Saturday, November 8: This was a weird weekend, or rather a non-weekend, as, for the third time since I arrived in China, the university required us to work on a Sunday. For our midterm exams, the administration decided to test out a new computerized British Council test on Vocabulary, Reading and Listening, for which a lot of computer labs were needed. We had to give the exams on Sunday, as the computer labs were booked during the weekdays. That’s the story anyway.
As you can imagine, I wasn’t one bit happy about this. The thing that made it a double blow was that classes were cancelled on Friday and Saturday due to Sports Day, meaning that if we hadn’t had to invigilate for the exams, we could have had a three-day weekend, and I could have possibly traveled somewhere.
There were two bits of saving grace: one, it rained all weekend and I would have probably had a miserable journey if I had gone away; and two, we were told we get to take off the 19th, 20th and 21st, meaning we’ll have a five-day weekend after midterms. Assuming nothing happens to upset these plans, I’ve booked a room in Ping an at the Longji Rice Terraces, also known as the “Dragon’s Spine,” north of Guilin.
Of course I have a list of things to do and see in Nanning itself, so I ventured out Friday to the Guangxi Museum of Nationalities. Today I went to Wu li ting Market, not too far a walk from the main gate of the University. The students from my English Interest Course had told me about this market, which, as they mentioned, is bigger than the market on campus, but not hugely so. Though the rain slacked off today, it was still overcast and cool, and the light seemed uncooperative for pictures. I did capture the essence of the market, I think, and I found the vendors friendly and gracious.
On my way back from the market, the construction for the new underground railway, which won’t open until well after I’ve left China, was as jarring as always. This sight is always a striking contrast to the leafy pond-dotted campus of Guangxi University.
We have our Writing midterm on Monday morning, at which time I will have to mark 71 papers with two essays each, a total of 142 essays. I dread this. In addition to marking those papers, we’re to continue teaching classes following our normal schedules. I hope to come out from my solitary marking confinement sometime before next weekend, when hopefully the rain will stop and the air will glow with ribbons of sunlight.