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Monthly Archives: February 2012

It is so hard to find out the correct answer to a question here.  Is it my English?  Is it their English?  Is it a plot to confuse me?  I don’t know.

If I ask 3 Chinese people the same question, I’ll get 4 different answers.  It’s annoying.  However, now that I’ve learned this I take every single answer with a grain of salt.  That’s a lot of salt.

I asked a student if they saw the mark I gave them for the semester or was it rolled into a total English mark.  He assured me that it was just 1 mark for English.  I asked a girl in my other class and she assured me that they get 3 English marks, one of them being mine.

I now believe that they see my mark as a standalone mark.  How do I know this?  Because the kids who failed are asking me about a “make-up exam”.  They want to take my make-up exam.  How sweet, but children, I don’t have an exam or make-up exam.  It seems that here, at this fine institution of higher learning, if you fail a course (or exam), you can take a make-up exam and try to pass.  What a joke.

I must admit I don’t want anyone to flunk school because they failed a class they never wanted in the first place (English), so I went to the office to see how important passing the semester was.  I was told (and who knows if it’s right) by Wang Jing that it’s your final mark (end of June) that counts.  That’s what I thought.  I wrote my failures and told them that.  However, if students won’t participate they will fail at the end of the year, and then it’s on their head.  Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind and pass them, but I really don’t want to.  I’ll have to think on this.

I do have one girl who I failed start to make an effort.  She’s even moved by herself from her seat at the back of the class.  Maybe some of them “get it”.  It’s nice.  I thought she was just a fat slug (and fat here is nowhere near fat in the west), but it looks like I may have misjudged her.  I’m glad about that.

My Tuesday electives at the other campus were kind of weird.  Whereas last week I had a class of 40 and a class of 50, this week I had a class of 49 and a class of 33.  Do I care?  Not really.  Do I understand what’s going on?  Not really.  The elective is once a week for 15 weeks so I’ve got 2 down, 13 to go.  I’ll never teach them anything anyhow.  There’s just too many of them.  So I won’t get my shorts in a knot and I’ll just ride it out.

Things are going very well with Eleanor, the new English teacher.  Shujie and I have become good friends with her and she’s been for dinner a couple of times.  This is good as Shujie has someone to cook Chinese food for.  Tonight we’re having dinner at her place so she reciprocates which is good.  It’s nice to have someone to speak “normal” English with, and it’s good for Shujie to have another English voice to practice with.

On Tuesday I was planning on showing “Sixth Sense” as my movie of the week.  I verify on my computer that the film works and the Chinese subtitles work.  However, this week the Chinese didn’t work on “Sixth Sense”.  I was getting so frustrated.  I had brought a “back up” movie with me.  It was “Edward Scissorhands” and the Chinese worked fine.  So I left it to the students.  They could have “Sixth Sense” but with English subtitles, or “Edward Scissorhands” with Chinese subtitles.  I would have be on them choosing “Edward Scissorhands” but just to prove I know nothing, about 90% voted for “Sixth Sense”.  I was pleased and I believe the film was a success and everyone enjoyed it.

The next night Shujie and I visited our “movie room” and I checked every DVD where you can set the subtitles through the playback program on the computer and not on the setup that comes on the DVD.  Every one was fine except for one so that was good.  No more surprises.

Tomorrow at 1PM I’m making a special movie showing of “Gone With The Wind”.  I have to do it this way because it’s 4 hours long and the students must be back in the dorms by 10PM without exception.  Many of them sounded put off by 4 hours but I told them, and they knew, that often a bad 90-minute movie feels like 20 hours, and a good long movie feels like a few minutes.  I then actually tried “selling” the movie.  I taught a little about slavery and the civil war.  I think we’ll get more than 15, but I never predict right so we’ll see.  I know I’m looking forward to it though.

I will do one other selling of a movie this year.  Before Schindler’s List, I will do a class on the Holocaust.  Very few Chinese are aware of it and I think it’s important to know about it.  Movies are a simple way to learn some history.  It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing.  I think if one student says to me after that movie that they didn’t like it because it’s in black and white, I’ll punch them in the face.

