Life in Weihai — March 1 –April 15, 2011

Feb 27. We arrived in Weihai early Sunday evening and were greeted by Sue and Isaac. It was wonderful to see them again! Lulu had arranged for a van and driver to take us to our apartment because the four people and all our luggage would not have fit into even 2 taxis. She had also arranged for the cleaning staff in the International Education building to clean our apartment and for the water guy to deliver a bottle of fresh drinking water prior to our arrival. It was wonderful to walk into a clean apartment! Thank you Lulu for your kindness and thoughtfulness!

Our first impression of Weihai as we were driving through the city was that there were more buildings probably due to many construction projects having been completed while we were away. The construction around the middle of the city is completed and so the traffic did not seem as hectic and congested. Weihai is a really beautiful city. The other thing we noted was no snow, ice, or fierce damp winds. Last year there was snow on the ground until May, but this year, there has not been any snow, or even rain since we have been back.

Figure 1. Trees are blooming in early April

Figure 2. Bushes blooming on Campus early April.

Feb 28. In the morning of the next day, Sue arrived at our house and we went to the China Mobile store and China Unicom to put more money on our phone cards, and to reinstate our internet service, respectively. It took quite a while to do this since the lines are long.

Figure 3. our neighborhood technology stores for internet and mobile.

Finnie went bicycle shopping. He asked Isaac to help him with the translations and within a few hours they arrived back at our apartment happy with the purchase. Finnie bought a nice sturdy bicycle and he seems very pleased with it after having used it for the last 6 weeks.

Figure 4. Finnie and his new bike

Meanwhile Sue and I went shopping for groceries. HaiYue had changed everything around again. All of the merchandise on the third floor was moved onto the second floor (because there is a new coffee/ movie business on the third floor) and all the second floor stuff was rearranged, so now clothes and food are on the same floor. It has taken a while to find everything again – an even greater challenge since I have to guess at what most things are. I was particularly disappointed to find out that they no longer carry many items I normally bought there. We have been shopping more at the LiQun store where the selection is greater, but the store is more crowded. We ended the day with all four of us – Sue, Isaac, Finnie and me – going to the dumpling restaurant and enjoying a feast of dumplings, sweet and sour pork, green vegetables with mushrooms, and, of course, beer. We spent the rest of the week unpacking, renewing friendships, resupplying our food shelves, and buying 2 new items: a new hot water kettle, and a vacuum cleaner.

Figure 5. New Water kettle. Hopefully this one will last longer than our previous one — one of us remembers to put water into it before heating.

Figure 6. A vacuum cleaner. Unfortunately it requires Finnie to plug it in, turn it on, and push the sweeper over the floor — it’s like the one we have in Texas, it isn’t fully automatic… sigh…

Mar 10. Dinner with Liu and Zoe. Zoe invited us to join she and her husband, Liu, for dinner to catch up on each other’s lives. We agreed on March 10 and Zoe picked us up and took us to her house at 6 PM. We enjoyed a fabulous meal prepared by Liu. He is an outstanding cook – in the states we would refer to him as a “foodie”, someone who enjoys and is skilled in preparing delicious dishes. His homemade dumplings, poached fish, fresh scallops, and other delicious dishes are “mouth-wateringly” good! We enjoyed talking about all the things that had happened since we had seen each other last. And Finnie and I tried out a few Chinese words to see how much we remembered – not as much as we hoped, unfortunately.

