Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Daqing Never Knew Pu Yi

I haven't written anything for a while but am finding myself presently intrigued by a biography about Pu Yi, The Last Emperor of China. I never managed to see the movie version of this book which came out in 1987 (I was 11 years old then and watching historical dramas was not a high priority) but it is now on my list of "Must See" films.

I knew so little of this part of the world but through historic films, the Internet, chatting with my new friends here in Daqing and this book, I am finding that this part of the world as a long and deeply interesting history.

My time here in Daqing has been intoxicating. Some of my local friends may say that this statement is a literal description based on my recent altercations with Chinese wine (baijiu). But my meaning is rather that of learning, flooding my mind with a 'newness' that I was both looking for and had yet been unfathomable to me until I immersed myself in a new culture. Crazy though it may seem to take oneself out of the regular (and admittedly comfortable) life, and dropping oneself into a world where everything screams 'difference', my life here in Daqing has been harrowing and humbling.

Similar to the few months that I lived in Guyana, South America, I feel that I have had a chance to grow, to give water to my roots, to spread my branches a little further out and to reach a little higher into the sky providing myself with a broader view of the world. If others cannot find it in themselves or find the opportunity (no fault of their own) to do something similar maybe I can at least tell them a story or three so that they too can find the world a slightly larger place than it was yesterday.

Pu Yi's world was made small by his limited existence within the confines of his various 'prisons' but the story of his tribulations now widens mine. How recent the tumultuous past of this region. How, now, I am able to better understand the conflicting emotions (or as the case maybe, so straight forwardly decided the emotions remain) displayed towards foreigners in this part of the world. What must live on in the minds of the population over 50 here in Heilongjiang of the relations between the Chinese and those who adamantly fought for what should have belonged to the people of the Chinese Northeast. Russia's and Japan's greed for this prosperous land and its hardy inhabitants. The discovery of the all-important oil wells and the power struggles for governance. I'm impressed by the calm and the progress. I can only sit back and try to display some reverence of my own for such a land.

What the future holds will be revealed in time.

ganbei (Cheers!) to the Chinese New Year!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Daqing Christmas Truman Kang

Even the Big Boss Man needs to sit on Santa's lap to put in his requests.

Truman is a great sport and had a load of fun getting his picture taken with Mr. and Mrs. Clause.

More Daqing Christmas Pics

The kids looked really cute in the Santa hats, the little guys loved showing off their ability to do the Chicken Dance, the school looked festive with all the decorations and my little friends were all smiles.
Great Christmas!

Christmas in Daqing

Sorry it has taken me so long to get these pics up. We had a great time at the Christmas pageants that we hosted at EF.

The kids had a lot of fun.
The latin dance champions were incredible and the traditional Chinese gujung (harp-like instrument) were great additions to the show.

Happy New Year from Daqing

Today is Chinese New Year's Eve. The thing to do is spend the evening with family and eat dumplings at mid-night. Everyone has traveled home to be with family. China was buzzing with travelers for the past week as students and the working class were making their way back to their home towns. There have been firecrackers going off at all times of the day and night.

A student found out that I had no plans and invited me and another teacher to spend the evening with her and her family. It should be nice to welcome in the New Year with a traditional Chinese family.

I don't think I will take my camera as I don't want to offend them by making a spectacle of their festivities. I will write about it instead.

All the best to everyone in this, the year of the OX.

More Haerbin Ice Pics

The Ice World was quite the spectacle. All over town there were ice sculptures. Even the streets were lined with ice-lamp posts. It really outdoes anything I've seen in Canada.

I was surprised by the Ice-Bikes. Skates are not common as most Chinese cannot skate. The bikes are safer apparently.
What was really interesting (though I forgot to take a picture) was the Mongolian camel that they had available for rides. It just seemed strange to see a camel outside in the -30 degree air. I recently watched a documentary about the worlds deserts and as we all know camels are great at conserving water so this specific type of camel does well in the frozen waste lands of Inner Mongolia. They are extremely rare and endangered. My habitation here never ceases to surprise me.

We finished off our trip to the Ice World with a Haerbin Beer in the heated beer tent. You could also get hot boiled duck eggs to heat you up after wandering around in the freezing cold. A little different from hot-chocolate and Timbits.

Haerbin Ice Festival

Haven't had much time to blog as of late. I was promoted to DOS (Director of Studies) status when I returned after Christmas. As well we have entred into 'Intensive Period' which is the public school system's winter break. The students do not have regular classes so they are able to come during the week for extra English help. One of my co-workers has taken ill so on top of my regular teaching load I have been given DOS duties and the extra classes that need to be covered. It's a bit hectic. Feels like home.

I managed to take my one day off two weeks ago and go see the very impressive Haerbin Ice World. Incredible really. Check out the pics.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back in DAqing

Back in the place to be, Daqing. 30 hours in cars, planes and airports is quite enough. I thought I had it bad until the new teacher arrived and he came from Missouri via Toronto. 38 hours one way. It is crazy how far away this place is.

Here a couple of pictures from the holiday season. I might throw a couple more up here tonight or tomorrow.

My sister's little guy makes a great Chinese Emperor.