Julie, the girl I tutor, has seen it and feels it’s excellent and worth showing.  I like her so much and believe she has a working brain (although in many ways she’s just a confused little kid), that today I lent her “Citizen Kane”.  I’m curious when we meet next week what she’ll tell me she thinks about it.

Shujie and I went for Shao Kow last Sunday.  It was too cold on Saturday.  It was delicious, as usual.  I wonder when this winter of forever will end.  It’s funny, but today Julie asked me when I thought winter would end.  I think the answer is “never”.  I can’t wait to start complaining about the heat.

Yesterday Shujie and I went to Nanjing.  We’re not crazy about it but we needed a couple of things that are cheaper when bought in the big city such as my insulin.  I also bout a 1TB hard drive to use for backups.  I’ve never done a backup but now I have.  It’s amazing how inexpensive electronics become.  They were selling 3 brand names that I knew well so it wasn’t some Chinese crap although they’re probably made in China.

Along with this I brought a Subway sandwich home with me for dinner.  What a lovely treat.  We also went to Pizza Hut for lunch and since I was starving I enjoyed it.  When it came time to pay, our debit cards didn’t work due to some problem.  So Shujie was going to go find a bank to get it resolved while I’m held hostage.  But in another of those “I can’t believe how nice these people are” scenes, the store manager told Shujie that he would lend her the money, pay the bill, and when her and I resolved the problem we could come back and pay him back.  Have you ever heard of such a thing?  Amazingly nice.  I think amazingly stupid too, but just way above the call of kindness.  Shujie wasn’t comfortable with that and left her Visa card there (the Visa card doesn’t work at Pizza Hut in China).  These little things constantly amaze me.

Life lacks excitement at the moment but I’m not complaining.  The job search has started and hopefully something good will come along very shortly.  I still have no complaints and consider myself quite lucky to have ended up at this fourth-rate school.  I have someone who watches out for us (Wang Jing), I’m left alone to teach what I want and how I want, and I like the students as people and they are reasonably quiet during class.  So I know where I can be moderately successful and I’ll stick to that.  I know the environment I need.  I’m having fun so since the pay is awful (by North American standards), I should have fun.

I looked a little at my Korean blog the other day.  Holy Cow!  WTF was I doing there?  I must have been insane.  I know hindsight is 20/20 but still, why couldn’t I take a hint when I would moan out my day’s pain in words every night?

Life is still good and I still appreciate it.  I miss family but that’s it.  I miss some food that I love, but that’s survivable.  And I’ll see family in the summer.  Day to day life is critical.  If my marriage is good, and I enjoy my work, I have nothing to complain about.  God, I make myself sick with this “sweetness”.

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That’s a fair question and just one of many I have no answer to.

I went back to class on Tuesday and I must say that after a 5-week break, it’s hard.  I know real teachers get the summer off and it must be hell come September.  I was not looking forward to it even though I love my job.  But, it was not as painful as I imagined.  I’m back in the swing of things.

We took a box of chocolates upstairs to the new English teacher, a young lass from England (22 years old) who seems quite pleasant.  She’s been teaching in some islands I can’t spell between Australia and New Zealand.  They don’t speak English there and it sounds very interesting.  She’s working her way home and will do the 2nd semester here.

We invited her to visit anytime and our thinking was, we visited so if she wants to visit, she’ll come.  She was here the next day with chat and questions.  So I think we’ll be friends, which is nice.  She hardly has any classes yet because if you look up “disorganized” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of this school.  She has my 2 2nd year classes (that’s 3 hours), and 2 classes of people taking English electives (another 3 hours).  That’s it.  My 2 new classes to replace the 2 I lost are also students taking English electives.