Mar 11 Medical tests for residency permit. In order to get a residency permit we needed to have a few more medical tests done. So Zhang WanTing, an intern working in the International Education office, was assigned to help us through that process. We needed to have blood and urine tests, as well as a chest x-ray. While we were waiting for the paperwork to be processed, three bus loads of new Korean students lined up for their physical exams in order to receive their student residency permits. Even though it was chaotic, the process actually did not take a long time: the phlebotomist was well practiced and hit a healthy vein (Deb, here, is speaking of yourself; Finnie posed a somewhat greater challenge, but in the end, blood was obtained), and the chest x-ray equipment is pretty cool. The x-ray equipment just required one to stand on a podium and the x-ray technician remotely moved the arm of the machine around to take a picture wherever he wanted. So he took a series of small pictures that presumably x-rayed the lungs. To get to the building where these medical tests are done, we drove around Weihai’s perimeter road and noticed all kinds of new apartment buildings that had been under construction when we left, were now ready for occupancy. In addition, the Buddhist temple that was under construction all last year is now complete. And there are new shopping centers under construction now that we had not seen before. This city is growing so quickly!!

On the way home we drove through the middle of town and enjoyed seeing the park all along the shore. Some of it was under construction last year. It is a beautiful park, and we are anxious for a nice weekend day to go visit there.

March 11 and 12 New friends and new food. Friday night we had supper with WanTing and Lulu at the Yon-Ho restaurant, next door to KFC. Yon-Ho is a Korean restaurant that serves soy milk and “doughnuts” along with vegetable dishes. Even though we had eaten this before, we had not had it for supper – sort of like having pancakes for supper in the U.S. Americans would refer to it as “comfort food”. It was delicious, hearty, and a nice change from meat, rice, and vegetables.

Figure 7. Yon-Ho shop — next to KFC near East gate of Campus

Figure 8. Our Soy milk being served at Yon-Ho.

Saturday afternoon we enjoyed the company of new friends. Jenny and Bin are a young couple who just moved in upstairs. They moved here from Beijing where they both worked for a software development company, and the company is expanding so rapidly that they just opened a branch in Weihai. Bin is a software architect and Jenny is in marketing. We enjoyed their company very much. And at dinner time, Jenny went upstairs to get TongTong, their 8 month old daughter, and we all took a taxi to BeiFangJiaoZiWang. It has been very nice to enjoy their cheerful hellos when we meet on the stairs.

Figure 9. Our New Neighbors: Bin, Jenny, and TongTong.

Bin later graciously came down and re-installed our internet wireless router, so we get the speed we need and are paying for. Thanks again, Bin!

Mar 13 Dinner and a Movie. Following the format of a popular TBS channel movie show, “Dinner and a Movie”, we invited our International Education office friends (Lulu, Yin Chuanbo, Zheng Li, Liu Liang and his wife – Li, Isaac, Sue, and WanTing) to join us for dinner at the Big Fish Restaurant and then return to our house for a viewing of the first segment of “Wild China”. “Wild China” is a BBC documentary in English with Chinese subtitles about the varied landscapes and wild life that one can see in China. The meal was delicious as always at the Big Fish, and our living room was cozy with snacks and various beverages. We had a great time. We hope we can repeat this again when it is convenient for everyone.

Figure 10. Our Group at the Big Fish

March 14 Chinese lessons. We began our private Chinese lessons with Sue again. Sue modified our lessons to better suit our learning styles and our interests. Learning pinyin and conversational Chinese is just right for me. I am learning sentence structure, vocabulary, and pinyin at a faster rate than when I was trying to learn the characters at the same time. It is a much better system for me. But Finnie enjoys learning and writing the characters. He can read simple paragraphs now. In fact he was reading a children’s book yesterday, reading only the characters! I think we both have made great progress in just a month of lessons, building on last year’s knowledge.

Figure 11. Finnie practicing Chinese characters– isn’t it obvious how much he loves this?

Figure 12. Sue teaching Deb Chinese.

March 17 Thursday lunch with Lulu, Ping, Zoe, Amy at a new hot pot restaurant. Zoe arranged for us to join her and our friends for a hot pot lunch. Zoe, Lulu, Ping, and Amy were there. We had such a great time catching up with our friends!! We each had an individual hot pot and enjoyed beef, mutton, tofu, many different vegetables, and noodles. Hot pots are wonderful!

