Sunday, July 22, 2007

Well I haven't posted in a long time. Now that my mother is looking at my blog on a regular basis and wanting more information, I've decided to start blogging on some kind of regularity again. However I will not be using this site, there's some reasons that I must split with blogger and with these reasons maybe you will understand why I haven't been blogging.

1. Chinese government censorship. Despite my nice message at the beginning of my blog a few months ago, sometimes our friends in the censorship army don't like what other people say and this makes getting to my blog very difficult. I will probably deal with this on my new site, but lets talk about some other reasons.

2. I directed my browser to blogger and got it in German then logged in and it was Chinese. Blogger can't really figure out what language it is when I am dealing with it. Often times when I am looking at other peoples blogs Deutch comes up for me there too. Some of you computer geek types are probably asking me "James why don't you just change the language of your site, that's really easy!" what they don't understand is...

3. No matter how many times I change the language on my personal blogger site, when I come back to it, its in Zhong-Wen (Chinese). I understand that its a handy tool that when someone IN China logs onto this site that you make it in their language, but when I change the language this process should be saved. I guess it never occurred to the blogger staff that some people might go live in another country for a year or something. Meanwhile I can recognize the sounds of about 2 of the symbols on my page currently--luckily I remember which buttons are which from previous use of this site.

4. A new site will make for a renewal of interest in writing.

so I'd like to point you in the general direction of my new blog:

Maybe when I get back to the states I'll change the name of this mess and write back on this one.

Signing off for now.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Blog...It's about time

I apologize for not blogging. I really don't like putting blogs up that I can't see, though somehow today is working so maybe everything is a-okay for this website.

Dear Chinese web censors,
My blog seeks not to degrade your country or its people. I am actually a big fan of this place...please allow me to continue viewing.

James the teacher in Fuzhou

I guess some of the biggest news is Christmas in Fuzhou. It's my first Christmas away from family and friends. One of my best Christmas memories ever happened here at work yesterday:

Many of you know Jerry, the Chinese worker at my school. Jerry has been a constant help to me and all the other foreign teachers. All of us acknowledge that our life would be a little more difficult without Jerry's helping hand. He's a hard worker who rarely complains and does his best to further the school and represent China in a positive way.

A few weeks ago Jerry came to hang out with all of the teachers. After he left he went straight home forgetting his bike at a store. He didn't realize it until the next morning and when he went to check on his bike it had been stolen by the ever active Fuzhou bike thieves.

After this incident the teachers resolved to get Jerry a bike for Christmas. It would only cost between 100 and 200 RMB and would be a great present for a great guy. On the 22nd I went and saw Jeremy (the French Guy) buy the bike for Jerry, while I bought my own (a Giant Brand ATX 680, Giant is one of the best brands in the world, my bike is next to this paragraph). I even registered my bike online! Though I am not sure they will honor it because I am in China.

On Christmas day I arrived at work at about 1. My coworkers and I began the gift exchange. When Jerry got keys (to his lock) he had no idea what was going on. He was told he had to look around for it. He finally found it in one of the classrooms. He hugged all the teachers. When he got to me he started crying. I got the chance to hold a grown man who was overwhelmed by the generosity of a few foreigners who couldn't help but love him for his year-round goodness. If that's not what Christmas is about I don't know what is.

On the 23rd I had a full day of kids classes and then had to go to a Christmas party for people who love to speak English. I had been asked to present a 5 minute showcase of a talent. I had no idea what I was going to do until an hour before the party. I was riding home quickly to pick up a little money and hit a elderly lady. Before you get mad at me she was in somewhat Fuzhou fashion looking the opposite way from the way I was coming. She failed to check the road before crossing. Luckily, I barely hit her. It was more my bike was breaking and hit her knee making her trip over my wheel and she fell down. When I got back to the office I had a song to write and sing for the party. It goes a little something like this:

Grandma Got Ran Over by a Lao-Wai

Grandma got ran over by a lao-wai (a foreigner)
Walking to her house on the eve of Christmas Eve
You might not believe you have to look both ways crossing the street...
But as for me and Grandpa we believe

It was late and she'd been drinking too much Bi-Jou (a potent Chinese alcohol)
And we begged her not to go...
And when she collided with that big bike
She tripped over the wheel and fell into the road.

