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Sunday, June 06, 2004

Saturday: What Part of No Don't Chinese Understand!

Waking up farley Early this morning, my plans were to
meet the Dragon Boat Man whose name is Robin then head
back and spend some time with my students and enjoy
myself. And although my day began this way, several
phone calls and knocks on my door later meant that
more people decided to help fill up my schedule
despite every attempt to avoid them doing so. My day
began with my student who has Hep B knocked at the
door and readied herself to go with me to Robin's
school. A few minutes later though, seven students
showed up with bags of groceries ready to cook me
dinner. I asked if they could wait for an hour then
come back, but for some reason, they insisted on
staying in my apartment. At that moment Robin arrived
with Taxi, so not having any time to say no to them,
they stayed and cooked while, Robin whisked me away in
a car. The other student abandoned me to stay with her
friends. After a short ride, the car pulled up to what
seemed to be an apartment building, but looking into
the window, it was easy to see that there was a Day
care inside as bright colors and cartoons glowed from
behind the class. Going into the building, four young
Chinese women greeted me as a young three year old
child robe by on his tricycle and told me to go away.
With this, the teacher asked me to sit on a little
kiddie stool and speak with her while the other
parents and children arrived. During our talk, the
girl revealed that she had been working for a Casino
in Singapore but had to return to help her parents
since her brother just moved out of the house. She was
making considerably less and now has to work two jobs,
but she did not seem to mind. It was just part of her
responsibility. When asked how she liked her job, she
said at first she hated it as the children were very
naughty, but now she loves it as she wants children of
her own. At this point, she seemed to start to come on
very strong to me which is fine, but it felt more as
if it was coerced as to get me to help them with their
English Day Care Center. Before long, an hour and a
half had passed, and there were no children. This
would not have bothered me, but they told me that they
meeting would only last an hour. Finally, Robin
arrived and said that the children were all outside
crying and could not do the class today. He agreed to
take me home and wanted to know if it would be
possible to try again next weekend. After dodging this
question several times, I agreed to help him but only
during the week as my weekends are for traveling. In
the car on the way back, he asked if there were any
secrets to teaching young children English and keeping
them occupies. My first thoughts were no! Most
children at this age can barely speak their own
language, and when you put ten of them together, do
really think that they want to learn a subject. Hell
no, they want to play. I'm not sure how useful my
knowledge will be for him. It sounds like a nightmare
to me. Finally arriving home, my students looked like
little worker bees flying around everywhere chopping,
frying, boiling, cooking. It was kind of crazy, and
the few students had now grown in size. In order to
keep me out of the kitchen, the other guy was asked to
keep me occupied with board games. Within a short
time, a huge feast was prepared. As eleven people
gathered around my table for four, we stuffed
ourselves with all sorts of delicacies. There was egg
plant with sweet sauce, chicken with carrots and bell
peppers, eggs and tomatoes, eggs and bell peppers and
M.S.G., tomatoes with sugar, rolls, egg burrito bread,
these sweet gooey dumplings that would stick to the
roof of your mouth, and several other dishes. After
eating, they washed up then we talked, looked at
photos, and listened to music. Having other things to
do, they left and Dragon Lady appeared soon
afterwards. In her bright green Business suit, her
perky face escorted me to meet the head master of
another school in which she is affiliated. After
trying to convince her that I simply did not have the
time to teach these classes, she insisted that there
was plenty of time, and it would be a good experience.
Somehow, our trip ended with me in front of a desk
bargaining over the price of each class. Being highly
pissed at all of this, I laid all of the cards out on
the table and basically told them that three days a
week were all that time would allow me to spare.
Hoping that they would refuse, the head master agreed.
Still trying to get out of this ordeal, my first
thoughts were of Laura, and I tried to tell them that
this would require me to get permission from the
school, but they said that we could do this secretly,
and this was just friends helping each other out.
Seeing no other way out of this, we set the time table
and meetings. They wanted me to teach into late July,
but this was out of the question, and no were the
first words out of my mouth. Haggling over the date,
we agreed upon the eighteenth, and he told me that my
classes would be from eight until nine thirty in the
morning three days a week. After coming to an
arrangement on the price, the Dragon Lady then showed
me around and parted ways with me soon afterwards.
This seemed to be all that she wanted. She used me to
help out a friend then slithered away after she was
finished. They say that sweet milk makes a snakes
Venom stronger. With her sweet looks, Dragon Lady's
bite seems to be the worst of them all. Luckily, my
intuition told me to be weary of her, so it is not too
much of a surprise for me. Coming back home, it was
not long before Toy Man arrived to take me to his
apartment. Showing me the newspaper and T.V. article,
my first thoughts were my God does my voice really
sound like that. It was horrible, but there was no
time to ponder on this as business was the order of
the afternoon. We discussed all of his ideas and what
he wants. It was a little much for me as all that I
really wanted to do was go home and relax. After
shooting some videos, discussing logistics, and other
business crap, my pleas for rest were heard as he
agreed to take me home. Not before insisting that we
get together in the morning in the mountain resort
despite my insistence that I had other plans in the
morning. He told me to cancel them and go to bed early
this evening to get up at seven o'clock in the
morning. My first thoughts were there is no way in
hell this is going to happen no matter what. Riding
home on the motor bicycle, he dropped me off in what
seemed to be just in time for Cowboys parents to pick
me up. One of my students accompanied me on the
journey. Being taken to the house, we were the asked
to plan with the child. It was fun, but my eyes were
very heavy for the entire three hours that we were
there. They did make us some great dumplings though.
Finally, after my students insistence that she was
going to be late for curfew, they let us go. They
wanted me to stay, but the curfew excuses worked just
as well for me as it did for her. With that, the
driver brought me home, and I crashed as soon as my
face hit the pillow.

