China Team Journal

Monday, July 14, 2008

Team 161, Kunming, July 2

By Leon

Thought For the Day:

After observing our 60 students during yesterday's outing in the rain to the Hump Memorial, I have nothing but admiration for their acceptance of their circumstances without whining or complaint. They seem determined to enjoy whatever situation they are in. We can all learn from them, and so, my thought for the day is:


Photos for the day: (1) Joshua and some wet students with Leon in the background at Hump Memorial Park. (2) Rachel and her hairdressers.

Last night brought a thunderstorm that woke many of us up at 3 AM. In the morning there was a flood in the street in front of our hotel that appeared to be about 2 feet deep. Traffic was still passing and for reasons I don't understand, no vehicles stalled out.

Hu Di continued her discussion of Chinese traditional festivals with The Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu Festival or Double 5th Festival) and the Double Seven Festival.

I particularly enjoyed the bitter-sweet love story behind The Double Seven Festival which is the Chinese Valentine's Day.

We suggested to Hu Di that she look out of the restaurant window and view the condition of the street. She did, with an exclamation of surprise.  Then, after carefully studying the street and the sky, she gave us the weather forecast for the day: rain.

The flooding caused us to arrive about 15 minutes late for our eighth teaching day at Kunming Teachers' College. Kathleen and I arrived at our classroom to find only five of our eleven students. The rest were delayed by the flooding. During the morning all but one of our missing students straggled in. The most interesting story was told by Eileen who arrived two hours late to class: her children had to row her across the flood so she could reach transportation to the school. I later heard stories from other volunteers of students who walked in the rain for two hours in order to catch at least the last half hour of class. What amazing behavior! It is no wonder China's economy is growing so quickly.

Our group of four (Dixie and I and our two grandchildren, Joshua and Rachel) had planned to spend the afternoon at the Wild Animal Zoo, but the rain washed out that plan. So, Dixie and Rachel decided to try out one of the local beauty shops where Dixie got her hair cut and Rachel got xxxxxxxxxx (censored to prevent her parents from knowing) xxxxxxxxxxxx which looks astonishing.  Joshua, meanwhile, spent  the afternoon in the company of Bird and his girl friend, who both work in restaurants at the hotel. They played ping pong, showed Joshua how to make tea and watched videos. 

We ate dinner at a neighborhood restaurant and then met with Mr. Ma (our Kunming tour operator) who collected the money for this weekend's trip to Lijiang which he carried away in his wheelbarrow. 

In the evening our family group of four went with Bird and his girl friend to a KTV called Windsor. This was our first visit to a Karaoke establishment.  There was more chrome and marble in the building than in an entire Trump casino. We chose songs (yes, there were some in English from 45 years ago) from a computer screen and were handed microphones. The visuals behind the Singer were cinema graphic, without the dancing that we associate with MTV in the States. Between songs the big screen showed liquor commercials. The party room held a whole group of Bird's colleagues including his Manager. They were most hospitable but probably thought we were a bit strange when they discovered that our only drink was tonic water. It turns out that the Manager hails from Lijiang and, when we told her that we would be touring her home town this weekend she sang a number of songs for us, a cappella, in the Dongba language. When we took our leave at 10 PM the party was still in full swing and looked like it could go on 'till dawn. We were pleased to have been able to take part in another special experience in China.