Monday, August 30, 2010

Tuesday, 31 August

Today, you get a 2 part blog. Joan will write the second part about her adventure yesterday at the silk comforter factory. You get my regular drivel first.

Try to imagine yourself 12,000 miles from your home. Now add that very few can communicate with you. When they do, it is often: 1. How are you? 2. I speak English 3. How are you? 4. Do you speak English? Etc. To compensate for this, I am currently listening to Stevie Tyler wail “Walk this Way” If you are ever in this situation, try it! Stevie really helps. Just give us a keeeees!

This morning on my walk I met the manager of the multi-media center at the library. They just got a batch of computer white boards. If you are unfamiliar with them they are a combination of white, dry erase board and computer interactive board like you see on NCIS LA. He wanted to know if I knew how to use one. I guess I have that superior, hi-tech look about me. I explained that when I retired from the classroom I was delighted if the custodian cleaned my blackboard! Anyway, I wrangled an invitation to visit his area for a tour, access to their CD and DVD collection, and computer white board lessons. I also learned that his son was starting high school today and that parents are required to attend the first day with their child. Seems like a good idea to me. At some point during the visit the parent will sign the “You may hit my child” waiver. Often this is edited by the parent to read “You may hit my child OFTEN”, another wonderful idea to me! I am currently making a list of students from the US that I would like to transport back in time and bring to China for hitting. Some of you may feel a funny waive like action around you like in “Bill and Ted’s Most Excellent Adventures”. Be prepared to get hit.

The weather has changed from last week’s rain to sunny skies. The temperature is back up but not scorching or steamy like it was. We can run the A/C in late afternoon and at night and be comfortable. Also, we have met all our fellow teachers. There’s Kyle From-down-de-hall (I think this is a German name), Suzane, Mary, Lorne, and Randi. Joan and I complete the faculty. Lorne will also be the principle. I gave him Jim Sharp’s email address just in case.

I found that I can still pirate music on Limewire. I have Oklahoma! Recorded for my first day of class. I figure, start right in with real American culture. Or I guess I could play Aerosmith. Enough from me.

Hereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’s Joan:

I also have a list of kids to add to the ‘hit me’ list—many of the young Chinese males we see running around. Discipline is not strong!

Yesterday afternoon Mei and her 9 year old daughter, Lily took me to a local silk quilt factory. The silk is stretched (harder than it looks!) and added to until the right ‘weight’ is attained. Then a plastic sheet is laid over it which made a slick way to get it into the coverlet. It takes about 1.5 hours start to finish to complete a quilt. We watched them make one and placed our orders. Lois & Marco Polizzi’s daughter, Paige, is getting married in October. Guess what she’s getting for a wedding present!?!?

Dinner was at our favorite “soup’ place in #8 cafeteria. You pick out the vegetables, noodles, meat, etc and pile them on a plate (7 cents US per item!). Tell them what spices (FYI boo la – means not spicey!), add peanut sauce and cook it in broth—yummy! Suzanne from Montreal (60 year old retired language teacher) went with us. With a bottled coke it cost us each less than $1 US for a great dinner.

This morning saw many of our neighbors off to the medical center for their physicals. Later this week they will go to the police station for their resident permits. The director and his wife (Lorne/Mary) and Andy and I are the only part-timers. The rest have committed to a full year.

The freshmen arrived on campus over the weekend. This week they are doing their military training which is focused on proper uniform, stance and saluting. Some physical fitness but mostly in the appearance. Both males and females go thru this for the first week and we see them marching, drilling, etc around campus.

First staff meeting this afternoon. More later . . .

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday, 29 August

Another early morning. When Andy headed out for a walk at 6am, he ran into our newest arrivals: Mary & Lorne Little from Chatham, England. Lorne is going to be the director this year and Mary will teach. They had finally gotten in at 2am and were in need of toilet paper (no, it doesn’t come with the room!). Before Andy got any further, we were joined by Dennis (you heard about him earlier). We ended up going to Dennis and Randi’s room for an hour long visit. Very nice folks; they will be going with us this afternoon back to the hand art exhibition. We will find the paper cutting lady again and return the favor; she gave us 3 pieces of her work when we were there, we’ll take her one of Andy’s pens. But first we are meeting the 5 former FGCU exchange students and treating them to lunch. We will go to the Jusco mall and eat Korean!

More later. Have a good day (or night!) . . .

(Also including some additional pictures from yesterday!)

