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The China Adventures of Arielle Gabriel

Sunday August 5

On Monday afternoon I worked all afternoon detailing this day, rising early to clean and decorate my room, my cut on my hand, going to see the antique store full of Chinese furniture, and buying my first music files from a street merchant. Then the computer said there was a problem between the server and the browser and it all went away. There is no automatic save. except of course for the ad banners, they always seem to save themselves!
Now I am just doing a quick test entry.

Monday August 6

This was a richly interesting day. We went over and over the interviews my students will be having on Saturday, and then we went for lunch at my favourite SPEC restaurant, a chain restaurant that was laughed at by my kids for being noodles specialists. I only have the small cold vegetable plates, the egg bread patties, the pumpkin and turnip fritters, washed down with copious amounts of tea.

Sam paid for us all which touched me, though he has a good job, he is still young and anxious to travel abroad.

Dora, a graduate student expecting her first baby, expressed a desire to take me sightseeing, and also wants me to meet a Chinese man. She has match-maker propensities, and has decided life will go well for me with a Chinese gentleman, as she calls it, to protect and watch over me.

Hah! Did not tell anyone about the Taiwanese and how cold they were to me, when I slid down the rock face at Beitou Hot Springs, and almost comatose on the ground for five minutes, with blood running out of a wound on my arm, finally rescued by Chinese CHILDREN.

I think to be fair to the Chinese, that we teachers simply get to meet too many people! Do they themselves travel about meeting thousands of different people?I just want eventually to live somewhere with trees and serenity and a few well-decorated quiet rooms that I can hang art in.

Dora is interested in dreams, hypnosis, psychology, and friendships around the world. She and her husband have travelled more than most Chinese, and Sam too has been to Florida.

The lunch finished in a good mood with a group of students huddled around me teaching me how to complain a little in Chinese!

Thursday August 9

This day began oddly then twirled around and went very well.

I spent several hours trying to contruct from a kit an awkward looking Chinese cupboard for clothes. The Chinese in their new affluence have a big Furniture Problem, as they suddenly need a lot of it!!!

All over the West, we can walk down our streets in the summer and see pretty old wood furniture that we can sand and apint and fix-up and decorate on a budget with lots of style. Of course, due to our longer manufacturing history, we have a great deal of kitsch and junk.

The Chinese like other Asians despise our second-hand attitudes and would rather have the new, whatever it may be. In China to make furniture for over a billion people is a big activity.

That is why men sit on plastic stools a few inches from the ground, why I buy plastic-filled duvets and use them for beds, why there are no closets, why dining tables may also be used for card games, why you are shown rooms that have beds but no drawers or cupboards to put away or to hang clothing.

It is an interesting ancient custom in China that clothes are folded in drawers and shelves, as I found out looking at beautiful antique wood furniture at a store in Sheiko. If it is a folk custom I can accept it, because I think they are right to value their ancient ways.

I was also interested why this furniture did not warp and rot in the tropical heat, and that is because it is already aged thoroughly before the carpenter begins to cut and shape it.

I have lived for weeks with clothes just folded in bunches, so when this cupboard revealed itself as having one slightly bent iron rod, the key as to why the whole project was failing, I just became upset. My first cupboard under the weight of the few dresses hanging in it was already tilting to the wall, like a dying flower.

So I ran out of the house and off to the corner to purchase two huge beautiful wicker trunks, what I wanted to buy in the first place, but did not want to be over-charged for. I met a Chinese Canadian man who helped me negotiate, and just as we were closing my deal, another man came along who said he had a language school, and offered me an immediate job.

I hired a wagon to pull my trunks home, the pleasant natured agent helped me by hiring it, and spent some time cleaning my room, before going back to the library to work on all my websites.

Later that day I took the 204 bus downtown and bought two books, one on pearls of Chinese wisdom, or so it calls itself, and the other Wuthering Heights. I have read the classic novel before, but it was all there was, and I cannot stand the muddy prose style of Thomas Hardy.

Saturday August 11

Well another long Internet day as yesterday was. Began with a bit of tixzzy hearing Larry and his mother tearing about the two damned cupboards that had collapsed on me, I had moved them into the living room to work on them, because my room is quite small I cannot even clean or turn around in it, without bumping into the wall.

I took the cupboatrds and just threw them out into the hallwa6y, the garbage dump, to take the broken one back will take two hours of time and therefore it is not worth the money.

What surprised me was that the first one only needed the screws tightened, and I wanted to give it to the family, but Larry said, No, we have a new couch coming and nowhere to put the closet. In the living room we will have a new couch, and we can sit on it, and watch all the undies and bras and t-shirts swaying in the living-room window, for since we moved we have nowhere to hang the clothes in the Luxury Hi-rise.

Space is always at a premium in Asia, and it is good just to have two modern washroom, with full tubs. Asians also value tight door security, and even one of our doors would take a stick of dynamite to open!