Archive for the “China 2006” Category
Last Saturday night Randal and I were invited to attend the dinner for Connie’s sister’s baby girl. It is called a 1st Month Party and is sort of like a baby shower. Guests do bring presents. But it was really a dinner for family and friends and a chance to meet the new baby. She is a very pretty baby. She slept through the entire evening with not a peep as everyone held her, and in my case, flashed a camera in her face. It was a lovely, friendly, informal dinner with father and grandfathers coming to each table for several toasts. (Too many toasts was the last thing I needed. We had stopped at the Blue Angle between the ferry back from Hong Kong and the restaurant where the dinner was to be held later in the evening. I had a Bloody Mary ??? where the tomato juice was suspect but the vodka was real.) Randal and I brought some baby lotions and oil in a really cute pink drawstring cloth bag with cats quilted on it. Bill brought some tiny pink shoes called "crocs" which everyone has but me. Stella brought a giant teddy bear.
Here are some photos.
Stella holding baby, daughter-in-law Aunt Connie, son Uncle Fido
Our friend Jerry Wallace, Baby, Me.
Baby and Mom and Teddy Bear
Traditional dish of hard boiled eggs colored red for good luck. (They look brown here, but were red there.)
Thanks to the help desk at Yahoo I fixed my Windows Mail software. It replaces the Outlook I had on the other computer. Now I just have to figure out either the Yahoo or Windows photo software and I’ll be all set.
It is very warm here today. Yesterday was warm and sunny so I did several loads of laundry. The boat yard next door chose to begin sand blasting as soon as I hung the laundry to dry! What’s a little grit among neighbors.
Saturday night was Grandma’s 94th birthday party. Her oldest son sponsored the party. There are 6 children and each will sponsor a party for the next 6 years from the oldest child to the youngest. The youngest children sang Happy Birthday in Chinese and then in English; both have the same tune. For a surprise ending to the party Randal made a sentimental speech about respecting our oldest relatives. He then scooped up the last small piece of cake in his hand. He went on to tell everyone that America had a tradition of the last piece of cake being pushed in someone’s face! I moved in a hurry as Randal began to move around the room. I forget his exact words, but in a flash he had pushed the cake into his own face to a great round of applause. Here Randal is definitely known as "Party Man!"
I spent a good deal of Saturday afternoon patching my favorite pair of cut-off shorts. The part below the pocket was shredded and looked not only raggedy but disreputable. So I cut off a pocket and cut the scrap in half and sewed it in place over the tatters. Another little scrap was cut in half and sewn over another hole and then I just sewed up other little places with just thread. They still look raggedy, but at least my underwear doesn’t show! I still got strange looks when I wore them for a walk yesterday. I guess I’ll just wear them on the boat. But they are my favorite and I won’t part with them.
I promise to work on the photo issue. One picture is worth a thousand words and all. I might have to show you my patched jean shorts.
Boat is almost done. Red Sox are in first place. Who cares that Roger Clemens will pitch for the Yankees!
I know that I haven’t been writing much. We are in sort of a holding pattern here. Just a few more things need to be done to the boat. But paper work needs to be completed before we can leave and the Chinese government offices are closed all of this week because of the May Day Workers’ Holiday. I worked for the government and we were never closed for a week. Maybe three days if Christmas came near a Sunday or something. Anyway….
Also, I have a new computer and the photo tool has disappeared from my Yahoo! mail. My Windows Mail won’t send. I have a few glitches to work out. The laptop is a Toshiba and it has VISTA loaded if anyone has a clue. I have emailed both yahoo and Toshiba so hopefully the problem will be fixed. The other computer I was using weighed a ton to carry around. More importantly it has lots of important boat programs on it so really should only be used for that. So my new pain in the ass computer.
On May Day, the Communist version of Labor Day, we did have a wonderful visit with BoBo, her brother Gotsome (sounds like his Chinese name.) and Zoey. They all came to the boat and had breakfast. ("Good, but hard." was Bobo’s comment about our western style bread that was a bit old and rewarmed in the microwave.) Then we took lots of photos. Around noon we went off to have lunch at Zoey’s house. On the way we stopped to buy some dumplings to cook for lunch and I may have to try it myself one day. There are a variety and they come frozen at the grocery store. I might have been afraid to buy them, but now having eaten them and they were good, maybe I will.
