Jun
27
2007

Yahoo Blocked in China?

bya Gabrielle at 4:45 PM

What a load of crap.

Maybe it’s a glitch. Maybe someone fixed the broken light switch located in the hallway of my apartment in Fuyang, China. I never did figure out what that switch turned on or off.

But that is just me thinking positive.

After having my mom check to see if Yahoo was up in running state side, she confirmed what I already feared – China has gone and really done it. They’ve blocked Yahoo here in China.

This is totally not cool. Even though I don’t use Yahoo for email anymore, I still frequent it to check what’s going on in the world. I was a smart cookie and switched to Google when that nasty earthquake killed the internet access between America and China, but that is beyond the point.
The point is – I hope they can see this because I’m doing it as hard as I can.

Categories: America,China
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Jun
23
2007

Coming Soon

bya Gabrielle at 4:20 PM

Well, after fighting the Great Fire Wall of China for the greater part of the last year, I’ve given up. Yep, I’m throwing in the towel and jumping overboard. Like many before me, I’ve decided that it is just easier owning my own space. Because China hates Blogger, and blocks it on and off(more on), I’ve decided to give my blog a new home where people both far and away can view it without having to jump through hoops of fire. Tushes should not be burnt in the process of reading about my daily life in China. That just isn’t right.

That is the main reason why I haven’t been posting lately. I’ve been busy trying to figure out the best place to host my blog. It’s unbelievable how many many hosting services are blocked in China. On top of trying to find one that wasn’t blocked, I’ve had to look for one that actually gave me a half decent service for a price that I could afford. That process was actually harder than it should be. I’ll write all about that later.

After weeks of scouring the Internet, the search is over. Thank God. I finally have a nice, new home for my little blog. Phil is still working out the details so that it looks pretty on it’s debut. He’s adding a lot of cool features and making it really user friendly. When everything is ironed out and ready to be published, I’ll come back here and give you all the link. It should be ready in the next few days.

The service that I decided to go with offers IP banning and it made me start thinking . . . is it possible to get the IP address of the computer(s)Nanny uses so that she can’t come to my site and block it. :) How cool would that be?

I’ll try to get a few cool pictures up this week before Phil and I run off to Guilin and Yangshuo for a week and half. If you have any suggestions about the area – I would love to hear them! Keep checking back though so you can update your links.

Categories: China
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Jun
11
2007

The Eye

bya Gabrielle at 5:05 PM

Every so often I get bored and decide to take pictures of myself. I know, I know – how vain of me! Here are the results of my latest session with boredom. They aren’t exciting or anything, but they made me think of the time when I showed this little Chinese kid my eyes in Hangzhou.

Back when we lived in Fuyang, we were invited to go to a food festival by one of Phil’s students. After stuffing ourselves with all sorts a weird, but fantastic food, we were informed that we were going to finish the night by going to a nice restaurant across town. There was no way I was going to be able to eat anything, but Phil and I agreed and promised to eat as much(or as little) as was possible. We thought we were going to be joined by the student’s parents, but neither stayed in the room very long. They were too busy running around the restaurant socializing. They just wanted to give their son ample time to practice his English. In that, they succeeded.

Sometime into the feast(Phil was somehow able to down a rather large portion) another boy entered the room. He was first introduced as the student’s brother, but we later discovered he was just a family friend. I guess he was invited to practice his English with the foreigners. He was shy at first, but before long we had him using what English he knew. We even taught him a few new words and phrases. Somehow or another we got on the conversation of how westerners look different than Chinese.

The boy that had entered the room had never before seen a foreigner’s eyes, so I offered to show him what mine looked like. I stood up and walked to the other side of the table where he was sitting, bent over so that I was at eye level with him, and opened my eyes as wide as I could. It was almost hysterical. The boy jumped out of his chair, nearly knocking it over, as if he had seen a ghost or something. I don’t know exactly what he saw in the depths of my eyes, but he wouldn’t sit back down until I was safely seated in my chair. I couldn’t help but giggle. He acted very similarly when Phil leaned over to show him his blue eyes. I guess he thought all the people in the world had dark eyes up until that moment in time. That would probably freak me out too.

I particularly like how you can see the reflection of the bars of our balcony.


Perhaps this is what the boy saw instead! I’d be pretty freaked out too.

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Jun
06
2007

Student Life

bya Gabrielle at 2:00 PM

After going over simple present Wh-questions I asked my students if they understood what their brains had just absorbed. Like always, they said yes, even though I knew that they hadn’t fully comprehended it. So, I decide to test their knowledge.

“Emma,” I said, “I want you to think, imagine, pretend that you are wearing a dress. OK?”

“OK,” Emma said.

“Alright. You are wearing a dress. What do you want to wear with the dress?”

She stopped and thought about it.  She even repeated the question a few times to herself, looked to Lisa(the Queen of translating) for possible help, and then finally back to me with apprehension in her eyes.  She cleared her throat and very sure of herself said, “I want to wear Lisa.”

I couldn’t help myself. I started to giggle. Lisa started to giggle because she actually understood what Emma had just said. Monica started to giggle only because the rest of us were even though she had no clue why. Emma sat there for a moment watching us all giggle and then it hit her.

