Archive for November, 2006
Posted by: doramac in General
The email below is from Randal’s sister! Humor is a family trait!! We really don’t know anything about the pots . They are ceramic. Alan Hale, back in the reference department remembered the antique questions we always worked on and insanely mentioned researching the pot as a joke. I took him up on the offer. But though at times a picture is worh 1000 words…in this case a picture isn’t enough. If we ever do find out anything we’ll pass it along.
Nov. 30 noon. My sister says that since our computer doesn’t match our time to include it with the email so I’ll try to remember. We did watch Katie Couric do yesterday’s evening news this morning when we already knew everything she was going to say from watching Beijing news (English version)
Sent: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 7:45 PM
Subject: Re: Randal’s antiques show
Well, now you at least have a pot to piss in!
To tell the truth, they’re pretty attractive pots, don’t you think?
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My lovely Chinese lady friend and mountain guide.
The monument that first caught my attention.
Looking down to Doumen from the monument.
This was behind the first monument.
So I’ll start the story of my mountain walk. I was on the way to the park in Doumen and decided to take a different route to get there. On my way I noticed the stone stairway leading up the mountain. I had no idea what it lead to, but decided to go see. Part way up I noticed the monument so walked up to it and then to the little building behind and then up past that to a pagoda.
Behind the pagoda I saw this path and was intrigued. But I was afraid to go because it lead up into the woods and I just was afraid. But just then a cute little Chinese lady came along. Somehow we started to communicate and somehow I managed to ask if she were going up the path up the mountain. Then I managed to ask if I could tag along. Off we went up the path and then up a dirt path and then another dirt path to what looked like the top. I saw a path down the other side and hoped we weren’t heading off that way because it seemed off from the direction we had come and down to who knows where. I felt safe, just a little lost. But I had water with me so I figured it was ok. But we stopped at the top and my friend started lung exercises. She sang out words. I say sang rather than shouted because it was very melodious. Then she sang a very lovely song. I yelled a few very low notes and la la laaasss. Then we turned around and started down the mountain. But not the way we had come. There was a little dirt side path that looked slippery. I must have seemed hesitant because she took my hand so I couldn’t slide. I am about 4 inches taller than she and about 15 pounds heavier, but I have no doubt she could have kept us both on our feet. We came to a fork in the path. Other ladies were there exercising. She introduced me. Then we kept walking past a very large beautiful vegetable garden. The path seemed part woods and part jungle since we are somewhat tropical like Florida. Then we met more women exercising…a combination between a hula and hula hoop motion. Again I was introduced. Each time my friend would say nihao, or sheshe. Hello and thank you meaning that those were the only words I knew and couldn’t speak Chinese. Boy, am I sorry that I can’t because I would have loved to have talked to all of the ladies we met. We kept walking and came to a path that lead us down to the back of the park I had been going to in the first place. On earlier walks in the park I had seen this path up the mountain but had never taken it. We met more ladies and talked more to them. Then I gave my new friend one of the red, white, and blue stars and stripes bandanas. I was glad that I had it. She accepted it graciously. Then I communicated that I was going to walk to the ferry and go to Baijiao. She walked the whole way with me, stopping a few “suits” to see if they spoke English. But they didn’t. I’m sure she wanted them to translate for us. Next she pointed out where she lived. Earlier on our walk we had managed to discuss our ages. She was 60. When we got to the ferry I had my money out, but she insisted on buying my ticket. I was sorry to see her go and I think she was sorry to see me go because we had had a very good time and had enjoyed each other’s company. Our silences had been very companionable.
Through our whole adventure I kept thinking, “this is why we are doing this boat thing. To meet new friends and see their lives. Her life included morning hikes up this mountain.” I watched her walk away from the ferry and was sad not to have been able to say, “Let’s have a cup of tea somewhere.” It is tiring trying to not be misunderstood and be understood. So I was ready to go my own way. But I think I can picture her smile and friendship and that will have to do.
ps I have time to explore and write because Randal is working with Seahorse about our boat and I’m not. I have learned a little about the boat. But if I can learn the camera and the streets of Doumen, how to shop and get our laundry done I guess I can learn the boat when the time comes. I’m even trying to make an English version of the Chinese Doumen map to learn to read maps better.