Because Zoey’s home was a hefty walk from the ferry the girls wanted to take motorcycle taxis so we did. BoBo and Zoey on one and Randal and I squished on another. I had to wear my backpack on front and the driver was practically sitting on my lap, but it was fun. I was only worried if we hit a bump that Randal would bounce off the back. He assured me that he was holding on to me and I assured him I was holding on to the driver. So like the 3 musketeers it would have been all for one and one for all of disaster struck. But no problem!
Zoey’s Grandmother and niece were there (Just had to stop typing and close the hatches because it’s starting to rain. I’m in the cockpit of the boat, but have a cover as long as it doesn’t rain hard. I can pick up the wifi here sometimes.) Zoey’s dad was off with some friends. Her mom had started lunch and when we came in she and Zoey cooked the dumplings while BoBo, Randal and I "visited" with Grandma and Zoey’s niece. Lunch was fish and chicken and greens and rice and cabbage and dumplings. Randal was asked if he wanted a beer and said yes. Then next thing we knew, Zoey was out the door somewhere to get it. After lunch we were shown Zoey’s room and around the rather large house. Zoey had her own room and one room was described as a play room. There was a small back yard with their two dogs. The house had an upstairs and downstairs. It was further from town. BoBo had lived in the middle of Jingan. Zoey’s dad works in some type of policing. He no longer wears the police uniform we saw in an early photo. But Stella says there are private security companies. Most government workers don’t have 4 children and there are 4 children in Zoey’s family. Stella wasn’t sure her dad worked for the government since there are 4 kids in the family. Zoey is the oldest and learned to cook to help her mom.
Then we were off to town to "play games." The girls took us to a gaming arcade where there were lots of electronic arcade games. We watched for a bit, but it was too loud, crowded and smoky and nothing appealed to Randal and me so we all left. I think that might have been the girls’ first time there and we gave them the excuse. Then Randal wanted a haircut and shave. We asked the girls if they wanted to walk in the park with me or all go for the shave and haircut. They opted for the latter so off we went. I ended up getting my hair trimmed too. I agreed to a wash and this involved another 15 minute head massage first. I almost fell asleep. Randal got the works, the salon owner has a thing for him. The girls seemed to be enjoying themselves; I was worried they would be bored. But partly they just like being with us and we like them so anything is fine. I was done first so the girls walked with me to a grocery store to stock up on yogurt. Can’t buy it on our side of the river. Randal met us as we were leaving. Zoey had a few chores and the girls needed to leave for school later in the afternoon so we hugged her good-bye. Zoey walked us to the ferry terminal for her good-bye. But it wasn’t so sad because I really think we will see them again one day. And we will email. They are very special to me and Randal.
Randal is in Hong Kong today with Bill. I might paint or read or make banana bread or just read.
I might be losing connection here so I’ll send this now.
It is a bit warmer today than yesterday. I mention in the email that we had to shut all of the portholes. There are 3 coverings over the portholes. There are screens for warm weather. There are glass windows to keep out rain. And then there are the cast aluminum covers for "gulp" really bad weather or big waves that might break the glass window which of course will never happen. I should have taken a photo and will send one another time. This email is about the shopping I did yesterday in Baijiao.
Grocery Shopping in Baijiao
This morning was cold and damp and every porthole in our boat has been shut tight… Unfortunately for me Randal had turned off the hot water heater and forgotten to turn it on again so I had the lukewarm shower this morning. But our room heater was going full blast so I was ok. I don’t know the actual temperature outside, but last week I had on short pants and a t-shirt and was hot. This morning I wore a turtleneck, wool sweater, wool vest, and my rain jacket and still wasn’t warm. My blood has become tropical like the climate of Zhuhai so cold really feels cold. By 10:30 I had "boat yard" fever so decided to go for a walk. Since we needed dinner veggies I had a real reason to go. I like visiting the wet market, exploring to see what’s new in the little shops along the way, and looking into the different grocery stores in town. It’s a small crossroads area, but there are 3 grocery-type stores that all sell similar products. I guess it’s like having Kroger and Food Lion across from each other. The fun thing is discovering the few different items that they have. I actually bought a light-weight quilt in one grocery last week. It cost so little but may be more practical than our beautiful red silk quilt we bought in Shanghai last summer.