When we found her on Christmas morning
At the scene of the big wreck
She had thrown out her poor hip
and had Giant brand tread marks on her back...

Happily the lady did not break anything (had this happened I would have felt really bad despite not being at fault). And her family only seemed relieved that everything was okay. Because the situation turned out 0kay, I feel no remorse for the song.

In other news I am now down to 235. I think some of it is from getting sick a couple of weeks ago and not having comfort food to regain any of the weight. I don't do anything special except eat Chinese food and bike/walk around everywhere. I am not purposely starving myself, though my 1000000 chinese mothers (girls and chinese people who love giving health advice) say I don't need to lose weight. These same "mothers" have all sorts of good friend Jane has great things to say about eating meat (that is a little too risque to put on this blog, but was really funny when she said it none the less-email me if you want the health advice).


One of the coolest tidbits is something that happened just a few hours ago to my writing this. At about 8:30 pm on Tuesday 12/26 a 7.1 earthquake hit the southern Taiwan area. Being just a couple of hundred miles from Taiwan, Fuzhou was at the western edge of the quake. It was my first earthquake and quite an exciting one. So far only one death has been reported and few injuries or major damage so that good to know. There was apparently a 3 foot tsunami heading for the Philippines but that's only 1/10 of the size of the tsunami that happened 2 years ago to the day.

I need to give some hellos:

Josh Salas-Young man I am sooo proud of you for you and your team making it to the State finals in football. I hope you got to play alot more (something about your heart when I saw you play makes me think you saw your share of plays down the road). I hope you always remember that. Always keep your mind in the right places, trust me sometimes its not always easy. You/your mom should let me know where you decided to go to college (if you have made this decision).

Christina Molloy- your Christmas package was greatly enjoyed by me and the rest of the office. I've never had a bag of cheetos last that long in my life. Something about lacking certain things makes you enjoy little amounts more. You've been a great friend and I wish you could hang out in Fuzhou.

My Father and George Terry- Dad sent me another great care package full of things that have just about been devoured completely. Bro. George added in some cashews from Belize are better than any other cashews I've had. I love you dad! Bro. George, I've decided to go to a Spanish speaking country next. I have been looking over some spanish and have decided when I have a little experience this is the next move I need to make in the next year/year and a half. Dad maybe you can come see me.

Paris and Pierce-whose "Elf Yourself" photos were absolutely cute. I miss you guys I need a big hug from the both of you very soon.

Maya-Let's meet in about 9 You might possibly be tied for cutest niece ever (I'd say its a real possibilty)

If I don't post another blog within 20 days everyone on my mailing list can slug me (or appoint someone to do it).

Thanks for coming to visit Fuzhou! I hope this visit was a good one! If you want to be on my mailing list send me an email at and let me know! Pass this along to anyone who might be interested. If you have any questions about China/Fuzhou/ or comment and I'll try to answer them in blogs from time to time. Maybe I can have a FAQ blog.

See you next time!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sorry for the delay...lots to report:

Before I start here is some important contact information:
My address is:
Gu Lou Qu Hu Bin Lu 78#
Min Fa Xi Hu Guang Chang 1# 202
Fu zhou, Fu jian, PRC

(This will reach me at school, I am moving in the next two weeks).

My phone number (in case you really need it) is:
13459484631 (please keep in mind that I am 14 hours ahead of you).

It's been almost a month. I'm rather upset with this site right now because I can't access other peoples blogs. I think that's the biggest reason for not getting back with you. I do apologize.

