On Saturday night, all six of us, along with two of our students, went out for one of our favorite meals: hot pot. In case it has not yet been explained, hot pot entails a large soup pot in the middle of the table with a flame under it. You order food such as vegetables and raw meats which cook themselves when added to the boiling broth. It is delicious, it is fun and the best part...it is unlimited. A waitress repeatedly checks on you to ensure that you pot it always filled. At dinner, Lucy and Eliza's student, Mike, invited us to visit his hometown of Jining the following morning. We had the upcoming Monday off due to the holiday, leaving us Sunday to work on our lesson plans. We happily accepted his invitation and the next morning met up around 11:00.
For 12 yuan we were able to take the bus from Qufu to Jining, about a forty-five minute ride. Jining was a great city, bigger than Qufu but certainly not as large as Bejing or Shanghai. We had lunch and walked around for a few hours. I had hoped that because it was a larger city perhaps they more more used to foreigners and we would have less "halloooo!" encounters, but alas, we were not so fortunate. I liked Jining because it was greener than Qufu, trees lined the streets and there were spacious parks, one which even had a large Ferris wheel! Maybe I am speaking too soon because I still haven't had time to sufficiently explore Qufu, but I can't remember the last time I saw a tree here....but Qufu is home and I love it just the way it is.
We closed our visit to Jining in the perfect way: at a coffee shop. Aside from the just add water Nescafe that was given to us as a gift on Teachers Day (because every Chinese person knows just how much Americans love coffee, KFC and Walmart!), we have yet to discover real coffee. Spotting this coffee shop was like finding an oasis in a desert. We were thrilled and couldn't order fast enough. The coffee shop had much higher prices than we were used to, but Karrin, Olivia and I had to splurge. We ordered a "pot" of coffee, thinking we would each get about two large cups out of it. Turns out the pot consisted of three shots of espresso. It was still delicious and satisfied our craving. We were extatic for the next seven minutes and couldn't stop laughing. Luckily Nick caught the whole thing on video...
Eventually we made it back to Qufu where we stumbled upon a song and dance performance for Mid Autumn Day. We ran into our students and decided to go for a walk on the track with them. On our way over, we were caught off guard by a freshman who came running up to Olivia, asking her if he could chat in order to practice his English. The boy walked the track with us and eventually confessed that he had heard that the foreign teachers enjoy walking the track at night. I guess Liz, Chelsea, John and other past foreign teachers made this a hobby which the students soon caught onto. He said that he had been coming to the track every night and was thrilled that he had finally located us. It was hilarious. I am still not used to the fact that people want to chat with us and take pictures with us, but I certainly don't mind it either. Though we didn't celebrate the Mid Autumn Festival in the traditional way, we put our own Western spin on it and truly had an enjoyable weekend.