Saturday, 28 August

Up early this morning to meet Chang and Xiao (her boyfriend) for a road trip. We caught the #17 bus (1 yuan=15 cents) for downtown where we transferred to the Penglai bus (18 yuan or $2.62). A ride along the south shore of Bohai Bay landed us at the Penglai Aquarium, one of the largest in Asia with the world’s largest acrylic tank (see picture).

We were a little worried at first. After paying $17.50 pp, we entered a totally artificial rain forest: silk plants, faux rocks, etc. with Japanese koi in a pond. From there it only got better. Several large tanks of mixed fish transitioned into exhibitions of sharks, dolphins, rays, tetras, corals and some of the world’s ugliest fish! We even saw penguins and polar bears. We spent over 2 hours touring the facility; it was well done with faux wood ramps and hand rails, waterfalls and the never ending supply of ‘photo spot’ that added to the ‘rain forest’ motif they had elected.

We found a spot for lunch--seafood, of course, and caught the bus back to Yantai. Since the trip from Yantai to Penglai is about 2.5 hours, the day was fairly well shot by the time we got back. Also after all that walking, our knees were talking to us!

Sleep well . . .

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday, 27 August

Went looking for a wire transfer. Headed for China on the 20th and has arrived. However, even though Bank of China gave us the address and wiring instructions, we can't get the money because only my customer number and name were put on the letter and not the account number. So much for following directions! Another week to wait for the money. Welcome to China!

We went to cafeteria #8 (directly behind our building) for lunch. Anqi had told us we could get decent Korean food. Not sure if that's what we had, but it was good. Fish nuggets, green beans, rice, julienned sweet potatoes--moms everywhere would be proud!

At 2pm Mei (the Yantai accounting professor headed to Kutztown (PA) U in October) collected us for a hand art exhibition. You may have noticed a steel building on the distance of pictures from our window of the library. That building is the football (aka soccer) stadium. Behind it we discovered two more stadium-type structures: one is an indoor swimming facility and the other a shooting range. Going across the street south, you come to Exhibition Hall #3. As you can tell from the picture, it is awesome. Andy wasn't really excited about going to the exhibition but Chang told him he'd enjoy it. Boy, did he! The wood and woodworking were awesome. Andy was drooling. The embroidery work was exquisite; some even used human hair! One man was using clay to make 'pictures' of people; his end work was about 1.5 inches high! The detail was incredible. We met and had our picture made with a local 'champion' paper cutter; she's been doing it since age 6 and is probably 65 now. She kindly gifted us some of her work. We spent 3 hours roaming the hall oohing and ahhing. We will probably go back tomorrow since we don't think it'll be clear enough for Penglai.

We have new neighbors. The couple across the hall is from Redman, WA. She's the teacher (for artist) and he's a retired minister. Very nice and like wine, too! It's their first adventure in China, too.

Went back to #8 for dinner tonight. We definitely found Korean tonight--and an English major, too. We had a ‘bowl’: you pick out what you want in it and they cook it. Greens, mushrooms, ham (delicious), noodles, bean sprouts and cabbage with peanut sauce is wonderful!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Friday, August 27, Yantai, China

It continues to drizzle and rain here. While making things a little more humid, it has made the temp wonderful. For those of you that have forgotten, I got an undergrad degree in napping. Napping in this weather is almost required. I do it 3-4 times a day.

We had an incredible dinner last night with one of last year's exchange students, Angi. She took us to a Korean restaurant at a nearby shopping center. Grilled pork rolled up in lettuce with a hot sauce, deep-fried octopus, and a soup made with rice dumplings were the main course. On the side we had rice fried with egg in a hot sauce and vegetable sushi. ( Am I starting to sound like one of those critics in the paper?) Along with the meal came typical Korean relishes. The kimchee was outstanding. We finally found out what the green stuff that we like so much is. This is difficult to pronounce. It is called C H I N E S E C A B B A G E. Complicated, huh? We also had marinated bean sprouts, seasoned beef (HOT), and peanuts. I think the peanuts were in honor of Jimmy Carter's recent trip to Korea. We ate so much, we could barely waddle home.

We are taking all 5 exchange students to lunch this Sunday. Chang introduced us to this really great restaurant by the seaside. I have loved the food but have to admit, every time we pass Pizza Hut and I see folks eating pizza and spaghetti, I start to get hungry for home cookin'. Marco and I have talked about opening a buffet that serves meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, and mac n' cheese. We are looking for a clever, catchy name. Please forward suggestions.

