China a) and China b)

Found my old blog from our stint in China (NingBo) in 2009:

About as exciting as a wet week, but as I have a tax return to do I copied and pasted it all over to here anyway. Oh procrastination!

Interesting how much has changed in 5 years – in family life, in China, in libraries and in technology.


I heart my iPod

After finally buying one in Sydney Airport Duty Free, I finally, FINALLY figured out how to work the bloody thing.  Only took 2 months >sigh<

Heck I hadn’t realised how much I had missed music.  I have also managed to download a lot of stuff I’ve not heard for a million years – The Pogues, Proclaimers, Runrig (of course), Alex Lloyd, The Whitlams…so killing off a few brain cells at the moment listening LOUD.

One of the Proclaimers ‘best of’ albums was pretty cheap so I bought it, even though I thought the only song I liked was 500 Miles…but they’ve really surprised me.  I am a (very) late fan…I am not even sure if they are still alive????  They sing King of the Road for pete’s sake!  And their mad Glasgae accents…hysterical.

And the Pogues!  I don’t even know where I heard them – I think Dirty Old Town was played a bit round the pubs on Skye but it’s NY Fairytale that I know…

Ah…Runrig “Loch Lomond”…I’m awae to pretend I’m Donnie & scare my Chinese neighbours…you
take the HIGH ROAD and I’ll
the Looooow road

To encyclopaedia, or not encyclopaedia?

In other matters: I want to buy an encyclopedia set before Christmas.  I did post this to the Oztl discussion list a while back and received a mixed response, including the following gem:

ningbo worldbook

Our library has been challenged as to whether any encyclopedia is necessary, as we have access to wikipedia. This from someone at the head of educational policy here!!!!! TL – NSW

Gar.  I have had a few challenges to the idea, the first from the Principal who wanted to know why we needed one when we had internet access.  Another teacher thought it would be unecessary expense.  Interestingly this teacher was from lower primary.  Other teachers – especially those in the senior classes, are really keen for any reference material in the library.

This is one of my main reasons for pursuing this.  We currently have so little in Non-Fiction/Reference that no matter how many books I purchase I will still just be scratching the surface.  With changes in teachers we also face changes in topics.  An encyclopedia is the best way I can think to cover everything and do it quickly.  From that base we can continue to build up other resources.

I’m also keen (when computers do make their way into the library) to provide access to an online encyclopedia – another version, so kids can see the differences in coverage and viewpoint.

I am also keen to demonstrate to kids that the computer is not the font of all wisdom.  I anticipate these encyclopedias being pretty popular.  It will be interesting to see how long it is before they start wandering upstairs…

I’m leaning towards World Book as that is what my last school were using.  I seem to recall their 2009 copy costing thousands but I’ve found a 2009 set on Amazon for about $900.  I think we have a copy of Encarta floating around somewhere so maybe that will be our online version…

We have bike!!

Happy days!

ningbo black bicycle

Matilda (shouting from back of bike where she was clutching on for dear life, sans helmet, sans child safety of any kind): “I LOVE THIS BIKE!”

We found a child seat that resembles a hanging basket (and sways just as much in the breeze argh!)  Sort of like this one, but with wider gaps and no padding.

ningbo child bike seat

Housekeeping, Chinese style

“We don’t clean walls in China, we paint them!”


I had asked for some creme cleanser and a cloth to clean the grimy handprints off the large, white pillars that surround the library.  First the ayi went off her nut when Library Aide D asked her for cloths (apparently she said “I don’t have any, ask the office” but there was a LOT of shouting and it went on for ages and D was still shouting as she went back to the office…)

So now we are painting the pillars.  I don’t mind painting them in fact I am keen for them to be painted.  I do have a strong desire for them to be painted/cleaned/whatever BEFORE the end of time…and without having to leap over half a million plainly bizarre excuses.  I should be getting used to it, but honestly, ‘we don’t have non-toxic paint suitable for painting near children in the whole of China’ and ‘yes, I know red and blue make purple but they don’t mix paint here.’

We have purple ceilings in every classroom.

Every classroom.


“Your daughter has been sick all over her hat”

Unfortunately when her teacher brought Ms 4 to my office before first break today it was not to tell me I could keep her with me to play all day.  She wasn’t wearing the clothes I’d brought her to school in, so that was a clue.

