Tuesday, 28 April 2009


forgot to do top of the morning

so yesterday i saw 2 bus banners that tickled me more
you NEVER see english on signs in xi'an... so when you do it's like a visual treat - you are the king of reading town and your subjects are giving you a show
unfortunately there is a reason why they do not write much english on bus advertisements
apparently it is bad

'mothers 3rd birthday'
if your mother is three... you have a problem

'ok mans banner'
a banner strictly for men? or a banner designed by men? if it's the later - you are incorrect. this banner is not 'ok' -- it is very poor

at the university i saw a really fat girl (not very common at all in china) wearing a sesame street t-shirt that said "big bird"
seriously laughed aloud and had to turn it into a cough. if i had been more discreet about it i would have asked for a photo - but i think she thought i was shocked at her size
she was indeed a big bird - the person who bought her that has an EXCELLENT sense of humour. i would like t o meet them

Monday, 27 April 2009


I have been the worlds worst blogger the last few days.
So I last posted the panda blog,

lots has been going on.

Sunday was terracotta-time!!!! Still felt SO ill in the morning so went back to bed. pretty dull. But by half ten i dragged my snotty self out of bed, got ready and went to get the bus into town. I had to change buses in town before i even reached the major bus station where the coaches for teh terracotta warriors were. i got the wrong bus, so got a taxi to take me back to the bus stop nearest where i was. then i got the wrtong bus AGAIN - had to eventually just get a taxi to take me to the train/coach station. STRESSFUL. so by about one i actually managed to get on b oard the terracotta bus.
the journey was about 40 minutes. then the woman told me to get off.

so poor old tourist anna, thinks, oh terracotta warriors looks very quiet - good.
i buy a ticket. cruise into this very beautiful hilly area. start reading the museum boards --- oh very interesting info about an emporer, very nice. right. lets follow the heard of people (this has been a massive habit of mine if i do not know where i am going. FIND WHITE PEOPLE AND LARGE GROUPS)
it took me a good 15 minutes before i realised this was NOT the terracotta warriors and infact in was the masoleum of emporer qin something or other.

i leave the gate, the ticket man looked pretty confused as he had just seen me walk in.
i bought ANOTHER bus ticket to the warriors. ten minutes later i arrive at the REAL destination.

the warriors were very spectaculor and the concept of them being burried underground for so long was really very amazing. the DETAIL of some of the work as well was just amazing. they had a couple in glass cages for you to look at close and they were incredible.

i was there about 2 hours.
went home still feeling so ill!
had a nap

got up so i could speak to you UK folk at a REASONABLE time your time.

then sleep

got up monday morning at 6
got ready
got the bus to the university.

i thought i was going to be sitting in chinese lessons - not knowing what was going on - doodling or whatever.

they wanted me to speak to the chinese students and answer their questions from 8-4.30 (with lunch break)
it was SO FUNNY
a boy drew a picture for me.
a class wrote me a poster saying friendship from 'politics major students of xi'an shaanxi normal university'
and a boy asked me to marry him

major differences at chinese universities includdeeee
the calsses are between 25 - 60
the students have cute little textbooks and exercises (it's more like a high school really)
it's also more like ia high school in the sense that the desks are arranged in pairs or rowns facing the teacher

very bizarre

i had some intersting discussions and some trivial discussions.
a boy in one class asked my oppinion on tibet!!! wow. i told him that english people generally wanted to free tibet and tried to insult his government as LITTLE as possible
every class i taught had similar questions --- do i like xi'an? do i like chinese food? do i have boyfriend? am i scared here?
one girl asked who i thought the best looking boy in the class was - i said i didn't know. i asked her what she thought - she ACTUALLY SAID THE NAME OF A BOY
declared her love across the classroom. poor boy. he looked very shy
(he was also quite geeky!?!? :S)

by the time i got home i could not even speak

so i drank LOTS of special tea. had dinner. went to bed at 7 and did not wake up until 6am. so much for getting lots done yesterday evening.

today was easier
i did pretty much the same but only taught 8-12.

was a little insane when one class did an on the spot performance for me when the teacher asked.
i have 2 female solos, one male solo, one male duet and then a dance.