Let's go over some of the biggest events of the past month:

I'm such a loser:
I've lost a few things since I've been in Fuzhou. The best thing I've lost is approximately 40 lbs. I eat most of the time, I've been told if I learn more chinese food names, the weight loss is alot harder to get off. With my only ways to get around being bike and foot I think I could come back 1/3 less of the man I was before (probably quite literally).

As a result of losing weight, pants fall off easier and pockets are less secure. One day after doing an English corner (English conversation with grade school students) I was in a taxi headed back to EF School and my phone fell out of my pocket. I didn't realize this happened until 10 minutes after I left the taxi. In China if you lose something you can count on not getting it back.

The worst loss (notice I went from good to bad to worst) was my wallet. I got off work late a week ago and I went to the store to get some dove chocolate (all other chinese chocolate just tastes "off"). Somewhere between riding off satisfied with my treat and throwing away the wrapper down the street, my wallet departed from my person. I thought I had left it down the street so I decided to make more memories....

Racing back to the store where I bought the chocolate to retrace my steps I crossed a street as fast as I could. I began a good lesson that night and now am fully aware: Large vehicles such as vans don't stop for bicyclers in China. This particular van almost hit me so I laid my bike down (skidded it to the side to keep from being hit). My front tire was ruined and I was pretty upset at that point. Lucky for me some Canadians saw the whole thing. They have been in China for awhile and were able to help me go to a bike shop to get my bike fixed for 10 RMB ($1.25). I count my blessings on that one.

Emergency Room visit:
Being that Saturday is my hardest day (3 childrens classes and sometimes an English corner in addition), I decided to catch early sleep on Friday night. I woke up at about 11 in the evening with a slight pain in my ankle. I decided to make sure it was elevated, iced, and wrapped in a bandage but all the precaution just aggrevated it. It grew from a slight pain to my ankle having its own pulse and hurting worse than my foot has ever hurt. By 3 oclock I had screamed a few prayers and decided I should call someone to take me to the hospital.
Deciding who the person should be to take me to the hospital was tricky, especially when the obvious choice had their phone turned off. I called Jerry first (because hes the best translator/helper we have). After Jerry I tried the most experienced teacher at my school, Jim. He didn't answer so I tried Jeremey, the French guy (another failure). Then I called Jaimie, Jim's girlfriend and my fellow American, who answered and helped me out.
Jaimie answered and brought her Chinese speaking friend to translate to the doctor for me. I hobbled all the way from my house to the street (quite a ways). After x-rays and laying in the wheeled bed for awhile they gave me some medicine that has worked wonders. I owe Jaimie and Dorris a meal at least.

I am definitely missing home, but I am happy with the experience I am having here. It's hard to believe i have been here over 8 weeks now. I am afraid that if I don't start getting out more, this experience will pass me by. The foot should be fully healed soon and then I will make that effort. I might put a list of things that would be appreciated to have (cheese snacks, dr. pepper, oh my!) hopefully a family member or two could help me out with that (maybe mom can send me some smaller clothes in a couple more weeks).

My friend Christina had the notion that Baylor would beat my Aggies so we made a small wager on the game. Had Baylor won, I would have had to say lies such as: "Clay Aiken is a good singer". Because the Aggies won, I should get a care package with goodies from her in the coming weeks (isn't she a good friend?).

Thanks for stopping by! Come back to Fuzhou again soon (your tour guide will try to keep better hours this month, promise).

Again if you would like to be a subscriber to this blog and get the updates (which I promise there will be plenty more, including pictures) email me at I have class so I need to go for now. Bye!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hong Kong....PHOOEY

I just got back from Hong Kong this morning, October 7th, 2006, at 8:30 in the morning. What better way to be welcomed back than two classes with little time to prepare. Alas, sometimes that's how it goes here in Fuzhou, but the classes went well. My older class particuarly enjoyed learning the game "Simon Says" which might be a Godsend game to teach some action verbs to children trying to learn an second language (L2).

