Holiday is over and it’s back to reality

It’s been 10 days of no school and a lot of doing nothing.  I hate to say this but I’m not anxious to get back to things.  I hope things pick up and I can work a miracle or two.  The writing class will remain as it’s been for about 3 more weeks until they can write a sentence.  Then I’ll try and branch out giving them more intelligent things to write and not the boring exercises.  I’ve told them that, so they’ll have to stick this out, and if they can’t, too bad.

The culture class will change.  The textbook isn’t bad but realistically speaking I don’t think a book can teach you about intercultural communication in such a way that it will be of use to anyone.  If any of these kids end up speaking to a foreigner, they aren’t going to be whipping out their book for ideas.

I think I’m just going to let them read the book on their own, and ask questions if they have any.  My class time will be spent on discussing culture in the West.  I think I’m going to do the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and so on.  I’ll show some old TV shows and play some music.  We can discuss them and perhaps they can get some understanding of how it’s different from China.  What they have been taught is scary.  All 18 year olds move out from their homes.  Everyone celebrates Christmas.  Things like that.  Crap.  I will try and move them away from stereotypes and towards actually understanding a little of how it works.  We shall see.  But the thought of watching the same episode of “Leave it to Beaver” six times in 1 week is a little scary.

The first few days of our holidays we just hung around and did basically nothing.  That was fine with us.  I’ve come to realize that living in Inner Mongolia is not the thrill I hoped it would be.  I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t this.  We’re too far from places to go visit for the weekend.  It’s expensive.  The city of Baotou is nice but to tell you the truth, I liked Jurong better.  I guess I should be careful about what I complain about.

On Monday we took a day trip to the Genghis Khan Mausoleum and the desert.  So we went.  Is old Genghis buried here?  No.  Is his brother Don?  No.  I think they just picked a place in the middle of nowhere and stuck up this area with a few 10th rate exhibits.  What a waste of time.  Here are some less than exciting pictures:

Here is a statue of old Genghis himself:

How his camp would look with some lame iron statues:

And of course what site wouldn’t be complete without access to a fine Chinese toilet.  It is one word that they seem to translate fine as witnessed by this fine photographic shot:

It was a real waste of time, but then again we needed something to do.  Then it was off to the desert.  There was a lot of construction going on but if you were facing the right way, you could actually imagine being in the desert.

Of course, there was the obligatory camel ride and here we are on our camels:

We also took a slide down a mountain of sand.  The excitement never ends.  It’s interesting with the sun that it looks like we are sliding in snow.

That was our big day outing on Monday.  Tuesday we did nothing which is always a pleasure and Wednesday we took off for Hohhot which is the capital of Inner Mongolia (but not as big as Baotou) and about 2 hours by train.  I’m glad we went because we got out, but we won’t be visiting again.  There weren’t a lot of things to see, but we tried.

The best thing we saw was a nice temple in that it was nice and peaceful.  It wasn’t overrun with tourists (like the Great Wall of China where millions (it seemed) went at the same time).  Here are two pictures of the temple area:

Here is one of thousands of Buddha’s (they are everywhere), but this one is made of jade:

There was a big monk meeting going on and we saw some of it and I sneaked in a picture:

Even the monks are part of the 21st century as witnessed in this shot:

And Shujie is always happy to disrespect wherever she is.  Here she is praying to Buddha, which is pretty good for an atheist.

We also visited where the general in charge of the army hung out during the Qing dynasty.  You might know that one because the “Last Emperor” of China was Pu Yi (whose story was told in the Best Picture film, “The Last Emperor”).

Here is Shujie in the document stamping room as the Chinese have always loved paperwork (and still do).  Shujie is doing the paperwork here.

Here I am in the waiting room, waiting for the General to see me.  I was kept waiting a long time so I used the opportunity to catch a few z’s.

We went to the Inner Mongolia Museum and the best thing I can say about it was that it’s new and clean.  After so many museums in my life, it takes a lot to impress me.  There just weren’t great things to see in Hohhot.

We went looking for Mongolian Grill to eat but I’m out of luck.  When I first visited China in 2004, the best meal I had was Mongolian Grill.  Here I show the locals pictures of what it looks like and no one has any idea what it is.  You can get Mongolian grill in North America, but in Mongolia, forget it.  Can you feel my pain?

So we’ve just vegged this weekend (we are good at that) and reality bites back at us tomorrow.  I will go through student’s complaints and suggestions for the first half of the week (the classes I haven’t done this exercise in yet) and then move on with my “new plan”.  If it works, fine.  If it doesn’t, oh well.  All I know is I’m better prepared to ask questions next year.  I hate this learning one step at a time, but that’s how it goes.  You don’t even consider some things until you don’t have them.  Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you don’t have until you don’t have it.

My apologies to Joni Mitchell.

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