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Almost every day we are lucky to be invited for lunch at the boat yard. The food is wonderful and I am always still eating after I am no longer hungry! We have lots of vegetable dishes and chicken and fish and pork and squid and eggs with tomatoes or onions. Stella showed me how to cook the eggs and the squid and the pork. But everything is done on so large a scale I haven’t volunteered to try. A mistake would be a big mistake. Plus they cook over large flames and I don’t want to set the place on fire. But the food tastes fresh and light and spicy and is the best food we eat in China. We often don’t need dinner because of the large lunch we eat.
Big Cook, Stella and Big Cook’s husband.
Big Cook and Stella just starting lunch.
A stir fried pork dish.
We have beer with lunch. Not what I would think to do at home, but the beer is very light and refreshing. I think that the large bottle in the picture costs about 50 cents US or something like that. It’s much better than diet coke. I have about 1/2 little cup of it and that is enough.
Dean Phelps, Bill Kimley, Stella Kimley. More dishes to come.
End of meal
Does the food here taste different than the food at home? If you have eaten really good Chinese food, then no it’s not so different. There is no sweet and sour gloppy pork dishes like at home. Even the garlic green beans there are heavier than the food at the yard. This is healthy Chinese food. No salt or MSG. Just good food and fresh ingredients cooked in light oil quickly. I eat more than at home but lose weight.
Next time I’ll tell you about my walk to the park that became a hike up the mountain with a very kind little Chinese lady!
After lunch we are very full!
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Step 1. Carefully walk to treasure and lift it up. Yell, “Ruth, get the camera!”
Step 2. Hold treasure up!
Step 3. Take photo of pots!
Yesterday’s email mentioned that Randal noticed some pottery in the river just outside the boat yard office. Two of the pots came out of the river in one piece. The third was already missing one of its 3 pieces. Randal washed the 2 whole ones, but this morning one was a bit more broken.
So what do you think?
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Picture at the Jin Tai Temple, Doumen
This is a wonderful park along the river in Doumen. The river is Yellow Ocean River so the park is Yellow Ocean River Park It is part of the waterways that make up the Pearl River Delta. The water often looks yellow rather than blue or green.
Today is a lovely fall like day. There is a breeze and the sun is shining. I have a long sleeve t-shirt and a light weight wool sweater. I have on my B hat because it is cool and sunny. But I had bought a shawl/scarf in Zhuhai last week and wrapped that around my neck. I’m sure I looked really spiffy but I felt very comfortable. I walked to the laundry to pick up and drop off. The last hand washing I had done mildewed before it dried. So now it’s to the laundry with everything. When we move onto the boat we’ll do it there. We had done a few loads and hung them to dry at the yard. But the weather has just been too overcast to plan on that. I stopped on my way back to the hotel for a few essentials; wine and instant oatmeal. The electricity wasn’t working in the little supermarket so I shopped by a borrowed flashlight and several smiling clerks. I let them pick the wine this time; my last choice…the bottle with the clever topper went down the drain. The topper looked suspect and kind of rusted or something..But I’m saving it to make a message in a bottle when we start the voyage. I had tried one in August, but I think it ended up just down the river at the recycling plant.
Back to the hotel to drop off the clean laundry and the supplies and then off to the river park with my sketch book. I was determined to jumpstart my sketching again. I did but had several very kind people watch me. I’m not good enough to feel comfortable with that. Two ladies watched, smiled, and then walked on. But they came back and asked where I was from. The lady who asked actually had lived in Charleston, SC for the past 20 years! We chatted about our future voyage and hurricanes in Charleston. She came two months ago and would stay one more month. After a bit I packed up my backpack and walked away. But I did make a basic sketch of the stone wall and river and world’s largest MSG plant across the river. I was pleased that I had actually just done it! Then I walked over to Baijiao and stopped to buy a large needle and a crochet hook. I am going to relearn to knit and learn to crochet. We have time in the evening when we listen to the tv that I can learn to do this. It takes less room than painting and our hotel room just isn’t roomy enough unless I really juggle stuff. But I have an idea for something I would like to try to paint so I will. I have learned to recognize and write the symbol for woman and boat and man. There are a few words l recognize because they use the symbol for woman. I want to learn to paint those symbols.
