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Luke and Sarah’s Nanjing Blog

XIN NIAN KUAI LE

08-01-2008

Or as we say over here, Happy New Year.  Luke Pinney who’s moved with his wife Sarah and their two young daughters from Birmingham to Nanjing keep us updated on a Christmas far from home.  There are trips to panda reserves in the offing too.

It has been about three months since I wrote last. Probably because it all seems a bit mundane and un-newsworthy. You know, went to work, did some touristy bits at the weekend, went to work etc.

Of course, the last time I wrote it was hot and now it’s freezing. Took us some while to adjust especially since autumn didn’t seem to happen but we’re there now and equipped for the next Ice Age.

Hope you had a good New Year. Ours was pretty quiet as the Chinese don’t celebrate it out here but we had some of my work friends round and we played Pit (a great card game) and Charades and of course there were loads of fireworks around.

Also, Christmas passed by without the slightest fuss. No hype, no mad last minute shopping in over-crowded shops – fantastic. Had a good day, although with the girls getting up at 3 o’clock after we’d finished wrapping 3 hours earlier it was a bit of long day.

We sent them packing to unpack their stockings which kept them happy until 6.30 when we got up. Sarah and the girls have been off for three weeks but I only had three days off. My holiday is about to begin with four weeks off for the real (Chinese) New Year.

The kids started back at school today. Hannah's class has been split into two so she's in a proper year two class now and Chloe's had two or three join her class. There were supposed to be two new teaching assistants start today but neither of them turned up or phoned to say why they weren't in but otherwise everything is ok. The girls and Sarah love the school and it will be the main reason we stay; if we do that is, because we’re still undecided.

For half term, in only four weeks, I've booked flights and a friendly hostel for Chengdu - panda capital at the edge of the Tibetan plateau. The hostel is going to pick us up at the airport and they should be able to advise us on what to do.

We are hoping to go to our second holy buddhist mountain. It's 3,100 metres high but a minibus and cable car can take you to the top and there's a monorail that runs along the top so it should be easy if we don't want to walk.

We did some 'Chengdu training' at the weekend which involved climbing up a local hill in all our new snow gear. The girls have got thick jump suits and me and Sarah have bought padded waterproof trousers and posh skiing jackets.

Mine cost 280 kwai (about £19) and Sarah said the price on the internet was about £315 (4,700 kwai) so they are bargain and a half. Trouble was, they are so warm that we got way too hot. I had to strip two layers off. It's been warm the last few days - 14 degrees (average for January is 7) today after being two degrees last weekend - but they will be very useful 3000 metres up!

We also plan to go to a couple of panda reserves and may even be able to hug a panda! I'll send photos if you want. As for the buddhist mountains, there are four in China the first two we have done by coincidence (Putuo Shan, the island we went to, and Emei Shan which is near Chengdu).

The other two include one two hours south of here and one between Beijing and Xi'an ( the city where the terracotta army is) so we'll probably end up visiting those two as well. So when we return we should have reached nirvana and be fully enlightened - something to look forward to. You'll have to see if you notice the difference in us!

I had a suit made recently. Made of cashmere it fits like a glove and looks really good. Also had a silk shirt done both for 800 kwai (about £50). Sarah has had a silk tunic made and is having some trousers made now.

The best thing about the tailor made clothes is that they are very well made and fit so well. We may have some more stuff made and so as well as being enlightened we will also be the best dressed we've ever been on our return.

So I've got a lazy couple months ahead and a fantastic holiday to look forward to. Hope to learn lots of Chinese in all the time I have as well.

Zai jian

The Pinneys

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