These are a few of my faaaavorite things

Trip Start Aug 05, 2009
Trip End Jul 09, 2010

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Flag of China  , Jiangsu,
Monday, March 8, 2010

Well, the weather has been ugly, the long holidays are over, kind of a dreary time in Suzhou right now. So I figured that instead of dwelling on the negatives, I would talk about some of the positives: some of my favorite things, Chinese style. Some of these things are just plain Chinese.....some, are just plain Trevor. Some things are a combination of both. Rest assured, all the things you see in these photographs are very much a part of China Trevor's (aka Tang Hua's) life in China. I was bored sitting in my apartment avoiding the rain (and work), so consider this just the beginning of this entry. I didn't venture outside of my apartment to find anything to add to this yet, but I will in the future. I even have a couple pretty good video ideas that would fit in nicely here. 

1) First and foremost, I gotta list the iPod touch. I can't believe I am saying this, but yes, I am now officially an iPod guy. The iPod is starting to travel with me to more and more places, and I am finding myself plugged in far more often than I ever would have imagined. I must credit the Corry boys and Bethany A for providing the needed peer pressure to go out and buy one. I was resistant at first, but eventually caved. About 1500 RMB later, I was the owner of an iPod touch. Man, I am so glad I got the touch, if for no other reason than the ability to add Tetris and watch podcasts. Travelling in Southern China would not have been the same without it! The added convenience of being able to check and send emails from my iPod was awesome too, never had to wait for other dumb travelers to get off the damn hostel computers! The other part of it is owning an iPod has re-kindled an interest in that largely went away my first few months in China. I didn't really know what was coming out and I had nothing to really play music on. I left most of my CD's at home, and had very few mp3's on my computer. I gotta say thanks to the Corry boys, Ali, and the Beths for helping me re-establish a music library filled with new music, and introducing me to some great places to find new music all the time (Fridaymixtape BA!), and just rekindling my interest in music. Yes, I am now an iPod guy.
2) The next thing I would be crazy not to mention are what I like to call "China glasses". It is this crazy fad amongst the students here: plastic framed glasses without the lenses. I would venture a guess that maybe...(the word maybe, yet another thing Chinese!....but that is another story) 1 in 3 students at our school at least owns a pair of these kind of glasses. I actually quite like the look, it is pretty funny..kinda I bought some. I don't wear them really, but I think if I wear them to class it will gain me some instant street cred with the students. (See pictures). 
3) Another of my favorite things: the hot water bag....winnie the pooh edition. This little unit comes in quite handy during the chilly, damp, winter days here in Suzhou. The climate is warmer here in general, but the Chinese don't believe in heating the inside of houses/offices/schools/ name it. Enter the hot water bag. You plug this little bag of water into a socket, and when the little light on the plug in turns green, you are good to go. You put your hot water bag in your lap, or under your jacket when you are sitting at your desk, and it helps keep you warm while you try to look at your computer screen through the cloud of air emanating from your mouth as you breath in the sub-zero office temperatures. The hot water bag will set you back about 20 RMB (3 bucks) at your local convenience store.
Caution: Be very careful if you should decide to sleep with your hot water bag. They usually aren't hot enough to burn the skin instantly, but apparently if you sleep with it touching your skin long enough, it can burn you to the point of your skin blistering. I have found that out the hard way...twice. (Thankfully only on the arms!) 
4) I love plant. This plant has been with me since virtually day one. I made a goal that the plant would survive in China as long as I do. Considering I don't know what kind of plant it is, how much water it needs, or whether or not it needs a lot of sunlight, things have been going pretty well for plant. Well, at least until last weekend. We had some warm, sunny weather for a few days, so I put plant out on the deck.....and forgot about it. When I finally opened up my curtains again the other day.....plant didn't look so good. Pretty dead actually. BUT, I rescued plant, brought it back inside, and nursed it back to health. I am happy to inform you that plant is once again structurally sound, and reaching for the stars once again (see post trauma picture of plant).
5) The pirated DVD collection. During these dreary days, plenty of television show series get viewed during the week. It is very handy that DVD sets just happen to cost next to nothing here in China. For example, I just got season seven of Curb Your Enthusiasm and season 6 of the Office for a total of 30 RMB (just under 5 bucks). Hours of entertainment for less than 5 bucks. Love it.
6) Student's work. Sometimes the kids here just blow away my expectations on assignments. Granted, like most places, quality of work varies wildly from class to class, and even student to student; but for the most part, the kids I have right now do an amazing job. 
7) The money collection. Being in such close proximity to so many countries, and autonomous regions of China, I have been able to add to my existing money collection quite extensively this year. It doesn't hurt that everybody I work with is constantly travelling around during the holidays...or that I have students that live in several different countries. Since I have been in China I have been able to add the following currencies to my collection I have at home: Thai Baht, Korean Won (new and old style), Chinese Yuan (new and old style), Hong Kong Dollars, Taiwan New Dollars, Japanese Yen, Cambodian Riel, Vietnamese Dong, Singapore Dollars, Malaysian Ringgit, Euro's, and Indonesian Rupiah. I know it's nerdy, but I love this stuff. Interestingly, I hear that Canada is moving to plastic money beginning in 2011, so start saving that paper money now. 
8) The Chinese bankcard. It isn't really one of my favorite things, but it sure epitomizes a "Chinese" thing. Each year is a diiferent animal in the Chinese zodiac. 2009 was the year of the ox I believe.(See picture)
9) Zhongwen, aka the Chinese written language. I am really beginning to love trying to learn the plethora of Chinese characters there are out there. It is an impossible task to try to learn them all (there are over 50,000 of them)....especially since some signs are written in the traditional form, and some are written in the newer, simplified form (don't seem all that simple to me!). They say you need to know about 2000 characters to be able to read a newspaper and understand what is being said. I know about 80. So, there is a way to go yet, but I'm working on it. I think a realistic goal would be 200 characters by the end of the school then I could say I am 10 percent of the way to being able to read a Chinese newspaper. (because that will some day come in handy???). 
Anyway, thats all for now, but I will probably add to this later. Zaijian!

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