Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I'm Sick, Round Whatever

Let's recap. I went from starting my annual six months of coughing/sneezing/generally having terrible sinus trouble and/or a cold to feeling perfectly well. Two days later I got struck with the vomiting/diarrhea decision. Then got better. This week I have picked up the six month cold. My head is full. My nose runs. My body aches.

Yesterday I spent the entire day laying on the couch moaning. Today I'm up and about a little, but still feel rotten. I canceled class today to recover, but I wont really recover. I will spent all winter generally feeling crappy.

Such is life (mine anyways.)


My career as a writing tutor is over. I got a call from one of the parents Monday saying they no longer need my services. Well, really what she said was something more akin to "something, er...come up. I'm very sorry. But you...teaching....something happened." I twas me that had to interpret and say that she no longer needed me as a tutor.

Her english is ok, but I think this was too much for her. She didn't know how to tell me I was fired without looking bad. And looking bad is a big no-no in Chinese culture. So I have no idea why I'm fired, but fired is what I am.


I was really beginning to feel ok in this town. I had the teaching two days a week, and now I was going to have the tutoring. I liked it. I was working a good full time week, making a little money and still had time to write.

How many times am I going to get a job in this town only to have it leave? I'm teetering on what to do now. I either want to go out and get a million tutoring jobs to keep myself busy, or quite the one I have and say forget it.

But I'll wait to decide when I actually feel half way decent.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Strange Shopping Experience

Street vendors are a way of life here. Pretty much everywhere, day or night, if you are out and about you will see all sorts of people selling all sorts of things right off the street. Need some cheap DVDs or CDs? Go over to that corner. Watches and umbrellas your thing? Then head down to this street. Whether it is food or socks or books or turtles that you need, you can probably find it being sold on the streets of Shanghai.

Right outside the living quarters gate is a little Sichuan place that pretty much all of us frequent for supper. Right outside the restaurant usually resides this adorable old ma selling various potted plants. He has a small selection of mums, cacti, aloe and other things. We have purchased from him before because he is cheap, the plants are nice, and he’s just darn cute.

Like so many things in China, actually purchasing or plants is a source of frustration and amusement. We stand there for twenty minutes trying to decide which plan is for us, the old man does an interpretive dance to try to persuade us to buy half a dozen and then we both haggle over price while neither of us understands what the other is saying.

The other evening we went to dine inside the restaurant and were placed by the large window which happens to be right next to plant guy.

My wife made the mistake of catching plant guys eye.

I can’t blame her really as he was right outside, the plants were looking nice, and who doesn’t look out the window when they are sitting right next to it?

Still, mistake it was.

Plant guy first smiled then lifted up a plan to give my wife a better view. Then he began lining up plans beside the window to offer us an entire selection. There were four of us eating and we each laughed, shook our heads in the negative, and tried ever so hard to not look at him again.

Plant guy moved more plans into the sill and lifted them up for us to see. Let me tell you it is quite difficult to not look out a big window while there is an old man waving plants at you. But we did good and didn’t look, or at least when we did look we shook our heads to indicate we weren’t interested.

All the while we were all eating our food and engaging ourselves in conversation. Just as my wife was in the middle of giving a long schpeel on how her graduate work is going, plant guy enters into the restaurant carrying a little cactus. For a moment, my wife simply couldn’t understand why everyone thought her dissertation on participles in old French was so amusing.

Then she saw plant guy and his cactus. When we were through cackling we assured the old man as best we could that we had no need for a cactus, and he left. Not one to take no for an answer though, he soon entered in again with an aloe plant. In order to show us the aloes great usefulness, he began rubbing the plant against his old, wrinkled, unshaven face. My grandmother swears to the wonderful effectiveness of the aloe plant, but I’m not sure it could do anything for that mug.

Once again we assured the old man that we didn’t want such a thing and again he left. By this time we were done with our meal and we got up from our table. But the old man wasn’t through he already had another plant and was headed inside. As we paid we entreated him that we weren’t interested and he let us be.

