May 1 –15, 2010.
Spring is at last here in Weihai! Everything is green and beautiful and it is occasionally warm enough to have us complaining about the heat! In fact, by now, some of the flowers have come and gone. For example, for about two weeks, the wisteria that covers all the car parking shelters in our neighborhood have flowered (with wonderful fragrance), and are now all but gone. The same is true of the lilacs, too. The roses are starting to bloom and there are many beds all around, so it will become ever more beautiful!
Spring time is a good time for new beginnings, and I am pleased to report that our colleague Gao Shaoshan and his wife, Wang Hongdan, had twins this spring, Hanhan and Weiwei. Hanhan is the older sister (by 1 minute) and Weiwei in the little brother! They are really beautiful babies and apparently good sleepers. Gao and Wang are very fortunate! The grandfathers held a celebration when they were 3 weeks old, and Deb and I were invited to help celebrate! The more traditional one-month celebration was also a major event, I am sure!
Lulu was the interpreter for the China Collegiate men’s volleyball, as well as both men’s and women’s basketball teams who participated in an international competition in Paris, France toward the end of April and early May. Lulu reported that the Chinese teams performed extremely well, and the volleyball team and the women’s basketball teams won the overall championships in their sports! You can see the comparison in height between Lulu and one of the volleyball players, that they had a tall team! Lulu is the one in red in the photo with just two people, the other one of which has a “5” on his shirt! He is a great pianist, too! Lulu had a great time and of course enjoyed the sights and foods of the city – except she didn’t get any KFC in Paris, I gather. Bummer!
May 7. Our own SICA (Students’ International Communication Association) sponsored a national forum for student leaders of similar organizations on May 7-9. There was good participation and several hundred students from around China were here for discussion and sharing of ideas. I thought it was significant that so many student leaders were interested in improving their organizations and sharing ideas that they were willing to invest a weekend and the time to get together for planning and discussion. The weekend began with a welcome banquet at the Academic Center over at Golden Bay. I was asked to be one of those giving welcoming speeches. After a feast, the students gave a talent show! The following day, the business meeting took place. On Saturday evening, a formal music and dance program was performed by students from our university. As always, it was truly impressive, and I felt honored to be able to enjoy it!
May 8. We asked our friend, Professor Sun to give us a tour of Liugong Island just across from Weihai harbor. He arranges for his students to visit the island, just as he does the Battleship, Ting Yuen, that I described back in December. Liugong Dao (i.e., Liugong Island) is an important reason that the Weihai harbor has been so important as a military asset for centuries – long before there was anything more than a small fishing village here. It was in the sea between the island and the harbor that the Ting Yuen was sunk in 1895. However, the island has been contested many times before that date and since. A visit to the island is a lesson in history with many dimensions, and it would take more than a full day to see and study everything there. The first aspect of a visit to the island is the small transport ship, a set of which make regular crossings several times each hour so it doesn’t require reservations to get a ride over – at least on normal, non-holidays. I’ll include some photos to show the crossing because the views of the city are very impressive! Once on the island, the military buildings used by the navy around the time of the battle in which Ting Yuen was lost are used now as a museum presenting the island’s history and occupation by the Japanese and British in those times. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liugong_Island
I had not been to Liugong Dao since 2007, and it turns out that in 2008 a large sperm whale beached and died on the shore of the island. So, a museum displaying the whale and providing information about cetaceans in general has been constructed and the guide was very proud to have us visit that museum! Sue went with us to help with the translation, and got an excellent biology lesson as well as experiencing the history of the island. See photos!
