It's been a week, and...

Well, I have survived a week, which should be good news to some of you. I know it is to me!

I have gotten my apartment clean and more or less together. I finally got the rest of my furniture delivered yesterday, which means I can finally put my clothes away. Once the odor of fresh, highly toxic varnish dissipates, that is.

Most of the stories and cautionary tales I heard about China are, of course, untrue, at least in the city of Kunming. I was right to pack light, I can get just about everything I need here except good books on China, which I was indeed cautioned about. Plus, people wear sandals without socks and do cross their legs (gasp). Of course, Kunming is a big city, and things might be different in the country.

The Wal-Mart has ants in the dried goods section and whole dogs in the meat department. Hm. Dog from Wal-Mart braised in black ant sauce? Hee hee! Speaking of delicious food, the kitchen facilities are so difficult and food so plentiful and cheap there is nearly no reason to cook, and I think I might end up cooking infrequently. We went out for a nice dinner last night and for only three adults and a 9-year-old ordered seven dishes bread, tea, two Cokes and a giant beer and the bill came to 64 kuai, or about $7 dollars US. I stopped and got 6 steamed buns filled with pork the other day and it cost 1.50 kuai, or about 17 cents. I mean, jeez!! And the food is GOOD!!!! MMMM!!!! Now, not all things are as cheap as the food, and some things are similar to American prices -- most notably electronic stuff -- and cell phones are outrageously expensive, 2,000-3,000 kuai ($250 - $400 US) but they're everywhere. As long as food is cheap I! 'll live happily!

Every square inch of Kunming is dedicated to selling something. You would not beleive the selling!! If you've ever been to a big Chinatown in a major U.S. city where you have to walk in the street because the sidewalks are too crowded with vendors, Kunming really is like that, EVERYWHERE! It's just nuts! It's kind of cool, because anything you need is often just steps away from wherever you happen to be at any given moment. There are some monster department stores that sell everything, a lot of nice specialty stores, and thousands of 15-square-feet or smaller shoplets lining nearly every street. On a kind of sad note, I saw a guy on the sidewalk selling baby chicks dyed neon green, pink, yellow or orange. What's going to happen to the chicks after a few days when the novelty wears off or they start growing? I hope they at least get eaten. Well, at least he didn't seem to be selling many.

Classes start tomorrow. I am starting with four sections of oral English, and my students are Chinese teaching majors in their second year. Supposedly I will get two classes of first-years soon, once they recruit the students. I have been preparing a lesson plan, but as I have never done this before I really have no idea what to do or what to expect. I guess I'll know at 10:00 tomorrow morning. Am I nervous? What do you think??!! Will I be excited, or horrified??? Stay tuned...

Well, I should give you all a break. I should have internet access in my apartment in a week or two, and won't need to write these enormous essays. But as you might expect, there's about 100 times this amount that I will never have room to tell you. I'll have real e-mail soon, yay!

Take care everyone, talk to you soon! Oh, here's my address:

Alex Harris c/o Foreign Affairs Office Yunnan Normal University 298 December 1st Street Kunming, 650092 P.R. China