Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Day 14 - At a Chinese Hair Salon

Jaymes was awoken at 6 am to do his project. I had told the group off on Friday for not completing their work before playing computer games. They had to do the presentation on Monday & since their weekends were spent touring, they had only Friday to complete their work.

Now they had to rush through their work. Poor time management & organisation skill. I didn't want to see their presentation, I chose not to go to school.

I was told Ying Zhi was sick again. I went next door to look at her. She vomitted & had diarrhoea. sigh.....

I went to the market to buy some fruits. The stall holders recognised me & stopped to chat. I bought some more fragrant melons & donut peaches. I bought 6 donut peaches for 7.20 rmb (S$1.44).

Some hawkers were wary when they saw me taking photos. They asked what was I doing. When I told them I am from Singapore, smiles broke out & they offered me food & drinks. I didn't dare eat or drink. Mr Yao has warned us against eating cooked food from roadside stalls. Even their customers stopped to chat & the crowd grew bigger.

Every Chinese I came into contact has heard of Singapore & they have very good impressions of the country. They are very envious of us & many asked for help to work or emigrate here.

The erhu teacher, Mr Shao invited me to his house & offered to teach Jaymes to play the erhu for free for the next few nights. Mr Shao is a 76-year old retiree. I told him I would have to ask the teachers if they could release Jaymes in the evenings.

A lady was selling magical dried plants for 1rmb a bunch. A group of people gathered around her. She said if I immersed the bunch of dried plant in water for 5 hours, they would live & 20 days later, they would flower. There were several colours to choose from. The diagrams on her flyer showed different colours of roses. She displayed different coloured carnations inserted in a bunch of fresh green leaves. I was skeptical but bought 5 to experiment.

A concerned old man stopped me as I was leaving & said I was cheated. 'They wouldn't flower,' he said. 'It's a scam.' I just smiled & thanked him.

As I returned to the hotel, Vice Principal Xuan had just arrived to bring Widi, Rebecca & Ying Zhi to the doctor. Mrs Er & Mr Yao followed.

I came out again to the internet cafe to do my work.

I had wanted to buy some cooked food at the supermarket for lunch. There was a wide selection of Chinese food & snacks but it didn't seem appetising to me. I saw an employee making Chinese sausages. I stayed to watch. I was horrified when he opened the cover of the mixing machine. It was so rusty & black. Gosh, they don't clean the machine! I had lunch at KFC again.

Jaymes came back at 5.45pm. The teachers had brought the rest of the kids to the supermarket.

After Jaymes had taken his bath, we went out for dinner at the Feiyang Steamboat restaurant. Jaymes had his favourite sliced lamb. The dinner cost 61 rmb (S$12).

We went for a haircut at a nearby hair salon. The hairdressers were mostly young guys, very friendly & professional. The shop was quite presentable. I felt uncomfortable though because the towels they used were dirty.

I had my hair cut & coloured, it cost 90 rmb (S$18). Jaymes' haircut cost 10 rmb (S$2). I gave the poor hair washer a 10 rmb tip. She refused to take the money & looked scared, looking towards the counter where her boss was sitting. I crumpled the note & stuffed it into her hand.

She had been working since 8am this morning. Her hands were all red & puffy. She's only 15 years old, same age as Jaymes. She has to work for more than 10 hours every day, no rest day. Although a sign in front of the shop says it closes at 10pm, as long as there's customers, they have to stay open, until the last customer leaves, sometimes past 1 am.

There was already a young Chinese woman, who was dying her hair orangey, before me. Earlier she had told the hairdressers she is from Singapore. My hairdresser introduced me to her. When I asked her if she is a Singapore PR, she claimed to be a recent Singapore Polytechnic graduate. She is back for a holiday & would be returning to Singapore on the 7th June to work.

I tried speaking to her in English. I asked her how much did she pay for dying her hair? I repeated twice. I spoke slowly. She couldn't answer me, either she didn't understand or she can't speak the language. She pretended to ignore me by speaking to her hairdresser.

Ha! Beautiful, young woman who completed poly education in Singapore but couldn't understand simple English, more like the type you find in karaoke lounges.

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