Here is the lobby of a Bank of China office. People are sitting on benches waiting for their number to be called. Because it is noon, there are only 2 tellers available since most bank workers are gone on their all-important lunch hour (or two).
Those youngsters in camouflage T-shirts are college freshmen. Everyone knows this because all college freshmen throughout China attend military training classes for the first 3 weeks of the first year of college. They wear formal camouflage uniforms and also wear these casual outfits for the entire 3 weeks. They attend indoctrination classes and physical fitness and marching classes. That is really hot work in Jinan in September.
Thanks to Sophia, we were able to finally open our Bank of China account since no one in this large bank office could speak English well enough to get the job done. Fortunately, we found an office closer to campus with excellent English speaking bank tellers; as well as a VIP counter for important customers.......like us?
Sophia also helped us subscribe to one of the country's government newspapers, CHINA DAILY. Since we were never able to watch TV in our apartment, we needed to find a way to be better informed about China from the Chinese point of view. Our search took us to the back door of the China Post, the national post office system. It was a bit of a shock to walk past bags of mail and piles of parcels. No security problems here, I guess.
It's always fun to come across Chinglish. This one seems to refer to either large potatoes or large French fries....not the weird potato king, himself. Sometimes it's not easy to figure out what the whacky English words actually say. The Internet is full of examples. We meet some foreigners who collect photos of all the Chinglish they can find. While humorous and at times frustrating, we're not quite that interested.
The best part of taking a student translator with us to conduct business is taking him or her out to lunch. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day in China, after which students often take an hour nap. Classes don't resume until and hour-and-a-half or two hours after lunch. Like Sophia, translators always take us to the most interesting places to eat; places we would usually never think to go. Here we are in one of the thousands of itty bitty eateries....much smaller than any restaurant. And they often spill out onto the sidewalk for the over-flow crowd.
This place serves NOODLES in piping hot mini cauldrons. The reason Chinese noodles are so looong is because they represent long life.
A surprise in the noodle dish was these small bird eggs. We courageously ate them. Tasted pretty good, actually.
Near our apartment a market suddenly opened up. I was surprised to see this chicken vendor outside the new market what with the trouble China has with bird viruses and such. As it turned out he was only located there for 2 days and we never saw him or his chickens again.
He also sold pigeons. Didn't know it folks bought these birds to cook them or to lay eggs.
Here are some other views of the new market that opened up near our apartment.
Folks love to suck and chew on chicken feet, a Chinese delicacy.
Chinese waste very little, hence they leave the heads attached on their butchered chickens.
Making Chinese meat pies.
These noodles must represent super long life.
There are so many textures and thicknesses to chose from.
Fresh fish doesn't get any fresher than this. You select the fish you want from among the live fish swimming in the water.
More live chickens.
This old musician moved around a lot playing his Chinese lute for spare change. We saw him several times in various places. We always tried to support the local musicians.
On Saturday many stores go all out to attract business. This drug store is pulling out all the stops with an inflatable archway (very popular item among businesses during weekends and big sales), plus three kiosks giving medical advice and selling items.
At a nearby hotel we came upon some kind of celebration. The Chinese are very proud of the fact that they discovered gunpowder; and they have been using it for celebrations, in the same way ever since. Here you see the Roman candle/rocket launchers that make the place sound like a war zone. On the ground is a snake of firecrackers that could easily be 30-50 feet long. These puppies are so powerful that they set off car alarms. This is typical Chinese fireworks... close to the ground with a whole lot of noise for the purpose of grabbing attention and announcing anything from a grand-opening to a wedding or funeral.