Jingle bells!

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

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Flag of China  , Zhejiang Sheng,
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Chinese love Christmas,  it seems to be as popular as it is in the US.   Christmas trees everywhere,  cardboard pictures of Santa and his reindeer, I even heard Christmas music at the local coffee shop,  but that is quite rare around here.  I will probably teach my students a few Christmas songs just for good measure.  The problem is:  All my favorite Christmas songs are religious such as: Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy, Gloria.... G-L-O-R-I-A! (lol),..  Rudolf and Frosty will work for the student--Jingle Bells,  would require too much explanation... "What is a one-horse open sleigh"?   "Bells and bob-tails?"  WTF????

 .   I think the Chinese love of Santa Claus is because he looks almost like Colonel Sanders of KFC fame.   The Chinese have respect for happy smiling bearded old white guys,  and I personally draw upon that action!   As frustrating as this country can be at times,  it's the general adoration I receive from the average Chinese citizen that keeps me going.   And yes,  I have met my share of first class, nationalistic, "yankee go home", wife beating asshat's around here.  Been nearly ran over my more than a few  who think they can bully others merely because they happen to have spent their life savings on a car... I wish I had my old F-250 here!  

 Yet 95 percent of the Chinese are lovely people, and I won't let the few with ego problems influence my thinking of "All the Chinese".   I do hear a few foreign teachers tar all the Chinese with the same brush and I really hate such ignorant thinking.    Most of the Chinese are good honest happy people and simply adore  foreigners (the more you look like Col. Sanders the better!).   But the smiles and adoration come at a price.   It does get old.  Sometimes I wish I could walk down the street without the attention,   sometimes I won't bother to leave my apartment because it is really in your face.   You have to be in the mood to be on stage.  If you suffer from stage fright or acute shyness,  you better move to Shanghai or Bejing,  the rest of China is going to stare and yell at you when you walk by.   Either deal with it or move on.   So far I can deal with it.  Occasionally I simply live for it!

So the closer you resemble the Colonel the better.  As I see it,  each year that I remain in China I will either look more like Sanders or Santa.   The new KFC Colonel is much slimmer than the original colonel,  I call this the "Aunt Jemimazation" of Colonel Sanders.  Things like this are tragic.   The fat old Colonel and the big "Aunt Jemima" were beloved symbols when I was a kid.  Now the Colonel looks like a CEO  and the new Aunt Jemima looks like a  cabinet member from the Bush Jr. era.   Just an observation about our nation's beloved icons nothing more.

After a fast moving week we finally arrived at Friday morning.  I have two more classes in Xicheng campus,  then I'm ready for a three day weekend.  Only problem is:  Nothing to do.  I need something else to do than ride bicycles or visit Hangzhou.   Hangzhou is too expensive,  and one just can't ride a bike every waking moment of the day.  Very little social activity around here on the weekends,   so I need to find something else to occupy my extra time that wastes as little money as possible. 

Today hovered around 40 F but the 100 percent humidity really adds to the cold.   Felt more like a windless, sunny, 15 F,  like we often had during the day up in Logan,  Utah.   But here the buildings have no heat (unless at a posh coffee shop),  so by the time I got home I had to crawl under an electric blanket for 2 hours to build my core temperature back up.    I am well covered everywhere but my feet.   One pair of thin shoes and socks does not cut it.   When I get back home I am buying a warm pair of sheep fur lined suede moccasins or something.   I never really left the apartment after 2:00 PM,  merely because I had no place to go.  After a nap I woke at 4 PM and it was nearly dark,  so I just put in a movie "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (decent flick),  and watched it.   Watching a movie in it's entirety is something I rarely do since I have only a hard kitchen chair to sit in,  or the other option of laying down on the bed where I fall asleep in minutes.     But this afternoon:  things worked out just fine.  Snacked on some Chinese Candy made out of "Dates" from the palm tree.

  With so many camels, date palms, Muslim people,  China does have a bit of the mid-east thing goin' on.   Not too much,  but I do see the occasional Muslim hat or  the face covering.   Much of Western China is Muslim.   Many of the cities here have Mosques and Islamic food is found in most of the cities even in the Eastern part of the country where I live.  As far as religion goes,  most Chinese are confirmed atheists which is also the official view of the Communist party.   The party does allow religious freedom as long as your religion doesn't protest against the government.   Seems to be a basic "Leave us alone,  and we will leave you alone" sort of arrangement.    Thankfully the Chinese government strictly forbids all missionary work.  Let the people believe what they want without trying to influence them.

I plan to ride "Lil Timmy"  the wonderbike this weekend.  Can you believe that I have driven hundreds of miles on this little thing?   I am planning to take her to "Hainan Island" in a few weeks and put some more miles on her,  perhaps circle the entire Island,  if I can get some partners.   This weekend,   I want to do at least 50 miles,  but at 18 miles per day,  we are talking about 2 hours of daily riding at the most.  



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pjh60 on

Hi Al,
I really enjoy your observations on living in China. I have been told that Westerners are seen as a novelty and your experience demonstrates that.
Keep up the interesting observations!

albarnes on

Thanks Pete.

Chinese are all different as well as us Western Chaps. They see us in all different ways. You are correct that most see us as a novelty. Some Chinese see us as the extremes on either side of "novelty". People are people after all. Hope to meet you when you get here.

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