Breakfast in Shantou & elderly English speakers

    I am overflowing with things to write about. This morning I ate breakfast at my breakfast place, which is a little kitchen open to the street with tables outside. They serve xi fan (稀饭), which is rice cooked in an extreme excess of water so there’s lots left when the rice is ready to eat. An English name is ‘wet rice’. I really love the plate of stuff they give you for 3rmb, crunchy peanuts, pickled cabbage (酸菜), stewed egg, some little seafood thing, stewed bitter melon (苦瓜), inner organs of pig, pig fat. For an extra kuai (1rmb) you can have toufu skin or pieces.

    That’s one thing to write about, but today was special. I was inside coz it’s freezing outside and an old man was chilling out, ?a relative of the owners?, he commented to owners was I a teacher. I said yes I was, at which he said ‘Good morning teacher, how are you?’! He was into his eighties! Owners were equally entertained. He had a great accent. Said he’d learnt English in high school (高中).

    While we’re on the subject, this isn’t the first time I’ve met an elderly person producing English. I was in the middle of the Chaoshan countryside at a temple in the Chaoan area in 2005. That was the time I broke my foot and my parents had come to visit, so my friend Yen took them around the area including this place, the middle of nowhere and the temple is a 10-15min hike up a hill of steps. So I stayed at the bottom and made friends with the people selling things to sacrifice (mainly fruit and paper ‘money’). There was a really old man there who had been in the navy, and been all over, he kept producing random English words, it was great. It’s amazing where people have been and where they end up.

    Maggie Ad