got primarily hit but when I put the words Korea and North together I was blocked again. So we are seemingly allowed to use a VPN though locals I have heard can get into strife using one because it is supposed to be tunneling through the Great Firewall of China which is illegal but we really are watched all the time. And of course there was the fight between Google and our host and I can only get onto my gmail when I am on my VPN – as service we pay for. A few people have had their VPN shut down – the provider, but so far ours, which I am not saying which one, is going well. I think the strife between Google and here is that they refused to not say stuff about the square in Beijing and what happened there.

It is the same with all the guards we have around the place where we live. Are they guarding us from some outside threat or are we being watched and kept track of? We go outside of our compound all the time and there are no threats but our housing and school is surrounded by a large fence with guards at the gates and even guards inside the gate in the lobby of our apartment building and at the entrance to our school.

Back to our morning walk and some photos:

the Dutch-Australian wife in her element - holding freshly picked Sunflowers

the Dutch-Australian wife in her element – holding freshly picked Sunflowers

the strange looking ship in the background on the left is in the middle of the highway leading to the Golden Pebble Beach resort area. Directly in the back is the new million dollar houses that are suppose to look French – we don’t like them, and to the right is our home and school.

fog
outside our window

It is often this foggy outside our balcony; and is now as I write this and it has been like this all day – we hope it is not smog, but on a clear day we can see the sea and the mountains and the guard station at the entrance…

Our maids are so good, very friendly, a couple of them are trying to teach us some Chinese words, Narda is doing much better than me, but we are hopeless. Every morning they have a bit of a talking to. There is a person standing in front of them and they all say a few things back and forth in unison. We have no idea what they say. They line up by size , I got this photo on the way to the lift before our morning walk – this would be about 6 AM on the third floor. On the second floor the guards line up, by size too.

sweeping
sweeping

What I like most about this photo is the guy peeing in the background. A common site in China. Why go looking for a toilet when there is the whole out doors? They use these sort of hand made brooms to sweep the roads in all weather. In the winter they sweep the snow off the roads with them – not that we get much snow. Last winter we had two days each with about an inch of snow.

local dude

The locals are so friendly. This man was along our walk in the countryside.

It really is country where we live but in a few years it will all be built up so we enjoy bush walking whilst we can.

Dalian American International School
Dalian American International School

This was the first photo we saw of Dalian American International School on the Internet and we love walking past it in the morning and thinking back to not much more than a year ago when we were jumping up and down in our hotel room in Shanghai, after our interview, because we were offered a contract to teach at this school. We were so excited. That was January First 2011, we were returning to the States after Christmas break in Australia. We were living in NYC and Narda was at St Luke’s and I was wondering if anyone would hire someone approach 65 years old. By June 2011 all our belongings were on a ship headed to Dalian and by August 2011 we were teaching here – just a bit over a year ago. Now we feel like locals. And yes it is possible to have a good job and be 65.

Discoveryland

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

I was going to write a blog at least once a week; perhaps daily. It was a fine goal, right up there with I was going to work on one of my novels, poems, paintings or children stories a little bit every day, especially the ones I started back in the 1970s, then the one I did in the 1980s and surely I would add to the finished ones of the 1990s and my favourite, “Leaving Australia” that was completed five years ago. That one, all 550 pages, I printed and bound two copies of; one for my son in Melbourne and one for me. When Sacha came to visit a month ago I asked him if he had read the one I gave him four years ago and he said he was going to read it on his trip to Dalian but it was too heavy to carry with his other stuff; something about traveling lightly. Good golly. But surely a blog, added to if not daily at least weekly would be easy. Then as usual life got in the way and I just noticed I had not written anything since Chinese New Years almost four months ago. I have put up many youtube videos in that time from our wanders in Thailand, and various places in China but to write…. It is school – I work so much on lesson plans and projects that I never write anything for myself.

So I will just jot down notes about yesterday as it was a bit of a typical this-is-China day.

It started way to early, Saturday the 19th of May. I was awake at 3 AM, worried about something; our renters moving out of one of our houses – the one in NYC, or was it my Flash class that my overly-driven Korean students are determined to get a perfect score and the more challenging I make the content even getting them to learn ActionScript coding, the more determined they are to outdo me, or was it that I got an email about re-roofing our house in upstate NY; the Victorian house with a slate roof – not cheap, or our upcoming little trip: to Beijing and getting to Atlanta a week after Narda as I have to stay back and do some IT stuff @ school then taking a driving holiday around the deep south and going to New Orleans for a week – my old stomping grounds in the late 1960s and early 1970s when I was a street artist in Jackson Square, then back to Beijing and on to Australia for July and then back to work here in Dalian – though I was not worried about the road-trip but that we may have to fly to New York because of having to deal with renters or roofs or some other fun-not stuff. I was worried that I was getting more grey hair – though people tell me that at a few months nearer to 65 than I wish to be, the fact I have little grey hair now is a fact to celebrate and not moan about having a few grey hairs is not what I want to see. I look in the mirror and say who is that old fart?