While in Hong Kong, I actually stayed in what I'd like to call the 'hole of Hong Kong' otherwise known as Little Pakistan in Kowloon City. The first day I actually hated 'Hong Kong' because I thought I was in the middle of it and I saw more Indians and Pakis than Chinese people. I stayed at a not so lovely place called the "Shaker House" in a slightly run down shopping center called Chungking Mansion (Mansion???)! With an insect here and a smelly guy there it was home for a couple of days. There's a pictures of the building it was in here, though you don't really get the full effect of the shady-ness. Other than this general area Kowloon really wasn't that bad. And all the people in the area behaved kindly towards me. It's when you go to a little stand and see flies crawling all over the food inside a glass case, you get a little grossed out.

I worked out all my visa troubles so now I am legal to teach for a year in China. I am amazed at how everything has worked out without major problems. Though on this trip there was only a slight hitch to make note of: I came to Hong Kong with a little under 700 RMB (almost $100 USD) and someone forgot to tell me that the working Visa would cost me around 850 RMB. To get a full feeling of how I felt my first day in Hong Kong: after visiting the visa office and getting a hotel room I was 500 HKD (Hong Kong dollars somewhat interchangeable with RMB) in debt to friends that had made the trip for visa purposes as well. I knew I'd be well over my head if I didn't get help. I emailed my father to help bail me out just a little. I'll share with you the email I sent my father:
I am going to call you in a few minutes, but I thought I would try here first. Hopefully if calling fails (Because I am at a public place) you will get this and this will work somehow. I came to hong kong with the best intentions of only spending what was absolutely necessary. I wanted to save as much of my paycheck as possible. I left over $200 (USD) on my dresser back in Fuzhou and within an hour of being in Hong Kong I realized that was a mistake. I had a little bit under $100 in my pocket thinking that I'd get a visa, bus ticket, hotel, and have just a tiny bit to shop on (after all I could probably do that for at least a day and a half in fuzhou). The visa office wanted over $100 for a visa and the hotel cost another $'s a bit of a hole but it's not too bad. I ate two chicken kabobs, two snickers, and a coke for about $8 earlier (thats about the best food I could find that I was willing to eat, I am staying in little Pakistan).
I have about enough money to get a bus ticket and go home tomorrow. I was almost content to let that happen when I had the lights out in my room and trying to go to sleep and just forget about this stupid trip to Hong Kong all together. Then I realized that despite how much I sincerely dislike little Pakistan and the almost US prices for stuff I could get for Chinese prices not an hour away, I still need to go out and do a little something.
All that story just to ask to see if you could loan me $50 to put in my checking account (you knew this was coming didn't you?). That is over $400 in Hong Kong dollars and would allow me to spend just a couple of bucks this evening to go around and take a couple of pictures, see part of this town that isn't little Pakistan, and still buy a bus ticket and have just a little bit in case of emergency. I am about to call you and tell you the abbreviated version of this story. I hope you can help me out just a tiny bit!!

Well the good man that dad is, he put some money in my checking account and I was able to have a western meal at the grocery store at the mall in Hong Kong (does a grocery store in a mall sound funny to anyone else?). I bought him something small but decent while I was there.

(to others who are expecting gifts, if you want something specifically from Hong Kong let me know cause I might go back, but otherwise expect something more Chinese)

And I also bought a birthday present for my newest family member, Maya, my 4 day old neice! I am so excited to have another wonderful neice/nephew. I think being the "cool" uncle is one of the joys in life (theres always that occassional 'weird' uncle that you pray really isn't doing illegal stuff). I will miss the moments of being an Uncle for the next 11 months (my I'm already on my 4th week here!). To Paris and Pierce: I miss you guys a bunch! I hope you both are enjoying school!

One of my favorite activities in Hong Kong was telling off the street salesmen (who tried to sell everything from fake rolex's to women). I wasn't too rude, but here were my top 5 favorite ways to say "No" to Hong Kong salesmen:
5. "NO NO NO NO and NO, get your hands off me thank you very much."
4. MEEEHHHHHH (Sounds like a goat)
3. Voluntary bodily functions, like not paying them any attention and burping the other way or fake coughing to drown them out.
2. Singing classic country music to myself so they could hear
1. "No hablo ingles! Hablo Espanol!"

