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).