i'm pretty sure if a foriegner came to an english uni/school that is THE LAST thing we would do. BUT I LOVED IT!
then i did some ballet for them! haha

went and got some lunch after i finished
chinese version of subway

steamed bread in like a burger bun esque shape. you can put whatever you like in.
i had some sweet and sour - esque pork, with so many cute veggies and egg an d chicken and other china goodies. oh my god. it was amazing.

over the last couple of days speaking to loads of chinese students and also hai-fi last night --- i have learnt some interesting facts

  • chinese people eat certain foods for good luck before an exam. for example. they eat one long food (a rib) and two round foods (2 eggs) so that they eat 1 --0 --0 - aka 100%
  • they eat pistachio nuts for intelligence (because they look a bit like a brain)
  • if a chinese couple has a child out of wedlock - that child is not recognised as a citizen by chinese government
  • also - communism in full swing - the uni i am teaching at is a special uni for people who want to become teachers... they must have a teaching position when they leave. so for example if they got a bf or gf at uni - they lived in a different province - they would have to leave that partner after uni because they must return to their home province to teach
tonight i am teaching the eight year olds again. it is one of their birthdays. i should probably buy her something. but i would have no idea what. i don't even know if i can buy cards? do they give cards in china? should i buy one>??!?!?x

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The panda and the poorly

This morning was an early start. couldn't sleep because of the noise - got up at seven and once i had showered etc strolled out onto the streets of downtown xi'an. There was VERY little going on. I was suprised usually it's hussle and bussle mania but because it's a saturday most people were asleep.
Chinese people REALLY like to nap

I think deep down inside i am chinese. i like sleep. i like food. i like tea. i perhaps like to party a little bit too much though.

anyway. it was quite sunny. (i say sunny, it was warm enough to take off my cardigan and the grey sheet i've been living under looked like someone had turned a light on above it) so i had a little read of my new book.. italo calvino - difficult lovers. they're short stories so they're really handy for bus rides. i read two. at 9 o'clock my taxi arrived to take me to THE PANDA SANCTUARY.

after breaking down twice and having to be jump started we were on our way. we drove for forty minutes so that plus getting the car moving took us to aboutquarter to eleven. I cruised around the panda place with marie and dave and i was really happy to see them. i fed some of the 'baby' panda although i couldn't hold them because they were older than one which means their claws are developed

the main purpose of the sanctuary is to get the panda to breed

i don't know how much people know about pandas but they are a VERY neerly extinct species.. why?
they aren't sure how to have sex

one of teh pandas in the reserve only has one hand because during a 'sex game' her mate ripped her arm off.


so what do these gamekeepers do
  • teach the men how to stand on their back legs in the hopes that they will eventually mount a female
  • artificially inseminate the females
  • aneasthitise the males, put an electrode up their bum - whizz it untill they ejaculate and then use this 'love juice' on the ladies
  • and my personally favourite ---- show the pandas dirty movies. you heard it hear first. PANDA PORN. (just to point them in the right direction)

something must be working though because they have had 3 cubs in 4 years.. which is quite alot.

after lunch and looking at more monkeys and cute animals i went home again.

i had felt particularly snivvley all day (and in fact because i had such a bad cold i wasn't allowed to go into the BABY BABY ICKLE panda place)

got home had a nap. still felt terrible
packed my bag for the youth hostel though (this was in an attempt to make friends)
had dinner
could barely eat with coughing and snivvling

decided not to go.

instead. tonight i have
facebooked - watched hairspray (WHICH I LOVED... i tried to watch it once but i thought it was too intense and i wasn't in the mood. but this time round was just amazing) re-heated some dinner left overs - snuggled in my duvet - coughed up some intestines.

so now i am off to bed. tomorrow is my last day off so i am going to do the terracota warriors and the 'tang paradise'.
if you're especially keen and interested you can look them up online.

i've also popped a couple of pictures up. on my facebook. so enjoy. missing everyone

