Archive for June, 2007

Published June 14th, 2007 by Mliesie

Your friends from Holland?….

On Sunday 3 June I get a text message from Annemarie and Marjolijn…..the plane from Xi’an is delayed. Hmmmm, why doesn’t that surprise me? Finally, around 2.30pm they text me that the plane is taking off. So about an hour later I see my former RCN colleague and her daughter at Yulin Airport! It’s great to see a familiar face again, and especially one that I really didn’t expect to see until she actually arrived in Yulin…..

Unfortunately we only have 2 days to spend, but as I was able to move some classes it will be time well spent. On Sunday we just take it easy. A lot of talking about their adventures in Beijing and Xi’an and the cultural differences they have experienced so far. It’s interesting to see how used I already am to China and how ‘my’ visitors experience it. It makes me look at things with a different view again. A walk around the campus and the area around the College is already quite an experience, for both Annemarie and Marjolijn as well as for the Chinese. 3 Laowai and one of them tall and blonde! I see jaws dropping again, heads turning and big smiles on people’s faces. Whenever we pass a student of mine or a student who happens to know me we hear: “your friends from Holland?”. Oh, how eager they are to acquaint them!

On Monday I have to teach 2 classes and Annemarie and Marjolijn have decided to visit my second class. I tell my students at the last moment, because I know they will be terribly nervous and jumpy. How right I am! As soon as I tell them about the visit, they keep turning their heads towards my apartment to see whether or not ’our guests’ are coming already. As we are working on our topics ‘the girls’ arrive. First they are met wit an applause and then the students working on their topic welcome them, before starting their short speech. How well trained they are (not by me!). Finally class is over and they can talk to the ‘foreigners’…very nervous in the beginning but after a few minutes they start chatting away. Ofcourse some songs need to be sung, Dutch ones by us and Chinese by the students. When it’s time for lunch, we are all invited to one of the dormitories (the girls’ ofcourse!), another interesting experience for Annemarie and Marjolijn. As I’m getting a little hungry Annemarie and I set off for lunch at my house, whereas Marjolijn is invited by the students for lunch. I know they will take good care of her. When she returns, it seems to have been an interestng experience, especially the porridge and the cold noodles the students got her :-) .

Later that day we decide to go to First Street, one of the original (rebuilt) streets of Yulin, and the hutong area around it. We walk into a poodle with pink ears and a purple tail (no kidding!) and I try to convince Marjolijn that bargaining is necessary in China. Everybody does it, it’s just a game and a game one learns to enjoy after a while. We end up going home with a box of Chinese chess and some brushes. Ofcourse I want to show off my Chinese (NOT!!) and so we go to one of the local restaurants where we order some of the local dishes. One of the dishes is very much appreciated (ba bao bo cai), the others are so/so, as the Chinese say…. Having arrived at home I find quite a few messages on my phone, from students asking to meet up with me and my friends from Holland (’I have heard that your friend is sooo beautiful!!’) in order to show us around. If we would accept all the invitations, we would have at least 30 students tailing us. So I kindly refuse.

On Tuesday I decide not to teach my class, so we can head out to Zhengbei Tai earlier to avoid the heat. It will be a Zhenbei Tai ‘revisited’ for me. We are lucky to be there on a windy day, at times it even feels like being at the seaside (or is it just my imagination because I missed out on Qingdao?). Anyway, we enjoy walking around and we can even find a cavehouse settlement which Annemarie really wanted to see, after reading my experience of visiting a cavehouse in May holiday. Unfortunately the owners aren’t there, so we can’t ask them to have a look inside. But the image of a cavehouse settlement is now a lot clearer, I think. After having enjoyed a nice ice-cream and a hunt for Annemarie’s lost cap (Marjolijn turns out to be really good at ‘charades’), we are lucky to immediately catch a bus back home, where we crash on the couch and decide to ask Huo Miao and Liu Pan to join us for a ‘luxurious’ dinner. Wienke (Annemarie’s husband) has told Annemarie about all the posh dinners he had when he was in China, but they haven’t had any so far. Therefore we try one of the better restaurants in Yulin. It’s still nothing compared to what Wienke has been talking about, but at least it’s local food, served in a private room, in good company.

I can’t believe it’s Wednesday already and that ‘the girls’ are off to Beijing again! They pampered me with way too many gifts, little presents for the students, cheese, liquorice and ofcourse their company! It’s wonderful to realise that people care enough to put you somewhere on the list of their travel destination, especially people whom you expect least of all to do so. Therefore: ‘Bedankt meiden!’

It was strange getting home to an empty house and no one to speak Dutch with…………..Fortunately I will very soon have another Dutch ‘visitor’…..Marcel! With hopefully many more stories to tell you about.

dorm visit.jpg       an&mayo ZBT.jpg       dinner HM & LP.jpg