Saturday, September 24, 2011

Jonathan and Nicholas have been playing "futsal" here in Shekou with the Shekou Youth Sports Program.  We thought it would be soccer.  Same idea, but it is indoor on a gymnasium type surface, no cleats, gym shoes.  The ball is small and fast!  It is just Saturday mornings.  Drills and scrimmage, so much less of a program than we were used to in Ohio.  They seem to be enjoying it, although Jonathan wishes we were playing "real soccer, on grass!".  Here are some photos of Jonathan, Nicholas, and Nicholas' new buddy, Liam.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Climbing Mt. Shekou

Mike and I hiked up Mt. Shekou on Monday (we had a day off and our Ayi was here and could watch the boys).  The boys would never be able to make it to the top.  It is really nice, though. They have built steps into the mountain so you can go all the way to the top.  It is a really good workout, too.  We took the camera this time so you can see the city.  It was a really clear day because it was a Chinese holiday.  The factories were not running because people had the day off.  When the factories are running, the pollution blocks out most of the sun.  Here are some good pictures of Shekou and Shenzhen (Shekou is basically a suburb of Shenzhen) and the bay between China and Hong Kong.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Beach weekend!

We had a 3-Day weekend in honor of a Chinese holiday on Monday, so we decided to take part of it to go exploring.  We took the Metro until it ended, then hailed a taxi and went to a beach called Dameisha.  It is still in Shenzhen, but it took about 2 hours to get to.  We went with another family from school.  We found a hotel there.  It was ok.  Quite old.  Very interesting features, though.  You had to put your door card into a slot inside the room in order to turn on the lights and air conditioning.  That way, when you left your room, you would not leave anything running.  Pretty smart!  The beds were horribly hard, so we were glad we only stayed one night.  It was not right on the beach.  We walked to the public access.  We went that afternoon and again the next morning before we checked out.  The water was great!  Quite clear.  The waves were perfect for playing in!  One thing that seemed a bit odd for a "resort" area, was that you could see all the big cargo ships not far out from the beach area.  They are huge!  All our "made in China" items for the States going on their merry way!  We also saw a coast guard type ship.  Notice all the big "bird men" on the beach.  They had several of these in different colors.  I guess art?!
On the metro

View from our hotel room.
Cargo ships in the distance
Catching some waves

Chinese Coast Guard
The Chinese cheer when a big wave comes!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Family Foot Massages!

Last weekend we all went to get Foot Massages.  I had gone when we first got here with someone from school.  It is a common treat here.  Mike didn't want to go, but the boys did.  We went out to dinner with another family and we ladies convinced all our men and boys to go as a group.  They LOVED it!  :)  It is not just a foot massage.  For $6.00 (yes, really, only $6.00!) you get a 60 minute massage.  They call it a foot massage because your feet soak in a big tub of warm water until they do your feet at the end of the massage.  They start with your neck and back, do your arms, hands, legs and feet.  Very relaxing.  Here are some pictures of my boys.  Of course, I'm never in any pictures!  I am going to include a picture from today, though.  I received a huge, beautiful bouquet of flowers today from one of my students because tomorrow is "Chinese Teachers Day" I was told.  They are like what a bride carries in a wedding.  I am also including a variety of "moon cakes" that I have been getting all week.  This weekend they celebrate their Autumn Festival, which is all about the moon.  Inside these little cakes are egg yolks (to represent the moon).  They are very dense, and not very tasty, in the opinion of us Westerners.  The Chinese love them, though.  They are really pretty, just yucky to eat.  I was also given a big Pomelo today.  They eat these along with the moon cakes.  They have a big family feast, organize childrens' games, and hang red lanterns.  In rural areas, they let the lanterns fly up into the night sky.  They are not allowed to do that in the city.  We are heading out tomorrow to a beach for a day or two since we have a long weekend (no school Monday).  Maybe we'll see some.  The beach we are going to is supposed to be "Oriental Hawaii"-really pretty.  I hope so.  We'll take some pictures and post them when we get back.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Our Ayi's cooking!