This school has a 2nd campus about 20 minutes away so Tuesday afternoon, Eleanor (her name) and I hit the bus to do our duty at the other campus.  I think they limited the class size to 40 (too damn many) and the first class I had 40.  The second class I had 50 students and I said, “whoa, there’s too many here.  Who doesn’t belong”.  The children wouldn’t confess except for 1 girl.  I asked her why she was in the class and she said she couldn’t get signed up but wanted to take English.  What could I do?  Throw her out?  Am I supposed to say, “Sorry, I can’t teach you”.  The others came forward after that with the same story so I let them stay.  I have no idea how to do a 50-person class but I’ll try.  This school should give the new girl some more electives so the classes could be trimmed down to reasonable sizes.

The difference with these students is that they chose English as opposed to my usual’s who have no choice.  I have no great brains that I can see, but I’d guess overall the average is better than my regulars.  These are also freshman students.  It’s nice to start a class where they want you.  It’s a buzz.

On the first day back (Tuesday) I asked them to tell me a bit about their vacation.  Boring.  It’s no fun listening to 40 people say, “I slept, I went shopping, I played computer games.”  And so on.  Boring.

I then went around the class and asked each student if they thought they’re English was better, worse, or the same as the start of the year.  I trust them to be honest since I believe I’ve made them believe I’m on their side and we’re not opponents and I’m not there to put them down.  In one class most kids said they were better and just a few said they were the same.

In the other class most said they were the same and a few said they were better.  Why the disconnect?  I must admit at first I was hurt and felt a bit of a failure and then I analyzed it.  And by Jove, I figured it out.

In my first class, most of the students make some kind of effort to speak.  Naturally, some more than others.  But those that try, find they improve.  In my 2nd class I’d say that maybe 10 out of 40 make an effort.  The 10 who speak and try all said they improve.  Those that sit like slugs and never open their mouths feel they haven’t improved.  Excuse me?  How do you improve if you don’t try.

I know I offer maximum comfort and a total lack of pressure in my class.  If you try, I never tell you you’re wrong.  I might say, “oh, so close”, or “good try”, but I never say, “you’re wrong”.  The students who care have told me that they like this.  They feel very comfortable in my class.  Chinese students do not as a rule feel comfortable in class.  It’s mostly memory work and they don’t have any teachers who will lay down on the desks or bang their head against the wall to make a point.

So, after realizing this I didn’t feel bad.  Those that try are improving; those that don’t try aren’t improving.  That makes sense.  In one class I separated 2 boys who are always talking to each other.  But I separated them because I thought that if I did that they had a chance.  Two classes later I realize they’re hopeless.  I can understand being frustrated by a new language but to not give it a shot in an atmosphere completely devoid of pressure is absurd.  And as they all know (and have seen it in their report cards), they are graded pretty much solely on effort.  If you’re lousy in English but you try and get a little better you’ll score higher than the person with good English who makes no effort and doesn’t get better.  How much easier can it get?

In my class of 75% slugs, I had 2 girls who put up their hands and asked/answered questions 2 days in a row.  I was pleased.  Maybe I’m getting through to a couple of them.  One of them I told, “I knew you knew some English.  Good for you.”  I then walked to the back of the class where the dunderheads seem to gather and told most of them that there was no hope for them, and I told a couple that I thought they knew something and had the ability to get better if they made the effort.  We’ll see.  I can’t force them, and I can’t get down on myself if everyone doesn’t jump on the bus.

The kids are getting to know my humour and it’s great when almost everyone laughs when I make one of my lame jokes.  For example, the other day I was asking, “what is a close friend”.  One girl replied with a bunch of stuff including, “we can go shopping together, we can sleep together”, and so on.  I said, “If I go shopping with you and I sleep with you then I can be your close friend”.  I’d say 90% of the class got it and laughed.  I felt great.  I would never make a joke with any sexual connotations but she had opened the door and no one was offended.  It was a high.

I’ve told them they have to talk more this term.  I will let silence rule if I must.  I don’t have to fill the dead air.  I can talk and talk and talk.  But I’m going to try and cut down on that and put it on their heads.  We shall see.

