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.


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…

No cats in America…


And there’s no Facebook in China…(sad face, sad face).  There’s also no Twitter (although I was looking forward to being able to make use of it for work it’s not such a great loss as I wasn’t that hooked.  My page was mostly full of fairly dull ravings from Stephen Fry…and I’m not the only one).  Yola (free websites) doesn’t work and we can’t get various blogs: blogspot, WordPress etc etc.

It is a bit frustrating considering there is such an emphasis on Web 2.0 in education – and particularly in the Library.  From what I can gather it’s baby steps at school anyway – we don’t have computers in the library yet!

Apparently there are a few ways to access these sites but I am not sure it is worth it.  For one, although you can see the news feed on FB, you can’t actually add to it.  I’ve also heard that you can’t check your Inbox and that it opens your computer up to viruses…

We will see if I can live without it lol.  Although I can see how FB addiction is crippling some people (i.e. anyone who plays Mafia Wars…what is the POINT???) I was counting on it to keep in touch with people.  I’ve stopped using email to communicate with friends/family – it’s all FB.  Photo sharing is the same.  I have a Flickr account but only know one other person over there.  Everyone I know has a FB account – even people I’ve forgotten I know!

The Number 2 Bus

The bus situation seems quite logical.  We have two options: the Number 2 or the 518.  The latter is a double decker, which M is very excited about.  I don’t think we’ll be making it to the top level much – I’m too paranoid about getting stuck on the bus and being driven to some godforsaken place and not knowing our address…

518 is 1 yuan.  Number 2 is 2 yuan.  They take different directions to the city unless you catch them after 6 or 630pm, then it changes again.  I’m going to ignore that information for the time being though!

They are not as crowded or disgusting as I anticipated.  I think the stories I’ve read have been about long distance buses.  These ones are old – some are missing panels etc but otherwise fine.  They all have televisions, which provide great comic relief.  There is an add for some sort of herbal tea that will cleanse your inner pipes in much the same way as Draino might sort your bathroom.  And after you drink it you will wear pastel and have lots of relatives…or something like that.

The ideas of what is attractive are fascinating.  Apparently it is pastel and knitted vests a la Pleasantville.

The singing chicken advert has been catching my eye – what can it possible be about?  What is making the mother smile and the little boy laugh?

*NB: it is a sort of granulated chicken stock and it is fantastic.  I found some in the shops and bought it – the power of advertising even in a foreign language!