Wednesday, October 12, 2016
On Monday, September 10th, I took Chu Sum way out to the boonies! Well, to my dad's house but... same thing. Though, first, we stopped off at my old stomping grounds in Vaughn (a place I haven't been for years) to see the farm and a local swimming hole called Jackson lake - a place where I probably made a majority of my childhood memories.
Next we headed over to my dad's for dinner and politics - my dad loves his country and wasn't about to let Chu Sum go without a thorough rundown on US history/politics. Finally, we packed up the paddle boat in preparation for a night at the secret camping spot.
The next day we took a drive over to my property to have a little fun. Chu Sum thought we were there for him to earn his keep but it was really, mainly, a good opportunity for him to experience his first bonfire (originally bigger than in the picture...)
The next day I did some teaching work online before taking Chu Sum out to Twanoh State Park for a short hike in the woods.
That night we brought out Monopoly Deal (Hong Kong version) - a game that I bought at the wet market in Hong Kong. I usually do pretty well but I guess Chu Sum saw me coming. The next day we stopped at the Purdy Spit to skip some rocks on our way back to a place Chu Sum undoubtedly thinks of as an extension of the boonies (that is when you compare Puyallup to the metropolis that is Hong Kong).
Saturday, October 8, 2016
On Friday, October 7th, I picked up my friend Chu Sum from the airport. He'd never been to America so he and I made plans for him to come visit for a month - a long visit to some but completely reasonable when you consider our history. I met Chu Sum back in 2014 in Hong Kong at a couchsurfing meeting at which time he agreed to put me up at his place for a while until I finally started work... this ended up taking about two months. Nevertheless, accommodation in Hong Kong is prohibitively expensive (everything else is pretty affordable though) so he insisted that I enjoy his family's hospitality until I had a reasonable financial situation.
Chu Sum's introduction to America was basically a crash course. He had only just got off the plane when he learned that our public transportation system was a little less convenient than what he was accustomed to. Upon making contact over the airport wifi he let me know that he was on his way to my house.... of course, I had to explain that this was not really a practical undertaking in this part of the world - in fact, nobody does that. Coming from a city where literally everything is connected by bus, subway and train, Chu Sum hadn't quite figured out that virtually all travel (despite aggressive political efforts in my region) is done by car. After a short drive (a long trip by Hong Kong standards), we arrived in town and I started introducing him to everyone. First he met my mom, Brian and the dogs then we stopped at the college so he could meet my coworkers/friends there. Later that evening, I took him to meet my friends Josh and Jason at a movie night that we just so happened to have planned for that evening.
The next day we went to the Apple Festival at Lattin's Farm where Chu Sum had his first taste of American farm life. After seeing lots of different farm animals, checking out his (first?) pumpkin patch and eating a fresh apple fritter, Chu Sum finished his second day in America - the land of the free and the home of McDonalds.
Thursday, October 6, 2016
On Monday, June 13th, I arrived back stateside only to start experiencing culture shock... in my own culture. I don't know if recent events are to blame but I was a bit disappointed by the behavior of my fellow Americans. During one of the flights I had a lady in front of me who, during meal time, decided to put her seat back. This, of course, spilled my drink all over my lap. I tapped her on the shoulder and calmly explained my predicament... to which the polite response would be "sorry", right? Nope. She didn't even put her seat back up for me.
On the next flight I had another pleasant experience - this time with the stewardess. I asked for a drink that was free on the previous flight and she insisted that I had somehow paid for it on the last flight (without knowing it?) and that it was the same price this time... apparently the customer is always wrong.
The fun continued with TSA delays... and confiscation of the Swiss bacon I bought in Zofingen. I had made it all the way home and was going through my last level of security when they decided my rather pricey, vacuum sealed chunk of deliciousness was too high a risk to national health and safety to be allowed into the country. I even asked if I could just have a bite but apparently that'd be a threat to national security or something...
Over the following weeks I signed back on as security at Pierce College and spent time with family. We had BBQs, went hiking at Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, wake boarding, shot off fireworks for the 4th and enjoyed motorbike rides to local restaurants. My bike (the one that no mechanic will touch) actually needed a little TLC and, fortunately, the neighbor down the street had experience with the unexpectedly challenging job of spoke repair.
During my first trips out on my little enduro I began to discover just how bad road rage has become in my neck of the woods. I had a guy swear at me for lane splitting (which was technically legal here in Washington State at the time and is commonplace/accepted in most of the world) and, at other times, people actually tried to run me over! One guy in a truck sped through a light and increased his speed as he approached my rear tire causing me to skid into an evasive turn almost sliding sideways into the side of the car coming from the other direction! Thankfully, my little bike is highly maneuverable and it wasn't too overly difficult to regain control.
Over the following month I continued pulling scotch broom on my property, working for my neighbors for extra cash and I even got a new job teaching online! I had previously tried to get students through a webpage that I made called Simple English and, of course, through networking in general, but nobody was really willing to commit... turns out you need to build up a bit of a reputation before people really take interest in what you're offering - even if you're the only option they're aware of! Interestingly, a friend of a friend was teaching in Spain and she had found a job with a company in Turkey called English Ninjas. She referred me to them and, as a result, I can now add "Ninja" to my rather long list of work experiences!