Yesterday Randal and I spent the day with Bill in Hong Kong. It was a race to keep up with Bill as he went first to the sail maker where we picked the “color” sail we want, then to the Post Office and metal parts places and electonic street where you can buy anything electronic from the little shops that line the street and sidewalk. It makes me think of what you think Hong Kong would be. It’s like a gigantic fleamarket in every direction and in Chinese. This is the other Hong Kong from Cameron Road and Nathan Road with its Gucci and Donna Karran and all of the other designers and the really expensive fancy malls. Bill took us to lunch on the 13th floor of a “fancy mall” in Mong Ko at Mr. Steak. We had a lovely lunch. They gave you a demi tasse cup of cauliflower soup and there was an exotic salad bar. Dessert bar too. Then we shopped for “parts” and then we taxied back to the part of Nathan Road where our HSBC bank was located. Bill went on to catch the 4:30 ferry. Randal stood in line at the bank and I went to the Gateway Mall to PageOne bookstore. Yippee!! The Memory Keeper and a collection of journal essays by Anita Diamant (sp) and a beginning knitting and crochet book. It was over 500 dollars HK and pretty expensive US too, about $60 US. But one doesn’t get this chance very often and THERE ARE NO LIBRARIES THAT I CAN USE!!! Pass that on to legislators who vote for library money.
Randal was just dumpster diving! Not really, but he did pull a pottery piece from the “Yellow Ocean River” which is very low just now. We’ll tell you if it’s priceless. I’ll include a photo next time to keep you in suspense.
So till then, from the Chinese version of Antiques Road Show
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Here is one of the temple buildings. I explain in the letter.
It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I have broken our hotel room door. I have no idea how it happened. I walked out just like every other day. I left the hotel to do my daily exploring and little bit of shopping. But when I got back it wouldn’t open. I had just seen (Wang Li Li I’m guessing at the spelling) who cleans our room in the hallway. I brought her to see that the overhead light didn’t work in the bathroom. But we couldn’t open the door. So they had to get one of the hotel service men to fix it. I had gone to get shampoo and Q-tips and a few other things. Lilian, one of the managers told me that if they couldn’t fix the door they would move us. Hopefully the door is fixed. We have too much stuff, mostly for the boat, to move to another room.
Now it’s 2 days after and I am working to send this letter! It is “pouring down rain” today. But it’s warm so an umbrella, rain jacket, hiking boots, and wool socks and I’m ok. I had my Red Sox hat on too so the rain wouldn’t drip in my face. But I think I’ll need to wear it less because the brim tends to obscure low lying objects like the stainless steel rim of the cockpit bimini. I stood up SLAM!!! into it because my brim hid it. I think I’m a 1/4 inch shorter today.
We spent Thanksgiving with our China friends and met new friends. There was traditional turkey and untraditional octupus in spicy marinara sauce, creme brulee and deadly chocolate pie. I ate it all and had seconds too! We were guests of Gerry Wallace who was kind enough to take us to the expats dinner when we were here in 2004 too.
Yesterday 4 of the hotel staff and the hotel manager drove Randal and me to a temple about 30 minutes from our hotel. It is on a mountain and beside a huge reservoir. It was dusk on a hazy day so the real beauty of the setting was slightly obscured. We walked around the area, listened to the monks in their traditional orange robes as they walked chanting through the temple grounds. People were lighting incense and maybe prayer sticks in a large cast iron brazier (sp?) I think that’s the term. Then as we drove back down the mountain in the darkness Ricky, the driver and manager, played a cd of singing monks. At one point he stopped the car and the rest of us got out and walked a little way in the peaceful darkness. We convinced all of them to come to dinner as our guests at the Cornfield Coffee Western Restaurant that we like. We learn from them and they from us. But I do have a very difficult! time recreating real Chinese pronunciation. I’m better with chopsticks!
Ricky and the ladies!