Joan and I think we have acclimated to life here. Nothing is done at a fast pace. Much like SW Florida, an appointment at 2 PM on Thursday means sometime around the end of the week. Food comes from the kitchen when it is finished, no particular order. Driving continues to amaze. Yesterday, on our way back from the visa registration office, our cab missed another by a few inches. This happened in front of a police car. Our Chinese friends asked if this would have gotten a ticket in the US. Someone would have been ticketed. Here, the police continued their nap. Costs of items also are interesting. Price depends not only on the brand, but where you buy. Go to the Japanese owned mall and buy a brand named item costs about 1/3 more than buying it an individual street front store. Find the same item at a street vendor and pay less than half. I wish Lisa were here to buy a designer purse. She wouldn't have to chase after the vendor like she did in Pisa!

We also read a new term in the English edition of China news- Chimerica. It refers to the new, growing China that is attempting to become a world, economic power. There are many opinions about this in China. Many feel that China must first learn to preserve the new growth. Others want immediate expansion through land and business purchases abroad. It is a very interesting time, economically. ( That comes from the guy who balanced his own checkbook on 2 occasions.)

Do any of you know how to have a multi-person Skype conversation? We can do it but with voice only. We would like to include video. Also, do any of you Mac owners have a shortcut way to sort photos? Presently, I must split photos individually then place them in a new file. We are going to attempt to try to connect Joan's little computer today at the office. Keep your international fingers crossed that it works.

My Mom has become quite an accomplished emailer and Skype-ist. I am very proud of her.

Joan just announced from the bathroom that the shower arrangement is very convenient. She can sit on the throne and shave her legs. Yankee ingenuity. ( Sorry Joan, rebel ingenuity. After almost 16 years of marriage, she still refers to me as a damned Yankee.)

Please know that we have intermittent service from our email provider. If we are cut off during a conversation, know that we said,"Adios" and will try to contact you later.

I have now exhausted my voluminous wit ( and my typing finger is sore.) I close and hope to hear from you soon. Remember to email us directly as we cannot read our blog,nor the comments.

With all the temples and pavilions we've seen (Jade Buddha, Reclining Buddha), we are proposing the next will be the Hairy Buddha in honor of Andy!
We certainly get lots of looks (we are the different ones) but people are very friendly with ni haos and hello good mornings.
To date it has been a delightful experience (with the exception of the incredible heat our 2nd week).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday, 25 August

Last night was a quiet night and the day followed suit. It is still drizzling here which makes for wonderful sleeping weather! High was 73--jeans and long sleeves weather! Only a few mini-skirts to catch
Andy's eye but still lots of high heels with the jeans! One thing we noticed in FL that holds true here: if it's clean, it goes together--plaids, checks, stripes--whatever.
As many of you know, we are unable to access our blog from China. Daughter Berkeley is posting what we send her. Consequently we also can't read you comments. So if you have
something to say, either email us at or skype us at jnalindauer.
The picture of us was taken at the office today. We went over to find out which day we could actually depart, ask them to contact housekeeping about our refrigerator (somethings just don't
translate well with hand gestures!), check on a tutoring job for 3 ?American? tweens and pick up some more reading material (nice selection of old fiction). We learned that there will be 7 teachers
this semester but no real number of students yet determined. Best guess is about 100 so still a nice student-teacher ratio.
We have been told that there are lots of fish in the lake and from all indication it is a popular spot both for the couples and the fishermen. It is also a nice place to walk and the sunflowers are lovely.
The two 'interior' shots were taken in the courtyards of two of the classroom buildings. It was empty when Andy took the pictures (6.30am).
We have met another fellow teacher. Kyle is a recent theatre grad from Kutztown University (PA); KU is setting up with exchange programs with Yantai. Obviously that is how Mae (the accounting
professor we met Monday night) got her exchange. Nice young man -- here for 2 years. He's also a Mac-daddy so Andy has someone to talk computers with. The rest of the staff are due to arrive
either the 27th or 28th.
We went to the grocery again today. With the fall clothes required, so were more hangers. Such excitement! We also went to SHS Restaurant--by ourselves--and managed to order a delightful lunch of
sweet-sour pork and egg fried rice. With 2 cokes, our total was 36 yuan ($5.50)--do we see a pattern here?
Tomorrow night we are supposed to have dinner with the last two Yantai exchange students: Anqi and Nan. We have spoken with both but haven't gotten to see either yet. Sunday we hope to have a
mini-reunion with all 5.
If the weather is nice, we will go to Penglai on Saturday. There is a beautiful area about 1 hour west of us along the coast. One of the largest aquariums in China is located here. It is also known for its
Pavilion (built around 1061), it is the only ancient pavilion in northern China (there are 3 situated in south China). Like many sites in China, there are temples, palaces and caves to explore; in this case
we don't want to miss the Eight Immortals Sea-passing Port! This is an articifial island rich in Taoist culture with yet another Pavilion. Also in Penglai is the water city; "the best preserved ancient marine
force base in China". It was built during the Ming dynasty. Obviously we have been reading the tour guides!!
Now the Americans and South Koreans aren't doing manuevers in the South China Sea, the MIGs aren't in evidence--much quieter!
Wednesday PM, 25 August
Another walk around the campus and down to the beach resulted in these shots.
We learned today that last Monday 1,800 students waited from 5pm Sunday until 8am Monday to get seats for studying in one of the academic buildings. Evidently it truly is first come, first served.
It is cool and pleasant here this evening--even Andy thought about putting on long pants!
Looking forward to the start of the semester.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday, 23 August