Mar 18 Foam Rubber lady and “Tree Vegetable.” This day was very blustery! The wind must have been blowing 30 miles per hour with sand mixed in it. It was hard to stay upright on our bikes. But we had a mission to complete! We realized after our “Dinner and a Movie” night, that our sofa is really uncomfortable to sit on. So we asked Isaac and Sue to help us find the foam rubber lady who made us our foam cushions for our beds and bed sheets shortly after we arrived in Weihai last year. Here’s the interesting thing about China – nothing stays the same for long! Everything is changing and improving! And the whole section of about 4 city blocks where the furniture shops and the foam rubber lady was located last year had been leveled while we were away. There is a very large banner announcing what will be built on that site, but no foam rubber lady. When we finally gave up trying to locate her, realizing that she was no longer there (unless her shop is hiding under a broken brick), we dropped by the bike shop and had some adjustments made to Finnie and Isaac’s bicycles. Then we all decided to go the BeifangJiaoziWang restaurant – of course – for an early dinner.

Figure 13. Signs of progress — but where did the bedding store go???

We each ordered what we wanted. Sue ordered a stir-fried egg and vegetable dish. The vegetable is a vegetable only available in early spring here in Shandong Province. The vegetable has a nutty, crunchy flavor and is actually the early tree buds of a Chinese Toon tree (a type of cedar tree). Its Chinese name is Xiang Chun Ya (Tree Vegetable). Looking up information on the web about this vegetable resulted in this: “The young leaves and shoots can be used as a vegetable called Hsiang Chun Ya (Xiang Chun Ya ) in China and thus Chinese toon is known as a “tree vegetable” . The fresh young leaves and shoots contain 84% water, 9.8% protein, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B1 and B2, and are rich in aromatic substances. They are uniquely aromatic and therefore excellent for stir fry ( especially with egg ), salad, fry, pickling, seasoning, etc. This plant is a native of China, and China is the only country where Chinese toon young leaves and shoots are used as vegetable. Chinese toon is also used in Chinese traditional medicine. So Chinese toon is widely planted in China..” (www.agrohaitai.com) Since this first time of having the vegetable, we had it a few more times. I like the vegetable very much and it was a nice treat to have a new vegetable to taste!

March 19 Met Zheng Qun, Lulu’s fiancée.   Lulu is engaged! And we were honored when she invited us to join her and her fiancée for lunch at the restaurant we call the “Koren-Japanese-Chinese Restaurant”. As always, we enjoy the food there, but the wonderful part was meeting Zheng Qun. He is a very nice young man and obviously adores Lulu! We wish them much happiness as they begin to build their lives together! Zheng Qun is a professional photographer specializing in portraits. He took a picture of us at the restaurant. I am afraid his subjects were not the most beautiful or handsome, but his talent in taking pictures is obvious.

Figure 14.  Zheng Qun, Lulu’s fiancee.

Figure 15. Zheng Qun’s photo of Deb and Finnie

March 20 Teaching and English Conversation Corners. Yin ChuanBo is responsible for us now and another one of his duties was to make sure I was introduced to Portia, the assistant chair for Translation and Interpretation, so that I could start my job for this semester. This initial meeting with Portia was March 8 and my classes started on March 21. As it turned out, one of the other foreign teachers left just after the semester began and I was able to pick up one of his classes. It is a great job! I am enjoying the students very much. I teach Listening and Speaking English. I have 6 sections of students (30 students in a section). I meet with each section 2 hours every other week. So one week I teach 12 hours and the next week I don’t teach. It’s great! The students are second semester freshmen English majors and they are eager to practice their English skills. Each week is a new topic – family, literature and art, geography, etc – and the final exam will be a presentation on a meatier topic I have assigned to each group. For instance, “In your opinion, what will be the economic impact on China and on other nations of the recent devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan?”

