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What Can You Do in China Travel Game!

I'd like to open this blog to the travel game: What Can You Do in China!
We are winding down to only being in China for a little over a week, so get your questions in!

Part 1

First of all I'd like to start out with a few of my own questions.

Can you google?
Yes, you can google anything you want. (I've tried) And Google has actually gotten more powerful because China's online banking now uses google tools. So when Google recently threatened to pull out of China if China continued making demands about blocking web sites, China backed down! (I heard this news from people living in China, not the news, so you'll have to research that one b/c your research is as good as mine)>

Can you google Tiananmen Square?
Yes, but any website you try to click on comes up with a browser error, just like if you try to watch porn at the office. The company gets to decide what is blocked on their own network. However, they can't block everything (hence why guys are still getting fired for waking off at work). I can see mini thumbs of pictures (I can't open any of their web sites), and after randomly clicking and failing on accessing web sites, I got into this one:
(Don't tell China)

Can you wikipedia?
It depends on where you are. In Jinan the answer was no. In Beijing, the answer was yes, and now in Wudang the answer is back to no.

Can you smoke marijuana?
Thats an interesting topic. A British lady told us its the death penalty, a Chinese teenager told us its only the death penalty if you are a drug dealer, but for just smoking you get a fine, and an Alaskan said that his friend who was also a foreigner was caught smoking marijuana and was simply deported without allowance back into the country.

Can you speak out against the country?
Yes. A Chinese guy almost yelled in a restaurant to our one friend (who is white, but was speaking with him in Chinese) that Mao was just as bad as Stalin with how many of his own people he killed. Everyone turned to them in shock, but nothing happened. Its frowned upon and brainwashed into children in schools to not dislike their government. One Chinese girl we met we watched the Southpark about Japanese killing dolphins and she kept screaming about how much she hates the Japanese! And when I asked her why, she told us that she really didn't know, but that they are taught in their schools to hate the Japanese and love, almost worship, their government. Many people now do worship Mao as if he was ordained by god like their emperors were.

Are there any authentic martial arts?
Yes. We met some of them, and learned from some of them. Chinese people agree that during the revolution against martial arts that it died out with it being made illegal. However, not even a decade later the people were already starting to practice again. Sure they were afraid if they saw a soldier coming by, so they would stop, but even the amount of solders faded, and so did the scare. There still isn't as much authentic marital arts as there is in Taiwan or America, but they are closing that moderate gap (or so we hope).

This is Joe's Xing Yi master who he learns from while in Jinan:

For those of you who still need to take my word for it, this is not Wushu.

But for those of you who aren't impressed by seeing an internal martial art, here is an external one. A similar form (if not the same) I actually saw my old school, Green Dragon, preform (not as impressibly). But I only on video b/c it was such a highly advanced form Mr. Allen only taught a select group.

I think I rest my case. China has some good martial arts. I have many more videos of martial arts that we got to see while in China, but for now, you will have to wait until I get to that part of our journey.

Part 2

Holy Crap! Corey emailed me a lot of questions while we were in Jinan and rather than just answering her, I thought I'd answer to anyone who maybe interested.

She emailed me about 2 weeks after Master Yang left Jinan, so we are flashing forward just a bit, and to top that off right now we are in Wudang, so I am answering questions from that perspective too. Confused yet? I hope so, b/c I'm really trying here.)

what are the schools like?
In Jinan we taught at 4 different schools (its crazy!) so we only got to see each class one day a week. The schools are mostly set up the same way. The kids always have recess right before our class, and they run around acting crazy on a concrete area between the 3 buildings of the schools, usually 3 - 5 floors, and then they have an electric gate run by a man in a police uniform. The gate is about shoulder high on me and is made like a metal accordion that collapses to let people in and extends to close off the school yard.


No, not as far as I've seen.

are the kids really good students?
Sometimes. Mostly we teach 9 - 14 year old kids, and our first class we couldn't get to stop eating candy and passing around tea and having their own little tea party in sections of the room, and one girl who turned around in her seat skipped the second half of the class after our 10 min. break. The older kids are generally more behaved, and on the other side of the spectrum we had a class that loved every minute of class, and during the 10 min. break they made a mad dash to our table at the front of the room and shoved notebooks in our hands and had us sign our names. (So cute, and so creepy at the same time).


are things similar to our schools?
Hard to tell considering I've never seen anyone teach except for Joe, and he teaches like an American teaching a class he has no idea how much they already know and are ready to learn.

do they encourage collective and work ethic a lot more like Montessori or family values like that newer Montessori (I forget the new method's name)?
What is Montessori? Okay, I looked it up on the internet, but didn't read it all the way through b/c like I said, I have no idea how the school is run when Joe and I aren't teaching.

