Jilin City

This past weekend was very busy. On Saturday, right after my last update, I went with Bonnie and her boyfriend to South Campus, which is about a twenty minute cab ride from the North campus in Changchun. There we met up with Cherie, from our group, and Nasir, a Morocan student Cherie met at school. All of us went to a friend of Nasir's house, where we met Daniel, a French teacher at a private college next to the South campus of Jilin University. We talked mostly in French, and it was really nice. Cherie had been in the French Immersion class in high school, and Bonnie knew some French as well. I was in French Immersion up until grade 9, but I took the French-as-a-second-language courses in high school and some classes at SFU. It had been three years or so since I spoke French, but it came back really quickly.

Later, the Canadian students were invited to the International students barbeque, where we cooked meat of some kind. I'm pretty sure it wasn't dog. Oh, that reminds me, I have eaten dog, and it's actually not bad. A bit tough, but tasty. I'm eating a lot of new dishes here, but I've decided not to knowingly eat cat. Anyway, we met some new friends at the barbeque, and Sun Laoshi unexpectedly made an appearance with his 3-year-old daughter. He doesn't speak any English, but he's surprisingly understandable. Then about 6 of us were taken to his apartment, and met his wife, and ate some fruit. The daughter was so cute, but she was very shy, and didn't want to talk to us. Sun Laoshi said that if she got to know us, she'd be more talkative. Afterwords, we went back to the party, and I met a guy from France, and I spoke to him for quite a while, in French, English, and Chinese. That was an experience alright. The Canadians left the party early (too many drunk people for our liking), so we went back to the hotel, where we met a Russian fellow and a Japanese. We were taken to a nice Korean restaurant, and sang karaoke. Benny, my roommate, sung some Cantonese songs, Jenny sang a Korean song, and the Japanese fellow sang a Japanese love song. By the way, I do know these two fellows' names, but I can barely pronounce them much less write them. That was Saturday.

On Sunday, Vivan and I went to speak to some high school students planning a three-week-long trip to Vancouver. One of the classmates is the daughter of Liu Laoshi, who teaches one of my classes on Fridays. She, Liu Laoshi's daughter, picked us up at the hotel and took us to the high school, which is only a block and a half away from the hotel. On the way she spoke to us in English, and Vivian and I were very impressed. She is also very pretty, and from what I hear, she is a very bright student. She says she wants to study abroad, and I think with her connections (as the daughter of a university department head), there should be no problems. In her I see hope for China and the Chinese people, because she and people like her are the key for China's success.

Back on the subject, at the high school, I let Vivian do most of the talking, because her Mandarin is much, much better than mine, but I did speak in Chinese a bit too. We talked about what to see in Vancouver, like Robson Street, Playland, and Stanley Park. We talked about Canadian money, and how much things cost. They are all being billeted with families whose children study at Vancouver College. We wrote out a sample thank you card on the blackboard blackboard, gave some tips on what to do at the dinner table and suggested some gift ideas for the host families. I had a lot of fun doing that.

Update: The class never did make it to Vancouver. Their entry visas to Canada were, for whatever reason, denied.

On Monday, we didn't have class (we're making us take it on Sunday, of all days), but instead went to Jilin City, about an hour and a half bus ride outside Changchun. The first thing we saw was yet another Buddhist temple. But the main attraction for us were the four really cute kittens and their lazy parents. Must be Buddhist cats. Then, just outside the temple was another building, which was very nice. I got my picture with Fang Laoshi. When we climbed the stairs, we had a really nice view of Jilin City. It's small, but we thought it was really pretty to look at. We looked through the telescopes and binoculars, but only before we found out that it cost 2 kuai. Oops. After a quick bathroom break at a nearby hotel, we went to a small restaurant near the Songhua lake. They served us dish after dish, each made from the fresh water fish taken from the lake. It was one of the best meals I had in China. After the meal, we took a fishing boat which apparently doubles as a tour boat. The ride itself was so very relaxing. I was looking forward to it, and it was better than I expected. But we ended up at an island full of stands selling cheap crap. We didn't spend much time on the island, and headed back.

On the bus ride back to Jilin City, we saw something that you don't regularly see in Canada. In the distance, I saw two small police cars in formation, with bus after bus of people wearing yellow vests. It didn't take us long to figure out that they were criminals being taken to jail. Pretty impressive sight.

We then went to a deer park, but it wasn't too impressive. It was getting late, and Fang Laoshi offered to take us to have a traditional Chinese meal straight from a farm, but those who spoke up (myself included) wanted to eat in Changchun. We found another Korean place (I'm not complaining, I like Korean food) and we were divided into two rooms. At my table, Fang Laoshi and I were the only males, and he wanted to drink beer. He asked who wanted some, and I said in Chinese that I wanted some. We toasted ("ganbei"), and drank. He didn't drink too much this time, only because it was a weekday. For the first time in a long time, I actually enjoyed the beer, but I forgot to get the name of it.

I really enjoyed our trip to Jilin City, even though I didn't get a chance to study at all during the weekend. I paid the price in class on Tuesday, because I didn't know any of the characters and we had a pop quiz, although, we always get a pop quiz with Wang Laoshi, so it wasn't really a surprise.

Tomorrow we are going to the movie studio in Changchun, and this weekend we are supposed to go on another small field trip. Next weekend we go to Inner Mongolia!