Figure 16. Literature Building — where Deb teaches this semester

Portia also wondered if I would be interested in leading some English Conversation Corners. Finnie and I agreed to meet with students on Wednesdays and Sundays for one and half hours each time. These sessions are so much fun. There are regulars and there are students who come occasionally, but so far we have had about 10 students per session. We try to not talk too much as the students need the practice. We answer questions about life in the U.S., about our family, about our life here in Weihai. We ask questions that try to lead them into discussions about some subject other than the normal topics of food, hometowns, and school life. Some students are interested in studying abroad and Finnie is the perfect person to field those questions. We have had students not only from the English department, but also from business, marine biology, and mathematics! The word is spreading – I am not sure how, but the student grapevine seems to be quite effective.

The building where the conversations occur is a brand new building. It was still under construction when we left last year. But now it is a new building offering students 2 new canteens to eat in, and on the first floor is an inside shopping mall with a medium sized grocery store. The grocery store stocks items that students need for studying, snacking, or a quick meal. A couple of weeks ago I needed a haircut and went to the new hair salon, where I got a great haircut for 10 yuan! Finnie had checked out the other hair salon and paid 15 yuan for his “burr-cut”. The new building is a great addition to the campus!

Figure 17. Canteen 4

Figure 18. Sunday Morning English Conversation

March 21 – shoe insert. Just outside the new building is a man who sets up his street shop to repair shoes, zippers, or any clothing item. Finnie had watched me walk one day and decided that I would limp less if I had a heel insert in my left shoe. I went to this vendor to try to explain what I needed, but got no where with my limited Chinlish. So before lunch, WanTing went with Finnie and me to see if she could explain what I wanted. With his very sharp knife, a scrap of leather, and expert whittling technique he fashioned a heel insert for me which works wonderfully! It was an interesting experience to watch him craft a heel insert from scratch!

Figure 19. Shoe repair man making a shoe insert for Deb’s shoe.

Mar 21 Residency permit trip; picture of residency permits. ChuanBo took us to get our residency permits at the visa office about 3 miles from where we live. It was a quick trip and required us to have a picture taken and we signed a form. It was easy because ChuanBo had worked hard to make sure all the paperwork was in order before we got to the office. It appears to us that for us to receive the residency permits requires many hours of work by Lulu or Chuanbo to ensure that the permits are issued. We appreciate their hard work.

Figure 20. Foreign Expert Certificates

March 26 Saturday with Ping and husband – sea cucumber farm. Ping and her husband, Liu YunBo, and their friend, Mr. Jiang Bo, a marine biology teacher, invited us to join them on a day trip to the end of the peninsula we live on. Mr. Jiang and YunBo wanted to show us their sea cucumber farm. Yun Bo has a Toyota Highlander and so the five of us drove in luxury around Weihai’s perimeter, through the east end of the city and out into the countryside. Since we had not been to the end of this peninsula, Ping asked YunBo to drive to the park at the end of the peninsula. On the way to the park, we stopped at a small farming village to see a new summer tourist park being built. We were told that it is supposed to be ready by this summer.

Figure 21. Ping, Deb, Jiang Bo and Liu YunBo at the fisherman village recreation park

Figure 22. Finnie and Deb at the fisherman village recreation park

Across the street from the new park was a kindergarten and we could not resist taking pictures of the very cute little children happily playing on their playground equipment.

Figure 23. Kids Playground at the fisherman village recreation park

In about an hour we reached the gate to the park. We did not realize that the cost of entry was so expensive until Ping and Bo had purchased 3 tickets for Ping, Finnie and me to visit this site. Yun Bo and Mr. Jiang waited outside the gate for our return.

Figure 24. Stone Monument at the End of the Earth. It says, starting with the right column, “The most eastern point of China’s coast,” the mid section says “Good Luck Point,”, and the left column says “the sun rises from Cheng Mountain and casts its first rays on this point.”

While we were out on the peninsula we saw the rocky coast and the beautiful scenery of this area. This is referred to in China as the “End of the Earth”, since it is the farthest eastern land point of China. We took lots of pictures, and show some of them here.

Figure 25. The Emperor and two Mandarins looking eastward from the point.

