A Travellerspoint blog

Mom...please don't freak out...

I have bird flu

sunny 82 °F

I really don't have time to be writing this. I have an insane amount of homework to do but I have to write about my latest cultural endeavor. This past week I have been on spring break. I used that week to its fullest, as in, I didn't.do.a.damn.thing. My plan was to go into it at full speed, pump out my independent study paper that has been haunting me and then be more relaxed the rest of the program. Instead, I spent every day with huahua and every other day with wangchuan. That's ok though, we all need a mental break for a week. But NOW... I have so much to do I've hit the "one day at a time" mantra stage. However, I'm afraid to say all of my playing and going to bed late only to wake up early in the morning turned around to bite me in the butt.
It started last week. I had a nice long walk in a different neighborhood of Nanjing, dubbed the "new development are." Well development comes at a price, and that price was....horrible air. Almost immediately after we got home I had a sore throat. The next day a stuffy nose, the day after that the weather was unbearably hot so I wore modest shorts and a hoody. But come Thursday morning I was stuffed up completely and could hardly talk. And of course it was because I wore shorts on Wednesday, or at least that is what my host family is refusing to let go. Needless to say, my "cold" has been getting worse and worse. Huahua has had a "cold" for over a month now. These aren't colds, but in fact just side affects of the crappy air. Statistics say that breathing the air that we breathe every day is the equivalent of smoking one cigarette.
So, after not really leaving the house much after Friday (except to go see iron man 3, which was awesomeeeeee!) I stayed in my bed and slept, and watched game of thrones completely legally for free. ;) Monday morning rolled around however, and I felt worse, but I had to go to school. After class I was completely on fire, I was covered in sweat, having chills, could hardly breathe and had a relentless stuffy nose. My teachers both thought I was running a temperature, so it was off to the doctor for me, as those are....the exact signs of bird flu....

Now, don't get me wrong usually I'm all for a lovely trip to the doctor,most of you know it's a place I frequently visit, but I was a little on the fence today about going. I thought it best to wait it out, but i had heard good things about the hospital. It eventually took the program director demanding me to go, and a few classmates scared looks at the mention of bird flu. So no mom, not my idea.

I don't know if I have mentioned but I go to school in gulou district, the wealthiest district in one of the wealthiest provinces. This hospital as you can imagine was enormous, and very nice. From the outside. Inside it was like a zoo and I felt as if I wanted to have an anxiety attack. There were mobs of people. In the very center was, like in most hospitals a little park, but this one had bamboo in it. You could see all of the other levels through the windows ( and believe me there were a lot). It looked just like an aunt farm.

My teacher sent along one of my classmate's Chinese roommates. Poor boy definitely didn't want to be there. We first waited inline to buy my "file." It was a brochure like thing that had my name on it, and I paid ¥5. Then we were given a receipt and told to wait in the waiting room for people with colds. Seriously. So we waited, and waited and waited, and eventually my name was called. Surprisingly we waited for less than an hour. Beat that time American hospitals! As soon as we entered the "doctor's office" I knew why. We walked in and the doctor was still sitting at his desk talking to a patient, but we marched right up and the other patient left. The doctor asked the guy I was with about my symptoms,told me to stick out my tongue and sent me to get my temperature. I didn't say a word, he didn't check my blood pressure, he didn't listen to my breathing, and he certainly could care less about how much i weighed. We went back out to the waiting room and the nurse pulled a glass thermometer out of a dirty looking box, just as I was thinking there was no way in hell that was going to go in my mouth she motioned for me to....well.....you know
Put it under my armpit. Hehe gotcha. I looked at Howard (I forgot his Chinese name) to see if I understood correctly. I did. So in a waiting room full of Chinese people, I shoved a thermometer under my armpit for five minutes, awkwardly trying to avoid eye contact with the other patients. And of course they all stared. Huahua has actually given me the nickname monkey because everywhere people stare at me like I'm a monkey in a zoo. I think it's fitting.
After five minutes it was proven that I indeed had no fever. Hooray! That means no bird flu!!!! We returned back to the doctors office, I sat down as Howard told him I didn't have a fever and he did some scribbling in my very official file. We weren't in there for more then 4 minutes, but people kept rolling in. By the time he was done there was probably 6 people trying to squeeze in between us and the doctors desk. Waiting behind us, pushing us out of the way, shoving their papers in the doctors face while he printed our receipt. Absolutely ridiculous.
We left to go to yet another counter. I was told to pay 116¥. I should've asked what for but I assumed it was for "doctors visit." Nope! I bought myself a bunch of DayQuil. The same exact stuff my host family had been giving me.
So after 2 hours, a 20 minute stroll in the rain and ¥120 later it was discovered that
1) I don't have bird flu
2) I have a cold
3) that was the biggest waste of time
But hey, I bought health insurance, so that visit actually didn't cost me anything. In the end I can say I've been "checked" for bird flu in a Chinese hospital and I still have all of my organs.

