Sunday, May 29, 2005

totally bullshit

so the trip to shanghai on saturday was good for a number of reasons. first of all, i headed into one of the rich expat enclaves to drop of my luggage at a friend's house. the place is like american suburbia dropped right into china. kids biking down the streets, moms taking their dogs for a walk... very strange. next i headed to a propaganda poster museum, which is located in the basement of some random housing development. they had some wild stuff, with the one saying that the chinese people support the american blacks in their struggle for civil rights being my favorite. then i went to the shanghai museum, which is, by all accounts, a fine museum of ancient chinese history.

the best part however, was when i was sitting outside the museum waiting to meet up with clark and luke. after being accosted by some chinese students wanted to practice their english, a man with his wife sat down next to me and started talking to me in english as well. this was sort of strange, because he looked rather old, and people that old don't normally speak english, or are willing to use it to talk to people. but then i noticed that he wasn't really that old, he clearly just looked older than he was, and his english was perfect.

he apparently attended the shanghai foreign languages school in the early eighties, then in 1985, after something to do with connections to a japanese journalist and a chinese democratic activist (who is now penciled out of chinese history), he was arrested as a political dissident and held for 11 years. now, he can't get a job anywhere because he has effectively been blacklisted in chinese society.

for the rest of our conversation, he effectively railed on all aspects of chinese society, including the economic reforms, local elections, the press, and education, all of which he called "totally bullshit." i feel like i was really lucky to meet this guy. it's so easy to forget, sitting in the ultra-clean people's square in shanghai surrounded by foreign tourists and ultra-modern skyscrapers, how backwards and utterly screwed up the chinese political system still is. i feel like all of us have been lulled by how fun it is to live here in china, and we forget that the communist party's control has graver consequences than just hilariously stupid english-language newspapers.

clark and luke also ran into a guy in people's square who was drawing portraits. even though he was clearly very poor, his english was very good. he said he read the english newspaper everyday and clearly made up his own mind about what he learned everyday. it seems that the most free- and forward-thinking members of chinese society are either crushed by the government or are the poor and powerless. meanwhile, those getting an education are by and large brainwashed losers, wasting their time playing online games in this dump of an internet bar. i hope i'm just being overly pessimistic about my chinese counterparts.

in shanghai the eye of sauron is always watching:

Friday, May 27, 2005

sometimes i just want to know what time it is.

no more classes. yay.

this afternoon we took our final class trip out get our feet washed. as wierd as that sounds, there are feet washing places everywhere in hangzhou. basically, they wash your feet in some soapy mixture, then give you a foot/leg massage and a back massage. i sustained minor injuries during the back portion, which required the application of two band-aids in a cross like you see in the cartoons. the girl giving the massage said it was on account of my bad skin and the other employees in the room recommended that i exercise more, like tyler, so this sort of thing doesn't happen again. they sort of lost me on that last point.

another interesting point came when i looked at my watch and all the girls giving the massages thought i was extremely bored. we tried to explain to them that i just wanted to know what time it was, and they responded by saying, "oh, so what you mean is that you're bored."

i'm off to shanghai for the day tomorrow, maybe longer. studying for finals is for losers.

Monday, May 23, 2005

on your left...

i've written a lot since being here about the trips i've been on and some of the more unique things i've done, but i figured that with less than two weeks left in hangzhou, i should probably write a post about our campus, as it is where i spend the vast majority of my time here. so here we go.

the place is called Zhejian University of Technology, and it is the best state school in zhejiang province. it's located quite a bit away from the downtown tourist area, but is still within the city center. the campus is fully contained with two gates, north (back) and south (front). here is a picture of part of the campus from the top of the new classroom building. our dorm is one of the buildings to the left.

here is a picture of the classroom building where we have pretty much all of our classes.

below is one of the lanes on campus, with student's bikes lined up on the left. our dorm has a bike parking area on the first floor, but most have covered parking spaces across from the entrance to the dorm.

here are two pictures of the school's track. the second picture has the fairly new pool building on the left and the other athletic building on the right.

right across from the north gate is an area we generally refer to as "hou men" or back gate. it's basically a collection of really small restaurants, fruit stands, and internet bars that serve the student population. since we spend almost all of our time there at night, i took pictures of it at night. huzzah!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

when you write the title last, you always forget to write it

this weekend we had our last program organized outing to a mountain village area in western zhejiang province. the entire thing was somewhat dubious in purpose, and i think that lin laoshi, our program director, was just bored and wanted to take his daughter on a trip. needless to say, attendance was low.

