March 23, Baotou

    Well, time for a new letter I guess...

    I've been here for over a month now, and I've settled down pretty well to Chinese life. This means, among other things, that I no longer notice people staring at me and that I know how to cross the street without endangering my life.

    So where to start? Well.... Spring has come to Inner Mongolia with lots of sunshine and fairly warm temperatures. There are never any clouds here, so you get to see a lot of sunshine and blue sky. The downside to spring however, is that it's also the season for sandstorms... One day a few weeks ago it had been a beautiful morning and I was thinking about changing into my summer jacket. Then I had a nap for about an hour and when I woke up I couldn't see anything out the window. Apparently huge dust clouds sweep in from the Gobi desert covering the streets in sand and dust. Smart people stay inside at such times, but of course you still need to go out for work/shopping etc. so itís a good idea to wear glasses and a scarf or something over your mouth.

    I've gotten a really good start to the whole teaching thing. Apparently all the previous literature teachers at my school were trained in other areas (music, drama, grammar, etc.) so I'm the first one who's actually qualified for the classes. This made me an instant celebrity at my school, and there are actually a couple of teachers following my classes :=) A nice little boost to my already inflated ego :)

    The Chinese continue to treat me in a very friendly way, and I'm introduced to more people on a daily basis. I met some people at a fitness center I joined, some other people at an English school for adults that a friend has started, and even more at "English Corner" which is a Sunday morning meeting at a local park (where English speaking people go to practice their oral English). All of them are extremely interested in western culture in general, and of my impressions of China.

    Still, apart from the people at English Corner thing (and to a lesser extend the people at the School) they don't speak English, so I've had to step up my attempts to learn Chinese. I've ordered a "Chinese for beginners" book with some audio tapes, and I've secured the help of a tutor, so hopefully I'll learn a few more phrases. So far my Chinese is limited to telling the cab driver which direction to go, and to telling the waitresses to bring me either "beef" or "chicken"... How they choose to cook it is always a surprise :)

    On that note, I've started to practice cooking Chinese dishes. And yes, I've met with some quite spectacular failures, especially in my use of Chinese spices, but I've also had my first success in creating a decent imitation of "ji-dan gern see-hoong-shir". A culinary masterpiece if I do say so myself. A lady friend of mine has promised to teach me the mysterious ways of cooking fish the Chinese way (which includes the fish-head of course)...

 

    Well, that's it for now. Hope you are all well and that spring will come to Denmark too in the near future :)

Martin

 

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