End of the semester activities: The end of the semester at Shandong University is not any different from end of the semester activities at universities in the U.S. There are lots of social events, final exams, and last meeting times for extra-curricular activities. Here is a sampling of some of the activities that we were involved with the past two weeks.
May 30 and June 1: Our birthdays came and went. We celebrated quietly and enjoyed each other’s company. At this stage of life, we are happy that we are healthy, happy, and active. We look forward to many more birthdays together.
But to celebrate Finnie’s birthday I went on a “secret” mission with Sue to locate the perfect Chinese poem books. Sue had given Finnie several poems to translate during this semester and he thoroughly enjoyed translating the Chinese characters to English and then understanding the poem’s meaning. Sue is a book lover and had already seen some books at Hai Yue that were not too difficult, but not too childish, that she thought Finnie would enjoy. Sue and I met at Hai Yue and shopped for the perfect books. Then we bought gift paper and bags, went back to our house and gave Finnie his presents. We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon together, ending our time together with a simple birthday dinner at our new-found neighborhood Chinese restaurant.
Figure 1: Finnie opening one of his birthday presents from Deb and Sue.
The poetry books are really nice collections of Tang Dynasty poems. Tang Dynasty poems are usually 4 lines of 5 or more characters, with every other line rhyming. These poems are loved by Chinese people and most people that we know are very familiar with many of the poems.
June 3: My class ended today, and this week was my final exam week and each group within each class section had been given an assignment of presenting information comparing some aspect of Asian culture with some aspect of Western culture – in English. As the semester progressed it was fun to watch the student’s improve their speaking abilities while speaking about new topics. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching this class! I am always impressed with the diligence, intelligence, and dedication that students at SDUW exhibit!
June 4: Bruce (Zhu Yutang) invited us for lunch. He took us to a great Korean restaurant near the Big Fish restaurant. We had barbequed eel, beef, and pork with lots of great vegetables. While we ate, we were able to catch up with Bruce’s life. He has just finished his thesis toward completing his M.A. degree. In fact, his thesis was chosen as one of a few to send to a national review board!
Figure 2: Bruce serving Korean salad
Figure 3: Korean barbeque grill in middle of table
After a rest we took the English conversation students to the nearby hot pot restaurant. As always it was delicious. The students really enjoyed ordering food items and trying to keep the price low for us! They did a great job — we had a wonderful meal featuring mild and spicy versions of the broth and individual choices of sauces and condiments for the cooked food — and the price was very low, so don’t worry, Xiaomin!
Figure 5: English Corner Students after a delicious hot pot dinner
Figure 6: After hot pot dinner with English Corner Students
After dinner everyone came back to our house and enjoyed dessert and Part I of “Wild China”. During the afternoon I had made two apple pies and a peanut pie. They were all good, but the peanut pie was surprisingly tasty. The recipe for the peanut pie called for corn syrup, but it is not something I can find in the grocery store here. So I made simple syrup using water, sugar and brown sugar, boiled to the soft ball stage – not only did that work, but it tasted great in the pie. In fact, eating the pie was like eating a PayDay candy bar! Even though we were out of cheddar cheese, which Finnie had introduced to the students as a tasty complement to apple pie, it did not take long before all three pies were consumed!
Figure 7: English Corner students enjoying dessert and each other’s company at our house after hot pot dinner
June 5: Today was the last English Conversation Corner for the semester. So, we took a few group pictures in Canteen 4, where we meet.
Figure 8: Last English Corner of Spring Semester
Everyone decided that we would celebrate and extend the session longer by visiting the Senior Art exhibit in the main lobby of the Marine Biology building. This is a group picture of all of us who visited the exhibit:
Figure 9: Walking over to Art exhibit after our last English Corner meeting
Figure 10: Group picture at the beginning of the tour of the Art Exhibit
The exhibit was a series of cubicles set up by each student to demonstrate their particular expertise. Exhibits ranged from graphic art to sculpture to modern art to traditional art. It was impressive! Here are some pictures of some of the exhibits:
Figure 11: One of the exhibits of the art exhibit – hand painted plates
Figure 12: One of the exhibits of the art exhibit – hand painted book covers and cards
Figure 13: One of the exhibits of the art exhibit – hand painted eggs depicted Chinese Opera masks
Dragon Boat Festival, June 6: Today was one of the three most important Chinese
holidays. This festival is called the Dragon Boat festival. Wikipedia explains the holiday as a festival which “occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar on which the Chinese calendar is based. This is the source of the alternative name of Double Fifth. … The focus of the celebration includes eating the rice dumpling zongzi, drinking realgar wine xionghuangjiu, and racing dragon boats.”
Zoe invited us to her house to enjoy another fantastic meal prepared by her husband and learn how to make zongzi’s. Zongzi’s are the traditional food of dragon boat festival and are made by filling a bamboo leaf cone with sticky rice soaked in soy sauce. “The shape of zongzi is a tetrahedral. Wrapping a zongzi neatly is a skill which is passed down through families, as are the recipes. Like tamale-making in Mexico and Pamonha-making in Brazil, making zongzi was a family event with everyone helping out (Wikipedia).” A section of date, or piece of meat, are added before closing the leaf envelop and tying it with string. The fist sized rice concoction is then cooked by boiling. They are tasty treats, and we thoroughly enjoyed them!
