written/non-written things by me (from 2005-2008)

Friday, April 28, 2006

May Day

The last week was slightly above average, but still I am a little bored of my mundane pictures of daily life. So this week I did some stuff, of course, but they yielded very unsatisfying pictures, thus I do not like to post them, but I will no matter and compensate the bad pictures with equally bad narrative just to say that I have posted something this week...

As for the future. I have an actually exciting adventure ahead, one that promises "more chinese" per volume of experience than my regular daily life. Tomorrow night Haiyan and I will travel by night train down to Jiangxi and Hubei provinces in the south of china to visit the famous and beautiful Lushan Mountain (google it.), to hike around, sleep in various temples, and attend workshops in Chen (Zen) Buddhism for a week. Add to the excitement of my first cross-China adventure is it's convergance with a billion other people's cross-china adventures, as this week is the long May Day holiday. High travel time. Fortunately, we have acquired a sleeper in the train, thus avoiding the infamous hard seats, where travelers could endure a crowded bench for hours, though that is the worst of the stories. I have heard great things about Chinese trains, such as that people walk around in their pajamas, and cozy up like its a big moving sleepover. I hope I find this to be true. I will be coming back on the 5th...by myself! as Haiyan will stay a little longer, but I have to be back to teach classes next saturday.

So I might be out of communication for a few days, plus hotmail.com has been fritzy lately...Bye bye.

Happy Birthday Aihua and other terrible pictures from last night

Last night was a big bonanza to commerate Aihua Langauge Academy's four year "birthday" (apparently not an anniversary). In grand fashion we hired the lobby of the local library, invited nice looking people off the street, arbitarily honored the 10,000th student with a new flashdrive, invited the ShiJingShan Action News Team, held a 10 team Pub Quiz, and found a little girl that has the same "birthday" and a little boy who "loves" english to read a pre-written homage.
Here is my Pub Quiz team "Cookie Peanut Cookie"
Lily, one of my my co-teachers Lily looking unsually ungiggley as she must know she is framed by a table of garbage.
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Out of all the foreign teachers I was chosen by the school's Head Mistress to be interviewed by the News team about my thoughts on the school. Despite the fact that I have rarely spoken with the head mistress and you won't find me hanging around the school on my off-time like some of the other teachers I think I was chosen because of my status as the blonde friendly-looking American female. My suspecions that I am a spokesmodel were later confirmed when I was promptly ordered to stand on stage during the presentation of the cake, pop the champagne corks, and blow out the candles all while being filmed with the owners of the school while my fellow teachers sat amidst the audience. I thought my interview was fine despite some random women interupting my translator while I was talking. Who then turned around and "translated" what I had said despite the fact that she was talking to someone else while I was saying it...So we have scheduled a re-interview for week from now even though the subject of the interview will be last night's event. So I might be dubbed over with my own voice! I wouldn't think that the birthday party in the library lobby was very newsworthy, but apparently it will not be just a 2 minute closer on the evening news, but a full-length report, possiblely even replaying the Pub Quiz footage and everything. Memory and Me. She is my favorite co-teacher because she often wears power suits to class. We teach 5 year olds.
And close-up of our Elizabethan collars.
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New "Frando Stainless Steel Cup"

In preperation for my trian trip I went into my favorite local department store the "Constellation M Store" to make a purchase of a travel thermos for hot tea drinking in my bunk. I didn't realize how important this decision was going to be until I witnessed the vast and diverse selection of of the thermos department. Chinese don't kid around with their thermoses. The prices were from 80 to 400 kuai (consider a kuai a sort of like a U.S. dollar, its not the exchange rate, but relative to ones wage 400 kuai is like spending $400 if you make $1000 a month.) One can buy clear plastic, clear glass, with/out paintings, leather encased, engraved stainless steel, super small, super big, ergonomic and sporty or bullet shaped and commanding respect. My favorite was the highly breakable fired clay travel thermos for 350 kuai. I bought this Frando for 123 kuai, I suppose it's an economy model, but it felt extravagant to me as I am usually too frugal with my money...I could eat pretty well for a week with 123 kuai. But I am proud of it as it seems pretty durable and elegant. And the dolphin motif makes it sea-worthy. It even came with its own little cofin and "elucidation book." I like it.
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Dashanzi, or otherwise known as "798 space" is the premier art district in Beijing. Apparently, it was formerly the site of Great Leap Forward Era factories and I have heard that the massive complex was reknowned for its exuberant worker's marches in honor of Chairman Mao Zedong. Now, like many trendy art spaces worldwide the factories and warehouses are now trendy art studios and galleries, complete with hipster cafes and restuarants squished into odd shaped rooms inbetween the galleries, one of which charges 15 kuai for a diet coke, authentic surely service free of charge...I like Dashanzi, although its 2 hours by bus and subway from my neck of the woods. I was there on Tuesday to meet my new friend Meng, a shy budding young Beijing artist who was showing some art in one of the galleries. Later we walked about and viewed some decidely international art, such as the super trendy, but still no-less highly likeable Yoshimoto Nara from Japan. So that was the highlight of last week. Later Meng and I will plan to ride more buses and take pictures.
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Monday, April 24, 2006

Teacher Lady

Yeah! My suck up students who like me and I never have to yell at.
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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Everyday I pass this long gate of rusted panels. Here and there are openings in the panels where bikes with massive loads cart away recyclable materials and garbage.

Inside the is a the remains of a hutong, a traditional Beijing alley. I have written about hutongs before as they are infamously disappearing around town for several reasons, most of which involve their replacement with new skyrise developments, but also many are condemned as unlivable.

Hutongs have been used in Beijing for centuries. The narrow alleys (hutongs) and siheyuan courtyards not only been a solution for compact urban living, but as a structure they keep cool in the hot summers and in the spring and winter protect against the harsh winds and sandstorms.

As far as the media is concerned, their removal is mostly accepted with bittersweetness. Many lack plumbing and have ancient standards, but inevitably their removal is the erasure of Beijing's cultural vernacular architecture, which is left to skyrises and the occasional imperial palaces.

Today I walked around the old walls of the former hutong situated opposite my apartment block and finally went inside to check it out. I found a wasteland of rubble and garbage. And people still living amoungst this slow and ongoing demolition. Indeed, it appears as if many of the residents are employed or at least are responsible for clearing out the garbage. There no professional looking hulling trucks. I see only bikes carting away broken slats of sheet rock and other detrital materials. Here are the pictures.

Garbage strewn path, walking on the outside of the hutong wall.
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Security System

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The path to the hutong, on the outside of the walls.

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Many people still live in the demolished hutong. I am guessing that the area is a little more than a square mile. The equivalent scale of destruction would be half the campus of University of Arizona. Imagine an area of this size whose buildings have been blasted with the furntiure and material items still inside.

This is the heart of the site, where people that still live here can buy a little food without leaving the neighborhood. There are a few remaining eateries and baozi (steamed bread) spots in this center and a few homes that look as if they double as general stores.

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My name is Hannah Pierce-Carlson