"Short stories and travel reports from my life adventures around the globe".

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

The Children and the Witch a short story by Leighton Travels

fThe Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

After a prolonged period of stability, I finally bid Belgium farewell in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in grey, uneventful Brussels, I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and traveling.


“You wanna Jeans?” shrieked an unseen woman as we sauntered down the aisle. “Hello T-shirt!” barked another. A moment later, an anxious looking man abandoned his shoe stall altogether to expertly step in front of me. “You like shoe, many shoe! Hot brand, cheap shoe, best price” he said, barely even looking at me.

“No thank you” I smiled, moving around him.

“This place is huge!” cooed S, the two of us stopping for a moment to get our bearings. Nearby, a doddery old German couple, the dictionary definition of born yesterday, handed over 800RMB for a woollen jumper. The seller, hardly able to keep a straight face, literally snatched the cash out of the man’s hands.

Leighton Travels travel reports short stories.

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

We were at Beijing’s gargantuan Yashow Clothing Marketan overwhelming extravaganza of seven hundred stalls spread out over six dizzying floors. As a venue, Yashow was certainly rough around the edges. From its grimy, plastic- curtains-entrance to its in-your-face vendors and their aggressive selling techniques.

Pedalling mostly knock-off brands, Yashow was a Beijing institution famed for having pretty much everything you need under one roof. They sold underwear, socks, sneakers, shirts, hats, scarves, coats and tailored suits. Moreover, this was the place to come for sportswear, electronics, antique furniture, DVDs, perfume, toys, paintings and high-end tea.

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

Sanlitun Yashow Clothing Market.

Yashow Clothing Market, October, 2009.

What had been a very pleasant Beijing autumn was now edging into the more unforgiving temperatures of winter. Consequently, S and I had come to Yashow on a mission to seek out winter coats. Happily, my experiences in India and Qatar had schooled me well in the art of negotiation. Hence I was relishing the chance of going head-to-head with Yashow’s infamous merchants.

Yashow Market remembering a Beijing institution

He’s spotted you.

“You like-a coat?” asked the girl, virtually tripping over herself to reach me. I’d been checking out a black, knee-length number with a hoodie. But the thing was so damn puffy it looked more like a tent than a piece of clothing. “But is beautiful!!” she protested, before moving into the tedious territory of false flattery. “You so handsome, in this coat you look so goooood”.

Remembering Yashow Clothing Market in Beijing

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

“Do you have this one in blue?” S asked, at another stall. “Yes!!!” cried the seller, darting off. A few minutes later she was back with a box of coats. Unfortunately, the box had every colour in the world except blue. Including a dreadful pink-purple-orange creation that made me want to stick needles in my eyes.

S tried a few of the coats on, while the girl drooled in anticipation. When we ultimately decided to move on without purchasing, the vendor didn’t accept the situation gracefully. “Hey! You try many coats, but buy nothing. I work hard but you waste my time!! Give me something!”

Yashow Clothing Market.

The art of bartering at Yashow Clothing Market

Fun and games at Yashow Clothing Market.

It was sometime later, after S had settled on an elegant Max Mara creation, that I finally found something for myself. It was a grey, slim-fit cashmere coat that I knew I wanted the moment I saw it. By this point I’d sniffed around enough stalls to get a decent feel for prices and wiggle room. Thus I opted to take control of the negotiations right from the start. 

“I really like this coat, but I only want to pay 230”.

“What?!?? Noooooo! Are you crazy? Look at this material… is a big quality!”

The man was actually stroking the coat seductively as he talked. As if we were in some cable shopping channel nightmare. It was all so ludicrous I wanted to laugh. But I had to maintain my poker face. 

Trying on a coat at Yashow Clothing Market

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

“No, I only want to pay 230”.

“Look-a look-a, I make special price 650”.

“No, 230 final price”.

“Ok 500! Come on… for you cheap-a”.



“Ok never mind. We’re going now… goodbye”. 

“Ok 250, just a little more for me… please… my profit soooo small”.

“Ok 250”.

The man actually scowled as I handed the money over, his shoulders hunched like a Scooby Doo villain. The poor guy had put so much effort into trying to rip me off. And he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for us meddling kids.

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

Green Scooby-Doo villain.

“My profit soooo small!”

It wasn’t long before we got the chance to debut our new coats. “On Sunday I want take you to Xiang Shan” announced Trudy one day. “In English, name is Fragrant Hills Park. Very beautiful, but a big walk, bring your strength!” It was just the latest act of kindness from our school principal, who seemed to be pulling out all the stops in a bid to make us feel welcome.