Back to yesterday. Maybe I did fall asleep for a while but I was awake at five and got up because I was scheduled to chaperone our middle-school overnight lock-in. I managed to get out of any overnight duty and was slotted into the 6 – 10 AM section. The children were already running around, some having slept less than a couple of hours. They were doing their overnight in the gym and surrounding rooms so I did my early morning weights routine and played some basketball with them and herded about 60 middle schoolers off to the school and to breakfast. (We live a two minute walk to the gym and another one minute walk to school so our work and home life is all muddled together and many of the children live here too as their parents work for the big companies nearby: Intel, Goodyear, VW – stuff like that). So yes the morning shift was easy – though I was sleepy. It was the rest of the day…

A couple of our teachers were celebrating their 40 anniversary together and wanted to have a shared celebration at Discoveryland. Discoveryland is a Disneyland Chinese copy. It is also a ten-minute bike ride away. We live rather remotely but not far away is the national resorts of Golden Pebble Beach (our morning walks before school) and forested areas and the big tourist thingy of Discoveryland. We had never been inside, because the idea of being in a place like that was quite repulsive. So we ride over, tie up our bikes, pay the 170 RMB (about $25 US) to go in and though it is supposed to be the largest adventure park in China and one of the largest in Asia it was the most budget thing I had seen. It is not Disneyland – though in some fake Chinese manner it is quite similar. The food places were all Chinese and quite bad. I managed to get a vegetarian meal but Narda took one bite of her alleged meat ball and could not eat any more. We noticed someone had thrown up at the next table and a crew came in to clean up but it pretty much summed up the place. I found it interesting that inside their large medieval castle there was a cathedral and the cathedral was actually the start of the ghost-house tour and there were bats flying around the stained glass windows. I suppose it is the Chinese concept of religion as superstition and they wanted to be clear about it. We did not want to go on any rides though some of the teachers we went with got in line for the roller-coaster and two hours later they were still in the same line. We walked around, Narda bought a dress – always the way to make a great day better and we hopped on our bikes and headed home leaving the rest of the people we went in with to enjoy Discoveryland without us. The downside? Yes, I get to go there next week with our whole upper school, a kind of end-of-year event. How exciting. Maybe I will take my camera – this was the first time I had not taken videos or stills in years which tells even more how much I enjoyed myself.

So I am buggered and decide to take a nap at 3. Narda was a bit concerned as she was given a couple of tickets to the “Dalian Korean Youth Orchestra’ concert. As some of her students were in the group parents had given her tickets to attend this ‘special event’. Luckily, she was going with another person and I was going to be left to take a nap. At 3.15 the friend said she was ill and could not go. At 3.20 Narda rang our driver and said to cancel the car to Kaifaqu and everything seemed great. At 3.40 the driver rang and said he was downstairs waiting – we have had no communication problems in the past but Narda was sure that the driver understood ‘cancel’ ‘no car’ no no no. Narda doesn’t want to go alone and then I am up and dressed in five minutes and we are hurdling toward our concert at 3.45 that is to start at 4 and Kaifaqu is half an hour away except for the way most people drive they manage to cut the time down heaps. It only took us 20 minutes. We have learned not to look out the front window because it is too scary the way people weave and cut and beep horns and rarely use blinkers. One thing Narda noticed at a traffic light was a person laying on the grassy part between streets. He wasn’t moving and there were a couple of cars stopped but no one was looking after him. We realized he was dead. In China if someone causes an accident and injures someone it is up to the accident causing person to look after the injured for the rest of their life. It is better if the person dies as they only have to do the funeral. Also, and we saw this our first week here with a person who fell or was knocked off his motorbike and lay dead in the road and was still there hours later, it is up to the family to come and collect the person. Bottom line, don’t get killed in China.

So we got into the concert fifteen minutes late but no one had started – like most things we see in China, this was quite chaotic and we just sat in the first empty seats we found instead of finding our actual seats which seemed to cause confusion around us. In China we have noticed, people talk all the time no matter the setting and as someone up front was introducing or saying something everyone around us just kept chatting like there was no one on the stage. The thing started at 4.35 and got off to a bit of a shaky start. At one point a child behind me, being restless and as bored as us, started kicking the seat in front of him, which was mine. I turned around and said ‘will you stop kicking my chair it is very annoying’ in nice clear English without realizing that these people probably had no idea what the words were but the content was obvious as the mother hit the kid and yelled a whole stream of foreign words at him. He didn’t kick my seat anymore. 