Friday, 24 April 2009

Lazy mornings - Markets - Starbucks - GOSSIP GIRL

As today is my first day off... i took a leave of absense from mania of china and decided to have a lesuire day

got up VERY LATE at 10.20 (i woke up twice before that because of noises outside)

did a washload, replied to some e-mails regarding pandas etc (will be explained later) then i finally booked my flights and train tickets for the next stage of my trip. going to book accom this evening.

then at about mid-day i packed up my belongings and went into teh city centre to my favourite starbucks again. wandered around for a little while because it was sunny today unlike the ENTIRE of this week. ALthough i suppose you can't see the sun, it's just warmer - it's always grey outside so pretty much every day i have looked out my window, guessed the weather, gone outside and found it is much warmer/wetter/colder than it first appeared. So today i was in t-shirt but also took coat and jumper. luckily it was a t-shirt day. on t-shirt days the chinese girls put up their parasols to protect them from the sun.... i being a 2nd rate sun slave rolled up my sleeves and found a prime position to chill at starbucks.
n.b. when i say sunny - it's still not as sunny as you lucky bums in england. as in. MADE NO DIFFERENCE to my skin colour, but felt reasonably warm. the fact that my sister is peeling makes me sick

i read my book for a while and laughed at 'strange' chinese activities such as chinese school photo (all children OBVIOUSLY doing the peace sign), fat american men with chinese wives coping 'adequately' woth the 3-way language barrier between -man-wife-heritage-, enjoyed a nice rasta man who came and sat by me in jamaica shirt and beanie (although he was definately white and looked very jewish), speaking of race - saw my first black person! considering i get stared at like i am from a COMPLETELY different planet i wonder if they get more attention? chinese attitude to race is very interesting. In england we barely notice it.. or if we notice it (for example in ethnic areas of a town) we would never behave differently: chinese people LOVE it (slash kind of hate it). I get stared at by absolutely everyone. i don't think i could live here for that very reason.

after starbs i went to the market. got a fake cartier watch for 3 pounds, he wanted 15... i said NONO MY HOMIE. also got a couple of gifts and a fake chanel walet (it's pretty hideous - as in, a good fake but very WOW LOOK AT ME I HAVE A GIANT CHANEL LOGO) the chinese bros love the obvious designer gear though and it was only 3 pounds again and i left my nice new purse from jean at home so have been hiding cash in my bra or in teh safe in my apartment. therefore the only opportunities people will have to steal from me are a)if i get taken to hospital and changed from my clothes b) decide to get naked in the street
c)get molestered/raped/murdered.
in the case of (a) i would be more concerned for my health
(b) concerned for my sanity
(c) not concerned a all about my loss of around twenty pounds

i digress
i also got some plain dark pearl earings - they insisted they were real pearls and yet sold them to me for a pound... perhaps not? and a pretty jade bracelet that i might give as a gift because it's beautiful

i walked past some more boutique type shops on the way out of the muslim quarters market... popped my head in
found the worlds most perfect dress. as in.. never seen anything like it and can't describe it. it was beautiful
i was very tempted.... looked at price 889 pounds. i'm sorry?!?! that's a chinese persons annual wage in many cases
could have cried

but mr u is going to put me in touch with a tailor who will make me some silk goodies for cheap.

ermmm.. came home. had dinner. the maid made (ha) the assistant who was in the house at the time translate for me in english the fact that 'i eat with chopsticks liek an expert'... yayyy... i will be rocking wagamamas when i get home.

if you have me on facebook which i am sure most of you do i have also put up some pictures. not many because most of them are on my camera and i don't own a camera lead anymore. if i don't buy one out here i will just have to buy another memory card, wait til i get home, borrow ellie's lead and then spend a week and a half uploading the pictures.

so the only ones up are ones i have taken with my phone.

tonight i think i will continue my 'day off' --- do some more washing, book hostels for beijing and shanghai and then hei-fi (british speaking assistant) showed me a type of software they have here in china that lets you watch ANYTHING for free... first thing he brings up, GOSSIP GIRL. so... i might just finish off the season and go to bed because i have to be up in the morning....

i will see Dave and Marie and also the 21 year old couple and pet some panda cubs. pretty much weeing myself with joy.

i'll let you know how that goes.


