Welcome to this week's Random Food Friday!
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Looks like a Findus Crispy Pancake, doesn't taste like it.
It's filled with egg and green stuff and deep fried. It really isn't that good. Won't be buying these again :(

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Fried Rice!
This is from my favourite sellers here. They now know that i don't like cooked cabbage, or hot spices. 

They also defend me from the shouts of 'Laowai!' (foreigner). Last time someone shouted that near me, they looked round and said 'Not foreigner, our friend'. He shut up pretty quickly. When you get shouted at every day just for not being Chinese, little moments like this can really make the world a better place.

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Strange steamed bun thing.

This came from a new stall outside the college. It's run by two deaf men, which is cool but not helpful if you can't read the signs. 
In the end i pointed at raisins and they understood what i wanted.

The bun was really really nice! It's not sweet, but they add raisins when its steamed and sugar afterwards, so it ends up having a fruity top and a sugary bottom. Win-Win! I'll be going to them again!

 
So, i've been reading a few forums for teachers coming to China, and teachers who are currently here.

I have a question for all of them: What is the obsession with 'bringing Christianity' to China? It is against the law to preach at the citizens, yet a lot of people seem to think that they'll be ok because they'll be protected by some bloke in the sky.

I have no issue with what religion you are, but when you start trying to change the beliefs of students and those around you, then i have a problem! The Chinese are doing perfectly well being Taoist/Daoist/Buddhist. They have their own set of beliefs, some of it enshrined in the ancient religions of China (I know one student who told me that every room in her Grandmother's house has a shrine for a particular god) some of it comes from Confucianism.

Teaching religion is a risky thing to do here. If you are reported and found to be guilty then deportation is the best thing you can hope for. The other side of that coin is jail. Pure and simple.

At the last place, even after the government sent a directive to the college telling them that there had been reports or Christianity being preached, the other FTs STILL taught religion in their classes. I'm not talking the stories of Christmas and Easter, but whiteboards FULL of religious wording, teaching the students hymns etc.

For anyone coming to China to teach who thinks that they can do some kind of missionary work, don't bother. It is offensive to these people and their long-held beliefs. If you NEED to go to church every sunday, or cover your living quarters and classrooms in iconography or tell everyone you meet how a being in the sky saved you and is the greatest thing and they should talk to him then stay at home and do it there. 

If, however, you can tone down your fervour and enjoy your religion in the privacy of your own home and not feel the need to change everyone around you, then this is a good country to come to. Some people are more than happy to talk beliefs with you as long as you don't berate them for not believing the same as you. I have had some wonderful conversations with Chinese people about the similarities between paganism and buddhism. We all go away having learnt something. I've been fascinated by the fortune telling here and the beliefs in the 'room Gods' - literally, the Kitchen God, the Bedroom God and the Family God who watch over the rooms. You only get these good conversations if you're prepared not to judge, not to preach and to speak in a civil manner.

That leaves me the other question: Why is it that the 'Christians' I come across are always judgemental and anything but Christian? I got told by a very upset student last year that the other FTs had told her (before i got there, before they'd even met me) that i was a bad person because i wasn't Christian, and they were better people because they were. Luckily, this was a student that i taught the first year i was there. She was upset on my behalf, but we had a chat about ignorance and how if you make decisions without knowing the facts then you're likely to make bad decisions. She agreed that this is what they had done and she would ignore anything else they had to say about me, or would come up to me and ask. I don't know how much damage they did to any other students that i had either taught previously, or begun to teach that year. I just hope that they now realise that their unchristian-like behaviour might have earned them a reprimanding at the Pearly Gates.
 
Last night was Halloween, and I admit, I was reluctant to go. The party has been off and on for the last few weeks, firstly because of swine flu, and then because we think the local government realised that there was a risk of somewhere in the region of 2000 students descending on a small nightclub.

I also objected to us as westerners being used as advertising tools. The reason that the nightclub agreed to the party was that it was agreed that we would sing and dance...well, the others would sing and dance. Our side of the deal was that there was free beer all night (hmmm....i don't drink beer...see why I wasn't going to make a fool of myself!).

We left here at about 7 and went to Haisi, the other college in Hechuan to meet up with Catherine and Phil, two american teachers who are there. We all dressed up, I was in lots of black and makeup. I eventually decided that I was Little Miss Suicide (A History of Guns character), Catherine was pregnant white trash (i'm not sure that the Chinese really got the white trash part, but the pregnant bump was surprisingly realistic!!), Alison was a panda, Carolina was a Zombie, Pete was Superman, Lily was a witch, Phil was an american aerobics coach, and Phoenix and Mat were pirates.
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We had been advertising the party to our students, and some of them made a real effort,

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 others were quite last minute.

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We got the Manhattans at about 9ish, and were deluged by students, I had two literally hanging off me!

They were really sweet, but they all had to be back at their dorms by 11. Students here are treated like children sometimes, they have to be back at the dorm ready for lights out at 11, and they're not allowed kitchens, or even kettles...

