A Travellerspoint blog

May 2010

YaawwwwEiiiiOwwwww

"How"

This morning we woke up early to take the train back to Jinan:

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Huge train station.

Then we got booked back into our old hotel where Mr. Yang was still staying.

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(That leads to where the continental breakfast is served... pretty snazzy)

After lunch at the China Post Hotel Restaurant (I still think its a really weird combination), the rest of the day, all the way until dinner, we spent with Bing Qing. She took us shopping again (poor thing hates shopping) and she got us to finally buy some nice clothes. Tonight was going to be a huge banquet with like 50 people or more to for Mr. Yang. Originally he asked if Joe and I wanted to preform for them since no Kung Fu people would be there, just friends and family, and I thought, sure, we could do the 2 man form he taught us. And then I though, no. No, I would not be preforming anything in front of 50 people who, even if they don't practice Kung Fu, know and cherish the art as their cultural heritage. Joe at least still trains more than once a month, so he agreed to do his Ba Gua form that evening.

Then, the bad. Bing Qing didn't know how to get to the dinner. Joe and I both wanted to go back to the hotel to change and get our cameras, so on the 30 min bus ride back to our hotel Bing Qing got the address from her mother. At the hotel we took our time and got ready, then we decided to finally head out. "So where are we going?" "I dunno still." She told us. She only know what bus to get on, but she didn't know the end stop yet. She called her mom back. Not good. Turns out we travelled 30 min. in the opposite direction of the dinner. We actually passed the shopping center where we bought our clothes on the way to dinner. Wei Ping told us not to be there after 5:30pm, and it as 5 till our deadline. "Taxi!" Bing Qing told us. We needed to get off the bus and catch a taxi. At the next stop we desperately hailed a cab. You know whats a bad idea to do in the capital city of a Chinese province? - Hail a cab, and then try to take it somewhere fast. At one point Joe asked if we should just get out and run. Luckily we didn't because the next time we moved we actually made it through the light, and we started hitting a decent speed for a while. When we got out Bing Qing didn't know which building it was, so we started running around while she called her mom. Her mom told us to stay put, and she would come outside and find us. "Bing Qing!" We heard calling us from the building we almost walked into on gut alone. Running up the steps we made it into the grand hall... and we were still waiting for about 1/2 of the other guests... sigh of relief.

Everyone was walking around, mingling, and then Master Yang was standing with a group of people around a large line of tables against the right wall.

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This man is a well-known art professor at Shandong University.

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And then Mr. Zhang of course did the calligraphy on the painting.

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With Mr. Yang is Lili's mom and nephew.

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That was the sequence of Joe making Lili's nephew cry.

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On the left is a family member that got lost for about a decade! I believe she is some sort of 2nd cousin to Master Yang or his father, I'm not sure. But they worked really hard to find her after some family members passed away and she disappeared into poverty. Now they found her maybe 2 years ago or so, and she is very happy to have relatives again.

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Then we sat down for dinner (we are at the table of honor with Master Yang and his father, and I don't quite fell comfortable with it. I hope there is no resentment... but this group really likes us, so I know there is not... I'm just paranoid):

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And then, after eating, eating, eating, the festivities begin! Lili narrated the entire night, first in Chinese, and the in English (yes, we were the only people who didn't speak Chinese there, so that second part was just for us).

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Speeches! First, Wei Ping:

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(I have no idea what he is saying, but I heard Joe and Nisha, and then some good natured laughing caught on across the room)

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Now we see Wei Ping hold up his finger and mimic sewing it at the knuckle... and we know he is talking about Joe (so why does my face turn red?)

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Then Mr. Yang's speech:

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And Lili's mom recites a poem:

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Then, the opera singer preforms:

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And just like our first night here, Master Wong follows her with his story about the tiger. (He does better with a small group setting. This large impersonal group just made me feel like the format was wrong.)

