The weekend that was and the KTV experience

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

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Flag of China  , Tianjin,
Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lately we have been busy with teaching but have still managed to have a bit of fun.

As Sunday was Father's Day here, the centre celebrated it by putting on a "Father's Day Activity" for any and all of the kids to come along to. Since I (Evan) was only scheduled to do a demo in the afternoon I got roped into being the foreign teacher that had the joy of doing it. It was quite cool but we had 12 kids plus parents turn up which meant madness was sure to ensue. Further, we held it in a room that has A/C issues at the best of times let alone when it is +36degC outside and we have 20-30 odd people crammed into one classroom!
It went well enough and thankfully the TA in charge ended up doing most of the talking in Chinese for everyone's benefit - I just had to teach the kids the few key words as and when required. The kids ended up making rice balls that were decorated like their fathers and they gave them to their dads as presents at the end. We got major brownie points for teaching them how to say "I love you Daddy" in English!

My last class for the weekend was a PCA for a class that had finished officially a few weeks ago so only one girl who has already re-signed at our centre turned up. Easiest PCA ever! We did the exact same lesson as I had done an hour before and since it was one on one I think she actually enjoyed it and might even have learnt something! We made the same rice-balls at the end and the TA I had for this lesson took great joy in making me try *delicious* Chinese treats -  the little girl had a fit of giggles when I would screw up my face and say "bu hao chi!" [boo how chuur] which literally means "not good eat" but could be translated to disgusting. It was a great way to end a fairly stressful weekend for me - see my post on the class quizzes and competitions I had been trying here:

After work on Sunday night we had chuaner [chu-arr (said with a strongly rolled r sound)] and pi jiu [pee jehh-oh], meat kebabs and beer, for dinner. They were so tasty and exactly what we felt like! We may even have some photos around somewhere.

We got our first pay check on Friday. So being that we are here with the goal of saving up for our trip to Europe I decided to buy a new smart phone on Monday morning! We went along with our boss James who is a techno-junkie and he showed us the Tianjin Electronics Market. Its basically a shopping mall about the size of St Luke's and across the five floors they sell nothing but electronic goods, as the name may have suggested! I got a new toy and have been playing with it ever since!  It is all cheaper at this market too - they import the electronics from Hong Kong and somehow avoid playing tax, making it much cheaper for us to buy!

On Monday afternoon we had a great Chinese cultural experience: KTV.  KTV is super big in China, and is basically a place where you can rent out rooms for Karaoke.   Some of the TAs from work invited us along after they found out that I (Steph now) love to sing and of course they wanted Evan to come along too (they think he looks like Tom Cruise and they think I look like a young Merryl Streep).  Evan wasn't so sure that he wanted to go but felt pressured by me and the TAs so he did.  As soon as we arrived they made us find songs in the data base to sing (I chose the Britney Spears version of "I love rock and roll" and Evan choose "Wonderwall" by Oasis).  The database had tons of English as well as Chinese songs to choose from, and it was obvious that all of the TAs loved to go to KTV!  Evan was very nervous about singing in front of people, but after his first song, and then second and third he was a pro!  The male TA Tony got Evan to sing Westlife and other male 90s pop bands and soon Evan was even grabbing the microphone to rap the verses to Jay Z and Alicia Keys "New York".  It was fantastic! The girls were all very funny too, they would ask questions like "Do you know firework by Katie Perry?" and I would say "Yep I do", thinking that they wanted to sing songs that we would know.  This was not the case - they wanted to hear these songs sung by someone who knew the lyrics, ie. us!  A couple of hours later we left with hoarse voices and in a very happy frame of mind.  KTV was heaps of fun, and I think that we will go back again!

That night we went out to a house-warming party that some of the other foreign teachers were having to celebrate escaping from Cheng Ji.  Their apartment was very close to Cheng Ji but was much nicer and looked a lot more modern! The lifts even came to you when you pushed the button - we couldn't believe the luxury!  We had a nice casual night chatting to the other foreign teachers and making future plans. 

Yesterday we also had another social day.  After Chinese class I met with the new female foreign teacher (from Ireland) for coffee and invited her and her boyfriend to join us for dinner on Bin Jiao Dao (the shopping street close by).  There is a really nice food street off the main shopping street that does all sorts of food - a nice way to get the street food appeal without the unknown standard of food safety of actual street food!  We had lamb kebabs -Yang rou chuanr (delicious!) [yang row chu-arr], Indian samosas and a Chinese thick pancake thing with delicious pasty/garlicky filling.  Hen hao chi! [hen how chur- really good to eat!].  After dinner we decided to have a drink at the bar Helens.  We needed to take a taxi to get there and it was quite odd being the ones to give the taxi driver directions and order our wine etc.  The new couple have only been here two weeks and so our Chinese is a lot better than theirs - a very strange feeling! It was very exciting however when I realised I understood what the waiter was asking us at one stage in Chinese (Are there any more people joining you? They wanted us to move down so more people could share our table) and being able to answer "bu lai" [boo lie- no one else is coming or to that effect!].  Made us feel very confident about our use of Chinese!  No longer will taxi drivers tell us that we are bad Chinese students! (Ok it was only one taxi driver, and to be fair we are pretty terrible at Chinese - but we have only been here 6 weeks, a phrase we have learnt to say now to respond!!)

So, the Chinese is progressing very well, Evan has a new phone, we appear to have made new friends (yay!) and so China is looking brighter by the day (unfortunately not literally - the sky has been disgustingly smoggy the last week ahh summer!).

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Aaron on

Great stuff guys!! I love reading your blog updates and picturing all the adventures you're having. It's like reading a really good book haha. What kind of smart phone did Evan go for? The mall (do you call it a mall?) sounds amazing, you must have been spoilt for choice. Did you win the Karoke competition? Bet you were a million times better than the lady we had to listen to at the "China Inn" in Palmerston North a few weeks ago! haha xx

carly on

HI! (me again) Glad to hear this week is going better!
Evan- hit up that pijiu (tried baijiu yet? maybe save that for a special occasion)
Haha Steph! You would be in your element in K-Bar! :)

carly on

***I mean KTV

steph_evan on

Ha the Chinese pijiu is pretty horrid to be honest, not looking forward to the baijiu - though we have to try it before we leave.
I got the HTC One X for 3450 kuai - divide by 5 to get NZD. I'm seriously stoaked with it, havent had a new toy in ages!

Debbie on

Kia ora!
I bet it feels good not to be the new guys any longer - well done on the transformation into interpreter/tour guides in six weeks, very impressive!

Dad and Lou on

Well hello Tom and Meryl! Or should I say Liam and Britney!ktv sounded like lots of fun to me,Lou.think the huge electronics hall more mikes thing,sounded amazing.
Glad to share in all your adventures guys xx

Aimz on

Baaaaahahahahahah know what we are all doing when you guys get back now! xxxxx

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