Once outside, we stopped by his shop and bough a little flower.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Another Job

I think I mentioned briefly before that I got another gig. I am now tutoring three children in all things writing. Two of them are Chinese Americans, and another one is from Hong Kong. All of them are struggling a little bit with their writing and the moms want them to have extra help.

I will be doing this once a week after school. What's nice is that one of the moms picks the kids up from school and she's offered to give me a ride to their home. This will cut down on the taxi money. What's bad is that they place they live is in an odd place which means the taxi can't make a left out of their home to my home. Which means we have to ride way down the road, take an exit, make a u-turn and get back on the main road to me. Which means more expensive taxi.

Class was fine. They are good kids it seems, and by the time they get to me they are too exhausted to put up a fight.

We did a very basic lesson today and I'll have to figure out what I'm going to teach them next week. More prep work. Yuck.

Everybody is getting sick at school which means I'll be doing more substituting and then probably getting sick again. I think if the two tutor gigs I have work out I'll kill the subbing. I'm just not fit for getting random calls and having to come to work out of the blue.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Last week I started to get sick. I had a sore throat and was coughing and was really thinking my annual bout of crazy allergies was coming.

Then I got better. I felt great over the weekend and thought maybe I had hit a good delay.

I even accepted a substitute thing for Monday. Then Monday actually came and it was all over. About 5 in the AM I turned over and realized I wasn't feeling too good. Then I got hit with the diarrhea. Then the vomiting. Is there anything more fun that sitting on the floor of the bathroom trying to decide whether the urge to poop or vomit is more pressing.

Three major bouts of that and I felt better. Couldn't substitute and spent the day watching movies and moaning.

Yesterday was more blah, but nothing major. Today I feel good and did the tutoring.

Before I get to that I have to admit that there was a small part of me that was glad I wasn't substituting. It is probably a horrible thing to even have a part of me that preferred vomiting to teaching, but there it was.

I have this small part of me that is begining to think that I'd like to be a teacher, but that small part of me says I need schooling and training and some bloody idea of how to do it.

Which leads me back to today. We did a four hour session with my two boys. Here's the funny thing, with the sickness and business of the weekend I didn't do much preparing. Here's the funnier thing, I assigned homework last week out of their text books, and they only have one copy of the text books. That means I had to leave them there, and thus have no books to actually prepare a lesson out of.

I winged it. I made up some environmental stuff for geography and worked from memory for English. Then we just opened our books and read from there. This worked better than I thought but it was still a nightmare.

The oldest boy is alright, he usually looks bored, but he at least pays attention and doesn't act up. The youngest is a little hyper active and so is all over the place. The way it works is I teach one child one subject, while the other one sits in the computer and works on some busy work I give them. Then they switch.

Since they are in such close proximity it is difficult to keep them on task. This is especially true for the one I am not actually teaching. And more so for the youngest.

Four hours is a long time to keep their attention. Especially when you are not that prepared.

There is no detention. They don't get grades. There is basically no punishment I can give them. I have to encourage, cajole, and make false threats. Today I had the youngest in the corner not being taught. He had some work to do, but a computer was near and it took his attention. He likes to play games. I had to ask him multiple times to turn it off. Then I turned off the computer. Then he turned it back on like I wouldn't notice. So I had to move him and me and the oldest sat by the computer a little cramped.

I was so ready to get out of there.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Music Makes The Difference

On Saturday Amy and I went to Carefour for some non-grocery items. We went seeking some good speakers, a mobile phone, and a washing machine. We knew we weren't going to buy the washing machine, but wanted to do some pricing and checking out of the models.

We did and realized we don't know much about washing machines. Most machines here don't have the little middle device that helps keep the clothes separated. This makes the bucket look like a...well a big bucket. They say you have to put your clothes in a bag or something or otherwise they will stretch out.

Prices were under a thousand mostly, which puts them at around a hundred bucks or so. Which is good, I guess.