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Most of these photos are from our soon to be good friend Haorong (Wei Ping's best friend's son, and not just current best friend, but best friend all the way from primary school!). He is an amazing photographer and did tuns of documentation photography. This last shot is one of my favorites of his. I know its our video camera in the shot, but I'm only 80% sure that is Joe doing the video taping.

Then, it was time for this apparently very famous traditional Chinese singer. She made such an impression on me that night, that I named the title of this blog after her song. Her first time up she had to sing without the background music... and it was hard on my ears. Then, just as she was giving up, the sound people got her music working, and she started all over again.

This wasn't the best one either (she jumps up on stage 3 or 4 times during the rest of the night). Her singing in person was really shrill! They had the microphones turned up way too loud as well, so when she would hit a high note, it actually physically hurt something in my head. And then sometimes when she dances she would make the most ghastly expression that Joe likes to imitate to this day. She would open her eyes real wide, then rather than smile she would sneer almost as if she was some sort of evil villain about to cackle their manacle laugh. But many of the people in the crowd would call out “How” ( = good, wonderful, excellent, great) when she would make my ears hurt. I didn't understand it, but I got the impression that back in her prime she was very good at this traditional singing, but now in her later years, still living off of her memories, she can't quite make the strange tones work for her.

Then, it was time for the gift giving!

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Now, the pressure is on Joe! He heard that Lili was going to introduce him and that they wanted Joe to say something. Worried that he couldn't say it in Chinese, and that Lili's english translation had something to be desired as well, Joe desperately tried to get BingQing to come on stage with him. “I cannot, I am not important,” she tried to explain to Joe. It would be out of protocol for him to bring someone uninvited to the stage with him. So then he tried to get her to write down what Joe was saying to her in Chinese for Lili to read. However, KungFu sounds very much like ConFu which is how the chinese pronounce Confucius, and so Joe's whispers to BingQing to give to Lili were already off on the wrong track. BingQing had already given Lili the cheat sheet when Joe found out that she was going to say that Joe didn't learn about Confucius to hurt people! Oh no! And Lili was stepping up to the microphone! I tried to signal to her not to read what BingQing had given her, but it was too late! “Master Yang, what is Lili saying?” He told me that she was simply reading what she had prepared to say, and didn't seem to say anything BingQing had given to her. “Phueph!” Then Joe went up on stage and very nervously spoke in english to everyone about how its been wonderful coming to China and meeting all sorts of new friends.

Master Yang started to laugh when he heard Lili translate what Joe had said before his form, so I asked Master Yang what she said. “She not say anything Joe said, she just say what she wants to say.” Then while Joe was preforming I heard people around the table talking, and I tried to get it on tape, but if my camera isn't pointed at them at the time it is very hard for the microphone to pick them up. Mr. Yang was asking what type of KungFu Joe was doing, and Master Yang was explaining that he was doing BaGua. Then around the table were surprised exclamations of how good Joe's performance was. Master Yang never took credit for Joe's abilities, but explained that Joe was a very gifted student (I love Master Yang).

Then, the dreaded woman came back to the stage. At this point, I am really actually kinda drunk. Everyone kept doing “Gampie!” and making everyone “empty their glasses.” I started off with a clear liquor that reminded me of 151, and then I promptly switched to red wine. The alcohol though, did not improve my taste in listing to her singing. At one point Joe jumped on the bandwagon and yelled “How!” after one of her “impressive” notes that reminded me of nails on a chalkboard. I immediately called him out on it, “You don't mean that!” I felt confident in saying this rather loudly because nobody spoke english except for us... then I see Master Yang practically spit as he began to laugh hard while taking a sip of wine. “Master Yang! You speak english! I forgot! I'm sorry!” All three of us are about to fall out of our chairs as Master Yang grabs the wine and fills all three of our glasses and gives us a hardy cheers as he salutes my honesty and probably our shared belief that her singing was not something we particularly enjoyed.

And, gifts.

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And, Gampie.