I went first to the wet market. The grocery store I was aiming for doesn’t sell veggies so they would be offended if they saw I had bought mine elsewhere. The wet market has several tables of vegetables and choosing whom to buy from seems just arbitrary. I try to buy from various vendors so not to insult anyone, as if they would be. I did say I was a worrywart. I made one pass around the counters looking for the greens that are similar to spinach but not at all bitter. Noticing lots of long skinny eggplant, I aimed for them too. I finished off buying some small white potatoes from a third vendor. I can’t tell you what I paid; I wasn’t keeping track. It is so inexpensive that it doesn’t matter. I can tell you that I didn’t understand when they told me the price, so I just held out money and let them pick what they needed. I trusted them completely and everyone watching seems to think it very funny. I walked past the meat, fish, and poultry vendors but passed on taking photos to email. If you are a city dweller or a vegetarian, it might not be your cup of tea to see where food really comes from. I don’t mind seeing it all chopped up; it’s the ones waiting to be chopped up that still bother me.
I left the wet market and headed for the grocery store. I needed tissues and instant oatmeal for sure. Anything else would just be spur-of-the-moment. I was also on the look-out for small drinking glasses. I had found four that I really liked at one market last week. I was searching for similar ones or ones that I also really like whether they match or not. Well, I didn’t find glasses and I didn’t even find oatmeal, but I found oven mitts. I had looked everywhere, even in the huge department/grocery store in Zhuhai. I had been using folded dish towels to take the bread pans from the oven but feared catching them on fire from the pilot light or burning my hand and dropping the bread. Now I have lovely pink striped oven mitts and hope they work. I also bought something called Eight-Treasure Porridge. It looked interesting saying on the package that it included rice, maize, red bean, black rice, green bean, sugar, seeds of lotus, red dates, preserved fruits, raisin. It says that you can cook it "instantly" with boiled water but that it "can be edible without cooking, i.e. taking to eat as you like." So I could report to you, I just opened one of the little bags to taste it. There had been a bit loose in the larger bag and had I tasted that first. I guessed that it was stale from being more exposed and that’s when I opened the little bag. It tasted just the same, so tomorrow I’ll try it cooked. Uncooked it tastes like stale rice crackers. Oh well.
Randal and Bill are having a Happy Hour meeting and munching some of the bread I made yesterday. I’m snacking on little squares of sweetened seeds and nuts. It’s about
6 pm. For dinner I think I’ll just cook some of the greens since the snacks are quite filling and fattening. And we did eat our usual large Seahorse canteen lunch with at least 7 or 8 different dishes that all have to be sampled. I still try most of them but have cut my portions except for the veggies. When we stayed in the hotel at night, in room meals were instant noodles, more oatmeal, or take out from KFC. Now I can cook veggies. I can even microwave the broccoli and cauliflower. Just like home.
Street scene into Baijiao
Hanging baskets on the ends of a bamboo pole allow you to carry heavy loads. This isn’t a photo op, bamboo poles are used on a regular basis in these small areas.
A little shop along my route. I think these women are the shop owners.
A produce vendor. I bought my potatoes from him.
This person was selling raisins, chestnuts, and I’m not sure what else.
The grocery store cashiers.
My shopping basket that I take to the market. You leave them at the entrance if you already have stuff in them. They are quite safe there.
My veggies that I am about to go clean in a few minutes.
I have only done a little exploring. Too much to do on the boat. Now you know why Randal never went exploring with me: he has always had stuff to do on the boat to get us ready. I have been really lucky to have had the free time while he has worked. I am only now realizing it. Now, by the time routine morning chores are done and other things that need doing, half the day seems gone. But when the sun starts rising earlier, so will I, and that will make more walking time. I do get up by 6 or 6:30, but futz and read and write for a bit. Then Bill and Stella arrive and Randal and I go to the office to send email. THANKS RANDAL FOR GIVING ME ALL OF THAT TIME WHEN YOU WERE WORKING AND I WAS PLAYING.
My first impression: there seems to be less to see on this side of the river: no parks or monuments; or many stores either. But there is one interesting street Randal and I walked on the first day of Spring Festival and I will go back there soon.
If you leave Seahorse and walk up past the recycling plant, canteen, and worker apartments, you get to the road perpendicular to the bridge. Turn left toward the bridge and you will see these small businesses. Randal finds them fascinating but I don’t. If you go the other way you get to the intersection of Baijiao Town where we walk for fresh veggies and other groceries. I’ll show that direction in another email soon. I have probably shared some of Baijiao earlier, but now we live here so my perspective will be different as I learn more.
