Trip Start Aug 05, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Flag of China  , Zhejiang Sheng,
Thursday, September 15, 2011

So my office has one ancient, real ancient, like so fecking ancient that "I can't take this shit no more" ancient!!!! computer for the 7 of us to share.   It has a nice new printer but the computer is crap,  like one of those old piles of crap that Goodwill doesn't even want.  This computer gives you commands in Chinese.   So when you want to upload something, it asks you questions in Chinese?  Once I hit (y) after a Chinese command and it publicly memorized my e-mail username and password.   This was not good but I managed to fix it mainly by trying all options. 

One of my bosses has been demanding that I turn in future lesson plans,  docs,  and stuff.  She wants them directly uploaded not hard copies.  Her demands are reasonable...    except, That we all share one office with a circa 1990's computer, that speaks Chinese!   So following orders is not possible.  It took 20 minutes just to print a simple rubric of a sample lesson plan in black and white. Mostly I was sitting there with an imaginary gun to my head and trying not to scream at the top of my lungs.    Why waste my time for something that should have taken 3 minutes at most.   5 with a slow computer.  30 with an ancient antiquated  computer,  that mainly speaks Chinese!  

Once I amended the document to sorta look what might have been wanted,  I could not send it to anyone,  my choices were all in Chinese.   I left the school after writing this letter, accomplishing very little for my efforts...

 "Sorry #######,  what you request is not possible.  The computer in our office is a piece of junk and an insult to my profession.   It's old,  wastes much time in order to do anything; and the few things I did manage to do, I can't forward to you because I don't read Chinese.  The commands the computer gives me as choices are all in Chinese! (If this is a joke it certainly isn't funny). 

  Give us computers that work properly and ones that use English.   It's like asking me to fix your car but not providing any tools to do so. My laptop is an old Mac that doesn't use MS Word,  so that is not a possibility either.   If I had known in advance I had to use my own computer,    I would have brought one with me.

Sincerely yours,
Allen Barnes 

P.S. I will provide a hard copy to you but I couldn't forward one due to my lack of ability to read the Chinese language.

Sincerely yours,



Ok,  No big deal really but nothing sux worse than given deadlines but not the facilities to make those deadlines.  The school is just trying to cut costs.  Aside from the computer and ghetto apartment,  I would still recommend this place to any teacher looking for work.

I did manage to finish the work this morning on my Apple and think I figured out the way to put the docs in WORD format, and I forwarded the work from home in time.  I also assured the boss that I am happy with everything else about the University,  except the damned computer.   

Funny,  one teacher from Canada with 7 years experience teaching in China, got pissed off and left the other day.  No one knows why; except he was unhappy with his apartment,  but I suspect he met that office computer..hehehe!    I suspect he is unhappy for other reasons.

Leaving w/o warning is very uncool and should only be used in dire situations like heart attack, death in the family, Chinese mafia want to kill you etc..   Not:  "My apartment is ooky and my neighbor kids shit on the sidewalk"!  Not sure what this guys reason was for leaving.  Kind of fucks us all over and gives Westerners a bad name.  Turns out that four other teachers were kindly coerced to pick up his classes until they can hire another teacher (damn glad I didn't step into the office yesterday!)..   But they really do treat us well here,  this guy was just suffering an emotional breakdown.  Maybe his wife was doin' the postman or something?  I only met him once and he had that certain "my wife is doin' the postman" look on his face.  Who knows? Wish him the best I suppose,  anyone whose wife's shaggin' the mailman deserves some sympathy....

Hung out with my new Kiwi friends last night!   They did invite me to go to Shanghai with them on Saturday,  which is great because I really didn't see much of that city when I flew in and I know nothing about how to take a train or bus in China.   We plan to take a taxi to the Hangzhou train station,  then off to Shanghai for the day before returning the same evening.  Should be quite impressive,  more Shanghai stories and pics to come.

I went to work this morning in order to get my passport back with a "Residence Permit" attached to it which ain't easy to get.  I done got one cause I is a English taycher now dog!!!   Actually,  I begin classes next Thursday and looking forward to it.  The other teachers (cept the one whose wife likes postmen),  seem to be enjoying their classes,  but none seem to trust the others enough to bitch if there was a problem.   This is why I like working with experienced teachers.  New teachers are used to the corporate world and still retain bad habits like competitiveness, backstabbing, sucking up to the boss,  and never saying what you really think.   An experienced teacher knows that no amount of sucking up and trying to outdo the others is going to increase your salary one single iota!   Same with being tight-lipped about everything.   I cannot get any of these teachers, except the lone other veteran here, to give me lesson plan ideas.  I guess some feel that sharing ideas gives the competition the edge?   I share anything I can with other teachers,  I'm used to teachers helping each other and even being able to vent on occasion.  I've carried many 1st year teachers until they became successful in the past.  Oh well,  I'll do fine,  just easier talking to people who have tried the lesson plans that we can all pick up online. Not worried,   I always manage to do a good enough job to get rehired year after year after year after year....tick tick tick.