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Then her husband (not honored enough to sit at our table), jumped onto the stage and relieved us of her singing and began to sing himself! His voice was actually really nice, but not something you might be considered famous for. He sang a song that reminded me of a chinese version of Frank Sinatra. He didn't have the same pipes as Sinatra, but after listening to his wife, maybe I might think he was better than he may have actually been.

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Then the woman in the red shirt steals the microphone again! And now, enter the drunk guy stage left (or is that right? I can't remember my Strongsville High School theater crew rules).

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She was not amused by him. He kept clapping, and then theatrically moving his arms on different notes. I think he caused her to feel uncomfortable, so she ended her song a bit early and finally put the microphone down. (I say this really harshly, but I actually really enjoyed listening to how bad she was. It was actually really interesting.)

Now, the best part of the night! The drunk guy hands the microphone over to the opera singer, and he starts doing the same things to her. He tries to anticipate the climatic notes and waves his arms in the air as if conducting the background music. The opera singer though finds his antics neither this or that. She was singing a song that happened to be a duet, and then it happened, he knew that she needed help, she shouldn't have to sing the male and female parts... and he grabs the microphone!

Back and forth they go with the microphone, and he shocks the room! I don't think most people expected him to actually be able to sing opera! We clapped enthusiastically, and the whole room changed from being involved with food and their own conversation to the extravaganza these two were creating. Watching them was a blast, and in my opinion, the highlight of the night.

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Then the traditional group photos.

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And then Joe and I make the rounds to drink to each table.

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And finally, someone struggles the camera out of Haorong's grasp, and we finally get a picture with him. After this night he becomes our translator, tour guide, roommate, and good friend.

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(I feel like Leia hugging Han and Luke, am I really that short?)

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Posted by - Rain 04:53 Comments (7)

Hijacked! - (jk)

At continental breakfast (in China that means a hot buffet, not muffins and cereal) Master Yang explained that he wasn't sure what we were doing today because in Qingdao, Master Zhang is the man, and Master Yang goes where he says he is going to go, and sometimes he doesn't even tell him where that is. So the events of today are up in the air I suppose. Master Yang is just as in the dark as we were (which was actually a little comforting to have some company in the WTF is going on club).

Possibilities:
Hike up the Laoshan Mountains to see where Mantis Style Kung Fu and Taoism religion were invented
Visit several different temples around the city
Go to the Qingdao beer factory
See the Qingdao museum

Joe:

After Breakfast we had free-time!!! Our teacher said that Master Zhang won't pick us up for over an hour. I walked through the employee only doors in the lobby like I couldn't read English and found my way to the rear courtyard of the C shaped Hotel. It had a Beautiful little pond with little trees, bushes and Benches scattered thickly around the grassy area. I'm sure it was especially nice a little later in spring when some flowers and more leaves would be out.

I practiced some forms and was practicing improv. Kung Fu, which is inevitably my style and changes all the time depending on many influences. An older middle-aged balding Chinese man walked up to me. He had walked past a few minutes earlier quite intrigued. He started asking me questions and it took me several tries to understand each question.

Chinese people don't use any of the proper standard sentences that I learned in university. They certainly don't use English sentence structure or our choice of words. An intelligent person with absolutely no Chinese would probably figure it out about as quick. I would listen really hard. . . after two tries It would still be Chinese to me, or maybe Greek. Then I would would start spouting random answers to expected questions. If that didn't work I would sometimes recognize one word and figure it out, or I'd give up and ask him a question. This is about how every conversation went in China and Taiwan, even after 4 months; except when the person was a young college student with no interest in learning English.

This chinese man was so happy to speak to me. He really appreciated my interest in Chinese culture and he said my Gung Fu was very good. He proceeded to imitate some movements. I saw this a lot.

Nisha:

So, not sure of where we were going to, we packed into Master Zhang's car, and we headed out into the unknown.

