Sunday, July 24, 2011

Behold...THE GREAT WALL


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Today I checked in, got my ticket, passed through security, boarded the plane, stowed my carry on, found my seat, fastened my seat belt, ordered a beverage, and then leaned over to ask Erin which airline we were flying with today. I realized I had no idea. We've been on so many in the last month. The answer was Air China. Ok, thanks. This newly acquired information didn't change anything. We were still on our way to Beijing.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Last night in Xiamen

The bags are packed, unfortunately. Tonight is my last night on my hard bed that I really have become accustomed to. Yesterday we came full circle and ate our last meal in the cafeteria. I order the same thing I ordered the first day, fried dumplings with egg and fresh mango juice. This time with no help from the Asian students. Last night we played games and laughed. Today, we had lunch with the dean. This was the first time meeting any administration. He served us a bunch of Xiamen specialties. His personal favorite, jellied sea worm. And it was exactly as it says. A clear jello substance with a smashed sea worm inside. Fortunately, it didn't have any flavor. But the texture....yes, gag. I tried to swallow it whole, but somehow only the jelly went down leaving the mangled worm in my mouth, requiring a second attempt at a dignified swallow.

This afternoon we rented two and three person bikes and rode along the beach with our Asian friends. Yes, it was like a dream except the bikes weren't exactly built for taller Americans, but we got along just fine. Then they took us to a Chinese BBQ. This was super good and made up for the awkward lunch.

Then it came time to say good-bye. I really don't like this part. It hasn't actually hit me that we are leaving and that the chances of ever seeing these dear friends again are slim. Thank goodness for technology that makes the chances of keeping in touch better.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum, Nanjing, China

Then we went to Sun Yat-sen's mausoleum. Sun Yat-sen was a Han Chinese doctor, revolutionary and political leader. Sun played an instrumental role in the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty during the Xinhai Revolution and became the first provisional president when the Republic of China was formed 1912. Sun was a uniting figure in post-Imperial China, and remains unique among 20th-century Chinese politicians for being widely revered amongst the people from both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

There were over 392 steps to the top. Which was cake compared to what we climbed the next week.




Ready...

Set...

Go!




392 steps later we made it.

Xiaoling Tomb, Nanjing, China

The second day in Nanjing we went to the Xiaoling tomb of the Ming Dynasty. The ming dynasty ended about six hundred years ago. This become one of my favorite place because of the peaceful, beautiful gardens. Once again we lucked out with overcast and cooler weather. This was especially good in a city known as the oven of China.


The Chinese were amused that we, foreigners, liked climbing on 600 year old statues.


Confucius Temple, Nanjing, China

In every major, and not so major, city in China you will probably find a Confucius temple. There just happen to be one near our hotel in Nanjing.













Monday, July 18, 2011

If I seem a little obsessed...

With lanterns in China...that is because I am. And I will be the first to admit I am in love with them. They are so Chinese.


































Zi Feng Tower

Our second week adventures took us to Nanjing. Nanjing is the third largest city in China. It is also home of the seventh tallest building in the world, the Zi Feng tower. The 400 and something meters gave us a great first view of Nanjing.









Hakka Round Houses

About 2000 years ago a tribe of people migrated to China and built enclosed houses. Even today people still live in these round house communities. The Hakka Round Houses we visited are about a three hour drive from Xiamen. The oldest Hakka house we visited was built in the 1700s.

The three hour drive gave us the opportunity to see some beautiful Chinese countryside. They also turned on Kung Fu Panda 2 for us to watch on the way back. I don’t think it was a completely legal copy.










Sunday, July 17, 2011

It's a Sunday afternoon in Xiamen. I'm laying on my stone hard bed listening to the torrential rain storm outside and I'm thinking this is so great. Everyday I'm here I am more thankful I had this experience to come to China and stay long enough to really learn to love it. I don't think I really loved it at first. Jet lag and upset stomach contributed to that. But now that I've adjusted I love it so much. I'm thankful I've had time to learn and begin to understand this part of the world better. I'm thankful I've had time to correct some preconceived notions. China is an amazing country with an intriguing heritage. The people are so good and so kind. The art and the culture are incredible.