There was lots of free beer, and I had a bottle of coke that I brought with me. There was no more cola appearing at any time, which I found a little annoying. I've got toothache, so i've been taking the antibiotics that the dentist prescribed before I left to try and ward off a trip to a chinese dentist (I think I need a deep filling changing for a root canal...), and so there was no way I could drink alcohol (the tablets say in big letters DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL, when you pick them up, the pharmacist insists that you understand that you cannot drink alcohol when taking them, and all over the literature, it says 'DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL, so I wasn't about to try it). So far, they seem to be working, so hopefully, I won't be blogging about the Chinese dentist experience just yet!!

Unforunately, the others didn't perform until about 10 to 11, buy which time all the students had left, which was disappointing for me, because I wanted the students to see what they had come for.

However...before us was a Chinese drag act...it was surprisingly good!
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There were debates between us as to whether the performer was male or female, and so we asked the students, who told us that I was definitely a lady. Then, some other students said 'no, its a man' and it carried on until the Man/Woman revealed that yes, he was a man. I wish I had been quick enough to have my camera out when my students found this out...their faces were so funny!

The nightclub closed at 12:30, which was really odd for me, i'm used to going to nightclubs that don't close until 3am!! After the club, we were invited by two gentlemen to go to a fish barbecue. The food was really really nice! There was fish, and chicken wings, and squid, all marinaded and then barbecued.

Alison and I left a bit earlier than the others, she was tired and I had decided that it was probably time to go home when there was a drunken Englishman arguing with a drunken American over whether the Monarchy was any good, along with a drunken Irish girl agreeing with whoever spoke next...she'd be more interesting if she could actually have an opinion of her own someday...

It was really odd being home at 2am knowing that the nightclub was closed and the night was over, but then Halloween Chinese style was never going to be the same as Halloween English style!
 
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(written on 1st Sept)

Well, my first impressions this time are very similar to last time – the people are wonderful. There is nothing that they will not do for you. I only had to think about what I wanted at Hong Kong Airport, and someone appeared to show me the way.

The plane journeys were long. London to Hong Kong was 10hrs. That one went by quite quickly – I watched a few films, a but of comedy and played a few computer games.

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The wait at Hong Kong was made bearable by the people that I talked to, and the coffee shop with free internet access...Hong Kong to Chongqing was a short flight, and I tried to sleep for most of it. However, every time I started to drift of properly, the air hostess came over and started asking questions 'you want pillow?' 'you want newspaper?'. Then lunch was served, and then it seemed to be time to land.

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Travelling alone is always a bit worrying for me. I get a bit paranoid that a single female traveller looks suspicious. I got stopped at Hong Kong and they asked to see my make up bag (apparently something in there looked like an arrow head), and to see my first aid kit (they picked up tablets on the X-ray), but thankfully, once they had had a good look, they were quite happy that I wasn't planning to killing anyone and I was let on my way with smiles.

Coming in to Chongqing was interesting. Susan was late, having been stuck behind a truck on fire, so  was a bit stranded for 20 minutes...and a bit worried that maybe I had told her the wrong date, or the wrong time or something.  Went outside to smell China, and she pulled up and yelled 'Fiona' out of the window at me. We packed my bags into the car and started driving for the 50 minute drive to the college.  Wish i'd known beforehand that it was 50 minutes. I needed to go to the toilet as we started to descend to land...

Susan and I spent the journey talking and laughing and making plans. She wants me to teach her English (she speaks more English than I do Mandarin...), she wants to refine her English and learn to pronounce some of the harder sounds better. She said that she has troube wth my name because of the 'n' in it, she has a tendency to call me Fiola to get round the problem. I told her that Fee would be fine. She also wants to cook for us, and to take me shopping. She loves shopping! We talked about our families. Surprisingly, for a Chinese family, there are 4 children. She explained that her parents are both teachers and they love children, so paying for the 3 extra wasn't a problem for them.

We arrived in the college and went straight to the flat. I'm in quarantine with the other two British teachers that have arrived for 5 days. We have to be in quarantine in case we have swine flu. This will mean 5 days in the flat. We might be able to go out in th evening when there are not so many people around, but we are not allowed to have free reign yet. Every day we have to take our temperature and report the findings. I'm not sure that I want to know what happens if our temperatures are high...

The flat's ok. If you ever think of coming here, don't expect a palace! The walls need repainting, and furniture needs cushions (and so does the bed...i'll come to that later), and there are cockroaches the size of my thumb! I don't have a problem with insects, or spiders, but these cockroaches are mean! They start scuttling towards you, like they're going to attack! I killed the biggest one  last night, and when I get some cleaning stuff, i'll get rid of the body, but at the moment, its there as a warning to the other one that's hiding in the bathroom.

The flat has 2 bedrooms, a larger one wit a window shelf (mine) and a smaller one (apparently, i'll be living with an Irish girl). It has a living room that has a wooden sofa (that looks like it folds out to be a bed...but there are no cushions), some wooden chairs, a TV, a fridge, a table and an air conditioning unit in it. It has the decorations left by the previous tenants – fairy lights and a painting of a roaring fire, as do the rooms.