(shown as though on his t-shirt)

like black

(obviously you are not wwwww or black? i am deeply confused)

and, as i won't see a t-shirt tomorrow i will just pop another one in now

"christ in botanical gardens"


Thursday, 23 April 2009

Food day

I've titled this food day because today I branched out on my food experiences

I have ONLY eaten chinese food since i got ere and avoided the temptation for a slice of pizza or a KFC (which are EVERYWHERE!)

even in starbucks i had my green tea frapp. perhaps the greatest drink ever. massively craving.

but today i went to the shaanxi normal university very early to watch their second day of sports games and see where i will be helping teach next week

it was -hands down- the most beautiful university i have ever seen. between the buildings were different parks etc and my host 'tian' told me what they all meant. they were only small but there was like 'the happy rock park' and it was just full of rock water displays! there were the most amazing waterfalls around the library and just sheets of water. all old style chinese trees and those little marquee type things. oh my god. it was just so yummy!

olive took me there
and so as we were walking from the bus stop she said "you want to try some breakfast" i obvvvviously said yes. i wish i had not

dumplings with sour brown rice.
(they were managable)
then there was this plastic sort of thing with a film lid that you poerced with a straw. the type of container that i can only remember drinks when you were 12 at youth club coming in and they were usually red or blue.

but this was white.
she said 'it is so nutricious, better than milk'
it certainly looked like milk
so i took a slurp.

i was nearly sick in my mouth

i was like WHAT IS THAT
she answered

i then saw the pieces floating in it

that's right ladies and gentlemen, i had watery bean curd through a straw this morning. i tried to be polite... so i kept taking hugely slurps and IMMEDIATELY biting my dumplings so as not to through up all over her.

after about a third of the satan juice i gave up

then after we watched some sports and i got a picture with a chinese cheerleading team (et you all can't wait for that one) we had lunch
actually before i talk about lunch i feel i need to really explore the concepts of
a) a chinese cheerleader
b) chinese people in photographs or taking photographs

a) = HILARIOUS. some are good some are terrible but overall fashion and choreography are 'different' i saw one group of cheerleaders in knee length silver sequin dresses with red sequin neckties.
their dances tend to be either a) an immitation of american cheering or b) traditional and very floaty and would certainly not evoke a westerner to cheer about anything
but all the same they were very nice to me (the group in my photo wore army trousers rolled up and neon green and white t-shirts - they clashed but they looked better than most)

b) = believe legends and myths
olive is the first to admit that chinese people take photographs of everything! she lives in teh city and i would say she has taken at least 5 times more photographs than i have! and she also said
'chinese people take more photographs of buildings and things in places like london than of their friends' too true.
also... most common pose in a photo is DEFINATELY the peace sign, two fingers, big grin.
ahhh i love it when stereotypes are based on solid truth

lunch = best sweet and sour chicken i have EVER had in my life for 1.20. tasty and cheap. they said that i look very beautiful eating with chopsticks 'gentle and delicate' so HA to helen and the other spooners who say i eat like a pig.. here in china i eat like a princess!

then after i got home i napped and tutoured those hilarious girls again. there was also a boy today. i'm pretty sure he didn't speak a word of english he was just loving life. barely spoke. and when he did he got it wrong. but i'm fine with that.

they did some more chinese dancing for me. bless them

then, because i had been teaching them about fruit - the mothers bought me LOADS of fruit, and what looked like a juice carton... now i know an apple is an apple all over the world so i knew i was safe with the fruit.. but i opened my juice carton on my walk home.
it tasted like
orange lucozade tablet + listerine + um bongo..
i spat it out first sip.
then i endeavoured to enjoy it. i had five more sips. it is now sitting in front of me staring at me on my computer desk. laughing at me with it's strange scary woman on the front.


aside from that it's pretty much same old same old.

some people have been saying they are really enjoying this blog but i'm starting to worry my english is failing...
i now speak 'chinese english' aka. all day i have to speak very slowly and i have started to adapt my language so that i intentionally make mistake/sound weird because i have noticed they usually make this mistakes.
probably not good for my english OR their english practice.
for example
olive 'it is very cold in england?'
anna 'yes..... it.... is.... sometimes.... cold.... but.... it.... is.... possible.... to.... be.... warm.... also'
sound like a bloody malko.

