Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shopping in Jinan

From Dad:  Here are the photos from our shopping guided tour by one of the staff.  We had dinner a Chinese restaurant with real Chinese fish.  The egg-drop soup was to die for.  The fish was whole and very tasty.  The other dishes I can't describe well except we ate them all with chopsticks except for the soup.  The toilet is      indeed a toilet.  People were flying Chinese kites from the downtown area.  Amazing to do it when right next to tall buildings and modest wind.  At night the sidewalks turn into outdoor flea markets with more goodies than you can ever imagine.  The food market is extraordinary, three levels of Costco and Walmart into one store with more items than you can imagine.  Live fish that you hand pick plus just about anything and everything you could imagine in fish including octopus and squid.  Meats like a whole rabbit and chickens with the heads still on them.  And crowded on a Wednesday evening like it was Saturday or a Fourth of July celebration.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Apartment living in Jinan

Here are some pictures of the apartment in Jinan!

The view from the bedroom window:

The view of the apartment from the bedroom:

The view of apartment from kitchen:

The office/study:

The washroom:
From the bedroom looking into bathroom and into the living room:
 The main floor bathroom:
The building superintendent (very helpful and fast):
The kitchen:

The bedroom:
The entry to the apartment:

The outside entrance:

And some thoughts from Mom:

Kind of scary here not knowing what to eat or how to communicate. A lot like camping in a strange place...full of unknowns.  Up side...we'll probably lose weight.   There's a LOT of people here. It's a good thing most still ride bikes & mopeds or this place would be nothing but gridlock on the roads.

We opened a savings account at the Bank of China (you'd athought we were asking 'em to deliver a baby right then 'n there.)  Also got a membership card at hopes of eventually being able to understand labels better.
Folk here really like KFC but it's nothing like what you know in the states. Very crispy chicken burgers with hot, spicy Chinese chili sauce. Apparently they're not so much into McDonalds but there seemed to be plenty of business taking place what with millions of people to serve.  These good people can't seem to buy enough stuff. A nation of shopaholics.  Glad to see their itch getting scratched.
Jinan is a huge city and there is much to explore. I hope to find a helpful student to help us explore some time in the future.  Seems this is the cradle of Confucianism. 

In search of nourishment

This morning I was able to Skype with Mom briefly and I learned these interesting tidbits:

  • Asking for a bank account was apparently akin to requesting open heart surgery.
  • Dad was very busy solving problems the first day and jet lag pounded him the second.
  • The tap water is undrinkable, so they experimented with a bleach/water mix to wash their produce.  Mom says no lettuce,  it's too dangerous.
  • There is a good chance they'll starve because they don't recognize any of the food!  They managed a dinner of yams, rice and watermelon, and are at least excited about the weight they'll lose!  The watermelon was listed as 1 yuan a pound (or some other measurement) and ended up being 19 yuan.  It was still just about 3 dollars, but it was a surprise!  
  • Shopping at Tesco is a plus because the store is laid out in pretty recognizable sections.  And if you look REAAALLLLLYY close, some of the packages have English writing on them.

I'll just interject here that I remember the feeling of not recognizing any of the food - when I moved to Brasil, Jared took me to a huge food court for lunch, and even though I was starving (I was 7 months pregnant) I couldn't recognize a single edible thing and sat there and cried.  It was a scary feeling!   I love Brasilian cooking, but it was a definite learning curve.  We'll see how their food adventure develops!

Monday, August 27, 2012


View Larger Map

They arrived!  We just got e.mail confirmation AND I Skyped with Mom briefly on my phone while I was at the park!  It was 1am and they looked fresh as daisies, so we'll see how well they adjust to the time change! Here are the first e.mail observations from Dad:

Hi all,

Believe it or not, Roslyn and I survived a 15 1/2 hour flight from Los Angeles to Guangzhou and then a 2 1/2 flight to Jinan.  Guangzhou's airport is a modem and a huge airport much like the Frankfurt, Germany airport.  The Jinan airport is likewise very nice.  Had an interesting breakfast on both flights.  The first one was some kind of porridge that was very tasty with onions and spices and easy to eat made of rice.  The second one was noodles and chicken, more Vietnamese style than definitely not bland.  Roslyn's noodles were more like Thai food with a definite seasoning that Roslyn quickly swapped breakfast entrees with me.  And I gladly ate it.  She had a rice milk which to me was more like soy milk with a breakfast cereal wheat puff taste.  It appears that Chinese food is not boring or tasteless at all.  So wishes us luck in branching out to new foods as we eat out.
Our apartment and neighborhood and the availability of food markets, shopping, etc. seems to be like Eastern Europe circa 2001.  We have air conditioning only in our bedroom.   Internet connectivity is OK especially with the upload speed being over 1 Mega bite per second as is the download speed.   

