I've been really lucky here in China to be surrounded by a really great group of friendly people that have been colleagues as well as friends. It's a crap shoot, expecting to find people you genuinely like in any place you work, but when that work involves traveling to the other side of this pale blue dot to teach and do work that is in no way financially rewarding ... well, the odds that your attitudes and values and goals match up (at least somewhat) seems to greatly increase.
And this weekend, a group of good-minded folks - Nicki and Shang, Steve and Mimi and Jude, Eric (a trilingual Chinese teacher that speaks both English and Japanese) and Leslie, and myself - all set off for Beihai, the "North Sea" of Southern Guangxi province. A short bus ride and we arrived to a warm sea breeze, a sea choppy with tall waves and biting salty foam, and a new city to explore.
Beihai means "north sea," but we're talking North the same way South Dakota is South, the way Northern Ireland is Ireland: it's all relative, baby. It turns out that Beihai's seas are the same waters that, further south, are known in Vietnam as the Gulf of Tonkin. Brings a little history to a simple beach trip, don't it?
We didn't have much time there, really. We woke up early(ish) for a late(ish) breakfast of Beihai's signature soup-noodles, stuffed with meat and spices and veggies and peanuts. Oh yes, it was a slurpy-delicious meal. After lunch (did I say breakfast?), we visited the old, decaying parts of Beihai, the ports and the almost-colonial looking architecture. We weren't there long before we had to haul ass and catch our bus back to Zhanjiang. A great, albeit short, weekend; the kind of weekend you'll remember long after the torment of marking papers and preparing lessons have faded into oblivion.
More pics can be found here.