Jump – Korean Martial Arts Comedy

Today’s post uses pictures found on the website of the Changzhou Grand Theatre.  On Thursday evening, we went to the theatre in order to watch this Korean Martial Arts comedy performance.

As you can see already, JUMP is a good name for the production.  These guys and girls were in the air for most of the performance.  As for comedy, they kept us laughing the whole time, slapstick comedy at its best.

Underlying the comedy was the real athletic skill of each of these actors.  The moves they made defied gravity as we understand it.  Imagine that they leap into the air so high that they can do a 360 degree turn with out a tuck and add in a twist rotation as well as movements that suggest they are climbing and running on air.  This was the move done by the white-haired and white-bearded director of the performance, the senior citizen of the cast.

Saturday Afternoon Rambles

When the weather is right, we love going for long Saturday walks.  As part of our reward for putting in a lot of kilometres, we enjoy stopping for a bowl of noodle soup, especially at an Ajisen Ramen restaurant, a Japanese noodle soup chain we enjoy visiting in other cities in China as well.  As you can see, I am getting quite proficient in eating noodle soup using a wooden spoon and chopsticks.  Maureen does a better job as she doesn’t flick the noodles as much and so keeps the soup off her clothing.

This past Saturday was a beautiful sunny day and warmer than the weather during the week.  When we got to Hong Mei Park, we found the place busy with a lot of students as well as families.  One group of college kids were playing a game in the trees which made us laugh.  When we stopped to look at the fall roses, we were soon surrounded by college kids anxious to practice their English with us and to have photos taken with us.

Three hours of wandering through the park and taking a gazillion photos of roses, we decided to head home to make supper and then enjoy a night watching one of our DVD movies, “Nights in Rodanthe.”  Looking out the window while enjoying a cup of tea before our supper, we got to enjoy the last hour of sunshine before it set.  One thing about “smoke” in the air, is the way it colours the sun before sunset.  And so ended another one of our Saturday rambles.

Last night we went to China Dinosaur Park with two families of kids that Maureen teaches private English lessons.  When we got there, we saw Halloween more along the lines of what we would expect in Canada.  The place was swarming with college kids and some families with a good percentage of them in costume for Halloween.  Of course it was all about rides, a Haunted House and food stands as one would expect, and dozens of little kiosks selling Halloween stuff.

Maureen and the parents went in to the haunted house while I kept the two kids occupied, not a difficult task at all, as they were not allowed into the haunted house.  When Maureen and adults finally emerged, she said it was a good thing they weren’t allowed as it definitely was the scariest huanted house she has ever been in.

The changes at Dinosaur Park are significant.  Complete new areas are developed so that they would complement any prehistoric setting, complete with Orcs and all.

Changzhou – Fashion City

Yes, Changzhou is the City of Fashion, at least for a few days as the exhibition centre at the Changzhou Olympic Stadium finds itself busy with buyers and sellers interested in fashion.  It is “brand name” time featuring the top brands that are found locally and outside of Changzhou.  You can buy all kinds of formal and informal clothing at this exposition.  It’s amazing to both of us that this city is both modern and yet has a “provincial” atmosphere.  People drive rusty bikes and BMWs.  Outside of our apartment, the car wash is very busy cleaning nice shiny new cars.  And passing by our window are bikes and wagons that make us think of life lived a hundred years ago.

On Friday evening when we went to the theatre to watch Othello, we noticed that there was a lot of banners and other things outside of the Olympic Stadium which was just across the street.  When we went for a walk yesterday, we stopped in and found out that the hype was all about an exposition, a trade fair, featuring clothing for the most part.  Just about anything you could think of was for sale from socks and footwear to expensive fur coats.

There is no doubt that with wealth comes an almost insatiable desire for being dressed in the height of fashion.  At news stands throughout Changzhou, fashion magazines are available for anyone interested.  Magazines such as Vogue are all available in the Chinese language, using Chinese models.  This focus on fashion is bought by the young people that we teach as we see the students coming dressed to kill to classes.  As Maureen tells it, the campus is the perfect display case for the young men and women to strut their stuff hoping to make that perfect impression.  Shopping areas in the downtown area are also  places where the fashion conscious have an opportunity to wear their stylish clothing.

Hopefully, in a future post, we’ll include some “live” action shots of our students dressed up for classes.

Getting Ready for Halloween

Yes, Changzhou is getting ready for Halloween too.  Well, the truth be told, it isn’t much of a deal at all.  It is more of a store thing and something for kids in schools – no trick or treating in China as far as we can tell.

Billboards at bus stops are advertising a big party in Dinosaur Park for the high school and college crowd, a party where they get to listen to a Korean band called Super Junior.  While walking in Hong Mei Park today we met some college kids who wanted to practice their English.  Of course the topic of Halloween came up and they let us know that Chinese youth are more interested in celebrating western world festivals than their own Chinese festivals.

But something tells me things are going to change even more.  Seeing this little person with his mom and seeing all the costumes and junk in the stores is creating a lot of pressure on the rest to catch up with the times if they want to be modern.  We wonder what Halloween will look like here in Changzhou in ten years?  Will trick or treating ever come to China?  Somehow, it just doesn’t seem to be too likely.

Being at Home in Changzhou

With the weather turned cooler, darker and windier, I decided it was a good time to post a few pictures taken earlier from our visit to XueJia, such as this scene that reminded both of us of Suzhou.  Of course canals and scenes like this one would have been normal scenes in the past.  Today, the canals remain, but not as in this scene.  Today you can see this scene still alive in Suzhou and some of its surrounding villages.

This is just an interesting bit of embroidery, one that represents a scene that would only have been seen a few generations ago, a scene from the mid-eighteen hundreds wen the “white birds” invaded the Celestial Kingdom of China.

And finally, another scene from normal street life.  This lady is selling freshly made steamed bread that comes with any number of filling options, usually a bit of pork mixed with green vegetables or even more popular, just with the vegetables.

I have to admit that this time around we aren’t doing much in terms of eating “street” food.  Rather, we are treating living in Changzhou more like living at home.

Teaching is More Than Students in a Classroom

This is Violin, our co-teacher.  No, she doesn’t always dress like this.  Here, Violin is taking part in a dance competition at the main campus.  With more than a thousand Chinese college instructors on campus, there are a lot of then who are taking part in traditional dance lessons with the aim of taking part in this annual event.  Of course there is more to it than simply practicing for a competition, there is the idea of staying in shape with exercise.

One of the side benefits is the ability to call upon these teachers, as well as a number of other staff members, to take part in performances in honour of visiting dignitaries.

Here you can see all the different groups that took part in the performance/competition.  At the end of the competition, the all worked as one for a final dance in order to create a wonderful rainbow effect of colour in motion.  Maureen took these photos when she attended this performance at the main campus while I slaved in the classroom on our campus.  Don’t you feel sorry for me?