Shangdi Beijing The Good the Bad and the Naughty a short story from China

“Suits you, sir”.

It was a sunny but chilly afternoon when we arrived at Fragrant Hills Park. Immediately, I was struck by the deceptiveness of the word park. In fact, it wasn’t a park at all. Rather, we had arrived at another mountain, which meant hundreds and hundreds of stone steps.

Fragrant Hills Park in Beijing.

Fragrant Hills Park in Beijing.

By this point we knew the drill. During our cross-country trip back in July, we’d tackled the famous Mount Tai. We’d also climbed Jinan’s Thousand Buddha Park and Qingdao’s Lao Shan. In comparison to our previous climbs, Fragrant Hills proved quite tame and we completed the hike in about sixty minutes.

“Many old men and women walk up and down every day!” exclaimed Trudy.

“So healthy for the body and mind”. Right enough we saw a number of pensioners that afternoon, plodding along in both directions. “It must take them all day” whispered S, with sincere concern.

A local man descending Fragrant Hills Park in Beijing

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

At the top we were treated to yet another gorgeous panoramic. Just another piece of Chinese heaven for the scrapbook. “Leighton, I am so excited about your play,” puffed Trudy, still getting her breath back from our exertions. “Halloween is a big night for our school, I hope many people can come. I think it could bring us more students!”

Autumnal views from the top of Fragrant Hills Park

Lovely views from the summit of Fragrant Hills Park.

We’d been preparing for the school’s much-hyped Halloween night for weeks. After the initial flurry of new students, the school’s intake had levelled out and Trudy was getting visibly nervous about the remaining holes in our teaching schedules. Calling an emergency meeting, she asked S, Lily, Nini and myself to put our heads together and brainstorm ideas for a kick-ass Halloween event.

Halloween vocabulary class The Children and The Witch a short story from China

Tom, Jack and Justin learning the word “ghost”. Perhaps the only time I stopped them from misbehaving for a few minutes.

The first thing we agreed on were themed lessons. S and Lily created a bunch of ghoulish Halloween themed vocabulary flashcards. Meanwhile, I put together a YouTube playlist of children’s Halloween songs.

Nini printed out colouring sheets and Trudy went on a mad shopping spree. One morning she arrived at school armed with a huge box of pumpkins, a bag of apples, buckets of candy and a treasure trove of Halloween costumes and props.

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

Halloween pumpkins in Beijing.

Shaping up for Halloween night in Shangdi. October 2009.

I thought custom-made lessons, group singalongs, fancy dress, apple-bobbing, pumpkin carving and sugar overload would make for a decent Halloween event. However, Trudy insisted on more. She wanted us to push the boat out, to get the whole of Shangdi talking about her little school.

Celebrating Halloween in 2009.

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

After more brainstorming, we finally settled on a live theatrical performance featuring staff members and handpicked students. Within twenty four hours I’d hammered out the script for The Children and the Witch, written at our apartment over beer and noodles.

Sadly the plot was very much a slave to the target vocabulary, something all the kids could follow with ease. My Academy Award, it seemed, would have to wait.

Halloween colouring sheets EFL.

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

With Trudy’s genius son Happy (political decision), Louis (begged me for the part) and Krista (gender equality) taking the student roles, rehearsal sessions took place on Saturday afternoons. During these periods, S and Lily began work on set design, which included a huge poster for the wall in the play area.

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

The Children and the Witch a play by Leighton Thomas

The atmosphere builds…

Being the so-called director was tough work. From Krista’s unreliable sense of positioning and Louis’ shaky pronunciation to Happy’s short attention span and my own increasing impatience. Nevertheless, we plugged away and at the end of each sixty-minute session I was just about satisfied that the production was moving forward.

Happy Halloween 2009.

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

When Halloween finally rolled around the school was buzzing, excitable kids swarming around in all directions. “Vampire!!” screamed Tom, beating his fists against the wall.

Elsewhere, Happy had carved himself a ghoulish pumpkin, while Krista reacted to my skeleton costume by branding me Ske-Leighton. This tag caused much hilarity among everyone in earshot and eventually became my official nickname at school.

Ske-Leighton The Children and the Witch a short story from China


“Are you ready?” whispered Trudy, poking her head through the door. “Yes!” I mouthed back, while Happy and the rest of my cast sat huddled around a table, as nervous as a family of twitching dormice.