i like disco boy time

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

2 days worth

So i have been pretty rubbish these last two days as i have been much much busier


well yeterday i was at the prphanage again.
it was reasonably similar to the day before. poop. cry. giggle. poop. feed. etc but one baby came back from the hospital after having the left in it's lip repaired. it was so amazing to see. once that has healed she will be able to be adopted. we also got a new baby in from teh city orphanage and they said they are expecting 8 more.

when i got home the boy that will begin work here in june was in teh house iwth his friend. her 'english name' was olive.. i thought that was quite sweet. his used to be 'victory' but he changed it to 'nas' after the rap star

i was going to explain that this isn't actually a name but i just left it. so far the 'english names' of the chinese people i have met have been geegee, olive, cherry and nas.
?!?!?! i have never met a single english person with these names

all the babies in the orphanage have good english names because the woman who owns it is south african.
my favourite babies were Libby (heart condition) Julia (also heart condition-- hole in her heart) Noah (FOR A GIRL!! CAN YOU IMAGINE!!! THEY STOLE MY BABY NAME) but she was starving when they first got her and she could barely move.
boys are
thomas (he has a hole in his heart, kidney problems, heart problems, an exposed bladder --- as in, on the outside of his stomach! it almost looks fake when he is naked!! and he just had pnuemonia... it's pretty amazing that he is still alive. but he is literally blue)! and i also really like carl. he is a cleft baby and literally his upper lip basically is his nose; he looks a bit like an elephant :S but he always laughs and when he does it's such a big smile it's amazing.


in the evening, olive came with me and we taught 3 8 year olds english. they did some chinese dancing and made me show them some ballet. they were really keen and actually spoke very good english. i will also teach them tomorrow night - but it's quite tiring. example of conversation

Anna - so, what is your favourite colour?
Girl one - anna, do you like carrots?
Anna - yes I do they are very healthy. Do you like fruit and vegetables?
Girl one - anna, do you like swimming?
Anna - I like to swim outside when it is sunny? do you like that?
Girl two - anna, what is your favourite animal?
Anna - what is YOUR favourite animal?
*girls break into song about animals*


(girl 3 did not speak much)

but girl one (very keen) made me a bracelet and a necklace to add to my 'i'm super cool and i did a gap year and look at me 'memory evoking arm-wear' - ellie baker supplied me with my first piece at the airport and i got very excited.

one of the older babies 'jack' (about 2 and a half) - initially my favourite for three reasons... name was jack and reminded me of mister merriman. although obviously didn't because of the second reason i loved him...... he had water in his skull so his head was HUGGGGGE - he looked like an alien which i foud amazing
anyway i digress. jack put ellie's pracelet in his mouth on the first day and got black ink everywhere. very funny for jack and i.. i think crazy chinese nanny was a little bit scared. but it was only a little bit. and his brain is full of water --- what's a little drop of black on the tongue gunna do???

olive came back to my apartment. it's a bit of a struggle to talk to her constantly as we talk mainly about differences in england and china and although she speaks very good english you have to be alert to what she is saying/means all of the time. she is also very lovely and i enjoy her. but i was getting tired... i didn't know what she was doing in the house (as i hadn't asked her).. i didn't know whether she was going to leave. so i whacked out a couple of fake yawns and eye rubs and she said 'you must o to bed if you are tired'.. i then thought 'but what will you do!? watch me sleep?!? jam in my house?!?!?' but then when i said that was a good idea she said that she would sleep in the room across from the kitchen... so obviously it was a sleepover. it was nice to know i was not entirely alone.


i woke up and went to xi'an normal university games (her and nas's uni)

it was pretty fun and the cheerleaders were ho-dam-larious. they were exactly how you would imagine chinese cheerleaders to be. i will give you a moment to imagine and smile

then after that we went to their canteen.. i got a huge bowl of beef and otehr yumminess noodles that was way too big to finish for 20 PENCE! as in.. if i were in england i would have looked in my purse, found an off-hexagonal silver piece, given it to the woman, and received a feast!! wow.
unfortunately i was less amazed by the dorms.