Posted by Kaceyroo 07:59 Archived in China Comments (1)

Throwing pottery on a "poor boat" in China

sunny 88 °F

Today was probably among one of the best days.
This past week we have had a random girl staying with us. Random in the sense it is my uncle's uncle's daughter's sister's cousin....I think. The Chinese family tree is something I have yet to master. Anyways, because I had midterms all last week I haven't really interacted much and kind of became a hermit in my room. BUT last night we started talking and we really hit it off. She goes to the Nanjing school of art, and is graduating in July, so until then and because its pointless to rent an apartment for just one month, she is staying with us!! Yay!! She is a little older then me, and about two feet shorter. She is the tiniest thing with the most outrageous haircut. The only way I can describe it, and I think this may be its official name I'm not sure, is a bowl cut. Bowl on head, cut around bowl. It's cute, though don't get me wrong, just different :)
So last night we were watching illegally downloaded movies and talking about school, and things like, when we want to get married, what kind of cars we drive, and our families. It ended with her inviting me to go to her pottery class with her today. Which I most happily accepted.
She woke me this morning at 8am. Our grandma and grandpa were gone traveling for the day, and she had managed to boil water and make me breakfast. She was beaming with pride. There were eggs too and I asked if she made them as well, and she quickly responded with shaking her head and saying I don't know how I don't know how cook. So in truth, she can really only boil water and put dumplings in. I am by no means saying there is anything wrong with this, it's just the difference in the cultures. There would be no reason for me to know how to cook if I lived with my grandparents and every single meal was made for me. It's almost a rite of passage being taught to cook, and having the responsibility of making dinner. Even my aunty who is in her early thirties beamed with pride when she told me one morning she made my sandwich herself.
After breakfast we headed to our bus. It was a longer ride and we were dropped in an area I didn't recognize. We walked along the side of the freeway for a bit, then froggered a few lanes to the median, climbed up through this dirt path we were met with ten lanes of traffic, fast moving traffic. So we skipped and we dodged taxis and we made it alive. Then we walked along the freeway some more. Actually we just walked in the slow lane.
Weiwei kept pointing to the other side of the river we were walking to and saying, that's where we are headed. I couldn't see a bridge anywhere, and lucky me, I didn't know the word for bridge. I just followed my new found friend.
