A genuinely good time.

Trip Start Sep 14, 2009
Trip End Aug 31, 2011

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Flag of China  , Heilongjiang,
Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Well, I keep telling the foreigners here about the time at dinner when the Chinese guy politely asked if he could ask us where we were from. I tell the story and just leave the, "And he said 'Excuse me, can I ask you a question'" hanging. People look at me for a moment like, "so what else was there," run the comment through their head again and then their mouths drop to the floor like kind of like this reaction.

Monday I spent time with my Aussie friend, his g/f and some of his good Chinese friends. After exhausting our welcome we decided to move it over to my host family's restaurant. First thing I did upon walking in was asking the server if we could watch the world cup games there. "Yeah, you can watch the games here." Excellent. We order some drinks and let some time pass until the match would start. The starting time came and went and we ask the same server about the game. "No, we're not going to put it on!" Go team. Again, these are the people that are going to take over the world. Because I feel I've got better standing with my host family than she does, once she walked out side to deal with the other customers I got up and switched the channel to the game. She didn't like that, but then some of the other customers came in to watch the game. Not much she could do at that point.

The game on hand was Japan v Camaroon. I wanted Japan to win mostly because it would piss off the Chinese. However, I was curious about the other people I was with. Both of them said Japan for the exact same reason as me. We all laughed hysterically at the coincidence.

While hanging out with a couple of friends of mine on Monday one mentioned that she wanted to go with me to the cemetary. So barring rain, we would leave at 10:00am Tuesday morning. Monday night we had torrential rain. The thunder and lightning was massive. At one point I thought one of the buildings right next to me was hit. Surprisingly, that was the only time I was woken up.

By 8:30 the rain had stopped. It was cloudy, but the radar showed no clouds in the direction that the wind was blowing from. We were good to go and at 10:00 I showed up with my bike pump and tools in hand to fix up my friend's bike. After a few minutes and a few more road side adjustments we were well on our way.

The cemetary was just about the same as it was a few weeks ago. For some reason the cemetary was completely empty even though it was just about noontime, so we were able to walk around everywhere without bothering a living soul.

One of the reaons why I like to travel with another person is that they always notice something that I would never see. For example, the top of the outer wall has a nifty method of making sure people don't hop the fence. Instead of barb or razor wire, glass bottle shards were pushed into mortor at the top. There was one grave in the tree grave section that was opened up. We went and checked it out and I felt a very, very strong and aggressive energy. I haven't felt anything this strong since I've been in China, so I just decided to get away as quickly as I could. I did not take a picture for obvious reasons. Also, I'm not sure what this means, but some of the graves that we saw had tape over some of the names. Remember that headstone that was the open book? This time that had tape over one side of it. My friend and I guessd that these people had yet to die, but the weather over the winter took off last year's tape and no one had put some new stuff on yet.

On the way back we stopped at the same place I ate ate before. They didn't have any bugs on display, which did please me. there were quite a few Chinese folk eating there and all but one of the groups left us alone. The situation went like this.

Chinese man: "Hey, where are you from?"
My friend and I: *pretend we didn't hear it*
CM: "Oh, I guess they don't understand. Hey. HEY! HEY! WHERE ARE YOU FROM?"
My friend: *to me* "Just ignore him"
Me: *to my friend* "No I want to try this" *To the man* "Do you have any manners?"
CM: "What?"
Me: "Do you have any manners? If you want to talk with a foreigner you should first say, 'Excuse me, can I ask you a few questions?"
CM: "Oh. Excuse me, can I ask you a few questions? Where are you from?"
Me: "I'm from the US. She's from Russia."

When we left in the morning it was really cloudy. Even drizzling a very minute amount at times along the way, but about half way through the time we were at the cemetary the sun came out in full force. I was already pretty tan from other rides, but my cycling gloves have a knitted back with nice big airy openings, so now the backs of my hands have a very faint checkerboard pattern on them. However, it's nothing compared to my friend. She very, very pale, almost looking Irish with her pale skin and red hair. This was one of the first times she had spent time outside since the winter. She did not bring sunscreen. The uncovered portions of her arms were transformed into a thick red and a pattern of a snake was left on her arm by her decorative watch. All in all, it was a good day.

I had also hear that the college decided they were going to finally start cracking down on students who did not follow the rules. Basically it all came to a head when a bunch of the students stayed out late on a night that wasn't a school night. They were told that if they came home late again they would get sent home. Along with that, there were a few other bogus rules such as:

-Students must be respectful of Chinese customs (Ok, clearly this one isn't bogus, you'll see as it goes on).
- No spitting (a Chinese custom)
- No smoking or drinking (both Chinese customs)
- students are required to bathe (Kind of hard when they don't turn the hot water on, which has been happening much more frequently).

I don't really have a problem with any of these because I don't live on campus (which allegedly is against the rules, but I weaseled my way out of it because they never showed me any rulebook). However, the quality of the education I have recieved at Qiqihar University has been the lowest quality education I have ever recieved. Literally, my kindergarden classes served to be more usefull than that last semester in college at the school here. Basically, it's so bad I'm going to be asking for my Fall 2010 tuition back.

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Jan Berg on

Big mosquito!?!? Are you kidding! You should know this one looks like a baby compared to some of the Wisconsin mosquitos.
Take it easy.

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