Stop #1:
Zhanshan Buddhist Temple

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The first temple we enter is the Hall of Sakyamuni (大雄宝殿). The epithet “Sakyamuni” means “sage of the Sakyas," and that hall honors the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama. But, in the more important temples they watch to make sure you don't take photographs so we don't have any pictures of that one. Joe and Master Zhang kneeled down and bowed on the provided pillows, while Master Yang and I walked around the temple and took in all of its details. Exiting the temple Master Yang explained to us (in English, so Master Zhang couldn't have been offended) that he never bows down and prays to Buddha statues. "Why all these Chinese people bow down to Buddha I dunno." He was right when he said that Buddhism is an Indian religion, and that the only true Chinese religion was Taoism, but it still seemed strange to me because he was the first, and the last I believe, Chinese person to denounce Buddhism to us.

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Those pictures are of the Hall of Three Saints (三圣殿). Outside this temple Master Zhang bought Joe and I 2 laminated drawings at a kiosk stand. One was smaller with the 3 golden saints on it, and the other was a large one of a Buddha statue that had a poem written on the back in Chinese.

Next is the Hall of the Recumbent Buddha (卧佛殿), where, behind a long altar lies a bejeweled statue of Buddha that is almost twenty feet long.

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Then we climbed up to the Bell Tower, and inside Master Zhang paid a monk for 3 bell rings. So Master Yang, Joe and I each got to think to ourselves what we would like to ask Buddha for, and then we rung the bell.

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Master Yang, Joe and I each got to think to ourselves what we would like to ask Buddha for, and then we rung the bell.

Master Yang: "I don't need anything else, so I just think of nothing."

Joe: I want to strike the bell softly, but with power and an open strong beautiful sound. Wait I need to think of what Buddha will bring me. Hmm. . . I need nothing so I'll think of n-- No, that's no good. Buddha please heal my spine—or how about bring me a great Kung Fu Master who fits me perfectly, two-person sparring games, drills, and basics! Please just let me not fall in line, buckling under the pressure of two strong Masters expecting a hugely powerful strike of the bell! AAAAAAAHH! Buddha just free me from this crazy high speed mind of mine! *silence[i/]
Bell: “CRASHOOOONNNNnngggggg”

Joe: [i]Epic fail. That was not serenely powerful.[i/]

Nisha: "Please don't let me hit the bell like a girl."

I felt mine was very sincere because I had forgotten I was supposed to wish for something, and I was just naturally already praying to the Buddha not to embarrass myself.

This statue I think was Joe and my favorite. We agreed it held a lot of philosophy and Feng Shui to it.

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The inanimate Buddha waters the animate plant not with real water, that has to be done by the monks, but with holy spirit water given to the statue by all who recognize it as their connection to the higher realms, thereby causing the monks to never forget to diligently feed the thriving plants below. (Either that or they were fake plants and the whole philosophy we came up with is a sham!)

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This temple houses the ashes of many important people, and people who felt that their loved one was important enough to pay for their bureau there. This temple actually has the ashes of Master Leu, Master Yang's Kung Fu master! However we just looked at the temple, took some pictures, and then headed out! Maybe it was because Master Yang doesn't believe in bowing and praying in front of a temple regardless if it is Buddhist, Taoist, Christian, or a grave site of his beloved master. I never asked, I'm sure you can understand that.

Then it was back into the van and we headed across town to... well, we don't know.

Then...

We park the car on the yellow painted zebra triangular section of the road that in America would indicate "this is not to be driven on, stay on the road" but in China meant "parking lot." We get out of the car. "Whats that?" I pointed up a hill to 2 towers with large red balls on top. "That is where we are going." Master Yang explains. Master Zhang refuses to let us pay for the tickets, and then Master Yang explains that either the Germans built the towers as radio and such towers for the war effort in WWII, or the Chinese built them for the same purpose and the German's took them over. I dunno. It was a neat place to walk though.

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As we got higher and higher we could see more of the city.

