Thursday, January 18, 2007

back in the saddle again

So I never thought I would be a snowbird! This year Chinese New Year is late, February 18, but I still have six weeks with no classes, so I have temporarily relocated to Hainan Island, a province of China. Hainan is just south of the mainland China, off the West coast. I'm told it's roughly the same latitude as Hawaii, though it's a bit cooler here than I think Hawaii is wont to be. Nevr mind, though, I'm here to work! I found a small language school run by a man who studied for his MBA in England. Usually they teach English to Chinese people, but they occastionally teach Chinese to waiguoren like me! After four days of class, I want very much to tell you that wo bu shi laoshi, wo shi xuesheng. Wo xueshi Hanyu, ye shuo de Yinyu. Qu nar? Ni chi le ma? Man zuo! That means "I'm not a teacher, I'm a student, I study Chiense but speak English. Where are you going? Have you eaten? Take care!" Okay, it's not the I Ching, but it'll have to do. In case you're wondering where all the cool Chinese characters are, that was Pinyin (not Pigeon!) which is a system of writing Chinese words with Roman letters (our ABC's). The system was devised by the Chinese themselves in an attempt to standardize pronunciation. Chinese is the only major non-phonetic language in the world, which means that how it's written has nothing to do with how it sounds. So learning Chinese is like learning two language, because you have to memorize the meaning of the word, and then the character. I'm not bothering too much with the characters yet, since I'm only planning on being here four weeks.
When not studying with Teacher Cindy, I have been wandering around Haikou city. The main tourist spot is Sanya, about four hours south by bus. But Haikou, (which means "mouth of the sea") is very lovely. The people are super friendly, and this city of 500,000 seems downright homelike after my 8 million closest friends residing in Wuhan. The pace here is slower, the weather's warm, and you never have to wait for a taxi. Not that you need one, it's easy to walk most places, and there are herds of friendly Haikouren that will give you a lift in their pedicab, three wheeler, or on the back of their motorcycle. No, mom, I won't be riding on the back of any motorcycles. It's a good place for experimenting, so following is a list of the things I've never done before that I've done since I came to Haikou on Sunday:
* Made a friend on the bus. : )
* Lost an earring. : (
* Eaten pineapple on a stick : )
I know you can't believe that one. I actually liked it too. The world's not ending, I'm sure I'll go back to hating pineapple eventaully, it just tastes better here!
* Eaten oysters : (
I think they were oysters.
* Ate a bowl full of cold coconut milk with watermelon and papaya..... : )
*......and also pasta, soybeans barley, and jello cubes in it. : (
Not as bad as it sounds, really. I could go for some now.
* And, of course studied Chinese! : ) : )
Anyway, I'm quite enjoying myself, even though I'm missing out on the snow not only in the Northwest but also in Wuhan. That's probably just as well, since my snow boots are in my parents' basement. I hope everyone is warm and safe, I miss you, and I love you more than pineapple on a stick!


Anonymous said...

That sounds so interesting to learn Chinese. Also so nice to see other parts of the country. Hey, I was never so glad to see the rain fall as this week. Too much ice, snow can stay in the mountains.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with all the learning. Enjoy the pineapple. Have some more outrageously fun new adventures!