Figure 26. Deb and Ping at “Good Luck Point”

But the special event that happened was the interaction between us and 2 busloads of touring farmers from Sichuan province. We were perhaps as interesting an attraction as the scenery of the spot we were all visiting! Actually the farmers were all about our ages and through Ping and our limited Chinese we learned about each other. There are several pictures of us talking to the farmers and I think those pictures explain a lot!

Figure 27. Tourists touching Happy Buddha — shaped rock.

Figure 28. Deb and lady from Sichuan Province

Figure 29. Finnie and Deb, tourists from Weihai, with tourists from Sichuan Province.

Waving farewell to the farmers, we viewed other places in the park and then joined YunBo and Mr. Jiang outside the gate. We drove to a restaurant that is a favorite of Mr. Jiang’s. We had fresh seafood like we have never had before! Before we were seated, we all went into the kitchen and selected the things we were going to eat! This was really cool! Then we arrived at our dining room and soon the food started arriving! We ate sea urchin, shark skin, scallops, shrimp, fish dumplings, peanuts, green vegetable, and we were amazed at how good some of these dishes tasted! Thank you Mr. Jiang for an incredible dining experience!

Mr. Jiang then took us to his sea cucumber farm which was not too far away. Mr. Jiang, YunBo and another business partner own a 3 pond sea cucumber farm. We learned a lot about the business of owning a farm in China, especially these sea ponds. If I remember correctly, one can buy these ponds but only for a certain length of time, and then you no longer own them and must relinquish your rights to the farm pond. Mr. Jiang’s brother lives in a typical farmhouse near the ponds to make sure that the ponds are well looked after. Growing sea cucumbers is an expensive business, but the sea cucumbers produce a healthy income. Sea cucumber larvae are purchased from a larvae producing farm and then the farm ponds are seeded with the larvae. The sea cucumbers are allowed to grow to 100 grams which takes about 2 years. Then they are harvested and sold. We understand that wholesale price for dried sea cucumbers is ¥40 to ¥65 (CNY) per kg dry weight (that is $3 to $5/ lb).  They are much more expensive in the grocery store and even more in restaurants! Obviously, this is a precious crop and must be carefully tended.

Figure 30. Two Sea Cucumbers in the sea pond and Bo and Bo’s Farm

Figure 31. One of Mr. Jiang’s many guard dogs on duty at the sea pond.

Figure 32. Bo and Bo Sea Cucumber Farm’s second pond.

While there, we were invited to visit a farmer’s house.  We learned about how the farmers stay warm by sleeping, dining, and relaxing on a raised platform that has a fire warming it underneath. We admired the huge wok on the wood stove for food preparation. The layout of the house is, according to our teacher, Sue, very typical of farm houses in China, and she used the layout to help Finnie understand several Chinese characters much better!

Figure 33. A typical farm house, with entry into the kitchen and eating area, with sleeping rooms on each side. In the foreground, workers are preparing nets to keep control of the sea cucumbers

Figure 34. Steamer for cooking in the farmhouse kitchen. It uses coal or wood to cook food and heat the water and the house

Figure 35. A farm house bed. It is made of concrete with a wood top, on which a pad is placed for sleeping. The concrete base has a fireplace underneath for heating.

We asked many questions and learned a lot about this marine agriculture business. Our last stop was the larvae producing farm where we saw millions of sea cucumber larvae growing in cement ponds in the dark. They are feed a special plankton diet that is produced at the farm. And then we went to another part of the larvae farm and saw baby flounders being grown to sell to farmers to raise in their large outdoor sea ponds.

Figure 36. Baby Flounder Nursery.

This was an amazing day and we enjoyed every second of it!! Thank you Ping, YunBo, and Mr. Jiang for this up close glimpse of marine agriculture!

