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Another note from halfway around the world:

Greetings, all.

Still alive and well in Gongqin, China. Recovering from a nose-throat-chest congestion thingy. I'd planned to wait it out, but allowed two students to steer me into a nearby clinic. A quick check by the doctor, three medications prescribed, and $5 later I was on my way. While China has a long tradition of natural healing therapies, it is also fully on board the western pharmaceutical train. Due to the lack of regulatory control, medicines in China are sometimes known as 'the wild west.' Oh, well. Yippie kay yay!

During the recent holiday I took a train back to Yiwu, visiting friends and former students. While there I also visited Hendian, known as 'Chinese Hollywood.' It's a movie studio/amusement park, built along the same lines as Universal Studios (though maybe a little less high tech). Also visited Wuzchen, a Venice-like village with waterways instead of streets. I stayed in a vacant apartment, which was owned by the father of a child that a friend of mine tutors. Connections are a
big thing in China (look up 'guanxi'), both in business and in everyday life. For example, I was asking a Chinese friend where in China she would like to live. She told me, but added that she would never move there. She has already been in Yiwu for 4 years, and has built up a variety of friendships/connection. She now knows someone at the hospital, which will help her with future services there, etc. So in her mind, her best option is to stay in Yiwu or return to her hometowm,
where she also still has a variety of contacts. These aren't friendships in the usual sense of the word. Rather, they're a lubricant to make life easier and more functional.

I am in the process of trying to send a student from my college to work in Yellowstone Park for the summer. There are agencies in China who arrange this kind of thing, but their prices are prohibitive for the majority of Chinese students. So, I'm getting the exact price from the agency, will look up the current cost of a plane ticket, and then see if I can find a company in the States to sponsor the student. A speaking contest will determine which student goes. At least, that's the plan. It would be a fantastic, life-changing experience for some deserving student.

Boat in Wuzhen

Yesterday I did a lecture for the Chinese teachers in our college's English Department. I really just wanted a chance to meet them. There really isn't much overlap between the Chinese and foreign teachers here. Most are so young that I would have mistaken them for students if I'd
passed them in the halls.

In past blogs I've mentioned Chinese traffic. It was brought back to me while riding with a Chinese friend of mine in his newly puchased automobile. Driving in China is exactly like playing an aggressive video game. I think Mitch Hedberg's comedy routine about horns should actually be implemented here.

I think we should only get 3 honks a month on the car horn, because
people honk the car horn too much. 3 honks, that's the limit. And then
someone cuts you off, ffffft, you press your horn, nothing happens.
You're like, "shit! I wish I wouldn't have seen Ricky on the sidewalk!"

I'm going to sign off with a few actual questions from the test to get a drivers license in China. They were translated by Peter Hessler, and taken from his book, "Country Driving."

After passing another vehicle, you should:

a. wait until there is a safe distance between the two vehicles, make a right turn signal, and return to the original lane.
b. cut in frot of the other car as quickly as possible
c. cut in front of the other car and then slow down

When approaching a marked pedestrian crossing, you should:

a. slow down and stop if there are pedestrians.
b. accelerate in order to catch up with the car directly in front of you, and then cross closely behind him.
c. drive straight through, because pedestrains should give vehicles the right of way.

When driving through a residential area, you should:

a. honk like normal
b. honk more than normal, in order to alert residents
c. avoid honking, in order to avoid disturbing residents.

Before driving, a person can:

a. drink a little alcohol
b. not drink alcoholc. drink beer, but not other types of alcohol

If you see an accident and people need help, you should:

a. continue driving
b. stop, do what you can to help, and contact the police.
c. stop, see if the people offer a reward, and then help

P.S. one of the pictures is of my hotel room in Nanchang. I guess the window to the toilet is in case there's nothing good on TV.

Lunch at a Friend's

Riverside town reconstruction in Hendian

Sometimes the audience is more picturesque than the show

train station during National Day holiday


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