Goodbye Jishan

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Winter camp is over. It did not really feel like a camp from past times I have done them. Most camps I do, the kids are there as a sleep away camp. This one, they left after the classes to go back home. And, the camp was not as successful as the bosses wanted. They only had 7 kids, with 3 of them being relatives. But, I got paid what I was promised. So, they took a financial hit.

It was a good experience overall. I was there to work. I got to experience life in a small Chinese town. And, the people were very friendly to me. The bread shop I would stop and get my fire baked bread from a metal drum oven gave me 5 breads as a going away gift. The last day, some of the local kids, who were not part of my camp, came into the classroom asking to get their picture with me. And, the boy in the pictures above was very special. He is the son of the Muslim family that ran the local Long Joe Noodle restaurant. I love my Long Joe noodles. I am sad he did not smile in the pics. Murphy’s Law at work again. He has the greatest smile.

I have a couple of video to upload to the blog. I am processing them as I type this entry. It was very boring in jishan. It is not a sightseeing location by any means. It is 4 hours by bus from a large city. There are a few older temples there. Some mountains in the distance. But, it is a town that is very remote. It is quaint, as small towns go. The old and the very young stay to keep things alive. Those who can, get out and go one to find their fortunes. They are building like every other town in China. Buildings go up with many laying empty. The high speed rail never quite made it to them, so you drive an hour to reach the depot. They do have a regular train though.

Speaking of trains, let me tell you of my 14 hour journey back to Shangrao. I began the day at 5 AM with my wake up call. I met the boss at 6 AM in the lobby. His father and mother drove us to the high speed train station. It was very interesting to me the difference in culture. If am American leaves for months at a time and they are saying goodbye to their parents, it is a bif performance. Maybe some tears. Hugs and kisses. The never ending goodbye speech. The walking away and turning back to wave and blowing kisses. The etching that scene in memory for later. My boss comes from a traditional family. He said some short words to them, and we walked away. No hugs, kisses, handshakes, or anything. It was as if he was leaving just for the day and would return later that evening. But, he was leaving them for at least 6 month or more.

So, we take our one hour train trip to Xian. Boss delivers me to a bus that will take me to the other side of town to the airport. Actually, it is in another town. We say our goodbyes and he is off to get on the subway to his home in Xian.

China has spent billions of dollars on their infrastructure. But, they really have no clue to city planning I think. If you are going to build all these massive transportation hubs, you should try to put them closer together. Instead, they are spread out in great distances. I have to take a bus for an hour and half just to reach the airport.

I get to the airport and have to wait three hours. I go through security with no problems. They have adopted many of the same things we have in America. I wait in a long line to get my ticket and check my bag. I get to the counter and the guy tells me that he can give me my boarding pass, but I have to come back to check my bag since I was so early. Ugghhhh. I being to look around for a western restaurant. The only thing I see is a Pizza Hut. Where is the McDonald and the other good stuff. I wanted something cheap and familiar. I was not in a pizza mood. But, I was hungry. 100 RMB later ($15 USD), I have a fill stomach. I get back into the long line that has doubled in length and check my bag. I then go to the security check point to get to my gate. Another long line. And, as I am standing there, I am reading all the things you are not permitted to take with you. I have already surrendered my lighter and bottle water at the deposit station. But, there is something new. They are preventing people from taking the external phone batteries everyone has now days. And, I have one in my bad. You would think they would put a notice up near the bag check counter so you can put this in your checked baggage. It is not expensive, but I had just bout this a month prior. I go through the security check. Thankfully, they did not say anything. I go to keep the battery. Woo Hoo. As I am walking to my gate, what do I see…A BURGER KING AND A SUBWAY. Really!!!!! I was so tempted to gorge myself on the western food right then. But, I had a belly full of pizza, salad, Clam Chowder. But, it looked oh so good. I know when I go back to America, my parents are going to think I am nuts when I demand they take me to a Taco Bell or another fast food place.

The plane trip was ok. Some turbulence, but I still sleep most of the way. With all of the Asian airlines crashing, it sits in the back of your mind. But, what the hell. It would be a quick death I think. An hour and twenty minutes later, I am landing in Nanchang. Another long bus trip across town to the high speed train station. Now, mind you, I have been through several security check points already this day with all my luggage. No problems. I get to Nanchang train station and the gal at the X-Ray machine stops me. Although she is speaking to me in Chinese, I know what she wants. She is asking me if I have scissors in my bag. Of course I do. I have all my teaching supplies in there. But, I play dumb and tell her that I do not speak Chinese. We repeat ourselves three times. We are both smiling. And, she waves me off. Another foreigner is standing there and he tries to tell me what she wanted. I explained to him that I am well aware of what they wanted. I was just playing the dumb foreigner. I had no intention of opening my bag to dig through all my things for a pair of scissors. We laugh it off. I find my gate and I stand in line. I have about 20 minutes before departure. As I am standing there, a Chinese lady cuts to the very front of the line. I am about the third person in line. I say very loudly “Really!!!!”. She looks back at me and smiles. She then begins to talk about me to her husband. I know this because they keep looking back at me and smiling. The Chinese woman in front of me turns to me and rolls her eyes in approval of me saying something and almost wanting to apologize for the rude behavior of this other woman. I did not say anything more to her. She knew she made a faux pas. And, she lost face with a foreigner. But, she kept smiling that bitchy smile back at me. I wanted to wipe it off her face with my backpack. I get to the train. And, who should be sitting in front of me…damn!!!! Thankfully they do not notice me and it was a pleasant trip. My station is called on the speaker and I get up to collect my things. I am standing off to one side of the aisle. I hate the mad rush of the crowds getting on and off the trains. And, who should be getting off at my stop…Yep, the woman and her family. And, what does she do? She begins to try to push her and the family to the train door to get off first. Her husband holds her back, but she is the leader of the family. Luckily, there was no where for her to go. We exit the train. At the train station exits, you have to show your ticket to exit. I show my ticket to the guard and he lets me pass. The woman and her family are left at the exit as she tries to find her lost ticket. Ha Ha…I love Karma.

I make a stop at the McDonalds for dinner. I then hail a cab to take me to my apartment. It should cost me 20 RMB. But, as usually, the guy quotes me 30. I bicker with him a bit. He smiles and waves me on. He stops to pick up another fare. And, we are trlying to talk to each other the best we can. I get dropped off at my place and that ends my long day of travel from Jishan.

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