Here are a couple of other pictures of Hong Kong:

On the morning of arrival, after my first experience on a "sleeping bus", where short Chinese people sleep comfortably, but very tall Americans lose circulation in their limbs.

Outside the Bank of China Building, National Day was the reason I had a few days to go to Hong Kong.

A cool looking Building (I believe this is the Hong Kong/Shanghai Bank).

The Hong Kong Skyline in a series of pictures.

The official Mascots of the 2008 Beijing Olympics (I'm pretty sure they are multi-colored Pandas).

The tallest building in Hong Kong (sorry I am not sure on the name).

Me on the way back to Fuzhou. I actually took this picture so I am not asleep, but I look like it.

One last thing: At a resturant in Hong Kong we had a small meal and after the meal the cups on the table began acting very strange. Instead of explaining it, check it out here.

In the next blog I'll post pictures from the local town on the east coast of China, Mawei. I went there before Hong Kong and I have a couple of pictures and reflections from there.

That's all for now, I hope you enjoyed your visit to Fuzhou (and Hong Kong), come back soon!

If you want to be on my mailing list, email me at and let me know that you want to know when my blog is updated.

James L. Goode

Friday, September 29, 2006

Bicycle and Holiday in Hong Kong

I now have two weeks of work under my belt and quite a few classes. I feel like everytime I step in front of the classroom and teach I need to tweak something about my teaching. I think that is good and I hope I can always improve on what I'm doing as a teacher.

This week was heavy on marketing. Marketing includes going to schools in the area and passing out flyers to parents and children. Everyday I did not really feel like going to pass out flyers, but everyday I had a great experience.

The first day, I passed out flyers and said "Ni-Hao" to all the students and their smiles made it worth it. Then on Wednesday a girl about 15 or 16 came up to talk to me and she spoke excellent English. She told me she wanted to go to the United States and she had high hopes to do so. In our long conversation, I told her that no matter what she should keep her dream alive and work hard and she could make it come true for herself. She took down my email and I hope she emails me sometime.

Finally, on Thursday and Friday I went to a couple of primary schools where the kids aged from 6 to 10. They wanted me to speak in English (a couple of kids particuarly liked me saying twenty-five for how old I am) and many smiles were exchanged. Numerous ones said in that amazed voice that kids everywhere do- "LAO-WI" which means foreigner. I think my big, tall, white, hairy, left handed, American Football loving ways make for something very different than what most kids, and people, are used to around here.

Before I finished work yesterday (Friday), I took my fresh wad of RMB (it was payday) and spent 738 of it on a new bicycle and heavy duty chain. An excellent bike I priced in Waco, Texas, USA a few months before I left was over $400. Now I have this brand name, beautiful, one year service-warrantied bike, which came out to.......(drum roll)........less than $100. WUHOO

I have already taken the bike to and from work. A few more weeks and maybe I'll be able to scale Gushan (the mountain) and go to places beyond. Places especially like Huang Shan a place I have read about from a book in my mom's library. There is a peak there called "Capital of Heaven". Many Chinese people consider it the most beautiful place in the country. I do not think I could leave here without visiting.

Now that my first two weeks are done it's time for---vacation??? Yes! It is National Holiday time for the year and what better way to celebrate the banishment of Chang Kia-skek (in my readings and study I have found him to be a stubborn idiot, who probably got what he deserved) and the welcome of Communism, than to go the freest place in China, Hong Kong.

I actually didn't choose this vacation, rather I have to go get a work visa because my travel visa runs out in a few weeks. I might have already mentioned this in past blogs, but the trip was planned, then cancelled, then planned again because of the possibility that I needed a medical check. Apparently the school thought I needed one then found out I didn't so Hong Kong is a-go!