This understanding and appreciation is exactly what I wanted to get out of this experience. It has all been worth it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Jimei School Village

Xiamen city includes several islands. In fact, xiamen university is on the largest island with one-third of the city's three million population. On the mainland we visited Jimenei school village. At first I wasn't terribly interested in this stop until I learned that it was a community multiple schools ranging from kindergarten through college built by a man in the 1960s who earned his fortune through canning pineapple and eventually manufacturing rubber. He lived simply and donated most of his money to building schools in China. Now, that is pretty cool.



Huli Hill Fort

Another site to see in Xiamen is the Huli Hill Fort. We actually discovered later that it is within walking distance of campus when we were strolling the board walk and we found ourselves there again

The fort was built in the 1890s. It's claim to fame is the it is home of the world's largest cannon.





Location:Xiamen, China

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chinese puppet show

In order to get the full Chinese experience, one must go to a puppet show in China. Puppeteer is a respected profession here and a lot of work and thought goes into the creation of the puppets. We got to have this fun chinese experience while on the island of Gu Lang Yu.




Gu Lang Yu

Our first week in China we stayed close to home. Xiamen home, that is. Our first adventure was Gu Lang Yu. This is a pedestrian only island that was settled by Europeans in the 1800s. So, the homes on the island are very colonial. Some have a touch of Chinese which makes a beautiful combination. To get to the island is about a 10 minute ferry ride. Maybe less. You could probably swim there if it weren't for the possibility of getting hit by a boat.












We hiked to the highest point on the small island. Which really isn’t very high, but from there we could see to the end of each side of the island. Near the top is the South Putuo Temple, a Buddhist temple.









I told you about the piano museum, right? That was also on this island.



Did you know that....

...Blogger is actually banned from China? It is. Due to the disputes between between Google and China. And actually most blogging platforms in general aren't available here. So I am going to give a shout out for the BlogPress app on my iPad because it is somehow able to get past the iron wall that China has on the Internet and post my happenings and random thoughts on my blog for your intended enjoyment. Don't ask me how or why it is able to do this because I don't know. I don't ask questions. I just take advantage.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kung Fu Panda










What's a trip to China without seeing a panda?

- Posted from my iPad

First day of school in China...

Class started 8 o’clock Monday morning, June 20th. This was not a problem because I had been awake since 4 am. Jet Lag. This day there were 13 Asian students in the classroom waiting for us. The numbers have fluctuated since then.

They are excited to have us there and eager to make us feel welcome. They will do anything they can to help. We have to be careful what we say around them in seriousness and in jest because they will find a way to make it happen. It is great when they speak up and participate in class because they always have a very intelligent and interesting point of view.

After class and a few other errands they took us to the cafeteria. The canteen, or cafeteria in english, makes the Cougar Eat seem pretty pitiful. There are three floors with a variety of Chinese food. Rice, noodles, beef, chicken, vegetables, seafood, chicken feet, etc. And it’s cheap. A nice size plate of chow mien or pot stickers costs about 50 cents USD. However, even with all the choices, ordering can be difficult and an adventure because it is, of course, in Chinese. Fortunately, there are some pictures and pointing works reasonably well.

I am happy to report my chopsticks skills have greatly improved and I can eat a whole meal with chop sticks. All because forks are not an option.


Xiamen University at night


Location:Nanhua Rd,Xiamen,China

ps.

Have you ever tried applying deodorant to mosquito bites? Yeah, I was skeptical, too. But one can only handle so much itchiness before they are willing to try anything.

- Posted from my iPad

Pizza Hut





This is not your normal Pizza Hut. It's better. Not just because it has good American pizza, but because Pizza Hut in China isn't like Pizza Hut in the US. Yes, they have pizza, but they also have a whole variety of other American food with a Chinese tweak. Such as a shrimp and fruit salad, tuna on pizza, teriyaki octopus and quail egg, crispy fried squid etc. They have many other dishes, too. My favorite is chicken curry rice platter and mango pineapple smoothie.


Posted from my iPad

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

rich and famous

Ok maybe not rich, but we might as well be celebrities the way random people take pictures of us white guys.



- Posted from my iPad

Monday, July 4, 2011

Xiamen University

Students from all over China come to Xiamen University. They love it because the campus is beautiful...








It is near the ocean and the beach...


And they love the laid back "small town" life...





I guess it's all relative.