Today is the start of classes for the University students. Our school leases space from the university and our students are college age to working folks who want to improve their English for their businesses.
We had seen the students arriving but today we saw them in mass. Dress codes remain the same; the girls dress up (1) to attract attention, (2) because they like to look pretty, or (3) because it was clean (thus said by one of the current students!).
As you can tell from the pictures, we had rain. It continues to drizzle off and on but nothing disruptive. [Andy got an umbrella--17 yuan ($2.50)!!] Andy takes a 6am morning walk and if he remembers, the camera goes with him. We are trying to get
pictures from around campus to share.
Yesterday we were very lazy and mostly watched the world from our 6th floor aerie. Last night we went to a seafood restaurant with Chang and her accounting professor, Mae, who is headed to Pennsylvania in October for a month's exchange.
Chang ordered too much food but it was all wonderful. We had boiled shrimp, sweet and sour pork, scallops, fish dumplings, eggplant and spinach in mushroom sauce. We have left overs for lunch!! She also brought a bottle of Chinese wine (red)
which is very good, too.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Yantai Sunday, 22 August

Chang is back in Yantai! She called this morning and we set up a lunch date. We traveled over to Jusco (the huge Japanese mall) and enjoyed a delicious dinner everyone could have enjoyed: sweet and sour shrimp, tempura shrimp, broccoli, rice and fried bacon. The last was served in a manner similar to the duck: crepes to which one adds cucumber, green onion, sauce and the bacon. The bacon is thick sliced and get this, lightly battered, before frying. Chinese BLTs!!

We then spent a pleasant hour roaming the mall: extra towels, apples and cheese completed our shopping. When we got ready to return to campus, we discovered it was raining. Taxis were very popular but we were lucky and returned to our dorm. Andy spent the afternoon sleeping to the sound of the gentle rains and I finished a load of laundry. The rain has pretty much slacked off now (3pm) but more is expected. We suspect it is the same system that has been dumping ugly amounts in the northeast where the latest mudslides are (China-South Korea border).

The campus is slowly coming to life. Parents bringing their freshmen to school and worrying that they have everything they need; the sophomores asking to be let off at the gate so no one knows they have parents. Suitcases have been plentiful on the buses the last 2 days; most headed to Yantai U or Shandong University just up the road. They have closed the main avenues to vehicle traffic while everyone arrives and gets sorted out. Classes start tomorrow for many but as noted earlier, the students only have to take the finals and pass to successfully complete the course.

Our dorm has students and faculty of several different nationalities. As I attempted to go out for a walk, attempted because I figured out why I saw so many umbrellas from our window, I heard two students with a distinct British accent talking about the advantages of being multilingual coming in. We also have a few adults from South Korea staying here. Apparently there is some kind of children's dance competition happening on campus. Several parents with little ones dressed in recital costumes were trying to get the kids into cars without getting wet. Parents and dance recitals and little girls in costume are the same on every continent. No one is allowed to escape! I have seen the same costumes for years in the states. I wonder which culture invented the sequin. This may be a reason the Chinese try so hard to have boys-no sequins.

Joan is working on tour arrangements for our October break. I still want to see the Guilin area famous for it's limestone mountains and outcroppings. A cruise on the river through the gorges would also be nice. Right now, the cruise is impossible. That is one of the areas you have probably heard about. They are currently blowing up some of the dams to relieve the flooding. Cruising on a swollen river complete with whitewater rapids is not conducive to relaxation.

