More notes from the road tonight…
Tomorrow we go to the big park near the hotel, but first we have Chinese lessons in the morning at the school then we meet our pengyou (“friend” or local guide) and off to explore the park in the afternoon. Tonight, we had a welcome dinner at a place called McFound. We had great eggplant, rice, potatoes, veggies, and the like. The food is really quite good and I found it to be both very healthy (energizing) and quite tasty. All of the places we wound up eating on the trip offered us very good food. At McFound, we also had smoked barley tea which had a slight coffee-like flavor or so we were told. I’m not sure about the coffee taste but I did quite like the tea. The food really was excellent. They served us here, like most of the meals, on a big lazy Susan type of setup and we all eat family style. I managed the chopsticks quite well even eating something the locals dubbed a “Chinese burrito” with them. I’m not the best at chopsticks but getting better each time I use them. I love the fact that I can learn how to do this at my ripe old age. It’s evidence that you’re never too old to learn new tricks. Over the course of the trip I did not really miss a knife and fork all that much, rather I found the chopsticks to be a nice way of eating. I may invest in a pair for my house now that I have returned home as I actually liked eating with them and they really are not that difficult to use.
I had forgot to post last time about the movie on the plane. The movie was an interesting movie called “The Purpose of Dog.” It was a pretty good movie but it made me think about Chase and dogs in general. Sad! I wanted to cry. I would watch the movie again but I have found that when traveling I really do wind up missing my dog the most. Poor little Chase. I know he’s ok with my family but he also misses me when I am away.
On October 23rd, Monday of my journey, we went for the Mandarin lessons at the school, CLI. The teacher we had was really very good. I got the impression that you could really learn to speak Mandarin with some time, practice, and patience. I never thought of myself as being very good with languages but I did manage to pick up a couple of words over the course of our studies. Mandarin had four tones to the vowels and there is something called Pinyin which is a way of writing Chinese in what basically amounts to Latin style (English really) characters. Pinyin relies upon the accents but it is something westerners can sort of read so it helps when learning Mandarin. I got the impression that I might be able to learn some Mandarin with the help of the Pinyin but I would face a most difficult time trying to master the characters that make up the Mandarin alphabet. Learning that I reckon would take some time and might just prove impossible for somebody like me, so the Pinyin is very handy.
A couple of things we learned to say, or tried to say: chi fan means to have a meal. Ba ba means father, ma ma means mother. Hen hao means very good. Shi (pronounced like “sha”) means yes or it can double as the very to be. Bu shi (pronounced like “bushy”) means No. Wo e le means I’m hungry. You can make something into a question by adding the word “ma” at the end. The word wo means I or me.
Enough of my poor man’s Mandarin back to notes on photography. On Monday we also went to the Seven Star Park. This park reminded me a bit like Austin’s own Zilker Park only perhaps a bit bigger. Inside the park, there is a zoo, a big lake where President Clinton once gave a talk on the environment, and an amusement park of sorts. There is also a Buddhist temple which was an event unto itself and worthy of quite an extended visit. The temple had golden Buddhas and the building itself was sort of built against the mountain. It was really very beautiful. It was actually a series of buildings with one building housing colored (hand painted) giant figures and the main temple had a series of giant golden men as well as a central alter with a giant gold Buddha. There was a courtyard surrounded by a series of buildings each offering some interesting shots. In the courtyard, there was a “wishing tree” where people write wishes on slips of paper made to look like leaves. It’s considered a form of meditation to hear leaves rustle in the wind and these “wish” leaves fluttered in the breeze as I sat there and enjoyed the beautiful courtyard. The image above is some of the wishes blowing in the breeze from the wishing tree. It was quite a lovely sight to experience. The entire temple area was quite beautiful and I wound up making a video so I could try to capture it better. At some point, I will try to post to my YouTube channel to share the video so you can see it too.
In more mundane news, I switched hotel rooms, so I am no longer on the fifth floor but now in room 205. It’s smaller but less steps, near the bottom. At dinner time, we had something called “squirrel fish” which was not actually squirrel but called that on account of the way the tail of the fish sort of flops over as they cook and prepare it. It was very sweet tasting and I really liked it. Also, we had potato, cabbage, plus some tofu and rice. We had something called corn juice which was served warm and it’s sweet, almost like a smoothie of sorts. It was tasty.
Seven Star Park also had Minions and several Disney like statues. There is a practice in China of painting artwork on trees. I found it quite interesting and took some shots of tree art, which I might share later on.
I’ll leave you with more Chinese from my lesson the next morning. We learned some numbers, how to count basically, so we could shop and buy food type items as well. This was quite helpful. Then we also learned some photography type terms so we could survive. Zhao Pian means photo. Wo ke yi pai ni ma? Means May I take your picture? They warned us to be careful saying this because, in Mandarin, the very to take can also mean to hit somebody. Wo Xi Huan Pai Zhao Pian means I like to take photo. Zhao Xiang Ji is a camera. Ji is a machine. Ni Hui Shuo Ying Wen Ma? Means can you speak English? The word Cha means tea.
Next up I’ll share some experiences from the tourist area, which we visited at night, as well as the Buddhist cafe where we ate lunch.
Until next time…