Tuesday, October 02, 2012 Yantai, China
We woke with the notion that Yantai is a doable town and booked another night at the Golden Gulf Hotel , here in the Yantaishan Scenic Area; went to the Yantai Port Huanhai Lu Passenger Transport Station, which is called the Bohai Train Ferry and got our selves a soft-sleeper, first class which we are told is eight people in a room for the six hour trip back to Dalian on Friday. Not sure what eight people, bunk beds we are told, will be like to hang with when six of the people will be speaking in tongues or something that we will not understand. The ferry – see below – leaves at nine am and rocks up in Dalian at three pm. The headlines for today’s paper were that 37 died in a ferry accident yesterday in Hong Kong, so we are excited. Of course we hope we get on the correct ferry as one of them goes to Korea, a 22 hour trip.
After another big buffet breakfast at the Golden Gulf Hotel we grabbed the # 17 goes along the Binhai Road that follows the shore, see our youtube video clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyTNEHI6XVg&feature=plcp Our hotel is right on the gulf with this great view
The bus took an hour from when we got on until it came to a place of six other parked double decker buses like itself. We were fortunate to get a seat upstairs in the front, at least to the end, so I could get some video from a good spot. When we got to where it parked, which I think was a university we could not find anyone that could communicate in any of the languages that we spoke (Australian, American, British, and Dutch for Narda) so we stood in front of the buses for what seemed to us a very long time until suddenly a guy started an engine and we tried to be the first on as we had waited the longest but some kid beat us with her parents and we did not get the seat in front on the top level, but never the less we had a good seat until I wanted to get off to some overly lit building at the end of a pier. Narda wanted to keep going but I had not had my way for more than an hour so we went to the end of the pier and it turned out to be a large shell house full of shells. Shells are the biggest tourist selling thing here. Every shop sells shells and they are as tacky looking as a bunch of shells stuck together can be.
The next # 17 bus was so incredibly crowded as most transports devices in China are. We ended up standing in the middle of the downstairs of the bus and amazed as we could be the bus would stop at each stop and another group would squeeze on. In China people rarely get aggro about pushing and shoving – huge traffic jams or over crowded buses and trains – everyone just goes along with it.
We found two places with decent meals that we could eat; one I forgot to write down the name of and the other is behind our hotel in the Hutton area; Druid’s Irish Pub which is a bit pricey but the food is Western. They have special nights with Wednesday being two-for-one night which we did not do because all the mains were meaty and I only eat stuff that is not dead meat. I had a tasty cauliflower soup and vegetarian spring rolls which were very good and some mushroom dish. Narda had something with dead meat in it. Thursday night was half price pizza night which is always good as cheese is not used in Chinese cookery and we needed to clog up our arteries again.
Our local hood – another Hutton – most of these one story areas have been knocked down for new high rise buildings as China, not satisfied with their destruction during the glorious Mao Cultural Revolution days is hell bent on destroying every bit of culture that remains to put up huge buildings – most of which are empty – look on Google to see the many sites for China’s Ghost Cities.
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Taking the number six bus and exploring a winery…
We toured some writer chick’s house, Lin Bingxiu – famous for writing in Chinese, and one photo that took my fancy was this of her as a child with her grandfather and his concubine.
Before going on the number 6 bus we went to the Changyu Wine Museum where Narda made new friends. Actually we sort of crashed a group’s drinking parky. We were wandering about the cellar of the winery and saw lots of people laughing and having a good time so Narda being Narda sat right in the middle of them and soon they were passing her glasses of wine and everyone was getting in a photo with her. At first they looked a bit upset but it was not long before they accepted this Western Wine Drinking Crasher.This shows in the youtube video clip.
