Yes, I'm in China now
So it seems some people have been curious about my whereabouts. Since March 2nd I have indeed been in Foshan, China. It's ninja heaven and I've simply been too busy having the time of my life to have time to get on here.
So, yeah, that's the reason. Since some time ago I've stopped using CPod for studying and instead used native sources. Now I've got native speakers, so I find I've certainly got all the material I need. Before, I went to CPod to use the Vocab tool and then synced to it with my iPhone, but here I don't have an internet connection on my phone, so I input everything directly into it instead. Hence my absence from this great community.
Buh, I'm not sure I have the time or energy to give an account of what I'm doing. Basically, I'm training Wing Chun, I've taken up Latin dancing and I'm spending the rest of my time with a beautiful young Chinese girl, hanging out in parks, going to restaurants, the police station (yeah … don't ask) and so on. Sometimes I spend the evenings out with some mates and a number of bottles of beer. This place is paradise.
I have been reminded again and again that ChinesePod is Shanghai-based and that Foshan is not Shanghai. Some of the cultural information I've learned through CPod simply doesn't apply. For example, I've met two persons all in all who can speak English to any degree above "Hello! How are you!". One is my shifu, who's an English teacher and who spends a lot of his time with foreign learners of Wing Chun like myself. The other one I've had some conversations with in English, but only on my suggestion, because I felt it was right I return the favor of language practice. Nobody has suggested I teach them English. I also asked about traveller's diarrhea, and the response was "Dude, China isn't like what you might have read". Neither I nor any of the other westerners I've met have had any problems. Also, I haven't found any opportunities for bartering. I tried it once, but the guy's respose was basically "No, you don't understand, look at the price tag." (which, I admit, might have been a clever bartering technique).
I'm also glad to find that barring really old people, everyone speaks fluent Mandarin. I've had no problems in talking to people. It took a week or so to get used to the accent, but other than that there are no problems. Sometimes I don't know a word, but I can usually talk around it. My talking skills are of course much worse than my comprehension skills, but that's in line with my priorities, as I find comprehension to be much more important. I have enountered some problems when moving onto abstract subjects like politics, philosophy and religion. I was a bit afraid that I'd have problems talking to people since I never used my Mandarin before coming to China, but I seem to have been worrying in vain. The vocabulary content of most daily conversations is quite limited and I find it's a lot easier to talk to someone than to watch a TV show or read a book.
Uh, what else? The local food is horrible. Cantonese cuisine seems to consist mainly of "X drenched in oil", "Wet cardboard with veggies", "Fish heads" and "Pig innards porridge". Also, don't make the mistake of thinking that 田鸡 means "field chicken". It's not chicken. Luckily, there's no shortage of other cuisines. I've grown particulary fond of the Dongbei food and I've become a regular at the local Dongbei restaurant.
I'm also relieved that people here don't have the attitude of Hong Kong people towards learners of Cantonese. I've heard people in HK don't want you learning it, but here everyone is really happy when you speak a few words.
Also, kung fu is everywhere here (well, at least in my neighborhood). The streets are lined with wushuguans and kung fu shops filled to the brim with weapons. It's pretty awesome.
I think that's it for now. I've got to go, as I'm off for some barbecued fish and maybe a beer, followed by an afternoon of Cha-Cha. Don't expect me to check in too often, as I'm not wanting to spend my time here online. I might return for some more advanced lessons in the future, when I feel I'm not getting further with the tools I've got here, but otherwise, I'm too busy having the best time of my life.
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