Bin use to complain that the teachers in america sometimes corrected her in front of the students and that was never done over there... there was a lot of respect for teachers...
We've never been corrected by the teacher mostly because the teacher usually leaves or isn't there to begin with. I think we might be some sort of extra curricular class or something that doesn't have regular teachers sometimes. Others when the teacher stays she may come up to us at the end of class and tell us to go slower or faster or what the kids know or don't know, but that has actually only happened once in the 4 weeks we taught.

what do people think of America over there?
They almost wet themselves (the children) when they find out we are American. Most people who we've met who know English want to go to the USA to go to college or to do business. Also, for teaching English Americans are #1, Canadian #2, British #3, and Australian's are #4.

do they hate us?
They don't hate us, in fact the few who we've talked politics too feel bad for us. One girl thought it was terrible that the rich Americans don't want to give their money to the government to help their country, and that the rich Chinese are proud to help build their countries schools and other government run programs. She also said that she would rather have her leader picked for her than get to vote on the 2 guys who paid the most money to be in a position to run for election.
As for other foreigners, they hate us. We met a Slovakian, he hated America (especially me). We met a guy from Ireland who makes jokes that aren't funny, but evil spirited, about America so much that I started defending it! We met a guy from Turkey, he hates America and says he is from Turkey even though he was born in Texas, and lived in Georgia until he was 9 when his parents moved back to the country they are from, Turkey. I like to tell him to explain to people (he has been in China for a year, so he speaks Chinese) that I am from O'tel'ri'a (Australia), because I haven't lived in the USA for 8 months now and my citizenship is almost as much Australian as he is Turkish (he holds an American passport too).

how's the apartment?
Our apartment in Jinan was good once I doused the place in bleach. You don't have to clean the apartment when you leave, so there was still food in the bowls (apartments in China come furnished sometimes times, so we got one of those b/c we didn't want to buy a bed and all for only 3 weeks). Luckily one of the mom's we've been having take care of us gave us bleach, a mop, a dust pan, a broom, and all sorts of rags. We were staying at her father's apartment for a week while he was out of town, and I thought she brought those over for us to clean his apartment. But she said no no no, that she would clean his apartment for us with his stuff, and that she brought those for our apartment. We got the place for 60 rmb a night, which is less than $10, and we get internet and a kitchen with a fridge and a stove and a bathroom with a shower and a european toilet (yes, most of china has squatting toilets, they still are porcelain and flush, but they are like toilet bowls in the ground).


are you in the city near the school or more in the country?
We are in the capital city of the Shangdong province (Jinan). It is cold here, usually in the 40's, so we wouldn't have stayed here so long but Master Yong set us up with so many people to help us out and hang out with us and teach us martial arts and places to work we had to stay here for a while. (There are so many people here! Its ridiculous! It is seriously the most crowded place I've ever been to, and you don't leave the city until you hit countryside. The suburbs are built up just like the city, so think of leaving downtown Chicago only when you hit open fields, and multiply the number of people in the city at least by 10. Also, there is usually too much pollution to see the sky, so we've only seen blue sky 2 times now in the month we've spent in China.

what do you like most about being over there?
Umm, the... I don't know! The currency exchange! Everything overhear is really really cheap except for places like McDonalds. Anything imported is imported prices. But if you want to buy a chinese meal at a restaurant, it usually cost us under $10 for the 2 of us. Also, there is no tipping in China, you just pay for your food.

the fresh food?
There is fresh food, but you aren't allowed to eat it. All their food has been heavily chemicalized in order to make sure that enough crops stay good to feed the ridiculous amounts of people, and they are transported in dirty cars and handled with dirty hands (soap doesn't exist outside of private residences, and there aren't too many bathrooms so toddlers here have holes in their pants so if they have to go, they just squat on the sidewalk where they are selling food and go). So all their food you have to wash really really well, and then boil. They gag when they see Joe and I eating raw veggies, and the scrunch up their nose when they see us eat fruit without skinning it first. I'm not a terrible fan of China actually. Their food usually makes my tummy bubbly or makes me not want to eat (come on, you had to see that one coming). I've become something of a vegetarian in China. Or so we tell people we meet. It just makes them less inclined to try to shove fish heads in my face or prod me to try chicken feet, "Just give it a try!" with a big smile. Yeah, I've been just giving strange food a try for the 2 weeks Master Yong was here, and I'm ready for some simple veggies and noodles now please.

did you eat a durian yet?
old answer: What is a durian? Okay, I just looked it up. No we haven't bought one yet, but Master Yong said that it is the best fruit in the world.
Now that we are in Wudang, I would like to correct this statement I made while in Jinan. I have had durian, and if it is too fresh (not ripe) it is like eating a fresh banana. Really fiberous and doesn't really taste or smell like anything. But if you let it ripen (think brown banana), then it is sweet gewy goodness that stinks like wet, sweaty socks. It is called the king of all fruits not because the taste is so good (I don't think its any better than a ripe banana or honeydew), but it is uber healthy for you with no negative side affects like access vitamins building up in your liver.