We then realized we were even worse at judging cell phones. In the States neither of us had owned a cell phone until this last year. Then we only got one because Amy was making a long commute and we wanted one for emergencies. We went with T-Mobile because they had the whole sim card like thing where we didn't have to buy ourselves into some long term plan.

I have one now, and I do have to admit that I like having one, but also have to admit that I didn't pick out the phone. It is an old one of Brians and he's letting me use it.

This is to say that we've got very little experience deciding on what kind of phone we want. This was painfully obvious when we started looking at them yesterday. It didn't help that all the specifics were written in Chinese. We sat there looking at these phones wondering which one was for us. Some of them flip, and that's fun. Some of them play mp3s and that's nice. Some of them take pictures and that's definitely something I want. But which one is best?

Beats me. We decided to wait a little longer and have someone help us.

Poor old people don't understand today's technology.

I did get a decent set of speakers. They aren't anything fancy, just a woofer the size of a bread basket and two other little speakers. It costs maybe 30 dollars but that makes a ton of difference.

Before all we've had are the laptop speakers and these teeny tiny ones Amy bought for her classroom. The quality on both stinks. Sure I have decent headphones for the iPod and I listen to them all the time, but it is nice to have something with some volume that can fill the house up with music.

And have some bass. Filling out the bottom end has been missed.

Having these speakers is awesome. I've been playing them almost non-stop since we bought them. I love music. It makes me feel better. It takes the edge off. It makes me happy (and excited and sad and moody, but happy none-the-less.)

The speakers have made our apartment a home. And that's nice.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Feeling Better

I feel better. Mostly. My throat no longer hurts, but I have that typical Mat Brewster tickle that makes me cough. I say typical because pretty much six months out of any year I cough and cough and cough. It is a sickness. It is annoying. It is pretty much unavoidable.

Last night we went over to a friend's house and had a chili supper. It was in celebration of another friend who has moved to the UAE. She moved there not long after we made it to Shanghai. She isn't really our friend as we don't know her well, but she's friend with pretty much all our friends. So we chilied then played games. Or they played games and I went home. I feel better now, but then I felt like crap.

Today I had another class this morning. It went pretty well. I did a lot of prep work for it yesterday. I went in early this morning so I could print out everything. Like a moron I gave them homework that was from the book. Which means they had to keep the book. Which means I don't have the books to prepare next week's class.


I also met one of parent's involved in my other tutor session. I'll be teaching writing to three boys. Should be a pretty good gig as it won't take a lot of prep work. I just need things for them to write about and then do a little teaching on sentence structure and what not.

You could say it was a good day.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sick of Everything

I'm trying my darndest to get sick. It started with a little tingle in the throat last night which moved into full blown pain this morning. The head hurts and the body aches. It isn't enough to keep me from work tomorrow (unless it really blows up tonight) which will actually probably make it worse in the longer run, but I gotta work.

This isn't really emo, or even interesting for that matter, but I keep promising to write more and this is definitely more.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Emo Anybody?

There is a musical genre called emo. It is typified by introspective, intensely personal lyrics and emotional music (hence the "emo" from emotion.) This now applies to all sort of things like blogging.

I have been thinking about doing more emo blogging. That is to say to really talk about what I'm feeling and get more personal with everything. Part of why I don't blog here much is that I am afraid of saying to much.

I know my parents, and my parents-in-law read this and I don't want to upset them. If I have a bad day and I write that I hate China and life and everything (which may be how I feel) I don't want these folks to get all upset and worried. So instead I write about my jobs and random things that we do. And frankly things just aren't that exciting.

Thus I have been thinking of doing a little more daily experiences and feelings. I don't know if this will help me blog more, as I just don't think about blogging here much. But it might help, and I like the idea of making things more personal.

So parents if I start talking about hating something or being really emotional about it, don't fret. I'm OK. I'll make it. Things will continue on and I'll come out at the end.

