At 1.30pm we assembled in the ‘Multi Function Purpose Room Hall’ for some renditions of traditional Chinese folk music by a funny little Chinese man in chinos, flanel shirt and a cowboy hat.
I wonder if maybe he was in the wrong country as the first song he played- on a banjo-style instrumetnt was spookily similar to American country and western music of the South West states. The second and 3rd songs each played on a different instrument were pleasant experiences, the sort of music you would expect to hear in westernised Chinese movies. The fourth…was not! The headache I had just succeeded in beating quickly returned when this small squat black single string violin was played…earsplitting is the only appropriate word!
Accompanying each song was a backing track played on an open-style piano, the strings were left open and were struck with long thin strips of bamboo…the musician was a rather large fellow who smelled very strongly of fish. After we had heard the renditions two or three times it was then our chance to have a go ourselves.
12th AUGUST: We’re finally getting somewhere with class and have moved up a set! Hopefully we’ll be able to put our honed phrases, grammar and pronunciation into real-world practice soon!
In the afternoon we learnt how to make dumplings and various other Chinese culinary treats and then taste our efforts! The fried potatoes in sweet sauce were interesting and it was shocking to see how much sugar went into making them so sticky!
Then it was time for some of us to go to the train station to book our tickets from Beijing to Xi’an and there was great amusement on the way there, amidst all the parping of horns from buses, cars, taxis etc there walked an old man pushing a wooden cart full of empty plastic bottles and straw…and to compensate for his lack of horn he had a large upturned plastic bucket attached to the cart which he repeatedly bashed with a stick to get attention!
That evening, after limited success at the train station it was time to party it up at Funky Buddha…they have a Funky Buddha in China?!
13th AUGUST: Only two hours sleep again- Funky Buddha you are bad! Today was our trip out to a strange museum on the outskirts of a Korean-Chinese community. They had laid on a feast of traditional Korean food just for us, this was the highlight of the day for me, delicious food and we were all warmly welcomed by the villagers into their homes and shown around the village…there were even some swings in a little park, and cornfields as far as you could see!