Friday, June 15, 2012

Things I Did That I Never Told You About: May

Life in China, whatever else it may be, is always interesting, and I would hate to keep such interesting things as a squid kite or a purple potato to myself.  In that spirit, here is another month of weird and entertaining happenings that somehow failed to make the blog:
  • A trip to JiuZhaiGou (nine village gorge), a complete knock-off of a more beautiful tourist site by the same name in Sichuan province
  • A farewell banquet with our school leaders
  • A beach party for our fellow teachers -- the last big teacher event our team hosted this year.
Jiu Zhai Gou

Two sophomore student friends invited me to head a couple hours outside of Rizhao to visit a scenic spot called "Nine Village Gorge" (I think.)  Apparently this is a privately funded enterprise -- some guy decided to copy the original jiu zhai gou in Sichuan province by building his own nine hamlets in the low, wooded mountains outside my city.  He ran out of money before he finished, but there are still plenty of tourists coming to check it out.

It was fun to spend a day out in nature seeing new fake villages with my students. 

One of the main "villages"

We walked up a long paved road and got this view.

Sweet students

The rather apathetic looking monk by this little temple told us the well on the left is from the Ming Dynasty.  I have my doubts.

On the bus home, we saw a tea farm, the first I've seen in Rizhao (which is known for green tea)!

Banquet with our school leaders

As foreign teachers, we are given formal banquets several times a year.  This banquet was given by the leaders of our department to celebrate the end of the year and to thank me, Sara, and Cathy, the three teachers going back to America. 

It was Sara's first time to sit in the seat of honor and give a toast.  I also had to toast.  FRIGHTENING.

My seat was by the Communist Party Secretary, a powerful and friendly lady.  We realized her daughter is about my age and she told me she is very worried that her daughter doesn't even have a boyfriend yet.*

After the formal eating and toasting, you also walk around and toast people in the order of their importance.  Sara and I teamed up to toast our vice-dean.*

Johnathan, our liaison and friend*

With my teammate Renee', who supplied a lot of the banquet and beach pictures for today's post.  Thank you!*

Some of Renee's food shots:

Candied walnuts*


Fruit with a message: "Yi lu ping an."  (Bon voyage)*

Purple potatoes, boiled corn, and peanuts are often served together.*


Gelatin soup*

Seafood sampler*

Another kind of tofu..  Looks like Parmesan cheese; tastes like nothing.*

Jian bing, a local cardboard-like specialty*

Cabbage.  YUM.*

Shrimp.  The Communist Party secretary helped me peel mine.*

Biggest fish I've ever seen at a banquet!*

Year-end beach party with our Chinese colleagues

Our team plans a "Coffee House" in our apartments once a month for our colleagues and their families to speak English and hang out.  We decided to make our last one a party at the beach.

Jumpin with our teammate Harrison*

The whole group. :)   *

One of the families brought a kite.*

It's a squid!*

Johnathan with his family*

Cute little guy*

Harrison and his buddies*

Lynn and Lai Lai*

This is a student I taught last year in Qufu, who happens to be my dean's daughter.  She also came to the picnic.  It was fun to see her again!

That wraps up the fun and full month of May.

*Photo credits to teammates Renee', Jason, and Joni

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