China Once, China Twice

What I had never planned to do

A Chinese Wedding Scrap-Book April 17, 2012

Married on 5/10/2011

To understand why I used print media to create a Chinese Wedding scrap-book that I mailed to China, is explained in short chapter blog posts.

This post ties them together, the reader has all thirteen links in sequence.  It is a 100 page scrap-book scanned in, but it’s also a rather romantic non-fiction story.

I’m happy to report that the two main characters, Sam and Daisy, will once again be landing on US soil in late May of 2012.  It will be Daisy’s second visit to the USA.

 

Why a scrap-book?

Chapter 1 – Welcome to New Jersey

Chapter 2 – Doylestown, PA

Chapter 3 – Qingdao

Chapter 4 – Qingdao Dinner Celebration

Chapter 5 – Mother’s Day in Wuhan

Chapter 6 – Wedding Day Begins

Chapter 7 – Wedding Ceremony Begins

Chapter 8 – More on the Wedding Ceremony

Chapter 9 – Wedding Cake and Guests

Chapter 10 – The Day Continues

Chapter 11 – Our Evening Meal

Chapter 12 – Culture and Romance

 

The Scrap-Book For China, Chapter 4, Qingdao Dinner Party January 22, 2012

Sam moved to Qingdao in February of 2008 to teach English.  Today he is a service manager for the two Wall Street Institute School of English branch schools in Qingdao.

Daisy grew up in Wuhan.  She moved to Qingdao and graduated from Qingdao University.  She remained in this city and taught English at the TOEFL level.  As a side note, the TOEFL test is one of many administered by ETS (Educational Testing Services) located here in Princeton, NJ.

They met each other in December of 2009 at a local hangout bar.  Sam was helping a friend who also wanted to move here and teach English.  He asked around, who might be a good contact for his friend?  Someone pointed to Daisy.  She was sitting at a table with her back-pack still on.

With their large network of friends today, most would not be able to travel to Wuhan for their wedding.  Sam and Daisy hosted a dinner party in Qingdao to celebrate with their local friends.

Here are the scanned in scrap-book pages from this special dinner party.

 

The Scrap-Book For China, Chapter 3, Qingdao January 19, 2012

Filed under: China,Travel — Ginny @ 5:59 pm
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I flew into Shanghai, and spent one night at an airport hotel to get over jet lag.  The next morning I caught a flight to Qingdao where Sam and Daisy live.  They own a home on the 13th floor of a highrise building.

In this series of scanned in scrap-book pages, you can see a bit of Qingdao.  You can see other parts I have written about, starting here.  Their home looks out on Mt. Laoshan, and that is a school at the bottom of the mountain view photo.  They don’t own a car, cabs are plentiful and inexpensive.  You will meet their two dogs, the big shaggy one is GuaiGuai and the other is Gino.  They are lively!

Qingdao is the home brewery for Tsingtao beer.  Qingdao and Tsingtao are homophones, words that sound the same (pronounced as Chin Dow), but are spelled and have different meanings.

GuaiGuai

GuaiGuai and Gino

 

Pandas and Romance August 27, 2011

This is a part from Trip 3.

It’s Mother’s Day again, but the year is 2011.

I am in Qingdao, staying with Sam and Daisy.  They will be married in two days.  It’s even more special now.  On this Mother’s Day we are all going to fly to Wuhan and be with Daisy’s family.  Two mother’s will share this special day together with their children.  I don’t have photos of first meeting Daisy’s mother to share with you.  We couldn’t speak the others language.  It didn’t matter.  You could feel the love we had for each other.  The two mother’s walked, each held closely together with an arm embracing the other.

This is what Daisy had chosen as a Mother’s Day gift for me.  The pandas are embroidered on silk, it rotates so each side is a view of the panda bears.

My Mother's Day Gift

Neither of us would have guessed, that today I am trying to help this endangered species by giving presentations. By helping support the efforts of Pandas International, who would have guessed, this could be happening as I write today?

_____________________________________________________________________________

In NYC Times Square, despite Hurricane Irene, this add is running.

Thank you, CBS.