Here is Ricky eating his steak dinner special. He’s 39, looks 25, eats like an 18 year old helping finish some of the ladies’ dinners and a piece of the pizza Randal and I had. But Chinese eating is about sharing and tasting all of the dishes.
Randal and I are probably going to Hong Kong Monday and returning Tuesday. I know that sounds exotic. It does involve a 45 minute drive to the Zhuhai ferry and passports and visas. But I’m really used to it so it’s no more difficult than going to Washington DC for a few days. I’m desparate for a bookstore, we’ll visit the Nagles and Fritchs who are living on their boats in Hong Kong. We’ll do some boat and bank tasks. And we’ll see. It’s best not to plan too much because some tasks can be a train ride away from the other task.
So that’s it for this edition.
Ruth and Randal
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My sister asked about "our time" because of the time connected with the computer messages. Our computer is still set for the states and is 12 hours behind our time here which is 12 or 13 hours ahead of your time there! Not sure about the impact of daylight savings. Get it. Also, all of China has one time zone. But we never noticed that didn’t work while we were crossing the country on the Yangtzee cruise. It’s amazing the things I never think about. You might do better looking that up on the internet than waiting for me to explain it.
Randal’s sister asked that we include names of places we see like the temple last email. Many places, buildings, etc only have Chinese characters. I’m sure we were told the name of the temple, but there’s no way for me to recreate anything accurate unless I see it written in English letters. But I did hunt around on the internet and found the name. It is called Jin Tai Temple on Huangyang Mountain in Doumen (Zhuhai western area) And you can take bus 609 in front of our hotel and get there. I may very well do that one day. The bus drops you at the foot of the mountain and you walk up. Nothing like climbing Sharp Top or anything. You just walk up the road, very scenic views of the reservoir. There are hot springs near there named Yu Hot Spring. We did the hot springs in Bath county after a bike ride so this I might take a pass on. Plus I think I would just be too much of a spectacle wearing I’m not sure what and my Red Sox hat.
Today I’m all decked out in my 20 year old Red Sox shirt, Red Sox hat, Red Sox watch, and a B hat charm on my necklace. If they don’t win the Series this year with all of these talisman I’m lugging around I just don’t know. Have met no other Sox fans.
Tomorrow Randal and I plan to go to Hong Kong so I might not email for a few days.
Thanks Linda and Ken for the family Thanksgiving photos! I got hungry just looking.
Thanksgiving is a meal for over indulgence to remember the hard times. But I have to tell you watching a news story about insane shoppers rushing the store doors to "shop for Christmas," well, I just can’t imagine what the Chinese make of that. It was a little embarrassing to see from a foreign perspective. More more more more more. Every day I return to our hotel with a few bags of "necessities" like shampoo or water for our instant dinner noodles. The hotel staff looks at me as though I’m a mad shopper. I’m embarrassed. Oddly though, there are lots of stores with lots of shoppers, or window shoppers anyway.
I was tempted by a beautifully made lined wool jacket with lovely amber colored buttons and a shawl collar. It was muted colors of browns and greys and greens. The price was about 108 rmb = $14 US. But I don’t really need it so……. As if I really needed a Red Sox watch! But it’s my connection to home so I have it.
So those are my thoughts for the day.
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Here is a picture of Randal some of you asked for.
I think the whole process took almost 45 minutes while the barber just kept checking to make sure every hair was in place and even and the mustache and beard were perfect. Randal kept saying get the boat in the picture, so it is though I really wanted to show him and his new look. This may not look so short to some of you, but when Randal and I came in mid-July he could almost tie back his hair. The short look is more recent. There was no backrub or massage with this, but that was just fine with Randal.
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This is a great idea! It’s a built in corkscrew. Though it just now occured to me it might be extremely cheap Chinese champaign. When I open it we’ll see. It cost 46.20 rmb = about $6.00 US which is about what I spent at home for everyday wine for me.
Our hotel snacks! We eat a huge lunch here at the boat yard. The food is wonderful. Stella has taught me to cook a few dishes. She cooks and I watch. I’m not actually sure what is in the white box. I’m hoping it is low fat milk, but again we won’t know till we open it. But that’s ok
This is the new guard dog! I called him Jack. But Stella thinks his name should be dirty face dog because most of him is white or light brown and his face is all dark. He is so cute and I play with him every day.