May 13. A couple of days before we were to depart on our trip to Nanjing in April, my camera died a sudden complete death. So, I went to LiQun to buy a substitute camera for our trip, and determined to have my dead Canon fixed when we got back. The new (Panasonic) camera worked very well, but I knew that the Canon could be repaired and besides, my other (larger lens, greater zoom) Canon died during our initial trip to Weihai last August, and since we had no huge need for it, we never got around to having it fixed. So, May 13 is the right time for both. Our friend Isaac was sent with me to the Canon dealer down town in the technology mall because each camera was dead and each (probably) had different causes of death – and because explaining all this would probably require a real challenge to my extreme fluency in Chinese (like, probably more than “nihao!” ) So, Isaac and I had a grand time on the adventure, but the time at the dealership was very short – they simply send them to the local authorized repair place and they will check everything out and then make recommendations on the needed repairs (by telephone). So, in a couple days, Lulu (we had cleverly used her number for the information feedback) got a call with the list of repairs The biggest issues were that both cameras had fried electronic boards and a few other problems, so the bill was going to be a total of ¥512 ($75.). So, I said “yes, fix ‘em.” Now we have three cameras that work, so look out, we are armed and dangerous! Oh!, the day after approving the repair, Lulu got a call telling her that the cameras were ready. The entire time elapsed from taking the cameras to the dealer to getting them back was 4 or 5 days.
April 13-14. All-campus Sports Days. For the past week folks in the office had been preparing for the Sports day – an extravaganza of track and field events for intracollege competition, with separate competition for students and faculty. Lulu and Yvonne participated in the multi-jumper jump rope contests and in the ten-people-with-legs-tied-together 100 meter dash, Yvonne was also a contestant in the high jump (where the competition sent a ringer – a professional dancer who was not much challenged by the height of the bar. She just hopped over it in the standing position, so as luck would have it, she won first place, but the real excitement was for second and third places! Yvonne also was on the 400 meter relay race. Candy competed in the shot put and the discus tosses. Gao competed in the three river jump (hard to describe, but I think the idea is to try to jump out of a ring and over three others (three rivers). Deb and I tried to keep the bleachers from floating away (and we were successful!) Isaac was my photography assistant. And when he saw that the ten-people-with-legs-tied-together 100 meter dash was a mixed gender event –teams of boys competing against teams of girls, he was concerned that it was unfair. I readily agreed and told him that the girls would kill the boys. I hate it when I am right!!! (Something I learned from Deb!) How do you spell “no contest?” . In every heat, the girls won – even though in one heat, one team of girls got tripped up with the result that the middle of the team did a big snow plow with their faces in the track – looked painful – but the other girls’ team easily won that heat, too. Anyway, I am proud to report that various of our office won valuable prizes such as big bottles of laundry detergent for their athletic prowess!
It was after the events in which our guys were competing on Thursday, May 13, that Isaac and I went to the camera shop described above. On Friday, May 14, Sue, Deb, Isaac, and I went to a tea house to see a tea ceremony and buy some tea. Here’s why: at my Chinese class, Sue revealed that she and Isaac had been assigned the task of giving a presentation on tea culture of China on Friday May 21 to the guests for Murray State University. So, I asked if she had seen a ceremony at a tea house or tea shop. She had not, so I had a brilliant idea (I had one once before, but I’ve forgotten what it was!). I suggested that we go to a tea shop that Lulu had recommended, and I was sure that they would be willing to do the ceremony and let us try lots of tea and ask a lot of questions. So, off we went – with the plan to go to the tea shop, then go back to the noodle shop near the east gate, then go to a music concert – a senior recital, I think. Well, it started out that way. The tea shop is in the small commodities market ( a big indoor bazaar). We drank a lot of tea, and asked a lot of questions, but they had to close the shop when the commodities market closes at 5:30 PM. However, Mr. Ye, the proprietor, told us to go with him to his house, where we could continue. So, we did. His house is BaMa (8 Horses) Tea House, established in 1736! It is in the block next to the technology mall (where my cameras had been taken the day before). BaMa Tea House is very nice. We kept drinking various teas and asking questions for along time. I found it necessary to purchase some high quality tea pots, some tea strainers, and three kinds of good tea. But, by the time we had accomplished all that, it was around 6:30, and we still had to have our noodles and go to the concert. We got a taxi and headed for the noodle shop, but traffic was heavy, so it was nearly 7:00 PM when we got there and ordered. It became obvious that we would not make the 7:00 PM concert start time or even close to it, so, we decided to go to our house and have tea and dessert and review the tea ceremony. I had videoed the bulk of one part of the session, so I gave that to Sue. We also had a nice game of Skip-bo, all of which was nice.