More Word Stuff

Remember the two boys I was tutoring in English/Geography/History. Remember how I got fired? We'll I got rehired. Basically the boys didn't like the home-school program. It was a much bigger program with lots of kids. Unfortunately, most of the kids weren't my boys age and so they didn't like it.

The mom did see things she liked and this is making it better to me. She has turned one room into a classroom and given me access to the computer/scanner/printer to create more interesting materials.

Yea Me.

I also just got another job tutoring three boys in English (mostly writing.) It will be two hours a week.

I like the idea of this arrangement as it will allow me to make a decent amount of money, but at the same time enable me to keep blogging and writing and whatever else I like to do. It is also quite flexible which enables me to do other things as well.

The only problem is that this second class is on Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30 which is also when my Chinese class takes place. I tried to work out another time with these ladies, but it just wasn't too be.

Truth is I didn't really like Chinese class anyways. The language is very difficult. They deal mainly in tones and each sound has about four different tones. So you could say the exact same word (spelled exactly the same) but it will mean four different things depending on the tone used.

This is what Chinese class has been about. We haven't really learned words so much as tones. This is all fine and good except it isn't very useful to our daily lives. I know Americans who speak Chinese, but get the tones wrong. Context helps a lot.

Eventually we discussed this with our teacher and now we have started talking about real world situations. Now the problem is everybody just asks random questions. Like one person will think about how yesterday they went to a restaurant and ordered a particular dish. They will then ask how to say that dish, or how to say something else in a restaurant setting.

Then someone else will think about bargaining at the fake market and will ask about that.

It is all so random that it hurts my head. I need order and to stay on task in learning situations. This is just irritating me. So I'm not sure I'll really miss Chinese class.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Shanghai Diaries - Food

The new edition of the diaries is up, and it is all about food.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I'm Really Bad At This

Seriously, I’m terrible. I’d apologize, but I don’t think anyone is reading anyways.

Let’s see, my sister had her birthday last week. We decided to have the party on Friday. A bunch of us got a van taxi and headed out into the main city. The taxi driver was a little nutty. He took a bit of a fancy to our friend Dan.

Dan is a big fella. Well over six foot tall. The taxi driver immediately noticed this and asked him if he played basketball (he doesn’t.) We decided to laugh at the taxi driver and ask him if he knew kung-fu.

It was all in good fun and everybody laughed. Then the driver offered Dan a cigarette and took his picture.

The food was Italian and it was very good. We all had a nice time, but unfortunately Amy’s belly decided it was time to go before everyone else had ice cream. So we headed home early.


I got another hair cut this weekend. It is such a lovely thing for you get a shampoo, head massage, back massage and cut for very little money. Look out for a longer post on that.


We bought our TV, I can’t remember if I wrote about that. The school provides cable to everyone, though there is only one English channel. There is also a French channel, though it has been acting funny lately.

Tonight while flipping around we came across a Jackie Chan flick. It was in Chinese, but with Jackie Chan it doesn’t really matter. It was lots of fun. Chan fought off a group of monks followed by these crazy chicks in tights. The chicks were obviously stunt men for most of the time, dressed in ill fitting tights and bad wigs.

Gotta love Jackie Chan!

Um, yeah, that’s all.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My Kids

After three days of substituting I had a break today. As much as I was looking forward to the day off, I kind of missed those kids. They were exhausting, and rambunctious and often incredibly annoying, but sort of heart warming too.

I taught fifth grade science, which was easier than it sounds. The teacher had left very detailed notes on what to teach, which was mostly let them prepare for a presentation. The kids were mostly good, if a little rowdy.

There were only a couple of problem children, and they weren't really that bad. One wanted to constantly brag about what cool stuff he had. In answer to my question of where they usually study he responded, "in front of my 27" widescreen, LCD television." And when asked when he studies he noted it was usually after watching a really funny movie and playing a really violent game.

Obnoxious, but not difficult.

The other annoyance was a child who wouldn't pay any attention to anything. He wasn't really rowdy, but he was never listening.