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Then we came to the Locks of Love bridge (its just what I call it). People buy these heart shaped locks and link them onto the chains when they get married, and some of them even get married at the church at the top of the hill (one of the res spheres was turned in to a church after the towers were put out of use... yeah, I thought it was strange too. They should have at least repainted the thing, well, you'll see what I mean).

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Then we came to an awesome pool with dragon statues that looked out onto the city:

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And finally we made it to the top:

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That last one is of the church... at least they gave it new, more appropriate doors.

Rushing now, Master Zhang ran down the staircase on the other side of the hill, and Master Yang, Joe and myself trailed at our own pace behind him. Both Joe and Master Yang were having knee trouble, so it wasn't good for them to jog down the stairs. Master Yang slipped on some ice walking his dog and hurt his knee, and Joe hasn't liked how his knees feel ever since I've known him. I'd describe it to you, but Joe always says I get it wrong, so I won't.

Back at the van some guy came up to Master Zhang and asked for money. Master Zhang blew him off, but they guy pointed out that he wasn't begging, and that Master Zhang needed to pay for parking. He pointed at his stand on the side of the road with a woman sitting at it. Master Zhang hopped out of the car and started giving both of them a piece of his mind. You see, most Chinese tourists wouldn't have a Qingdao native with them, so they would just pay the man and be on their way. To top off the pay off, there were Americans with the Chinese tourist! So they could rip us off, and get extra money for it. But Master Zhang wasn't a tourist, and he wasn't American, and they people just started walking away from their stand when they realized that Master Zhang may report them. They folded up their one foot high squatting chairs, and just headed down the road.

Now it was time for lunch, and Master Zhang took us to a small joutsu place (stuffed dumplings kinda like ravioli). He only ordered meat joutsu, so I picked at my shrimp joutsu until the beef ones came and I could camouflage my small dipping plate with all sorts of dumpling stuffings.

Next... I still don't know. "Aren't we going to the Mt. Master Yang." "No, I don't think we have time anymore." That sucked b/c I really wanted to see the Mt. and get out of the city again, but I couldn't complain b/c everywhere we went we didn't pay for a damn thing.

We came to the ocean and Master Zhang dropped the 3 of us off at the side of the road. Master Yang said that Joe and I were to walk along the boardwalk to the end where the Qingdao beer museum is where they show you how they make the beer and then let you sample some, and then we were to meet him back at the sea side bazar of street venders.

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Those spikes on the boardwalk are people.

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Walking along the board walk there were all sorts of cloths laid out with souvenirs you could buy and we actually found those necklaces they were selling at the International Marketplace in Hawaii! (The ones that had the large sharp tooth made out of bone with some sort of animal carved into the root that connected to the chain.) After being in China for a week or so and never seeing anything even remotely unique looking for sale I thought that the International Marketplace was a sham! But here they were, in China, selling the same trinkets they told us were from China.

Then we made it to the end, and didn't cough up the 12 yuen it cost to get in.

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We met Master Yang, and got picked up my Master Zhang, and what happens next, nobody know(s)!

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We drove to the Qingdao museum!

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That rock formation was the only photo we could get off b/c every room had an officer standing in it to make sure nobody took any pictures. They had 3 stories of things, in one wing we got to see some paintings and calligraphy, another they recreated a scene like you were walking through an old Chinese village, and another was for kids to learn how to make their won stamp art, then another had pottery, and the most interesting one I thought had you walk through war time occupied Qingdao and we got to learn about its modern history that sets it apart from Chinese ancient history that tends to blend together for me:

[i]When China was defeated by British forces during the Opium War of 1840-1842, much of the nation’s coast was opened to colonization by Europe. In 1897, German soldiers took over Qingdao and created the now-famous German ‘concession area’ akin to Hong Kong. This event shaped the modern face of the city, turning Qingdao into a Bavarian-looking village through its architecture and cultural details. The Germans were also responsible for introducing the famous Qingdao Beer Brewery which still produces China’s most popular beer Tsingtao.