“Teacher, I’m nervous!” croaked Tim.

Nervous boy before a Halloween school play

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

And no wonder, the poor kid had only stepped into the role at the eleventh hour after Louis pulled out because he was “busy”. Beyond the classroom door, the school was unspeakably full.

There were countless kids packed together in front of the stage like tinned sardines. Behind them, stretching all the way back to the kitchen windows, stood parents, grandmothers, an aunt or two and a large dog. The audience even included a few passing locals, whom Nini had promptly kidnapped and thrown inside.

Halloween school play audience October 2009

The tension builds.

After a brief introduction from the narrators, Krista, Tim and Happy came bounding onto the stage. Starring as a lovable trio of trick-or-treating children, they knock on the door of a Beijing apartment, eager to engage in some Halloween fun.

A kind lady (played by S) greets them with a twinkle-eyed “Happy Halloween!” and a handful of assorted sweets. “Thank you! Good night!” cry our heroes in unison.

Halloween School play rehearsals The Children and the Witch a short story from China

Lily and Nini narrating.

“TRICK OR TREAT?” they bellow, upon arrival at the next house. Subsequently, an imaginary door swings open to reveal another amiable lady (Trudy), who presents the kids with stickers and badges. “Happy Halloween!” she purrs, sending them on their merry way.

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

The Children and the Witch a short story from China.

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

But then… (evil music) … the children come face to face with an altogether different proposition at house number three. “Trick or treat?” they cry hopefully, only to come face to face with an ugly old witch! Played by yours truly. “Go away!” I cackle, stealing their candy haul and slamming the door in their devastated little faces. “I don’t like children!!!” 

Halloween play in Beijing October 2009.

Halloween night in Beijing, October 2009.

It was at this point that the kids in the audience erupted! There was booing, jeering and genuine anger. Little Sonia had gotten so incensed she had to be physically restrained from storming the stage! One toddler, frozen in terror, got scooped up and taken away by his mother. Maybe that Oscar wasn’t out of the question after all.

Halloween witch role-play.

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

Naturally, the tables were about to be spectacularly turned. Hatching a genius plan, the children return to the house to place a banana skin on the front step. They then rap loudly on the door before hiding out of sight. And so, in what is arguably the most triumphant closing scene since Rocky, the witch opens the door and…. (drum roll)… slips on the banana skin.

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

The Children and the Witch a short story by Leighton Travels


“Arrrrggh!” screams the witch, before hitting the ground with a deathly thud. There followed a tense intake of breath across the audience. Was the witch going to get back up?  “Yaaaaay!!!” cry Krista, Tim and Happy, “the witch is dead!”  

The old banana skin gag. The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.


This, it seemed, was the signal for all the watching children to gatecrash the stage. They cheered, they jumped up and down, they ate candy. One particularly manic child even took it upon himself to dance on my inert carcass. The curtain falls.


The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

My silly little play won us a lot of admirers. I lost count of the number of hands I shook and the amount of kids who tried to attack me, clearly struggling to separate art from reality. “Ha ha ha, that banana skin!!!” hooted one goofy father, slapping me on the back.

Trudy was positively beaming, insisting that all staff stay behind for drinks and pizza. “I have wonderful news!” she told us. “We have a new demo for three girls. Their mothers love the play!”

Director with cast The Children and The Witch October 2009

Director, cast and crew.

The Halloween vibe flowed firmly into the weekend with a journey across town for karaoke at one of Beijing’s biggest KTV centres. It had been weeks since we’d seen Richard, Risa, Marc and Amy, so there was so much to catch up on.

Dressed in Halloween clobber, we overloaded our plates at the buffet station and piled into our private karaoke room. A few minutes later a waiter arrived with an icy bucket of Heinekens. It was one of those rare nights where everyone was in the mood.

Halloween KTV.

Beijing nostalgia The Children and the Witch a short story from China

With Richard on our Halloween karaoke night.

Whenever I look back on the photos of that evening I marvel at how young we all were. Our spirits yet to be damaged by life’s inescapable realities. If only it had been possible to bottle some of that atmosphere for the tough times that lay ahead. Winter was approaching… storm clouds were gathering… and we had no idea.

Halloween KTV night in Beijing October 2009

The Children and the Witch, a short story from China.

‘The Children and The Witch’ is the twelfth chapter of my short story series Challenged in China.

I’ve also written hundreds of travel reports from all across China.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

Leighton Travels logo travel reports and short stories.