so into the mountains we went. the first stop were two factories, one which made popular-but-very-difficult-to-eat nuts, and another which made a combination of brake pads and rubber powder from scrap shoe soles. here is a picture of discarded shoes waiting to be turned into a fine black powder.

both places only operate at night, because, in an effort to save scarce electricity in the mountain regions, the government lowers electricity prices at night. and before i thought that the textile factories operated all day! although these factories were privately owned, they are part of a government program to give people jobs or something. i'll be honest, i didn't quite understand that part.

afterwards we trucked off to one of our teacher's family's home, where we were treated to an awesome lunch. the regular food served at homes in china is not really all that different from what you get in restaurants, except that the flavors are a little more bland and they don't just use the choice cuts of meat in the meat dishes, but rather the entire chicken.

i'm gonna go off on a tangent here and talk about something i haven't discussed yet: MSG. chinese food is infamous in the u.s. for using the stuff, which purportedly makes the flavors much stronger, though people complain that it makes them sick and so many restaurants advertise not using it. not so in china! as i've learned in my cooking class, they put the stuff in everything. in jiaozi (dumpling) restaurants, they even put it out in the table to mix with your soy sauce and vinegar. i've come to agree with the chinese on this point. not only has there not been any proof that the stuff makes you sick, but MSG does actually make the food taste better.

anyway, we drove off to another village, where it seems like the entire town turned out for our arrival. we were then shown around by the town's mayor type person and the secretary of the local branch of the communist party. on sunday they were going to have local elections for something or other, which would have been really cool to see, but unfortunately we were not sticking around for that long. another interesting note: about 60 percent of the town had the same last name of xie, so i think we just found your family, ann! and also, the town was currently experimenting with ways to clean up the environment around them, and so they built trash cans and told people to stop dumping all their garbage in the river. what a good idea!

afterwards we went to a resevoir, where we had to fish for our own dinner. it was pretty boring, except when luke almost got killed my a fish hook and tyler and justin went for a huckleberry finn-type boat ride on the resevoir. the fish was good.

and that is all.

Jamie, Pauley Was Just Visiting. You Didn’t Have Do Him Like That.

So in the past three days, ZUT has been the stage for two tragic deaths, one that happened this last weekend and one that happened this morning. Today started like all my regular Tuesday mornings. I forced my self to get out of bed and threw on my head phones and slowly, real slowly, made my way to my Chinese Business Language class. Upon entry, I was greeted by my teacher and Clark, the only two in the class at the time and they were talking some nonsense about how today we were going to be having a visitor. It some inside joke between them that I didn’t quite understand, but soon with some tragedy would later find out. So as I sit down and prepare to get ready for class like a good student. Jamie enters the classroom and they start talking the same nonsense to them, about how we are having a visitor in class. So finally class starts, and I am like damn its hot today, and I ask to turn on the air-conditioner. Then, next something happens that I don’t quite understand. I turn on the air-conditioner for everyone, and like 6 seconds after I do this, Jamie turns on the overhead fan. Can someone please tell me why, someone would need to turn the overhead fan on full blast if I already turned on the air-conditioner. Because I just don’t get. But, anyway as soon as Jamie turns on the overhead fan, the guest that Clark and my teacher were talking about to come out. The guest they were talking about was this beautiful green and yellow bird, the looked like a parrot or something cool like that. But as soon as the Bird came flying out Jamie starts to freak out and instead of think rationally she starts running around the classroom screaming. What she should have been doing was turning off the fan that was now on full blast. I mean really who gets scared of a bird. But anyway the bird starts flying around the room scared with no place to land and keeps getting closer and closer to the fan. I run over to the fan switch to turn off the fan. Because Jamie was just to scared to do something simple like that or something. But because the fan switch was some tricky Chinese switch, I could not turn the fan off in time. By the time the fan finally got turned off it was too late. The bird had flown straight into the fan blade and was sent like a missile across the room. I am not sure if it killed but upon hitting the fan feathers were sent flying. And the bird bounced pretty hard off the wall and it hit the floor with a thud. I didn’t see the body but I heard there was also a little blood. But however, there was still a slight chance this bird could have still been alive. But the chance was pretty much thrown out the wind when Clark decided to pick up the bird’s limp body, wrap it in a plastic bag, and throw it out of the six-story window. So if the fan blade, the wall, the floor, and lack of oxygen didn’t kill it, I am pretty sure the fall from the six-story window killed it. Rewinding a little bit, after the bird hit the fan Jamie was a little upset, so I made sure that she knew that she might not have killed the bird, and that it was Clark throwing it out the window that actually killed it. But she didn’t seem to believe and was real gloomy all class. So to cheer her up we would give example sentences about how she killed the bird. The best part of class was when we had to do a short 表演 (Biao Yan, Skit). And the topic of our表演 was that I was trying to get a job at an insurance company for pet birds. We did the表演 in tribute to the bird and to cheer Jamie up. Lucky for Jamie, it was only Clark and I in class today, otherwise she would have really been made fun of. But to give this story some hope, at the break when we looked out the window to see if the bird was still there. We could not see the body, so maybe it was just playing dead and got up and flew away.