March 27 Friday concert with Frank, Amy, Mr. Fan.  Amy Zhou and Frank invited us to join them at the concert of 4 opera students. For two hours we were treated to beautiful renditions of many famous opera arias. There were two soprano singers and two baritone singers. The students were giving this performance as a dress rehearsal for the opera competition that they were competing in the following week. All of them performed beautifully, despite the comings and goings of several children in the audience. One little girl was waiting impatiently with an enormous bouquet of flowers that was almost as big as she was. We thought that she was waiting for the soprano singer to end her performance and would give her the flowers, but no! She waited through the next performance and when the singer was through performing, she dashed on stage and gave the bouquet to the accompanying pianist — her father, maybe? She was very adorable. I think we have pictures of her waiting – impatiently.

Figure 37. Italian Opera Singers Recital

Figure 38. All four singers and their accompanists

Figure 39. Little Girl gave the bouquet to the accompanist! Way cool!

The March Blog.  Most of our free time during March was spent catching up on the last two blogs we posted. While I wrote the entries, Finnie was selecting from thousands of pictures and using PhotoShop to size and edit them. Both processes are tedious and time consuming. But we feel that this blog is not only important for us to post about our extraordinary life in China, but also to share with family, friends, and other interested persons about our post-retirement adventures.

Post-retirement is a whole new way of living, we are discovering, and many of us are still active, mobile, and interested in continuous learning, so it is important to figure out how to plan one’s daily post-retirement life after 30 plus years of working 10-15 hour days at some job. While we have chosen the international living route for now, others might find more satisfaction in other adventures. I must confess that not having a daily commitment to a job is quite lovely!

Figure 39. Finnie working on the blog

April 2-5, 2011. Trip to Dalian.

While Zhang Wan Ting was an intern working in the SDUW International Education office, she invited Finnie and me to visit Dalian where her university is located. Zhang Wan Ting had returned to Dalian by mid March, so when we found that we had a 3 day weekend because of Xing Ming Festival, we planned a trip to Dalian. Finnie and I had previously agreed that when we could, we wanted to visit Dalian. Qing Ming Festival is similar to our Memorial Day when we honor those who have served in a war and died, and when families go to the cemeteries where relatives are buried to pray and to take time to clean the tombs and graves from winter debris. We decided to take the night ferry from Weihai to Dalian, which left the dock at 9:30 PM and arrived in Dalian at 4:30AM. We took a taxi to the dock, presented our tickets, and waited for the call to board the ship. Bill, a student worker in the International Education office, insisted on making sure we got to the ferry dock by getting a taxi for us and delivering us to the dock and waiting with us before we boarded the ship.

Bill is a very gracious person and we very much appreciate all the time he took to make sure we got to the right boat! As we were waiting for the boat, we were, of course, an oddity. As Bill and Finnie talked, many near-by passengers edged closer to hear. While they were talking, a student sat down beside me and started a conversation with me. It turned out that he is a junior at SDUW in computer science and was taking an opportunity to practice his English. Bill asked him to make sure we got to our correct room on board and the student very sweetly took us to our room. By the time the ship left the dock, our four-bunk room had four people in it. We had the lower bunks and two men had the upper berths and shortly after we left the dock they were asleep – snoring dissonantly! Between the snoring and the rather hard sleeping surface, we each got only a few hours of sleep. Then the boat docked, we disembarked and followed the crowd to a bus, not sure where we would end up. It turned out that we ended up at the gate of the ferry dock where we quickly found a taxi. Finnie showed the driver the address of the MacDonald’s where we would meet WanTing a few hours later and he sped us there in the pre-dawn light. We sat in McDonalds having coffee, breakfast and reading our Kindles until WanTing arrived about 7:30. She had arranged for us to be able to check into our hotel room early and so we took a cab directly to our wonderful hotel in the middle of Dalian. WanTing had secured an excellent rate for us via the internet for our room and we found the room very, very nice and quite comfortable. We visited for a while and then decided to leave for our day of sightseeing.

While we were in the driveway of the hotel, hailing a taxi, a taxi driver commissioned by the hotel to drive guests around said he would take us where we wanted to go for the morning for a reasonable price. He was a fun taxi driver and seemed to enjoy taking us around. By the time we left his taxi just before lunch, we had agreed to take him up on his offer of driving us to Lushun, a suburb of Dalian, the next day for his reasonable fee. By the end of our second day together, Yang WenLong, our taxi driver, was a friend!