We still have yet to hear from two of last years kids, Nan and Angi. They will arrive sometime today. Nan was the guy who rented a Mustang for his 21st birthday and Angi was the cute, little gal who always made her hamburgers too big for her mouth. Joan is up to 5 phone numbers on our list. These two will bring us up to 7. Not that I didn't enjoy talking with all of you, but it is kinda nice to go somewhere and not take a phone. Every American should try it some weekend! Speaking of communicating with us- it is better to email us directly as we still can't see your comments on our blog. Skype and iChat are also options. Our Skype address is Joan Lindauer and our iChat handle is

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Yantai Saturday, 21 August

We decided to visit 2 sites in the city today and Ping agreed to go as our translator. She hadn't visited either the Yantai Hill/Lighthouse Park or winery museum so it was a treat for all of us. We took a taxi into town ($4US). Prior to the construction of the lighthouse atop the hill, Yantai, Smoke Terrace, got its name from the burning of wolf dung that was used to notify ships of pirates. The former residence of the US Consulate is also on this hill. At one time, the US, French, German and Japanese all had a presence here. (The large shopping center, Jusco, is Japanese owned.)
The 'hill' is a popular spot for photo shots--brides were everywhere! We learned that the brides can where whatever color dress they like (and frequently change dresses 4 times during the affair!)--the groom wears a shirt the same color as the bride's dress. We got tickled at some of the shoes we spied under the dresses (see photos!). Americans may pay more for the weddings themselves but in China it is common for the bride's parents to buy a car for the newlyweds and the groom's to purchase an apartment/home for them. We appreciate that such is not the custom in the US!!
The lighthouse offers incredible views of the area and confirms that the city is much larger than one first suspects. There are large (10-15) numbers of high rise residential apartments clustered in every direction. The city population is listed at 1.6M but the metropolitan area claims over 6M.
We walked down the hill back to the beachside where Andy successfully negotiated for a pair of new Crocs for 12yuan ($1.80US!) and over to the winery museum. The winery was established in the late 1800s and makes wine, brandy and vodka. They are a very large operation--one of the largest in China. I know this will come as a large surprise but we had to stop to eat! We decided on a beachside restaurant that was very nice. Upon entering, you got to pick out what you wanted to eat from displays--including selecting the specific fish you want prepared for you! We enjoyed some beef, green vegetables (we rarely know what they are but yummy!) and fried rice. Ping got upset that the shrimp didn't arrive in a timely fashion and had them remove it from the bill. All told, we spent about $13US to feed the 3 of us very well.
The beaches are very European in nature rather than Floridan. Oddly enough, the girls change out of miniskirts and short shorts into the most ultra conservative swimsuits possible--did they raid their mother's closets? Very few 2 pieces and no bikinis. Speedos for the guys are common!
Since Ping studies every day for her upcoming GMAT tests, we decided to return to the school--by bus. It costs 1 yuan to ride the bus (about 15 cents) from anywhere you get on to anywhere you get off. It took about 40 minutes to make our way back via bus with frequent stops but much more scenic.
We are starting to see more students on campus now. University classes start Monday. Chinese students register for classes and take a final exam. If they attend classes, okay; if they don't, okay. Approximately 20,000 students are expected in attendance.
Andy reports seeing his first Denver #15 shirt today (Tebow's new number for those of you uninformed). We see lots of American fashion--especially the ugly 'gladiator' shoes.
Eventually we'll get to the aquarium--it's supposed to be one of the largest in China. Chang is due in tomorrow (she's on a train here now).
More later.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Yantai, Thursday, 19 August

Ni Hao! Andy and I spent the morning waiting to relocate. Our 'old' room (across the hall) had construction going on outside and lots of mold/mildew. No problem getting the move okay-ed but had to wait for a 2nd key to be made before we could get access to the new place. We are now all settled in and the last load of laundry drying.

After we had moved, we went to the large mall located just off campus for some shopping. After sushi (you knew there had to be food involved, didn't you?), we perused the entire mall: two stories with 2 corridors of shops (Mickey is here and North Face, too). After stopping at Mickey D's for ice cream (we are really suffering over here!), we caught a cab back to campus. Please note: we did this entire adventure on our own, no Ping or Jinlong to assist us!

Early this morning, we visited the WECL office to use their computers since our internet service was down. The service in the new accommodations came up promptly and, knock on wood, has had no problems all day! WECL has a good collection of English reading material so Andy and I are not fighting over the Kindle.

