Friday, October 23, 2009

Chinese Fashion Show

On Thursday night McKay and I had an amazing opportunity. We were invited to a fashion show. Our university has a large and fairly reputable fashion and textiles program and in honor of some foreign guests here for a convention dealing with foreign trade and business, they put on a fashion show. Because we are foreigners we were invited to attend. Sadly, the person who runs the office that informed us of the event is not very reliable so we were told the wrong location. Even though we started out in the wrong place we eventually found where the show was (thank you Chanton and Katrina!) and were only a few minutes late. I thought the fashion show was amazing. The clothing was very unique. There were some really bizarre things, but also a few items that i would wear if they were tweaked a little. None of the Male foreign teachers seemed to get much enjoyment out of the fashion show, but i was riveted. My only regret is that I did not bring our professional camera with us, so all we had at this amazing show was my point and shoot camera. Here are some photos and videos of the show....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Happy Birthday McKay!

(that means happy birthday in Chinese)

McKay turned 26 today. I tried to make it a really fun day, but my plans were hampered a little bit by the fact that we are in China and a lot of the things i wanted were absolutely unavailable to me. Luckily the day went pretty well. The first half of the day was just like any other because we both had to teach classes and then had a pointless staff meeting in the afternoon. Then the plumber came at about 3:30 to finish up the last work on our bathroom, so Happy Birthday McKay! You can use your toilet again! We can't use the shower until tomorrow but that is ok.

After a quick dinner on the back street we picked up McKay's birthday cakes (he had 2 because the first one we ordered was really tiny and we realized it wouldn't feed everyone coming to his makeshift party). Then we went over to the school and had his birthday party/english lab in a classroom that has pretty much been designated for McKay's use. The school even gave him the keys to the room! Most of the other foreign teachers showed up to get a piece of cake, because who can pass up free cake? Just a minute or two after the teachers left McKay's little posse of admirers showed up.

McKay has a little group of female students who like him, and I mean LIKE him. He doesn't seem to think so as much, or he tries not to think about it, but they totally like him! One of his students said "I love you" as she walked out of the classroom the other day. Isn't that funny! Another one of his students turned in their assignments in a Card type thing (I'm not exactly sure what it was) but it said, "I LOVE YOU, you provide my best friend you provide me with joy and love..." Isn't that great! McKay's students "LOVE" him. I find the whole thing pretty entertaining and really fun to tease McKay about.

When we got home I gave McKay a chess set for his birthday. For those of you who don't know us we are a tad bit nerdy, and McKay absolutely loves to play chess. I have only beat him once or twice, which makes him love it even more. So part of the present was that not only would he have a chess set, but i would play it with him, and inevitably let him beat me. We played 3 games of chess right then. I lost all three times. So everything included I think he had a good birthday. I sure hope he did! I Love you McKay! Even more than your students!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Guyuan Si Buddhist Temple

These pictures are all from our trip to Guyuan Si the Buddhist temple that is about an hour away from our apartment.
I kept seeing people rub coins against these things all over the temple grounds and was really confused until our friend Ryan explained to me that if you can rub the coin long enough and fast enough to magnetize it and make it stick, you get good luck. Some of the Chinese people were cheaters and would just stick their coins on some random ledge and count that as sticking. I didn't get my jiao to stick, but I also gave up after about a minute. Just in case you didn't already know, when you rub a little piece of metal quickly and continuously against a big piece of metal, the little piece of metal gets HOT and can start to burn your finger. Good Chinese luck was not worth the effort or burnt fingers for me.
The picture above and below are shrines within the temples. Apparently you are not supposed to take pictures of them because while McKay was taking these a little Chinese lady came in and told us over and over in Chinese that we could not take pictures. Of course we didn't understand her, so she walked us over to a sign around the corner and showed us a picture of a camera with and X through it. That helped me understand pretty quickly. At least we were able to get a few pictures before we were caught.