We eventually arrived at a ferry. Wooo!! It is the kind you see of the movies. Just a rickety old little foot ferry. It had a metal roof and was open air, no benches at all, just some random metal ferry boat pieces to sit on. We crowded in among the old men on their scooters, boxes of fruit and other goods strategically balanced on the sides. The scooter closest to me was carrying boxes of bananas, but the scooter looked like it was about to fall apart. Actually, the front was taped together with packaging tape. Oh and every single one of them had a cigarette in their mouth, most were talking on smart phones but they were all staring at me. Even weiwei noticed. I was thinking about how it's probably not that safe to smoke where we were standing because there were jugs of gasoline. I looked to see where the captain of the boat was. He was easy to find as he was the only one wearing a bright orange life vest, that's reassuring. I saw him talking to an older women smoking, she motioned throwing her cigarette in a blue jug and he quickly waved his hands and mimed out a big explosion. The surprised look on her face scares me, how could you not know that a jug holding gasoline and fire don't mix well??? How could you not know and still be alive.
It was at this point I asked weiwei if she could swim. No no no, she said, I'm scared of water. I couldn't help to think this boat would be the last place I would want to be if I was scared of water. But We payed for our one kuai ticket anyways, and were off.
Thankfully the ride was short, and there were no problems. It's not that I was scared of drowning so much, it was just the water is so disgusting. It's dirt brown and there's a layer of filth on the top.
After we arrived we started walking toward two different boats tied to a dock. Weiwei kept saying we were going to the "poor boat" because that's where the bosses "workshop" is. Uhhhmmm...ok.
Then she told me the boss was a guy. A 26 year old guy. Haha
We walked onto this boat that looked like it was on the verge of sinking, thankfully it was tied to a newer one, so I don't think anything too bad would happen if it sprung a leak. I was beginning to get really confused why we were on a boat. Then, we walked in his "workshop." I was completely blown away. It is one of the coolest set ups I have ever seen. First of all this boat is like a huge shipping vessel, not like a ferry, or a tug boat. His workshop was in the front part inside what probably would be the captains quarters? Shit I don't know anything about boats. It was in some room. Haha
The room had two spinning wheels, a couch, and tables and tables of pottery. There were bags of clay in the corner. Weiwei took me out the opposite door to the front where there were more tables of bowls, all planted with a cactus in them. It was beyond amazing. The walls of the room were decorated with paintings, and drawings, there were magazines strewn about and a guitar in the corner. The room next to it held the kiln. I feel like I just walked into seattle. The boss was a 26 year old guy who was taller then me. Which is rare.
Weiwei and I watched him get the clay ready and then start the wheel. I thought we came here so she could practice but it turns out she wanted him to teach me, so I spent the next thirty minutes or so watching him make a beautiful vase on the wheel, while weiwei took pictures.


