Saturday, October 25, 2008

Daqing Halloween

I had Vivian and Henry over to carve some pumpkins and we had roughly 180 students into the school for Halloween festivities yesterday. I will post more pictures soon but wanted to let everyone know that we are in the spirit over here too even though Halloween is not celebrated in China.

Here is a picture of my favourite costume though. I couldn't even tell he was Chinese!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Daqing to Harbin 3

We visited a textile store where we found the great cat-skin coats. Here are a couple of colourful shots I took looking down from the second floor to the venders below. I also found some fox fur died into some surprizing colours.

Daqing to Harbin 2

Here is a look inside the Church. This photo looking up into the main spire from directly under the chandalier is my favourie.

Daqing to Harbin

Last week we took a day trip to Harbin, the capital of the Heilongjiang province. The city used to have a large Russian population during the Russian Occupation. Many Russian style buildings remain but the jewel is the Sofia Church. I hope you appreciate the pictures. It was one of the most beautiful churches I have visited.

I just want to say thanks to the Patrick family who helped me get the camera I have. Without it I wouldn't have the incredible pics that everyone gets to see here on the blog. Thanks Andy and Jackie!

Charlie's Daqing Angels

Charlie has some new angels. Helena, Maise, Amy, Kylie and Vivian. I am training them to be the secret agent team I've always drempt of. Watch out Daqing!!! (The two girls behind me aren't real but they almost appear to be.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Proud in Daqing

After a long day at work teaching some English and sharing a lot of laughs with many smiling faces I was a little tired. I have experienced several people this week who felt it was their duty to bestow upon me their negative feelings towards dealing with life in China. Chacon son goute! That's fine with me but not much can really get me down. Surprisingly enough the CBC National News threw me into the mood to write a quick note on the blog and remind people that Daqing really is the place to be, for me at least.

The Friday National broadcast ran three feature stories that would never appear on an American station I can tell you that. There were no murders, no fatal viral epidemics, not even much talk of dangerous products being consumed en mass. Instead the Canadian public was left with three stories: the first being a moving piece about an Aboriginal man's desire to give back to a Vancouver community by offering free karate lessons, the second was about a fledgling Inuit Daycare opening in Ottawa that promotes cultural education, and finally, the third story was about the new Sound of Music production in Toronto featuring a Canadian unknown soon to be starlet.

What the heck?! What kind of a NEWS broadcast is that! A truly Canadian broadcast, that's what. I am so proud that my country chose to air three 'feel-good' stories on a Friday night. That last thing that many hardworking Canadians do on a Friday night is catch the CBC National. Then they get caught up in the weekend chaos and don't see the news again until Monday. Brilliant. It's so nice, and I'm finding typically Canadian, to want our country to rest our weary minds on a Friday night with thoughts of other Canadians helping, sharing and believing in the strength and beauty of our Nation. Recession? We can handle it. New, or not so new, Priminister? Clearly the 40% of non-voting potential voters were pretty apathetic to the state of the country. They must be feeling pretty comfortable too. Winter? Christmas, hot chocolate and warm fires. No problem.

I find sometimes that when it is easy to get caught up in the negative one needs to leave himself some reminder of the positives. Before I left for China I put two pebbles in the pocket of the second hand tweed jacket that I planned to wear for traveling. The pebbles were from the beach in Biarritz, France where I spent a week surfing in the summer of my 31st year (one of my life long goarls). I had gathered a collection of smooth black and white pebbles as a keepsake to remind myself that I am achieving goals that I have set out for myself. As I was packing I took one black and one white pebble and placed them in the pocket of the coat so that when ever I wore the coat I would be reminded that my time here in China is yet another exciting chapter in my life. An achievement to be proud of. I wore the jacket today for the first time since August. As my friend was bestowing the China negatives I came across the two pebbles and politely made for the exit.