So remember if a bird is in your classroom don’t start the fan unless, you want some chicken nuggets.

On another note, Last night I taught my room to sing an Usher song, Simple Things. And today, I am going back to his English class to help him singing it. I will be sure not let you know how it goes when I get back.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Getting Jiggy With It

I don’t know if people still say that, I haven't been in The States in a while, but Friday night is the most fun I have had in Hangzhou in a long time. The started off with us going to a restaurant called, 外婆家 (Wai Po Jia, which means Grandma’s Kitchen). It reminded me of one of those posh upscale restaurants in downtown Seattle. They only difference between外婆家 and one of those posh upscale restaurants in downtown Seattle is that this restaurant happened to be in China and filled with what seemed to be millions of Chinese people. Apparently, it is one of the most popular restaurants in Hangzhou. It is probably the best restaurant that I have been to since I have been in China for about three reasons. One, it is by far the cleanest restaurant I have been to since I have been here, much cleaner than the restaurants behind the school (pictures of them coming soon). Two, the food was really good, maybe not the best food I have had but still good. And three it was cheap. How Cheap? Cheap as hell. I give very few recommendations in this blog, but if you are ever in Hangzhou you should definitely eat at this place.

After dinner, because our stomachs were full it was time to do the Kanye West workout plan. We all got right and hit up the club. The club we went to is called Casablanca, and it was crackin’. Since, I have been here I have not been able to find a bar that plays hip hop music. So a few months I gave up on the idea and stopped going to the bars. But last week this magazine was delivered to our rooms with all the hot things to do in Hangzhou. So, we all decided to go to Casablanca, to see what that be like. And this was one of the rare times that we actually got to get some of the Chinese roommates to go with us. So that made it a little more crackin. Because my roommate and his friend came out with us, I decided to treat them to some American drinks that taste much better than that rocket fuel they drink called Bai Jiu. I bought them some Long Island Ice Teas. They didn’t believe me when I said there was alcohol in it. When your used to drink Bai Jui, everything else taste like Cool Aid. I really lost my train of thought right now. So let’s go back to the beginning. The club was crackin’. And here is why, one, we got the Chinese roommates to go out with and teaching them to dance to hip hop music is hella fun. Especially, because they don’t have that much rhythm, it is kinda like trying to teach Clark to dance or something. Actually, no, no it isn’t they all had much more rhythm than Clark. Two, their was actually other people in the club that knew how to dance. I was like what, and there was actually a random Chinese girl in the club that knew how to dance, working her body like a snake. Another reason why it was cracking, was probably because I was getting right on shots of Bacardi. Bacardi always makes the party a little bit more fun. And the other reason why the club was crackin’, I forgot, probably because of the Bacardi shots, alcohol does that to you sometimes.

Saturday morning started off great because I was supposed to catch a bus at 8 am. But because on Friday night coming home late from bar, I set my alarm clock for 6pm instead of 6am, I ended up missing my bus and sleeping through Saturday morning. But it was still a great morning filled with drunken sleep. Even though, my Saturday morning was a good one, my Saturday afternoon didn’t start off so great. I woke up at about 1 pm to find one of my friends in my room bored, wanting to go out. So after taking a shower and getting dressed we were on our way to go out and have fun. On our way to the bus stop, saw a group of people standing in front of the cafeteria, around police tape. Because a group of people and police tap arouses one’s curiosity, we decided to get a closer look and find out what happened. Once we pushed our way to the front we come to see a big pool of blood in front of the stairs leading to the second floor cafeteria. So, I just thought that some one slipped on banana and fell down the stairs. But I was way off, I come to find out that an hour or two earlier some guy stabbed his girlfriend to death. I never thought that this kind of thing would happen here on this college campus. Seeing something like that brought me back to earth and made me realize that I need to be more cautious while I am here. But other than that, the day went well. That night my friend Ye Zhu took my roommate, me, and my roommate’s original roommates out to dinner, we all got to meet Ye Zhu’s girlfriend. And that was Saturday.