1/11/2007 3:15 pm Thursday
This is a joint message from Randal and me about the party we hosted for the boatyard workers. Sorry, still no photos.
As their boat nears completion, it has become an informal tradition among new boat owners to host a "thank you" party for all of the boat yard workers. Randal wanted our "thank you" to be something special that everyone would enjoy and remember. January 7, 2007 Randal and I hosted our dinner party for the boat yard workers, our hotel’s staff, our new boat friends and even a few local dignitaries. It truly was a wonderful evening. Randal had put a great deal of thought into planning an evening the workers would enjoy. Judging from all of the many smiles, Randal succeeded.
Stella, Jane, Henry, and "Driver Boy" of Seahorse Yachts all helped with the restaurant and transportation arrangements. Jane and Henry would help translate for all of the Chinese workers and guests. (During the evening Fido, Stella, and our friend Raisin, an xpat from New Hampshire, translated also.) Lillian and Ricky (our hotel’s manager) coordinated the invitations to the hotel staff and their transportation to the dinner. Randal planned to use his computer to show photos of the boat yard workers he had taken during the past month and also some photos of his "2000" bicycle trip so the restaurant arranged for the use of an LCD projector. The images would play continually through the evening. After dinner Randal would give a brief talk about his bicycle trip. Then he would answer any question the workers might have. Randal created an agenda to keep the evening on track. And for the most part it went off without a hitch.
But Randal didn’t tell anyone his "special surprise." For most of his adult life, Randal has created his own destiny and believes anyone who wants to, can. He has tried to inspire that belief in all of his employees and all people who are employees. He taught that to his daughter Kim. His teaching methods are quite ingenious and usually include rewards. Last night he wanted to make the point that employees who are where they should be, work hard and don’t waste their time or talents will reap the benefits. His plan; at each table pick 4 of the ten chairs and tape money (hidden) under the seats. There were 130 guests, lots of tables so lots of winners! They had chosen to work for Seahorse, they had chosen to attend the dinner and they had chosen their seat. The right choices lead to rewards! And some good luck too! Luck and Pluck!
Randal and I had gone to the restaurant early to hide the money. The restaurant staff came to watch and the manager looked askance. I pointed to the word "hide" in my dictionary, but I think she thought we wanted to hide our money for it to be safe, something that alarmed her. Then I thought to throw up my arms and yell, "Surprise!" and they understood and everyone helped tape money to the seats. If they thought we were a little crazy they also thought we were very kind.
About 4:30 (dinner was planned for 6:15ish) Jane, Natalie, Gerry and Henry came. Randal had ordered hundreds of American flag bandannas, red, white, and blue with stars and stripes and also hundreds of small round compass key chains. One of each was placed on every chair. Party favors! Actually, who actually helped isn’t so important as that everyone offered to help when it was needed so all the preparations were done right and on time!
Next is Randal’s "report" of the dinner, but first, my favorite story of the evening. 3 year old Brandon, son of Dennis and Caroline Mok, watched Randal’s bike trip photo presentation and noticed Randal was in many of the photos. So when Brandon saw Randal’s photo of Michelangelo’s David, he innocently turned to his parents and asked why Randal wasn’t wearing any clothes! Now there is a compliment if you have ever seen the David!
We had our dinner party last night with 130 in attendance. Before and during dinner I let a slideshow of worker pictures loop on the restaurant LCD projector. When everyone had finished eating I read an opening statement and Jane from the boatyard interpreted. Afterwards there was a Q & A session that was very interesting. At this time Fido was helping to interpret.
(All of the interpreters tried, but some thoughts just don’t translate so well as I found out later. Ru)
I was asked about the Vietnam War and I replied that I was a marine who had served in Vietnam and I knew the war was wrong then. I said that peace was better than war. I was asked why Americans kissed and hugged so much while Chinese did not. I replied that if the Chinese did not kiss and hug how come there are so many of them? Fido didn’t seem to want to translate my answer, but I insisted.
(The translation brought laughter and clapping! Ru )
There was a lot of hand clapping and I believe everyone really appreciated the dinner. In my opening speech I said I had been a worker just like them. I wanted someone to ask me how I could afford to buy a boat but no one did. I was just going to say I had been very lucky.
