"What nobler employment, or more valuable to the state, than that of the man who instructs the rising generation?"
-Marcus Tullius Cicero
First stop: Daoxian to visit my friend Jason. He's a teacher there, of course Teaching is far and away the main occupation for foreigners living in China, from my experience.
I'd already been to Daoxian for October break. A dumpy small town it may be, but I like it nonetheless. It's friendly, and easy. No extensive bus system to navigate (there were two routes? I think,) no place to spend lots of money (see: Shanghai,) and, in my case, no responsibilities. It was a great place to unwind after the stress of exam week. (Did you know exams are just as much work for teachers as students? Yikes, did I learn that quickly...)
Of course, all this means that one would go stir crazy living there, but for two weeks it was just fine for me. There's a video game arcade, skating rink, and stores with cheap distractions to buy - my darts skills are much improved after nights of practice. We also discovered that a rice cooker is excellent for making mulled wine, the perfect drink on frigid nights with less than optimum heating indoors.
Small town China is very different from living in a "big" city. Dirt roads, people wearing pajamas as daily clothing, no one who speaks English, and lots of families with 2 children. (Since Daoxian's residents are considered rural residents, they're allowed to have a second child if their first child is a girl, and minorities are generally allowed to have unlimited children. I don't know how big the minority population is, but there are definitely some in the area.)
I had lots of time on my hands while Jason taught, so besides working on my Chinese and reading some old New Yorkers my cousin Amanda brought from the States, I practiced taking pictures with my new camera. A few of the results are below:
I don't know what they were playing, but it looked really neat. They ended up with a sort of mosaic on the pavement in the end.
The coal truck.
(Note that one dart is actually stuck in the other. If you play enough, I think it's bound to happen, and we definitely played enough.)