This little red thing is really fun. I think it is another good luck mechanism. The Chinese people would line up and take their turn throwing coins at it trying to hit a little gong or bell in the center of the opening. We stood there and watched for a few minutes until somebody actually hit it. I didn't even try because I am not the most accurate coin thrower.
These carvings along the side of one of the temple walls were amazing! Each panel is a different story or fable, and each has a very intricate illustration carved into the rock.

This is one of those things you rub the coins on. It was the biggest and fanciest one in the park, so i figured it might give me more luck than the smaller plain ones!

Part of the entrance fee to the temple goes towards a few sticks of incense. The first thing that happens when you enter the gates is that they hand you some incense and send you over to light it and worship something (I am not sure what, I guess I am not very knowledgeable about Buddhism). McKay and I just ended up just lighting them and sticking them in to the ashes with all the others. We didn't do any of the bowing or chanting stuff that every one else was doing. At that moment i really felt like an outsider. It made me wonder what it would be like for people with no knowledge of my religion coming to church and trying to figure out what to do without speaking the language. Confusing. Utterly confusing, yet extremely interesting. That is what it was like for me anyway.

We had a really fun time while we were there, and once we were out of the main gate (which McKay is standing in front of in this picture) there were tons of little stores to shop in. If any one wants any kind of Buddhist statues, or replicas of the monks clothing, or mini shrines, I know where to find them.

Friday, October 9, 2009

National Day Holiday

We got to have a much needed break from teaching from October 1st to 8th because of the Chinese National Day and their Mid Autumn Festival. We had some major challenges over the break but we also had a lot of fun and got to see some really cool things.

We had bathroom troubles during the break. Our bathroom has had a major leak since the day we moved in and on the first day of our break they sent a plumber to come fix it. After a few hours of incessant pounding he fixed it, but he left a huge hole in the wall and pieces of tile, cement, and brick all over our bathroom! We also had an issue with our toilet not working because a piece of the plumbing from our leaky faucet went down the toilet! Because of that we didn't have a working toilet for a week! We had to go across the street to the school or go to the McDonald's to use the toilet. That was not pleasant because there are not very many western style toilets in this town so we had to use squatty potties and we had to go for a little walk before we could use the restroom.
On the last day of our break, we had another toilet issue. I broke the toilet seat. Because our bathroom is Chinese style, our shower head is mounted next to the toilet and sprays onto the toilet. Because of that lovely configuration I prop my foot up on the toilet seat whenever i need to shave or open the window (its behind the toilet). Well when i propped my foot up the other day I broke right through the toilet seat. It was yucky and very painful. My shin now has a number of cuts and bruises, and we have a smashed toilet seat! We are now on the lookout for a replacement seat.If you ignore the bathroom issues we had a pretty good break. We got to see a ton of fireworks, and we heard about 20 times more than we actually saw. We also got to take some really long and intense bus rides. The traffic here in china is INSANE! they don't seen to believe in staying in lanes, obeying stoplights, or even driving on the right side of the road. They also take to the sidewalks sometimes. We got to see the Yangtze river. I got to step into it (i didn't go too far in because it is really brown and dirty). We also went to Moshan Hill which has some ancient Chu towers, alters, and temples. We also saw some Taoist temples and monks, and some of the other teachers we went with (Robert and Ryan) had their fortunes read by the Taoist monk people. However, when the monks finished reading the fortunes they asked them for a ton of money! We saw some really amazing architecture and gardens there. We got to walk out into a giant lotus field, or I guess it is technically a marsh.

We also spent a day at Guiyuan Si, a Buddhist temple (or temples) here in Wuhan. We saw a ceremony going on with the Buddhist monks that was really cool. They were singing chants as they went. It was so cool! We also saw tons of idols and shrines and gold Buddhas. As we entered we were given incense to light and then stick in front of the temple. I thought it was stinky! They had incense everywhere, so i couldn't escape the smell. McKay likes the smell, so it wasn't an issue for him at all. I am hoping that we will get to see even more neat places like these as time goes on here in China.