Dragon Claw Beats Tiger Roar!

We were learning animal body parts (loosely defined) in class recently. In elementary school here the kids learn the basic body parts that most animals, and people have, nose, eyes, ears, mouth, head, fingers, etc. They don’t really do much in the way of animal specific body parts though.

We learned:
Dragon Claw
Panda Paw
Tiger Roar
Elephant Trunk

We went over other animals with the same body parts, and yes I know a roar is not a body part, but I didn’t want to do an animal sound class, so I snuck it in there.

When it came time for the review, we played a game much like Rock-Paper-Scissors, but with our new terms.

  • Thumb, pointer, & middle fingers held like a claw = Dragon Claw
  • Hands open wide with all fingers, & thumbs fully extended = Panda Paw
  • Hands cupped around mouth like a pretend megaphone = Tiger Roar
  • What you think it would look like = Elephant Trunk

You play with three at any given time. Panda is always a good idea to have in there because pandas.

Dragon Claw beats Tiger Roar
Tiger Roar beats Panda Paw
Panda Paw beats Dragon Claw

At this point the kids will question how a panda can beat a dragon. The answer, “Pandas are so cute, the dragon can’t bear to attack them, but tigers can, cause tigers are jerks.” If you don’t have a TA/translator in class, just point at the panda, and say, “Mo mo da [moe-moe-da],” it means, “Cute,” and the kids will understand why this idea works.

I have the class split into 4 teams, and I have them come to the front of the room to battle. The winner stays (max 3 fights), and the loser sits to let the next team go. If someone wins 3 fights, then they get to fight me for extra points for their team.

Works with pretty much any group of animal features/body parts, just come up with reasons the weakest can beat the strongest. Cute is an easy out.


Eyes on the Road

Here is what my day looked like.
School: “Hey Shawn, want to go to a small country school to do something?”
Me: “Not really.”
School: “Good, we’ll go at 4:00”
Me: “What will I do?”
School: “It’ll be simple.”
Me: 😐

*After We Finished The Things*

School: “Want to get in a car wreck on the way home?”
Me: “No.”
School: “Good, car wreck it is.”
*Blamo!!! Car wreck, because traffic laws are for dummies!!!*

Yes, I’m ok.
No, no hospital trip needed.
Yes, I’m glad my day is done.

Red Lights, Hot Tempers

Yesterday I was driving to school, and the light at the last intersection before the school was red, fully red. It had not just changed, it was long changed, and timer indicated it was halfway through. The green light for going straight across the intersection was in full bloom.

The law would state that traffic lights control all traffic through the intersection, whether foot, bike, car, or other. The practice is (largely), “I’m not in a car, so I don’t follow the traffic signals.”


An oldish man on an electric bike flew across the stop line and into the intersection. His head did not glance left, right, or any other direction. I saw it coming from a mile away, “Bango!” He hit the passenger side door on little silver car. The bike tumbled over, and so did the man. The door had a huge dent in it, and the silver paint was scratched off to expose a metre stick worth of metallic door.

The man quickly jumped to his feet, with his bike still on the road. He was unambiguously the cause of the accident. This little matter of fact did little to deter his fire. He started raging across the young woman in the passenger seat, at the young man in the driver’s seat. The young man got out to help with the bike, and see the damage. The old man was yelling at him, things I picture to be, “Watch what you are doing you idiot. I am old, you should have waited for me first.” The young man started gesturing at the door panel, I am assuming the words were similar to, “Who is going to fix this mess?”

After a couple more gestures, and loud words exchanged, the old man shooed the young guy away, got on his bike, and drove away. The young man, possibly shocked, slowly walked around his car, and got back in to drive away. By this time, I was through the intersection on my green light, ready for another day.


Pineapple Problems

I have a pretty good network figured out here for where to get certain items, especially when it comes to food. The internet is my cheapest source for butter, and cheese (while the city is a more expensive secondary source). … Continue reading

Unwanted Touching in the Parking Lot

Living in another country brings about its share of challenges, miscommunications, gaffes, questions, blunders, and strange (for the foreigner) situations. Sometimes you just laugh, sometimes you want to cry, get gruff, yell, throw things, or just enjoy the ride. Here is one of my strange moments in China.

Not too long ago I was driving home from school, and some guy followed me; he followed me for the last 1/2 km of the drive. I noticed him taking the same turns as I was, but I assumed coincidence. I parked my bike outside the apartment, and just as I was about to go inside I heard someone yell to me. It was the guy.

He came over, and I assumed it was going to be for a photo, or try to ask me where I was from, or one of the regular reasons people talk to me here. It was not any of the regular reasons. He came over, said something loudly, then grabbed my arm started “massaging” it. Massaging like he was trying to cast the devil out of my bones. I pulled away, but this guy who looked like a local Danny DeVito just latched on to continue massaging.

I was finally able to crowbar my arm free from the guy. He started talking to me. I am really unsure what he said beyond this point, but his gestures showed he wanted to continue the massage assault. I can assume he was saying, “Look how good your arm feels now (it didn’t), a full massage session, and all your bones can feel like they are broken.”

I said no, and went back into my apartment. I even used the second lock on the door for the first time since getting here. Thankfully I have not seen Captain Almost Assault again.

Expedient Residence

I have been in China now for just under a year. I arrived Feb. 10, or 11 last year. I have had a good year. There have been some annoyances, there have been some likes, and some dislikes. Basically, life as usual for any place in the world.

To stay here, I need a new residence permit every year. This means I have to get a new Foreign Expert Certificate each year, and with it I am able to apply for another year’s residency. The expert certificate was supposed to take 7 days, or less, to get. It took the school’s contact just under a month to get it, because he is a procrastinator, and didn’t apply for until about 3 weeks after I signed the papers.