  • Kelly MacKay

    You are having a marvelous trip.

    August 20, 2023 - 3:16 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Kelly. This wasn’t a trip as such, but rather a year living and working in Beijing. We did have a trip before the teaching contract (already published) and another cross-country adventure at tire end of the job which I’ll get around to posting hopefully later this year.

      August 20, 2023 - 3:21 pm Reply
      • Kelly MacKay

        Cool. I’m hopeful to go on a year long trip rtw. I doubt I’ll go to China though.

        August 20, 2023 - 3:30 pm
  • christinenovalarue


    August 20, 2023 - 4:24 pm Reply
  • Stan

    this chapter was so much fun! i was expecting to get the full trudy reveal but i guess its on the way. hard to believe she actually turns on you having read what you pulled off with the halloween event. i await with baited breath mister ske-leighton.

    August 20, 2023 - 4:29 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Stan, I’m glad this story amused, that was very much my intention. These were the fun early days of the job and in many ways it was all downhill from here. Trudy did not show much loyalty for our hard work in those first few months, as you will see in the next chapter.

      August 20, 2023 - 5:51 pm Reply
  • kagould17

    Good on you for being a master haggler. Not something I am comfy with, but Patty does a good job. Even at the price you paid, I am sure he still made a good profit. I can only imagine the Hallowe’en scene in school. Half of the audience in terror, the other half in rage. The perfect storm. Did they actually understand the pseudo Pagan nature of Hallowe’en? Loved the “park” hike. The views were worth the steps. Happy Sunday Leighton. Allan

    August 20, 2023 - 5:05 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Allan, I would say the majority of kids were completely unaware of Halloween’s pagan roots. One or two older students, such as happy, I was able to provide some basic info. Chinese “parks” are usually giant mountains, I love ’em and I hate em’ if that makes any sense. This one was probably the easiest of the ascents I made that first year. And the least populated come to think of it. Happy Sunday!

      August 20, 2023 - 5:56 pm Reply
  • Memo

    I don’t know about an Oscar but the play surely was worthy of a Honzi. So you literally fell for the old banana skin gambit. You have more energy than anyone I know. I really liked the photo of you modeling your new coat. It’s a professional pose – one foot forward. I think you could start a new career.

    August 20, 2023 - 5:30 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Oh I reckon ‘The Children and the Witch’ would definitely have grabbed a Honzi or two. Although I’m not sure any of the individual performances could have competed with a certain actor and actress from ‘The Slovak Files’. I don’t think I have ever for one second thought of myself as model material. But I agree that I stumbled upon a decent pose, I guess the coat worked its magic on me.

      August 20, 2023 - 6:02 pm Reply
  • Mallee Stanley

    I absolutely hate bargaining, so I was flabbergasted on a trip to Indonesia with my youngest when she was nine and she bargained a stall owner down to half the original price quoted, then she asked, “What if I buy two?” and got an even lower price. There’s no way she inherited that skill from me! I’d definitely avoid Yashow Clothing Market!

    August 20, 2023 - 6:25 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Well, you might be encouraged to hear that Yashow Clothing Market is no more. As one of the biggest centres of knockoff goods in Asia, the Chinese government finally shut it down a few years back. The right decision I’d say, but I do have good memories of that place.

      August 20, 2023 - 6:42 pm Reply
  • Annie Berger

    Another hugely entertaining tale with your students and also your adept bargaining prowess, Leighton!

    August 20, 2023 - 9:02 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for keeping up with the series Annie!

      August 20, 2023 - 10:34 pm Reply
  • Rebecca

    Ah, bargaining…I hate doing it and would much rather just pay the set price to avoid discomfort…even if I’d get ripped off! The Halloween play was adorable, and what a time it was to be young and happy…before reality sets in. Can’t wait to read your next post!

    August 20, 2023 - 11:00 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I’ve always enjoyed bargaining! Especially when get a good outcome. The 50% rule usually works a treat in countries where bartering is ingrained into the culture. Yes, so young and so innocent in so many ways. It sometimes blows my mind to think this was only 14 years ago. Not that long ago really, but it feels like I’m a completely different person living on a totally changed planet.