Continuing with our random bus rides we took the number 6 from near our hotel and when we got quite hungry we got off found a place to eat had some pancake with veggies type of caper then Narda decided she wanted a haircut and that turned out well for a couple of dollars US and of course she had been wanted a foot massage for the past couple of days so we went into a place next to the haircutting place somewhere on the random number six bus ride – because buses in China are 1 yuan which is about 15 cents US we often hop on and hop off – we got a good hour of foot and neck massage. We even got cupping on our feet which is a first. I had a sore back for the next day so I think the young girl was not fully qualified to crack my back – ouch… but the foot massage was great and all for 45 yuan – a bit over seven dollars. The picture below is not a Chinese abortion on a male. It is preparing my feet for the cupping process. Needles to say I was concerned with this scantly dressed female going toward me with a flaming torch.
Narda’s feet with the cups –
Thursday, October 04, 2012
We did the number 43 bus today – taking it from the starting point which is next to our hotel. We read that there was a shopping area and we wanted to find something traditional. I wanted to find fridge magnets; I have been collecting them from each city we stay in over the past ten years and the side of our fridge is fully covered with about a hundred of them. I had no luck but we did have the bus driver drop us off at the Zhenhua Shopping Centre. It was just a regular lots of oversize stores with Western goods but on the side where we got off the bus down the first alley to the right we came across a five story more local shopping area but it was just mainly shoes. There are a huge number of shoe stores in China but I suppose with more than one-billion people and two-billion feet, shoes are something that are needed. As there was nothing different than any other Chinese local shopping mall we snooped then left. However, I found some good ideas for shirts and took photos and will give them to our clothes maker back at the school. He has made me six vests as well as a couple of suit coats all for very good prices and well done.
Prices of clothes in China are quite high. I have no idea how the locals shop. The last few shirts I bought in the States on sale for like between five and ten dollars and the same ones here are 40 – 60 dollars.
As usual we had people stop and stare at us. This is something I never understand. We are just a couple of old-Western people, me with overgrown tangled hair and Narda looking like Narda. Maybe she is tall being five foot eleven and I am an average six foot two both of us a bit taller than others. Maybe we are the pink devils they heard about in their childhood. Whatever the case people stop and stare; sometimes laugh and sometimes asking to have a photo taken with us. Today I felt particularly self-conscious when I was standing in the middle of a department store and Narda had gone off to find the loo – I looked up and from every direction there were people looking at me, some laughing, and some just staring like I was an alien. Yantai is the most Chinese city we have been in and we saw one Westerner this week at our hotel, a large five (more like a Western 3.5 star) star hotel in a prime location. Prime Minister Bob Hawke has stayed here as well as many other leaders so we are not sure why people stop and stare. I reckon if anyone finds enough words to ask me in English – or Narda in Dutch, who we are I will say I am a famous singer from New York; Terrell from the Terrells, “will you still love me tomorrow?” Blimey, I get confused.
The below shot is typical of what happens; people stop and want to be in a photo with us. This one time we asked the people who were all taking photos of being with us to take a photo on our camera too. This was on the six-hour ferry back to Dalian – see the next blog – Dalian Ferry, also, a youtube ferry – “Yantai to Dalian Ferry”. We probably end up in someone’s Chinese equivalent to Facebook. This has happened almost in every place we have been. I am going to get a tee-shirt made that says “Terrell of the Terrells”. Really look at this photo; how incredibly boring and normal we look.
But what we did find was the best spot since we have been here and one of the better ones in china. If you go over the overpass (there is only one) through the main store or up the side street toward Yantai Yuhuangding Hospital 20 Yuhuangdingdong Road, Zhifu District keep going up the hill. A side note about this hospital – there have been, according to the website; http://en.minghui.org, “Numerous Kidney Transplants in Yuhuangding Hospital, Yantai City, Live Donors Found within Days”… (Clearwisdom.net) After the CCP’s practice of organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners and cremating their bodies to destroy the evidence was exposed, the Falun Dafa Association and the Minghui/Clearwisdom website formed the “Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China (CIPFG)” on April 4, 2006 and began comprehensively collecting information and clues… showed that there were between one hundred and sixty and one hundred and seventy kidney transplant surgeries performed over a one-year period.” This has been in the news since the mayor of Dalian’s wife was busted for killing off the Brit dude that was in the news lately and he is reported to be the one who set up prison camps to get these meditators and to use their bodies – many, which according to much on the Internet were used in those body exhibitions touring the world. But I am not political and this is not the aim of my blogs.