They would talk a bit and I would catch bits and pieces of it, and know they were talking about me. I started to get the feeling she was playing more of a matchmaker at this point haha.
Anyways back to pottery... He would then ask me to try and continue making the vase he started, and I would quickly destroy it and turn it into a lopsided wobbly cup. Eventually I kind of figured it out. We got a cup made and he quickly cut it off the wheel and set it to dry. He told me I could come back and paint it and take it home with me to America. Later weiwei told me that he was very very nice for offering me that because that cup would cost more then 100kuai if he sold it. I had no idea.
We cleaned up with water from the river, so I guess in reality we got the clay off our hands but gained some Ebola. That's the other thing that shocked me, this place had no running water. Next we sat on the couch and penciled on cute asian faces on already dried cups, they told me I could do it but I was nervous and refused. Random old men would wander over from the neighboring ship to have a glance at the foreigner, and then start talking about me as if I weren't there, then eventually ask if I can speak Chinese with which I respond "of course I can." Its getting irritating always feeling like a zoo animal where ever you go.
We quickly finished and together all went to lunch. Before we left the "owner" pulled me aside and gave me a tiny tiny little bowl with a plant in it, and i carried it all the way home with pride. I waited till I got home to take a picture with it though.


I feel like I've made real Chinese friends now :)
We took the ferry back and got in a heiche. Literally translated to: black car. They are taxis that aren't actually taxis, and I was warned about them from our program director because they are pretty dangerous. But hey, I survived the ferry, I think I could handle a van with a little old aunty driving it. Never would I do this alone though, because that's how people get kidnapped.
After a ten minute ride Weiwei and I bailed at a stoplight from the car waving goodbye to our friends and headed home. I quickly changed my clothes and caught the bus to school so I could go teach English at the migrant school.
It was the same as any other time, except a little frustrating because they were extra rowdy I feel like today. All in all the day after teaching was the same as usual. Kaitlyn and I walked home together, munching on pineapple on a stick and drinking bubble tea. The only strange thing we saw, and I admit it is really strange and I don't know how I almost forgot to mention it, was a group of thirty police men surrounding a group of women outside on the gates that we walk by (the place that has the guards that wave hello to us everyday). We have no idea what was going on, and lots of people stopped to watch, but we quickly moved on. I'm happy because I am really enjoying living in China right now, but that can change when you see the harsh realities of how different our societies really are, and by that I mean, police brutality against unarmed women. I don't know if it was going to happen, but my point is that it most certainly can in China.
That's it for now though, tomorrow I am going traveling with my grandma and grandpa and weiwei!! So I have to wake up very early!

Posted by Kaceyroo 07:29 Archived in China Comments (1)


Just for kicks and i guess proof I can actually speak Chinese! :) so without further ado...here is a Chinese myth about dragons.

overcast 49 °F

有的 部族觉得有的兽类比别的兽类更强大。一个部族各自有尊奉的兽类。在中国的中心,只有一个部族尊奉蛇, 可是他们都叫蛇,龙。他们觉得这个蛇很强大。如果他们赢得一个战争他们觉得因为尊奉他们的兽类。赢得战争的时候,他们把失败的兽类放在蛇的身上。如果负方的兽类是一个鹿,蛇也有 角了.
最终 蛇有很多别的兽类的部件了。蛇成为 "龙生九子."
骆驼的头, 鹿的角, 兔子的眼睛 牡牛的耳朵, 蛇的脖子, 蜃的肚子, 鲤鱼的 鳞, 老鹰的爪子, 虎的脚掌
蛇成为龙,新的龙有81片鳞。因为9 很幸运,所以81 也是很幸运的号。


2. 因为龙很老很多人也觉得龙很英明。
3. 龙让很多人害怕因为龙控制天气。

4. 龙跟蛇差不多一样。在湖和河旁边龙产卵。龙蛋很漂亮,很大。千年以后龙的蛋破裂。1500年以后龙是一个大人,再过500年以后龙有角,再过千年以后龙有翅膀!很长时间!

5. 龙是天王的象正,流淌着天王的血!天王的东西都以龙的名字命名。

6. 龙控制天气,尤其春秋。春天的时候龙去天上,让下雪。秋天的时候龙下地睡觉。春天的时候农民敲锣让龙起床。

7. 四类龙
天龙,龙的工作是保护天公,它们的形状比较象蛇形(shé xíng

8. 龙有很多颜色。
黄色的龙是最好的, 因为它们和太阳的颜色差不多一样。

9. 龙最爱的菜是鳦.如果一个人吃鳦,很多人告诉他不在上走路,因为龙闻到鳦他想要吃。
只有一个兽类让龙害怕,这种兽类是蠋, 因为在中国蠋有巨毒。

Posted by Kaceyroo 08:26 Archived in China Comments (2)