I asked for suggestions of what to do and one boy said, “learn songs”.  I told him that I don’t sing and he can’t sing either.  I told him that sometimes I bring in songs to discuss and learn.  Maybe if he showed up to more classes he would know that.  One boy (the only one with a good idea) said he wanted to know more about the culture I come from.  He’s right.  I should be sharing some of the culture of the outside world to them.  I want them to see there is good and bad elsewhere.  Some Chinese things are better and some Western things are better.

The students would also like to have some classes outside and so would I.  When the weather warms up we’ll try it.  If you saw these classrooms you’d understand why.  I think it’s a great idea if they stay quiet so we’ll try it.

Then I thought we should all go bowling.  It has nothing to do with English but it’s a “bonding” thing.  Guess what?  There is no bowling alley in Jurong.  So I suggested we go to Nanjing for a day (about 1 hour by bus and a city of 5 million).  The kids were positive about that and I said if someone doesn’t have the finances to write me and let me know.  However, I don’t want 40 pleas for money.  I think I can pay for 5 kids.  Now it’s in their court as to what we should do.  I’m open to anything.

I asked Wang Jing if I could take them and she said yes.  She then asked me if I wanted a school bus and I replied that if it was possible.  She told me I’d be totally responsible for the kids and I assured her that no more than 3 kids would die.  When Shujie saw her it seems if I want a bus (which I do), I have to have a detailed plan.  It helps that Shujie will come since they’d like a native Chinese person along in case of difficulty.  It will happen when the weather improves, but I hope we really do pull it off.  It’s a good idea.  I don’t know if anyone will learn anything, but if they have fun it plants the idea that they had fun in English class and HEY, that’s not so bad.

I will never know how I performed this year.  I guess that doesn’t bother me because I’ll forget most of these people in a few years and they’ll forget me.  I hope I had some sort of positive impact on their lives.  I think that’s what I’ve been aiming for more than “teaching English”.  Now I know when they get me as a teacher, they don’t get a “normal” guy.  I’m weird.  I like being weird.  I think I entertain them.  I think I make them relaxed.  I feel I’ve set them up to advance (those that care to), and that’s not a bad thing.

I’ve put my name in with one agency already for next year.  I’m definitely doing this again.  I’ve had too much fun and I enjoy being friends with youngin’s.  We need to find a place where Shujie has a chance to work.  It will have to be a University even though I can make 3 times as much as a kindergarten teacher (go figure), and I want English majors (so I can have decent conversations with people who have made a conscious decision to speak English).  I hope by starting early I’ll luck into some well-organized school (although well-organized is against the law here).  We shall see.

When I left Canada I was taking 40 units of insulin nightly for my diabetes along with my pills and another injection of something that helps the insulin works.  It was doing an excellent job for me.  Now this new medicine that helps the insulin is expensive and I can’t afford it, so I gave it up.  I stayed with the 40 units and my blood sugar is fine.  I’ve worked my way down to 28 units and I can’t figure it.  I wake up, test my sugar, and it’s normal.  I’m not complaining, but it’s weird.  I don’t exercise and I eat chicken, beef, cheese, tomatoes and bread.  Something weird is going on but who am I to complain about this?

I would love to see some movies that have been released since September.  We’re going to Nanjing next Friday on an “insulin run” so we’ll check out some DVD places.  Hopefully we’ll get lucky.  I guess I’ll have Subway for lunch (I’m so predictable).  I may buy an external hard drive since mine is getting pretty filled up.  They are so cheap now but I’m also considering buying a new computer in the summer.  Why?  I don’t know.  Do I want a new Iphone?  Yes, but I don’t know why.  They are a waste of money.  I don’t’ play apps but I do use the “Ipod” function when I’m on the bus.  Who knows what I’ll waste my money on.