      August 21, 2023 - 9:13 am Reply
  • Bahanur

    I really enjoyed it! 😊 I used to participate in Halloween events at my previous schools, so I’m quite familiar with the excitement of kids. You come across as an impressive witch 😄, a trait that’s really valued when working with young children. The market sounds like a blast! I’m curious if it’s still around 🤔 Knock-offs from China were also quite common in my country. Excited for those winter stories! ❄️

    August 21, 2023 - 1:24 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Bahanur, great to hear from you again. Sadly (depending on one’s view) the Chinese government called time on Yashow and it was closed down by order some years ago. Such Halloween events can be so much fun, as you know, though these days I much prefer a home-cooked meal, a bottle of wine and a classic horror movie.

      August 21, 2023 - 9:16 am Reply

    Brilliant again, Leighton. Errrr…ske-Leighton (not a bad pun by any standards btw)… This is all so readable, so enjoyable. And your dark-clouds-gathering, nice-lady-about-to-become-villain is just adding to the fun of reading. Like your haggling story too, we love haggling in unfamiliar markets, an essential rite of passage for any traveller!

    August 21, 2023 - 2:10 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for keeping up with the series, it’s been fun to relive thee memories and see what people make of them.

      August 21, 2023 - 9:17 am Reply
  • thomasstigwikman

    That seemed to be a lot of fun, except maybe “…One particularly manic child even took it upon himself to dance on my inert carcass.” From what you wrote about your clothing shopping experience, I would just save my clothe shopping for when I got back home.

    August 21, 2023 - 2:15 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha, it seems like nobody is keen on bargaining. I’ve always quite enjoyed it, more so in my younger years. I think these days I would have less enthusiasm with it but back then I loved that feeling of coming away with a few bags of stuff for around a quarter of the usual price. I guess there aren’t many Yashows left around the world anymore and that’s probably a good thing. Thanks for reading!

      August 21, 2023 - 9:21 am Reply
      • thomasstigwikman

        Thank you Leighton. Yes I guess a quarter of the usual price would be a motivator.

        August 21, 2023 - 11:15 am
  • Anna

    Im getting the feeling that you like any excuse to be a nutter Leighton! 🤣🤣🤣

    August 21, 2023 - 4:20 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Teaching kids gives you that free pass I guess. It keeps you young and even now, at 45, my online classes with children gives me an excuse to bring out what’s left of my inner silliness from time to time.

      August 21, 2023 - 9:22 am Reply
      • Anna

        Haha that’s great! Nothing wrong with being silly and having fun. I use my daughter to get away with being a clown sometimes too! 🤣

        August 21, 2023 - 1:54 pm
  • Travels Through My Lens

    🎶 Ding dong the witch is dead, the wicked witch is dead🎶! Great performance Ske-Leighton! The high-pressure sales people sound really annoying. Fun and entertaining post.

    August 21, 2023 - 1:34 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Did dong, indeed! Thanks for reading Tricia! 🙂

      August 21, 2023 - 1:44 pm Reply
  • wetanddustyroads

    Oh, I’m not good at price negotiations (and I always feel so bad saying no)! I love a nice coat (like yours) but don’t get the chance to wear mine … hmm, our winters just aren’t that cold! Wow, you guys really put some effort into the Halloween evening. That a banana peel can cause so much chaos … well done on a funny (but clever) play. Side note: I wouldn’t give Louis any stickers for a month!

    August 21, 2023 - 2:05 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      It is my ambition to one day live in a place (preferably for evermore) where a winter coat is pretty much obsolete. Yes, I was fed up with Louis but mostly with his parents who most likely just planned another thing for the evening of the performance. A lifetime sticker ban for them, perhaps. Thanks for the catchup Corna!

      August 21, 2023 - 3:40 pm Reply
  • WanderingCanadians

    Nicely done with your negotiations. The coat looks great! Love the views from the top of Fragrant Hills Park. I’m such a fan of Halloween. Sounds like you guys went all out with your decorations, Halloween-themed lessons and a performance. Glad to hear the play was well received. By the way, I’m a huge fan of your new nickname of Ske-Leighton. It’s soooo good!!

    August 21, 2023 - 3:17 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey guys. Congratulations again! (sorry, I couldn’t help myself). I actually think that this was the most all-out I’ve been for Halloween my entire life. 14 years later and pretty much every Halloween night has been a pizza at home with a classic horror flick. Sadly Ske-Leighton has never been wheeled back out of his cupboard. But hey, he had a great week in 2009.

      August 21, 2023 - 3:44 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    Fun reading about that shopping place as we’ve been to it, same story here but with Uggs which they couldn’t really pronounce (uggers) and they were so obviously bad fakes along with the rest of the place, also remember top floor was get a suit made in 24 hours but could be wrong.