Ants on a tree

all seasons in one day 60 °F

I have been scolded by my mother because I haven't blogged in a while. My apologies. I would like to say it is because I have had midterms this week, but we all know its because I got my VPN working which means I am able to get on Facebook and YouTube. There goes all my time.
I feel like the days are getting more and more uneventful. We're starting to get in a very steady rhythm. Wake up, go to class for four hours in the morning, go get bubble tea, go to grammar tutor, head to pronunciation tutor, walk home, eat dinner, do homework, and go to sleep. Annnnndddd repeat. Except for Tuesdays and Thursdays throw in two hours of a complete waste of time culture class. I usually don't complain about classes, every professor is different, and so is every class, but I have never ever disliked a class as much as this one.
However I have got to say beyond this class CIEE the program I am on, has done a great job with everything. They found all of us graduate students whose majors are teaching Chinese as a second language, to become our tutors. My tutor, her English name is Sara, is by far the most serious. She is. My professors main TA and I dread the days that we have quizzes and tutoring on the same day. Usually she greets me with a "hello 凯西, today your quiz wasn't so good" or when she asks me If I have questions and I say no, she replies with a "but you got questions blahblahblah wrong." To be honest I used to completely dislike her. I thought she was mean and I thought she didn't like me, but we have become really good friends. We are only required to meet for two hours a week, but because she knew I had a midterm this week she has met with me for almost six hours in less then two weeks. This is could be for various reasons. One, its good experience for her
or two, its because she gets paid. Secretly I hope though it's because we're friends.
My pronunciation tutor on the other hand is the most adorable thing ever and I can tell we both think the world of each other. Usually we are supposed to practice our lesson from the week and make sure my tones are right. Last week however we talked about shopping and movies, exchanged QQ numbers, and when I told her her pen was really cute she immediately insisted that I have it. That's something that I have noticed of the culture. If you complement something, the best gift someone could give you and the best way to show they like you is to immediately offer it to you. I have lost numerous of my erasers, candy, pens, and little trinkets from home because Mary looks through things in my room, and I know when I hear that oh so innocent "what's this?" It really means she likes it. No problem though, I have always wanted a little sister to spoil. It definitely goes both ways, a few weeks ago we had a little gift exchange. She would run into my room with piles of pens and huge (poorly translated) erasers with english on them, or candy and I would always return with something interesting I had, although I am running out of uniquely American things.
However!!! This weekend I finally found it. Peanut butter!!!!!!!!!! I've eaten almost half a jar in the past two days. And can I just say its a little bit more strange when you try and just eat peanut butter off a chopstick rather then a spoon. My family has been giving me raisins every so often since I got here and every time I can't help but to think of ants on a log. So...what was the first thing I did when I cracked open that peanut butter? Made freaking ants on a log, or more like ants on a tree because I ate about four bananas. (Just for the record, I taught my 奶奶 how to say banana, it comes out as banananan). Yea they don't call me puddles for nothing. Tonight though I made the oh so bold decision to try and explain what the name was in English. Armed with my ipad I started out translating the word ant, and pointing at the raisin. Ok they got that, then translating the word log. Ok way too many variations of log for them to figure out what I mean. Eventually I just broke down and called them ants on wood. Same thing yea?
My aunty quickly interrupted me with a "In china ants aren't this big!"
.....this is exactly what I dread happening. Now they think I eat result ants on bananas. I translated the word for joke and said it is a joke name because the raisins only kind of look like ants, and the banana looks like a tree. Yea they weren't having it. But they did at least try some, after much persistence on my part.

Welllllll.....That's it for now until i get my mom's long list of blog Suggestions. It's late here and I have a 20 minute presentation to give in the morning in Chinese about Chinese Dragon Myths so I should probably sleep.
One last thing though!!!
There was a 7.0 earthquake in Sichuan last week. It was in the exact same place that we were at a few weeks ago. Hundreds of people are injured and quite a few people died. Thankfully the new friends we made are ok, but it would be wonderful if everyone could say a prayer for the people there. While visiting we saw how much progress they had made from the huge quake in 2008, and now they were hit again. I can't imagine how frustrated and sad they are feeling.
Also give thanks we weren't there when it happened, even though there was a few weeks between our trip I still feel like we just squeaked out of there. God sure does have plans for me!
Jeremiah 29:11:)
Oh and because blogs with out pictures are boring. Enjoy these random photos from the past few weeks.
Best cookies ever??


Tacos...and chopsticks....I'm gonna bring this idea back to the states image


My friend on the program. We were studying" for ou grammar midterm. Hehe


Posted by Kaceyroo 08:15 Archived in China Comments (3)