During the distractions of WWI, Japan invaded the city in 1914, sparking a 30-year struggle for control of Qingdao between Japan, Germany and China. After its defeat in WWII, Japan surrendered the city back to the Chinese. But it wasn’t until 1984, when the government declared it one of the 14 coastal cities which would be opened to foreign investment, that Qingdao began its current rise to prominence. Along with industry, tourism also began to receive attention, as the historical Laoshan Mountains returned to the limelight.

It was obviously much more interesting than that little explanation I found on the internet, and it was very insightful to hear how a native Taiwanese (Master Yang) person discussed feelings about Japan (damn warmongers really, and I had to agree) and the Europeans (not so much into war as long as they can have your land and resources).

After the museum we ate dinner, and then we walked around the night market for a bit, then went back to our hotel and packed b/c in the morning we had a train back to Jinan.

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(Master Yang and Mark)

And for our Chinglish of the day, I leave you with this description we took a picture of in the museum after the guard stepped out (not the greatest, but more so for its use of hyphens, and the fact that its in a museum):

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mo-untains, disco-vered, bro-nze

We figured that someone who was most likely British (they said valleys and dales), wrote the thing but had a different sized box maybe?
So, when they would do that thing thats really annoying where you split a wo-
rd to make the font more "justified" without changing the spacing, and a Chin-
ese person copied it, they simply copied their hyphens in even though they no-
longer worked in the English sense b/c they weren't at the end of the lines an-
ymore.

Posted by - Rain 04:38 Comments (3)

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 Comments (1)

Nisha and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

No wonder Nisha wants to move to Australia!

We got up bright and early and had breakfast (on floor 2!) with Master Yang and his father. Then it was time to pack up and leave Jinan for Qingdao. This is a city on the ocean where the German's made their eastern colony thereby inventing China's greatest beer (Qingdao Beer... its really kinda a self explanatory name).

On the train ride I got the window seat again, (aren't I a stinker?) and glad for it because my tummy started to do that thing where it bubbles and churns something unnatural. I couldn't even read my book which I am generally good at on rides like train or airplane. Its car and bus rides that I have to glue my eyes to the windows. But today, I sat and watched the never changing scenery, tightly grasping onto the barf bag I hid under my tray table so as not to draw attention to the ghost who can't stomach train rides.

Snow:

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And then, out of literally nowhere, I saw something completely unexpected! If I hadn't been so sick there would be no way this cold and barren landscape could hold my attention for an hour and a half, so maybe my luck was turning. Karma was rearing its amorphous face, and I was really just grasping at straws hoping that this was a good sign and the glands in the back of my mouth might just stop producing unwanted quantities of saliva.

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Thats actually this really large golden Buddha in the middle of nowhere! There was a small cluster of farm houses near by, but whatever this place was, it was something I didn't expect to see here.

About 30 min. later, ready and rearing to get the hell off the train, we made it to Qingdao. Master Yang's friend, Master Zhang (pronounced like a “j”, and has a long “a” like Gandhi), met us at the train station with his 12 seater van.

Joe:
Master Yang said, “There he is,” and began talking a mile a minute in Chinese with his friend. I imediately liked this guy and knew he was a great martial arts master. He looked very strong and so happy to see Master Yang. He gave him a big hug and the way he walked and talked told me that he had a lot of good energy. He was definitely quick and sharp with a shine in his eyes. I hardly noticed that he was significantly shorter than Master Yang. Master Zhang had short cut jet black hair that receded just enough to give a mature look. He had a round face that was also sharp and tan, and he was solid and a little stocky. He had a constant kind yet sly smile on his face.

