Thursday, November 22, 2007


Cash from my plastic container I keep in the drawer

This is a cash society. I did not realize how little I used cash in the states until I came over here. I operated on a daily basis in the US with a couple of visa cards and a gas card and of course a Starbucks card. Over here you never leave home without cash in your pocket. You don't necessarily need a lot but you need some. Cash covers most everything and can get most anything done that you need. Credit cards don't work at all, but I do have a debit card that works for some large purchases in department stores that I take with me if I know I am going to buy a pricier item, otherwise it is cash and that goes for Hong Kong and Macau also. I can't believe it but I have to keep a certain amount of cash on hand at all times, just in case. We are paid in US $100 dollar bills and can draw on our account every Friday.

We generally change our money with the local money changer that operates in a store on our main route to work. I saw him the other day as he was being delivered a number of bricks of 100 rmb notes, out of a duffel bag. When you go into exchange money they have a couple of guys outside the store, (they also sell booze and pop) that kind of watch, so you step to the back to this grungy old metal desk and pull out your cash he counts it and counts out 100 rmb notes from a metal squeeky draw for you runs them through a machine to insure the count and hands them to you and your out the open doorway. Generally little if any words are exchanged. I always know I got ripped off, but I don't re-count until I am home and always find he was right on. You can get any kind of money you want, Hong Kong, Macau, Euro, US etc. Now your saying why don't you go to a bank? Well generally it takes a lot of time. They have to have someone examine your bills like they are counterfeit or something (This can take 15 min. to an hour) and you get about the same rate as the guy in the back of the store which takes less than a minute. The main bank that we use, (The school helped us set it up) is run by the Chinese Mafia so it really doesn't matter. The pic of the money is just some of what we have to keep on hand for going places and doing things. The funny thing is that I know what most of it is where to use it and how much it is worth. Don't even let me get into the coinage. That is another whole story. The small size coins are generally worthless so you give them to the beggars. A handful of them might buy a can of pop. Sometimes I think the coins are weighing me down as you can accumulate handfuls in a day of shopping. I quit carrying my wallet as have every other guy I talk to at school. It really has no value here. Bev does not carry a purse. I never drive and my ID has no value, nor do any of my bank cards and I am afraid I might loose it. I either need a passport if traveling or nothing, oh wait I do need something else, some CASH!

PS Don't start thinking we have a lot of money. The picture of the above money represents less than $500 US and you can see $200 is US. So lots of bills, not that much value. But you do have to like the color, size and design of the bills which is a lot more fun than just plain old green.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Early Childhood Center

Theresa the new director and a student check out the playground

Bev Checking out the new classrooms

Start them young in the Library

The Brand New ECC, Early Childhood Center, for QSI Shekou opened its doors this last Friday for the first time. It is a converted old restaurant in a primarily housing area. It is not far from the main school where we work. QSI did a complete remodel of the building. It is for 2 year old to 4 year old children. Theresa Brantley is the director, her husband is the director of our school.

These are some pictures of the open house they had this last Saturday. After the open house they increased the number of students by 11!