So when you get to the Chefoo district and past this glorious hospital going up Yuhuangdingdong Road – up the hill was an amazing little find. We were tired from walking so much and shopping – not that we bought anything – that we were looking for a place to sit down and have our ice coffee and we saw some trees at the top of the hill and headed for there which turned out to be an incredibly beautiful park, YuhuangdingPark, named after Yuhuang Temple, with lots of Buddhist re-built type of buildings. It is also behind Walmart if you end up in such a place.
According to the signs the Yuhuang Temple was first built in the Yuan Dynasty (1280-1368) and expanded and renovated in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The layout of the temple is quite formal, of course that is until Mao and his Culture Revolution knocked everything down. Thankfully they are rebuilding this place and it is well worth the visit. We took the number 43 bus because that bus starts at our hotel but you can take bus No. 7, 3, and 41 from other parts of Yantai.
Note in the sign below the destruction years – good on ya Mao and your 1966 stuff… “The movement paralyzed China politically and significantly affected the country economically and socially. The Revolution was launched in May 1966.”
I like the statues of the various years of animals – me being born in the year of the pig – and of course I am not going to eat meat. Narda is the horse. Sacha is the monkey. Not quite sure why people think praying to an animal is going to get them anything. Leaving fruit in front of statues always seems strange too – who eats it at the end? Then again all religious beliefs mystify me and why people believe in anything that does not exist but it is what humans do- good on them.
Ferry from Yantai to Dalian
Youtube clip at http://youtu.be/gcx5Ll4V0iY
Yantai is a coastal city on the Bohai Sea in Shandong province. It’s located in the northeast of China near Qingdao and Dalian. Total population is about 6.5 million people. Yantai port is located in Zhifu Bay overlooking Liaodong Peninsula across the sea. The Yantai Port Passenger Transport Station is at No.155 Beima Road.
Ferry from Yantai to Dalian is advertised as six but it took seven hours. It is quite basic. Not finding anything on Google or Youtube that would tell us about it we chose the 8 berth room – they also have six and state rooms. I was able to use the electricity to use my computer and the room full of Chinese was fine except for some loud snoring. Walking around the ferry is good. Well worth the ride taking the day trip. We left at 9 AM and got to Dalian at 4 PM. The 8 berth was 210 Yuan about $35 US. We got a taxi for 7 yuna – a bit more than a US buck from our hotel, The Golden Gulf Hotel. In Dalian it was chaos and impossible to get a taxi to figure out what we wanted so we hoped the first bus which eventually got us to the light rail which we took home.
The people were friendly and as usual there was always someone wanted to get into a photo with us;
The ferry terminal in Yantai.
Back in Dalian it was total chaos getting off the boat. We were herded onto a bus which ended at the Dalian International Passenger Terminal. We wanted to go to Metro to get groceries but no one could understand what we wanted so we got on the first city bus we saw. It wove around the city and we could not get a grip on where we were. We forget what a big city this is – only 6.5 million but it is so spread out and every time we go to Dalian we find new areas. Eventually we saw the train station and walked to that. After the quiet city of Yantai being packed amongst so many people was quite trying. We did get to the light rail and eventually got a seat and home by 6.30 pm. Campus Village is our home – we forget this. With the café open and we could just order a meal sent up to our apartment it all becomes so easy. I doubt we would do this ferry ride again. The toilets were shocking and the room was really crowded with four bunk beds. Narda did fall to sleep and I spent about five hours putting together photos and five videos to post on youtube.
Today is Saturday and believe it or not I am looking forward to getting back to school and the routines there.
Next trip is in ten weeks to Viet Nam for three weeks for winter break, then to Australia in February for Chinese New Years.