okay. for anyone who ever complained about the quality of their uni room. take note.
there were 4 people per room. the rooms were only slightly bigger than a british uni room. but with two beds on each side. bunk beds. with desks underneath and for privacy they had a show curtain round their section. i saw no evidence of wardrobes. then the bathroom off their room had NO TOILET. (it was chinese style not western) it was a hole in the floor where you had to squat and then shake as there was no paper. - what happens for number twos?!?!
it's quite normal for them i suppose but they were amazed when i showed them pictures of our university rooms. they said they looked like hotels!

i went on an investigation to see about other food prices (my chef always cooks for me so i just had no idea) - in the local noodle place it's 30 pennies. can you imagine. I MAY JUST ABOUT BE IN CULINARY HEAVEN.

i went to the shop this evening as i want a little mini movie night so i bought 4 packets of biscuits, a 'cinema-size' bag of fake malteasers (yummmmm) and a chinese chocolate bar - they had copies of kit kat and snickers but i thought NONO i will eat china food.. and then i sw a pair of trainers that said anna on them and i thought aahhhhh i was looking into taking up jogging and they are hilarious... all of these items. NINE POUNDS. i kid you not. (i do not joke about food)

anyway. i'm home now. ready for mini movie night. can't get the dvd player to work. brilliant.

but i just had my massive dinner anyway so i'm not ready to load it up again immediately.

i will just end with the t-shirts of the day for toda and yesterday
( i have also changed the name of this feature tooo TOP O' THE MORNING TO YA

yesterday's top of the morning
love is in the air - love is all asound.... SO CLOSE, and yet so far.
i will be cheeky and instead give you the funniest thing i heard someone say to me.
"do you have swimming fools at your college" (he meant pools)! ha

oh no. just tried the malteaser alternatives "my likes" they are made with 'cocoa butter alternative'. it is not an alternative. it is a downgrade

then this morning i was very tired

Monday, 20 April 2009

Busiest day yet

went to the orphanage
essentially it's babysitting disabled children

i was with the like 3 year olds in the morning
then at lunch time 3 people came from downstairss... ONE AMERICAN - lyla.. ONE AUSSIE - tracey.. and a canadian/chinese - gigi.
gigi was not much older than me but lyla and tracey were. they were all really nice though.

anyway. made them take me downstairs with them to the babies. it's supposed to be mainly cleft babies but there are also some with heart conditions (because of the one child policy it is often the case that disabled babies get abandonned so they couple can try for a 'perfect child'.. also if a woman is widowed she often gives up her child as her chances of remarrying are higher because she can still provide the new man with a child)

the cleft babies are quite shocking to see at first. but they were all such happy children. tehre is a chicken pox epidemic... bad times.

i have uploaded some pictures on my facebook of two of the girls. they're not that exciting though because bberry camera is made of arse.


after much complaining to the english office about how shit my situation is AKA no buddies and the woman who was supposed to help me at the orphanage decided not to bother.... i have convinced them to let me do other stuff.

a guy who will be working for my company i-to-i from july said he would take me to his university's 3 day sports events starting wednesday.. will be nice to be outside for a change.. although no sunbathing as it is very much frowned upon.
and then my co-ordinator says i can assist the english lessons at the university next week. to meet more people. granted they will all be chinese. but i don't care!

tonight i went to the big wild goose pagoda. was amazing. still look like an utter idiot taking pictures etc alone but i don't care. went westerner hunting again. found : one couple with white hair.

no use.

i will go to the 'defu lane' bar strip some time this week. but i think it will still be mainly chinese folk in cheesy bars that look like someones living room but oh well.

need to sort out a stay in the youth hostel to stalk foreigners.. and i want to go up to the panda conservation place for a day too. maybe next week.

i have decided to make a t-shirt for everyday... as in my most hilarious spot will be 'top of today'

top of today ------- " you are where i left you still KcJ"
what a cracker!

General other observtions include LOADS of outdoor dancing and tai chi (yes it happens)
annnd.. perhaps the lowlight of today was changing a babies diorreah nappy.. chinese baby green poop.
i nearly threw up. i had to walk away...