Monday, June 25, 2012

The Quf-iest Place on Earth

This weekend I took time I didn't have to make one last jaunt to Qufu, the town I used to live in.  I was only there for an evening and a day, but I got to see some good friends and favorite places.  As a bonus, my old teammate Lisa was there visiting from America.

As soon as I got out of the van, everything looked and smelled just as Quf-y as I remembered it.

Oh, the Qufiness
Here was my first view, the East Market at suppertime:

Students, trash, and vendors, just as usual


Then I immediately went to meet Lisa and some of our old colleagues, who wanted to give us a small banquet.  It was fun to catch up with them, especially the two or three that I knew best. 

Two colleagues' daughters, excited to see us

Love that homestyle Qufu food

The whole group -- all English teachers in the foreign language department


After the meal, a colleague introduced us to the Chinese medicine place where we got massages, hot cupping, and scraping.  You can read about it in yesterday's post.


My favorite class of students is still around, and some of them came to hang out with me.  We met at 8:00 in the morning at the school gate.

We didn't really have a plan, so we ended up hanging out for a couple hours at the fake KFC in the East Market.

I missed the memo on the hand signs

We walked back to campus.  At one point, while talking about their plans for KTV in the afternoon, the girls started singing together as they walked.

Someone bought a watermelon and we ate it in the dorm:

It was fun to see them.  I've known most of these girls for three years and they are just as fun and sweet as ever.

There was a three-day holiday weekend for Dragon Boat Festival, so there were more than the usual number of grannies and kids playing on campus:

I also got to see a couple seniors who I taught last year.  Ashley will study for her master's in Hong Kong and Sandra will try again to get into the grad school of her choice.

Quf on the Roads

I enjoyed seeing some of the typical Qufu street scenes.

Doubling up on bikes -- Nice try, Lisa.

These guys spotted me walking and turned around to say hi.  They are two friends from the student fellowship and were off to prepare a 10th anniversary celebration for the fellowship.

The large street in front of campus


Our colleagues Ashley and Darryl wanted to take me and Lisa out for lunch.  Little did we know that it would be a five-hour barbecue excursion into the mountains (once again proving my rule that there's no such thing as a short Chinese outing).

The little girls Sally and Amy entertained me on the way up:

We arrived at a little family-run restaurant and the teachers started wrapping and skewering all kinds of meat and vegetables.  Lisa and I weren't really allowed to help so we just chatted and explored.

The children of the three families -- best buddies

The view

We went up on the roof and I decided it was about time to pose with the solar water heater, since they're everywhere in China

Ongoing barbecue

Yum yum yum

Qufy Memories

When we got back, we took an hour or so to re-visit old stomping grounds.  Here is our teaching building: 

The stairwells all have Confucius sayings

The hallway I taught in most

Peeking in on students diligently studying on their three-day weekend

 We also went to the foreign teacher apartment building.  I saw my friend the French teacher:

and also popped in on my old apartment and another friend, Sarah.  Then it was time for some delicious Qufiness in the East Market:

My favorite crunch-wrap lady in the whole world.  I crave these all the time but they're just not as good in Rizhao.

Eating with Cherry, a sweet senior student

The Quf by Night

Then Lisa and I walked down the length of the East Market down to the city wall.  We spent a couple hours in and around old Qufu. 

The city wall -- one of my favorite things about Qufu

Looking back at East Market street

Looking across the street to BBQ and, behind that, the mosque

Elderly evening calisthenics

One of many gates

Walking path with willows along the outside of the wall

Coming and going through the wall.  I love all the different vehicles in this photo.

Our evening wanderings took us to WuMaCi shopping street, where Lisa tried on new glasses and I replaced the sunglasses I bought there two years ago.


Kids' shoes!


A tower in the middle of old town.  The bell tower, I think - does anyone know?

I rode these pedicabs everywhere when I first moved to Qufu.  Now they're mostly in touristy areas.  It was fun to ride again!

Breakfast and Nostalgia in the Quf

My shuttle back to Rizhao left at 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning, so I went out at 6:30 to squeeze a little more time from my visit.  Lisa and I enjoyed a street food breakfast in the East Market.

Setting up.  Most of the vendors were already doing business by the time we arrived at 6:45.

These ladies were selling this special plant for Dragon Boat Festival.  Is it mint?  Something else?

This woman often sells sweet potatoes or corn, but that day she was selling zongzi, the sticky-rice dumplings wrapped in leaves that are always eaten on Dragon Boat Festival.

Vegetables, meat


Lychees in water (mmm)

Bean sprouts (mmm again)

This little stand was serving most of the typical Chinese breakfast items: soy milk, you tiao (fried breadsticks), and tea eggs. The only thing missing was porridge.

Weighing out some you tiao

Pulling and deep-frying you tiao

Breakfast items: quail eggs on the left, tea eggs in center, beans, and soy milk (with some mint (?) for Dragon Boat Day).

Ladling out my soy milk

This couple made my breakfast -- a flat fried bread filled with fried egg, potato, and peppers.  I ate this all the time my first year in China.

We walked through campus and saw many students doing their early morning reciting in the courtyard.  One girl was practically yelling, "Much ado about nothing" over and over and over.  This is how a lot of students study English, among other subjects.  Hard to believe this is how they were spending their Saturday holiday morning!

I wanted to walk into the countryside, but barely had enough time.  We just made it to this harvested wheat field before having to turn around so I could catch my bus.

Goodbye, Qufu countryside.

All in all, I'd say it was a Qufamazing visit.


  1. I LOVE all of these photos but especially the ones of class 2, Darryl's little Sally, and all the familiar market stops. How cool that Lisa was there, too! Is she just in China for a visit?

    1. I couldn't believe how much more outgoing Sally is than I remembered her! Apparently she and Ashley sang a song at the graduation party. Lisa was just visiting Qufu before STP starts.

  2. Time for a confession -- you want to move back to Qufu!

  3. This post was nerdy. And I loved it. :-)

    1. Congrats on making it to the end -- it was a long one. And really, there's no better word to describe Qufu than "Qufy"!