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.

Monday, July 12th
Painting Goldfish, Family Visit

I left my RAID hot plate ON all yesterday morning before the visit to Lama Temple. Last night, not one mosquito bothered me! However, someone was using the washing machine last night until midnight. I was just about to go unplug it too. It must be one of the newly arrived teachers who doesn't know about the noise. I left a note on the washing machine saying I will unplug it if it is running past 11pm. Hopefully, this should end the problem.

Just heard from a few people who use this washing machine. It doesn't even do good job in cleaning your clothes! Their socks were still dirty. So the washing machine is a waste of time as well as noisy.

Today's activities include:

  • Class Session. Today we went over how to say what is wrong with you if you are sick. This led to a lesson in how to say different parts of the body. We also went over some conversations in how to make excuses. This was a good session for me because of the practical vocabulary which I have not learned before.

    It seems a few of my classmates are not taking this class seriously or are burned out or both. For me, this class is the primary reason I'm in Beijing so I take the class and the homework assignments very seriously. This is already session 10 out of 12 sessions total! This whole Mandarin Chinese program is ending all too soon.

  • Painting Goldfish. I had hoped this session would be the calligraphy lesson. Instead, we had another painting lesson. It was taught by Mr. Xu Zhan again. This time we learned how to paint goldfish. I think this lesson was too advanced for our class as there was too many steps to remember and each step required a certain amount of skill that no one in our class really possessed yet.

    This was also the first time I've seen real evidence that people were burned out. It was very quiet and serious in class. This is in contrast to last week's duck painting lesson when people were joking around and exclaiming this is fun! I didn't feel people were enjoying this lesson very much.

    Mr. Xu Zhan was also selling his books in this session and at a good price too. I think he should have sold them last week when there was more enthusiasm. I decided not to buy the books because I wouldn't have the time or the space to devote to Chinese painting back in the USA. I'm more interested in the Chinese calligraphy lesson anyway.

    The good news is tomorrow will be the calligraphy lesson. I can't wait!

  • Family Visit. The family visit was wonderful. Our group was divided into pairs and given an opportunity to visit a local family at the academy, have dinner with them and practice our Chinese with them. I went with Eugenia Wu, a PCC teacher, to the home of Mr. Wang Guocheng. His apartment is a short walking distance from ours. We met his wife and son, Wang Yan.

    Mr. Wang actually spoke pretty good English. He is the editor for a journal produced by this language academy. Now that I think about it, I should have asked him for the latest issue to take home.

    Yan was a character. He spoke fairly good English too. I tried to teach him how to juggle scarves but I guess my poor explanation in Chinese and English wasn't working too well. He got to the second lesson but needed more practice. It was entertaining watching him try to juggle though.

    Dinner at the Wang family was great. We had jiao zi (dumplings), duck, chicken, a few veggie dishes and a pastry dish. Their hospitality and friendliness was very generous.

    After dinner, we had some fresh Li zhi (lychee) and talked some more. Mrs. Wang was very friendly and asked me lots of questions but she spoke Chinese very quickly and I could not understand her half the time. They have a computer but do not have an Internet service. (I had to ask!) I gave Yan some NASA postcards and a T-shirt. I think he liked them.

  • Later That Night. Today I also mailed out some postcards from the Chinese Acrobats Show. The pictures in these postcards were all great!

    Hmmm, someone is still running the washing machine at 11pm. Going to the laundry room, I discover someone moved my note so it's not easily visible. But fair warning was given. I move my note back so it's easily visible, unplug the washing machine and take the extension cord! Ahhh, quiet.

    I have also confirmed they don't vacuum the rug everyday. There was a dust bunny in plain sight in the middle of my room for about 4 days and now it's gone. This place just gets better and better.

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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