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On The Road: Weihai Part IV

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In the last few days here in Weihai I’ve had time to visit a zoo, eat dinner with university administrators, give a presentation on student activities at MSU and go to a KTV to sing my heart out.

Good Group, Great Dinner and Strong Fire Water

Let’s get the official (literally) business out of the way first.  Part of a MSU delegation trip to Shandong University at Weihai is to have a reception and meet with university administrators. So, on this particular evening we met with the president, the secretary a dean and professor. We were all presented with gifts and we reciprocated, then on to dinner. Here’s where the fun begins. First, to my knowledge professional/business banquets in China involve significant consumption of high proof alcohol, and there are some “rules” to the drinking. Picture a round table with assigned seats.  The party host sits directly across from the entrance of the room. The second host sits directly across the table. The role of the first host is to welcome guests and give three toasts. The role of the second host to my knowledge, as told to me by our intrepid leader Issac, is to get drunk. Now on to the guests (us MSU folks) The guests, who sit next to the first and second host, historically should do as the hosts do, or at least give it the college try.  And who gets the seat next to the second (drunk) host???? Me.  He was a great man who spoke little English, but I gathered he got his graduate degrees in the Koreas, South and North (interesting). I also gathered he has quite the tolerance for high proof alcohol. The traditional drink for these dinners is a “white wine” but to us is more like fire water. (tested and proven, burns a blue flame) 54 percent alcohol, translates into 108 proof. Three glasses translate into a sweaty headache, a fire in the stomach and smidge of blurred vision. But, we made it.  By the end of the dinner the second host referred to me as his little brother and gave me a hug (He stands to my left in the photo next to Sarah Clark). Good Times.

Generic KTV Logo: Thanks Travel Blog

Believe it or not the firewater buzz didn’t lead to a night out singing karaoke, but a day at the zoo and visiting the easternmost coastal point in northern China did. You can see more about our zoo trip and beautiful photos on Dana’s blog. Anyway, our group had some busy days and wanted to blow off some steam, and we did at a family- oriented KTV. I write family oriented, because a quick Google search of KTV’s in China sometimes brings up some questionable photos and stories. So, here are a couple of things to note. KTV’s are individual singing rooms you rent for an hour or two where you and a group of friends shut the door, sit on couches drink various beverages eat some popcorn and sing as loudly and obnoxiously as you’d like. If you find yourself in a Chinese KTV be aware there are an array of American pop songs, but not all are translated correctly into karaoke versions, and the music videos don’t make much sense. For example, we sang “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” and the video depicted a series of grand prix car wrecks. Or, John Lennon’s “Imagine” had some very beautiful shots of vines, cherry trees, children crying, soccer matches and a frying pan.  But we did have fun, with our popcorn, drinks and friends, new and old.

Presentation

Tonight was the last presentation for our delegation regarding MSU. Dana and I gave our presentations on student life and organizations to a room full of SDUW students. They went well. But, honestly the best part comes at the end. Students flock to the floor of the presentation room to chat with us about all things American or Murray State. I spoke with a delightful girl whose American name is Amy. Amy asked if our group was going out to party tonight. I said no, and then returned the question. What about you? She says… “No, partying isn’t too popular here.” I suppose the campus-wide curfew puts a damper on late night gallivanting.   Anyway, I asked what they do on the weekends when the curfew is extended to 11:30 p.m. Amy provided no real response, because she was bursting with excitement to tell me that she and her friends had a huge weekend planned. Was it windsurfing on the beach? Was it going on a road trip to visit another school? Was it an off campus party?   NOPE. Amy and her friends were going to a mountain two hours away to pick cherries. Not the exhilarating beach, coastal schoolgirl’s response I expected. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when the hottest seller on campus is not an ice cream cone, soda, or candy bar, but huge slices of melon on a stick.  Anyway, it just goes to show the sheer innocence these students possess. It is absolutely amazing. When is the last time you got uncontrollably excited about picking cherries with your friends? When is the last time you took time enjoy the company of people without any outside distracting influence?  I’ve tried to hone in on what makes these people so accommodating and genuine, and I don’t think I have the complete answer, but I think Amy gave me a tidbit of it.  What a great experience.

PEACE,

Chad

Written by Chad Lampe

May 27, 2011 at 10:21 am

On the Road: Wehai Part III

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So, I learned some interesting things during the past few days. Some are newsy, some not. Let’s start with the newsy.

  1. An American couple named Finnie and Deb have transplanted here for a couple of years from a university in Nebraska. Deb attended our seminar on Tea. (See #2) So, Deb mentions to me an interesting aspect of the one child policy in China I hadn’t thought of before. (not that you are terribly interested in what I’ve thought before, but nonetheless)  Twins. What does a family do if they obtain a permit for one child, but become pregnant with twins?  You get to keep them.  But, for folks who violate the one child policy the penalties are fairly strict, like 15,000 to 30,000 RMB (Currency) or you lose your job if you are a government employee. For some folks twins can be the perfect way to circumvent the policy. But, of course raising a two children is still expensive, but less so if the twins are different sexes.  It is no surprise though that things here are a bit backwards than the U.S. Here boys are expensive.  Traditionally, the groom’s parents pay for the wedding, and the home. So that’s a double whammy for the parents.

    Thanks to Chinese Learner Blog for the Photo

  2. The twin talk occurred during our tea tutorial.  We sampled 5 teas: black, white, oolong, red and green. I’m no tea aficionado and you who are please feel free to skip this part.  I was amazed at the process.  It is simple and doesn’t take long to explain. First boil your water in a separate pot. Fill your tea pot and cups, then directly pour out the hot water. This heats up the pot. I’m not sure why it is important. I’m guessing not to shock the tea. Anyway, now that your teapot and cups are warm put your tealeaves in your strainer. Then pour your hot water over the tea then promptly pour out the water. This washes the leaves. Now you’re just another pour away from hot tea. Go ahead and fill your pot and then immediately pour the tea from the teapot into your cups. The kicker. No steep time. Well at least for those five teas we had zero steep time. Interesting huh?
  3. Sniffing a Black Tea: Thanks Dana Howard for the Photo

    Babies: So, picture a sumo wrestler. The diaper-like outfit. Got the picture? Now, picture babies running around the beach, or anywhere for that matter, with the complete opposite of that outfit. Two pant legs and a waist, but no back or front. Enough said. No need for detail or picture, but I can tell you it is true and for practical reasons, and maybe ingenious for potty training.

  4. The Liuong Island: Britain occupied a bunch of places for an awfully long time. This included the Liouong Island just off the coast of Weihai (BTW Pronounced Way- High) on the East China Sea. This is also home to the creation of the modern Chinese Navy.  I also learned that you can take a lot of photos in China, but not of an old British home guarded by Chinese Naval Officers. (Out of sheer fear, I will post a photo that may or may not exist after I arrive back in the U.S.) So instead:

    Funny that a sign with the correct translation "Life Jacket" was on the sign to the left.

  5. Pandas are Cute

    Cute Little Dude Isn't He

  6. Sometimes the sun has a ring around it. I saw it for the first time this week.

    Took the photo through my sunglasses to cut down on glare. Neat huh?

    That’s all for now. Hope to post more soon.  Hope everyone if faring well. Heard of severe weather in the region over the last day or so.

-Chad

Written by Chad Lampe

May 23, 2011 at 7:39 am

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