Enjoying our days off

Trip Start May 05, 2012
Trip End Mar 01, 2013

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Flag of China  , Tianjin,
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Monday and Tuesday were our first days off.  We were pretty tired on Sunday night after spending most of the day at the school so we had a big sleep in on Monday morning. We also had our first Mandarin lesson that day, so we took ourselves off to Xia Wa Fang [Sha wa fung] where the school's headquarters are to meet Chris, our Mandarin teacher.  We were very excited to start our lessons and the two hours went by quickly!

Chris firstly went through the pronunciation of the pinyin lettering system.  Pinyin is the system used to Romanise the Chinese characters into sounds spelt out with letters form the western/English alphabet, so instead of reading a Chinese character, we read a word.  However, the sounds that are given to each letter do not necessarily correspond to how an English speaker would say them.  Some sounds are easy, like 'b' and 'p' [short 'bah' and 'pah' sounds].  However, Chris also introduced us to the sounds that are called the "awful nine", which as the name suggests, are awful.  Well some of them anyway.  For example,  difficult sounds for us to say are: "zh" [a hard "Jeh" sound] and "ce" [a "tse" type sound]. The "ce" sounds is quite important because it is used in the sentence "where is the toilet" or "ce suo zai nar" [tse tsuo zai nar] so we should practice that a lot!

We also learnt some very useful phrases such as "ting bu dong"- I don't understand, "bu yao" - I don't want and "wo yao qu" [war yao chu] which means I want to go to _______.  This phrase was very useful, because after we returned home from our lesson and skyped people at home, we received a text from another English teacher asking if we wanted to meet some people at a local foreign bar and have some dinner and a few beers.  To get there we needed to take a taxi (all by ourselves!!) using the address that Rob had texted me in Chinese (characters, not pinyin).  So we were brave and hailed a taxi and I said "wo yao qu" and then said "zhe ge" [jay guh], which means that, and pointed to the piece of paper that said the address.  It must have made sense to the driver because we got there easily enough!

We had a lovely lady taxi driver (so far the women taxi drivers have been much better drivers- we don't feel quite so scared driving with them) who when we got to the road the bar was on tried to ask us where on the road we were going, and as we quite clearly had no idea she wouldn't let us out of the car until we understood that the road went all the way around the corner and wasn't just the part that she dropped us at.  Once this was understood we got out and called Rob to come and find us.  We were just around the corner.  Great success!

The Western bar was a very cool place called "Helen's".  Apparently there are a few all over China, and they have walls that are covered in English writing and play English music from the 90s through to today.  It was a great atmosphere with a mix of Chinese and Western people present.  The food was cheap (I got a burger and fries and Evan got a Lasagne for under 50 kuai [quai - slang for  Yuan] - 10 NZD) and the beers even cheaper, 10 kuai for a pint (2 NZD).  It was a really good to get to know some of the teachers better and to be out socialising, we met some English speaking Chinese people there too.  We left Helen's quite late which made it very difficult to get up for our English class the next day, but we still learnt some helpful sentences!  We caved into the pressure of an easy meal though and had McDs for lunch and KFC for dinner, not keen to try our new sentences just yet.  I must say that KFC has never tasted so good! 

Today we had our third Mandarin lesson with our other teacher Apple.  She is very nice and spent some time studying in Australia so understands how different China is for us.  After our lesson we decided to get some lunch at the shopping mall by the metro station, and were handed a voucher thing for a Chinese chain food store.  We were pretty confident that we could choose meals from the voucher by pointing so that is what we did.  The meal that Evan got was really nice- a mushroom and chicken dish with rice.  Mine, not so much.  It was a spicy thing with unidentifiable meat (maybe pork?) but it was all still stuck to bones and the sauce tasted like spicy green tea.  Not the most enjoyable.  Check out the pics- it tasted just like it looked!  We ended up sharing Evan's dish and eating rice.  At least we know what not to get next time, and it was still cheap 40 kuai for both meals.  

Soon we will head into Ao Cheng for school.  Hopefully we will get to do some co-teaching tonight, as Evan's first class is tomorrow, and I have 2 classes on Saturday.  Wish us luck! 
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renwei008 on

so you went to the "real Kongfu"`````this restaurant is never good compared with those of the same kind````I suggest you go to "金莎茶餐厅“ which is not far from cheng ji ,at the "jin hui plaza". I work in the buliding so I know it is very good

Gramz on

It's good to see your happy faces. Luv you xx

Aunty and Nana on

Good luck with your classes today.You will be fine I am sure.Keep up these fantastic blogs...we are loving them. xxxxx

carol on

You guys are very brave!!!!

Caitiln on

Loving the updates!! checking the blog everyday. sounds like your having lots of adventures which is awesome. must be very tiring and scary though sometimes but sounds like your sussing it out quickly which is awesome. Thanks heaps for the txt the other day, absolutely made my day!! Its all going really well! also not long to your bday miss stephanie!! hope you do something special for it xxxxxxxxxx

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