Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
Trip End Jul 09, 2012

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Where I stayed
Changjun School - Chez Thompson

Flag of China  , Hunan,
Friday, November 12, 2010

As you can tell I have finally got round to installing a Chinese in-putter on my laptop, you may think that the title has a complicated meaning, but it literally means 'Hello Changsha' and this entry is mainly about my weekend at the wonderful Changjun Middle School courtesy of Craig. On the Chinese front the lessons are coming thick and fast, I learned that there is a variety of mushroom that is 'Pingu' in Chinese, learning this fact made me laugh for at least 30 seconds, however my teachers unfortunately did not the reference to the famous plasticine penguin and so gave me a very weird look. Other than foodstuffs, I have learned the body parts and can now just about do a rendition of 'heads, shoulders, knees and toes' in Mandarin.

Last weekend was a laugh and involved equal parts Culture, Alcohol, Americans, Fairgrounds and Boats. The Alcohol part happened on Friday, me, Craig, Tommy (Quirk) and NaNa (Tommy's Girlfriend). We crashed an American teachers leaving do and predictable it was filled with Americans, this is not a bad thing and is great when they lay on free Vodka and tequila. I met so many people that I shall only mention the ones that didn't vanish into the Vodka filled haze that is my increasingly shite memory. I met Mary from our TESOL course, she is a fellow Travelpoder and was shocked to learn that I was reading her blog. Mary seemed to happy with life for the most part and I will make sure to keep in touch. I met an Mexican lad who was teaching at a primary school, his English was great but not really good enough to allow him to teach. Maybe the school just want someone who is western regardless of teaching or English proficiency. Who am I to talk my lessons are often made up on the fly and I am learning my knowledge of the English language is worse than most of my students. I really should have learned what things like Adverb and Pronoun meant before trying to teach them. I also met the cast from a American stoner movie, they were all supposedly teachers but the four of them appeared stoned up to the eyeballs and talked about Pizza and KFC most of the time. They must have had a right session because I met them again at about 4am in McDonalds where they seemed to ordering the worlds supply of Ronalds goodness. 
The night was a blast and waking the next day my head was foggier than the heavily polluted skyline outside.

Craig and Tom both mentioned Martyrs Park as a good place to explore, so the four of us (NaNa included) headed off in the early afternoon. We spent most of the afternoon walking round the park, which was massive and put Covent Garden to shame, it had a small theme park, a huge lake, miles of walkways and paths and a really cool statue centrepiece. The park is a memorial to all the Hunan residents who died during the China-Japan war, plus those who have died in more recent conflicts. Me and Craig did hit the theme park, and I must admit that going on something with Chinese safety standards with a very thick head is not a good idea. My stomach was doing summer salts for most the of the remainder of the day. It was a really good day and the pictures should do it more justice. The rest of the day was spent wandering around Changsha Centre and we headed back to Craig's to watch a film and chill for the rest of the evening.

On the Sunday Craig russelled up a 'western' breakfast of scrambled egg and beans on toast, it was so good that on my return to Yiyang I promptly went to Wal-Mart to purchase all the component parts so I could make the same.

On the plans front, Vietnam is booked and ready to go, I have a 70L rucksack that I bought especially for the trip, the shop keeper assures me that the 'OceanFLy Flight Siean72' is a very good model and world renowned for both strength and comfort, as long as it survives 2 months on the road it will have paid its 17 price tag back. I am really excited to see Vietnam, I want to get a vast array of different clothes tailored and see a country that I only know because of a war and Full Metal Jacket.

I am still on a reduced timetable so filling the days is a struggle, I am going to Changde this weekend, and if I can find some cheap flights I am planning a trip somewhere next weekend, maybe Macau, Shanghai or Chengdu depending on what the world of cheap last minute deals has to offer.
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