Tuesday, July 15, 2003

A group of us finally got outside the campus complex here for the first time since we arrived. The hours we work are fairly brutal, 9 am-9 pm, with time between taken for eating, having multiple showers and trying to plan for the next day's class.
"It like Survivor," said one teacher, "Except we can't get voted off."
We eat Chinese dorm food, usually some dim sum and soup and some form of sponge cake for breakfast, or pastry with meat or fish or sweet bean fillings. Lunch and dinner are various combinations of vegetables, beans, pork, a tad of beef, and rice is present in mass quantities at every meal.
Last night eight of us four women, four men, managed to leave about 9:45 pm armed with the address of a bar and our school written in Chinese so the cabdrivers could understand where we wanted to go. We wound up in a nightclub/bar/hooker district in the one nice restaurant for several blocks. It's called Casablanca and owned by an expat, ederly French woman. Julian had a baked potato and pronounced it the finest he'd ever had. Others had lasagna, brandy laced ice cream dessert and steamed brocolli. I stuck with Chinese beer.
After Casablanca we went to a bar populated with friendly hookers who tried to charge us on leaving for several drinks we never ordered but that they had opened and put at our table nonetheless. I also learned I had "bought" a particularly friendly one a gin and tonic, though I had no memory of actually placing an order. The situation was resolved after a lot of polite, but firm bargaining on our parts.
I'm posting this during lunch break when other teachers, excepting Julian, are taking another field trip to the Shezhen Wal Mart for comfort food and supplies. I don't even go to Wal Mart in the States, why would I want to go to one here?
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