Things are getting more routine now as we settle in. We will continue to post pictures and notes as we go along. Hopefully we'll get our passports back tomorrow and be able to take the ferry to Dalian (across the bay) for a day trip.

More news later--

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yantai: August 18

Things have slowed down now that we have arrived at our destination. We are in a settling in mode and waiting for classes to begin. The University starts classes on the 23rd; we won't start our classes until the 2nd. When we get set up, we'll send pictures of our new space and home.
We learned today that we need to go to the police station to get our resident visas but don't know when we are going. That seems to be the rule in China: you have to do something but nobody knows when or sometimes even where.
Our internet has gone down twice in 2 days--Andy is most frustrated.
Jinlong took us to lunch today and at last we managed to get $3 haircuts--really nice haircuts!! We also visited the really large shopping mall close to campus and found Hall's cough drops and--best of all--the Chinese version of Moon Pies! Also found a sushi restaurant so we know where Andy will want to head for lunch today! I know many of you are worried about Andy finding food to eat; no fears, he has discovered many Chinese candies and salty snacks he likes. The boy will not starve!
The US and S Korea conducting training exercises so the Chinese military is on alert and we have Migs overhead twice daily. We have been hesitant about taking pictures of them since we don't want to be accused of spying.
Quiet day today. We are waiting to relocate across the hall in our dorm. Lots of construction on the north side; we are moving to a room on the southside. It has less mold (yes, you read that correctly!) and is quieter. Hopefully the air conditioner works well!! It overlooks the library and south entrance.
Did laundry yesterday. The washing machine is down the hall and free!! We then hang the laundry on hangers on a rod in our bedroom that cranks up and down. It is very efficient. Dryers are mostly non-existent.
Another day in China . . . (Pics are from the new apartment)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yantai, August 17

Today was a real military day, all hurry-up and wait. This morning we were taken to a clinic for a health check. I even had an ultrasound done. Good news, I'm not pregnant. Typical of China, every step of the way involved a little pushing and line cutting. While Joan was semi clad having an EKG done, someone barged in. I had a guy try to hop in front of me to get a urine specimen. I growled, yes growled and said, "Go ahead. Let me piss on the back of you." I don't think he understood all, but he did not cut in line.

Line cutting and shoving must be an ancient Chinese art. While at a bank, it is normal to have someone stick their head in between you and the teller to ask a question. I tried to be polite for 10 days but enough is enough. Now I shove back, snarl, and use un-understood profanity. It seems to work and I feel better.

Another Chinese legacy is the use of the sidewalk. In China, a sidewalk is a place that is inconvenient to drive your car. Right turn lanes means "This is a great chance to pass on the right side." Double yellow lines down the middle of a road are used for aiming only. A barrier set up down the middle means you can't drive on the wrong side of the street until the next break in the barrier. Turning across three lanes of traffic is a taxi guys test of manhood.

Banking is another bizarre Chinese event. I waited in line 38 minutes to cash some traveler's checks. Once to the teller, I spent another 25 minutes getting the checks cashed. I had 4 checks. First, the teller made 4 copies of my passport. She then had me fill out a form FOR EACH CHECK. She then filled out a form for each and stapled a passport copy to each. Next, I had to sign all of the forms she filled out, re-endorse the checks on the back, then she had to sign the forms I filled out. She took all the paper work to her manager who came over and looked me over. After one last signing ( this time I signed" Andy Bloodtype AB+". She then counted out my money. I figured if I had to wait, so did she SOOOOOOOO I counted my money three times. Throughout all of this, Joan was with another teller setting up an account. It was MADNESS!

I'm glad we went to the bank after the exam. My blood pressure would have been thru the ceiling. On the way home, we did some more shopping for house stuff. WE now own a genuine Chinese toilet brush and bathmat.

While walking back to campus, some Migs from the airport took off and did some training in the area. China has a Naval Air station here in Yantai. I guess it was the "Red Angels" that were flying. We also ran into Jin Long, one of our friends from FGCU. It was cool to be so far from home and hear someone call your name and wave.

Tomorrow is hair cut day. I can't put it off any longer. We will also take some pix of campus and our luxury suite.