Zoe’s niece, MoMo (Sun MoYiNi), a university student in Yantai, was with us, too. She is often at Zoe’s for holidays because her home north of Dalian is too far away for a quick trip home. She had made “5 colored woven cords” for bracelets for our wrists. It is supposed to cause rain. It apparently did because we had rain that night!
And as always Liu is a fabulous cook! He had prepared fish, three kinds of dumplings, vegetables, and, of course, the zongzi’s. He gave us lots of dumplings and zongzis to take with us for our late supper with Kathy and Micheal later that evening.
Figure 14: Sun Mo YiNi, Zoe, Deb and Liu getting ready to dig into the Dragon Boat Festival dinner
Figure 15: Liu’s freshly made dumplings
Figure 16: Zoe’s freshly made zongzi’s
Kathy and Micheal’s Visit to China: Zoe had graciously offered to help in transportation when Kathy and Micheal arrived in Weihai. She and her cousin, Lin, coordinated the transportation to and from the airport and a fantastic tour of Weihai. Finnie and I are deeply thankful to Zoe and all of her extended family for everything they did to help us during last week.
June 6: So after we finished our dragon boat dinner with Zoe and Liu, Lin picked all of us up and we drove to the airport. We did not realize until Lin picked us up that she had arranged for extra transportation using a van to get everyone back to Weihai. Kathy and Micheal arrived at Weihai and we all got in the van and began chattering all the way back to our house.
Figure 17: Lin, Lin’s driver’s son, and Zoe waiting with us to greet Kathy and Micheal at the Weihai airport
Kathy and Micheal had just finished hiking around the rice paddies near Guilin and around Snow Jade mountain near Shanglila. Their stories were amazing and we enjoyed every one of them.
Following are a few of the hundreds of pictures that Kathy and Micheal took to record their 8 days of hiking adventures around Guilin in Guangxi Province and around Shangrila in Yunnan Province. We are including just a few pictures to illustrate the incredibly beautiful places they visited, but we will let them tell their own story of their adventures in the many places they visited. The last 6 days of their visit to China was with us in Weihai and Beijing and we are including a description of their visit with us.
Figure 18: Kathy and Micheal cruising on the Li River.
Figure 19: The Longji terrace, one of the Longsheng rice terraces near Guilin, China. Kathy and Micheal hiked through the rice terraces and spent the night on top of one of mountains.
Figure 20: Kathy and Micheal at the TeaHorse Guest House on the Leaping Tiger Gorge trail near Shangri-La, Yunnan Province, China. This is the eastern part of the Himalaya Mountains. That’s Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the background – it is 18,000 ft.
Figure 21: Kathy and Micheal hiking in a meadow around Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
Arriving home we had a light dinner – I had prepared Eight Treasure Congee and we ate the dumplings and zongzi’s that Liu and Zoe had given us.
June 7: The next day after washing clothes, eating a big western style breakfast, and more exchanging of stories and information, we went over to the International Education office and borrowed two bicycles, so that we all had transportation. We biked around the
campus and ended up at Canteen No 5 for Lanzhou noodles for lunch.
Figure 22: Enjoying Lanzhou noodles in Canteen No 5
After a rest at home we toured the beach area near the campus.
Figure 23: “Swimming” at the International Beach in Weihai. Brrrr- water was really cold!!!
And after another rest we met everyone from the International Education office at the
neighborhood Chinese restaurant for dinner. This was the first of several formal dinners that we enjoyed last week. Our International Education friends and Bin, Jenny, and TongTong, had a great time getting to know Micheal and Kathy. Here are some pictures from that dinner.
Figure 24: Dinner with our International Education friends
Figure 25: Dinner with our International Education friends – including TongTong!
June 8: We decided to go shopping at the small commodities market. Kathy and Micheal found a few things to buy for presents. We knew that we were going to go the Silk and Pearl market in Beijing and so Kathy and Micheal were trying to hold off on their buying spree. We took a taxi to a Shengui Pie shop near our house for lunch, then another taxi to our house to get ready for our afternoon tour of Weihai with Zoe and Lin.
The afternoon tour that Zoe and Lin had prepared was incredible! We were driven all around the Weihai peninsula viewing the calm ocean from the tall seaside cliffs.
Figure 26: Stop along the Weihai seacoast road
Figure 27: Lighthouse museum in the Weihai harbor park
We drove through town to the Harbor park and admired the many sculptures in the park.
Figure 28: Group picture at one of the famous sculptures in the Weihai harbor park. Left to Right: Lucy, Finnie, Zoe, Deb, Kathy, Micheal, Lin
We drove out of town to see the many wind turbines along the coast. Then we drove back through town to meet many more of our friends at the hot pot restaurant for dinner. This evening was so much fun! And it was enhanced when Mr. Zhang brought out some excellent BaiJiu (Chinese white wine, i.e., liquor)! Pretty soon, Mr. Zhang and Micheal were into drinking games – and everyone was having a fabulous time!