WanTing had planned an excellent first day of seeing Dalian – XingHai Square, a drive along the rocky coastline, lunch at a Beijing Duck restaurant, and an afternoon at the aquarium. It was a great day and we decided that Dalian would be an excellent city to live in. Dalian is clean with a mix of Russian, Japanese, and Chinese architecture. It is the location of a large software development industry, and it is a favorite resort city for Russians.

Figure 40. Ultra-nice housing units surround XingHai Square all the way to the sea.

Figure 41. Citizens’ foot print walk in bronze.

Figure 42. I-55 Coffee Stop. How cool is that?

Figure 43. Deb the skate boarder. Wan Ting and Finnie didn’t know how talented she is!

Figure 44. I think she may be gaining on the guy in front…

Figure 45. WanTing showing how to prepare the Beijing duck roll for eating. Starting with the very thin Chinese flour “tortillas”

Figure 46. After adding onion, celery, and duck sauce, you begin to wrap the preparation.

Figure 47. Roll it up and fold it.

Figure 48. Now eat it!

Figure 49. hmm hmm, Good!! Tai hao chi le!!

Figure 50. Dalian has two huge aquaria, and this one was too big to see in a day. There were way too many photo-ops

Figure 51. The aquarium also had an impressive dolphin show that was very popular!

Our second day started at 9AM by meeting Yang WenLong in the hotel lobby. We drove for over an hour to pick up Wanting at her university in Lushun. It took forever to get there because the QingMing traffic was creating a huge bottleneck. A lot of people were going to their ancestral graveyards, and there were flowers and sacrificial objects to be purchased along the road side.

Figure 52. QingMing flowers — I think made of paper and plastic for graves were everywhere.

It was quite common to see someone stopped by the highway and obviously praying. We assume that it was approximately where the ancestor was buried. Finally arriving at the university gate, we picked up WanTing and immediately drove to the Russian-Japanese Prison Camp.

During the time when Russia controlled the northeast part of China, Chinese dissidents were held in this prison; during the time when Japan controlled this northeast part of China, Chinese and Korean opponents of the foreign regimes were held in the prison. It was a grim place. With little to eat, no privacy, hard labor, and torture, so many, many prisoners died or were executed.

Figure 53. Typical cell for 6-8 prisoners.

Figure 54. Prisoner’s clothing in one of the strip-search rooms

Figure 55. Actors waiting for their roles in a documentary being made at the prison.

Mr. Yang then drove us to the top of Mt. Baiyu, the highest peak in Lushun and we could see out over Lushun’s harbor. It is a very protected large cove where there is a Navy yard, shipbuilding operations, tourist beaches, and restaurants lining the cove.

Figure 56. Crest of Mount Baiyu. WanTing, Deb, Finnie, and Yang Wenlong.

Figure 57. Tower on Mt Baiyu. Actually a Japanese-built tower during Japanese occupation.

Figure 58. Deb and WanTing on the observation platform with Lushun below.

Figure 59. A view of Lushun Kou (mouth of the harbor) from Mt. Baiyu

Many vendors had set up their stores around the visitors platform and as I walked by with my cane in hand, the shopkeeper showed us walking sticks like the one I had lost in the Weihai airport when we arrived on February 28! We were thrilled because we had been looking for a replacement cane for a long time. Finnie launched into his “Bargaining Zone” and we ended up buying two sticks for about the price she had quoted for one stick. Finnie has a black one and I have a red one. I really like these walking sticks because they are light but sturdy, and collapsible. Yang drove down the mountain and we got out to view the harbor at water level. Again, a very beautiful harbor.

Figure 60. Harbor level view

We decided it was lunch time and WanTing had suggested that we eat at her favorite hot pot restaurant. We invited Yang to eat with us and the four of us had a wonderful meal together! We talked and laughed and the food was outstanding. Have I said before how much I love hot pots?

