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Friday, June 04, 2004

Thursday:
Receiving a phone call from Chris and Holly this
morning, they asked my to be their guide for the
Summer Mountain Resort and wanting to help them out, I
happily agreed. Taking the bus to meet them, they
checked out of their hotel, and we began our journey
through the Park. My favorite area are the two huge
topiary dragons that meet you at the Entrance. They
are just gigantic and beautiful which make them the
perfect picture opportunity. We went through several
of the rock and water gardens which are quite
predominant in the park. After walking through the
hills, we made our way to the hot springs and water
maze. There some beautiful pink Lotus Flowers in one
of the ponds. We walked around a cement maze in the
shape of a Chinese character. Around the path, there
was water on either side do you had to be careful not
to fall off the tiny walkway. We then went and
listened to some traditional Chinese Music. They were
in their costumes and all had different instruments. I
wish that I knew what they were. There where several
types of Chinese Violins, Flutes, Mandolins, and
others which are indescribable to me, but I took
several pictures. After the concert, we went and
looked at the Peoneys which were purple and white with
a smell so sweet it would make a honey bee blush.
Wanting to see a few more Temples and Yurts, we pushed
forward. All of us thought the Yurts were neat but
agreed that they were overpriced. After walking along
the grass, a pack of deer grazed by us. Had not seen
so many roaming freely before. They were beautiful but
strange. There horns are so odd. They are kind of
fleshy like with a thin layer of fuzz covering them.
They seem to live a nice life other than they get
their horns removed in order to sell as Medicine. From
the looks of some of the deer, it is very painful.
Some had bandages around the antlers and were bleeding
farley badly. It was pretty awful. Leaving the area,
Chris and I decided to go play Frisbee while Holly
took a nap. He taught me several unique throws, and we
enjoyed ourselves greatly. After awhile, the tummy
started growling, so we had a very large meal of Sweet
and Sour Pork, Egg Plant in Bean Sauce, and Beef in
Oyster Sauce. It was fantastic. We came back and veged
out then I took them through the market and shopped
then caught the bus to the train station. Making sure
that they got their tickets and found the platform, we
bid each other goodbye them I headed home. After
changing clothes, I headed up to my class and had a
wonderful discussion on Laoza and Conzu. This somehow
led to a discussion about Tibet which neither of us
could agree about. We had a good talk though. I then
went out and enjoyed the night. Bought some beautiful
folk arts and listened to the old men playing at one
of the old Pavilions. Finally, feeling a little tired,
my feet carried me home and I dropped.
Christopher