Here is Randal helping put up the bimini that will cover the cockpit behind the pilot house.
Thanks for all of the Happy Thanksgiving messages.
Ru and Randal
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Happy Thanksgiving to you all. We have been invited to attend the expats Holiday Dinner in Zhuhai. It’s a "holiday" dinner because Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year are all celebrated in one night of feasting and fun! Randal and I were lucky to have been invited during our visit in 2004. Since Thanksgiving has always been my favorite family holiday it’s nice that we are celebrating here with our wonderful Chinese friends. I’ll try to remember details this year to share with you.
My morning routine has changed this trip. I used to walk to the yard with Randal and stay the whole day. But now I have decided to do more exploring so that’s how I start my mornings. I leave the hotel at about 9 am and don’t go down the main street. Rather I go down the side street by the hotel and walk 2 blocks and turn left. I like this street because it is a mix of neighborhoods and shops and is much less busy than the main street with it’s crowd and shoppers and advertising music booming from each shop. (Sometimes when I am in the mood it’s fun to listen to the music and walk to the beat like dancing!) I walk a few blocks and then turn down Xinmin Road. Luckily they have the name in our alphabet so I can start to recognize where I am. (I bought a map today and will try to adapt for my walks and for others who come to the area for the first time. Since I’m not so good at maps this will be a challenge.) I go right on Xinmin Road so am zigzaging my way along. When Xinmin Road ended I really didn’t want to just turn around and retrace my step, my usual habit to avoid getting lost. But what the heck, I thought, just do it and find a new place today. So I turned left at the end of the road and walked along and came to a wonderful park with 2 small lakes and a stone bridge that looks as you can imagine a bridge in a Chinese painting would look. There were people practicing tai chi and some women learning to dance with a snapping red fan; the movements were similar to the tai chi movements. At least it looked that way to my very untrained eye. I tried to learn a little tai chi on our Yangtze trip this past summer. Need lots of work on that for sure. I walked through the park a little way saving my real exploration of it for a nice day, today is very overcast with more rain predicted. I will come with my drawing pad and colored pencils and try to begin to draw and paint again. The park seems to be at the foot of a wooded mountain. There are also little pagoda buildings as well as pingpong courts. I could hear but not see people playing. That will be for another day too.
I walked part way around the lake and over the stone bridge and out of the park. I could have retraced my steps back to Xinmin street, but decided not to. Forge on I told myself hoping I could remember the word for ferry to ask for directions if I really got stuck. I also have a card from our hotel with a map so I really wasn’t worried. Somehow I’d get back to either the ferry to go to the boatyard or to our hotel and then go on to the yard. But I just actually had made a giant square and realized that I was on a road perpendicular in Xinmin Road! From there I could easily find my way to the ferry and over to Baijiao and the boat yard. It was about an hour and a half. I did stop on the way at a bakery because they sell yogurt. It’s a little more liquid than ours and it comes with a straw. I got strawberry. Oddly in China I don’t look for sugar free or fat free or pretend food bars. I just eat what we find and the wonderful boat yard lunch and I’m fine. The waistband on my pants don’t get snug. That’s how I tell since we don’t have a scale.
Last night Randal got a haircut and shave! It was an oldfashioned barber shop. The barber used a straight razor and the tools that you see in the old west movies. The shop was opened to the street and I kept waiting for some teenage kids to go by with their usual antics and startle the barber who would then cut Randal’s throat. Later I found out Randal was thinking the same thing. But though there was thunder and lightening and lots of street noise Randal is still with me and looks quite handsome with his newly shorn hair and close shave. I must say the haircutting skills here are very good and it was my expensive Philadelphia haircut that needed fixing. Luckily Sherri O’Brien did just that before we left home.
So I guess that’s it for now. I was getting a tad longwinded anyway. Oh, Ann Penn asked how long we would be in China. We’ll be here through the end of the year anyway. Then it’s whenever the boat is ready we’ll head off.
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