The Add Of A Lifetime In Black and White

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Another surprise happened.  Someone knocked on my door.  Sam’s friend who had just returned from China delivered this wedding album book to me.  I have laid it out and photographed it in sequence.  It is not a typical US wedding album.  Another example of a difference in our cultures.

Wedding album cover

Wedding album page 2

Wedding album page 3

Wedding album page 4

Wedding album page 5-1

Wedding album page 5-2

Wedding album page 6

Wedding album page 7

Wedding album page 8

Wedding album page 9

Wedding album page 10

Wedding album - the last page

More to follow later…..

 

Panda Bears, Chengdu, a Black Tongue and Ms. Sara August 6, 2011

My son chose to teach English overseas and moved to Qingdao, China in early 2008.  My second trip in 2009 was planned around his birthday, September 9th and my own on September 14th.  I used the same on-line travel agency, www.chinahighlights.com, who had successfully planned my first visit.  They knew I was a single female, spoke no Chinese, traveled alone, and would want to tour parts of China.  I was very flexible.  Only two dates and places were non-negotiable.  I had to be in Qingdao on my son’s birthday and the Panda Bear Reserve Center in Chengdu on my birthday.

Before landing in Shanghai, all passengers had to complete and sign a lengthy health form.  Specifics were on flu-like symptoms.  I felt perfectly fine the whole time I was in Shanghai.

Happy Birthday 25 years old

Head cold

Sam and Daisy at home

When I arrived in Qingdao, my son was accompanied by a miserable head cold. His Chinese girlfriend, Daisy, was also a new, wonderful addition to meet. She had purchased the Chinese OTC (over-the-counter) cold pills Sam was taking.  I took his head cold with me to Chengdu.

I felt lousy!  Absolutely I was NOT going to be the planned panda bear caretaker for a day.  It was too great of a risk.   I might pass onto the panda bears, what my son passed onto me.  I agreed that I could see the pandas, but no hands on care.

Having checked I had no fever, my guide in Chengdu called Daisy.  He got the OTC product name and off we went to a pharmacy.   I also wanted a nasal spray, something like Afrin, to help me breathe.  I got something, but the clerk and my guide were confused; they never heard of using a nasal spray for congestion.  So Happy Birthday to me!  China Highlights surprised me with a birthday cake.  Somehow I managed a half day, taking as many pictures as possible of the endangered panda bears.

The panda bears are endangered

They have been here for 3 million years

Only 1600 panda bears are left

The next morning I felt like I should be dead.  Went to brush my teeth, saw my tongue was totally black and thought “Yup, I’m going to die.”  The hotel staff took me to hospital #1 across the street (what we would call a walk-in clinic).  They looked at my tongue and sent me to hospital #2.  It was a cab ride away, but a hospital by US standards with English speaking physicians.  They knew right away the black tongue was from the nasal spray.  That spray was putrid; I had only used it twice.  I was given two other Chinese medications and released.   I had classic flu symptoms, except no fever.

Generally, I stay at 3 star hotels in China, fairly equivalent to 4 stars in the US.  In Chengdu,  www.chinahighlights.com,  felt more comfortable booking me at a 4 star, they knew me well, I was “Sam’s mother.”  I stayed at the Tianfu Sunshine Hotel where I met Ms. Sara, young, caring, and kind.

Sara was a waitress in the hotel restaurant. Her English was fair, her sensitivity astounding.  I was having lunch, reading a book.  It was a Chinese novel, she had an interest in the book too.  We chatted, Sara sensed something was wrong.  She learned I had just left my only son the day before.  Physically, I sure didn’t look so great either.  There was a wedding taking place in the hotel, she led me through the back entrance. I watched the wedding with other hotel employees, while Sara explained different parts of the ceremony.  Later that evening, she called my room to see how I was feeling.

Another day while sitting outside, Sara came by.  We chatted again, she gave me her cell phone number just in case.  The morning I decided “Yup, I’m going to die”, I threw on some clothes and went down to the restaurant.  I found Sara, showed her my tongue.  She stopped serving, found the hotel manager, who took over from there. When I eventually returned later, a warm bowl of congee was in my room.  The rest of the day was sleeping and packing, I had a flight to catch the next morning back to the US.

