A Travellerspoint blog

September 2008

Barbara's Farewell

overcast 6 °C

Barbara's contracted ended on the 26/09/08. She has been here 12 months!

Andrew had been trying to get Barbara to commit to date so he could organize a farewell for her. Barbara set the date as her last day of her contract and gave Andrew a list of people to invite. She invited some teachers from the school and some other foreigners who she has met during her 12 months in Tai'an. Of the 8 invited 6 attended.

We enjoyed dinner at the Potato Restaurant - that's English for 'dong bei fan dian'. We ordered 5 dishes; fried potatoes, onions and peanuts (Specialty of the house), mutton, green beans and the BBQ duck. The food as per normal was sensational. The company provided an enjoyable dinner.

At 8.45pm I went to pay the bill as Andrew was keen for the second phase - bowling. Unfortunately Laura could not join us as she had lesson plans to prepare for her weekend classes.

We left the restaurant and jumped into 2 taxis. Neither taxi driver knew where the hotel was. Barbara was able to direct the taxi driver as she had been there on 2 other occasions. Andrew and Blair's taxi was lost. They contacted Barbara on her mobile and we had the bell boy from the hotel speak to the taxi driver for directions.

Whilst waiting for the second taxi to arrive a young Chinese lady (Maggie) approached me to ask if she could help. I explained to her what was happening. I discovered through our conversation that she was an English teacher in Qingdao and was in Tai'an for an English competition. She has invited me to come to Qingdao. That could be a problem. I won't want to leave Qingdao. Anyway we exchanged contact details and if I have some time I will take her up on it. Although this next week will be my last week of holidays before I come home.

The second taxi had arrived so we went to the third level of the hotel to the bowling alley. We had heaps of fun and heaps of laughs. Polly tells us she has never bowled before. Well she did good. She got a strike and a spare. Not bad for a first timer. On the first game up until the seventh bowl she was coming second. I pulled out my best with a strike and went on to win the first round. Pure fluke!

Polly didn't play the second round. I became the 'ten pin bowling queen'. I have never been any good at ten pin bowling but I pulled out 3 strikes in my second game of which 2 were consecutive. I went on to win the second game as well. This must go down in history because I don't think it will ever be repeated!

So after dinner and our 2 games of bowls we jumped into taxis and made our way home. It was a good night with lots of laughter.

Thanks Andrew for arranging Barbara's farewell.

For me, this is the first of many farewells for Barbara this week. She is here until the 05 October when she will leave to go to Beijing to catch up with her sister and brother in law and do a 2 week tour of China.

Posted by Bettinamc 02:24 Archived in China Comments (0)

Mail delivery

sunny 27 °C

When I got back from Jinan today there were 2 little parcels.

The first one was from my Mum. I have another supply of licorice. YIPPEE!!! This supply has Darrell Lea licorice. Very special! Although one of the packs is black currant licorice. This may slow me down. Can't say it is as special to me as good old fashioned plain licorice. I'm not complaining my Nana sent them. But Mum if there are to be any more deliveries let Nan know (tactfully, of course) that plain is good, just like she likes hard centres.

My second package was a little thank you card from Denzel Ross welcoming him into the world. He is gorgeous.

I love getting any mail. It's always a surprise.

Posted by Bettinamc 06:38 Archived in China Comments (0)

Jinan visit no 3??

sunny 24 °C

Barbara is soon to depart Tai'an and return to America. She had a couple of things that she wanted to do before she left. One of those little adventures was to go back to Jinan to see a football match.

Shandong were playing Beijing on 20/09/08. We ventured to Jinan. We had planned to leave at 10 am. Barbara was ready early so we left early. We caught the 10 am bus from Tai'an. Amazingly the bus journey was peaceful.

We arrived in Jinan and went to catch a taxi to our hotel - Jinan Nanjiao Hotel. A taxi stopped inside the bus terminal and I told him were we wanted to go. The taxi agreed to take us to our hotel and he already had a passenger in the car. We put our luggage in the boot and jumped in the back seat.

The taxi driver dropped the first passenger at his hotel. He then turned and told us that it would be Y50 to our hotel. I said, "No. It is Y15." The taxi driver then responded with an offer of Y20. I said, "No, Y15!" Eventually we got out of the cab.

I was laughing because there is never a trip without an incident! We had no idea were we where. We eventually hailed another taxi and got to our hotel for Y13! Even at Y15 he was still making a small profit.

We go to check in and I tell them that I have a reservation and hand over the details. Barbara looks at me and says, "Did you book me a room?" This was normal practice as I look after hotel reservations, however, in this instance I had asked Barbara to do her own booking via Hostel world. Oops Barbara had no booking.

I attempted to ask the reservations clerk for another room but was unsuccessful. After I had booked in we went to the business centre to use the internet. There were no rooms available on the internet. I then had a look at my Mandarin Phrase Book and found the statement for a reservation.

We went back to the check in counter and used this. Ah huh they now understood. Our next drama, or so we thought, would be that Barbara didn't have her passport as it was with the Public Security Bureau (PSB) renewing her visa. I then found in my phrase book the appropriate phrase. The reservations clerk requested Barbara's passport and she handed over her Foreign Expert Certificate (FEC). We were expecting to have a battle and we were shocked that she just accepted the FEC.

I think this was the last of our incidents for the weekend.

Of course, after we checked in it was straight to Jenny's cafe for a western fix! We both had hamburgers - Barbara had a diet coke, I had a latte.

Next we were off to see the 5 Dragon Pool. It was very pleasant. It cost Y5 to get in. It was a wedding photo haven! Whilst there we met two young Chinese girls. There was of course the customary photos with the foreigners! The springs were quite amazing. They went forever. The people who lived on the other side of the springs in my opinion had the best real estate.