Sunday: A Day for Me!

Although one should not feign illness too frequently,
there are times when it seems to be O.K. and this
morning seemed like one of those occasions. Hearing my
door bell alarm at seven o'clock this morning, my
first thoughts were to ignore it, but the ringing then
turned to banging. After opening the door, Toy man
smiled and asked why I had not gotten up yet.
Exhaustion was my first though, but for some reason,
sick was the first words out of my mouth. Not
understanding the word, he broke out his pocket
dictionary. The next words out of his mouth were, the
Mountains will make you feel better. Get dressed and
lets go. Not wanting to leave my room, my hands
clutches my stomach, and I bent over as if to be in
pain. Rushing to my room and tearing through my
medicine box, there was some old Chinese medicine for
an upset stomach, and I showed it to him. This still
did not convince him as he tried to call some
pharmacists, but luckily he does not know how to use
my phone. He asked if I had plans to go out with
anyone else today, and in a very tired voice, my head
shook back at him, and I said, "No Must Sleep." With
these words, he made me write a note to put on the
door, he unplugged my phone, then took the batteries
out of my door bell and left. The first thing to come
into my mind was "ahh freedom" the second thought was
what in the hell just happened and why was there an
interrogation on whether or not I was ill. Brushing it
all aside, I washed up and headed out the door to meet
my students for a hike which we had been planning for
over a month. Sneaking down a very dusty and rocky
road, six girls and a highly visible white guy tried
to be inconspicuous as we scurried down the street.
Arriving at the base of the Mountain, we began our
journey to the top of Monks Hat Peak. The scenery was
very beautiful and green, but the dirt was dry and
dusty as it had not rained in awhile. This made it
hard to climb the mountains as ones feet would
constantly slide on the gravel, stones, and dirt. All
considered, the hike was nice and relaxed. We took a
very slow pace and enjoyed the views. One of the
highlights was watching the workers construct these
Buddhist statues on the sides of the Mountains. They
were huge, beautiful, and stunning as they looked to
be carved into the side of the rock face. If it was
not for seeing then use wire cages and cement to
construct the Budas, it would be impossible to tell.
They were great though. After climbing some steep
cliffs, we then had to go vertical which is always a
tad bit scary to me. Luckily, the climb was but a
short one, and with our ascent, we made it to the top.
The views were glorious and a panoramic view of the
entire city could be seen. It was wonderful to be able
to look upon the city, and see it in all of its glory.
The street looked so quiet and empty despite knowing
the noise and commotion that was occurring below.
Feeling tired, everyone sat upon the rocks and rested.
One of the girls named Brenda found some incense, so
we burned it in order to send our prayers to heaven
through the smoke. It seemed appropriate as we were at
the top of Monks Hat Peak. My students and I talked
about all of the beautiful places in Chengde, and the
last place was the cave in province where the monk
lives. They asked me who had accompanied me on the
trip, and right at that moment, the doctor showed up
on the top of the cliff and said hello to me. Talk
about blown away, I simply turned to them and said
