Friday, 20 March 2009

Sports Day

A few days ago Kimi asked me if I would like to escort her to a work's day out. Apparently it was a belated celebratory gift for Woman's day (which was more than a week ago). The theme of the day would be a sports day dedicated to team-building. I didn't know where I would fit into all of this, but I decided to tag-a-long anyway.

The destination for the event was in a smaller town called Yue Qing, just outside of Wenzhou city, but still belonging to Wenzhou. An hour bus journey later, and we arrived at the town's sports stadium. It was the first sunny and warm day of the year, which was lucky as I recall torrential rain the previous day. The sun was so strong I even burnt my nose (it's always the first thing to go).

I felt a little out of place after arriving on the field as there were almost no men in sight, it seemed Kimi was the only person who brought their partner along. Some of her colleagues had seen me before, and no doubt most of them knew that Kimi had a lao wai boyfriend, but still, there were a few stares and glares heading in my direction.

The ladies

The proceedings began with a host shouting down a microphone with the volume cranked up to 11 -- nothing changes. She called out staff names and introduce each event. When I saw the props hiding behind the big red rubber arch, I realised this was not to be a standard sports day. The games consisted of such things as: wrapping up people in toilet roll, bouncing on a space hopper, riding a bicycle as slowly as possible, and a sack race.

Kimi preparing for the space hopper race

To my surprise everybody seemed to be having a whale of a time. I wouldn't have been so happy to have done all of this on my day off (although I was watching it all on my day off). I am taking a stab in the dark saying this, but I get the firm impression that a person's free time from work is a much more prized possession in western culture. I can't imagine half the turn-out for the same day going on in the UK. Yet it seemed almost all of the female workforce had chosen to attend this extra-curricular activity.

I was dealt another surprise that afternoon when I saw Kimi win, not only one game, but every game she took part in. Each member of staff was only supposed to take part in one event each, but her "team mates" talked Kimi into doing three out of five. She rejected the final round because of the hurdle and can of Coke involved -- and it was probably beneath her by then anyway. She received a prize for being the star of her team: a bottle of shampoo and shower gel.

The crowd formed to see Kimi triumphant in the cycle-as-slow-as-you-can race

Kimi slightly worn out, and my nose slightly burnt, we left the sports stadium and took a suspension-less bus back home.


mabelp said...

I think this Sports Day is a sort of Talent show?

"there were a few stares and glares heading in my direction." Haha! Is "lao wai" very special in Mainland China? No wonder you're a superstar there! Hahaha!

We have loads of "Lao Wai" in HK, so you're very "normal" here.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris, I am thinking of teaching English in China myself. Could I ask you how many hours do you work per week? I see a lot of contracts stating 20 hours per week which frankly, sounds too good to be true.

Does that mean we work 20 hours inside and outside the classroom per week? Or does that mean we work 20 hours in the classroom and another 20 in the office preparing for class?

flyingfish said...

Congratulations to Kimi! I think you are right on about the free time thing. I've often noticed it myself.

Sorry I still haven't found out about the plants. I won't forget, I promise.

I have a new blog post which is not showing up on your reading list, don't know why. Anyway, if you want to read it, it's there.

flyingfish said...

Sorry, my bad, the post I mentioned is on your list. :)

Anonymous said...

it seemed almost all of the female workforce had chosen to attend this extra-curricular activity.

for "chosen" read FORCED. As in you don't show up, no job, no pay, or loss of face etc etc.

Very little concept of the individual wanting private quiet time...and it seems it's not changing on that so much.

Hows things?
Alex (a plastic manc!)

Anonymous said...

We have loads of "Lao Wai" in HK

Mabel, I'm sure you mean to refer to us as gwai lou:)

To be honest I never hear that in Hong kong. But I used to hear it all the time when I lived in Zhaoqing, and less often, if ever, in Shenzhen.

mabelp said...

Hi Alex! Yes, in HK, we used "Gwai Lou" instead of "Lao Wai", just don't know if Chris could understand it! Hahah!

Chris said...

Mabel, yes you're right, I didn't know the word Gwai Lou, I've learnt another Cantonese word today! I remember how strange it was in Hong Kong seeing so many "foreigners", I wasn't used to it at all!

Anonymous, great to hear your are thinking of coming to China. I work 25 hours a week at Web, but I have to stay in the office all day which equals 40 hours a week. It's not so good. Some of those contracts might be like that (I know mine was). But for a slightly lower salary you the 20 hours a week schedules are definitely possible. One of my friends is doing 19 hours a week at a middle school at the moment. The only problem is that the classes can sometimes be divided up with hours in between of free time (which isn't too bad). When I was in Hangzhou I was doing 24 hours a week at a Kindergarten and I didn't have to stay in the office there. You can definitely find ones like that!

Flyingfish, thanks again for offering to find out about the plants. I will have a look at your blog now.

Alex, I think you're right, it didn't cross my mind at the time, but they probably were forced to go. It's easy to forget where I am sometimes.

Things are OK at the moment, I'm still deciding what to do when my contract is up at Web (April 27th). I definitely need a break for a while, maybe I'll go travelling or go home for a month. I can't decide at the moment though. How about you?

大眼睛熊 said...

I was good!! Haha!!
They should've paid u for ur appearance. I think.

Chris said...

I think you should have got paid for doing so well :) I could have charged if they really wanted me to take part, hehe