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Random Notes from China

Accommodations: We pre-booked all of the transportation, transfers and hotels before we left. I just didn’t want the stress of having to figure out train or bus schedules or go from hotel to hotel looking for a room, like we did in our younger days. Especially not with two teenagers in tow. The hotels have…

Chinese Tourists

Everywhere we’ve gone so far, there have been very few foreign tourists like us. Most of the tourists — and in some places all of the tourists — are Chinese. Sometimes they’re in pairs or families, sometimes in groups. When they’re in a group, even if it’s just 5 or 6 people, they hire a…

Toilets in China: On cleanliness and filth

Note added in December 2019: I wrote the following article years ago and I see now how terribly judgemental I was about toilets in China. I’ve added some tips and comments to update it a bit. My message now is: be aware of how you communicate and behave around the issue of Chinese toilets. We…

Intercultural Understanding and Chinese Beds

When I started teaching a class in intercultural communication this past year at the teacher training college, I didn’t actually know anything about it. Or rather, I didn’t know any of the theory, but I’d had a whole lot of practice. I had plenty of anecdotes to share, for example, about differences in expectations and…

Conspicuous Consumption

In my last entry, I mentioned how it seemed to me that the Chinese have wholeheartedly embraced conspicuous consumption. Visiting the Forbidden City the other day emphasized that for me. You could say that the emperors of pre-revolutionary China were the originators of the concept for this part of the world. They represent the ultimate…

Impressions of Beijing

I read quite a bit in guidebooks about Beijing before we came here. Much of what we read was true, but a lot of what I’ve seen (and it’s only been two days) has taken me by surprise. –Yes, as I read in the guidebooks, dog is on the menu. But what I didn’t expect…

Thoughts on my Burundi Adventure

I’ve been putting off writing this blog entry, and I’m not sure exactly why. I feel that I need to post something as a sort of summing-up of my Burundi adventure, but I don’t know how… I guess I’ll start with looking at what, if anything, the project achieved. The part of the project I…

Street Children

Kirundo, Burundi, August 9 Street Child There are a lot of street children here. They wander around town, dressed in rags the colour of the earth, and beg for money. So, of course, we’re a major attraction for them. They follow us around, begging for handouts, or sometimes just stand and stare. When we’re leading…

Twa Pottery

Kirundo, Burundi, August 9 On Friday we were taken to visit a potter, with one of the English teachers, named Claude, as our guide. On the ride there, which turned out to be very short, Claude told me that pottery is only produced by the Twa in Burundi, never by the Hutu or Tutsi. I…