I apologize for the large gap in time between this post and the last, but I have been busier than ever –I’m now teaching three- and four-year olds kung fu on the weekends, but more on that later.
Fun Fact: I have spotted no squirrels in China. This bothers me a little because, without them, I am unable to determine the intensity of the coming winter from the bushiness of their tails, and I only brought two pairs of long pants.
Concerning shopping for clothes, I have been to two huge markets, each containing likely hundreds of 15x15ft [no, I haven’t figured out meters yet] outlets, forming a labyrinth of often disorganized clothing dispensaries.
Certain markets require one to haggle, lest one pays $121 dollars for a shirt. Fortunately, with a little complementing, sneering in disgust, and benefitting from an accidently misspelled cashmere tag, the price was dropped to $11, though at one point a small group of people stopped their shopping to enjoy the spectacle. Not bad for a thermal cashmier shirt. Granted, I was called friend, a bully, a foolish person, and handsome, respectively, by the same merchant.
Whilst exploring the Nan Luo Gu Xiang Hutong, the remnants of ancient Beijing one-story buildings (coincidently also forming a labyrinth) via rickshaw ride, a merchant came up next to our group on his bike and proceeded to try to sell us souvenirs. I was so impressed that I had to try to bargain for a gourd flute. In the process of trying to negotiate in a language that I have the smallest grasp on, the rickshaw driver began laughing after overhearing my negotiating phrases such as, “I am a poor student,” and “really?!? That’s the price?”
Most merchants speak at least some English, though on some occasions one has to drag it out of them because they don’t always like revealing that they can understand one’s conversation with one’s friend about how nice a certain shirt is.
Beggars often reside outside malls and almost all tourist spots.
I have heard rumors of beggar’s guilds, in which cripples are “employed.” I’ve heard that the individuals are forced out on the streets to collect money and are abused to give any profits to the organization (naturally going to the extorters at the top). Although I feel terrible about seeing so many people on the streets, I have seen beggars use their crippled children (particularly those with unfortunate physical deformities), and small, whimpering puppies as props to bait walkers by.
Although I keep these things in mind, I almost started crying after having to step over a beggar along a narrow passage in order to stick with my group on an excursion. I do not give money, but I will give food to children if I can.
On a more positive note [please forgive the poor transition], on the Friday before last, our program was offered kung fu classes on Fridays, and naturally I had to go. After meeting the instructor and telling him that I have been pursuing martial arts for many years, he mentioned the possibility of me teaching kung fu to young kids. With the support of my peers (shout out to the girls in my program who think I’m good with kids, and who convinced the instructor I’d be a good choice), he offered me a job.
A week later, I received a call to assist him in a promotional campaign so that I would have enough children for my own classes.
The promotional campaign took place on a playground (my domain), during which I met the instructor’s wife, his brother, and a friend of theirs, all of which I would be working with (though only the primary instructor and his wife understand English). Finally, I have actual Chinese connections!
At the playground, we asked kids if they wanted to try punching a bag, taught them how to punch and kick properly, and when enough of them gathered, proceeded to teach them the beginning of the Crane form in order to impress their parents. We had enough people sign up for me to have my own class.
I will discuss more on the subject later, but I have a test to study for tomorrow. And almost immediately after, we (the students in the same program as I) are traveling to Qing Hai until the 30th.
Oh, and the instructor is a former SHAOLIN MONK. I know a Shaolin Monk!!!! Things are turning out to be a lot more interesting than I could have hoped.