I'm glad that the National kept the positive momentum flowing. There is so much beauty in life and some much to share. I guess today is my little Thanks Giving for the week seeing as I missed it at home. Somehow noodles and water don't quite hit the spot like turkey and mashed potatoes; however, the giving of thanks feels the same.

All the best to everyone back home.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Daqing Dusk & Disaronno

This evening the sky is clear and a full moon has risen over the settling city. I managed to fine a bottle of Disaronno liquer in Harbin yesterday so I will have a nice night cap after I finish blogging and marking some writing by my students. I thought you might get a kick out of this one paper. It gives you an idea of the level of comprehension some of the students have. Many are better and many are worse but this response was by far the most unusual.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad

I found something in Harbin (the next major city) that I knew Dad would be Thankful for and truly appreciate this Thanksgiving.

Happy 62nd birthday Dad!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I have decided to add the word Daqing to every post from now until Christmas in order to see if I can move my blog into the top 30 sites that come up when you Google search the word 'Daqing'. I did a search this week just to see where it was and I was definitely not in the top 30. Maybe I am crazy and this is not the way to do it but heck at least all of you will know the word 'Daqing'.

Daqing EF Funny?! weird

Here are couple of things from EF that strike me as a touch funny. The book exercise took me a bit to see the humour. Can you link the picture to the description. Can you make the connection!?

Ah, good ol'English.

Daqing EF Fiona the TA

Meet Fiona. She likes long walks around the school, meeting students, and a class with a sense of humour. She also makes a really funny 'Fox Face'. I will try to get a picture of that. It's almost as good as my lama or Taylor Athay's 'Rooseter Head.'

Fiona helps me with classes and ordering food at lunch.

Daqing EF School

Here are a few more pictures of the English First School that I work at here in Daqing. If anyone is looking for the overseas teaching experience or knows a friend or a university/college student who is looking to get away this school is great. They treat you really well and the opportunities are endless (plug, plug).

Many people have told me about horror stories and crooked school managers. I have lucked out. My boss is known in the community as a very upstanding kind of guy. So put those fears aside and come on over.

Enough advertising.

Friday, October 3, 2008

strength and beauty

beauty and strength

strength and beauty
to combine both is to achieve perfection
reflections in a dark pool

Temple at Dusk

laughing dragons

setting sun

Daqing City Limits

I didn't want you to think that my view of Daqing is that of a perfect modern city. I have been told that it is from day one. Here is a series of shots giving you some insight as to what can be found 5 minutes outside of town. Dirt roads, meager conditions, families with very little, and priorities that are far from what ours might be. The "house-like" building with the satelite dish also had a well taken care of silver jeep behind the closed delapitated wooden gate. The roof may not be too secure and the walls ready to crumble but satelite TV and a shiny motorvehicle surpass what we might think to be more important bear necessities.

This final image was to show how close we are to the city limits but instead the sun on the left-hand side looks a bit more like a nuclear bomb explosion about to swallow Daqing. This image is symbolic of what this trip out to the monestary at dusk did for my metal picture of Daqing as the 'model modern city.' It was swallowed up in one burst of external exposure. What CBC's the National migth call a 'Reality-Check'. When it comes to the wealth of Daqing here is another 'Reality-Check', 1% of all of China's tax revenue is generated out of this tiny, nothing-location of a city. Minutes outside the ever expanding concrete jungle the curtain is pulled back and the Wizard of Oz is revealed.

(One of the other teacher's here in Daqing is from Kansas, so the Wizard of Oz reference is especially touching. Note to my family: She is from Newton, Kansas, was in 4H too, and her grandmother's maiden name is 'Holmes')

Human Element

Burning insense in homage to Budda.

A monk bowing in the main square of the temple.

A child wearing a blond wig doing the same inside the main temple. She was particularly entertaining and happily comfortable running around the larger than life sculpture of Budda.

The most interesting monk. We asked if he had wisdom he wished to pass to us young men and he curtly told us he was not a teacher. I was hoping for more. I will try to ask this question again the next time I am at a monestary.

Human influence is everywhere. (sadly in some cases)