Over the past two days I have felt a lot more confident about spending many months in China…mostly because it’s finally warming up over here. I really can’t stand the cold, and since our lifestyle involves a lot more outside activity than at home (biking, eating on food streets, an open-air classroom setting…) I was beginning to worry a little about the climate. The last two days, however, have been much nicer Spring days, and I am feeling more confident in our new lives here. In fact, I even scrubbed the bathroom for three hours yesterday (and found bleach!) so I would feel better about using it for the coming year. Although I have to admit that it doesn’t look a whole lot better, I know it’s much cleaner. OK, I will stop talking about the bathroom.

I have some better news about my bike. Although it’s still gone…there is an extra at the school because the other David is using a motorbike, so I now have a mountain bike similar to David’s to ride around. I do miss my basket, but I am going to keep an eye out for another cheap bike. Also, I really appreciate all of you checking in about the bike and how we are doing. I was feeling pretty lousy about the situations, but my mood improved a lot from chatting (complaining) with some of you and hearing updates your lives. One thing I miss over here is participating in fundraisers and walks, but I still feel connected through your updates…even if you DO just want my money. (Just kidding.)

Yesterday night we had a really nice dinner with about 8 teachers from the public school David and I teach at. Earlier in the week I asked one of the teachers if she would want to have dinner sometime, and it turned out that the whole department wanted to join! They were SO nice, and treated us to one of the best Peking Duck restaurants in Tangshan. Most of the teachers are around our age, so hopefully we will eat out again…and there were talks of doing some K-TV (Chinese Karaoke.) One funny conversation we had was that they always characterize English speakers as saying, “How is the weather?” for casual conversation, while the Chinese are more likely to say, “Have you eaten?” I definitely prefer the Chinese topic of casual conversation, but I need to learn some more cooking first. One interesting topic we discussed was traveling. Although the teachers had recommendations for where we should visit in China, they were all from Tangshan, none had ever left the country, and most had not seen many parts of China. They remarked that, “All the foreigners like to travel,” like this was another comical stereotype…a pretty lucky one, I would say.

Well, I need to go to sleep so I can be a monkey for the 3-year olds at 8am…and also spend tomorrow planning for our May break. We have 3 days off for the Bank Holiday. We thought we would travel around China, but something like 15% of Chinese ALSO travel during this break, so traveling in China has proven more expensive than going to another country. Thus, we are going to try and spend 6 days in Thailand. I’m extremely excited about this possibility, and hope it works out. Also, we now know our cell phone numbers and address, so we would be happy to share those with anyone via email. Oh…and who will win the prize for first to visit? It will be a good one!

One last thing, we just found out that the other foreign teacher will be teaching in Xi’an for his next 6 months in China…so that means that there will be a 6-mo minimum opening here in Tangshan with us! If any of you have considered teaching over here, we would be happy to show you the ropes. The positions fill very quickly, but please let us know.