Other than that they were really sweet kids, especially my home room. Those kids were full of energy and interest in school and joy.

It made me want to go back to college and get my education degree. Well, when I wasn't wanting to strangle the kid in the back who kept talking during everybody else's presentation.

Yeah, that was the other hard thing. I had to grade a presentation. I haven't graded anything. Ever. And now I had to give grades on a five minute presentation for fifth grade science. All I can say is I was lenient.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Door Closes, Window Opens

Last night I got a text from the mother of the two boys I have been teaching. It said that over the holiday she had met with a group of homeschooling. Turns out they do a whole group teaching thing and she enrolled her boys into it.

Meaning I am out of a job.

While I was surprised I can't say that I was really shocked.

The fact that she found another group isn't really surprising at all. It was a bit of a blow to my ego though. I fully realize I am not the most qualified teacher, or the best at that job. But I thought I was starting to get somewhere with them, and being unemployed again kind of stung.

It didn't last long though. This morning, at 7, I get a phone call from the school where Amy teaches. One of the fifth grade teachers was stuck in Taiwan due to the typhoon. He needs a substitute for the next three days and they hoped I might fit the bill.

Truthfully, I am not good at quick changes. I tend to make little mini plans in my head about the upcoming days. Today I had planned to work hard on the new blog, do some house cleaning, and make some phone calls about other tutoring jobs. I wasn't expecting a call so early, and I was irritated at having to change my plans.

I was also scared. I've never substituted before. Would I be expected to teach? For real? What was the subject? How would I do?

I walked out the door to see that the typhoon (oh sorry it was downmodded to a tropical storm) was in full swing. The rain went splish and splahs. The wind went WOOOSH with a wallop.

I arrived and talked to the administration lady who called. She handed me the teachers "emergency substitute" plans and a print out of actual lesson plans for the next couple of days. Then she said "have fun."

I had to remind her that I had no idea where I was supposed to go. I had really hoped I might get a few instructions on what the heck I was supposed to do, and how the whole system worked, but I got none.

I arrived at my class and looked over the lesson. It was a pretty quickie on the ways and means that students do and should study. He's having a test next week and I guess he wanted to talk about study habits.

The school works by having a home room for the kids. This is sort of base ground for the students. They come to this class first, and again in the afternoon. They leave their books there and come back to collect or deposit them as they go from class to class.

They sit in this class for the first twenty minutes and then head to their first actual class. I had a very brief lesson plan for this period which amounted to "what did you do over break?"

The truth is, I had no idea of any of this information when I arrived. The kids showed up and I had my lesson plans. So we talked about what they did on break, and then a bell rang. The kids then got up and lined up by the door. I sat down and looked at my plan for the next period.

The kids continued to stand there. Then they got really quiet. Then they complained they were going to be late. Then someone finally piped up saying "are we dismissed?"

Of course they were. Who knew I was supposed to dismiss them?

The first real class came and they were mostly good. A few kids wanted to talk to each other and not pay attention but no one was really disruptive. Most everyone was very interested in the lesson and enjoyed participating.

The second class was more of the same.

Then I had a long break as my kids had Chinese and I wasn't due back until nearly 1. I came home and had lunch and rested before going back.

My third class was a bit more restless. They wanted to do their homework in class and make airplanes and not pay attention. I had to do a lot of shhh-shing and "be quiets." They weren't really bad just restless.

One little boy was very interesting. We were talking about studying and when asked where he studied he said:

"Right in front of my 27" widescreen plazma TV." And later when asked when he usually studied he said something about after he is done watching a funny movie and playing a violent video game. Most of what he said seemed to try to show how much cool stuff he had.

At one point he told me his parents lived in Canada and he was living with his grandparents where he would secretly watch TV instead of studying. Suddenly I could picture him at home with grandparents who have no idea what to do with him and parents feeling guilty about shipping him to China and thus spoiling him with big presents.

