October in Lin’an
Update: What’s been happening?
Thieves Caught: Patrick, another foreign teacher, called us about a week ago to say that one of his students had seen in a Hangzhou newspaper that the thieves had been caught. A small band had rented an apartment in Lin’an and had robbed eight houses there and our ZAFU teachers’ apartments. We figure we are still unlikely to get our computer back since it was likely sold the following day. Bob says the penalty is a few years in prison depending on the value of the stolen property. My students say the thieves will probably be beaten and imprisoned. Then last night Diana called us to say the police had called her to ask the exact details about our computer. They have the teenager who took our computer and will make him reimburse us. We think his family must have money and hope he changes his path. But for us, it looks like we will be compensated for our loss.
Sports Day: On Thursday, Oct. 22, we had sports day at the college. I got to meet and compete with other teachers in silly games. The sunny, cool day made it perfect to be outside. We stood around the field and laughed a lot. Barry took pictures. I competed in the dart throw, which is something I’ve not done for about forty years. My first throw was the best. In the run-with-two-cups-full-of-water relay my team came in second. It was all fun.
Carol’s visit: We’ve had our second visitor, Carol. Barry, John, and I stayed with Carol and her wonderful husband Lambert in Queensland, Australia, as their Servas guests when we did our around-the-world trip in 2003. Carol was coming to China for the Expo when she got our e-mail that we were here. She had come from a great trip to France, Dubai, Delhi, and after Shanghai and Lin’an, was on to Chengdu. Some of the foreign teachers from here had gone to the Expo in Shanghai at the same time Carol was there, so she came back with them to Lin’an in the pouring rain. Barry and I had a couple of nice days showing her around, first here on campus and in Lin’an and then we took her into Hangzhou so she could catch her flight the following day to Chengdu. While in Hangzhou with her we discovered another wonderful bakery, bought a much searched for can opener, saw two hostels where we might stay some weekend, and practiced getting to and from Hangzhou by ourselves. I just got a text from her that today she did a bike trip to a village near Lijiang, China, and tomorrow will take a day trip to the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Carol is an intrepid traveler and is on her way to Hong Kong and then back to Australia. We hope to meet up with Carol again somewhere in the world. We hope you can come visit us too.
Daming Mountain Trip: We started early on the Saturday, Oct. 30 morning with a bus trip arranged by the ZAFU International Office to take us to Daming Mountain, which is about an hour outside Lin’an city limits. “Da” means big, and “ming” means bright; it also refers to the Ming Dynasty because the founding army took refuge here. Our day was a sunny, cool, perfect hiking day.
Mark, another English teacher from Pittsburgh, 12 of the Ukrainian students, Barry and I were invited. Bob, from the international office, Wendy, his assistant, Fei, which means “to fly,” Diana, a student who has helped all of us, and a guide were the ones who hosted us. We took a cable car about half way up the mountain, which allowed us spectacular views (and saved us much time and energy).
Then we were driven to near the top from there. Some people do walk the whole trail, but Bob said it would take us at least four hours to do that and then would need to get down again, and we didn’t have the time to do that, so instead we ate our picnic lunches at the top, enjoyed the fantastic scenery and each others’ company, and then walked down. The fresh air felt invigorating, and we could see the autumn leaves, and waterfalls in the distance.
Part of the walk to the very top included going through a long cave formed from mining of tungsten starting in 1958 or so.
We also got to cross a suspension bridge that reminded me of the one in the movie The Man Who Would Be King because the drop below was huge and the bridge swayed with every step. I loved it, but one of the Ukranian girls (some of the students are only 16, some are balding) was really scared, so one of the other Ukranians held her on one side and I on the other. I kept telling her to look up. The other girl got her to sing a Ukrainian song. We did that going up and coming down. It was really quite hysterical.
We had fun and spent much of the day on the mountain.
When we got back to Lin’an, the International Office treated us to a huge dinner.
Then Barry and I ran off to do our second movie night.
Movie Nights: On Saturday, Oct. 16, we had our first “Movie and Discussion Night” for my students and their friends. Some of the other teachers brought their students too, and many in my beginning Mandarin class came. We had to stuff people into seats it was so crowded and fun. We saw Date Night with Tina Fey and Steve Carell. It was the right combination of humor, action, and relationship issues.
Then this past Saturday, we reserved a larger classroom and showed SALT with Angelina Jolie. Over 100 students came again. Many stay to talk after the movie. I’m hoping the Chinese and foreign students will make friends and practice their language skills.
Weather change: The weather has changed. The other night when I got out of class, it was about 52 degrees tonight!! I’ve gotten to wear my Bearpaws—sheepskin-lined suede knee-high boots that I actually found on Maui. It is the first time I’ve worn such boots since 1985. They felt cozy and warm. We’ll see how we are doing in a month. Right now it is fun. Today was again sunny and crisp–beautiful. We haven’t turned on our heat yet, but I’m sitting here at the computer in my sweater, sweatshirt, long pants, and tights, which is what I wore outside. It’s a little nippy on my bike, but so far so good. Many of the leaves are falling, but mainly they are just turning brown and dropping, not the colorful display I thought would happen, but fall isn’t over yet, and we did see nice colors on the mountains.