I like this Chinese teacher in the picture "Jerry" even if he is mean to fish!  He is also a Buddhist and we are discussing going to Thailand sometime in our lives and becoming Monks for a month or two.   This is completely normal for a Buddhist to do in countries that follow "Theravada" Buddhism.   Buddhists can be a monk for a day, a week, a year, or a life time.   The Chinese type of Buddhism (Mahayana) and Japanese (Zen) Buddhists require a monk to dedicate a lifetime.   I think being a monk would be a great way to control your eating, drinking, talking and other desires, plus you can practice meditation instead. Will I become a Monk someday? Who knows?  Will Jerry?  I'm sure he will.

The Communist party is alive and well in China.   From what I can see, The Party serves to keep the population doing what they are supposed to be doing, as well as serving all government functions like (collecting taxes, defense, looking out for the welfare of their people). I'm not sure but I assume my apartment probably has several party members keeping track of things.   I was always taught in school how evil and sinister having "Big Brother" watching over you is supposed to be;  but being here,  I don't feel that way at all.   The police never pull me over and demand to see my papers like they do in the states.   I'm sure my internet activity is monitored but since I don't break the law,  and the laws aren't that strict,  this doesn't bother me.   I'm sure someone writes down what time I come and go from my apartment.   So what?  The positive side of this is that I guarantee you that no one is running a meth lab in my apartment building.  I feel completely safe at any hour in the day or night.   Gangsters don't roam the streets.  My next door neighbor isn't chopping up bodies and hiding them in his basement. Here in China,  the government probably does know what you are up to.  Yet I feel that I have way more freedom here than back in the states.  The people here can let their children play unsupervised.   I can drive on the sidewalk, the opposite lane of traffic,  run red lights,  spit on the sidewalk, smoke a cigarette in a restaurant, drink a few beers at dinner  (drunk driving is illegal here though).   Life here is free  in the Peoples Republic of China!!!

Now notice the old school sculptures?  That might have been what built China,  but the average Chinese seeks to own a BMW, they want  their kids to go to private school,  vacations in Thailand, their own apartment unit, an Apple I-book 4,  anything that says "Nike",   and other famous labels.  They want little to do with swinging a pick all day,  and they pay very little for pick swingin' as well.  But look at all the beautiful public parks,  sculptures that celebrate the manual laborers,  people employed to pick up litter.   China pays a lot of money for these free to enjoy public places.   The public restrooms are squeaky clean and there is a person on duty who watches over the place and make sure they keep it clean.   And yes,  the public restrooms are of polished granite and marble, of course.   Not sure what Communism really means anymore, when it comes to money,  but I think it has evolved into something positive in China.
(not really sure what point the last paragraph was trying to make so lets call it a group of related statements that make no point at all,  but I considered the observations valuable enough to be left alone although they lead to little or nothing in the form of a conclusion).

Another positive I see about the Chinese government is that they require all persons who turn 18 to join the Army.   They do basic training for a few months and I believe most are in the Army reserve afterward.   Can you imagine how the crime rate would drop if all 18 year olds had to go through the Army,  even if for a few months?   

Ok,  enough positive talk,  I'm about to make myself puke here if I keep going.   Yes,  my bike broke down about 4 miles from where I live,  I was fortunate enough to run into Diane "Chris's wife from New Zealand, who escorted me most of the way back.   The bike was able to creep along under its own power.  I did make it to the dealership and they spent an hour replacing the voltage transformer/regulator.   That has after owning it for one week and 110 kilometers on the odometer.  I am happy the dealer fixed it while I waited and didn't charge me.  I'll keep ya posted,  I'm sure that this isn't just a one time issue.   