The rest of the classes were pretty uneventful. My home room kids came back at the end of the day for a two hour period. They too were a little restless, and I pretty let the ones who didn't want to pay attention not pay attention unless they were noisy.

All in all it wasn't a bad day, but I'm not sure how teachers do that day in, day out.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

From The French Concession To The People's Square

Since we weren’t able to really take a trip anywhere over the holiday, Friday we decided to explore a part of Shanghai known as the French Concession. I’m not really sure why they call it that, as there weren’t a lot of French people or stores there, and my book says there never were, but it was fun anyways.

We got slightly lost and so we didn’t actually manage to see any of the main attractions of the area, but as a whole it is a cool little place. Very artsy and full of cool local shops.

Afterwards we ventured towards the People’s Square which is the heart of the city and is full of big buildings that get lit up for the night.

I don’t really have much else to say, but enjoy the pictures.

None of us really knew where we were going, but luckily we had a map to help us get lost.

The Amy Store.

It really is a pretty section of town.

Creepy looking apartment complex.

A saxophone and a kick drum. Perhaps the most unusual two instruments paired together I have ever seen from a street performer.

You can find socks everywhere in Shanghai. Lots of street vendors sell them, and here is an entire shop devoted to the footwear. I'm not sure why you'd want your socks to be tasty, but if you did, I have found the place to go.

The Special Olympics are in town and they have erected all sorts of little statues in their honor.

This is outside a big financial center. I have no idea what it is.

A pretty park.

Amy enjoying some milk tea with her donuts.

You meet the strangest of people on the streets of Shanghai.

Random art work on a street corner. I thought it was interesting that they'd choose to have this girl on the phone so scantily clad.

Even China has "Mom and Pop" stores.

The French Concession did remind us of France in one way - it has beautiful tree lined streets

This was taken from the subway exit at the People's Square stop. Sorry the photo is slightly blurry, but you can see the mass of people all smashed into the walkway there.

A walkway over one of the major highways in the area.

I don't actually know what that building is.

Gotta love Samsung.

Friday, October 5, 2007

October Break

Technically, we've been on vacation all week. It is October Holiday time in China which is when they celebrate the creation of the People's Republic of China. So there is food and fireworks and time off. We both get the week off, but since I don't really work much it doesn't make that much difference to me.

Originally we had planned to take a real break and go somewhere, but these things didn't work out. Our first plan was to go to Wuhan with Brian and Bethany and then further into Central China and see a cool mountain range. For various reasons, including Brian's family coming to town earlier than expected, we decided against making this trek.

Then we were going to take a day trip with our friend Sara. There are some cool little towns around the coast that aren't too far away and we thought we'd do that. But then Sara crapped out on us because she had taken an earlier trip and realized the traffic was terrible during holiday for a bus trip.

So here we are, sitting around the house, doing nothing.


Today though we're going to visit some cool places around the city. So that's something.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Another Long Day

I had another long but good day today. I started the morning ordering some more water. I’m actually getting pretty good at that. My Chinese classes have helped me with my pronunciation and my understanding of what I’m actually saying. Bethany actually wrote down what all the words mean in my little script for water, but it is amazingly helpful in having learned them in class too.

I played some volleyball this morning. I can’t remember the last time I played, but it was a lot of fun. It was all very non-competitive so when I (and everybody screwed up it was all laughs instead of groans.)

I have learned that I am rather bad with my depth perception. For the most part I see really well, but I have a good deal of difficulty determining how far away something is. This completely comes out when I play sports. Often I’d run to hit the volleyball and find the ball landing way up on my forearm instead of my wrists like I expected, or I’d completely miss the thing.

I went home quite sore, but happy. I was sore not only from taking a few dives for the ball, but also because I wound up sleeping on the arm wrong and woke up with a good deal of pain.

Oh well, we still had fun.

After we decided to eat lunch at Taco Bell. As I believe I’ve mentioned before, Taco Bell here is much different than Taco Bell stateside. The food was quite good. I had some chicken quesadillas and Amy took in a big nacho plate.

