China 1999

Written by Al Wong (Write to me)

This is my experience in Beijing, China in the Summer of 1999. If you came to this webpage first, it's better if you start from the beginning of the story.

Tuesday, July 6th
School Visit #2, Painting Ducks

All the water was turned off this morning around 9am! They seem to be working on the pipes. The cold water went back on around 1pm but we still don't have hot water.

Four people in my group are feeling ill today. I think it's because we are not getting enough sleep and it's beginning to show. I have a mild sore throat but I seem to always get a mild sore throat when I am in East Asia so I don't think much about it.

Today's activities include:

  • Class Session. Our 8:45am class reviewed giving directions to pedestrians. We also learned how to ask which bus goes to a given destination and ordering in a restaurant. We don't have class tomorrow (Thursday) because we are going to the Temple of Heaven. The next class is on Friday.

    Our homework is to learn the street map handout well so we can give faster directions, ask directions to a place with a native Chinese, and learn the names of two Chinese dishes.

    They should get new chairs for the classroom. The chairs we are using now are big and unwielding. You don't feel comfortable sitting on them either leaning in front or leaning back. They don't have wheels on their legs to move freely on the floor. And there are too many chairs in the room which makes the place seem crowded.

  • School Visit. We visited the Yuying middle school. This school taught grades K-12 and the facilities were much better here. About 13 students met us.I guess these students were best at speaking English. Also this school was much larger in area than the first school. There was no opening performances. We just walked around their campus and talked to the students. They showed us several facilities and challenged us to a basketball game. I passed on this as I'm more of a tennis player.

    As I was waiting in the meeting room, one of the teachers asked me if I liked to do anything. I asked if I could play one of their pianos. I haven't played a piano since I arrived to Beijing and more than a month before that in the US. Most of the rooms with pianos were locked because the students were now taking their finals. They did manage to find an open room with a piano in their grade school! However, four music teachers sat right in front to hear me play! I didn't even get a chance for warmup let alone practice. I think I played for less than 5 minutes when my whole group arrived and Cathy asked me to play something. I gave them the first two themes of Roberto Clemente by a friend of mine, David Thomas Roberts. It's a pretty song. I wish I had time to practice a little more. The students liked it though.

    As we were leaving, Andrew Chang drove the minibus around the school's front yard. I don't know why he did it but it was funny.

  • Painting Ducks. This was a scheduled calligraphy lesson but actually was a Chinese painting lesson. The calligraphy lesson was postponed. Anyway, this class was taught by a Mr. Xu Zhan, a noted Chinese painter. Mr. Zhan had his youngest student with him, a 11 year old boy named George, as an interpreter. I should also mention this kid paints pretty well too.

    Mr. Zhan passed around three of his painting books. They were very nice to look at and demonstrated his qualifications. He then had us buy brushes from him and charged us $200.00RMB for the brushes. I thought this was kind of high but I figured he was a famous painter and I may not come this way again so I went for it.

    As a first lesson, we learned how to paint ducks swimming in water! I think I did pretty well. I understand we will continue tomorrow with calligraphy.

  • Later That Night. I took a taxi cab to the cyber cafe basically to check email, upload new webpages for this China trip and get the pictures from the three rolls of film I dropped off for development two days ago. I got there after 10pm but the Fuji place was closed. Sigh.

    At the cyber cafe, I managed to upload the webpages of the last two days and part of today and I checked my email. I also sent an email broadcast to my friends that my China webpage is now on-line! While I was there I heard English voices and struck up a brief conversation with two students, one from Orange County, CA and one from England. I got back to the language academy at 11:10pm but the gates were still open. I guess they don't close the gates until 11:30pm.

The Next Day China 1999 My Writings Al's Wild Web Page

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Last updated : November 8, 1999
Copyright 1999 Al Wong, Los Angeles, California, USA
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