Our Ayi (domestic helper/childcare provider for after school) has been cooking for us Monday-Friday.  It is great to be able to get home from work at 6:00 and have dinner ready!  She was trying to make some Western dishes the first week we were here, and they were terrible.  The person she worked for before us apparently did not like to cook with any flavor.  We told her to only cook Chinese food (and I cook our American food on weekends).  Much better!  She is really a good cook.  We wish she could cook some spicier foods, but the boys wouldn't eat that anyway.  Here are some dishes she has made to give you an idea of the yummy food we are getting to try!  She cooks so much for dinner, that Mike and I take the leftovers to school for lunch the next day.  I don't have any pictures of the drumsticks or chicken wings she makes, but the boys really like those (even Jonathan eats the chicken wings!!).
I am also including some pictures of the boys from their first day of school on here.  All 3 are settling in and enjoying their new classes and making new friends.  

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Visa Day

Kristie and I had to go to the local police station and a government office today. It was a formality to complete our work visas. During my interview, I was asked what I teach. I told the officer that I was teaching secondary mathematics. In China, I'm a rock star since I teach math. After that, it was a quick few stamps on my paperwork and I was dismissed. I believe he wanted my autograph to show his kids, but I think he was too embarrassed to ask for one. Kristie was being grilled by another officer. She asked Kristie several questions regarding what she was doing in China, why did she want to come to China, etc. It ended with the officer saying that Kristie was a "Great Mother" because she has three boys. I have always said that she was a good mother, however, it took a Chinese police officer to convince her that she is a "Great Mother". It seems the Chinese are impressed with our ability to bring so many boys into the world.

We took a break after the police station and went to a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch with several other people from QSI. I had the best cup of coffee in China. The Vietnamese hot coffee with milk was one of the most delicious cups of coffee I have had since Brazil when I drank cafezinhos. It was rich, slightly sweet, smooth with no bitter aftertaste. The best part is that it was relatively cheap. Starbucks is outrageous here in Shekou. For around $2.00 USD, I had a perfect cup of coffee.

After lunch, we had to drive into the heart of Shenzhen. We were very close to Shun Hing Square. This is the tallest building in China. We also drove past MixC. This is like the Rodeo Drive of Shenzhen, China. Gucci, Prada, etc. The prices are no different in China than the States. Only a select few can afford to shop at this mall. At the government office, it was just as uneventful. Our interview consisted of asking our full given name, where we were born and what we taught. A quick review of our paperwork and we were approved to stay and work in China.

When we left the building, we had a terrifying sight. A young man was perched on the edge of the government building ready to jump. It was a completely surreal experience. Just like a Hollywood movie with bystanders looking up, police keeping people away from the area and people telling him don't do it. Fortunately it ended with a police officer pulling him off of the edge. We were all thankful for the courage and strength of the officer. The young man was escorted by a police officer with a gentle arm around the young man's shoulder. Our Chinese coworker assured us that he would be going to the hospital for psychiatric help. Unfortunately, there is a high incidence of suicide in Asia.

Kristie and I were able to get home earlier today. We decided to walk up the mountain that is located by our home. The mountain is a public park that has steps that lead to the peak. The locals here walk up and down it as a means to get away from the hectic congested city. It is quite peaceful and an exercise of will to climb to the top. Kristie and I managed to get to the top. As typical Americans, we were determined to get to the top as quickly as possible. The Chinese have a very different approach. They walk slow and steady. I quickly determined why they do this method. We were out of breath and dripping with sweat after a short time into our trek. It is not to say that the Chinese did not work up a sweat. They did not get out of breath like we did. We were quite proud of ourselves to reach the top. It was worth the sweat and labor. We had a nice view of Shenzhen Bay and we were able to see parts of Hong Kong. Going down was relatively easy. On the way down, we saw a young couple having a romantic rendezvous under a Chinese pavilion. It reminded me of Kristie and myself when we were dating at Miami University. The feeling of wonder, the desire to be with each other, wanting to share every experience with each other, to be in love for the first time.

Today was an adventure. It made me realize how blessed I am to have a wonderful wife, three great children and an opportunity to experience life in China with my family.