And today is Sunday, and the most that I have done today is write this blog. I need to go out and do something besides this, so I am out.

Oh, and can someone please tell Clark that eggplant flavored condoms isn’t as good of an idea as it sounds?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

home of the self-proclaimed king of trees

as promised, the huang shan post.

so this past week, tyler, clark and i rolled out early saturday morning heading west to huang shan. we got on the bus at the bus station at 7:30 am or so, only to discover that the actually station was only one of the places where people can board the bus. people were just randomly getting on the bus at different times, paying touts who had arranged the deal, and not the people at the bus station. it seems that, quite unlike the trains, the government is just another actor in the largely private sphere of bus transportation.

the bus trip sucked. they kept playing these horrible music videos on VCD, which included one collection of chinese pop songs set to what appeared to be american wet t-shirt contests and strippers dancing. the one bright spot on the entertainment aspect was thunder in paradise 3, starring terry "hulk" hogan, but tragically that was snuffed out for some reason. also, we discovered that even though there was a brand spanking new highway linking hangzhou to huang shan, the bus we were on elected not to take it. in short, what we expected to be a four and a half hour journey took about seven hours.

we finally arrived at huang shan, and were greeted with a spectactular weather and a view of the mountain, which is actually quite remarkable. here is a view that we took while climbing on that first day to the summit area.

we got to our hotel and were directed immediately to the cheap seats behind, where we met up with joy, who had come up earlier in the morning by the harder western steps route, which we later descended. After watching the sunset, we hit the sack early in order to get up at 4:30 am for the famous sunrise the next day. before going to sleep, this older korean guy who was staying in the same dorm room as us showed us all the places on the map we should see, which was every single place on the map.

after watching the sunrise, which was pretty good, but nothing spectacular, were started our trek down, and met up with the hordes of chinese tourists that had been pretty nonexistant the day before. but we managed to find our way through them to the highest peak. i thought the stairs up tai shan were killer (see post back in january), but the stairs at huang shan are just insane. they are carved out of the rock itself, and incredibly steep and hang out over nothing. here is a picture of tyler chilling among the chinese crowds at the top. see if you can find him.

we descended quickly after that, and caught the bus back to hangzhou. that bus was thankfully more comfortable, took the expressway, and had some decent movies, including johnny english, which was tragically cut short by a faulty disc. and that was that.

classes are dreadfully easy and boring. this week i embarked on an in-depth study of tic-tac-toe, and have reached a level of understanding of the game never before seen. but we have only two weeks left or so, then finals, and then it's off to shanghai, xinjiang, gansu, yunnan, hong kong, and vietnam!

that's it for now. as always, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Head of The Class

Today, my friend Shan Ji sang the song I taught him. And I must say that he sang the song very well. When he was singing the song it sounded like he could believe that he could fly, but when the teacher asked him, what the title of the song was he said I believe I can fry. But whatever he did a good job singing the song. Before, I can to watch Shan Ji sing the song that I taught him, Shan Ji suddenly told me that the teacher of the class wanted me to make a presentation about American popular music. This was kind of hard because I have not been in the States for 5 months now, and I have no idea who is hot now. So I gave an introduction of some of my favorites; Usher, 50, R. Kelly, and of course 2pac. I told them all about why R. Kelly’s songs are popular. If you don’t know it’s because they are all about sex and they can get the mood right. I also told them that 50’s newest song, Candy Shop, was not actually about eating candy, this made them a little surprised. I think that with the introduction of R. Kelly and 50 the think that American’s only like to hear songs about sex. All the might think that because I said. Of, boy the way, even though this was an English class I was saying this all in Chinese. Yes, thank you, thank you, I will pop my only collar. But after the introducing 50, R. Kelly, and Usher and his recent songs about heart break, I ended with 2pac. You might not think this is true, but I let them know that 2pac has probably the biggest impact on music in the last twenty years. It was interesting talking with them, they told me why English is hard and what they thought was the biggest difference between American College and Chinese College. I let them know that the American College nightlife culture is little more fun than China’s. Basically, I told them all American College students do is drink. The seemed to already know that though. It was kind of fun sitting up in front of the class like was the teacher or even something more important than that, like a stripper or something. All eyes were on me.