Figure 29: Hot Pot dinner with our English Department friends. Left to right: Lin’s driver, Lin, Zoe, Micheal, Bruce, Deb, Mr. Zhang (Lin’s husband), Liu, Lucy, Kathy, Ping
Figure 30: Micheal and Mr. Zhang enjoying a drinking game – with Bruce acting as translator!
June 9: We had been invited by Xu Xifeng to a lunch hosted by Vice President Han. We went to the Big Fish restaurant and enjoyed a great lunch with V.P. Han, Xu Xifeng, Huang, Zhou, Lulu, and Chuanbo. We felt very honored that the Vice President wanted to host a lunch to welcome Kathy and Micheal.
Figure 31: Vice President Han hosted a wonderful lunch at the Big Fish Restaurant. Left to right: Huang, Xu Xifeng, Kathy, Micheal, Zhou, Vice President Han, Lulu, Finnie, Deb, ChuanBo
After lunch Kathy and I went to Hai Yue and had a manicure while Finnie and Micheal hung out at home!
After a rest, we packed up our belongings and prepared to go to the airport to fly to Beijing for our 2 days there before Kathy and Micheal flew home. Zoe and Lin picked us up and we got to the airport in plenty of time to catch the plane to Beijing. Finally, arriving at our hotel, we collapsed for a good night’s sleep.
June 10: We decided to shop first and then go to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. We walked to the Silk and Pearl Market and within 2 hours had found everything that we all were looking for! It is a lot of fun going to the Market – bargaining is an art form and Kathy and Micheal did a great job getting good prices!
After a short rest – in hindsight, the rest time was not long enough – we started our tour of the Imperial City and Tiananmen Square. The Imperial Cityis huge and until one actually walks through it, one does not realize exactly how huge it is. This was the first time Finnie and I had seen the Imperial City after its refurbishing just before the Olympics, and it is stunning in every detail and huge scale.
Figure 32: Imperial City, Beijing, China. In front of the main meeting hall of the Palace.
Figure 33: This picture shows the exquisite detailed painting of the supporting arches and ceilings of the Imperial City. It is breathtaking!
Figure 34: At end of Imperial City tour – Family photo in front of the rock mountain in the Imperial City garden.
We hired a guide to take us through the Imperial City to explain the various buildings to us. Mary, our guide, was knowledgeable and we enjoyed her assistance in showing us a new courtyard we had not seen before (this one is occupied by the nephew of the last emperor, and he does calligraphy for sale to support the maintenance of the Imperial City) and especially in getting a taxi after our tour. Getting a taxi at the end of the tour proved
especially difficult, even for an experienced guide. The taxi driver drove us through Tiananmen Square, since we were all exhausted, so we could see its enormous scale, but not have to get out and walk around. Returning to our hotel, we collapsed for a couple of hours before going out for a Peking Duck dinner.
Figure 35: Preparing to eat Peking Duck.
Figure 36: A lesson in how to prepare Peking Duck rolls.
June 11: This morning we were picked up by a guide and driver to take us to the Great Wall at Mutianyu and the Ming tombs. Mutianyu is a location on the wall a little farther from the center of Beijing but not nearly as crowded as Badaling, where we have been several times. The location is gorgeous, but very steep. Cable cars take visitors up to one of the wall towers. Kathy and Micheal walked to another tower and sat and admired the
scenery. To be honest, they were exhausted and not wanting to hike anymore!
Figure 37: On top of the Great Wall at Mutianyu.
Figure 38: The enormity of the Great Wall is mind-stretching! To imagine the thousands of people who gave their lives while building this wall in this very steep terrain is overwhelming!
Figure 39: Kathy and Micheal enjoying the view from one of the look out towers along the Great Wall.
Figure 40: Happy Kathy on the Great Wall at Mutianyu
We enjoyed a great Chinese lunch and then visited the Ming Tombs in the afternoon.
Figure 41: Entering the Ming Tombs Park
Figure 42: Overlooking the Golden Mountain at the entrance to the tomb of the 13th Ming Emperor.
Driving back to the hotel, we stopped by the 2008 Beijing Olympic Village and viewed the water cube and bird’s nest.
Figure 43: The iconic structures of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games – the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube
Finally arriving back at the hotel, we rested before a late pizza supper at Pizza Hut and then loaded bags into a taxi and went to the airport so Kathy and Micheal could catch their flight home. Finnie and I went back to the hotel to sleep. We had originally planned to tour the National Museum, but it was closed to visitors due to a Film Festival. In addition, I had failed to reserve the room for an extra night and so we were fortunate enough to change our plane tickets back to Weihai for Sunday instead of Monday. It is a good thing that this occurred since we were both completely worn out. Micheal and Kathy and their luggage arrived home safely and on time Sunday afternoon.
We are so glad that Kathy and Micheal were able to travel to China to let us share our lives with them! It means so much to Finnie and me that they made time available to come visit this incredible country! As time moves on, we look forward to the conversations together of reflection and analysis of all our experiences.