Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chess, Soccer and Cycling in Nanjing

I know I start most of my emails and blogs with this, But Oh Geez have I been flippin busy!!!!!

Each week I have 14 hours of class, 5 hours of tutoring, plenty of homework, and this week I will also start volunteering in the community (I must log 15 hours community service by the end of the semester) In the past one student volunteered at a bike shop by campus, so I will be going there tomorrow and inquiring about some work opportunities.

In my spare time my friend Brandon and I have picked up playing Chinese Chess called Xiangqi 象棋. It is a lot like International Chess, but at the same time very different. The strategy involved is very different because the pieces in Chinese and International Chess behave in different ways and have different abilities.

You will see small crowds of old men on a street corner all arguing and debating over the match being played out in front of them. It is standard for a spectator to shout out, or make a motion on the game board about the move they think the player should make, some spectators go as far as to move the chess piece himself. Once I was also standing around watching a game, and the men started talking to me and I mentioned that since arriving I had started to study xiangqi, and so they insisted that I played a match with one of them. It was sort of awkward as I had one man standing behind me making just about every move for me, or at least giving me plenty of advice once I seemed lost about what to do next. BUT, toward the end of the match, like a ray of sunshine through the clouds I spotted check-mate in three moves. I started ignoring all the advice that was coming from all directions (a foreigner play chess with the old men on the street is unheard of so by the end of the match a rather large crowd gathered to watch)
Many started cursing my for ignoring their advice but they soon found out why, and I think most everyone was dumb founded that I had ended winning my first real game of chess, although I did have a great deal of assistance for most of the match. I went on to play two more games, with a lot less help from the crowd, and getting my butt whipped both times. Well it was still fun, and great practice for when I return to play next week.

Nanjing is the capital city of Jiangsu Province. And luckily for me Jiangsu has a Provincial Soccer Team located in Nanjing called Jiangsu Sainty. Me and a bunch of other exchange students have joined Sainty's largest Supporter Club. And we have been to all of the Home games, sitting with the Chinese fans, learning all of the songs and chants in Chinese, and just having a great time in general. Unfortunetly there are only two more games for this season, and we have to miss the match on Oct. 22nd because we will be on a field trip to the agricultural villages of Jiangsu to do research and reports about China's Agricultural Community.

A few weeks ago I sent out an email telling about my plan to spend the Chinese National Independence Day (week) biking to a neighboring city and going to the Strawberry Music Festival. Well I did just that, and it was an amazingly good time. Biking to Zhenjiang was a 75mile ordeal in which I got about 10 miles worth of lost, and two flat tires and strained muscle in my shin, making it very painful to walk around for the past week and a half. But their is something oddly satisfying about biking 80 miles just because you have the whole day waste doing it. But in Zhenjiang I also got incrdibly lost, and could not find where the Music Fest was happening. Ends up it was happening on an Island on the Yangze River, and so I could bike there and had to take a taxi there instead. It was a 20$ cab ride, but after wandering around Zhenjiang for 4-5 hours trying to find a way to the island, I thought it was well worth it.
At the music fest was four stages of great music. I got to the The Go! Team, The Whip, great Chinese and Mongolian Traditional music, and there was an Electric Music stage that we ended up at each night to dance the night away before retiring to the Tent City that had manifested in the back corner of the Festival grounds. There we gathered with other music fans, and talked and had some beers (I was unknowingly challenged to a drinking contest by a Chinese soldier on vacation. I think it was a tie, but it was fun) So after four days of camping and listening to music, we all went home. I decided to break my bike down and take the bus back to Nanjing, as my leg was still on a lot of pain and biking 80 miles home would have been suicide.

Lastly, I happy to say that I have found a roommate named Ji Jiangdong (or Jude) and that he will be officially moving in sometime next week, but until then we are still doing hours of tutoring.

I know this was an awful to throw into one blog post, but I will do my best in the future to post more often with less content.
Chinese Chess

Wednesday Night is Family Style Cooking Night.  I'm Making Curry.  My friends Brandon is there watching me cook.

The foreigner section of the Sainty Supporters Club


  1. So you're going to teach everyone in the map library Chinese chess when you come home, right? :) Miss you!! --Rachel C.

  2. I love reading your blog! Glad you're having a blast.