Wednesday, December 20, 2006

You've got to laugh.....

It is imperative that you have a sense of humor if you're going to live outside your own country and culture! No exceptions! So what happened today?

I finally got a bike! Not a moment too soon, I had been on the bus so much that I think they were going to offer me a job as a driver.......Anyway, winter (such as it is) has arrived here in Kunming and I have NO heat. 32 degree's farenheit isn't that cold to a guy from New York... But when it's that way inside you get a little cold.

Okay, to the point! In order to buy a heater, I needed a way to get it home - I.E. a rack on the back of my bicycle. I'll spare you the details of going to 8 bicycle stalls till I got what I needed and fast forward to paying for the thing that was just installed. A couple of words can make a big difference! I confused ¥16 for
¥60... And proceeded to try and bargain with him for what I thought the correct price should be - ¥20. In Chinese you say ten six to mean 16. I thought I was hearing six ten.... Well, you've just got to laugh! The guy selling the stuff sure enjoyed me arguing to raise the price... :)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Project Grace

Wow, time certainly flies! It's almost Christmas and I've only posted once this month... My appologies! :) Several weeks ago I had a chance to visit Project Grace. This School for the Disabled is located near Bai Ma right here in Kunming. A friend of mine invited me to come have a look at what they, maybe visit an English class.

If you've been in contact with disabled or have really thought about it, there is quite a challenge there! In my home country it can be difficult for a moderate to severely disabled person to find a decent job with which to support themselves. In many Asian nations, including here in China, it is difficult indeed. With such a large labor pool and so many things done by physical manpower, what niche can you find if you are for instance missing an arm? I believe that in general our lives are what we make of them. Yes, disabled people can be happy & satisfied with their lives!! A bold statement, but I believe it. However it would be foolish to ignore the fact that they face many additional challenges as a result of their state.

(Teaching English at Project Grace)

Enough of that. if you're interested in hearing more about Project Grace, check out these links on it (or google for your own): Homes International, Bangkok Post (older article).

So! Invited to visit an English class? That was apartently code for teach the English class! Uh oh! Thank God for Palm Pilot... I was grouped with 3 girls and a guy, all of whom had rather meager English skills at this point. So on my little palm screen I showed pictures of family, picture of home, pictures of animals, etc... Simple questions of what is this animal? Is it rough or soft? What sound does it make? You get the idea... :) We had a great time! I'm so pleased to see what this place is doing and I believe it will make a huge impact in the lives of the children!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Engrish. For those who are perhaps unaware, Engrish is not exactly a misspelt word. Instead it cleverly displays a truth of many Asian nations... There isn't exactly a sound for "R". Nor is there quite a sound for "L". Instead there is a sound somewhat inbetween. Okay, so what's the point?

There are many things I enjoy about China, and the ... interesting signs you come across are one the great joys I get to stumble upon almost daily! Some are easy to find, there for everyone to see. Some are a bit more recluse. I found this one after climbing up a trail on West Mountain for maybe 40 minutes! You're following a path through beautiful forest and hills, enjoying the first clean air since .... well, since the last time you went to West Mountain, and suddenly you come upon this!

(Sign on a West Mountain Trail)

Strictly forbilden! No felling plants! Or else! :) This is absolutely NOT a slam on the nationals. Their language is very different to English and translation can be challenging. But it does bring a smile to my face every time I find it!

Oh, and I couldn't help but spot the irony of this next photo. Advertising tries to be clever, but sometimes it loses due to similarities and coincidence... or am I the only one to find humor in this? :)

If you've got any Engrish that you've come across, please share it!