Thursday, October 13, 2011

DaYe = Big Smelter

Monday, October 1st was National Day. Last year we were given a week off from work for this holiday, which was when we went to visit our friends in Hangzhou and heard the awesome house band sing “Enter Sandman” as close to perfectly as China can get. This year we were scheduled two days off. It seems our little school only closes for Spring Festival / Chinese New Year in late January; otherwise different teachers have off different holidays. (What, am I a nurse now?)

When public schools are not in session (i.e. summers, weekends and holidays) is when training schools like ours have their busy season. The plan was to have an outside, ‘public’ class on both Saturday and Sunday, the weekend preceding National Day. Instead, the rain started on Friday and didn’t stop for 3 days. Our outside classes were canceled and in turn so was our school. We were all given 4 days off, Sat-Tues., instead of two. Our actual class schedules were rearranged and the public classes were postponed until the following Wednesday. (They ended up being fun and hilarious at the same time.)

After we were told on Friday that we would have the next FOUR DAYS off from school Brad and I hit the internet in search of the most convenient and CHEAPEST trip possible. Many flights to nearby cities were full and everything not booked was so incredibly expensive. We were told by our sweet new friend and coworker Silla that buses and train tickets would be hard to access as well, unless we wanted to stand on the train the whole time which most Chinese do. We didn’t.

We were asked by a girl in charge late Friday afternoon, “So where will you go?” We disappointingly told her our findings and she then informed us many people travel during this holiday and we should have bought our tickets a month ago. She recommended that for Spring Festival we buy our tickets earlier. Thanks. This conversation was repeated almost exactly first thing Wednesday morning. Thanks again.

Mei, the school’s Chinese headmaster, who was actually in Beijing, felt badly we had so many days off in such a small city (a mere 800,000), so she contacted her brother, also the school’s driver, and scheduled things for us to do on Sunday and Monday. This was SO nice of her.

We were told to be ready and outside at the road by 8:30 Sunday morning in order to be picked up for the Daye Copper Museum. We were. A bit past 9:00 we walked back inside and thought there was a mix-up in communication. (Brad had tried to call Mei, but her phone was turned off.) I was secretly okay with this as it was a rainy day and I had a book to start reading (this is no offense to any Chinese, I found out last year I’m an introvert so it’s totally cool). I put on my comfy clothes and settled in for the morning. Then the phone rang and they were here. hmmmmm

Mr. Embree has bought this little matchbox van (how I envision it) for the school. He told Mei it looks like a toy car. She finds this comment hilarious and has repeated it to us on more than one occasion. It has four regular car doors, but the back seat doors open up to two bench seats, the first being a two-person seat, the back being for three. A huge JUST ENGLISH logo is able to be EASILY read over the red paint... by anyone a good mile away. :)

We assumed we were going to be taxied there and home. When Brad opened the door and stepped in, the car was full except for the two-person seat for us. The driver and his wife were in the front and there were three teens and one 6 year-old smashed all in the back.

Brad: Oh my! Shen-ma-ye-se??? (What is this?)

Reaction: giggling

Brad: (to the kids in the back) Who are you?

One of them: I am fine, thank you, and you?

Dana: (thinking I was being polite, I posed Brad’s question my way, with a smile. My mom would have been so proud.) Hi, I’m Dana.

Girl teen: I know (sweet, alright... your name's top secret. i get it.)

Turned out Mei’s son (16) was with us as well as her niece and niece’s boyfriend (both 20) home from college for the week. The 6-yr-old was the driver’s son. We were dropped off for the museum tour with the kids, as the parents stayed behind in the car. It worked out well actually, because they knew their way around the grounds of the museum and knew enough English to help explain a few things.

I thought the museum was pretty cool. I was a dork and took down notes. The others must have been wondering what I was doing for I overheard Brad explain to them, “We’re history teachers in America… blah, blah blah,” but even he laughed at me and took a picture to prove my nerdiness. (No worries, I’m totally cool with my inner nerd as well.)

Did you know that there’s a special kind of plant nicknamed “copper grass” that grows over copper mines? That was one of three ways ancient Chinese knew there was copper underground. How cool is that? Something else that’s cool is that it turns out Daye was the “original site of the Chinese bronze culture.” The first copper mine in ancient China may have been this one in Daye! It seems that archeologists found the site in 1976 and excavated it which then “explained important historic puzzles about …copper in the Chinese bronze dynasty.” Who knew?

After the museum we were taken to Mei’s sister’s house for lunch. They made sure I ate veggies, fish, and tofu because it was good for the baby. Not too long after lunch they sent us home so the baby could rest. Nice – this baby thing’s not too shabby…and totally helps out my inner introvert!

The next day the same group (minus a son in exchange for a cousin) went climbing (as much climbing as one does walking up stairs) up the small mountain in the city.This of course was wonderful.
We climbed to the top of this tower looking thing. They forgot to install an elevator. On the way down I tried to count the stairs, I got distracted somewhere after 100 and lost count.

Highlight of the day was when we tried to get the lady selling snacks to eat one of our apples with peanut butter on it. She was very hesitant and had to think about it for a while. I looked away to give her some privacy for her tough decision. When I snuck a peak a few seconds later half the apple was gone.
Great Success.

Not too shabby of a vacay. Shout out to Mao, and a big thanks to Mei and her sweet family.


  1. love your stories, Dana. Fun vacation days.

  2. awesome stay-cation!! love the group trip. hilarious that you were w/ the kids and the parents were in the car. love the apple tasting. hehe best part ===== preggo belly shot!!