Da Qing Gu

22 May 2002

Things around here have been kind of crazy lately, and I’m not exactly sure why… I seem simultaneously busy and free. The classic case of lots of free time on one’s hands and not enough time to get everything done. I’m still trying to figure out this summer. Originally I wanted to go back to Japan for about a month, but it looks like I’m not going to have the funds. In any case, I’m definitely going home this summer. We’ll see what else happens.

But here’s some small news. Last Friday Wilson and I went to our new favorite barber shop to get haircuts. We also got a color change. He got a red tint and I bleached the hell out of my hair. It took five hours because they weren’t getting it as light as I wanted (and it all still only cost me US$10 total). In the end, it was still yellower than I wanted, but they said they got it as white as they could. Take a look. Anyway, if I thought I was standing out before, I really am now. I’m getting lots of reactions from my students. Lots of them are saying it’s cool, and lots are also telling me it looked better before (with remarkably little tact at times). Oh well. It’s fun for now…

Last Saturday I went with the church gang to a place in southern Hangzhou called DaQing Gu. Helene and Simon went along as well. The place was interesting because it was sort of a natural, remote location, with fresh air and lots of trees and mountain scenery, as well as tea fields. But then it also had carnival attractions like bungee jumping, target practice, games for prizes, etc. A strange combination.

Anyway, we had a great little mountain climb. It was an actual climb, instead of the typical Chinese “mountain climb” of climbing stairs up a mountain. We were actually scrambling a bit, grabbing onto roots and saplings, and ropes in places, to make it to the top. The funny thing was that a whole mixed group went, including middle-aged women, little kids, and girls who were horrified at getting dirty. There were quite a few slips resulting in dirty knees and butts, but no one got hurt, and everyone was able to make the climb, even when it got pretty steep. I don’t think the same group would have made it (or tried, anyway) had all the participants been American.

Simon and I also tried this thing called “Tan Tiao Fei Ren” (“Bullet Jump Flying Person”) in Chinese. It’s this thing where you’re strapped into a harness, and both sides of you are tied to bungee cords. You’re sort of in the pouch of a giant slingshot. Then they mechanically raise the ends of the bungee cord, and slingshot you up (it’s hard to explain clearly, but no, you don’t come back down and hit the ground!). So you can do lots of flips, suspended like that. It’s pretty fun, and was only 30 RMB (less than US$4).

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

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