There was a man who was swimming in the water. He was gorgeous! He would have been mid 70's. He would climb up on a fence and dive into the water. He would get out and do some sort of Karate Kid exercise only to dive back in again. He knew we were watching and he was putting on a show. He said that I could take pictures! I really wanted photos of all the people washing their clothes in the springs but they said, "no!'

Next we went to Guandi temple. Free to get in. You get to see the God of war. He is the Buddha who has the red face. Not too much to see here. But hey it is free.

We then went to Walmart to have a look around. It was OK. Around Walmart is some shopping. In the middle of this was an amazing part of the old town that we had never come across. We arrived on dusk. I hope my photos do it justice. It was just like eat street. There are narrow lanes full of eating options. I loved it.

We had to jump in a cab to get back to the hotel to get changed and on to the football - the whole purpose of the trip.

We arrived at the football with next to no time to spare. We didn't even have tickets. He headed to the ticket counter. The scalpers didn't have any 2 tickets together. 2 young Chinese girls came to ask if they could help us. Of course we agreed. They asked if we would like to sit with them. They had what they called common tickets. Didn't worry us.

We got inside the stadium and we had missed the first 1.20 minutes. Quickly we took our seats with our new friends. After 3 minutes of sitting Shandong scored. The crowd roared. Just before half time Shandong put another in the back of the net. It was 2 Nil at the break.

The atmosphere was great. We were getting sore legs from doing the Mexican Wave. The game finished at 2 nil. It could have easily been 6 - 1. At one point of the game the GK kicked the ball to the ring winger and with a magical first touch he hit the cross bar. If it went in I think it would be the best goal I had ever seen.

The second goal was also a work of art. Shandong had a free kick about two foot in from the right side line near the 18 yard box. The player crossed the ball to the left winger who volleyed it in to the top right corner of the net. It was a magical display of football.

Leaving the stadium I felt like a movie star! I had people asking for photos from every direction. I have no idea how many photos I had taken of me last night with Chinese people. I had people asking for a signature or to write them something. It was surely weird.

Anyway my new Chinese friends are English Majors at the Shandong Economic University in Jinan. Their English names are Beth, Felicia, Lena and Leon. We have exchanged email addresses.

After the football Barbara and I went to the Bandjo Music Bar. The worst rendition of Hotel California was again played. Barbara thinks that when she goes back to America she will contact the Eagles and request they sue for destroying the song.

The Chinese people can't really drink. I don't know the exact or scientific reason but I believe it has something to do with metabolism. Anyway, they always give it a good push. When we go out we buy one drink at a time. The Chinese buy a bottle and some mixers. They sit around playing games of all descriptions. The loser must 'bottoms up.'

Last night I was watching this man and woman. She was becoming more and more drunk by the second. In the end she threw up all over herself, her hand bag and the sofa she was sitting on. He dragged her to the other sofa that he was sitting on and then continued drinking. I was astonished!

We left shortly after this. It was just after midnight.

Today, we had a lazy morning and checked out at 11 am. We left our luggage at the hotel and went to Jenny's Cafe, of course. I had Rigatoni. It was pretty good. We then went shopping. We both bought tops. Then back to the hotel to get our luggage and off to the bus station to catch the bus back to Tai'an.

Unfortunately this will be my last little adventure with Barbara. I will miss her in many ways especially as my travel buddy. She has made my experience and adventures in China all the more special.

I will miss you Barbara. Enjoy the rest of your journey.

Posted by Bettinamc 05:43 Archived in China Comments (0)

Being sick in a foreign country

sunny 31 °C

This week I have had the worst cold since I have been here. Conscious that some drugs I can't take it's important that I read the ingredients of medication. Here you can buy prescription drugs over the counter.

Having tried the natural remedies I decided I needed to visit the pharmacy. At the pharmacy they spoke no English. They kept giving me different medications but I couldn't read it and they couldn't tell me how to administer. Eventually they gave me a box of Amoxicillin. I knew these and knew that's what I would get on prescription at home. So I purchased them.

The next day I ran into the school administrator who took me straight to the Traditional Chinese Dr. I now had Chinese medicine to go with my western medicine. All medication has been taken but I still haven't got rid of this damn cold.

Being in a foreign country with a different language and being sick is not the ideal situation. At my worst I just wanted to go home. I wanted my bed and my things. 'Where's my Mum.'

Now that I'm on the other side of it. I'm cool. I'll continue to sleep on the rock hard bed and not have any of my creature comforts.

Posted by Bettinamc 21:26 Archived in China Comments (0)

Dai Temple

sunny 22 °C

Dai Temple is located in Tai'an City. It is the place where the ancient emperors came to worship and pay homage to the god of Taishan. The construction of the temple began during the Qin and Han Dynasties.

As a palace like architecture the temple is grand. There are 8 gates, corner towers and numerous halls.

The main hall is the Hall of Heavenly Blessing which dates back to 1009 AD. The internal walls are decorated with a mural from the Song Dynasty depicting Emperor Zhensong as the god of Taishan. The mural is flaking which makes it hard to discern much. Funnily you need to buy plastic booties to wear over your shoes to enter the hall. The cost of the booties is Y1.

There are several stelaes supported on the back of tortoise like dragons.

In the courtyards there are cypresses supposedly planted by the Han emperor Wudi.

The Yaocan Pavilion contains a hall dedicated to effigies of the Old Mother of Taishan, Bixia and a deity entreated by women who want children.

You could easily spend a day in here exploring all the different corners. You can take the steps to the top of the wall. Something I will do next time.

Posted by Bettinamc 21:12 Archived in China Comments (0)

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