July 24th, 2004
Today, was another long week and the end of it. After teaching the students after a while. They are great overall, but in the beginning of class they are excessively talkative and make it a challenge for me to quiet them down to begin the lessons. Once I calm them down though, they are obedient for the remainder of the class. One particular thing I did with the fifth graders is I asked them their Chinese names and had them write it on the board. I was curious to know and were interesting to learn. This was only for a small portion of the class at the end of the day.
Mia, Angela, Kate, Tonya and I planned on going to visit a pagoda today and go out at night. So right after class, we rush into town to meet up with the other gals. We end up going to the pagoda which has the West Lake scenic view.
It is called Lei Feng Pagoda and we go to the museum inside. It is elaborate all-around. Plus, there are many interesting tales linked to this pagoda. Firstly, it was originally built in 975 A.D. for the birth of the King’s son. Then the Japanese burnt it down during the Ming Dynasty with the brick layers only remaining and collapsed it in 1924 due to people taking the bricks for the superstitious belief that they prevent illness and miscarriage. Not until 2002 it was completely reconstructed. The Legend of this pagoda is somehow connected is of the white snake. A scholar who fell in love with a beautiful woman, who is really a white snake in human form and the forbidden love surrounding that scenario. The proper title of the story, “The Legend of the White Snake” is popular in Chinese literature, opera and film.
It was really nice to visit a pagoda for the first time (a real one, not the one in EPCOT). Then we depart and drive to dinner with the teacher from Angela and Tonya’s school. She is driving us to the restaurant we will have dinner at. We arrive and this place is really nice. It is two stories, big and we are escorted to a private room. We have a really big round table for just the six of us, okay sweet. In this restaurant, it was defintely the best authentic Chinese food I have had thus far since being in town. The only thing I did not like was the fresh West Lake caught fish. It tasted like pure algae. Actually the worst fish I ever tasted. All the other servings were really good though.
After dinner, we walk around the open market a bit, since it was close to the restaurant.
The night still being young and finished window shopping, we are ready to paint the town. Mia, who does not want party, leaves with the teacher to go home. The rest of us are ready for some bar hopping. There is a good nightlife here with a good atmosphere. I never felt unsafe throughout my stay in China. The Chinese men are kind of flirty, but sweet and behave well. It is great getting drinks here because like everything else in China, it is incredibly cheap. We have a lot of fun and meet other English teachers from the UK, America and New Zealand. As we are drinking, we exchange stories about our experience and perceptions here. I of course, have a bit too much to drink, but still have fun nonetheless.