Walking is also a "risky" mode of transportation. If you're going to cross the street, going to a crosswalk is pointless. You basically pick a place on the street and cross to the halfway point when there is a small break in the cars, then you wait to do the same on the other side of the street. Cars will not stop for pedestrians. In fact, if you are too slow or you are too close to the m they will honk at you until you move. But I've got the hang of it now, and in some ways it is nice to cross the street wherever you want. It's a good thing my mother taught me to look twice before crossing the road!
Work is not too difficult, and the atmosphere is very relaxed. Right now I'm copy editing stories that were either written by non-native English speakers or stories that were translated from Chinese into English. I'm finding that some stories require only a few changes and most of those changes are minor like taking out extra words or making sure nouns and verbs agree. Every once in a while stories are in rough shape and require extensive grammatical rewrites. I've enjoyed the editing for the most part because it has given me the chance to learn about news and culture in China. Many of the stories I have edited have been "Top 10" features and one of them was very funny to do. I had to edit a piece on 1990s Hong Kong porn stars. Yes, you read that correctly: PORN. I had to delete so many extra "sexy"s that it was almost unbearable, but the idea of the story made me laugh. I'm not sure why anyone woud want to read an outdated porn star story, but I just do what I'm told. The pace of work there is much slower than I expected and my bosses seem surprised when I have a story edited in less than half an hour.
On Thursday of this week we were given raquettes and balls to participate in Taichi Ball. It's apparently a newer sport that seems to combine balance, dance and catch. That's probably the easiest explanation I can give. The people who participate are for the most part international because they want foreigners to experience the culture. Our colleagues have been taking lessons each week by a coach for the past month so we were a bit behind. We started with the ball on our raquettes moving our arm in a swinging motion. From there things built until we were taking the ball in a complete circle, twirling and attempting to complete a full routine. I can sort of handle all of the elements that don't involve the twirling. Once the "dance" like elements are added I'm hopeless. It was fun to try, and despite all of our Chinese colleagues calling it a sport for the elderly, I enjoyed it.
Now for what you might be wondering most: What did I eat? Well, we've eaten porridge which reminded me of oatmeal, we've had dumplings which were excellent, duck and a few dishes that I'm not quite sure what was in them. At the cafeteria it is probably best that I can't read the signs to know what I'm eating. I'm living by the philosophy that if it tastes good I'm not going to ask until after I've finished the meal. So far I've had four memorable meals: the Duck which I've already told you about, the Nepalese Vegan restaurant, a Hunanese restaurant and a random pork dish which was fun to order. At the Hunan restaurant, our colleague, Matt, and his girlfriend, Bing Bing ordered all sorts of dishes for us. Hunan is a province in China known for having the spiciest foods. We had lamb, beef, tofu, eggplant and a green stalky vegetable. The food was very spicy but so very delicious. At the restaurant where we ordered the Pork, Lauren and I did not have anyone to help us order. When we got in the restaurant I asked the server if he spoke English. He understood me, but didn't know how to respond. When we were looking through the menu, he pointed at a dish. Because we had had a colleague write in Chinese characters the words for pork, beef, chicken and tofu, I pulled the card out so we could see if we recognized a character to know what we were eating. The waiter immediately realized what I was trying to do and pointed at the word pork on our card and then to the dish. We decided to go for it, after knowing it was pork. Boy, was that a good decision. The pork was lightly battered and crispy and covered in a brown salty sauce. We ate that dish with white rice and a leafy green vegetable. For ordering all by ourselves, I thought we did a pretty good job.
We also cooked spaghetti in our one pan the other night. We were given a large sautee pan that we decided looked big enough to boil some water in. We tried, and sure enough it was big enough to boil rotini noodles. We dumped a packet of Hunts sauce on it, and added a bell pepper which I diced up. While the meal left a lot to be desired and was an embarrassment to spaghetti lovers everywhere, It was nice to be able to have a night in not worrying about ordering off a menu or being out late.
Anyways, this weekend I'm off to Miyun County with some of our Chinese college student friends and then we have Monday off work for the Dragon Boat festival. Until then...