that it was this gentleman who went with me to the
cave. This was really one of the most odd cases of
coincidence which has even happened to me. It would
not have been so crazy, but I have not seen the doctor
in over a month, secondly, what is the luckily hood
that we are both going to go hiking on the same day
and to the same place, and thirdly, he showed up at
the exact moment in which I was getting ready to
describe him. It was all a little crazy, but he really
was a life saver. As we were heading down, he helped
me and the other students get down the vertical cliff
which we had climbed. The man is one of the best
climbers that I have ever seen. Starting back towards
the bottom, we all talked and tried to avoid slipping
on the gravel and sliding down a cliff. Luckily, we
made it safely to the bottom and everyone was happy
but hungry. As soon as we got to the bottom, my friend
disappeared, so my students and I went and got lunch.
We found a restaurant and ate ribs with salty beans,
peanuts with cucumbers, carrots, and a sponge like
tofu, sweet egg plant, spicy chicken, a chicken soup,
corn, and some coke. It was a feast. We watched a
wedding part in the same restaurant. The bride was all
dressed in red, and family members would play tricks
on her and the groom. There was a lot of food at the
celebration. After stuffing ourselves, we came back to
my apartment and hung out. Showed them some pictures
then they had to leave. Wanting to check up on my
friend, I walked to his apartment and woke him from
his slumber. We talked then agreed to meet later and
go to the summer resort. Coming back to the house, I
took a small nap then at five o'clock, my neighbor
arrived and we were on our way. The resort was nice
and cool. The bells from the Pagoda could be heard
throughout the park as they were blowing in the wind.
We hiked all around. Saw a horde of wild deer roaming
all over the Mountains. These were not the strange
ones from the other day as these looked like their
western cousins. They were not intimidated by humans
either. They would almost come right up to you. After
walked for a couple of hours, we went down by the
riverside and walked along its edge. Admired sleeping
Monk peek as well as all of the kits which soared into
the air. The kits here go five times as high as the
ones in the U.S. We then went back to his apartment,
and he cooked us dinner. Water melon, eggs, porridge,
tomatoes with sugar, and a cucumber dish with sesame
seed oil, minced garlic, and the secret M.S.G. There
was a lot of M.S.G., and it burned my mouth, but it
was delicious. We watched some Kung Fu T.V. series
then feeling tired I made my way home. It was another
long day, but this one was a little more enjoyable.
Christopher

Lotus
Definition: The lotus is one of Buddhism's most
significant symbols. It is a symbol of enlightenment
and mental purity. The lotus has its roots in mud but
blossoms into a beautiful flower. Similarly, though an
individual may be impure, there is the potential to
gain enlightenment and the perfect state.
An open blossom signifies full enlightenment; a closed
blossom signifies the potential for enlightenment. The
historical Buddha, Sakyamuni, is associated with a
pink lotus. Avalokitesvara is associated with the red
lotus, which symbolizes love and compassion. The blue
lotus is associated with Manjusri and symbolizes
wisdom. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are often depicted
sitting on a fully opened lotus.

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