Happy Chinese Valentine's Day

Andy and Joan

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Shanghai con't

After the pearl jam (get it) we went to lunch. I swear we were in Branson MO for a theme lunch. It was a large eatery and the staff were all costumed. We were met at the door by musicians making noise (literally--couldn't call it music!). During the meal the stage was put to use with traditional dances, singing, and flute playing (Andy enjoyed the pretty girls). The only thing missing from a true Branson experience was a cowboy shoot-out ( or I guess warlord sword fighting.) Lunch was huge and very good. One new dish was a bowl of fried eggs, tomatoes, green peppers, and onions. We did not have snake wine but it was available.

A short ride took us to the silk center. The silk guide told us about worms and moths and mulberry and stuff. Andy just watched (we both agreed she was beautiful.) After watching the manufacturing process, we moved to the bedroom silk stuff. The covers and sheets were incredible--the colors were intense; the designs intricate. We could not resist. Joan had intended to buy a silk comforter to use in Yantai. We also added the cover, sheets and pillow cases. Fortunately for us, they could vacuum pack everything and make it easy to carry. For a good time- email Joan and ask her about her passport! We moved to the clothing section but struck out. Chinese women do not wear 36C blouses and Chinese men have never heard of an XX-tubby shirt.

The stop at the Jade Buddha offered not only a Buddhist temple but a jade store and a tea room. We sampled various herbal teas good for what ails. We bought young, spring green tea for energy and Lotus tea for Andy's lower GI problem. Both were very good. The spring green was sweet but had no sugar added--and all were no caffeine. The jade was beautiful but expensive.

We made our way back to our hotel for our daily argument-who does laundry! This is a little different, though. We each want to do the laundry. The one who does the washing and wringing gets to stand in the cool shower while the other guy waits. Andy actually volunteers for the job.

Our girls returned earlier than expected from Expo. The lines are HUGE!!!! They waited at least 2 hours to get into each exhibition. They were tired, hot and frustrated on their return. All in all they only got into 2 exhibits. We had heard from 2 guys on the tour with us that the lines were very long except to the African Pavilion which for some reason has no line at all. According to the Italian and Swiss gentlemen, the African is set up like a huge bazaar with different countries represented and is really neat. Sorry we didn't know in advance to tell the girls.

Today is still undecided. We are treating the girls to the day as they have been such wonderful guides. Breakfast at the hotel and probably sushi for lunch. The girls want to visit the Yu Gardens and the Shanghai Aquarium is on the list, too. They leave on a train tonight for the Shandong area. We fly to Yantai in the morning.

Best from China,
Andy and Joan

A dragon's favorite food-PEARLS!

August15, Shanghai

Yesterday was quite a day. The girls, Chang and Aven, had tickets for Expo and left the hotel around 4am. Joan and I had booked an English speaking tour of Shanghai. The temp was already 87F when we headed out to make our connection. We taxied to a large downtown hotel near the convention center. The driver did not know the way and Joan navigated with her map and translation book. We had to walk along the riverfront to get to the site. It was beautiful. The skyline is very pretty. We saw several cruise ships and other large excursion boats. If you are a cruiser, you would have recognized the "good morning" chimes and the captain's morning announcement. We felt like we were aboard.

We met our guide, Even, or should I say, she found us sitting in the hotel looking lost. We should have known she was our guide-she was wearing a NY Yankees hat! She had one of those great voices that was very melodic. I could have curled up and taken a nap as she told us what we were seeing. Our first stop was a shopping area. Even warned us that this area was only good for trinkets and souvenir things. She said not to buy silk, jade, or name brand things. They were knockoffs. Sure enough, before I was 10 feet from the bus, I had an offer for a set of Mont Blanc pens AND a Rolex for 400yuan. He then lowered the price to 200. What a deal! A Rolex and Mont Blancs for only $30US.

We then went to Yu Gardens. These gardens were built by a private individual for his family. They were built around 1500's. They offered the kind of buildings and rock/flower gardens that you become used to in China. One interesting thing was the roof decoration. Each building roof had stone characters telling different stories. We saw fishermen, warriors, seers, poets, etc. We also learned that the 3 toed dragon was meant to show that the dragon, while powerful, was not as powerful as the emperor who has 5 toes. By the way. What is a dragon's favorite meal? ( Answer at end of entry) We were at the gardens early and the crowd was still small.

We then made our way to an area called the French Concession. This area has been rebuilt and has many, upscale bars and eateries. The streets are very narrow and the food is very high priced. We found a Starbucks and the iced coffee really hit the spot. Shanghai claims to have 4 gifts, beautiful gardens, beautiful girls, beautiful pearls, and beautiful silk. At the French Concession, we saw a lot of the second.