The underground world of mahjong

sunny 73 °F

Today I thought I had the bird flu. It's the hypochondriac in me speaking up. At dinner I didn't each much, I didn't talk much, and I wasn't really interested in trying to play charades and "let's guess what aunty is trying to say." I didn't feel well so I spent my dinner staring at my rice bowl, nodding and sayings I understand every few minutes. While they were trying to talk me up I was just trying to keep my dinner down.
After dinner I went to my room and curled up on my bed. I had just bought a VPN so I got the chance to get on facebook and see photos from home. I was in my room for no longer then five minutes when my aunty and granny come in. They said I seemed sad and that the previous night I had gone to bed really early (11pm). They were worried I wasn't comfortable. I explained I walked a lot today and because of the hot weather I wasn't feeling that well and I just needed to rest. I didn't mention anything about the bird flu. That seemed to deter them and they quickly shut my door and said ok ok take a rest.
A bit later I hear my aunty yelling my name. Come quick come quick she yelled in Chinese. Hurry come look! I was really confused and I followed her into Mary's room. There was a huge group of white people walking down our small neighborhood street. My aunty and granny and I hung out our windows as I eavesdropped on their conversation. They were all new students from Australia who attend the nearby international school. I eventually yelled at them from our 5th story window and explained that my host family was very curious what they were up to and wanted to welcome them to China. They definitely thought I was a crazy person, but explained they were doing their new student orientation. I can't wait till I run into them on the street.
Later my 奶奶 asked if I wanted to go for a walk. She wanted to take me to her sisters house so that I could see her 画画 (Chinese painting). We walked to her house but ended up passing her on her way out to the grocery store. Instead of going home we decided to wait for her and my 奶奶 taught me how to play mahjong. For those of you that don't know, mahjong is a very popular game that uses tiles. It is very similar to rummy in the way you have to make runs and the first one down wins, but there are more complicated rules that i have yet to understand.
We walked into a filthy looking apartment building, and It was very dark. However I have learned not to judge a building by its outside in China. We came to a door and my 奶奶 searched for her keys. A man showed up who I later discovered was my 奶奶s nephew. He unlocked the door and we walked through a small nasty kitchen. He unlocked another door and led us inside this small windowless room. The room reminded me of something you would see out of an insane asylum and i was surprised it didn't have padded walls. There were chairs stacked in the corner and nothing on the white tiled walls, the floors were dirty as well. However in the middle of all of this was a gleaming mahjong table. The man kindly grabbed down chairs for us. Grumbled something about how I wasn't going to find mahjong interesting and left only to return later with a plastic Dixie cup filled with boiling water.
I couldn't help but be amused at the difference between the quality of the mahjong table and the quality of the room and apartment building we were in. It was a night and day difference. The table was electric. You pushed all of the tiles into a small hole in the center of the table, and pushed the button. All of the tiles would spin inside the table and later 4 sets of mahjong tiles would appear through secret doors on the sides of the table. I was beginning to understand the importance and seriousness of mahjong. There were poker chips on the sides of the table as well...and then I really began to understand the importance. My grandma is an underground mahjong gambler. She explained to me that everyday after lunch she came to this windowless room and played mahjong for hours. I can't help but think of a family friend from back home who enjoys going to the casino, and how much they would like each other.
Word must have spread there was a foreigner in the building. Every ten minutes or so another middle aged man would come up with some excuse to need to come into the room to "get something." There was only one small locked cupboard i the corner filled with cigarettes. Sometimes they would walk in, and just say oh your right there is an American in here, and walk out with out getting anything from the cupboard. Others would come in look at my mahjong tiles say 不错 (not bad) and walk away. At one point I asked one of them to help me. He replied only if we could play sometime in which I bet American money and he bet Chinese yuan. I told him I no longer needed his help, and they all laughed.
After an hour or so we got tired of waiting and decided to head home. Before we left my 奶奶 pulled me through the hallway towards another door. She told me to be very quiet and we cracked the door open a bit. Inside were tables and tables of mahjong, dozens of men with a heavy cloud of cigarette smoke hanging in the air. We were spotted and the confused looks on their faces when they saw a tall white girl and an old Chinese lady spying on them was priceless. My 奶奶 and I are quite the pair. We made our way home and couldn't help but wonder if Chinese air pollution would improve if cigarettes became illegal.

Posted by Kaceyroo 21:36 Archived in China Comments (3)

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