“Oh! No, no, no!” She said emphatically. ” I want to wear a coat! A coat!”

This, on top of them questioning me about homosexuality, totally made my day. Yes, for some strange reason they were very curious about that particular topic.

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Jun
05
2007

Totally Awesome

bya Gabrielle at 3:04 PM

Yesterday Phil and I decided to do our weekly shopping at the Wal-Mart located inside of the SM shopping mall. We’d only been there once before very briefly looking for a modem(which they didn’t have), so we wanted to go back and see what kind of selections that they had in comparison to the other stores in town. We usually shop at Carrefour because it is the closest store to us, but occasionally we will go to the other Wal-Mart(it’s closer than the SM mall), Trust Mart or the very far away Metro(1 hour by bus). Carrefour is probably the most convenient, less crowded of the bunch and has most of what we need, but is often sold out of or doesn’t have what exactly it is we are looking for. This is the case for the other stores too though. All of the stores have the basics, but each one seems to have only one or two of the things that we really like to buy. This of course, makes us store hop until we have everything that we need. If all the stores could just combine – shopping would be a breeze. The SM Wal-Mart wasn’t much different. Like the other stores, it had all the basics plus a few other items that are hard to come by elsewhere. It was however a little different. Different enough to lure me back in a few weeks or sooner depending on how soon I need a refill. Cereal isn’t hard to come by in Xiamen. Even in Fuyang, I was able to get my hands on brands I was familiar with. All the major chain stores usually have one or another brand to choose from in their imported section. Depending on what country they come from effects how much money you are going to have to shell out for them. American brands are always the most expensive, but they sometimes have Korean(I think they are Korean) versions sitting beside them for a much smaller box at a much lower price. The Korean versions to me taste the same, but the choices are much more limited. If I want something familiar – it is either Cheerios or Trix – everything else is the real thing, in a much bigger box, and much more expensive. The real thing being American Cheerios, Rice Crispies, Frosted Mini Wheats, Raisin Brand and a few others. The price on these range from 40 – 50 RMB($5 -6). To you that my not sound like a lot, but in order to save money to travel and to enjoy other luxuries in China, we have to watch the money we spend. If it costs 40- 50 RMB and we are going to eat it – it better either A) last a very long time or B) be damn good. Cereal only lasts so long and it isn’t quite to damn good level yet. Cheese on the other hand is . . . and we only splurge on that every once in a blue moon. So, you can imagine my surprise and disbelief when I spied a HUGE box of Honey Comb sitting amongst the usual suspects with a price tag of 19.90 RMB. My first guess was that it either A) was the box was in the wrong place or B) had expired a year ago. Neither turned out to be the case. I had a lady ring it up to make sure it was indeed 19.90 and then double checked the expiry date. I was so happy to see Best Before August 2007 starring me in the face. I almost chucked two boxes in the buggy, but remembered that there are other more important things that we want to do in China than eat Honey Comb for breakfast.


Nothing reminds me of home like Honey Comb in the morning.

Categories: China,Food,Xiamen
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Jun
02
2007

Questions

bya Gabrielle at 7:21 AM

Don’t ask a question if you already know the answer.”

Ah, I have heard that statement many of times, but yet I don’t follow it.

Today in class we were going over an exercise that was talking about Japanese food. I thought hey, what the heck, while on the subject I’ll ask how they feel about Japan. Other students have asked me if I liked Japan, Korea(they never mentioned north or south) and what I thought about 9/11. I mean, if they can ask – why can’t I? So, I did.

“Do you guys like Japan.”

Usually, I have to explain myself, but this time they understood completely.

“NO! I hate Japan!” Emma said ecstatically. She really said it in bold italics, too.

Although I half expected it, I was taken aback just a little. Maybe it had to do with the bold italics thing. “Ok, Monica, what about you? Do you like Japan?”

“NO! I hate Japan too!”

At this point in the conversation I thought, well, I’ve already taken the plunge, I might as well take a swim while I’m at it.

“Why?” Ah, as a teacher you have to love this question.

“Because . . . because . . . a long time ago,” Emma started, but her tongue couldn’t spit out what she wanted to say in English. I could see the emotion behind her eyes and could all most hear the Chinese version of what she wanted to say bouncing in between her ears. “Because,” she said, lifting up her hands. She balled one into a fist and left the other one flat and open. I knew what was coming. It was pretty obvious. How else is one supposed to express hate and war without being able to verbalize it? And then it happened. She started pummeling her open hand with her fist. “Because,” she said, “Because.”

They were both quiet for a minute. They were frustrated that they couldn’t tell me why exactly, but I told them that that was OK and that I understood.

“Do you like Japan?” Emma asked.

Well, I don’t believe in lying so I told them the truth. “Yes.” Both of their eyes squinted together and their lips got very tight. If you know what look I’m talking about, which I’m sure some of you do, then you should be able to picture that image rather well. It was the look of mixed anger and disappointment, that I, their teacher, could in any way shape or form like their supposed enemy. It only lasted a second though.

It was as though they thought they had made me angry or something. I’m not sure what their logic was, but after giving me that horrid look, Emma perked up with a big smile on her face and said, “We like America. America is good.”

She gave me the thumbs up to demonstrate how good good was.

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