Saturday, 25 October 2008

Oktoberfest in Wuxi?

Nat and Tony having a bit of a boogy on a night with no children!
After yet another busy week at EtonHouse, some of the staff looked forward to a relaxed dinner at the best Thai place in Wuxi (maybe the only one?!), The Banana Leaf. We always manage to get a private room, where we are entertained by the restaurant's band. The band like to get us all up for a dance but always seem to think that us Western girls are too tall for them! The food is sensational and the beer is free flowing - a great way to begin the weekend.
Azusa dancing at the Banana Leaf
Despite promising myself that I would go home straight after dinner (I've had a nasty cold this week), after the free flowing beer, it was not to be! And where else to go on a Friday night in Wuxi but to a German restaurant/bar to celebrate Oktoberfest?! We continued to enjoy the beer and listen to an Austrian band playing all sorts of cover songs. It was just great to listen to and watch a live band - I feel a trip to Shanghai in search of live music is on the cards soon! Watching the Chinese men on the dance floor after several 'heavy' German beers is quite amusing as well. We ended the night with a 1am foot massage and fried rice from the street stalls, lovely!
Pete attempting to do some German folk dancing - keep practising Pete!
The weekend always seems to go much too fast, it's always nice to have a relaxing time though. Several long and lazy breakfasts followed by a little bit of work and some DVD watching rounded out the weekend. Am braving the shops of Wuxi this evening though - need to find a Halloween costume for school on Friday. On count down now till Rob gets here, only 6 nights to go!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Another weekend in Wuxi ..........

Laowais are just not capable of dinking people like the Chinese are... (Note the locals laughing in the background!)

Despite me thinking that it was a boring weekend, there is still plenty to see and do in Wuxi, everywhere you go there is something new and strange to look at. The weekend began with 2 hours of massage with the girls followed by some experimentation at a local Chinese restaurant. I had been to the restaurant earlier in the week with a friend who could read and speak Chinese, so I was feeling fairly confident that we could get by despite the menu being in Chinese and having no pictures to help. We managed to convey the message that we did not want to eat any internal organs or the feet of any animal and proceeded to point at things randomly on the menu. The message appeared to be clear and we enjoyed a beautiful Chinese meal. As we left, Tracy decided that now would be a good time for me to practise my 'dinking' skills on the bike - hmmm, after 2 hours of massage and several beers, maybe not! We caused quite a scene as we attempted to ride down the street.

Saturday night was a highlight for me - I finally watched the 'Sex and the City' movie and it was fantastic! I cooked up a lovely pasta meal and enjoyed a bottle of bubbles - ahh, heaven! I also had reason to celebrate with the bubbles.....My brother has convinced me that I am capable of running the Shanghai half marathon at the end of November (I was planning to do it next year), so I began training and in my first real run, managed to run for a whole hour!

The only 'pretty' sight I found on my bike ride

I woke up on Sunday feeling a little sore - my legs from the run and my head from the bubbles. I decided to head out for a bike ride to explore Wuxi. Riding is a great way to see how people really live, I didn't see a single Westerner in the whole 2 hours I was out! Unfortunately most of the sights I saw were construction sites, not a lot of 'pretty' sights! One thing I am really missing is a good steak and I was looking forward to some steak and red wine to finish the weekend off but it was not to be. We took one bite of the steak to realise that it was quite possibly the worst meat ever - we did enjoy the red wine and potatoes though! Back school today for another busy week ahead. Take care, Anna.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

One week down....

We have just finished the first week back after holidays - only 10 more to go till next hols! It was a very busy week, so much to do and not enough time! The next 10 will be just as busy - we have our singing performance for some Chinese government officials, an athletics meet that we have been invited too - a great invitation, we are the only international school competing alongside the Chinese schools, some of whom have 2500 students in the primary school only!!! I also have the Year 4 camp coming up, the kids are very excited about that. But the most exciting thing is that my little bro, Rob, is arriving in less than 3 weeks! I'm really looking forward to a familiar face and some fun times when he is here. It's been a very quiet weekend in Wuxi, trying to pace myself so I'm not too tired over the next few months. A few of us had dinner at one of our colleagues house last night - was so nice to be in a family home and have a 'meat and 3 veg' dinner (roast potatoes, yum!!) with some nice wine. A little bit more civilised than fried rice and tsingdao on the street! Hope everyone at home is well! I'm starting to miss home a little, so emails are much appreciated! Take care, Anna.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

I rode on a Chinese motorbike and ended up at the hospital!

I bet that got your attention! Not what you think though. After a reluctantly returning to Guilin, with more disappointment when I was told I wouldn't have enough time to visit Longsheng to see the Dragon Back rice terraces, my luck turned around yesterday afternoon. As I was wandering the streets, looking for a massage place, I met a Chinese man who proceeded to show me around. Naturally, I was a little bit suspcious but he turned out to be a very genuine, lovely man who was very excited I was from Melbourne. His sister has a restaurant on Lonsdale St (Ming something) - so go there for dinner! He managed to get me the last ticket for a minority folk show at the local theatre and took me to a local dumpling restaurant (60 dumplings for $3!) and then this afternoon, picked me up on his motor bike (slightly nerve racking!) and took me to the hospital. Apparently the Guilin hospital is famous for it's connections between western and eastern medicine. I had the most amazing foot massage ever, I feel like I am floating now! As I had the massage, the doctor sat next to me and talked about reflexology and traditional Chinese medicine. I was a great experience (the motorbike and the massage!). Now waiting for my flight back to smoggy and characterless Wuxi...I will definitely be back in this area again. Take care, Anna.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

A picture doesn't really tell 1000 words

I am in absolute heaven here in Yangshuo, am already planning a second trip at some point. The scenery is just unbelievably beautiful, everywhere you look is gorgeous. The pictures don't do this place justice, you really have to visit it to appreciate the beauty. Yesterday, I braved the Chinese buses for the first time (22 seats? No problem, how many more can we fit on?) and got off at a small village called Yandi. We then spent the next 5 hours walking to XingPing - we walked through rice paddies and other farming patches, along side the river, through bamboo forests and small villages, where the locals were trying to make some money selling water and fried fish to the walkers. It was one of the best walks I have ever done, I absolutely loved it. Today, we hired bikes and set off to explore another route, this time on a smaller river and along farmers paths. At one point, we got stuck, and had to carry our bikes across the river, much to the amusement of the Chinese tourists going the easy way along the river, on the bamboo rafts! Again, the scenery was amazing, although my Chinese bike was definitely not made for the farmers trails! Tonight, I am off to see a show on the river - it involves 600 locals and is directed by the guy who did the opening and closing ceremony of the Olympics. Take care, Anna.