Monday, July 28, 2008

Putian!

This past weekend was possibly the coolest of my experiences in China, I ventured to the city of Putian with my new friend Phil (his hometown). Check out the pictures.

After a long week of not getting much sleep we awoke at 6am on a SATURDAY to catch a bus for the 4 hour journey to Putian. Not much is said on the way to the bus station as both Phil and I are zombies only wanting to get onto the bus so that we can return to our slumber. After little trouble we are soon on the bus and my ipod is helping me get back to sleep. After a short sleep I awake to the bus slowing down and realize that we are in some sort of traffic jam, Phil also wakes up to see whats going on. Having not been awake for more than 5 minutes the driver turns to us (we are in the front seats) and starts yelling for us to do something. I turn to Phil to ask him what is being said but he says nothing, instead looking rather puzzled himself. The driver is motioning us off of the bus so I follow Phil off while everyone else stays put. Phil then explains to me that the driver wants us to direct traffic because cars are coming on the off-ramp that we need to take. Just as Phil finishes saying this two semi trucks come around the corner right at us and we just start waving our hands trying to get them to turn around. Phil approaches one driver and I go to the other and just repeat mei-you (may-yo), roughly meaning no, unable to give a further explanation to the driver. Luckily this suffices for the driver and he starts to turn around after he sees the traffic jam ahead. Pretty soon we see the driver of the bus running down the off-ramp toward us yelling at the trucks to turn around. Its pretty obvious he is loving the situation as am I, and that its the most adventure he has seen in a while. We board the bus again and are quickly on our way, what an adventure! Needless to say it was pretty hard to get back to sleep.

We arrive in Putian around 1 and get off the bus and immediately I am reminded of my trip to Africa, the smell, the atmosphere and the HEAT! The smell being one of automobile exhaust and burning brush, very distinct to Africa and apparently Putian. The feel of Putian is much more rural and not as modern as Xiamen, despite being roughly equal in size. As we exit to the bus station we see about two dozen motorcycle taxis waiting, all of which get excited at the sight of a white face and begin to compete for our business. We both hop on one and speed off to downtown ignoring all traffic laws on our way, I think that the driver felt he had to show off for the laowei (foreigner). We arrive at Phil's house and have dinner with his mother and grandpa and head off to the mountain, only after Phil's mom expresses some worry and tells us to be careful, mothers don't change too much with culture I guess.

The walk to the mountain from Phil's house is an amazing exposure to a side of China that I had missed being in Xiamen and I love taking in the sights and sounds of it all. We stop to ask an old woman for directions and after an attempt Phil tells me that she could not understand him. He is a bit disheartened as the local dialect he is speaking cannot be understood, too much time in Xiamen I guess. We get directions from another person and continue on our way. The hike up begins with a discussion on some Chinese history. Having limited knowledge I am eager to get Phil's perspective on things from the Nanjing massacre to China's current position in the world. I chime in a bit on US history and we are able to relate after I mention Pearl harbor. The conversation soon fades as the hike gets harder and we are both simply trying to gather some mental toughness to get to a spot to stop for the night. We decide on a spot on the side of a road we come to about 3/4 of the way to the top (and no it was not road the whole way up, just the last quarter). After a fire and a dinner of mostly junk food (cookies, chips, sausage) we head to bed. Morning comes way too early and we pack up and get to the top around 9AM. After a brief chat with the 3 guys running a radio tower at the top we make our way down to a temple that is about 1/4 of the way down. Phil finds someone who is heading down the mountain so we hop in. It amazes me how the message even comes across, between the local dialect sounding almost like donald duck and the cigarette in Phil's mouth, but what do I know. We pay the driver and make our way to a local lake for a swim before our bus trip back to Xiamen. The swim hits the spot, and we even do some fishing with a group of locals at the lake who join us for the swim. After a bite to eat and a shower at Phil's house we are soon on the bus back to Xiamen and are both passed out, exhausted from the weekend. Luckily there is no traffic directing this time and we make is back to Xiamen slightly refreshed.