We managed to slip out at intermission and decided to attend a movie, something we had not done in China. At the Cinema we found that the new movie (we think it is new) “Avengers” was playing. As we have gotten adapt with pointing and head nodding and shaking we saw it was in English and it was 3-D and we got free popcorn and soda all for 55 RMB (about $9) and it was starting right then and there. The theatre and large screen were better than what we had seen in NYC and the seats were large and comfortable. The last time we had been to a movie in Asia was in India and we walked out after half an hour because the movie was so stupid and violent.

We got a taxi home – I carry my business card with me that has our home in Chinese so we get around easily, and that was our day.

Last weekend we spent the weekend, two-nights, at the 5-star Kempinski Hotel in downtown Dalian overlooking Labor Park http://dalian.neuage.us/LaborPark.html. And previous to that we have been to Thailand for spring break and Beijing and just exploring here on the weekends. Maybe the next blog will be from a one-star motel in Alabama as we go off to see the real-America.

 

iPhone 5

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

   It comes in a nice looking box. iPhone 5. 

There is even an information guide and all the places in the world to contact Apple. If there was a real iPhone 5 then this would be somewhat of a clone but since there is not it is just the China iPhone 5 idea thingy that looks like an iPhone though the software is a bit lacking. I paid 300 Yuan about $47 USD in the street stall or actually table in downtown Dalian. I saw it later for 288 Yuan but what is a couple of dollars amongst friends? It says 64 GB on the box but I think it is more like 64 mg as it says no more memory after two photos. I took one with the front and one with the back camera – both are crap. Now there does not seem to be enough memory to save a phone number. But not to worry as a phone it rings loudly and the time is right whereas my Google Android phone is tired and needs replacing. It does have TV which is quite fuzzy and foreign, I will try it in Australia in December. I do not think it is getting 3G or 4G or any G though I will wait until I get to school and ask one of the locals what all the Chinese writing is about. There surely is no App Store or iPod as it shows on the box.

To activate my real iPhone I have to wait until we get to Australia for winter break to unlock it as no one can do it here – they say it is too new. But I felt trendy for five minutes and that is the purpose of a clone or, well it is not a clone, I actually have the iPhone 5. Now if I could clone a younger me I could feel trendy for even longer. The iTerrell 5 available in downtown China (the software is not up to snuff; lacking memory, short circuits, aged…).

We had a great day, riding the light rail into Dalian with about ten others from school. We went to a fabrics & textiles market; about six floors of just too much material. It was much more organized than the one we saw at the beginning of October in Hanoi. That one was a bit of a mess though cheaper and actually more interesting. I bought some wool for a suit coat and some tricked-out Asian material for the lining and for the lining of another vest. I am getting into vests as I found one of our locals who works at school has a husband who makes clothing and I can get really trippy looking things made. I bought material in Hanoi a couple of weeks ago and those vests came out good now I am going for more. I may have to wait as not only are a lot of others getting things made but too many children are having Halloween customs made for next week. Narda got a lot of material for winter clothing and she has a new dress or skirt or whatever those things women wear is called from material she got in Hanoi. So between getting some new threads and an iPhone 5 that really does little more than rings loudly which is really all one needs in a phone it was a good day.

As always we were not the only ones headed into town. My problem was I really really needed a loo and it took a long time to get to a WC and as in everywhere in China people push and shove but I am bigger than them and I had to pee and I was a bit aggro so I pushed and used my arms more than I normally would have. What is so kool here is that I can have a go at saying things to people I would never say if I thought they knew English. In the States they would just shoot me – here they don’t have guns. Not even the police, the few that are visible. Then you see the heavily armed police in American cities and you wonder which system is really working. I know the foreign press really make China look bad, maybe it is – after all they block Facebook and Twitter and my 400 videos on Youtube and that is really quite evil but I think I see more happy people here than in the States. Especially young people, there seems to be a lot of mirth and carrying on amongst them.   Last weekend we took a day bike trip around our area and found a quiet fishing village.

    It was quite a contrast to all the construction for the million dollar French style homes going up across the street from us. And as teachers tend to do we noticed a bit of a spelling error – I tell you someone is not going to be getting an A anytime soon.    We may have found a place more suitable for us than Campus Village next to the Dalian American International School – why are we living where we work? It may be a bit drafty with the cool air starting to kick in but it looks cheap and we would have a nice sea view – out there in back of us we would be able to see China test its new aircraft carrier to; like prime time journalist. And it is really only a good boat paddle away over to North Korea. I want to go over there and have a bit of a sit-down conversation with them and get some education happening. 