Before dinner, after everyone was seated, I took the microphone and with Stella interpreting, told them I wanted to share a lesson with them that I learned many years ago. I said I wanted to say how important it was to be in the right place at the right time and avoid bad places where there was trouble. I asked everyone to stand up. Then I asked them to look under their chairs. Ruth and I and the restaurant staff had taped 50 bills ranging from 10 to 100 RMB (7.71 RMB = $1 US) under some of the chairs before anyone got there. They were really surprised and immediately put the money in their pockets. I said not all of you had money under your chair but all of you had that chance but would not have, had you not been here.
There were eight staff members from the hotel and two guests. Both guests are from the crew of a big yacht being built in a nearby yard. One was the captain and one was the engineer. The wealthy German owner will be here this week to participate in sea trials. There were a number of executives from that boatyard as well. Stella sure is well connected here. The mayor of Doumen dropped by for a visit during the party and there were three people from a local magazine including a photographer and writer who took many pictures of Ruth and me and of the event. I understand an interview with me is to follow via email. There were other dignitaries there as well and some vendors who supply the boatyard.
Me again. . During the Q and A Randal was asked who were the most beautiful women in the world. His answer was "the Chinese." Lots of applause. Chile came in second. I was asked if I had any doubts about our voyage. My convoluted answer was to quote Ruth from the Bible, explaining while she was speaking to her mother-in-law,Naomi, I would take the statement which is "where ever you go I’ll go" but be speaking about Randal. It not only lost something in translation, no one who understood English really understood. But Fido must have told them something resembling the thought because there was applause and smiles.
I have many wonderful photos from the evening and eventually will send them. I surprised Natalie, Connie, Jane, and Grandma with knitted scarves, and the photos of 90+ year old Grandma being wrapped in the huge creation are some of my favorites. Photos of Bill Kimley walking among the tables and toasting the guests are neat too and the hiding of the money and a photo of the newspaper photographers! Someday you’ll see them.
Ruth and Randal
Here are more photos from the school visit. BoBo and Zoey wanted me to see the town and its older buildings. They weren’t sure of the history of them, but liked the fact that they were some of the older ones there. The school has been renamed periodically to reflect changes in its history. The last renaming was on its 241st anniversary. It was founded in 1763. The name He Feng (mild breezes and drizzle silently) honors the teachers who nurture students; (as light breezes and silent rain does plants is my interpretation.) The school will also look for more resources to “radiate the vigor of its splendor and to rewrite its new chapter.” quoting the news article. The buildings with their balconies and air of “age” reminded me of the old west or older parts of Savannah with all of the atmosphere of past glory. But the school is in the modern age and the students are as “with it” as teens everywhere. The teachers have the same concerns as teachers everywhere. There w!
as a “quaintness” in the town, but lots of forward-looking energy on the school campus and among the students. BoBo and Zoey, as examples, are very outward looking and interested in their future. I could feel the energy of the students. It was exciting.
walk around Doumen Town
buildings in Doumen Town
1/6/2007 9am Saturday
I am finishing the school visit story. I wanted to include more photos, but these will have to do. I may have sent some earlier. Zoey and BoBo are great company and I have enjoyed all of the time spent with them.
School Visit Part 2
On December 25th I went with Lillian to visit BoBo and Zoey at their school, He Feng Middle (also a high school. He Feng means mild breeze and silent drizzle. I found a Chinese tv transcript on the internet from the school’s renaming ceremony 2 years ago.) The school is in the Town of Doumen. It is called the Town of Doumen because there is a business/shopping center and a school so the whole area is called a town. It is located in the larger area of Doumen, hence "Town of Doumen." (our hotel is in Jiangan, also within Doumen.) Lillian and I took the 609 bus, the same one the girls take and the same one we took to visit the temple and pick strawberries. The school is further away than the temple, but maybe a 20 minute ride including a few stops. The "girls" make this trek once every 2 weeks and are at school having classes and studying Sunday through Saturday all the rest of the time. That’s right, one day off every 2 weeks and the rest they are in school. They wake at 6 am and go to sleep about 11 pm. From about 6:30 till 8 am they read and have individual study. Then they are in class from 8am till 11:30 with a short exercise session squeezed in. From 11:30 ~ 2:30 they eat lunch in the lunch room and then may rest in their dorm. (The dorm is kept locked hours when the students are supposed to be in class.) 2:30 ~5:30 more classes. 5:30~6:30 is dinner. After dinner they study until 11 pm. Everyday, Sunday through Saturday for 15 days straight! During the first 2 hears of high school they had one day each week to go home. Middle school is like our 7th, 8th, and 9th and high school is 10th ~ 12th. Also, the students remain in the same room and teachers move about the school. So in Zoey and BoBo’s class there are mostly girls because boys have chosen to focus on sciences or maths and the girls seem to focus on history and English or Chinese. Like the USA. I asked if they used computers much and was told they had no time because of school work and studying. Every student had mountains of books on his/her desk and most learning is done from these books or from the teachers. There are lots of hard copy periodicals in the library and some books. If a book isn’t available the librarians will try to get it for the students. Both girls and Lillian said that younger grades learned how to use computers, but studying for college entrance exams took most of the high school time. Zoey said that she especially liked her English and Chinese classes and both girls are focusing on history and I think that’s how they met. They do not share a dorm room, but each girl is in a room with at least 9 other girls since rooms have between 10 to 12 students. The students stay at school to avoid wasting travel time. This option is only available to the high school students and lower grades travel home each day. If a student lives close by, they may also go home at night. Students who stay on campus may only leave with special permission and BoBo and Zoey had to have permission to go off campus for lunch and a stroll during our visit. The students wear uniforms; grey track suits. I didn’t think to ask if they liked or disliked that. I think they can pick their shoes because I seemed to notice shoes were different among the students.