Monday, July 21, 2008

KTV video

i forgot to post this video from the KTV, enjoy!

video

KTV, mafia, haircuts, and more chinese food

get it while its hot, new pics from the PRC!! ,

But for those of you that don't want to take the few extra clicks to the album and need instant satifaction heres a couple of samples. This is a group of people from the office that went to KTV, basically Karaoke on steroids. The white guy is one of my bosses and his wife.

It really was amazing going to KTV, a true Chinese pastime from what I understand. Basically KTV is Karaoke in your own private room with room service. Now while it does have the reputation as a time for drunken wildness, it should be known that it can be wholesome fun. The place we went had about a hundred rooms, and some were very luxurious. We switched between english and Chinese songs and sang our hearts out, including a duet with my boss of Avril Levine's So Much for my happy ending, good times. Time sure flies when you are having fun, we were singing for over 6hours! Needless to say were were all horse
by the end of the session.

Another fairly popular thing I was able to partake in was Xclub. Now I know it sounds bad but its not what it sounds like. It was basically a very formalized version of the card game Mafia. You all sit around and are dealt fancy cards and assigned roles as either mafia, police or townsperson. Then you are "put to sleep" by putting a mask over your face and loud music is played and the mafia "wake up" and decide by hand gestures who to kill and then go back to sleep. The police then wake up and guess at who the mafia are and the moderator tells them true of false. Then everyone wakes up and everyone attempts to discover the mafia while maintaining anonymity, and each round someone is killed and someone is voted off by the group. The game ends when all the mafia are discovered. It was a good time! And the fact that there was a mix of Chinese and foreigners made it all the more interesting.

I had to include a picture of the mall. Things to notice in the picture are the number of people, KFC, Mcdonalds, and on the right hand side is Wal-Mart, nuts! Its an adventure, but from what I hear Shanghai is the place to be. I was planning a trip to Shanghai but the plans fell through so I am looking for another adventure in the remaining 2 weeks.




I am however planning on taking a trip out to the country-side to balance out all of the city living. I will keep you updated on the happenings on that.

I have also been reading a book called China Road. It is about the travels of a British journalist who travels from Shanghai across the country-side of China basically to Kazakhstan on route 312, written in 2006. I am only 3 chapters in but it has been a great read, with history woven throughout and a current day snapshot of China is it very interesting. I think its so much more powerful reading it while living in China.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

pictures for ya

I uploaded some pictures of the day at the beach onto my picasa page below is bubble tea off the street bay bay!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

pass the pi jiu

wow it has been a long time since i updated my blog, sorry. i wonder how many people actually read this blog.....

.....well about 3 weeks left in China, and boy am I torn. On one hand I could not be happier to be going back to the states, to familiarity, same dialect, family, friends, weddings, no diarrhea. On the other hand I have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy my time here, the great food, the constant state of learning/being stretched, new friends, adventure.

One thing that has been a great contributer to my longing for home has been my recent case of giardia (or so I think). It began with a day trip to a beach about 3hrs drive from Xiamen in a town of Long Hai (I think). We, about 12 of us, spent the whole day in the sun and swimming in water that most likely was less than clean. It was a blast but the next day and all this week have been the aftermath of that fun, severe sunburn, sun poisoning, and giardia! That day I also found out that the memory card puked on my camera, but I had someone take lots of pictures during the day which I will upload when I get them. Despite the giardia and such I still think it was worth it for the whole day of fun.

Other than the beach I have been really falling into quite the routine, of which includes a mens group that I attend. This past week we went out to eat as a send off for a member who is heading to the states to work, and it was an all you can eat buffet of amazing food. If you can't tell I really like the food here. It was all sorts of sushi to fried chicken to Koren seafood specialty dishes. We got a discount somehow so it ended up being $7, amazing! And the ice cream was great, a rarity in China I am discovering.

On a non-food note I am trying to ask myself what I can give. It seems like the trip up to this point has been all about me and what I want to experience and learn and take from this time here. I want to always ask myself the question of what can I give and how am I blessing the people here and contributing. I asked my Chinese tutor yesterday what she wanted because I was I wanted to give her a gift for her teaching me and she simply said "your smile". After trying to argue with her she, I realized that the best gift I could give her would be to lift her spirits each time we are together for our remaining lessons.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

where has the time gone?