Monday, October 01, 2012 Dalian Airport
I am not sure whether it is our airlines; OK Airlines, or the sign over the gate we are departing from that causes concern. Not that I am concerned, this is China, what could possibly go wrong? I am sure these local flights are up to export standards. Like our shoes. We were just commenting before leaving home that we both have Rockport shoes that have really gone the distance, made in China. Narda got a pair she still wears from the Lake George, New York, outlet store ten-years ago and she has worn them in India, Viet Nam, Cambodia, tromping around France, Australia, Thailand, China and of course the USofA and they are still in good shape though she put a bit of superglue on them this morning but the leather is good. My Rockports I got at the same shop in Lake George about seven years ago and they are still good. We have bought shoes, bags and etc. here in China that fall apart quite quickly, so there must be an export quality that lasts. I am hoping the same is true of OK Airlines between here and Yantai where we are off to for the Fall/mooncake Festival holiday. The reason we are going there is because no other destination seems to be available. Narda looked at one place we had thought of going to and the tickets to there have gone from $200 US to more than a thousand dollars in the past week.
They are so polite about their air services at the Dalian International Airport (think 1980s Albany, New York, or Adelaide Airport about 1985) they keep playing this loop “we regret to inform you that flight …. has changed gates…”. Usually the regret an airline would report is that ‘OK Airlines has run out of fuel and has landed on the freeway’. But that we are going from the gate for ‘Abnormal Flights’ seems something they should be regretting.
Not to worry, we are coming back on the ferry – about 6 – 8 hours. We looked it up, a huge boat, and there was a Google story about how a few years ago the same line had their ferry catch fire whilst between Yantai and Dalian and 22 people of the 300 on board survived. Now Narda is a bit nervous about the ferry.
We have been talking about disasters this whole holiday (well the first two days of it). We decided to climb to the top of our local hill which has a great view of the sea, our school and valley. This picture does not do our climb justice – it took us almost two hours to get to the top and we were so puffed out. In the distance is our school and behind the strange ship they built along the highway headed into our resort district.
Continuing with our disaster conversations we worried what to do if a poisonous snake crossed our path, then we worried about what to do if there was a forest fire and we got caught then we wondered if there were bear or other crazed creatures in the woods then we just worried. It took us another hour to get down and we ended up at the local spa but their prices were out of proportion to what we made as teachers so we walked home.
Here I am at the Five-Star Golden Pebble Tang Dynasty International Hot Spring Resort at the bottom of the hill – which was a mountain to us, with my mate, obviously a remnant of the Tang Dynasty. I told him I was a Leo but he didn’t seem impressed or to understand so we walked on in blissful ignorance of our un-importance.
And what is with the writing on the side of the plane facing my seat of where to evacuate? Evacuation Direction – damn… I never know what to do in those kind of situations. And there was no pre-flight speech about dropping down air masks and putting them onto the children last or is that first?
But those bloody Chinese cab drivers – ours give us the fright of our life all the way into town; weaving, and creating lanes where there was none and going way too fast and of course there were no seat belts in the back. I am always terrified driving in a cab in China but then again we did arrive OK.
We wanted to go five-star but not at a Western chain so we picked the only 5-star Chinese because we want soft beds and most hotels the beds are incredibly hard. We are staying at the Golden Gulf Hotel – an old hotel right on the shore. And what a great walk along the coast it is. We like this city – so far, the most of any we have been in. We even found the old area, a Hutong, right behind the hotel – kind of a Chinese New Orleans or old town in Barcelona.
not to worry – we got the buffet dinner and that was really quite good and now off to a soft bed and tomorrow is Tuesday and we do not have to go to school and write up bloody lesson plans or standards or whatever mind-numbing thing we are to do in the future. Why we can not be like the world’s best schools – Finland – where they start at age seven – that by the way is when I started at Shenendehowa Central School in Elnora New York in 1954 – the first year of that school – and look at me… well I left home at 16 – didn’t finish tenth grade – but at age 44 to 58 did every uni degree possible and now, like the Finnish schools I feel a academically OK – maybe I am an OK Air type of person after all.