Figure 61. A delicious lunch. Hotpot with lamb and lots of other ingredients. Deb, Wenlong, and WanTing

Figure 62. Our Hotpot

Figure 63. Ingredients for the hotpot. Lamb, and mushrooms, and other side dishes.

Yang drove us through WanTing’s university so we could see where she goes to school. We got out and walked around for a bit. And, naturally, we were a magnet for two girls who came over to practice their English speaking skills. We love these interactions because we enjoy the questions they ask and delight in their enthusiasm to talk with us.

Figure 64. Dalian University of Foreign Languages. The lake. WanTing said she was showing us another hotpot. but Finnie was too dull to get it, so she explained that the s-shaped bridge makes the lake look like a hotpot — and it does!

Figure 65. Two students who stopped to visit a few minutes.

Figure 66. Campus building. Dalian University of Foreign Languages

Figure 67. Campus building. Dalian University of Foreign Languages

Yang said he needed to get back home soon, so WanTing had Yang drive us quickly around the enormous nearby campus of the Dalian Medical University. We dropped WanTing off at her university gate saying a heartfelt thank you and goodbye. Yang drove us back to the hotel and we rested for a few minutes before heading out to find dinner.  The next morning we checked out of our hotel and Yang drove us to the harbor in order to take our ferry ride back to Weihai. We had decided that we needed to get sleep on Tuesday night, so we opted for seats on the day ferry, instead of taking the Tuesday night ferry back. It turns out that “seats” on the ferry is a space on an 8 person picnic table in a small room with 15 other 8 person picnic tables. We read, dozed, and walked out to the deck to get some air and watch the sea go by. We arrived in Weihai at 5PM , headed for a nearby restaurant — Shen Gui pie — (sorry Zoe!), had supper, and took a taxi home.

We really enjoyed this trip to Dalian very much. It was informative, challenging, different, and we met some wonderful people! Thank you, WanTing, for taking the time to be our host in Dalian!

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7 Responses to Life in Weihai — March 1 –April 15, 2011

  1. Rolls says:

    I’m Sue’s boy friend, she talked a lot about you~~ Welcome to Beijing, I would like to treat you ~~ And it’s a nice blog.

  2. Sue says:

    Finally got to your blog…

  3. Dr Maria Raquel a Costa says:

    Hello, I really enjoyed your site and comments, My husband and I just arrived to Weihai and although he is happy with the job and the city, I am the one who needs the ‘extra’ motivation. After reading your comments I feel more positive of our move to Weihai. I am planning to learn Chinese and would like some tips & advice. Hope you can contact me.
    Regards from a newly arrived from the UK

    • Hi Dr. Costa and welcome to Weihai! I’m glad you found the blog of interest and useful. One of the wonderful things that has made life here so pleasant for Deb and me is the depth of friendships we have here. Maybe because we are older, and Chinese culture values elders, but I think it is mainly due to the friendliness of the people of Shandong, especially Weihai. It is hard to not make lasting friends if you are open to chats with people as you move about. People want to get to know us and talk with us as much as we want to talk with them and get to know them. We are constantly amazed!

      Regarding learning Chinese, if you already have a good start, you might take classes at the university. You will need to be beyond the actual beginner stage, though, because the classes are primarily for Korean students, and so what isn’t in Chinese will be in Korean. Deb and I had to bail out of that approach. We then hired a student in the translation and intrepretation program here at Shandong University to give us private lessons and that was a big help for us, because we were able to advance at pace we could handle. Alternatively, I know there are a number of private schools that teach Chinese throughout the city. IWe have had no direct experience with the private schools, however. Good luck with that.

      I hope you enjoy Weihai as much as we have. Unfortunately, we are packing to return to the US. We have family responsibilities that make it necessary to return at this time. We know that we will return to Weihai and other places in China often in the future, but now we are preparing for the next phase of our lives.

      Best wishes!

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