I am almost halfway through my stay here in Xiamen and it seems like just yesterday that I got here and I was recovering from jet lag. First order of business, I updated my Picasa page, see link below. Sorry for the limited number of pictures, I planned to take my camera with me for one Saturday and take pictures all day but of course I get away from the house and my batteries run out. Having rechargeable batteries, I am not about to spend money on new batteries so this is all you get until later.

http://picasaweb.google.com/mikesudyk

Well I am finally feeling settled into my position at work and I am beginning to tackle some projects. I am really noticing the language barrier at work with this new found responsibility and duty. Having spent most of my time before not talking much with my co-workers, I did not discover the fine art of communication through hand signal and broken English+Chinese. I was put on the design of a frame that goes around a decorative piece of glass and was working with the current product designer, and he speaks no English and I speak VERY little Chinese. Having a girl in the office translate we spent about half an hour communicating something that could have been done in 5, but I had to just laugh at myself and realize that there is nothing I can really do but try and make the best of the situation.
Other than that instance most of my work had been either with my boss (and expat) or with the production manager who speaks English (still a struggle some times). It is so encouraging and exciting seeing the things that I do actually go into effect and get done, I truly am going to be spoiled when I go work in the US at my first job. I do feel like I am learning so much, on a professional level that is - so much preparation for the working world.
On another note, I have enjoyed learning more Chinese. My Chinese tutor has been very kind and has shown me around Xiamen. Tonight we went to a Chinese BBQ place with AMAZING food. Basically it has several waitresses walking around with bowls fulls of meat on skewers and they come around asking how many you want. I am discovering that eating out really can become a hobby here, so much more than the US because it is so CHEAP.
For those of you that don't know, Karaoke is pretty big here. I got invited to go by someone at my work and I think I might go some time soon so I will keep you updated it should be an adventure.
I have been partaking in events called English Corners. They are a time when local Chinese get together and practice English and are usually run by foreigners. They are a time for outreach and community building, and are a great way to meet local people. Once again I notice just how bad of an English speaker I am, oh well, I guess I am just giving them practice at understanding different dialects of English :) .
Well until next time, as the Chinese say.... buh bye

Saturday, June 14, 2008

wo hen hao!

First order of business, pictures! Follow the following link to see my photo album, I will update it as often as I can.

http://picasaweb.google.com/mikesudyk

I spent most of the day venturing onto the small island of GuLangYu that is just off of Xiamen (which is also an island). I went with my Chinese tutor from my work who lives on the island. Having her along was not only good because she spoke Chinese but because she live on the island and she was able to get us into everything for free! As they say pictures speak louder than words so I would just reference you to the pictures to see our adventures. Some highlights were the climb to a giant rock on the island, allowing us to see the entire island and the city of Xiamen , amazing. Another highlight was the number of tours going on around the island. Each group is lead by a person shouting in a mega phone and most of the members wearing matching baseball hats, hilarious! The Chinese tutor (Maggie) was teaching all sorts of new Chinese words as they presented themselves around the island, I think I forgot most of them but it was fun learning new words. After the island we went into Xiamen and had some dinner and ended up just talking at the restaurant for a couple hours. Her English is not the greatest so it took us a while to talk sometimes, but so interesting talking with her and learning more about the Chinese culture. It so funny because she asks me words in English and I am realizing that I really do have an accent and I say words so incorrectly. Apart from the adventure today, the time seems to be flying by. I am continually learning so much and being exposed to so many new things. My host informed me that if I needed a few days off of work that would be fine. He says your body can get overloaded, luckily I have not hit that wall yet. So on another note, I didn't get the memo that it apparently is monsoon season here now. It has rained for like the past week, and not light rain like hurricane type sideways rain. Where does all the water come from? Its nuts. And with the rain comes the umbrellas, everyone has them its so funny. On yet another note, I have been blessed with meeting some really cool people here. There is a family of 8 who started an orphanage here and are doing support raising in the states for a couple years but are here on a visit and we have lunch after church every Sunday. It is so fun, it ends up being a group of about 20 and they are such a blast, they welcomed me just like family. Well it is getting late, I should get to bed. If the link to the pictures is not working someone drop me an email.