Friday, November 12, 2010

The Perch

On my first visit to the Great Wall at Mutianyu, I hiked as far as I could up the mountain with the time I was given by the tour guide (not nearly enough time). As I walked up the higher reaches of the wall where few tourists ventured, I came across some kids enjoying their time on the wall.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On Broadway

There are some perks to teaching at a college in the NYC area. I've been impressed by the activities that the college has for students and staff, but I haven't been able to attend anything until now. Unfortunately, I missed out on trips to the Natural History Museum and a Buddhist monastery outside the city.

Jia has asked a few times to see a Broadway show, but she's worried that she won't understand what's going on. It's part of why I've been reluctant to take her to a play (I don't like musicals, I think they're cheesy). However, thanks to the student/faculty activities committee, I can now take my wife to a Broadway show that she'll understand: Blue Man Group. There is nothing for Jia to understand about three blue guys playing improvised instruments.

Since the theater is in one of my favorite neighborhoods, we may combine our Broadway experience with dinner at Crif Dogs and a beer at McSorley's. That would make it a classy evening.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Hidden Shrines

While wandering on my own in Bangkok I discovered a few things. The first was that our hotel was near nothing other than a dirty clothing market. The second was that I really had to walk to find anything of interest.

After a couple hours of walking, I stumbled upon a small shrine. It was down a quiet side street and had no noticeable signs. I also didn't see anyone to talk with about what I found.

From its appearance, I could tell that it was a shrine for people who have died--some of the photos were of people in military uniforms. I also noticed that there was Chinese on parts of the shrine, though I couldn't read any of it because it was written with traditional characters. What interested me most was that it was a mosaic constructed from broken dishes--the craftsmanship of the images was amazing. I still wish I knew more about it.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Dangerous Dates, continued

In response to a couple comments on the previous post about the sort-of-secret relationship Jia and I had during my first year in Shenzhen, I've decided to add to the story.

I spent most of the first summer living in the school apartment, which was also the storage space for the few returning teachers. All the other apartments were filled for a month with visiting Americans who were working at the summer camp in the unbearable Shenzhen summer. Jia worked six days a week, often until after 8pm, which meant I didn't see much of her. I spent plenty of time sitting in my air conditioned room, having a few beers in an air conditioned restaurant, or wandering through air conditioned shopping centers. I also continued studying Chinese in preparation for my parents' visit in August.

Part of my summer plan was to introduce my parents to Jia. Since Jia and her mom wanted to spend their brief summer holiday in Xinjiang, I planned for a few days in Urumqi. The other foreign teachers asked if I was going to meet Jia on my vacation since they all knew she was from Xinjiang. I figured there was no harm in admitting that we were at least friends (sooner or later they'd find out about our relationship).

As some of the teachers were leaving Shenzhen after their year at the school, we celebrated their departure. A few of the more gossipy foreigners loved to discuss our co-workers' love lives--and, of course, it came to me. Seeing as they were leaving, it was safe to let them in on my little secret. They weren't surprised--and one of them was fairly certain there was something going on between Jia and me because she kept running into us at odd times.

By the time the new term started, Jia agreed that it was safe to tell the foreign teachers about our relationship as long as they knew it couldn't get back to the Chinese supervisors. There were also two Chinese co-workers who were kept our relationship secret from the rest of the staff.