I showed “JAWS” this week.  What a laugh.  I loved when I could hear the girls scream when the shark popped up.  And the students love it when I laugh at the jokes they don’t get.  But the movie was a hit as I knew it would be.  I have high hopes for “Sixth Sense” this week.  I’m glad I got movies to show.  I don’t get the numbers I hoped I would, but I do get several people who actually enjoy the movies and are getting a chance to see things they never would have seen on their own.  I have a few who say they don’t like “black and white” movies.  I tell them that all the great movies are in black and white.  Ah, youth.  Was I ever that dumb?  Probably but in a different way.

It’s sunny and cold today.  In fact it’s so cold we are reconsidering “shao kow” (bbq) tonight.  It’s been many weeks and I was looking forward to it but sitting outside in the freezing cold it’s not the most fun you can have.

I remember Korea when I would blog almost every day.  I couldn’t wait to pour out my moans and groans.  This is so different.  I like to write but I have no compulsion to do so.  It’s nice to know I don’t always have to be miserable and there is joy to be found in everyday life.

Actually, I have lots of time.  I have from now (Friday at 1:19PM) until classes resume on Tuesday.  But I will limit myself to random ramblings because one thought leads to another and something as straightforward as a vacation trip can lead off to other thoughts.

We left for Shanghai on January 29th and had dinner at an American hangout that’s been in business there for over 15 years.  Drinks were good, onion rings were great.  I’m easily pleased.  I appreciate a different meal once in a while.  I pay the price but you only live once.  And if I can live only one life, I’d rather live it as an eater of bad food.

We stayed in a cheap and dumpy hotel (but reasonably clean) because why spend money to just sleep for a few hours.  We were picked up and delivered to the airport to begin our Asian adventure.  There were 31 people in our group.  I met some people who I liked and there were people that annoyed me.  Some talked too loud, most had no manners (even the nice people), there were 2 kids under 10 and I only roughed up and pushed the boy once (brat).  Once more I say I don’t really like Chinese people but the ones I talked to, I liked.  However, no one talked to me until the last couple of days.  They are afraid to talk to me because their English isn’t good but they don’t realize that I don’t care.  One girl was a University student who majors in English and she didn’t talk to me until the last couple of days.  I asked her why and she said she thought I didn’t want to talk.  Of course I wanted to talk but I can’t approach others and put them on the spot.  If they want to try their English, they can.

But it’s funny.  On the return trip home one girl needed some help in a store to buy something.  She needed someone who could speak English so naturally she could summon up some English.  She seemed like a nice young lady, but I wanted to punch her in the face because she didn’t speak to me on the trip.

You get what you pay for.  The tour was not expensive and it was sold as 10 days, 9 nights in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.  Sounds good, no?  These people are so cheap I think the budget for food was $3 a person for the whole trip.  We only ate in Chinese restaurants, which meant I didn’t eat (no problem as I expected that).  The meal times are not coordinated so sometimes you’d have lunch and 3 hours later dinner.  But those Chinese eat.  The same freaking food at the same type of cheap Chinese restaurant every day.  I managed to find places to eat dinner so I didn’t suffer too much.

We had the tour coordinator from Shanghai with us the whole time.  Did anyone say asshole?  He gets my vote.  You don’t have to speak the language to get a read on people.  I really disliked him and so did Shujie.  He was not friendly (to me or the Chinese) and he was just pig-like.

Many Chinese are pig-like.  They smoke like chimneys and it’s so gross.  They can’t smoke on the bus, which is good, and they can’t smoke in the restaurants but every free minute they’re running for a smoke.  I would guess that 70% of men smoke and 3% of women smoke.  I think the women should withhold sex or something to get them to quit.  I don’t know how they can kiss ashtrays.

We had 3 different guides: a Thailand guide, a Singapore guide, and a Malaysia guide.  The reviews from the people on the tour was that the guides weren’t good.  I gathered that even without speaking Chinese.  The Thailand guide for some reason totally ignored me to the point of rudeness.  Thailand has a different sex culture and she went on and on and on about it.