That evening, back in bed, Sara quietly came to my room.  She sat gently on the side of my bed.  Carefully she peeled, cut, and hand-fed me apples.  That was the last time I saw Sara.  When I checked out the next morning, it was her day off.

Twice I have traveled alone in China.   I’ve seen The Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors, and a whole lot more.  By traveling alone, I have had one-on-one experiences with Chinese people.  There were others, with different, meaningful memories.  This time I want the whole wide world to know.  In Chengdu, China there is one, special, young Chinese waitress with a tender heart, known only to me as Ms. Sara.  If you see her, you have met an angel on earth.

 

The Earthquake April 25, 2010

Qingdao, China

It was another beautiful clear day in May 2008.  Sam had an appointment in downtown Qingdao.  We took the 10 cent bus ride down again, I did my usual, took pictures!

The parents of his friend invited us over for dinner, two others joined us.  I spoke no Chinese, the parents spoke no English.  It didn’t matter, body language is universal.  It was a great evening, again I laughed.  His friends interpreted.  I looked too young to be Sam’s mother and sorry, USA folks reading this……..again……. Chinese people think all American parents are fat.

I did find one unusual Chinese cultural difference.  While dining with others, at home or in a restaurant, platters of food are placed on the table without serving utensils.

Everyone uses their own chop sticks for first, second and sometimes third servings.  With my background, I silently wondered if the CDC in Atlanta knew about this cultural difference.

Here are thumbnail photos of the pictures I took that day, click to enlarge.

We returned from dinner, and through emails from the USA learned an earthquake had struck China.

Recall from an earlier post, I had changed my plans, wanting to meet up with Sam again at the end in Shanghai.    There was no time before leaving the USA to complete all the changes.  I did that when I arrived in Qingdao, speaking with Angela from China Highlights .

From Qingdao, I was still going to Xi’an then would fly to Chongqing and board the Victoria Cruise.  I was indeed taking that romantic cruise “party of one, please”,  down the Yangtze River I had sworn I would never do  Four days, and three nights would cruise me through the Three Gorges Dam.  In Yichang I would disembark and fly to my last destination, Shanghai.

Here is a Reuters Alert regarding the China Earthquake.

Now look closely at this map of China.

Things looked “iffy”,  with alerts on “Quake Lakes” I didn’t know if I should travel heading closer to the epicenter.  I spoke with Angela and continued as planned.

As a note, I am writing this blog post in 2010.  My heart today, goes out to parents who have recently experienced an agony I was spared.  I didn’t know where Qingdao was, I knew very little about the geography of China.  What I know today, cultural differences are just differences.  I invite you to visit my own web page As Time Goes By.

 

Mother’s Day in Qingdao, China April 9, 2010

Mother's Day

May 11, 2008 and it was Mother’s Day.  My whole trip to China was centered around this one date to be with my son.

It was everything and more I had hoped for.

Sam and I started the day by borrowing a friend’s dog.  We walked up a hilly street and onto a path that led further up the hill.  It is here where the local people grow and tend their own vegetable gardens.   They are sectioned off, and various paths lead to different locations.  Up in these hills are also flat surface areas.  Starting around 5 AM  Tai Chi is practiced here.  I couldn’t get up quite that early, but did my own tai chi version later that day.

vegetable gardens

Sam and the borrowed dog

Me and my Tai Chi again

We played with the dog, walked around, and eventually returned the dog to his owner.

The dog is returned

Sam and I took a bus to the “tourist” downtown section of Qingdao.  The bus fare was equivalent to 10 cents.

The bus ride

The waterfront in Qingdao is magnificent.  Here the Olympic torch is viewed.  It is a symbolic reminder.  Countries may compete against each other, yet we all still live in the same world.  The upcoming sailing event for the 2008 Olympics would be held in Qingdao.

The pier in Qingdao

The waterfront

Sam knew my weakness.  He arranged a stopover at Selene’s, a very high-end top-notch chocolate bar.  It was exquisite!

Kite flying

The great chocolate bar

The Olympic Torch

Mother’s Day in Qingdao was perfect.  I had everything I needed near and dear to my heart.  The greatest gift I received though, came the next day.  A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck China.  No one in the USA really knew where I was.  They only knew I was somewhere in China.  Mother and child together, we were safe.