A Travellerspoint blog

5 Rings, Multiple Faces, and ABC Food!

In the morning I had toast and juice for my continental breakfast, and the events from yesterday seem to have been the events of yesterday (thank god).

Master Zhang then picked us up in his van and drove us to where the ocean part of the Olympics were held (thinks that need boats like Crew and... um, Crew).

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Then we drove for over an hour through the city of Qingdao (this city really really never ended!) But it was still kind of pretty because every so often you would pass by a street where you could see a direct line all the way to the mountains!

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Joe: After driving across this never-ending construction site of a city, we went out of our way to go to this poor area. You can't see in the above photo (because I missed the shot), but there were kids playing inside the courtyard of that building (and by courtyard I mean "A shoddy wall made of piled up building rubble surrounding that shamble of a building"). They were playing football (Soccer) amid the giant piles of trash everywhere inside. The city is obviously getting ready to demolish those homes and replace them with a set of identical ugly tall apartment buildings. Some look nice, but in the poor areas the buildings look 100 years old as soon as they're built.

I remember talking with someone in Jinan who was saying, "this entire road didn't exist two years ago."

I said, "Wait. I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying that These buildings had no road going between? Just a dirt path or grass?"

She said, "No. These buildings didn't exist either."

I was like "What?!" I couldn't understand. The buildings seriously looked really old and rundown. They were rusted, falling apart, and colors were faded everywhere. They had holes in the concrete and cracks everywhere. I guess they just build them really badly in poor areas (please don't have an earthquake!)

Nisha:

He drove us to Qingdao's lake where they get the water for Qingdao beer (they are very proud of Qingdao beer here, I guess not surprisingly). The mountains around this lake house the temple that the monk who invented Mantis Kung Fu was sent to meditate. The other monks disliked him and thought that they were doing him a disfavor by having him set up his Kung Fu school in such a lousy place, but it was through his being sent into the mountains that he saw a praying mantis fight another bug, and he realized his own fighting form.

Master Zhang didn't take us to that section of the mountain though. Instead he took us to the other side where he knew of a really great family restaurant and we had lunch. He said it was too late in the day to hike up the mountain, so we would go maybe tomorrow.

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Yes, that is a wall made out of Qingdao beers, and yes, that is a little girl standing like an unknowing domino at the end of the line.

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Master Zhang is also the president of some sort of magician's association, so any magician certified as authentic by his group has to show him their tricks and how they accomplish them. One of his members came and ate with us, and later on he promises to preform for us. Master Yang explained that he wanted Master Zhang to teach him the routine where you magically switch to different masks so he could gain more peoples attentions at demonstrations. Having a student preform one type of martial art, and then bam, new mask, and he would do a different style martial art. I thought it sounded like a really cool idea. (Don't let the dream dye Master Yang!)

But before we could get to the entertainment, we had probably the strangest meal of the entire trip. Lots of whole fish, whole shrimp (eyes and all), deep friend grubs,

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And worst of all...

deep fried bees!

Luckily everyone knew that I was either sick yesterday, or faking sick so I wouldn't have to eat Chinese food, so after a few new people offered me food it was left at that. Joe, however, ate a little bit of everything. There were half eaten worms, shrimps w/o heads, and fish tails all over his plate. But again, worst of all, was the half eaten bee that just so happened to fall on the ground next to me, bumping my arm on the way down. EEARRRRGGGG!

But then, the kid (probably about 20), left the room with his suitcase to prepare. About 20 min. later Joe can't take it anymore so he gets up to go to the restroom. Just as he opens the door, this walks in:

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He freaked me out when he came right up to my face. But other than that, I thought it would have been way cooler if preformed the way Master Yang explained it. Then he left the room and quickly returned in a brand new outfit with a balloon, a sheet of glass, and a box of needles.

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People were hesitant to clap b/c the trick didn't really work. Sure he popped the balloon, but he left a huge cracked hole in the glass, and Master Yang said that the last time he saw this kid preform the same trick all you could see was a thick needle sized circular hole. This way it doesn't prove that all that went through the glass was something the size of a needle, so it isn't as impressive. Sorry guy, but your Chi Gong at the beginning was really cool looking, even if it was only for show and not actually to build chi to do the trick. (Who knows, maybe he told Master Zhang its only for show, but he actually does use chi through the needle to pierce the glass.)

After that we rode back home for a break before dinner.

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Joe thought it was freaky how in Qingdao there would be tons of these high rise apartments that looked exactly alike. It reminded me of Number Four Privet Drive in Little Whinging, except with taller buildings.

That evening I was thinking about skipping dinner after this afternoons food spectacle. But I was really glad that I didn't because first Master Zhang took us to Qindao's shopping mall. At first I was like "Why are we going to a mall?" And then I was like "Can we come back here everyday?"

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It was like I was finally home! Not that Las Vegas was home, but it really was one of my fonder memories of the trip. It was Joe and my first day back together after his week in the wild and my tour through New Mexico, and it is something distinctly American. Its like Disney world or Bush Garden's Williamsburg. Its fantastic and beautiful and full of lights and decorations and street performers in costumes, and I just felt uplifted, especially by the star dome!

This woman was playing beautiful classical western piano music:

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Then the three girls inside this stage area were playing classical Chinese music on traditional instruments:

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This girl Master Yang was sure was decidedly not a girl:

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And everyone laughed at me when I almost walked into this emperor guy. (I was busy looking at the "girl" to see if Master Yang was right... and I thought he was a statue after I almost walked into him, so I kinda jumped when he started moving).

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And then this castle just reminded me of Ireland, and as much as I was only there for 4 or 5 days, that country felt like home too. Or maybe I just look longingly at too many of Brittany's photographs of Ireland and I've existed there vicariously through her.

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Then Master Zhang picked up his son Mark (Master Yang's godson), and took us all to a beautiful restaurant down the road a ways. (I was glad we didn't eat in their Vegas because it looked kinda expensive and those types of places just have overpriced bad food, but I was also a little sad to leave.)

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This staircase changed my mind. I couldn't even remember the Las Vegas of Qingdao as we passed through rows of bamboo and twinkle lights laced perfectly accenting the greenery and the many waterfalls that sparkled across the delicately carved rocks. The table we sat at had a pond with real lotus blossoms floating on its surface and a twisting pillar with water running down its sides in such a way you would think it defied nature.

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Then the food Master Zhang ordered was all very simple and very CA (Chinese American) looking and tasting. We had for the first (and last) time in China a plate of Orange Chicken! (I love that stuff!) It was real CA Orange Chicken too. There were no bones, no beaks, and no feet! They also had Kung Pow Chicken! Another favorite dish of mine! And they had these extremely addictive eggplant wedges fried in a savory sauce and lightly breaded with a mildly spicy breading (so good!) They also had a crispy plate of of steamed bamboo with diced chilly peppers and so much more. I ate and ate and ate, and I think Master Zhang's wife was going to burst with happiness. I felt bad, thinking that they may have only bought all this non-authentic food just so I would eat, but I really was sick before, and now I really was feeling better. But either way, we all left dinner feeling happy, so its all good.

Posted by - Rain 08:15

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Comments

So what did the bee taste like Joe?

I thought their mall looked like the pictures from vegas too. Way cooler than our mall...
Also awesome picture of the little girl and all the bottles. One of my china favs so far.

And I'm glad Van found something easy to eat after being so sick.

by laurr

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