posted by Sarah
It’s been almost 2 weeks since we stepped foot in China and we’re just beginning to feel comfortable, partly due to our friends Heather & Jim coming to stay with us for three days and showing us around our own town. Heather and Jim taught English in China for a year in 2004, and they decided to take a month long tour this summer to visit and revisit people and places. We thoroughly appreciated their stopping in our city – not only was it delightful to see real live friends, Jim’s language skills are vastly superior to our one and two word utterances, and we were able to go out with a much greater degree of confidence than before.
We spent lots of time being real tourists, visiting the sites of Shaoxing, including beautiful Fushan park in the center of the city, which was at one point the palace and government buildings of the Yue kingdom (as far as we could tell). Heather & Jim seemed to have brought the rain, which was a welcome respite from the almost unbearable sauna-like conditions of the past few days. You can see our photos on Flickr (I would post here but our internet is kind of slow and it would take forever to upload).
The next day we decided to visit the largest marketplace of textiles in the world, Textile City located about a 15 minute bus ride away in the smaller city of Keqiao (pronounced “kuh-cheeow”). Unfortunately it rained all day, but luckily we Heather & I had purchased some really cute umbrellas (red with white polka dots and frilly trim) the day before. Imagine a large mall where each vendor sells nothing but fabrics and you’re in Textile City. I had some vague hopes of finding some fabric that I would immediately fall in love with and purchase for cheap, but the market was so overwhelming that we just ended up wandering with dazed expressions on our faces.
The REAL reason we went to Keqiao, however, was that we had heard of a large Indian population there – ergo, some good Indian restaurants were to be found. We did find one – after three attempts in cabs taking us just a couple of blocks away – and took cover from pouring rain. Kashish turned out to be a delicious (if not expensive by Chinese standards) restaurant and the waiters spoke English – something of a novelty to us here! We had a great meal including hot flaky pakoras, chicken tikka, aloo gobi, a sweet curry which included persimmon, and three kinds of naan – paneer, garlic and spinach. It was well worth the trip out there, and satiated, we made our way back to Shaoxing.
Now we’re getting ready for classes. Joel starts on the 10th of September and I will start on the 17th of September. Joel will be teaching Sophomore Oral English and Writing for English Majors, and I will be teaching Freshman Oral English and the History of Western Cultures.
Besides that we’ve just been adjusting to everyday life. One of the things I’ve enjoyed discovering is the good cheap “homestyle” restaurants; each night we try out another hole-in-the-wall dive and test out some bad Chinese on the waitstaff. So far, we’ve basically gotten what we ordered. Usually our dinner – two dishes and some white or fried rice – will cost under 20 Yuan (that’s about $3). Oh, and we’ve been watching season 3 of Lost – thanks, Heather & Jim, as well as DVD pirates!