School has a 24 hour “Exclusion Zone” for pukey youngsters.  I must have looked a bit confused as Ms L had to explain again.  “That means you have to go home as well.  You can’t come back until 24 hours after the last vomit.”


Ms 4 is not usually a sickly child so after FINALLY reaching home (piggy backed all the way) I was rejoicing that we’d have an afternoon off and a sleep in the next day.  Sadly this was not to be as Friday dawned and she was still ill.  At the same time my head cold was progressing/digressing to the sinus stage.

Got a bit panicked by Friday afternoon when she was still lying on the couch.  Like I said, she normally bounces back from this sort of stuff pretty quickly so initially I was not hugely concerned.  However, I realised yesterday afternoon that she had not kept food down since Wednesday night and I had no idea where to go for a doctor – or if I even wanted to go for a doctor…

Thankfully one of the mums was able to text me the nearest non-crazy GP with Chinese characters and all, so will keep that one handy.  Today, she has perked up a bit and we are planning a mad dash into Tian Yi square to find the Quicksilver shop, turn left, stand on one leg then wander behind a curtain and up the back stairs and stock up on some more English language DVDs.

I could eat a horse…

So, getting pretty hungry.  I simply cannot find any meat.  Have been to downstairs supermarket, to La Miaow (no idea how to spell but that’s how they say it), to supermarket near Le Miaow, to Tesco and Carrefour.

Okay, there is meat, but you have to kill it yourself.  In the bottom of the supermarkets is the fresh produce section – veges, fruit…and what I would call a pet shop but what is actually the deli.  So far we have seen small and large crabs, yabbies, prawns, mussel type things, eels, GIANT eels, more crabs (different colour), TURTLES (the shop assistant thought we would find it hilarious if she stacked all the baby turtles up on top of each other then watched them tumble down…), fish – oodles of fish, swimming gaily around in big red plastic tubs.

The strangest by far have been the bull frogs.  As big as a large cane toad, with lumpier, wartier looking skin.  Very black.

Some of the livestock are covered by nets or lying on crushed ice.  Some are dead, still floating around the tank for your gastronomical pleasure.

In the supermarket near Le Miaow we leapt upon a fridge of normal-ish looking meat (i.e. plastic wrapped and on a styrofoam tray) only to discover that the butcher had already eaten the meat of the cow and had only wrapped up the offal for sale.

I suppose we could make Haggis…

Nearby there was a very enthusiastic guy with half a cow/sheep and a meat cleaver, but the flies put us off a wee bit.

We are living on cherry tomatoes.  They taste divine and go with everything – pasta, salad, couscous, egg…

Inflatable pillows and our new home

So, our house.

ningbo tildy on couch
Little miss on the faux leather couch

I was a little bit frightened as they drove us in through the security gate (there are guards in full uniform at the gate and more in small rooms around the place).  There was an air of slow decline from the outside – rust stains running down the facade from the bars on the windows; gardens overgrown.

I got the impression the other teacher was not impressed with the amount of luggage we had.  Honestly have no idea how we might have cut back but oh well. We had to get in a lift, go up a couple floors then get out, walk 50 metres, go through a security gate, into another lift, to the 9th floor and a great wooden door.

Inside: tiles.  What is it with tiles in this country?

ningbo kitchen
Lovely blue kitchen.

I hate tiles.

Anyway, apartment is not too bad.  Some strange things – sliding glass doors like patio doors dividing the kitchen from the dining area.  More sliding doors to get out to our balcony.  Even more in the bathroom separating basin from toilet and toilet from shower.

There are floor to ceiling grey, plastic curtains in my balcony.

There is leftover blu-tack (and some leftover photographs) on EVERY SINGLE WALL.

Ningbo tildy in window
Balcony off main bedroom. Doubles as laundry

Apparently the previous tenants did not leave happily and just to remind everyone of that they decided not to clean the apartment.  Not sure why we should have to suffer for this but apparently the school did get an ayi in for 2 days to clean.  Perhaps she was a blind ayi??

There are 3 bedrooms.  A giant one with the balcony up one end and two smaller rooms at the back near the kitchen.  The school provide furniture etc as well as a big pile of linen which is waiting in the lounge…