Did you know that Jinan is larger than every USA city except New York and Los Angeles? 
Classes start September 3rd and will soon learn what classes each of us will be teaching.  So much of this week in China will be focused mostly on our class preparations and just surviving the transition to China.  We do have recommendations for local restaurants in the area and places to shop, including Tesco.   The food selections are very interesting.  We could have purchased a whole rabbit tonight.  We saw some funky fruits and vegetables.   Finding an ATM machine that takes my American Express Prepaid card will be my next priority so I can reduce ATM and currency conversion fees.  And we will mainly walk or taking the bus. Roslyn is partial to taxis. 
We will be taking photos of our apartment with living room,, bedroom, study for two workstations, wash machine and a nice bathroom.  Next need to view the nearby neighborhood and hopefully our classrooms in the next few days.  So they will be posted for your viewing pleasure. 
Roslyn and I slept most of the 14 1/2 hour plane ride so we are well rested for having flown all night.  Our clocks between USA and China are as follows right not.  They don't appear to have daylight times so when our standard times go into effect, we should be one-hour closer to each other?  Denver 8:10 p.m. Sunday evening = China:  10:10 a.m. next day, Monday morning. To best compare times between Jinan and your locality go to (my favorite thus far):  In their search box, type in Jinan, China and you now have four cities visually displayed in a rather visual no-nonsense format. 
Weather in Guangzhou airport was 82 degrees Fahrenheit at 5:45 a.m. so summer will be here for awhile. But in Jinan at 10:30 a.m., it is a slightly humid 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Our apartment is on the first floor which will make it easier not having to climb stairs with food and computer equipment.  W have 20 minute walk to our classrooms.   
Naturally, Roslyn and I are anxious to learn how challenging it will be to adapt to the learning and teaching accommodations before us.  The sight-seeing will be great.  We will be riding camels and see the Terracota Warriors in Western China in October.  Hopefully, Beijing with the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China over Thanksgiving vacation.  Then hopefully in January, we may be able to join Saroj in Delphi to see the Taj Malhal and Mt. Everest in Nepal with him being our tour guide.  And attend the Hong Kong China Teachers conference at the end of January for the three days then another tour to see the Guilin part of China.    
Tomorrow, we will start taking some photos.  Old downtown Jinan rocked on Monday evening with musicians everywhere what with tons of shoppers and promenaders and people practicing ballroom dancing in the park and much more. 
Till next time, 

    Sunday, August 26, 2012

    Loose Ends and Fancy Driving

    Mom and Dad flew out of LAX Saturday night, but there was one more loose end to take care of - and miracle of miracles, they did! Mom was the Visiting Teacher of a lady at church who passed a few months ago, and has been very busy as the executor of her will.. By the way, she recommends never allowing someone to make you the executor of a will :) Mom's sister Sanny was on the phone with mom and recorded this account of how things went down:

    Here’s the lineup of Miracles. If any single one of these steps is missed, then this task could not have worked in the limited time there was to get it done. 
    Before leaving the lawyer’s office for the last time, Roslyn gave him John’s,Liz’s and her own email addresses.  Since she would layover for 2 ½ days in LA, she could be reached there via John or Liz’s email. 
    Thursday, Aug 23, 2012 John and Roslyn leave Denver for Los Angeles 
    Friday, Aug 24, 2012 6pm dinner & conversation with Fred, Joan, Roslyn&John, Rand, Rhys&Liz, Ryan&Maureen&Connor
    Saturday, Aug 25, 2012 – Departure Day. Scheduled take off 11:40pm 
    At 7pm, Roslyn &John arrive at LAX, Bradley Terminal, where there is a massive amount of 1st Class customers. Coach has 3 times more and Roslyn makes observation: “hum, they (1st class) must know something we don’t”  (I agree with her) 

    By 8:30pm, the bags have been checked TSA and they arrived at their gate. John plugged in his computer a ways down the terminal next to an outlet to save his battery for the 14 and a half hour flight. 

    At 9:38pm Roslyn goes to give something to John, and he says, “You have an email from the Marge’s lawyer with all the bonds you need to sign.”“How many is it?” “33 pages.”“WHAT!? ….Well, it’ll have to wait til China because I can’t do it here….wait, I don’t even know if I have 33 pages to print on over there…..” There is much thought and anxiety over what to do now.Sanny and Roslyn have been on the phone this whole time. Sanny is listening to all this, whereupon she now says to Roslyn –“YOU CAN DO THIS!! and here’s how.  Get on the phone to Rhys. He lives only 15 or 20 minutes away. They print out those bonds ASAP, Rhys brings them to you at the airport, you take just your boarding pass and your ID to get thru TSA faster on the way back in. Hurry SIS. It’s 9:42! You board at 10:40! You got time! CALL RHYS! GOOOO SIS GOOOO!!!“Really? You think I can pull this off?”“YESSS!!!! MAKE THE CALL AND GOOO!!!”“OK, if you say I so. Bye.”and that’s all I knew until I heard back from her at 10:42 
    Roslyn made the call. Liz printed. Rhys drove and brought 2 Blue Pens with him. Roslyn ran out the terminal and met Rhys at Virgin Atlantic He picked her up.  
    Lots of police on duty so he couldn’t stop. But he couldn’t drive around the LAX horseshoe either. There wasn’t time. So Rhys drove very slowly, watching for any approaching police, while Roslyn signed 200 bonds in triplicate.  He got to the end of the Bradley terminal and stopped. Roslyn keeping signing. Rhys went to the trunk and arranged then rearranged and basically looked like he was dealing with luggage and otherwise stalling for his mother to have time to finish. 
    She finished!! 
    I’m sure there was much thanks and gratitude, but there wasn’t time. She had to get back to the gate.  While exiting the security area, Roslyn briefly told a guard that she had to go out to sign some legal documents but then needed to get back through security to catch her flight to China. But she wouldn’t have time to go through that whole line again. Guard said, “I’ll help you through the 1st Class line. quickly.  No problem.” 
    Sure enough, upon her return, the guard escorted her to the 1st class line of 15 passengers.  
    Time: 10:35pm.  She ran to her gate. I told her to slow down because they load 1st class and it’s huge. She got to the gate at 10:42pm.  And loading began.
    When she got to her seat in the plane and J had put his computer under the seat in front of him, she observed the environs and said to me, “How does a sardine move once it’s in a can?” 
    yup…that’s why 1st class was sold out.

    China bound!