29 September 2010

Curbside Cuisine

The food here is marvelous - from the silk worms in the market (haven't tried that yet), to the grocery store chocolate bars with security tags (chocolate is relatively new and pricey), to KFC (yes, the Colonel is here with a fleet of bikes to deliver to your door). Our favorite corn lady always has a distinctive call, making it easy to track her down. Like many folks here, her cell phone is always at the ready.
This butcher had an enthusastic audience (including a dog who is just outside the picture). Inner Mongolia is the land of meat and wheat, rather like our Canadian roots.
Bread pockets are universal - be they pita, quesadillas, dumplings, or baozi - and are good any time of day.
A fall treat is candied apples and grapes.
Just outside the College gates are steam tables set up with grilled meats and vegetables. Make your selection, put it in the bowl provided, and eat up. Students line up for this one.

24 September 2010

A day in the park

The mid-Autumn Moon festival here is a three day holiday, so instead of teaching we enjoyed some of Baotou's parks. Musical groups gather to play among the trees. These aren't buskers and onlookers just seem to come and go. We also heard traditional opera, and saw tai chi and sword dancing as well as some serious card and checker games.
In the plaza some older men were doing calligraphy, writing ephemeral poems on the flagstones with water and big pointed brushes.
We also went to a large ecological park, over 10 square miles of grassland within walking distance of our apartment. An artificial hill has a ski slope on one side and this Buddhist shrine on the other.
Among the prayer flags we watched the golden full moon rise above the grassland.
We ended the day in this enormous yurt-like dining room, which also has a stage show of Mongolian culture with dozens of costumned singers and dancers. What a grand wind up to our day in the parks!

18 September 2010

End of summer

We buy fruit and vegies from these friendly sellers on our street -- fresh, inexpensive, and convenient.
The lake at nearby Workers' Park is a great place for a Sunday stroll; there's a small zoo, children's rides, and a hilltop pagoda.
Enjoying flowers and sunshine in the park, we were greeted by a group of Chinese Christian evangelicals who insisted we take pictures (it's not 'say cheese' but 'say hallelujah').
Baotou is a wonderful mix of the new and the old.
We're approaching the Mid-Autumn Festival, an important holiday in the Chinese calendar; this display of elaborately packaged moon cakes will be enjoyed by families and friends to celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mid-Autumn_Festival

12 September 2010

Home sweet home

So far we've said what we're doing but not much about where we live, which is now feeling like home, sweet home. Our home in Baotou is above a row of shops on a busy street -- that's the way we like it, since we're city people. Our front windows are on the 2nd residential floor.
Looking out our front window, across the street is one of the entrance gates of the College where we teach.
Our study has desks for both of us, and for our mascot who guards our library and drying racks.
The bane of our existence here is the bathroom, tiny and with the shower head wired to the bottom of the hot water tank (at least we have a good electric one). There's no shower curtain, the water just runs across the floor to a drain between the sink and the toilet and we have to mop up after.
But the rest of the place is spacious and quite nice. Last Friday was Teacher's Day here and we each got flowers from our students -- we hope they still feel this way when we start giving grades.

07 September 2010

Around Town

We treated ourselves to a great pizza with Kelly, a fellow teacher from Oklahoma. The decore was an eclectic mix of vintage Mao posters and pictures of Lady Gaga.
Walking home from church we enjoyed bread baked from a coal-fired clay oven. Food vendors like this are everywhere, selling inexpensive tasty snacks.
The youngest member of the family business.
Going down the road.
Diane made a quick visit to the hospital for a bad case of eczema. The diagnosis and treatment were excellent, although the sign a bit puzzling.