Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter at Shandong University

Roslyn and I had a great time today, Easter Sunday. We attended Church at the Hanlin Hotel with our regular "twig" members and enjoyed and pot luck Easter dinner together with them. Then we headed over to Central Campus and spent Easter afternoon with other foreign teachers and many African students who attend Shandong University from all over the continent of Africa. 

We met some new foreign teachers from Australia who married Chinese citizens and now live and work in Jinan. It is surprising how many people from different cultures live and work together here in China; especially within the Shandong University campus system.

You can see a video of their singing if you scroll down a few slides.

The Chinese have a love affair with rocks. The scraggily or multi-faceted the better. I think it might stem from the beauty of their written language both in its appearance and the depth of implication.
It is very common to have huge rock formation "sculptures" placed in parks, street corners, highway intersections, courtyards and business entrances. The 'rock garden' in the Forbidden City in Beijing is a moonscape of rocks on steroids. They love rocks/

Speaking of 'steroids' ... vases like this one often stand in places of honor in buildings and palaces.
I had John stand next to it to give you a sense of its enormity. It's a stunning piece of workmanship.

I can only imagine the size of the kiln this was fired in.

Here is a video of the Easter potluck feast entertainment featuring the African students who attend Shandong University singing Easter hymns. There is a strong Christian presence in Jinan, albeit small in numbers; maybe several hundred thousand...
in a city of six million.

Around the corner from our apartment building and on the way to school is a hotel with a sideway "parking lot." This gentleman is the watchman for the sidewalk parking space making sure its few spaces are available only for hotel/restaurant guests. The cars we see here are high end sedans.
The friendship we have struck up with this fellow consists of a smile, a wave and "Ni hao."
His special, smiling face is such a warm greeting each day as we walk to school. He was on duty this Easter Sunday so we had to capture his smile for you.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Another Chinese TV Commercial Performance

Believe it or not, I just finished my second TV commercial ad that can be viewed at    I played, "Stefano John," an Italian CEO for the George Amandi watch company, a Rolex-type category of expensive jewelry-watches.   It was a "live" performance in which I was scripted to give a 55% discount  and later a 1,000 Yuan discount to all viewers for that night only.  I even added an English-Italian accent to make it sound more authentic.  You be judge if I succeeded?

In any event, you'll have a few good laughs. This involved more dialogue lines than the first one at in which I played a Russian doctor.  What made this performance so awkward was that there was no interpreter for me, only for the audience.  Every question came to me in Chinese while my English was immediately translated into Chinese by an interpreter standing next to me.  But the difficulty was that I had to follow the their Chinese script in a blind-fold manner because their Chinese was incredibly fast and furious.  I didn't have a second to think because I never knew when the machine-gun Chinese chatter would ever-end.  We had no dress rehearsal.  It was "live" and lively.  
But that's not all.  My translator got a call as we  were driving back to my apartment telling me that my performance was fantastic. They liked my performance so much that they want me to do more of them periodically all over China for other local TV stations!  I don't think so. I do not have the time to travel and teach five days a week plus prepare lesson plans.  But if I was ten years younger, I almost could have had a new career here in China!!!!!

It was a fun experience and yes, I received a nice honorarium.  

Enjoy and have a few laughs on me!!!
Here are a few photos from the gig.  All women had makeup, hair dresser, etc. and me... nothing.  So I look ancient!

My translator, Sunny.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ho Chi Ming City, Vietnam: Day 2

Things are jumpin' on Chinese Lunar New Year Day in Ho Chi Ming City, Vietnam.  From dawn to dusk energetic young men are dancing in long dragons and short 2-man dragons.

We also visited visit Cuchi Underground Tunnel - a battle field in Vietnam War about 50 miles from Saigon City.  We also visited Binh Tay market, city tour of the church and post office. Dinner in a floating restaurant on Saigon River.

We also visited visit Cuchi Underground Tunnel - a battle field in Vietnam War about 50 miles north of Saigon City.  This was a grizzly activity and a long bus ride. 
For a century the people of this region fought a guerrilla war, first against the French and then the Americans. These tunnels became famous extending 3 stories below the ground.

The complex maze of tunnels had well-camoflaged entrances

Watch were you walk as these bobby traps were common throughout this area.

Grizzly bobby traps on display. 

The remains of where a B52 bomb created a crator.

The Saigon Post Office built by the French back in the day is still an impressive building.

Theh inside of the Saigon Post Office.

The Catholic cathedral across the city of the Saigon Post Office was founded by the French an is still functioning today.

Exterior of the cathedral.

Our tour group went on a "dinner cruise" on the Saigon River. We were now about 24 days into our tour of southern China, Cambodia and Vietnam and honestly, for the first time we were tired of eating.  This was our very first group tour vacation and we learned that a big part of such tours is EATING. Little pot stop! 
This time we just relaxed and watched the river go by.

One last night celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year in Ho Chi Ming City, Vietnam.