Friday, August 28th, 2009...9:05 pm

29 Aug 2009 – Night Life, TV, and Internet

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So Friday night a couple of the teachers went out to dinner.  It was a similar style of place we went to for the Welcome Dinner, but this was nice b/c it was just teachers.  It seems like the majority of the restaurants here go like this:  if you eat out with a group of people, you just order like 8-10 dishes, the servers put them on this rotating glass setting, and everyone picks from the dishes.  Our meal cost about 30RMB per person (so…less than 5 bucks each).  I also met two former F&S teachers, both who are still working as teachres but for different companies.

After hanging out at the restaurant and drinking  a couple beers after dinner, we decided to move the party along to this “expat” bar called Bobo’s.  There were a lot of foreigners here (not just Americans).  It was nice, nothing outstanding about the place.  There were some younger Chinese guys playing PS3 at the bar, which I thought was kinda cool.  After a couple drinks there, we moved to another expat bar called Friends (American-owned, but unfortunately not named after the TV show).  This one had live music…mainly one guy on the guitar doing American cover songs, but he was good.  Also a lot of drunk Americans and one old, smashed Irish guy.  Generally a good time.  The bars stay open late, you can take your beer from the first bar and walk it over to the next one, and the people have been nice so far.  I wonder if the Chinese bars are the same.

I’ve also noticed some things about Chinese TV.  First off, I am one of the lucky ones that actually gets American channels, so I abuse that privilege as much as possible.  Secondly, when I watch American movies on HBO or Cinemax, they look like Chinese TV; like, the way it is filmed.  I hope you’re getting what I’m trying to say.  Finally, I love the fact that I get ESPN.  They do show a LOT of soccer, though.  And when they do have SportsCenter (usually late at night, not all day like in the US), its mainly soccer highlights.  They also show some baseball, but so far I’ve only seen Yankees games.  They also have random segments like “Where Are They Now” and stuff about athlete’s personal lives (they chronicle a balance of American and international athletes).  CNN and BBC here focus a lot on international news, as they should.  But MSNBC is the closest to strictly American news.  They’ve been covering a lot on the death of Ed Kennedy here.  MTV is also pretty cool because they show American artists and Chinese ones (a lot of pop music).  No reality TV, thank goodness.  The Chinese channels can be interesting, but I haven’t seen anything unusually funny or weird yet.  I will definitely let you know when I do.

Before I left, I know I was getting a lot of warnings about the internet here.  The restrictions are not as limited as publicized in the US.  The worst thing I’ve experienced was not getting Facebook (which I know could be horrible for some).  I think that it is blocked, but some American teachers have found ways around it (like downloading and paying monthly for proxys).  Also, when looking for blog-sites, some were blocked as well, but this UMW one works just as fine.  I’ve heard that its a myth that there are people literally monitoring everyone’s internet use.  While the Chinese could hire the man-power, it would also be overwhelming to keep track of that many people.  The other teachers who have lived here longer say that a database just searches for key words and if they find them, messages or posts just don’t get sent.  That’s all.  Despite that, I can get on the usual sites I get on in the US, my internet is pretty fast, and overall everything is a-okay.

Oh, one more thing.  I’ve noticed that Jackie Chan is on nearly every product and advertisement here, with his boyish smile and his approving thumbs-up.  I love it…

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