It’s been one of those days – starting at 4am 😦  One thing I’ve not touched on so far is animals in China….. they eat everything and every part of an animal (remember my pigs’ ears!) and certainly do not have the same affection towards dogs and cats that the west does.  Outside the school and apartment there is a pack of dogs that roam about – I’ve seen as many as 10/12 but normally there is just 4 or 5 trotting along together.  You can’t go near them or even touch them, and whilst they have cute faces they all have horrific matted fur and bits hanging off them. 

So the 4am wake up call.  At some point during the night it must have started to pour down, and at 4am all I could hear was the howling and barking of a dog.  There is building work gone on at the back of the apartments, migrant workers from Sichuan building garages so the area literally is a building site with wood and bits of wire lying around.  From the sound of it it seemed as if a dog has got caught in something and was literally howling itself to death whilst in pain.  I got up, tried to look out the balcony (which turned out to have totally flooded because of the rain) but couldn’t see a thing. 

To say it was heartbreaking was an understatement – for 1.5 hours until I must have passed out with exhaustion this went on, and as I didn’t have a torch and the building site is almost enclosed I knew there was no way I could even find the dog.  The only thing I could hope for was that when the migrant workers arrived at 6.30 they could release the dog, or put it out of its misery or something.  I got up at 7, and there was no sign of the dog, no dead animal lying around (I figured the guys weren’t exactly going to dig a hole and bury it,  more toss it on the side of the road) so I just figured that somehow the dog has been dealt with.

So onto my class – this is the first day of my two week cycle for classes, so today’s class was my guinea pigs for the lesson plan I’d spent about 2 hours working on yesterday.  The lesson went well but it didn’t go to plan, and that’s where you have to think of your feet – all it takes is one student to ask something, or say something, and the whole lesson has to be re-jigged – quickly, without the students knowing and most importantly you have to still continue with the basic theme of the lesson.  Today’s lesson was holidays -where had they been, where would they like to go with the theory that the students would write this out and then they would tell it to the class – working on the theory that their written skills are better than their oral skills.

Out of my class of 54 I think about 5 students actually did this – one guy was working on sticking bits of yellow posts its onto a piece of paper, another student fell asleep and only actually work up about 10 minute after the class ended when another teacher came in and saw him.  The best I can do is work with the students that actually want to learn, and give the ones that don’t enough to do so that they don’t disrupt those that do want to learn.  What was quite poignant was that three of the students wanted to go to America to university to “make their families proud of them”.  Education is so terribly important in China, to some anyway.  A couple of others wanted to go to Disneyland, one simply wanted to go to Beijing and walk around Tiannamen Square – something that you and I could – sort of – easily do, but to him that was his dream.

On a seperate note, I’ve got a cold – I’m surprised I’ve not got one already, having been here nearly a  month.  It’s only  a head cold, treatable with neurofen and cold/flu tablets, but it’s making me a bit tired, so after lunch when I should have gone and rested for a couple of hours, stupidly I decided to try and order things from ebay, sort out the stupid VPN on the ipad, send some emails.  By 4pm I gave up – Astrill VPN have decided to cancel my VPN account because of fraud on my account so I had to download flyvpn but bombs me out after five minutes.  I changed all my contact details on ebay, putting in my Chinese address, only to try and buy clothes and find that neither seller – who are both in Hong Kong – will ship to China – outwith their area apparently……god only knows what’s going on, so I emailed the woman I’ve been emailing about clothes and she’s send me a nice message saying if I tell her what I want she will send me an invoice through paypal. 

It’s the simple things that get frustrating… not being able to just pick up the phone and make a call to sort something out, trying to work out the time differences between China and the States to call Astrill (nope still can’t work it out!).

However as I’ve got Thursday and Friday off because of the Moon Cake Festival (some lovely little male student gave me my first moon cake today) and I can’t go anywhere because of the passport issue, I’ll sort of these things out then – 3 classes over the next 2 days, the dreaded English Corner tomorrow night (4 or 5 of today’s students asked me whether they could come along – they’re going to be sadly disappointed!) and I’ve not a clue what on earth I’m supposed to say or do.

And the postscript to the 4am dog…..I met Tony, the other English teacher.  He went out at 5.30 in the pouring rain with a torch to try and rescue the dog.  Apparently when the dog saw him it rolled over and started wagging its tail…..it was cold and wet and couldn’t find anywhere to shelter!!!  What we think is that on the rare occasion it rains here, someone has sneaked the dog into their apartment to look after it.  When this didn’t happen last night the dog decided it was going to howl until it got some attention!!!  Tony said he walked around the block and finally found some shelter under cardboard, so put the dog until it and it was happy….. I’m just glad that he felt as concerned as I did and that he had a torch!

Tonight will be bed about 8pm with one of my precious hot chocolates to try and rest – Supper tonight was basically supernoodles as I couldn’t face anything but needed to eat – my craving for chicken noodle soup is returning 😦