So Monday I didn't start teaching because I had to go to Hangzhou (the capital of this province) to get some medical tests done. Unfortunately, after we had driven about three quarters of the way there, I realized I had forgotten my passport! The others who went with me actually had other business in Hangzhou, so it was a completely wasted trip, but I DID have to go again today.
When I got back Monday though, I did have enough time for my afternoon class: English Corner. It's not so much of a class as just sitting down with the students and having conversation. When I showed up, there were only 8 students, but that's because most of the students didn't know that the class had begun that day. I later discovered that there will typically be more students: anywhere from 30 to 80!
At English corner, among the 8 who were there, their levels varied, but there was some genuine enthusiasm. I also told the students that in my classes they were only to use English, but that since I am also learning Chinese, outside of class they may use either English or Chinese with me.
So that was yesterday. Today, I went BACK to Hangzhou, did NOT forget my passport, and everything went swimmingly. The classes I would've had today were cancelled because we weren't sure I'd be back in time from Hangzhou. I did get some cool new stuff today though: a water dispenser in my apartment, and a bike! I walked to downtown on Sunday, and from the door of my apartment to the heart of downtown Huzhou takes almost exactly 1 hour. Taxis are convenient, but would get too expensive to take them everyday. The bus is a reasonable alternative, but the issue is that to walk from my front door to the bus stop still takes 15 minutes. Sure, running would chop that in half, but then I'd be tired and out of breath, not too mention sweaty and stinky, so a bike is the best solution.
So, Tian Jia went with me this afternoon to go get a bicycle and it plus the lock cost me 398 yuan, about $60. After that she had something else to go to. I was wanting to go to the gym here in town. It has been 2 weeks since I've worked out and I'm not liking it. So, I walked with the bike to downtown, which was not far from the bike shop. I didn't ride because after buying it, I realized that has been 7 years since I've even mounted a bicycle. And the traffic here is pretty crazy, so I figured downtown Huzhou was NOT the place to work out my rusty riding skills. I did visit the gym, it looked pretty nice, they even have a nice bar and sitting area WITH WiFi. One of the workers giving me the tour could speak some English, so I used both English and Chinese with him. Also made a new foreign friend at the gym, a Mexican guy named Arturo who lives in Huzhou apparently.
After the gym it was about 6:00 pm and it started getting dark (that's when it gets dark here, but on the bright side, the sun rises at about quarter to 6 in the morning). So I walked most of the way back to my place, not wanting to ride in traffic just yet. Along the way I saw an old man selling fruits, and the bananas looked good, so I bought a few. 8 bananas for under a buck, not too bad. But more than that I felt good about my Chinese skills, and I should only get better from here.
When I finally got near the entrance of the school, I hopped on the bike. The first 10 meters were a bit wobbly, but after that it was all good. Like riding a bicycle.
I don't have any new pictures today, I always forget to bring my camera with me, but to be honest, my camera is a bit clunky to carry around casually. I want to get a new phone soon, preferably one with a good camera so that I needn't have that concern.
Also, something I forgot to mention in previous posts: Friday night, I was invited to go for massages with Nellie, Gwen, and Gino. We all met up around 9pm, and then Nellie mentioned to us that this other English teacher, Paul, a Canadian, invited is to go to S.O.S., a bar/karaoke place in town, free drinks, free good, etc. Once there we met Paul and his family, and some other Chinese people there with him.
We decided that we could get a massage anytime, so we hoofed it over to S.O.S. We arrived and started drinking and singing. They served a mixed drink of Jack Daniels and Nestea, which, surprisingly, is pretty good! There actually is one Chinese pop song that I know, so I decided to sing it. Some Chinese people told me that I did very well and that they've never heard a foreigner sing a Chinese song before, so they were impressed. As I began drinking more, as has happened in the past with my Spanish, I began speaking a lot of Chinese. It certainly can't be that know anymore while drinking, it's just that I become less conscientious about making mistakes in the language while drinking. Anyways, it ended up being a fun time, and I arrived home around 2.