are you allowed to eat them in your apartment or is it too stinky?...
old answer: Again, haven't tried.
And, now that I'm in Wudang, yes, you can eat it in your apartment or hotel room. You can only smell the fruit once you hold it up to your face. If its in your lap, you can't smell it. However, once it hits your breath, and you start breathing with the taste in your mouth, its like turning on a fan. We had to open a window and air the place out. But its just like stinking up your kitchen with an aroma, it smells, and then goes away after a few minutes.

did you know they have a bunch of monkeys on really long leashes that pick tea and coconuts...
No, I did not.

you should buy monkey coconuts...did you try a bird's nest soup or aged egg?...
No to the soup, and no to the egg, and no to ever seeing either, and we've been exposed to a lot of Chinese food from spicy Sichuan to plain steamed buns.

I think I read those are really expensive...
I just looked them up on the internet, and they are really expensive, same thing with the monkeys, so most people in china wouldn't have had those either. But I would say that China is also not a Communist country, and so would most people in China. Sure, the government does some things that could be considered Communist like taking rich peoples homes and turning them into museums and stuff, but today most of the people never are touched by the Communist like society and live in a deeply Capitalistic society where they can be beggars or middle class citizens biased on how much they can make. Everything cost money here, and for most people what they make is theirs to become whatever they want, just like everywhere else.

are you learning the language?
Kinda, I mostly do all the reading, and Joe does all of the speaking.

is it hard?
YES! They will try to teach me to say something, and I'll say it back to them, and they always laugh! Then when they explain, no start high, then go down, then make the sound high again ( U ), and I'll correct my pronunciation to include the tone, and they will just laugh harder! There are only 4 tones, up-down-up: U , up (like a question in English) / , down \ , and flat --- (which i've understood to be 3 tones in itself: high pitched flat, normal flat, and low pitched flat... yeah, I hate this language). Then if you leave the north and head south, they speak Cantonese and not Mandarin, so nobody in the south would understand us northerners anyhow. Except for the town we started in in the south b/c its mostly filled with people under 30 (the city is only 30 years old), and most schools teach the kids Mandarin.

do you do warm ups in the morning with the groups that meet ( I think I see pictures of people meditating in the mornings as a group...I would love to have group meditation before work...
Yes and no. Joe does a meditative martial arts every morning 6 - 8 am in the park, and I do wu shu with Joe Sat. mornings in the park from 7:30-9:30, but thats about it. A lot people in China work the morning market (only open 5- 8 am) and then go to their day jobs, and then work the night market (only open 6 - 10 pm). Like I said, this place is really capitalistic now, so not as many people do morning group warmups like they used to. Those who don't have work in the mornings get together at parks real early (just about the same time Joe is at practice) and they do all sorts of exercises. Here are the top five warm ups I saw people do in the mornings the one morning I got my ass up to watch Joe practice. Number one is probably some sort of martial art. They have people learning Tai Chi, Tai Chi Sword, Ba Gua, Xing Yi, etc. Those are all internal styles, meaning there is a level of meditation and energy movement and attention to body movement beyond martial application. Number two is crazy middle aged women doing techno line dancing. Number three is probably the exercise equipment. They have tuns of stair master, cross country skiing, parallel bars, etc. all over the park that mostly old people play on doing all sorts of repetitive motions. Number four is badminton, they love that game! And number five is a slow moving hacky-sack with a bunch of feathers on the end to make it move slow.

Have anything else you would like me to test the waters with? Comment on the blog.

Posted by - Rain 08:48

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These videos are so revealing, along with the photos of you two in the classroom and your apartment. About the video of Joe's master and the other man doing Xing Yi: is that a pre-set sequence they have learned or are they just responding to each other's moves? Also, about the last video that shows Joe in a red shirt talking with others--is that the same group, that does Xing Yi in the mornings? Joe looks very comfortable in conversation there. Is he speaking mostly Chinese or English. I notice that he and the other man both use their hands too. How much has Joe become able to communicate in Chinese? And how the heck did you ever start learning to read it??

by Sheryl S

1. It is a 2 man fighting form using Xing Yi
2. Yes, same group
3. He is speaking in all Chinese and sign language
4. I learned how to read Chinese while I took Japanese for a year

by - Rain

hi vanessa, danielle says if you want to get her something from china, she just wants some chinese coins, not paper money, she loves coins.

by georgi r

hey guys, i was excited to read happy woman's day, but it isn't showing up! ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

by georgi r

Here is an email I got from Sheryl S:
So that was a form rather than the two men improvising? I would be equally impressed either way. I thought it was beautiful--suggesting the strategies and moves that could be used in a fight, if they chose to move into that mode.

by - Rain

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