No big news today.  Mandarin classes are going slowly.  I’ve put in a request for more classes on Chinese characters, as this is where I need the most improvement.  As of now I’m only taking one 2 hour class a week, which really isn’t enough for me.  Will, a student from Ghana, agrees that more help with the characters is needed, while the Korean students have had less of a problem in this area because they’re written language is also character based.  On the other hand I have a Chinese listening class that’s four hours a week, and so far has consisted of repeating Chinese vowel and consonant sounds for the entire class period.  I find this pretty useless as, like in the US, most Chinese people speak a broken, slurred version of their own language, rarely taking the time to pronounce the words as perfectly as the teachers want us to.   Since the international school here is just getting off its feet and the class sizes are so small, I hope the Dean of the School will be open to my request.  Here are a few more pictures…Check back soon for a post on the fascinating economic relationship between China and the United States.

Real Chinese Food

When you order a dish chicken in it in China, more often than not the restaurant will just take a cleaver to the whole bird and toss chunks of it into the pot.  You eat it by taking the whole thing in your mouth, sucking out what edible material you can get too, and then spitting out the bones.  The head and the feet are actually considered the best parts, and you can actually buy chicken feet by the kilo as a snack.  Street vendors sell barbecued chicken heads on a skewer for about three yuan a pop.

Yummm...chicken foot...

Yeah,  I ate it.  It wasn’t anything to write home about.

Delivery Truck at the Wholesale Market in Liaocheng

This thing might look pretty cool right now, but when you’re riding your riding your bike and all of a sudden this thing goes chugging by, blowing its horn and spewing a black cloud of diesel exhaust, well, let’s just say it’s not fun.

Two Dragons statue at Dong Chang Lake

Liaocheng is known in China as the Water City, due to its many canals, and Dong Chang Lake, where a growing number of tourists like to visit, play carnival games, and soak up the natural beauty of the lake.  Believe it or not, this was actually a comparably clear day.  If Liaocheng really wants to increase its tourism revenue, they’re going to have to do something about the smog.