I have many more trips planned, and I should probably get my camera out and take pictures pretty soon. If you are reading this and you are not on my mailing list but you would like to get updates the same day as I update my blog, email me at and I will put you on the list.

Thanks for visiting, come back to Fuzhou soon!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

It has been a little over a week since I arrived Fuzhou, China. My brother asked me a few days ago if am still happy or if I regret my decision. I must say overwhelmingly: I am very happy with my decision. Like any place there are a few setbacks here and there, but I have enjoyed my time here without a doubt.

I started teaching a few days ago and my impressions reflect an idiom I've heard from teachers many times "I think I learned more from the students than they learned from me". My students are as young as 8 and as old as 30.

The first class I started was one for Chinese students wanting to go abroad and need some basic English to get around. I came into the class feeling I was so smart and had so much to impart on them. After 5 minutes I noticed the confused look on their faces and realized they really didn't understand much of what I was saying. I've also noticed that idioms are mostly useless in conversation with students and people that aren't excellent English speakers. In the going abroad class I used the term "guinea pig" and then realized I had just went over everyone's heads. I teach that class again soon so we will take Chairman Mao's advice during the Industrial Revolution and take "...two steps back to take one step forward".

The translators (official title=Course Consultant) at English First Fuzhou are excellent. I have made very good friends with the only guy, Jerry. I don't think they get paid that great, but the service they offer helps all the teachers (especially the new ones that know only about 10 chinese words). When it gets around Christmas time I might ask that my friends and family send Jerry something. He's a very good guy and speaks excellent English. He said he learned watching American movies. You might consider putting Jerry in your thoughts when you think about me...

I have done a bit of observation of other teachers and one of the best experiences I've had in Fuzhou has been observing at Fuzhou Primary School. It's a local public school and the children there are so loving and wonderful. When I was around those children I got a warm feeling realizing that the smiling faces and laughter was one of the things that made me want to teach.

Yesterday Jerry, his girlfriend, and I went to the local mountain, Gu Shan. It's a very high mountain at the edge of town. We climbed up for a good way with numerous breaks in between (because of the big out of shape American in the party). We unfortunatly ran out of time for the day, but I plan on going back. I plan on getting a bike very soon and that will aid my health and amount of exercise greatly.

Because the area is quite smoggy I have been fighting a good bit of throat and drainage issuses. I think my stomach is starting to get used to the food, but I'm sure there's a nice case of food poisoning right around the corner.

If you have read this let me know how you are doing, I love getting the updates and such. I miss everyone but I am happy to be where I am!

Monday, September 18, 2006

More adventures today! I went and put travelers cheques in a bank account this afternoon, we tried a couple of banks and were rejected each time. Finally we (I had a translator named Jane) went to the Bank of China Fujian Province Branch, and after alot of translating and explanation that even I wasn't sure of, I have money in my pocket and money in the Bank of China.

Money shouldn't be that big of a worry for me though. I will pay a little over $100 and get a years worth of internet. It's not wireless but I have a CAT cable that should work (thanks bro!). I will have to get a cell phone here (DRAT!) but it only will cost about $30 and you pay as you go (apparently for very cheap). I'll also be getting a nice webcam for about $10.

Other expenses aren't bad, from the time I stepped off the plane in Beijing I had $20. After a trip to Wal-Mart for necessities, numerous bottles of water, and taxi rides I still have about fourty cents! Apparently they are going to show us a bus route to get to our apartment which will run me under a dollar a day for transportation. I am going to wait a few days before I work on the headache that will be sending money back home (hang tight mom!its on my list of things to do). If you want to talk to me on the phone go to skype and download the program. If we speak computer to computer its absolutely free and you can ask family members and they will tell you it has excellent sound quality, my friend Christina said "It's just like you're in Waco". I am not being paid for that advertisement btw.

I don't know if I said it before but if you know anyone that would like to receive my blog feel free to let them know about it and let me know their email address. I know this one is coming a little quicker than the others, but alot's gone on.

That's all from Fuzhou for now. Have a good one!