After, the class was over I went to dinner with some of my Chinese friends and got drunk with them in celebration of My pimp Chinese friend Xiao Xiong. I never met a bigger pimp than Xiao Xiong. He had his girl and some work on the side sleeping in the same room and didn’t even get caught up. He is my hero. He also told his side work that he already had a girl, and she didn’t even care. His G is tight.

Well that’s all for today. Get at me.
I would like to congratulate my boy on his newfound mouthpiece and wish him good look on the biggest date of his life.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Why Is My Teacher Trying To Get Me Twisted?

I forgot, last Friday, my Class went to my teacher’s house for dinner. Before I get into the dinner, I have to explain why she wanted to get me drunk. A couple a weeks ago like normal, our teacher was asking us some random questions and the question of how much beer can you drink came up. When she asked me, how beers I said some really ridiculous number that I could never drink. I she would know that I was joking for sure, but for some reason she has never forgot what I have said. So on Thursday before I went to her house, she was bragging about how she was going to get me drunk and she challenged me. She said it was her goal to get me drunk. Because I don’t I don’t have come since, I thought she was playing and wouldn’t really try to do it, I was like yeah, I can drink hella beer, 10 to 15 bottles. I drink like water. So Friday rolls around and its time to go to her apartment, which to use an old school word, was dope. But anyway we chill out here for a minute. Some us make dinner, others watch TV (ME), and others go out to by ridiculous amounts of beer. There ended up being like 30 bottles of beer for like 10 people. That doesn’t sound like a lot but Chinese bottles of beer are little smaller than Forty bottles. So it was hella beer. We started eating dinner at about 8 o’ clock. We Chinese people drink, they don’t just pound bottles, they, for the most part drink with a meal. So the food came out and it was absolutely amazing. Everything on the table was delicious. I don’t think there was one thing that I didn’t like. But since, you drink with a meal, when your eating people make toast. And when you toast you are supposed to 干杯 (“Gan Bei”, which means dry your glass). And you can make toast with everyone or with just a one person. And since it was my teacher’s goal and later also Cahill’s goal, teacher and Cahill kept making toast with just me. They also toasted everyone else. But say the least I was getting drunk fast. I tried to counter and get my teacher drunk, but she can drink a lot. In the end because everyone was making toast, a lot people ended up drunk around the table. I never thought drink with a teacher could be so much fun.

Always remember, Ambition is like a frog sitting on a Venus Flytrap. The flytrap can bite and bite, but it won't bother the frog because it only has little tiny plant teeth. But some other stuff could happen and it could be like ambition.

It’s Been So Long, But The Kid Is Back

It has been a while since I last wrote, and in that time a lot of interesting stuff has happened, but to talk about that all I would have to write for hella long. So I will just talk about stuff I didn’t take pictures of.

But first and foremost I would like to say Happy Mother’s Day to all those mothers out there. Nuns’ keep taking care of all your kids out there.

So a couple of weeks ago, one of Chinese friends (Shan Ji) wanted me to teach him how to sing a Song in English. At first he wanted me to teach him how to sing a Linkin’ Park song, but that was too hard because all their songs are too fast or have two people sing at the same time. Next, I was going to teach him one of Usher’s songs but that was also to hard because Usher’s voice range is too high or his songs have too many words that don’t repeat themselves. So then, I decided hey, an R. Kelly song would be perfect. At first, I was going to suggest “Bump N’ Grind” or “Feelin On Your Booty”. But then I thought that would not be appropriate for his English class. But feeling I found the perfect song, “I Believe I can Fly.” Because I am not the best singer in the world teaching how to sing was hard at first but then I got the hang of it. And After a while he learned all the words and was singing almost as good as R. Kelly. He just had one problem though. I don’t know if you have seen Team America, the puppet movie by the South Park people. But anyway in the movie they have this part where the N. Korean Dictator sings “I feel so lonely,” except it sounds more like “I feer so ronery,” While my friend had the same problem, When he got to the “I Believe I Can Fly part, it sounded more like “I believe I Can Fry.” I tried to help and correct him but every time I corrected him, he kept saying fry so I was like close enough. He said his teacher was Chinese, and probably couldn’t tell the difference either.