We then dug in some ice cream from Cold Marble. It was quite funny because my ice cream server decided to do a little playful move by trying to throw the ice cream blob into the air and catch it with the waffle bowl.

He missed.

Plot, it went right to the floor. He started over with new ice cream and gave the throw a second try. This time he hit the bowl. Mostly. A little bit of it slid off and landed on his arm.

Since we were very near one of the museums we decided to go. The museum is all about urban planning and we’d heard really cool things about it. Urban planning is something that fascinates me a great deal, and with a giant city like Shanghai I was hoping to be wowed.

I mean how does someone go about deciding where commercial zones should go? Or which way a city street should curve? Or how quickly a red light should turn? Its like Sim City on an enormous scale.

Sadly, the museum was a bit of a letdown. One large chunk of it was dedicated to some future city in development. Actually I wouldn’t even say it was in development. It had the feel of all those sci-fi magazines from the 50s where they predicted we’d all be in flying cars and everybody would have videophones and jetpacks.

It was all about how we cold design cities like mountains so that the rooftops could have angles and collect solar energy and how we’ll all be living in these fully recyclable and energy conserving complexes.

It didn’t seem realistic or very interesting.

Most of the rest of it was pretty generic information about the different sections of Shanghai. The main problem for me was that most of it was written in Chinese and I really don’t have a very good concept of the city yet.

Yes I realize I’m in China and thus their museums are going to be in Chinese. I understand this concept, but as a dumb English speaking American I had trouble understanding what they were trying to tell me.

Some of it was translated, but still it was a little dull. We simply haven’t lived in Shanghai long enough for me to have much of a bearing on any part of it. It was kind of cool to see the different districts, but as I haven’t really been to them, I couldn’t put a picture with the description.

The really cool part was that they had one giant room with a model of the city in it. It was amazing to see the city laid out like that. It is really impossible to get an understanding of the enormity of the city while walking in it. Even on the small scale it took up a huge space.

I’ll post pictures of that later.

We came home exhausted and sore, but it was a fun day.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Long (But Good) Sunday

As we don't meet with the "family" until three, we decided to go to brunch with Brian and Bethany. This particular brunch is a bit fabled around here as Brian and Bethany have talked about it on numerous occasions, but we have never actually been.

I'd give you the name of the restaurant, but I really can't remember it. It contained a lot of "s"s and "z"s and was mostly un-pronounceable. The price was 99 RMB a person, which is quite a bit expensive for brunch, but since Amy just got paid we decided to try it anyways.

It was totally worth it.

It is called a brunch but it was more like equal servings of breakfast and lunch. It was all buffet style and they had three long tables full of food and then two other separate tables with read to order waffles and soups.

There were eggs done every kind of way, fresh fruit, chicken and fish and beef all prepared in all the best ways. There were salads and pastas and soups. It all looked good and it all filled my plat oh so quickly.

The drinks were instantly refillable (something of a rarity in China) and the desserts were remarkable. There was an entire table row full of desserts actually. I had four.

With the price this is not something I'll be doing every week, but it is definitely something to look forward to in an every-now-and-again sort of way.

After brunch we met with the Family. As this is the beginning of October holiday our numbers were down a bit, but still it was a good meeting.

For supper we headed to Subway for their sandwich of the day. This was a definite let-down from brunch, but it was cheap and thus acceptable.

Subway is near a big shopping center so we bought Amy a yoga mat for her birthday. Then we went into the Pines. This is an international grocery store that we have heard about, but never gone into.

Amy was in heaven.

They had all the things you can't find anywhere else. From American cereal to French cheese, to blooming Dr. Pepper it was all there and it was a bit of paradise.

Amazingly we only left the store with a few spices and things, but now that we know where it is, I'm sure we'll be back.

We finished the night off by going to Bethanys and watching several episodes of "Heroes." I bought the DVD set a few weeks ago and we periodically make a night of it with the Bates.

All in all a very busy, but wonderful day.