Archives For Customs

All across China each day there are an untold number of morning markets in each small neighborhood.  The vendors come into a common area, set up their booths, and sell their goods.  These markets give people an opportunity to get fresh vegetables, fruit, and meat each day.  The people are quite friendly, and you never know what you might see.

My words could never do justice to the morning markets, so I decided to show you a video of one.  Enjoy the experience, and welcome to China!

First Donation Trip

August 6, 2015 — Leave a comment

While I was teaching at a university in China, I saw needs the students had that were not met. Global Partners in Life (GPiL) wants to help the youth of China with their educational, humanitarian, and medical needs. So, that is what we attempted to address with our first visit to China making donations. Also, the university had treated me wonderfully, so I wanted to try to honor them with some contributions.

If you read my first book, Lessons From China, you will remember reading about the classrooms, dorms, and cafeterias not being heated. One classroom I had faced north, and I could see the breeze moving the curtains around the window. Within this classroom, I not only saw my breath in the cold, but I also saw my student’s hands turning red, purple, and blue from the cold. So, GPiL donated 2,000 gloves to the university for students that needed them. The gloves are in the big boxes below.

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Also, GPiL donated English/Chinese dictionaries for students that couldn’t afford one. We got a few of the dictionaries out of the cases for some photographs.

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The designated area for the English Corner, where people met to practice English, on campus was very near the campus infirmary, and the leader of the infirmary was a very nice lady that spoke English. When she had an opportunity, she would visit the English Corner, so I got to know her. During this trip, GPiL donated some medical supplies, which she had indicated she could use. The director of the infirmary is the lady in this photo. Her husband is standing to my left. He was a vice president of the university, and my boss’ boss. My boss is the man on the far left in this photo below; you will hear more about him later. By the way, the vice president pictured below soon became the president of the university, so I was happy for him!

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The university invited some of the freshmen that would receive the dictionaries to this ceremony. I am not sure if they received the gloves, and I hope they didn’t need any of the medical supplies GPiL provided for their campus! The students looked way too young to be in college to me, but they were, so maybe I am just getting older! They are pictured below, so let me know if they look too young to be in college to you!

To Be Continued…….

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Downtown Shanghai

August 4, 2015 — 1 Comment

From what I am told, this is downtown Shanghai. I was recently at a friend’s office. This was the view from his office. Actually, he had a small balcony we could go out on for some fresh air and better pictures.

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Here is the view in another direction. I think we were about 16 floors high while taking these pictures.

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You may have noticed in the lower section of the first picture there was a large church. I don’t know the name of the church, but I will share with you another picture of it. As you can tell, it was quite a large church! I must add that it was a beautiful building and wonderfully maintained. This is probably the largest church I have seen in China.

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It was enjoyable visiting the downtown area of Shanghai. I don’t think I had spent much time there during my other trips; it was much better having a local showing us around. We even had pizza delivered, so that made it even more enjoyable!

Ok, so there I was… walking in a parking lot in an upscale area of a very large city in northern China, when I saw something that literally made me stop and take a picture. This particular day it was probably about 82 degrees, so to most foreigners, this photo would instantly make you ask some questions, like: why is the glass building there? It wasn’t raining, so the guard wasn’t getting out of the rain. This glass chamber does have a lock on it, so it is designated for only certain people. Also, with the glass walls, the guard inside does have a great view of the area he is protecting.

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So, here is what you may not have figured out, even though I gave you a good hint. With this city being in northern China, it gets very–let me correct myself–extremely cold in the winter. About 2 years ago, I was in this city with a very good friend who lives near Buffalo, NY. It was the middle of December. Many times during this trip I mentioned how cold it was, only to have my friend tell me that it really wasn’t cold. Well, to a bald guy from the south, it was cold! One night, we were standing outside the train station at 11:30 PM waiting for a taxi. It was so cold that I had to keep blinking my eyes because the moisture in my eyes was freezing. Once again, I said it was cold, and finally, my friend agreed with me. I couldn’t wait to get on the internet and check out the temperature, since my friend finally agreed that it was cold. My research showed that it was 18 below zero F, so yes it was very cold!

Now you understand why this guard shed exists! I can only imagine how appreciative the guards are for this shelter in the winter!

Art is Everywhere!

July 14, 2015 — Leave a comment

It is always so impressive to me how easy it is to find art in China. Even the simplest of items can be turned into something beautiful. Recently I was in China and found this item. I am not sure if this would be considered a fruit or a gourd, regardless, it was carved into a small work of art!

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It has been my experience that China is full of people possessing a green thumb! My wife’s favorite flower is the tulip, so when I saw this arrangement in an airport shop, I had to take a picture. I like the container also!

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Another use of flowers is with outside beautification of many different things, including the sidewalk! Store fronts are another location to commonly find lovely flowers.

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The final picture I have for you is of a koi pond. For this particular koi pond, even the way they fill the pond or provide oxygenated water for the fish is decorative.

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A couple of times I have seen where the water doesn’t come straight out of one of the heads that are being use to shoot water into the pool of water, so that is funny to see, because it looks like the heads are having a water gun fight.

Remember to keep your eyes open when traveling in China…….you never know what you might see next!

