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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Today has been one of those strange Chengde Days in
which someone just shows up on your door step, and you
end up spending the day with them somehow. I did not
mind as I was actually planning on getting out of the
city for the morning, so I suppose that it all worked
out for the best. My morning started out farley slow.
I did not want to get out of bed as I was extremely
tired. Still have no reason, I just felt exhausted. I
ate a little cake and drank a glass of milk while I
read the news and listened to music. I then showered
and dressed and did a little cleaning. As soon as I
finished, I had planned on going out to the mountains
when there was a ringing at my door. It was my
neighbor who was the doctor. He showed up and wanted
to know what I had planned. I told him that I did not
have any plans, so he suggested that we go to one of
the temples that I had not been to. It was actually
the first one that I tried to visit, but it was close.
We hopped on the bus and rode it to the foot of the
mountains. We the climbed to the top. The slopes were
all terraced, and the farmers were out harvesting
their scallions. The were so large and beautiful. The
men hoed and hug the plants up while the women
separated and cleaned them. The were truly stunning.
It amazes me how enduring these farmers are. They have
so little property, and they use every last inch of it
and the cultivate it and plow it all by their own
hands. They have no electric equipment. It simply
astonished me. I took some pictures of them then we
walked to the top of the hill. Unfortunately, the
temple was closed still and would not open until May.
We left there and walked for about a Mile. Went into a
tourist shop that was selling goods, but there
specialty was medicine made from the deer. They were
selling every part of the deer that you could imagine.
It was absolutely insane. We left there and caught the
bus back into the city. He then decided to treat me to
lunch. Somehow we ended up going to a Muslim
restaurant which was delicious, but I think that I may
be regretting it right now as I feel a little queezie.
The food was delicious though. The table had a large
burner on it that was connected to a huge propane tank
underneath the table. This was a little disconcerting,
but I have gotten used to this as my own stove has a
huge propane tank which I have to turn off and on.
They then brought out a huge bowl filled with mutton,
broth, dates, and some other spices and let it cook.
The also brought us plates with other foods on them to
put into the boiling broth/oil. These included a
vegetable which my neighabor called parrot, but it was
cut into huge slices, so I am not sure what it was.
Then there was lettuce and an amazing type of Tofu
that was very spongey but absolutely delicious. We put
them in the broth and let them soak up the juices and
ate until our hearts were content. The mutton was
delicious but a little boney. I did not know that lamb
could be so boney. All of the vegetables were simply
amazing. They also brought us some rice corn bread
made from rice flower. It tasted like regular corn
bread except they did it into a huge bowl of sugar and
eat it that way. We were stuffed, but then there
brought out three huge tomatoes. They offered it to
me, but I was not hungry. He then told me to bit into
it then to dip in into the bowl full of sugar. The
sounded absolutely disgusting to me, but I did it
anyways. It was one of the best things that I have
ever had. Who knew that dipping a tomato into sugar
could taste good. It was like a fantastic desert. I
loved it. We left there then went back to his
apartment. He showed me pictures of his college years
plus of his wife and child. After awhile, I came home
and prepared for my class with the teachers. We talked
a lot about China’s population growth and what some of
the side effects of such a large growth were. I also
asked how they were controlling it. We all agreed that
the cities were expanding to quickly which was
destroying their farm land. We also agreed that it was
causing too much trash within the countryside, and
they were not sure how they could sustain themselves
in the future if they had no food to eat. This then
set off an environmental discussion about cutting
trees and the long drought which Chengde was having
and how it was related to the deforestation and the
spread of the dessert. They were all interested in
what I had to say. They all agreed that something had
to be done but were not sure how it would occur.
Finally, we talked about birth control. I asked them
if women got their tubes tied. This took a while to
translate, but we finally got throught to each other.
They told me that women in the countryside are forced
to have their tubes tied, but women in the city do
not. This was intresting to me and shows some of the
class differences and sterotypes which are beginning
to emerge among the Chinese Populace. They believe
that village women are simply baby making machines who
remain barefoot and pregnant. So, I asked if women in
the city take birth control pills, and I was told no
that most women in the city do not take birth control
pills because of all of the side effects. This led me
to asking what form of birth control do they use. No
one would say condom, and they said something about
rythem, so I figured that they try to follow a rythem
chart. Of course, I also took it from some people that
after they have their first child then their sex life
might diminish greatly. I am actually basing this upon
the doctor who told me that in China when a family has
a child then that child normally sleeps with his or
her parents until they are around eight years old.
This is partly social, but it is mainly due to the
fact that most homes just do not have the room until
another room can be added. Thus, no sex for them.
Having a baby is a form of birth control in itself.
The class was rather intresting as was the one with my
students. Unfortunately, I was asked by one of the
teachers to help with this huge social event this
weekend which I normally would not mind doing, but I
am supposed to go to another province for a festival
this weekend. They pulled this huge guilt trip on me
about how it was the first event like this for the
school, and the students really need the support of
the teachers, and they wanted me to help host the
event. They told me that they had been planning it for
a very long time. Which I am fine with this, but why
didn’t they tell me this several weeks ago. Now, I
have decide whether to go on my trip this weekend or
stay here and host this event. In other news, I may
have someone going with me to Yunan. I am not sure
yet. There are two possibilities. One is another
English teacher whom I do not know. He is my age and
is interested in going. The other is a student who
wants to go and asked her father about it, and he said
that he would help her out with the money. I will
probably take the English teach, but I am waiting to
hear back from him. That seems safer as I do not want
anything to be misconstrued. Oh well, it was an
eventful day to say the least, I am now going to rest
and hopefully feel better in the morning.
Christopher

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