The Singapore guide was nice to me until I didn’t buy anything from her and then her attitude changed.  The guides are selling things from a personal business or to “raise money” for the bus driver.  I figure since it’s natural and a reflex action for most Chinese to lie, it’s tough to believe anything.

The weather was good but we didn’t see a lot.  Much time was spent on the bus or plane going from one place to another.  We only went into cheap places.  We saw 2 shows with crocodiles, 2 shows with elephants, 2 shows with monkees, 2 casinos, and we drove by many things that were probably interesting.  In Malaysia the Batu Caves are supposed to be a highlight when you look it up on the Internet but we didn’t go.  We did drive by and on a close examination of the itinerary, that’s all that was promised.  A drive-by.  The guide said it was too busy to go and we then went on a 1 hour and 15 minute bus ride to a cable car and lined up for 2 hours to take a cable car to a casino area where we were given 1 hour to spend.  We could have seen the caves 10 times in that amount of time.  They wasted our time and we really didn’t get a good picture of the countries.

We did see a lot of stores.  Chinese tours keep the prices down because stores give them money to bring the tourists in.  The guides get commissions based on what you buy.  We went to a chocolate store, a coffee store, a jewelry store, a tin store, a medicine store, a massage parlor, and other wastes of time.

Spend the extra money next time and make your own tour.  It’s just not worth it here.

The manners of the Chinese (here he goes again) are terrible.  I was in line at a moneychangers and at the wicket with Shujie and the guy behind me is practically standing on me.  I turned around and asked him if he thought he would get there any faster by breathing down my neck.  He was clueless as to what I was saying so Shujie translated.  We were with someone from the restaurant (we were getting local money to pay) and she thanked me for saying something.  In one lineup this jerk behind me was crawling up my back so I turned around and pushed him back and told him to stay away from me.  He didn’t touch me again.  And the stupid little boy was oblivious to everything so I would just push him out of the way.  These people think that if there is no space between people in a line that they will get their faster.  Stupid.  On our bus I would stop and let people out of their row before me if they were ready and they would thank me.  However, no one ever did the same for m.  After all, there was some hidden prize for being first off the bus I guess.

One man who was about 35 and single and had the mentality of a 14 year old asked the girl who was an English major how to say “fuck” in English.  So for 15 minutes it was the only word out of his mouth.  He asked me how many times a day I had sex and I told him 3 times daily.  He wanted to know for how long so I told him 1 hour a time on Mondays to Fridays and 6 hours at a time on the weekends.  He then asked Shujie if this was true and all she could say was, “are you stupid?”.  It was hard to dislike him but what a moron.  Oh yes, he also asked me what time that night I was going to have sex and I told him 11:17PM.  Geez, what a repressed and backwards people.

People talk about China becoming a world power but all they have (from what I see) is a lot of useless and stupid people.  How do you upgrade a country of 1.3 billion people?  How do you change it?  I don’t know and I’ve been thinking about it.  I’m guessing it will be long after I’m dead that the Chinese have any effect on the world except for their cheap and dangerous products.  How dangerous?  A woman was looking to buy baby formula at the duty free for her niece because her niece would only buy imported formula and it was very expensive.  Why only imported?  Because the quality of the Chinese stuff could kill you.  What a place.  What a job for future generations.

In Thailand we went to Bangkok (what a dump) and then to Pattaya which is on the coast.  It’s quite the tourist town.  I guess there are about 165 prostitutes for every tourist.  There is a “walking street” filled with bars and sex shows and prostitutes, prostitutes, prostitutes.

Here is a picture of walking street (not busy yet), and a lady of the night.

We were there after seeing a dinner show with “lady boys”.  These are “men” who have breast implants and who knows what else.  We saw 2 of these shows (ridiculous).  Here I am with one of them.  Shujie insisted.  One of the two single guys couldn’t stop throwing his head in any set of breasts he could find.