Stop #3 was a pearl center. Our guide demonstrated how to open oysters and the difference between fresh water a salt water pearls. Salt water oysters contain a single pearl and are smaller. Fresh water can contain many. We also learned that there are many colors of pearls. I knew about white, pink, and black but had never seen purple, silver, or blue.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday, 12 August in Suzhou

We traveled by bus (horn happy driver) from Wuzhen to Suzhou in the morning. Passed some rural areas with rice paddies and vegetable gardens in evidence as well as some industries (titanium food additive center!!--no kidding). In addition to the babies on board we even had a duck and rooster traveling with us (sorry the picture is not clear!).
Suzhou, a city crisscrossed with canals and surrounded by a river, was a silk center back in the long ago. Today it is a mix of the very modern and the traditional. Being close to Shanghai, it is taking advantage of the increased flow of traffic for the Expo. Andy wanted "American" yesterday (so did Chang!) so we ate lunch at a KFC. It was sorta like stateside.
We grabbed a cab (another experience in bumper cars with horns!) and visited the Humble Administrator's Garden. The pictures speak for themselves although I'm not sure where the 'humble' comes in! We only lasted about an hour before we went looking for some AC! The girls tell us they have spent the summer inside as well because of the heat so it's not just us wimpy Americans! After cold showers, we walked to the same area for dinner where we had lunch and enjoyed some delicious traditional Chinese food -- cost of about $12 for the 4 of us! Andy failed to take his camera to dinner last night--sorry boys, the miniskirts were in evidence everywhere!
Chang and Avon have not been to this area before. They think nothing of going up to folks and asking questions about the area: where something is, a restaurant suggestion, etc. Everyone is very helpful.
So helpful that they don't want Andy to be alone. He is getting the 'call me' cards both under the door and in person. He has started a collection!
We have taken the last two days a little easier and will do the same in Shanghai tomorrow (laundry day).

Friday morning, 13 August Suzhou
We depart this morning by rail (fastest train in the country) for Shanghai. Doubt we'll get any kind of pictures. Will follow up tonight after we settle in.

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Sit back, relax and thanks for traveling with us!

August 11, Wuzhen, China

We left Hangzhou at about 6 this morning. We took a 2 hour bus ride thru a semi-rural area. It is difficult to actually see farmland because the Chinese have built apartments and condos all along the major highways between cities. Only from an airplane can you see farmland. When we flew in to Hangzhou, you could see a lot of rice paddies. ( I teased Joan and told her we were back in Shreveport and they were raising crawdads!) The bus ride was very pleasant. Do not believe all the stories about NO AIR CONDITIONERS. All of our hotels, buses, taxis, and restaurants have had A/C. We had our first rickshaw ride from the bus terminal to our hotel. Because there were four of us and luggage, we needed 4. They took one look at me and decided that I would ride solo. The girls shared one. Joan had one to herself. Joan's rickshaw arrived last. She claims it was because her driver was older. I wasn't going to push the weight issue.

Wuzhen is an ancient waterway of China. The older, historic city is built on water. You can walk down very narrow streets or take a boat. Because of the extreme heat ( 95+) the narrow streets cut off any breeze making the heat very oppressive. You can tell by the photo that we quickly soaked thru our clothes. We walked for about 4 blocks of the streets. We passed a lot of small shops with craftsmen hard at work. The carvings were beautiful. We then decided it was time for a boat ride.

One of the things that has become common is being asked to be photographed. Remember, we are the curiosity. I held a contest to see who could guess how many times we would be asked for photos. Joan picked 4, Aven 8, Chang picked 10. When we stopped for the boatride I had been asked 4 times and Joan 6. A group found us and we lost count. Aven and Chang labeled the last group our "fan club."

We then boarded our boat. No one believed me when I said it's name was the Cotton Blossom and the paddler was Captain Andy. There was a lot of laughter when I made a steam horn TOOT! We cruised down about 3/4 mile of canal looking at the reverse side of the shops. You can see laundry hanging out, backporch gardens and LOTS of bridges. It was beautiful. I have been sending our Marine son-in-law pix of Chinese girls. We call it recon and intel. I took several intel photos from the boat. Joan and I returned to the hotel to a cool shower and a quick nap. The heat really sapped our energy. We revived in time for lunch- clams, shellfish, and snails in a fish stock. It was delicious.

We are getting ready to head out to dinner and a night tour of the city. The old area is lit with lanterns every night. So long from Wuzhen. Tomorrow we travel to Suzhou.