My room is ok, it has a wardrobe, two cupboards, a shelf unit, a desk and a bed in it. The bed is possibly the most uncomfortable thing I have ever slept on! It is a wooden block with a thin mattress and a couple of thin quilts on top, and then a thin quilt on top of that. I think I might need to go and invest in a thicker quilt come winter time.

At the moment, it is 5am. I went to bed at about 11pm, and got woken up at 1 by my mum ringing to see if I had got here ok. I rang my parents from Hong Kong, but had no phone service here...until 1am it seems. I was then woken again at 3 by a friend from home sending me a text... I woke up at 4 on my own, convinced it was about 10am. I wish it was. I'm writing this now because i'm too awake to sleep. This is quite ridiculous, I did 30 hours on an hours sleep. I should be fast asleep now! I think the bed hasn't helped. My hips hurt and feel bruised, and the stress and sweat of yesterday has given me a nice attack of Urticaria too, so I have a swollen itchy hand, and itchy patches on my hips and thighs. I've had some anti histamines, so hopefully, it should go down soon. I want to have a shower, but the big cockroach's brother is hiding in there somewhere. I might have to get the boys to come in on a roach hunt!

I also want to clean. It is not very clean. I understand that CQ is dusty because there is a lot of building work going on, but some of this is dirt that has been left by the previous tenants. Sadly, it appears that although they left us green tea (now inhabited by the cockroach's little brother and what looks like 6 different types of mould, and some spices, they didn't leave any cleaning materials, or anything to clean with.

The problem is that i'm not allowed to leave for 5 days, so i've written a list of things that are needed here. I need to add coke and orange juice to it too. There is no food and drink. We have a water bottle, but as with most of the purified water here, the water is bitter. I asked for a bottle of coke last night, but I am dependent on the college for food at the moment. Susan and Sawyer (our Chinese friends) went out last night and got food and some coathangers for me! I think I need to send them out today for stuff. I also need to get internet access soon so that I can get the thing for my boxes that are waiting for me at the airport, then I can send Susan to pick them up. I'm hoping that I don't need to pay any import duties on them because they are personal effects, but i'll give her some money just in case. I do need to go to the bank and get some cash out, I have enough to last me, but probably not that long once i've bought cleaning supplies and food and drink.

I could do with a cup of tea...but there is no kettle, and I have no milk or sugar. The quarantine thing could really get me down after a while I think.

I'll be teaching 16 classes a week, each at 45 minutes a session. The classes start at 8:45, and go through to 12, then they stop until 14:30 and carry on until 18:00. I teach 16 classes a week, and have to go to English Corner twice a week. English Corner is where the students go to practice their English, and have conversations with each other, and with the teacher. Susan says that it is boring – they ask the same questions every week. That's ok though, I can always ask questions back.

She seemed a little surprised that I have my first lesson planned already. I spoke to someone I know who I teaching in Korea and asked them what their first lessons were. She said that she talked about herself and showed pictures of where she grew up, and English money, and then she threw a paper ball around the class and started with 'My name is...and my favourite colour is...'. I plan to do the same. It will be a good class for me to get to know the students a bit, and I think they will be interested in pictures of England, and things like my house, and my school, and the surroudning areas.

I really wish I could either shower or sleep now...I'm lucky because I took precautions and haven't been bitten by mosquitoes yet. I also spent about half an hour before I went to bed killing all the ones that I could see in the room...I've added an electric mosquito repellent to the list of stuff that I need. I have insect repellents for my skin, but I want one for the flat. I slept in a long sleeve teeshirt and pyjama bottoms – I'm sure that long arms and long trousers are what you need to stop the bugs getting at your bare skin. I also covered my feet in insect repellent (for some reason, whenever I get bitten, its always on the feet. Not the legs or the back like everyone else...nope, the feet!).

I don't know what time Susan and Sawyer are coming back today. I hope its fairly early so that I can ask them to get my boxes, and the stuff that I need. Then the quarantine won't be so bad, i've got lots of books in my boxes and cleaning should take a day or so to do.

 So...just got a knock on the door from one of the lads. Apparently it is not 6am as i'd thought, it is in fact 6pm! That means that I slept for well over 12 hours! Excellent. I'm not surprised that i've got a headache now though...i haven't had anything to drink because i've been sleeping. It also explains the urticaria – it always happens if my kidneys are not happy, so the dehydration has caused it. This is good to know, it means that i'm not allergic to something in my surroundings.

I can also forgive my back and hips for hurting as well, knowing that i've slept for well over 12 hours!

My flat has been invaded by Susan and Sawyer who are doing traditional chinese cooking for Mat's birthday. She's making Beijing Duck and Dumplings. I did think that this was rather strange for breakfast...

Looks like my boxes probably won't be got until tomorrow now though. I really need them – I only have one clean pair of trousers and I want my comfy jeans that are in the box!