The next night in Pattaya we went to a live sex show.  I had been to one in Amsterdam many years ago but I thought Shujie might find it interesting.  Most of the people on the tour went.  Our oldest person was an 82-year-old woman who was quite unique for a Chinese woman.  When the Chinese get over 50 everyone seems to start treating them as old.  This woman was for doing what she wanted and she was travelling with her granddaughter and had no trouble keeping up.  I can’t say we liked her, but she was different.  It’s hard to like people who take food from a buffet and stuff it in their purse.  Here she is (Pattaya in background):

Of course there are no pictures allowed but what surprised me as compared to Amsterdam was that in Amsterdam the crowd was mostly male and here it was pretty evenly mixed.  What do you get to see at a live sex show?  Some pretty bizarre things.

A performance of an organ and drummer playing “Happy Birthday”.  The organist was using his organ to play the keys and the drummer was using his penis as a drumstick.

A game of pool between 2 men.  Naturally the pool cues were the men’s penises.

Dancing by some attractive women.  Oh wait!  At the end of the performance they pulled their penises out of their vaginas.  Hermaphrodites.  I’ve never seen them before.

A man and woman having sexual intercourse.  He would carry her around the audience and drop her in some mans lap and then carry on.  One time the lap was near me and the ushers had a flashlight that he would aim through the backside of the man’s legs and he invited me to have a look.  Why?  I don’t know.  It was just (as Alex would say), some of the old in-out.  Big deal.

Then another time a man comes out and is taking the woman from behind.  But wait, here comes another man who takes the man from behind.  The woman exits and we’re “treated” to about 5 minutes of homosexual gymnastics.  While inserted he would turn circles going around the man and never leaving “ground zero”.  There were other things but those were the highlights.  So now we don’t have to go again.  It’s not cheap but it’s packed

The locals are very nice and I know we really don’t meet people outside the service industry but smiles go a long way.  I think we saw some temples, a place where some big time monk was cremated and his body had stones left (some sort of special sign) so these were on display.  We went parasailing.  Shuie loved it and it was my 2nd time so no surprises there.

When we were taking the boat back from an island to the bus it started to rain really hard.  Everyone got soaked and it was rather uncomfortable.  The Chinese finally rebelled and insisted on being taken back to the hotel to change as the guide just wanted to go on.  But when you’re cold and wet you just want to shower and change.  Basically Chinese are sheep.  They follow the leader and don’t complain (I’m just one person, what can I do), so this was big.  But overall they put up with crap because they are defeated before they start.  Maybe I could be a Chinese psychologist.

Here are some films Shujie shot from the crocodile show.  What a way to make a living.  Maybe I can get a job sticking my head in a crocodile’s mouth.  It might be more interesting than teaching English.

We went to Singapore for 1 day.  Singapore is tiny and I always assumed it was spotless.  I know many years ago there was a big uproar about an American kid being sentenced to 20 lashes (or something like that) for littering.  It’s clean but I imagined they banned outdoor smoking.  No such luck.  There are outdoor areas you can’t smoke (children’s park for example), but they don’t go all the way.  You can only bring 19 cigarettes into the country which has nothing to do with cleanliness but is all about money since you would then have to buy your smokes in Singapore.  If you have money and a few days to relax and hit the casino and Universal Studios Singapore, it would be a good place to go.  Our hour at the casino was spent in the Hard Rock Café (my upscale McDonalds).  I had a great Bloody Mary and cheeseburger while Shujie loved her Margarita.

Here are 3 Singapore pictures:

This is a night view.

This is a lion doing a Danny Thomas impersonation.  (He heard something while he had a mouthful of coffee).

That thing that looks like a ship is a casino.  The flower like thing to the left is a concert bowl.

Then it was off to Malaysia.  You drive there.  It was mostly bus rides and we didn’t see much.  The highlight of Malaysia was a visit to a Mosque.  There was a man there who said he was a free guide and we spoke to him for 15 minutes.  He was Malaysian but he’d gone to school in Nebraska and had been to Niagara Falls so it’s not like we were so foreign to each other.  He was good at explaining things and it’s people like him who I think can represent and sell Islam.  Just a guy (religious as he is), who is pleasant and nice.  To me, if you want to sell your religion, don’t do it with words (you’re going to hell if you don’t buy Jesus), but do it with actions and personality.  If you meet a nice person who seems to be in touch with himself and his surroundings and at peace, you are more likely to get interested, I think.

