Thursday, July 27, 2006

Confucius Temple

The Confucius Temple in Nanjing is a national icon. Confucius was a moral teacher, not a religious leader. However, the material in his Analects resembles the teachings of Jesus. The temple is by the Yangtze River, where many boats make day trips (below).

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


China is a high conformity society. With that many billions of people, they probably have to be. Uniforms are very important in this culture, as they serve as markers of role and status. In the above picture, the head waitress (black skirt) gives a pep talk to her staff prior to the evening rush.

Breakfast Alternatives

The Chinese eat some rather odd things at breakfast, as shown on this picture from the buffet at our hotel in Suzhou. Yes, there are such things as China buffets in China, though they feature dishes you'd never expect-- such as eel and vegetables simmered in duck blood. Of course, one can opt for a Sino version of MacDonald's, as advertized on this Suzhou pedicab.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Ruby slippers

When you travel abroad, your passport is like the ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz. It lets you go home.

I had a harrowing experience yesterday when my purse temporarily went missing. We's eaten in a restaurant, and I went to pay the bill. My purse wasn't in my backpack where I usually keep it. I kept retraced my steps calmly. As Joe Gann says, it is never too late to panic. When the purse wasn't in my hotel room, I began to get scared. Everything important was in my purse-- money, credit cards, drivers license, ETSU ID, and My Passport. In China, you have to carry your passport as the police may ask for it. It was eight o'clock at night. I went back to the office, hoping it was still open. It wasn't. I didn't have the phone number for Sir Barry's assistant, so I phoned himself. He insisted on meeting me at the office, there and then, even though he had just gotten home from the office. I was mortified.

The purse wasn't in the faculty room, where I thought I might have left it. Nor was it in the classroom where I teach. I wondered how you replace a passport. I knew it must be complicated. Finally, my bag turned up in the board room where we'd had a meeting earlier in the day. I had apparently placed it on a chair, and the chair had been pushed under the table out of sight.

I'm enjoying my stay here, but I do want to go back to the states. To echo Dorothy's famous words, "There's no place like home."

Sunday, July 23, 2006

What you're used to

This weekend, Joe and I caught a train to the ancient city of Suzhou, a very beautiful place. This was our first experience on Chinese rail, which is fairly comfortable-- similar to an airline. The waiting room at Suzhou was a new experience. People ate, played games, slept, and generally "hung out." The restrooms were also something new. Instead of the conventional Asian toilet-- something I've grown to expect-- there was a communal trough into which all lavatory users contributed. I didn't take a picture-- it was just too gross. Hope you aren't disappointed. Above, a woman selling lotus stems in the "Humble Administrator's Garden." Below, travelers play a board game in the Suzhou Railway Station.

What does tomorrow mean? It is 5:30 pm here, but at home it’s 5:00 in the morning. I leave Weihai tomorrow and make a stop in Beijing. ...