The other thing that happened a couple weeks ago, was walking a long round Xi Hu with one of my friends and all of a sudden this flower lady came out of no where and tried to sell these roses. I was like I am cool, I don’t want none thanks, but she started to get real aggressive and grabbing me and throwing the roses in my face and stuff. I didn’t know what to do, but all of a sudden this under cover something. I don’t know if he was an undercover cop or something like an undercover cop but he came out of know where and saved me. He had some type badge that he flashed and I don’t know what he was doing there, I guess it was G-14 classified. But anyway the undercover and the flower lady started arguing about something in Chinese. While, they were arguing I slipped away just in class the flower lady started to try and sell me flowers again, because I had no clue what was really going on.

The last interesting, thing that has happened of some type of interest, happened like two weeks ago, for a class field trip, my class went to a middle school and got to listen to some of the classes and talk with the students. The first class that we went to was a first grade class. Those kids where intense, they all sat up straight with their hands together and really respected that teacher. And the stuff that they study was pretty hard, and they all spoke better Chinese them me. Half of the class I had no idea what was going on, expect apparently during different seasons the sun changes color. I am not sure why, I really could not understand the rest but in short those little kids where impressive. After talking with the first graders we got to talk with so sixth graders and ask them questions in English and Chinese. I would use Chinese when they could not understand my English. Apparently from what they said and what my roommate has said my English is hard to understand. So I guess, that I am really not good at any language. But anyway, talking with the kids was hard at first because they were all shy and didn’t really want to talk with me in English. But when I started to use Chinese they warmed up a little. And after so reporter finished interviewing me, they really warmed up to my and even started singing songs with me. It was a good time. Apparently, two other of class mates where interviewed by the report. I don’t know if we ever made it on TV. I have to look in to that.

So that is some semi-interesting stuff that has happened to me. The Gui Lin trip was filled with interesting stories. But I have to have something to talk about when I get back to the states so I will save that for when you see me.

Recently, My weekends have just been filled with going to Xi Hu and going to different parts that I have not gone to before and just exploring Hangzhou. Nothing too exciting.

Well I am out.

Shabooboo, what happened to you? Are you still alive, homie?

the life and death of the buildings behind our dorm

actually, mostly just the death of.

May 1
May 2
May 4
May 5
May 6
May 8
all this work was done without any sort of power tools, except for blowtorches for dismantling the metal supports for the roof. a small army of workers just rolled in, set up camp nearby, and went to work. it was pretty fun to watch.
i went to huang shan this weekend with tyler and clark. a post on the subject will come later in the week.
your friend in china,

Sunday, May 01, 2005

my garden has two, three grasses tops

another weekend, another wild trip to the chinese countryside to go hiking. this time the hiking was preceded by a morning in shaoxing, a sizable, pleasant, and largely boring city about an hour away from hangzhou that, as mentioned earlier, is the hometown of lu xun. we went to the "lu xun historic district" and walked around. this is a restored area that was where lu xun lived when he lived in shaoxing, and provided the inspiration for some of his stories. among the attractions are his former residence, a lu xun museum, his ancestral family home, the school where he taught, and the place where he used to go to drink huang jiu, or yellow wine. the stuff isn't bad, i didn't drink any while i was there, but my roommate had previously bought me a shaoxing huang jiu sampler set. the expensive stuff has a sweet taste, and is similar to an apertif, according to one of my friends. the weather was brutally hot and humid there.

below is a picture i took of the canal alongside the restored street. and below that is a picture of the hundred grasses garden, about which lu xun wrote something like "behind my house is a garden, and while in it is only grass, to me it is paradise." i don't know about that, but the garden is behind his house, and there is a lot of grass.

finally, a picture of me sharing a bowl of huang jiu and beer nuts with a statue of kong yiji, one of lu xun's more famous characters.

after lunch we hopped on the bus for the trip out to the mountains, during which i slept. when i awoke i found that all the humidity in the air was falling right on top of us, but after about ten minutes the rain let up and we started our incursion into the scenic area. the first step was a boat ride across a resevoir, which was great fun as the boats were piloted by guys who clearly got great pleasure driving little speed boats back and forth across the lake as fast as possible. at the other end we hopped into litle electric cars for a ride up the valley, after which we finally started hiking. here is a rather crappy view of the valley that we walked up.

the goal of the trip was to head to these small pools in the stream where we could go swimming. the weather was still so hot and humid that we practically soaking by the time we got there anyway. but the swimming was great fun. a few chinese tourists passed by and looked at us like we were crazy, which is pretty much the same look we get when we do anything. the ride back was fairly eneventful.

just about all of our roommates and students at school have gone home this week for the international labor day holiday, so it's gonna be pretty damn quite around here, though the tourists at west lake should be ridiculous. that's it for now.