He isn’t our favourite person in the world. One of the other teachers found his pay was about 10% light one month. When he confronted this guy (who is the accountant, among other jobs), the guy reached in his pocket and pulled out a bundle of cash, the exact amount missing from the pay. He has shorted my pay, and taken money to speed up the internet, and he set up a slower service than he told me he was setting up for me. I could go, but let’s just say his scruple count is on the low side. 

Now, applying for the residency took a month last year. The other teacher here said it took a month both times he did it. The official turnaround time given is 15 days, but experience said otherwise. I was a little concerned, because I am leaving for Hong Kong on Feb. 1, and I wasn’t able to apply for this until Jan 16. They assured us at the police station it would be back in time, but I didn’t believe them. based on past experience.

If you are questioning my timing decisions for travel/renewal conflict, I was told at the latest we would be ready to apply for the new permit on December 30, so Feb. 1 was more than enough time away to get it back. 

While I was hopeful it would be returned on time, I was calculating how much money I would lose to cancelation fees for train tickets, and whatnot for the trip should my passport not be returned on time. I know I could get permission to travel/check into hotels in Mainland China while the police have my passport, but I am quite sure I cannot go to Hong Kong without my physical passport. Xiu Xiu called the police station the day after we applied to remind them to please be quick with my passport. Then she called a few days later on Monday to re-remind them. When she called back yesterday to re-re-remind them, they said it was there, and ready for me.

I couldn’t believe it when she told me it was back. I was happy, but still unbelieving. We picked it up, and sent a thank you message to the officer responsible for the expedited processing. I am very happy to have my next year’s residency out of the way, and now I have nothing to worry about until I renew my passport in Shanghai next December (A renewal I am excited about, because it will be good for 10 years).

I couldn’t believe it when they told her it was already back. I was pleased, but in disbelief. I am very happy to have my year’s residency taken care of now. I don’t have to worry about anything else until next December when I go to Shanghai to renew my passport. I am excited about the renewal though, it means I will have a 10 year passport this time!

And there was the BBC, gone.

One thing I find funny/interesting living in China is the fluidity of forbidden websites. Now, coming here I knew the vast majority of my most visited websites would be blocked. I wouldn’t have access to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or WordPress without a VPN. I am surprised however when I wake up and no longer have access to a website/app I was able to use VPN free the day before.

Since arriving in China I have lost direct access to Several of my common haunts. Google Maps was the first to go I think. The first couple months here I was able to use the app on my phone, and it worked great. Then, after a couple months, no more Google Maps without a VPN. Soon after Google Translate went the same way. It was my go to translator on my phone because I trusted the results would be what I wanted to say (mostly). Now I am looking for a good translator to use, and I have yet to find one I like. Instagram went away when Hong Kong flared up, one evening I posted a picture of something I baked, next morning I needed my VPN to see if it got any attention. The most recent casualty was the BBC news app.

I am not complaining mind you. I have a work around to access them in one way or another, or a replacement. I am living in China, some things are going to be different, if I can’t hack it then I need to head to a different country, or go back to Canada. Even if I didn’t have the work around, I would be fine (I like convenience, I don’t require it). It is just a different feeling to wake up one morning, and know I have lost access to something I could access not six hours ago.

Scotiabank Security…


I called Scotiabank because they flagged my bankcard, the reason is, it is in China. Now, in late January I called Scotiabank, and told them my plans. I said, “I am going to China, I’ll be there for at least a year, if not more. Also, I will be travelling as much as possible, so please put a note on the account.” They told me it was no problem, then I called back the following day to confirm everything had been noted, and once again was told, “No problem, it is all there.” I haven’t used my bank card much here, but I have used it 4, or 5 times in the past 8 months.

Security questions answered, here we go:
Him: “Have you used your bankcard anywhere more than a small radius around the home address on the card?” 
Me: “Yes, I am in China, have been since February.”
Him: “Please answer my question, have you used your bank card at any other location than your home city?”
Me: “Yes, I am in China, and I am using it.”
Him: “Sir, I cannot help you until you answer my question. Has. your. bankcard. been. used. outside. your. home. city.”
Me: “I don’t know what you are asking.”
Him: *Audible sigh*
*skip the Abbot and Costello routine which lasted about 2 minutes*
Me: “Ok. I am in China. I have used my bankcard here. I do not understand what question you are asking when you say, ‘another location,’ if it is not me being in China” (at least my 7th mention of China).
Him: “You are in China? We do not have a record of you being in China.”
Me: “I called in January to tell you I am in China. Then I called back the following day to confirm there was a note on the file, to say I was going to China. I was told yes.”

Long story, less longer, the problem is fixed.

The question I want to ask is this, how slow is their security if I have been using my bankcard in China since February, and they only just flagged it in October… This gives me cause for pause. Seriously, had my card been stolen, what in the world took 8 months to flag it? Had this happened in February, the first time I tried to use it, I would have been annoyed, but I also would have thought, “Oh, hey, they have decent security. Terrible note taking skills, but security is on the ball.” Instead a thief would have had time to clean out all the pennies I keep in the bank (I am not wealthy by any means), and Scotiabank would have just been there sitting on their hands, doing nothing about it.

Below is how I felt about the 3rd time I answered his question with, “China,” and he told me, “Until you answer my question, I cannot help you.”

No Foreign Foods, No Import Prices

My town in China is relatively small. Now, keep in mind it is small by Chinese standards, because there are 1,000,000 people here. Even though there are more people than almost every city in Canada, the 1,000,000 people here has … Continue reading