Woke up Saturday morning at 6 AM in order to meet the New Zealanders for a day long excursion into Shanghai and back.  Met Peter and Paul outside the gate of their apartment (only a couple blocks from me),  and hit the cash machines before setting off to the Hangzhou train station.   Turns out we were to meet up with the other two Kiwi's "Chris and Diane",  which is great because you really can't have too many Kiwis around,  and Chris is a very smooth buyer (haggeler).   After 45 minutes of standing in a crowded bus we arrived at another bus station,  where we waited for the next bus, which did have a few seats.  Of course we totally passed the train station (guess we really enjoyed the seats),  we got off the bus and took a taxi to the train station itself (NOTE: 3 forms of transportation within 1 /1/2 hours of traveling).    Went to the station, paid 12 dollars for a ticket and by 10:00 AM we were on the bullet train to Shanghai!   I've never been on a bullet train before but it was nice.   The ride was as smooth as glass while the craft, carrying nearly 1000 people, slowly accellerated up to 300 Kilometers per hour (180 MPH),   making the 150 mile trip to Shanghai take about 45 minutes.   The train can go much faster,  but the government put a 300 kph speed limit.    I would have to say that the bullet train is by far the easiest, most comfortable, and pleasant ways to travel.  Once in Shanghai,  we traveled for another 45 minutes from one end of the city to the other,  on a subway before making it to the market at Century Plaza.  Its nearly Noon,  and the traveling took about 4 hours and some change.

We hit the market and soon met up with "Chris" and his lovely wife "Diane" who is quite a jewelry designer.  She goes to the pearl market,  shows her designs for jewelry pieces to the vendors who make the pieces to her specifications,  so basically she has her own line of high dollar pearl, jade,  and probably other types of jewelry.  Funny,  I just finished teaching "Jewelry" for the past four years,  and I've already ran into a real jewelry designer.   Yes, I have done a few designs meself,  just my heart was never quite into Jewelry making (I like the big stuff).  Her husband "Chris" is a very good negotiator and he speaks a bit of Chinese as well.  S I'm sure she pays the lowest price for the materials and labor.   Chris also assisted me in getting some DVD's and other things.   The DVD guy himself seemed to be good in the negotiation department.   After discussing price, walking off a couple times, the other guy was chasing us down the hall,  yelling, pleading, and (eventually) crying.   While Chris calmly shook his head and insisted on his price.   Finally bought 15 new dvd's and a high priced 40 dvd television series for a mere 40 dollars.  Chris is a prince among men for sure. Knows a lot about History.  I can usually talk History until I bore the tears out of my friends and neighbors,  but Chris seems to be well versed in the Historical topics that I know absolutely nothing about.  I can listen to him for hours.  He knows his stuff.

I really enjoyed talking to Peter and Paul,  both hearty New Zealanders,  both would fit right in the places I've spent in rural Texas.  Both are friendly and openhearted,  well traveled and highly educated,  and down to earth enough not to show it too much.  I could barely keep up the pace of these two.  Peter, the stout guy with the beard in the picture, was measured for a top quality suit and three pairs of pants.    I was fitted for a traditional black Chinese silk jacket (red silk lining) made for $120. Also bought two silk "Tommy Bahama" shirts for $15 each (sure they were factory seconds or worse, but nice)   Paul, bought a very nice 15,000 dollar watch, which a real ceramic band and sapphire crystal, for $50.  He also bought a few "I Phone 5" replicas for his kids.  They all do work well, but use the android operating system.   Oh well,  he paid less than 100 smackers each for em,  and their friends will never know. Chris seemed to be content with helping us with the negotiations,  I really didn't see him buy anything.  He did arrive an hour before us so who knows.  In short,  the Kiwi's were 4 of the coolest folks I'm ever met.  

By 5 PM we 3 old men (and the younger lady) were a bit tired, so we headed back to HZ and made it home by 8 PM.  It seemed a bit faster because we took a taxi direct from the Train Station in HZ to Xiasha,   the traffic was light and friendly. Excellent day,   and I owe all of it to the New Zealanders.   Very, very, cool people in my book.  

(Interesting note: I was underground the entire day in Shanghai. Twice I've been to Shanghai and have yet to see the city at all... LOL.  Not complaining, because I was far too beat in order to do some sightseeing yesterday.   However,  I plan to return for a weekend which should be easy now that I know the public transport routine.)  


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Howard Rose on

Seems like the Chinese people that worked in the states had a toggle button on thier computer that would either display everthing in English or Chinese. Some kind of translation software. EIther way your old computer probably does not have enough memory

albarnes on

Most things were in English, but the direct windows commands that flash on the screen when you want to send something. Or when "do you want us to remember this password" shows up in Chinese, and you click the wrong button guess what? Probably is a toggle, but no one around here was aware of, or offered the toggle info. And yes the computer is too slow. Nice to know your reading my blog. Many who read it leave no comments of any kind, so I don't know which of my friends really care enough to read all this crap!

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