During our visit we met the Headmaster Mr. Shun Shong Qing who kindly gave us bottled water and told us to explore where we wished. We also met 2 school librarians Ms Lixian Liang and Mr.Cheng Qin Yu. Through Lillian we were able to talk about their brand new library, dedicated a few days earlier, libraries and life in general. They asked about my life and our planned travel. I told them I knew I was very lucky to be able to do such a thing. I really wish everywhere in the world we all spoke the same language because I wanted to know more about them and their lives, but without lots and lots of time it’s just not always possible. We did all speak "librarian speak" so that made conversation easier. I was sorry when finally we had to leave. But Lillian had to get back because after this busy day she still had to work from 4 pm until midnight!
Another building, after lunch the area was filled with typical teens
December 31, 2006 10:01 am
Jin Tai Zi Hotel Jingan, Doumen www.jtzhotel.com Golden Prince Hotel ( I think this is correct)
I have had a mild sore throat, and then a real sore throat with stuffed ears and stuffed nose and headache since last Sunday. Advil and Tylenol, tea and oranges, and some additional rest weren’t fixing it. By Thursday morning I was worried that I would end up with strep or a sinus infection since it involved stuffed ears, nasal pressure and a sharp headache. Sleeping was very uncomfortable, lying down stuffed up my nose and made my throat and head ache. You know, I had a cold. But a cold at home, when you can roam the drug store aisles, and read the boxes, and medicate yourself to get you through the common cold isn’t so easy here. Yesterday I walked into 2 shops and pointed to the phrase “I have a sore throat” conveniently connected to the word sore in my dictionary and bought what they gave me. But last night I was miserable, had taken some of one tablets and some medicinal teas I had bought and added Advil and Tylenol to the mix and some of Randal’s left over drops from his ear infection and was afraid of how my system would react from that overload.
And none of it seemed to be helping, even all of it together!
For the 27 years I lived in Roanoke I went to see Dr. Ward or one of the nurse practitioners maybe 3 times for cold symptoms. When I did go I would always feel better just because someone I trusted told me I would not get worse and would feel well soon. I think the trust went a long way to curing me, even more than the medicine and the rest and liquids. I think most of us feel that way about “our” doctor and his/her staff. But finally this morning I told Randal he would have to go with me to the clinic and we would take the dictionary and point. We knew we could call Stella to speak with the doctor if we had a problem. Lillian and May were both working the hotel desk so I really didn’t want to try to have either of them come with us. When we checked with her about the clinic to use, Stella said that she would go with me because the language would be a problem. A doctor looking at your throat, nose and ears is pretty universal, everything else, registering, getting meds, etc would have been much harder if not impossible without Stella’s help. Stella helped me fill out the registration’s few questions: name, sex, birthday, and marital status. Not the reams of paper like at home, but at this point they may have known from the first interview with the “greeter” that mine was a minor ailment. Stella kindly paid the registration money and took the papers and we went up to the second floor and saw Dr. Anna (how Stella pronounced her name.) No waiting or anything. I sat in the examination chair and Stella explained my problems. Dr. Anna immediately picked up something long and told me to say ahhhah. And I honestly tried. But I have always had a horrible gag reflex that no American doctor could breach. Somehow I was able to make her understand and she smiled and took the long thing away. Then she checked my nose and ears and said they were clear. My throat was the issue. She wrote up prescriptions and gave them to Stella and said if I didn’t feel better in 3 or 4 days to come back. (I’m typing this 3 hours later and I feel better already!) I instantly liked and trusted Dr. Anna. Some doctors are just like that and they make the cure come faster with their concern and empathy. When the exam was done Stella and I went to the 1st floor to the Chinese and Western pharmacies. Stella had to go with me to both so when they called my name I would know. My name in Chinese sounds like Luceh or Lucy; fitting since my first traveling friend Martha and I used to refer to ourselves as Lucy and Ethel when we would go off on our biking and hiking adventures. So anyway, we got the Chinese pills and the western pills and checked on how to take them; with food or not, etc. Then Stella went off to the ferry and back to Seahorse and I went back to our hotel to rest and take my meds. The hospital was just a 10 minute walk from the hotel.