Friday: Everyone wants an English Expert!
Right now, my dinning room table is covered by a huge
massive Jade Dragon ship the likes of which I have
only admired from store windows and never dreamed of
buying or owning. Although the thought of buying a
similar ship had crossed my mind several times before,
the two to three hundred dollar price tag tended to
dissuade me from such a Purchase. Today, however, the
ship not only sailed right off the store counter, but
it made its way directly into my dinning room. How
this occurred I am still not sure, but there is a
growing sense of anxiety within me that I am now
somehow indebted to a stranger for such a kind gift
which I neither expected nor hoped for. In order to
explain this situation, one must understand that for
the last several days, I have become the hot commodity
of Chengde. I am crediting this development to both
the T.V news broadcast and newspaper articles which
were released this week to my surprise. Its
interesting when a fellow teacher comes up to you very
excited and say that oh I just saw you on T.V. last
night, and it was so exciting. This was followed by
several e-mails about the newspaper article in which I
am pictured and quoted. Just so you know, I have seen
neither of these. This extra coverage has simply
helped to increase the number of enthusiasts who want
me to help them practice their English. Not willing to
do anymore one on one sessions as they take up too
much time, people who want to study with me are simply
told to come to one of my English classes. Some people
do not understand this though, and they call me
several times a day. This led me to flee my apartment
early this afternoon after I finished my Friday
morning class. Wanting to get away, my first stop was
a restaurant to get some lunch. Had some amazing
thinly sliced Tofu with vegetables. It was fantastic.
Slipping down the street, I made my way to the
Mountain Resort to relax and enjoy the peace. Met some
French ladies and carried on a little conversation.
They all blew me kisses goodbye. After walking around
the lake, I decided that it was time to do a little
shopping. Went to the supermarket and picked up food
items then bought some traditional items from a street
vendor who was selling money and prayers that people
use for Tomb sweeping day. Heading down to the market
and several side street, some other items caught my
eyes, and before long, my bag was filled with stuff.
Feeling loaded down, I started home, but this simply
blew my cover as many students saw me and came up to
ask what my plans for the weekend were. This normally
would not bother me, but one student was asking for
another person whom she really did not know but wanted
my help. For some reason, I agreed to talk with them
this evening. This led to the visit by a young man who
is trying to open an English academy in Chengde for
young students. On his arrival, he entered with
another gentleman carrying a very large wooden crate.
As he opened it, the Jade boat began to be removed and
assembled. Greatly confused, my first reaction was
simply to be speechless then overly grateful. After
agreeing to go help him in the morning, he rushed off
to do some more errands then my student and I had a
long talk in order to understand what it was that this
man really wanted me to do. She told me simply to look
pretty tomorrow and act happy. She did not know
anymore information than this, so I am terrified that
this person is going to want major commitments for
which I neither have the time or desire to commit to.
I barely have enough time to handle all of the people
around me now who want me to sell toys for them, teach
their children, or give lessons to their friends. It
will be interesting to say the least. At some point
tomorrow, I have to find time to meet with the Toy man
and Dragon Lady as I have blown them both off for the
past two days. Dragon Lady may be angry with me at
this point as I simply told her that it was impossible
to teach the class at the other school due to my up
coming trips and then my journey home. Despite all of
this, my problems were all put into perspective this
evening as my students and I talked. She told me that
she had some important questions to ask me and wanted
some help, so we sat down and started talking. This
young lady found out that she has Hepatitis B about a
year ago, and she has been quite devastated by the
news. Apparently, she has told few people and worries
of the social stigma that will be placed upon her if
she tells other people. She is very careful to make
sure that she does not spread it to others, and she
always worries that someone will catch it from her.
Worse than this, she is now trying to decide whether
she should chose to spend the rest of her life alone
as this disease carries many stigmas with it which
makes a girl unattractive as a wife. She explained
that her cousin married a man with Hepatitis B and the
family disowned her. My student caught the disease
from this girls husband. Now, she worries that she
could transmit it to any future boyfriends which she
may have and for that matter any children. She also
worries as the doctor warned her that if she had
children it could kill her as there was the
possibility that it would weaken the liver. With all
of these issues on her mind, she came to me for help
as she was afraid of telling friends or Chinese people
who might wrongful judge her. In the best adult and
level headed manner, we had a heart to heart talk, and
I basically explained to her that this was now part of
her life and that she would have to learn how to deal
and overcome the problems that are associated with it.
I told her that she could not let the what ifs limit
her ambitions and goals. We talked about fear and
courage and how best to deal with her worries. She
told me that she really wanted to have a husband and
children in the future, but now did not see this as a
possibility. Trying to reason with her, I explained
that there were vaccines and precautions that her
husband could take, and if her doctors take the
necessary steps in her delivery then there was a good
chance that her children would not get the disease. We
talked for several hours, and I really did my best to
support her and give her encouragement. My only hope
is that it works and that she meets a Chinese man who
can live with his wife having this disease. It would
not be bad if there were not the social stigmas to go
along with it. As it got rather late, she eventually
headed home, and I readied myself for bed. I was
wondering if someone would look up information for me
on the disease to give to her and maybe give some
suggestions as to other things which I might talk with
her about.
Thanks,
Christopher

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