Friday 11 November 2011

7:00 AM – I have breakfast in the dining hall:

  • congee with yam?
  • pickled green beans?
  • flat bread with scallions

8:30 AM – In class Mo looks at the vocabulary list I brought with me from home and he checks off the words he thinks are useful to know. I ask him to make a list of books for me that he recommends.

12:30 PM – I have lunch in the dining hall:

  • Lotus root with green peppers;sliced potatoes with meat and celery
  • brocolli and cauliflower with carrots, celery, and fungus
  • bun with chives
  • yellow yam

In the afternoon I walk to Hefang Street to wander around and stop at several gift shops to buy some souvenirs. The problem will be how to get all this stuff home:

  • clay painted figurines of an old couple reclining, asleep in chairs
  • laughing seated Buddha
  • two tin boxes “Safety can be fun.” These are for co-workers.
  • perpetual calendar keyring
  • two luggage tags, one with the double happiness symbol and one with “This is my fucking bag!” I put the second on my suitcase coming home and, when I went to the baggage claim area, it was missing.
  • two cross-stitch patterns for my wife
  • two keychains: a metal rifle, and a “peace messenger”
  • ten small zippered pouches with keyring and different slogans
  • small drawstring pouch “Tragic event”
  • woven flax? placemat? with a picture of a bear and “I told your grandmother is a bear”
  • small drawstring pouch “All for wife”
  • two tin boxes: “BC-handsome,” and “Chicks rule.” The second is for my daughter.
  • ceramic coffee cup “I want to add salary” for my son.
  • two shrink-wrapped boxes “Obama” and “Chairman Mao is a Red Fucker in Our Heart” with the Chinese below. I have a hunch the translation into English is not a good one and, if it were found out, heads would roll. They are about the size of a slim paperback book and I find out later that these are boxes of matches.

Then I go to the Rongbaozhai art book store to buy the six books on seal carving from Mo’s list ($34.88). On the way back to school I come across the Xilingyinshe shop and buy a few more things ($52.16 total):

  • six seal stones for practice [8.5 RMB each]
  • hard alloy seal cutting set of two knives [65 RMB]
  • boxed set of three seal knives with cream colored wraps [88 RMB]
  • wooden stand just large enough to set a seal on [80 RMB]
  • crystal seal stone

In the evening I go to Mingtown for dinner and to use their wifi. The waitress asks what I’m doing in Hangzhou but doesn’t understand what seal carving is.

  • Chrysanthemum tea
  • California Hamburger. Very good with a few differences. The meat (maybe it was hamburger) looked like it had been pounded flat with an irregular edge to it. In other words, negligible meat. I suppose the reason they called it a California Hamburger was because it had sliced cucumber on it. Also iceberg lettuce and sliced tomato and Swiss(?) cheese with a toasted sesame seed bun—maybe one of the best buns I’ve ever had. A fresh-baked French baguette flavor and very thick. All in all, a very big burger even by American standards (except for the meat). It came with American style shoestring potatoes and a small dish of catsup.

When the waitress brought my meal she asked if I was a teacher at the art college across the street (I get that a lot, maybe because of my age). When I told her I was a student she asked what I was studying. I told her seal carving (in Chinese) and she didn’t know what I was talking about. I finally got her to understand, but it’s obviously an art thing and not something the young and fashionable are concerned about. After dinner I return to the classroom and practice calligraphy then, after going back to my room, I decide to do some laundry with the assumption that the washer may not be in use this late in the evening.

It’s sunny all day but a bit chilly. It’s supposed to be sunny weather this weekend so I plan to take advantage of it and go out and take some pictures.