Costs: Registration cost 10.50 rmb (same yuan) I think, since Stella kindly paid it. The doctor visit and meds were 39 rmb, $5.00 US. Even adding the 10.50 registration makes the total $6.30 US. The 2 receipts I have are for 23.25 and 39 and included the meds and the doctor. At least I think this is correct. I know I only paid 39 rmb and saw the doctor and got the meds. (( This isn’t an editorial comment at all. I would have paid lots more to have been able to see Dr. Ward. Seeing the doctor you know has medicinal qualities you can’t get at any pharmacy for any price.)) On my way back to the hotel I stopped at a bakery for some taro cakes and some take away food at the corner restaurant. At the restaurant I pointed to the takeout boxes and then to some greens and waited while they tried to guess if they knew what I really wanted. The owner filled my box with lots of rice and greens and then pointed to all the meats and fish and waited. I tried to say that I didn’t want anything else, but that was so odd to him that I wasn’t succeeding. So I pointed to the mushrooms and he emptied the tray of mushrooms filling my box of rice and greens to overflowing with them. All of that food was 5 rmb or less than $1.00. I took it to the room and put some of it into a bowl and added boiling water to reheat it and made soup. It was quite good. The soup cure, though not so good as the soup Lillian made for me yesterday to help my cold.
I have spent the afternoon resting in our room. I’m really not a good rester, especially when the sun is shining and there are interesting things to do outside. But I really do want to get better, so.. I did just come back from a visit to the hotel lobby to talk with Lillian and May about the lozenges that I was given this morning. They taste really terrible, really really terrible! I thought I had misunderstood and I was to take them like a pill. But Lillian and May just smiled, recognizing the main ingredient as something as children they had been made to take and hated. They reassured me that it was a lozenge and that it did indeed taste terrible. Lillian suggested that I suck it as long as possible and then swallow it with water. I’m not sure what I’ll do. Even the pills don’t taste as “good” as those from home. I think our medicine must come “sugar coated” or with some kind of taste enhancements so we’ll actually take it. I’m just hoping that taking all of these meds won’t send my stomach off the deep end, but they most likely will. But I have meds for that too. I bought those after our summer trip here when things didn’t always agree with my stomach.
Since Dr. Anna said I was ok, then I’m ok and will go back to being my old self…tomorrow. Today I’ll rest up, drink plenty of fluids, take my meds and email you in the morning (or whenever we can email again after the earthquake disruption) That was written on the 29th.
I have tried to include a picture of all of my meds and herbs for tea, but the connection is too slow. I wish I could give more details and tried to look up the hospital on the web, but couldn’t find anything. Stella did say the hospital where the Dr Anna’s office is located is connected to a university and is also a teaching facility. Trying to translate the Chinese names to English seems possible, but often doesn’t really work.
So that’s it.
December 25, 2006
At 11 am I will go down to the lobby of our hotel and meet Lillian. She and I are going off to visit a high school. Earlier this morning I walked to the book store near our hotel and bought some books for the school library. During our lovely Christmas Dinner with Stella’s family and some boat friends last night, I was told by Caroline Mok that she and her friends always brought books when they made school visits. So I picked out some English/Chinese and Chinese/English dictionaries and the book store ladies helped me pick out 2 books of English/ Chinese essays.
