A Travellerspoint blog

November 2012

Thanksgiving Dinnner

5 °F

It can be hard to be away from family and friends for the holidays, but we've made some really good friends here as well. We almost skipped Thanksgiving since we don't really have any time to prepare food (we work 6 days a week and are pretty busy on Sunday's too), but somehow we managed to rope off a few hours this week to do a small potluck for our English department. I think the main reason we had to celebrate Thanksgiving was that Teresa had a box of stovetop stuffing and that was excuse enough.

We also had a beautiful salad, something that's so much cheaper to make in China than in Hawaii. Produce here is SO CHEAP! (On a side note, we just made a stir fry for dinner. All of the ingredients came out to $2. And we have leftovers).

But back to Thanksgiving - the menu was salad, Stovetop stuffing, Korean pickled radish, Korean omelette, Yam Yam Chicken, and Chicken & Dumplings that Yun made on the stovetop. We're getting pretty creative with the rice cooker - Yun made a small loaf of bread in it. Hope to have more on that bread cooker craziness in another post.

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Da spread!

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And best of all, Judy brought some amazing hot chocolate. It was so good. I had bought marshmallows a few weeks ago, so paired up and enjoyed.

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Nothing beats hot coco when you're thinking of home.

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And here's a Thanksgiving note from one of the kids. Didn't take too much prompting. Love these kids.

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Posted by Blanchardlawn 05:22 Archived in China Tagged holidays Comments (0)

Competitions Done Right

Arts Festival

semi-overcast 30 °F

It's been over a week since I had a chance to add to the page, but I hope you will agree with me that this entry was worth the wait. A few weeks ago I was asked to go with our school choir to photograph them at the city music competition. They performed really well and made it to the district competition (China has districts similar to US states). So the district competition for all kinds of performing arts, from singing, dancing and drama to (for real now) speeches. I wasn't able to take pictures of our school group because I was also responsible for videoing them, but I was able to take some great shots of the other groups. I think the pictures really say it all. I kept wishing my grandma were there. I think she would have loooooved every single act. Yes, I admit I also loooooved every single act. I tried to upload video of the last performance (the handkerchief dance), but looks like you need the verboten sites in order to do that, so if you're curious, just google Chinese handkerchief dance. Actually, whether you're curious or not, you should just take my word for it and look it up. It just left me blinking my eyes in awe of these kids.

Ok, our students were great too. We did this great rendition of "Circle of Life" and we have some awesome singers, but these other acts...for some, there are just no words to describe. Most of the other schools participating are "art schools" and by art schools I mean the kind that bring us eventual Cirque du Soleil performers. I was just lucky to have been there.

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Posted by Blanchardlawn 04:02 Archived in China Tagged dance Comments (0)

Cormorant Fishing on Erhai

sunny 68 °F
View Kunming on Blanchardlawn's travel map.

After our tour of Dali, we took a boat ride on Erhai, which means Ear Sea (It's a very large lake shaped like an ear). They have regular tour boats with someone to help row (the guide does most of the work, although you're given a few oars for your team).

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This was our guide, a very nice woman from the Bai ethnicity. Their traditional work is fishing and farming in the area.

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And this guy was in the boat next to us--he had a lot of character. He kept yelling at the students. And then he would laugh.

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Our boat also had a 'steerer' who was dressed in the traditional Bai clothing. I think there's something about the long white strings from the hat that symbolize maidenhood. She also sang for us, and to my non-native ears, it sounded a lot like Beijing opera. So, you can see, I'm not a musical person.

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This area is famous for using cormorant birds to assist in the fishing. You may have seen it before on the Travel Channel or National Geographic. They use a small lasso hoop around the birds' necks when they send them out to catch the fish. They're able to grab ahold of fish that are bigger than their heads, but because of the tiny hoop around their neck, they can't swallow it. So they bring it back to the fisherman, drop it in his net and then he trades them a few minnows for the larger lake fish.

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Yun is convinced (and he made a pretty good argument) that the fish are previously caught (who knows what method), but the fisherman keeps a stack in his boat that he throws into the water right before he sends the birds out. Of course, this would make sense since the fish look like they're probably not moving of their own accord. The fisherman did a really good job of swinging the net around to kind of give the fish the look of movement.

After you arrive on the opposite shore, the guides take the fish (that you pay a few kuai for) and fry it up for you. It's a lake fish, so it may have been carp. It was pretty tasty and a really fun experience - definitely worth doing.

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There are also some farms behind the area where they cook the fish for you, so you can watch the farmers working while you eat. It was so beautiful and peaceful. Panorama of the lake:

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After that, we took a trip back towards Kunming, but we stopped at another lake (maybe just another side of Erhai?) and watched the real fishermen catch their fish. They were also selling them fresh off the boat, weighing them carefully in a scale that they carried with them on the boat. But this time, with no one to fry it up for us, we had to leave without tasting the yummy fresh fish.

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Posted by Blanchardlawn 16:52 Archived in China Tagged dali yunan Comments (1)

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