 

On the campus of the Shanghai Jiaotong University is a library to honor a scholar named Tsung-Dao Lee. Actually, he was much more than a scholar, as you will see. He left China and enrolled at the University of Chicago. In 1950 he received his PhD at 24 years of age. When he was 30 years old, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. At that time, he was the youngest person to receive a Nobel Prize! Later, he became a professor at Columbia University.

The library is a new building and not all of it is open to the public. One of the really interesting aspects of the library is the way chosen to show the impact Dr. Tsung-Dao Lee had on so many people. When his wife died, he started a scholarship to honor her, and he assisted many people in China and help some come to America to study. The second picture below demonstrates some of the correspondences he had between America and China.

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Below, you will find the entrance to the library. The photographs going up the stairs were very interesting as well. Also, I am including a picture of the professor from a display at the university. Truly, he is an accomplished student and professor of Physics!

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Last week, I was in China and I had the honor of celebrating the Dragon Riverboat Festival with some very good Chinese friends. The festival is called “Duan Wu Jie” in Chinese; it is held to celebrate a poet and patriot, Qu Yuan.

Admittedly, I don’t know enough about Chinese history to teach it, but I do know that, from what I have heard, Qu Yuan would have to be one of the most respected people in Chinese history. Here is his story (…and I must thank the University of Missouri for some of this information):

Qu Yuan was a famous Chinese poet who lived 2300 years ago in State of Chu during the Warring States Period. Qu Yuan was a versatile government official at that time. He was highly esteemed for his wise counsel among the common people.

The King did not like Qu Yuan’s straightforwardness and some jealous officials said bad words behind his back. Sentenced for slander, Qu Yuan was exiled by the King. After his banishment to the remote countryside, Qu Yuan helplessly watched the gradual downfall of Chu and grieved that he could no longer serve his people. Out of despair, Qu Yuan plunged himself into the Miluo River. In order to keep his body safe in the water, many people threw Zongzi into the river to prevent the fish from eating his body.

Nowadays, Zongzi has become a symbol for Chinese people to express their homage to Qu Yuan’s spirits, such as his patriotism and selflessness. The ritual of eating Zongzi and racing dragon boats helps pass on this tradition.

To articulate his grand love of his motherland, Qu Yuan began to compose beautiful patriotic poems that are now held as masterpieces. He swore to live together or die with his beloved country… and he fulfilled that promise when the fall of the capital burst his last hope.

So, you must be asking yourself, what is Zongzi? Well, that is the sticky rice that is cooked in bamboo leaves and shaped in a triangle. A word of warning to you, if you are not skilled with chopsticks, I promise you your hands, face, and probably clothes will become sticky while eating Zongzi!

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Delicious Ham!

June 25, 2015 — Leave a comment

During a recent trip to Shanghai, I encountered something interesting at a restaurant. I was told that this restaurant was famous for having delicious ham, but we couldn’t have any, because we didn’t order any in advance. When we entered the restaurant, there at the entrance was a ham!

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As you can see, the ham was hanging in the open air. I don’t know if that was to advertise their famous ham or if that was part of the curing process. I have seen rabbits displayed at the entrance to restaurants in China before, but not whole hams like this.

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The front doors for this restaurant were open, so customers and flies could easily come in and see the hams. I do like ham. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to enjoy any of this famous ham, but the rest of the food was pretty good at this restaurant.

If it is your first time to travel in China, you may want to go to your first Chinese restaurant with a local or someone that can order for you. It has been my experience that the food in China is excellent, but having someone help you order may help you to enjoy the food even more!

Cars!

June 23, 2015 — Leave a comment

With China’s recent improvements in their economic standing, people now have more discretionary funds for nice things… like cars. This has brought about some interesting challenges for China. Many of the cities were not designed to handle this increase in the volume of cars. So, some people decide it is OK to park on the sidewalk, which is understandable because there aren’t enough parking spaces. When this becomes even more interesting is when people decide to drive on the sidewalks — no, I am not kidding. Some of the drivers are first generation drivers, so other than riding in a taxi or bus, they haven’t been exposed to a lot of driving.

The new buildings are being designed by wise engineers, so they are addressing the parking problem by digging huge holes underneath the buildings for underground parking decks. This is a great idea, so I tip my hat to those who planned the new buildings with this design.

With the new discretionary funds some in China have, many have turned to luxury cars, and some to sports cars. You can see a wide variety of cars on the streets in China!

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Yes, you can even find a custom exterior on a car to help the owner express themselves. I have even seen a small black car with a Batman logo on the hood!

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What car-crazy nation would be complete without a set of fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror?!

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Kite flying is so popular in China that the city of Wei Fang has been designated as the kite flying capital. I have actually been in the airport there; they have some huge kites on display in the lobby and waiting areas. The kites come in many shapes and colors too. My personal favorites are the large ones shaped like a bird of prey.

Recently I was walking near a park in China and many people were out enjoying the morning sun. Some people were flying kites and, as you can guess, some people were selling kites. China is full of entrepreneurs and many work very hard to be successful.

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As you can see in the pictures above, the kites can come in some very unique shapes. Honestly, I am not sure how some of them fly, but they do. I do love all of the bright colors and various designs of the kites in China. I have even seen some flying at night with luminaries attached to the tails of the kites. They were amazing to see! I have also seen some people flying kites using a large reel of kite flying twine. Their kites look like they may be three hundred feet or more in the air. With a kite flying that high and catching all of the breezes, I hope their line is very strong!