And that is it for this week. Nothing more… just odd things like next Monday the electricity will be shut off for all of the Golden Pebble Beach area from eight AM until five PM. It will be interesting for me teaching my computer courses. Luckily it is the day I have my class in publication and we are working on morning announcements, something I started at the beginning of the school year; DAISlive, a video show we do. It is fun and the students love it. I am finding that even my EAL (English as an additional language – formally ESL, English as a second language) students who have English as a second or third language are embracing it. So far it is only played in the school but my idea is to someday have it as a WebTV broadcast. We don’t need electricity for it this Monday, just our video camera and the announcements and some stories and I have a backup battery for my computer so I can edit and have it ready to put live for the school the following
morning. We did not have electricity for a day a couple of weeks ago and my web design class made sketches and storyboards for their web pages. So all in all we don’t really need electricity. This is China, we learn to live with whatever we are presented with. Though now I am a bit annoyed that I cannot get onto Facebook or Twitter or Youtube even with a VPN; what is with that? But it looks as if my wordpress account (neuage.me) works and so does my account at blog.neuage.info and I think wordpress sends an announcement to my twitter and facebook accounts so no one can read it which is the nature of my life. I suppose having five-planets in Leo was too good of a thing; no one notices me.

Last night teachers got together and showed slides of places they have taught or lived the past few years. What an interesting group of people from Borneo to throughout the Middle East, Africa, South America, Europe and Asia teaching in international schools is really the top employment to have and we sort of wish we had started a couple of decades ago but we didn’t and though it is safe, except for the drivers on the road, here we still would like to have taught in some of the places other teachers have. I think any teacher who had taught in the States and had taught in Libya, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, or across Africa would never go back to teaching in the States I know we couldn’t or back to teaching in Australia either. We signed up for the teacher’s conference in Bangkok for next March this week – the start of spring break, so once again we will meet international teachers from around the area. Any one who is young (under 60 I think is young) teach in an international school and your life will be changed. We barely watch news from the States anymore – is anything of interest going on there, really?

Narda moved her blog from blog.narda.us as she was unable to update it to http://blog.travelpod.com/members/nbiemond

Tourists for a day

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Today was a good day to go local to be a tourist to stand out from the crowd. Instead of following the American teachers into the weekend forays into Dalian or Kaifaqu we took the 3rd way out toward Jiuli. The light rail covers the Zhongshan District, Xigang District, Shahekou District, Ganjingzi District, and of course Kaifaqu where we go shopping on the shopping bus on Tuesday or Thursday evening after our driver (Jack) takes us to and fro from Campus Village to the Jinshitan station. Of course the fact of the matter is that we carry the name of our school and home on a business card with us because we won’t know one district from another. The light rail ride is great. We aren’t worrying about how cars pass on both sides of us without putting on their indicators or drivers decide to make a fourth lane when there is really only three or go very fast to run a light and how drivers are constantly talking on their phones – we are just enjoying the view. The view is great, country, hills, water, villages and cities all within the half hour ride between our local stop at Jinshitan and Kaifaqu. Today we took the other train going out to Jiuli and on the way saw a large shopping area. That was enough for us to hop off and go exploring. We did not see another western for the day and we seemed to be the entertainment of others. From going to a restaurant and having a hot pot – our new favorite way to eat; a large bowl of seasoned water on a burner, then a variety of plates of food is brought and we dump it into the boiling stew.

We bought all kinds of stuff; a quilt – not to weirdly Chinese though a bit on the orange side, for about one-third the price we saw in Dalian and Kaifaqu, dishes, foods, and Narda got some interesting material to have dresses made from. They don’t seem to have any clothes for tall Dutch women here. And I caused a bit of a commotion in the shoe section of a shop. There were dozens of merchants selling shoes and I need some new ones but to find my size, forget it. A lot of people were talking quite rapidly all trying to help me find my size and after much hilarity I went on my way empty handed.

It was good being a tourist again – especially where we live. We use to play tourist in New York City, but after five years living there it was a bit difficult because we owned our home too and of course there were a few million who looked like us in some shape size colour and form. Here? It is like being a celebrity when people follow you or stand and point and stare. We love it. It is like being in Cambodia or Viet Nam or Northern Thailand or India again. Here are some images from our wanders today. And tomorrow morning it is back to work in our little American environment.