    August 21, 2023 - 5:53 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Anonymous, you are spot on about the top floor. Custom made suits, shirts and dresses and you really had to negotiate hard with those guys. Their first quotes were often outrageous.

      August 21, 2023 - 5:58 pm Reply
  • ThingsHelenLoves

    For something written in 24 hours and with creativity fuelled by beer and noddles, seems to have all worked out rather well!

    August 21, 2023 - 11:06 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I guess the local residents of Shangdi had never seen such a production. English language, a Londoner dressed as a witch, candy… death… it was a winning combo. Thanks for reading!

      August 21, 2023 - 11:21 pm Reply
  • anoush

    Excellent story, Leighton, I had a lot of fun reading it. The play must have been one of the highlights of your time at the school. I think as a teacher you show patience, creativity, playfulness and care for children that distinguish you from others. Are Chinese parents and authorities happy that Western customs and traditions are being promulgated in language-learning centres? The Fragrant Hills looks like a lovely park with a great view.

    August 22, 2023 - 1:06 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      You’re too kind Anoush. Back in those days China was incredibly open to outside influences and the English language scene was positively mushrooming. A few years back though a large number of online schools hiring native English speakers were effectively shut down for a variety of reasons. Many of which were simply a smokescreen for other… um… agendas. There are a few interesting articles about this online. Thanks for reading!

      August 22, 2023 - 1:21 pm Reply
  • Little Miss Traveller

    Life is never dull in Beijing Leighton.a really well narrated true story.

    August 22, 2023 - 7:39 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Marion.

      August 22, 2023 - 8:29 pm Reply
  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    See, I knew you were so good with the kids! I’m sure Trudy loved having you teach in her school, and it looks like you had (mostly) fun too. What a cute play you wrote, and it was such a great way to teach the kids more English. I am totally impressed with your bargaining abilities – the coat looks amazing!

    August 23, 2023 - 12:59 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for the catchup Kellye! I hope all is well with you guys in Texas, I’ve been reading about the storms.

      August 23, 2023 - 3:34 pm Reply
  • Toonsarah

    I’m so enjoying your tales of teaching in China. You seem to have a real knack for engaging the children and I can absolutely see why the play was such a success. And you have to say that Ske-Leighton is a pretty clever pun for a child for whom English isn’t her first language 🤣 You also seem to have a knack for bargaining – that old ‘bye. we’re leaving’ trick often pays off, doesn’t it?!

    August 23, 2023 - 2:33 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I think Krista should have picked up some kind of award for Ske-Leighton. You’re right, it’s kind of genius. Yeah, I have honestly never found bargaining all that challenging. The only thing that turns me off altogether is when vendors start getting aggressive. The 50% walk off rule and see what happens nearly always work, absolutely. If they let me walk and I really want the product, I just need to go back and raise my offer a little. Thanks for the encouraging words, Sarah.

      August 23, 2023 - 3:39 pm Reply
  • Monkey's Tale

    Classic, the old banana peel on the floor. Sounds like fun! Maggie

    August 23, 2023 - 7:08 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      There is surely no funnier joke in the world than the banana peel setup. It is highbrow humour at its very smartest and the audience lapped it up.

      August 23, 2023 - 7:43 pm Reply
  • grandmisadventures

    Delightful story of your Halloween play. I think all of your students would absolutely put your name in for an oscar nomination because a bad witch who slips on a banana peel is genius! That is a joke that just never runs dry 🙂

    August 24, 2023 - 6:55 am Reply
    • Leighton

      You know, I really had high hopes that year at the 82nd Academy Awards But the f***ing Hurt Locker swept up, leaving The Children and the Witch as little more than a historic footnote.

      August 24, 2023 - 9:20 am Reply
  • bronlima

    Nice one Ske!!

    August 24, 2023 - 2:09 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Geoff! (rattles bones).

      August 29, 2023 - 9:32 am Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    I’m glad you have the pictures of this ha! I didn’t think you would be celebrating Halloween in China.

    August 28, 2023 - 1:02 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Most Chinese families in Beijing observe Halloween in some way, even if often they have no idea what Halloween is or anything about its roots. This is where English language schools can offer something authentic I guess in giving the whole thing a bit of context.

      August 28, 2023 - 8:12 am Reply
  • NortheastAllie

    Halloween is so much fun, and also awesome views from the Fragrant Hills Park!

    September 1, 2023 - 11:17 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Allie.

      September 2, 2023 - 8:06 am Reply

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