Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Day 7 - Market Place

The kids left the hotel at 6.20 am. Mr Yao arranged for them to have breakfast in school. The hotel restaurant does not serve breakfast before 7 am. The principal at Fushun school is so accommodating.

I went to take a look at their morning market. There is one right in front of our hotel. Mr Yao said it is illegal. It consisted of many make-shift stalls.

It was crowded, not so smelly, but dirty. People were spitting every where & some right in your path. It was so unhygienic. It's common to see the Chinese openly spitting in public. From the young to the old. From the men to the women. Some are well-dressed & in their suits.

I had seen a few times people spitting right out of the open windows of moving buses or vehicles. If you are unlucky, it would end on your hair or right smuck in your face.

I saw many strange fruits & vegetables. I bought some peaches & mini fragant melons. As it gets later, the produce were sold at a cheaper price.

I met an elderly man marketing his erhu lessons. I asked if he could give Jaymes some lessons but he couldn't as it requires at least two months to learn the basics.

There were so much to see at this market, said to be the biggest in this area.

There was the First Manzhu International Wine Culture Workshop at the hotel. I was invited for the opening ceremony. It was a grand affair. They invited Ba Qi Feng Cultural Arts Troupe to perform. This is a very professional troupe & I truly enjoyed it. They offered prayers too.

A tub of wine was opened & splashed onto the ground. The fragrance of the wine whiffed into my nose. It filled the air of the large carpark. They lighted fire-crackers. It was so loud!

I walked to the internet cafe to do some work. It cost 1.50 rmb (30 Singapore cents) for an hour.

It was a horrendously polluted place. At 9 am, it was packed. Most of the patrons were smoking & sprouting profaneties. My lungs & ears suffered great damage during the two hours I was there. I'm risking my life to bring you updates from Fushun. Please understand if I couldn't update daily. Besides the smoke, it is difficult to stomach hearing what others want to do to your mother. I'm amazed at the number of things they can do to your mother.

I had lunch at another mini steamboat restaurant. I ordered a plate of sliced beef & lamb, a plate of tofu, a plate of Tang Oh & a plate of Tang Hoon. I was stunned by the amount of food. The meats were half a kati (300g) each plate. The meats were sliced paper-thin. I couldn't finish 3/4 of the food I ordered. I'm surprised the waitress didn't stop me when I ordered so much.

I went to the bookstore to get some Mandarin books. They were beautifully bounded & so cheap. I bought some for Jaymes. I intend to buy some as gifts before I go back.

I had a rest & waited for the kids at the hotel. We had dinner at 7 pm as the hotel thought we weren't eating there & didn't prepare dinner. After dinner, the teachers brought the kids to the supermarket.

Jaymes stayed behind as we were calling home. We had bought a phone card for 27 rmb (S$5.40) & at a fantastic offer as it has a value of 100 rmb.

Trouble brew again when the kids came back. The teachers did a spot check on their shopping bags & found 5 bottles of beer!

Jaymes was asked to go back to his room. The only student asked to do so. Maybe the teachers didn't want me to know. Maybe it was because he didn't go to the supermarket & so he didn't have to listen to the lecturing.

Ms Poh told me about the beer incident the next day. The teachers couldn't believe their eyes. They were truly disappointed & heartached. After all that they had done for these kids, they didn't get the respect they deserve. The teachers had to pay for a portion of their trip. They do not have any incentive for coming on this trip. They have tremendous responsibility. They left their family behind. Ms Poh left her two young children to come on this trip to take care of these half-baked potatoes.

One late night, I was woken by the voice of a young girl singing. It was Ms Poh's daughter. Ms Poh was sitting at the edge of her bed, listening to the recorded singing of her young daughter. I don't know if she cried as she listened. As I looked at her back in the darkness, I could feel her loneliness & her yearning for her young children.

I don't know what awaits when we go back. I sure hope there is a lot of pondering to do........

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