Shujie was so taken with it that she converted on the spot:

One other truly amazing thing I saw was a real live “snake oil salesman”.  You remember the old Westerns when the snake-oil salesman would come into town to sell some miracle cure to the rubes.  Well, there are plenty of rubes in China.  We went to a place where miracle medicine is made from snakes (who happen to have 2 penises).  They do a sales pitch and I thought you’d might like to have a gander at a Chinese 21st century snake oil salesperson.

When we went into stores like this (and others) these cheap Chinese couldn’t take their money out of their pockets quick enough.  It was amazing.  They’ll buy anything.  I was told that people from Shanghai like to do that to show they have money.  They might have money, but they are a little short on brains.

Here are some various other pictures.  You can see everything on Flickr but trust me, these are the highlights.

Locked out of the Palace in Malaysia:

Malaysian monument from WWII:

A golden Buddha drawn in a mountain:

The temple containing the stones from the remains of the dead Buddhist priest (or something like that):

Shujie and tour-mate on the Elephant walk:

Two fatties fighting over food:

I’m carrying a crocodile:

A temple in Thailand:

The Elephant soccer team:

Me and the stupid guy who believed my sexual escapades stories:

Shujie and I in Maleka:

Fighting off the babes:

We got back to Shanghai Wednesday night at midnight and got to a hotel about 2AM.  We took the 1PM bus back to Jurong to a freezing apartment (takes a day to warm up) and life is getting back to normal.

I may start a new business here in China.  I keep getting people I’ve just met or complete strangers coming up to me and wanting their picture taken with me.  You are probably wondering why.  It’s because one picture with me is like getting 3 pictures with 3 different people.  Some want their picture with me because of my uncanny resemblance to Vladimir Lenin.  Some want their picture with me due to my uncanny resemblance to Norman Bethune (and if you don’t know who he is, look him up.  One of the truly great men of the 20th century and a practical god here in China).  The 3rd person is just a picture with a white guy.  Everyone wants to know a white guy and pretend they’re friends with him.  That’s me.  So that’s one business opportunity.

There’s another one that Shujie is sure would be a big money-maker.  We open a hot dog shop.  I just have to stand there so people will feel cool being in an “American” hot dog store.  It would sell.  I suggested calling it “Norman Bethune Hot Dogs” as that would sell huge in China.  I would legally change my name to Norman Bethune and we’d be laughing to the bank.  I know, it sounds crazy.  But it might work.  Write me if you’re interested in investing (after you look up Bethune, see what he looks like, and what he did for China).  Being a Canadian gets you immediate love when you come to China and all because of the 18 months that Bethune spent here giving his life for those who needed it.

The school got a new English teacher who we haven’t met yet.  Apparently she’s a young woman from England (23) and hopefully we’ll all get along.  My freshman classes will remain the same (I insisted) but I’m giving up my 2 2nd year classes since I only see them once a week and there is no connection with them anymore.  I’ll teach something else (no problem) and my 3 day week will stay the same (which I insisted upon).

So no more Chinese tours for us.  Next time we make our own or go on an English tour.  School resumes on Tuesday for me and I’m not looking forward to it.  Five weeks holidays is a long time and you get out of the swing of things.  But I’m sure it will take no time to get back in the saddle again.  I will soon begin looking for a position for September, as I want a University with English majors.  I want to talk less and have more advanced conversations.  I think the good schools will start looking earlier while the dregs will wait until the last minute.

And I will ask myself why I live here.  These mixed feelings towards groups of people and individuals is driving me crazy.  There are so many problems with this culture, as I said, that it would take generations to fix it.  And who am I to say there is something wrong with it?  I’m a reasonable polite person, that’s all, and that’s all I’m asking for.