The scaffolding is coming down! Here's a picture of the bamboo used in the scaffolding around my apartment. Apparently bamboo has incredible tensile strengh--you can hear it creaking when people walk on it, but a single trunk of bamboo is strong enough to support the weight of several grown men. Amazing.
I'm looking forward to the scaffolding coming down so I can finally open the curtains during the day. But once the re-painting and construction is done, I will miss the floating population of workers that has set up camp in the neighborhood. They've set up tarps in the alley for sleeping at night. During the day, the street is filled with the sound of workers, painting, hauling stuff, pulling down the scaffolding, and breaking huge piles of rocks with pick-axes for what I can only presume is a re-paving project.
After sundown, the whole street turns into one gigantic pajama party! Whole families are living under the tarps, and at night (when the heat is still oppressive) everyone strips down to their skivvies and hangs out, playing cards or mah jongg or just sitting around talking. It's a really festive atmosphere, and it's going to seem awfully quiet around here once everyone's gone.
I don't mean to come across as glib. I realize that a lifestyle of hard labor is not something to idealize or treat lightly. That's the kind of attitude that was largely responsible for the, um, events of the 1960's here in China...
Sorry for the long delay between postings. Things have been pretty crazy around here, finishing up the orientation and lining up part-time teaching and tutoring gigs for myself. I have a great job now at an English Coffee Corner--basically I get paid to facilitate discussion with a bunch of really interesting adult advanced English-speakers. I think I'm going to learn a lot from them this year. More about that soon.
My classes will start in a couple of weeks. Can't wait to get back into learning Chinese!