Thursday, May 3, 2007

Having a rest

Right now it's May holiday, one of the three busiest travel times in China. China has two nationwide week long holidays--one in October (National day) and one in May (in honor of the workers). During these times the trains are flooded with people heading to hometowns to "play together" and "have a rest". Since Siping is my hometown, I decided to stick around for the week. Most of the team is gone (at least some of the most vocal members), so it's been nice and quiet. I've been taking my latest purchase, a beautiful Giant bicycle, out for a lot of rides. The team took the liberty of naming my bicycle the Ragin' MK. The full given name is Raging Monorokobu Killer, but Ragin' MK rolls off the tongue nicer. The name has quite the violent undertone, but of course there is a reason for each component. Raging, for the card game I love but the team hates and refuses to play unless there's an out of town guest who requests it (unfortunately, Amanda has become part of the "family" here and no longer counts as a guest). Monorokobu, the sound pig bears make. Of course there had to be some sort of tribute to my favortie creature. And killer...who knows, because Sonny said it and it just stuck. But anyways, it's been a lot of fun to explore the city by bike. Yesterday I rode out to "Space park"--so named because I think the large metal statue in the center looks like something from a sci-fi thriller. It was nice to read and people watch for a couple hours. For awhile there was a group of traditional musicians playing that garnered quite the audience. Today I planned on turning right going out of our school. In the seven months I've lived here I've never turned right, so I was quite excited to explore new territory. However, 30 mph wind gusts blowing dirt and tree branches in my face and making any forward motion seemingly impossible persuaded me to turn around before I had gotten very far. I'll leave that exploration to another day.

Amanda came to visit for a couple days, which was a lot of fun. I love being a hostess and having an excuse to make goodies like chicken parmesan and crepes. We also went out to a temple area in the hills on the outskirts of town. All of the flowering trees are at their peak, which combined with blue skies and warm temperatures made the trip quite pleasant.

My other main activity for May holiday is grading five paragraph essays (my junior writing students' midterm). I can grade about five of them before my mind is swirling with Chinglish
overdose rendering me incapable of accurately correcting anymore. But slowly I'm making my way through them; I've finished one class (45 essays) and have one more to go.

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