I am going to this particular school because 2 students came to talk to Randal and me in the pedestrian mall. We were looking at the food choices at a little food stand when the students asked if they could help. Randal tried to treat them to some food too, but they said no. He was able to persuade them into going to KFC so we could have ice cream. Randal and I had the ice cream and the girls had fries and chicken nuggets which they think are wonderful. We chatted and the girls BoBo and Zoey invited us to see their school. BoBo and Zoey are their English names, names they take so English language speakers will have an easier time than trying to pronounce their Chinese names. I am especially grateful for that kindness because I’m terrible with remembering English names so hopeless with the Chinese names that I can’t hear clearly enough to recreate.
We exchanged phone numbers with the girls, young women actually, and with the help of Lillian called and arranged the visit today. It’s Christmas, but not a holiday here. People seem to celebrate the fun and feasting and decorating and gift giving of the holiday, but not the religious aspects and it’s definitely not a “closing down” holiday. My feelings are that where ever you are you join in what ever is being celebrated and learn about the culture. It usually just involves eating and that’s always good. I have brought some papers with the blog and library address to give to the students. When we met Bobo and Zoey they said their school was the He Feng Middle School, but I’m confused now after the visit.
It is now 5:22 pm and I’m back from a very wonderful day. Bobo and Zoey are very charming and made me feel very special and welcomed. At 11 am I met Lillian and we took the bus to South Dor. I believe this is a correct understanding, but I didn’t write it down (rats!). I didn’t write anything down and have now definitely learned my lesson and will make up a Question sheet to take with me on other visits. A gentleman on the bus gave us directions to the High School. Lillian explained to the guard at the entrance booth who we were and why we were there and we were allowed in. (With the help also of a kind teacher who was there too at the gate.) Lillian finally was able to phone Bobo and arrange where we should meet. (We had made a plan to meet at noon but Lillian and I were unsure where.) Bobo and Zoey came running to meet us from their dorm where they had rushed to wash up before meeting us. I don’t know who was more excited the girls or me for this tour. First we walked over to the new library, but the librarians were at lunch then so we planned to come back later and we all went off to lunch. They said it was Chinese fast food, but I thought it was wonderful and flavorful, chicken, squid, meet, eggplant, rice, cabbage. After lunch we went on a little tour of the town and took photos of some picturesque buildings. Then it was time to go back to the school and see if the librarians were there. They weren’t back yet, but we took some more photos in the library. Lillian and I walked with Zoe and Bobo back downstairs and outside where we met the Head Master. Through Lillian he welcomed me and told me that the school was 243 years old, almost as old as the USA! He got us bottled water and told us to look around as long as we wanted. Bobo and Zoey went off to class and Lillian and I went back to the library because one of the librarians was going in and she told us the other librarians would be there too. We went into the library and shared the common language of books and libraries and world travel. The librarians were very kind, but sadly, though I have their photos, I don’t have their names. I wish I did. They very graciously thanked me for my books and asked if I wanted them as “reference” or “circulating.” I knew they would know best and told them it was their decision to use them the way they wished. We then chatted about the plans that Randal and I have to travel. Lillian translated for us though I think they understood some of what I said. I was the one who fell short with no language skills.
All too soon it was time for us to leave because Lillian had to be at work by 3:45 pm and it was 3:10 pm when we left the library. It was too late to take the 609 bus back to Jingan (Doumen) so we took a taxi. Lillian went off to work and I went off to rest and write this email.
I do need to work on my journalistic skills. I wish that I could call up the librarians and head master and say, tell me how to spell your names. Or what are more facts about the school. Bobo and Zoey live at the school all week and eat their meals there. They pay some tuition and that pays for their basic books. But the more money a student has, it seems that they can buy more books. I did ask the school librarian what happens when more than one student needs a book at the same time. She said the library would buy or borrow more copies so they could give them to the students. This is exactly what we did in my library. I told the librarians that seeing the students and the library really reminded me of home. I actually felt a little teary telling them that and was surprised by it.
So although I don’t have many facts, hopefully you will enjoy the pictures that Lillian and I took. I will post them in 2 parts. The first set are of the girls and the school. The second set are our walk around town.
I would never have taken this wonderful visit if Zoey and BoBo hadn’t been brave enough to come up to Randal and me and talk to us. And also, without Lillian as my guide I never would have taken the opportunity.
Ruth and Randal
Boston Red Sox hat travels the world.