Wednesday, October 3, 2007

More Square Pegs

On Sunday, Gustavo and I took advantage of a scheduling opportunity and had lunch at Salvador's, THE place for the foreign crowd in the university area. Monday, October 1 was China's National Day and all schools and many businesses are given three days off. However, the government strongly encourages travel to beef up the tourism industry. So what many schools (KMUST included) and businesses do, is treat the Saturday and Sunday before the holiday as a Thursday and Friday. This way people have off from Monday-Sunday. Therefore, on Sunday I had my regular Friday schedule (one class at 7:50, the other at 2:00) and the kids had school, too. But, the kids had a field trip to a park and would be gone all day. We didn't have to pick them up at noon as usual. We took the opportunity of being sans kiddos and enjoyed a whine-free lunch! The food was very good (their specialty is Mexican!!) and the coffee is local and wonderful. They have quite an extensive menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts. We'll most certainly return and the kids will also enjoy it.

The best part of the luch were the people we met. Kunming has several thousand foreigners living amongst the 4 million Chinese residents. We met 2 other mid-50's recent retireee couples and 3 single women in their late 50's-early 60's who are also teaching English, One couple just arrived a week ago and for one lady it's her ninth year. Although we were at separate tables in a small room, we were having lunch together. What a treat to see Cuacasian faces and converse in English with people my age!

The majority of the foreigners are English teachers, with a company or are study-abraod students. From what I've seen (at a dinner for English teachers and company people recently), most of the English teachers are single males 25-35 and 50+ single women. The students are typically college age, under 22, more males than females. The company people live on the west side of the city and don't frequent the university area. They are well taken care of and don't have a need (and probably the desire) to be with the regular Chinese. There is a K-12 International School (instruction is in English and it costs mega bucks) in that area and I did see a few foreign younger teenagers on a bus a few times. While shopping at Carrefour or Walmart's, I'll usually see a few foreign women ages 35 - 65. They may be company people, English teachers or one of the teachers at the International School. I rarely see a foreign man at these stores. Another group I've seen (always at McD's, btw) are families with younger children (under 10 and usuallly including a toddler). They have a confused look about them (but being in China w/ young children can give you that look - I'm sure I have it at times!). I don't know if they're tourists, company people, (doubt they're English teachers, but it's possible) or adopting parents picking up their child (although I haven't yet seen a foreign family with a Chinese child.)

We are very comfortable with our immediate surroundings and the downtown main shopping area. We want to explore other areas of the city. Since we have the week off, we decided to dedicate one day each to the 4 cardinal directions, get on a bus and take it until it ends. If we see anything of interest, we'll stop on the return trip. I'll report on our findings.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We, Katie and Jim, are loving your blog....we check it about once a week. You are really giving us an experience of China. If you plan to go to Beijing, let us know, we have a young Chinese friend there, who will take good care of you. Beautiful fall colors are out in Northern Michigan. Besos y abrazos a todos.