We’re back in Baoding after a relatively uneventful train ride from Baoding (we did try hard sleepers for the first time and they were great) and a quiet move back in to the school. Since the students are on their winter holiday and all the foreign students had to go back to their homes, we’re the only people on campus until mid-February (the guards were quite confused to see us). It’s nice knowing that we’ve found one of the only quiet places to be while still inside a Chinese city, but we are still begrudgingly putting up with the plastic smell, the layer of dust on everything, and the constant lack of weather. The smog hasn’t been too bad the past couple of days (we even saw blue sky yesterday) but we’ve encountered a new problem…
Spring Festival (essentially Chinese Christmas) begins tomorrow which means that the country is basically shut down for ten days straight while everyone leaves the cities and returns to their families (often in the countryside). This makes travel nearly impossible (the reason we had to stay in Beijing for extra nights until we could get a train ticket to Baoding), finding a place to stay more difficult than usual and (more concerning to us facing ten days in Baoding alone) turns finding food into a hunting/scavenger hunt adventure (most businesses are already closed – we have no idea what will be closed within the next ten days). If worst comes to worst, we may be living on peanut butter sandwiches for the next week and a half (I don’t think it will be that bad).
We were informed yesterday that classes start back up mid-February so if we can find a method of transportation, we may travel out of Baoding for one more mini-trip before teaching starts up again. After all our laundry is clean, we’ll see where we can go.
Yesterday, boss man at QLH bought us tea and attempted to communicate with us in broken English and very slow Chinese. There was lots of laughing, phone translating, and hand gestures but it reminded me of how much fun attempting to communicate can be – perfect motivation for my language-learning goal!
We discovered there is a place in Baoding where ice-skating may be possible (we haven’t tried it yet) and within the next couple of weeks I may venture to get my haircut. Today, our goal is to buy a portable DVD player (my laptop disk drive is broken and we don’t have a TV) to watch our new DVDs and to stave off the despairing boredom that is inevitable to quiet time in Baoding.
Tomorrow we have some dumpling parties planned (yes, more than one!) and I am super excited to finally begin learning how to make real Chinese food.
Until then, thank you for reading!
I unintentionally summed up the very coolest look according to stereotypical Chinese assumptions – blonde hair, pale, cute furry animal somewhere on me, (fairly) nicely dressed, and the Chinese symbol for “very cool” (the hand gesture).