Nisha (so many names, identity problem?):

Master Yang left his suitcases with his father at their hotel back in Jinan, so he only had one bag, but Joe and I had every thing we owned, so it was very nice being able to take up 3 seats with our stuff and get to have some space to ourselves. We picked up his wife on the way to lunch, and I started to think that maybe it wasn't the train ride. Don't get me wrong, Master Zhang is probably the worst driver I have ever met, but his driving wasn't making me car sick. It may have made me (and Master Yang) fear for our lives, but the ride was pretty smooth (luckily everyone he cut off or drove in front of on the wrong side of the street made way for him, maybe he is a legend in his town for 2 things). When we sat down to eat I did the thing I hate doing, I was the American that didn't eat the Chinese food and only asked for a Coke.

Then, it started to snow. BLLAAAAAA! No, that wasn't me throwing up... yet. That was me just hating that I didn't feel good and that my head was burning up and my body was getting the chills and I could look forward to hanging out in the snow doing god knows what for the rest of the day. Master Zhang's wife was increasingly insistent that I ate something, and when I wouldn't put something on my plate, she obliged. Later on I forced Master Yang to translate that I had an upset stomach and wouldn't be eating until it settled, and then I was let be for the rest of the meal.

After lunch we got dropped off at our hotel for some free time. Master Zhang wanted to go to his school and pick up some things, and then I think that he was going to pick us up later in the evening to meet some of his friends for dinner. I really wasn't sure of this, because all I wanted to do was lay down and die. I felt absolutely terrible. Master Zhangu took care of getting our room keys, which came really quickly, and then I laid down on the bed with Joe and passed out.

Several hours later I woke with an extremely dry throat and a knot in my stomach. I asked Joe if he could get me some water. We had none. The water in China has to be boiled before you can drink it, and this hotel didn't come with one of the bottled water dispensers. "Could you go out and buy a bottle of water?" Joe didn't seem to understand the severity of how I felt until that moment. If I needed a drink bad enough to make him get out of bed, get dressed, go outside in the snow in a foreign country to find a stand or market selling water, then I really must be sick.

When he came back I was feeling even worse, and I asked him when he brought over the water if he could also bring over the trash can. He did so, placing the can next to my bed. Then, after only getting my itchy dry pipes wet with the liquid, I grabbed for the trash can. Vomit. Lots and lots of vomit. It came out rushing like a high powered faucet. I couldn't control it. I couldn't stop it from overflowing up my nasal passage. I only hoped my eyes didn't start crying the acid. It was over within seconds, but the trash bin was a quarter full. I felt like the little girl from the Exorcist.

I washed my mouth out with water from the sink, and then Joe got me to take small sips of water. I felt a little comforted, but not enough to keep going. That was enough water for now. I fell back asleep. The next time I woke Joe was rubbing my shoulder. "Master Yang called, its time to go to dinner. How do you feel?" "Can you go without me?" He smiled and told me that he would bring me back a little something in a few hours.

Joe:
I went downstairs with master Yang and I walked into a James Bond movie. Around the big round dining room table sat five intense old chinese men. If it were a movie, all it needed was everyone playing poker instead of having food in front of them. Each had a cigarette held in their hands in different positions with thin wisps of smoke floating up beside them. They were regal, powerful, and still. I stood for a moment and we were all frozen in time. They were all white haired and had an aire of much age and wisdom, but mostly had very serious faces. They were very strong with youthful bodies and perfect posture. One sat with legs crossed, one with legs half crossed, and the others sat with both legs connected to the floor at various angles to the table and with various widths. These guys had power; something beyond the power that money and control over society gives people, but more of a primal physical prowess. They were tigers; no longer hungry, but content to sit and flex their powerful muscles with each breath.

I sat down and spoke a little chinese with several people. Master Zhang was looking very upright and strong as usual. He made several toasts and talked much. He joked around a couple times and it reminded me of when I first saw him. Master Yang told me that he became sick and that was why he was in a bad mood. It was a normal everyday banquet like the ones we have every day. Except, the people made this dinner very interesting. There was much less talking and people were more serious. Except one guy who was about forty and came to the banquet already drunk. I figured out that the young guy between me and him was his student as well as the young man on his other side. They kept pouring him drinks even though they seemed obviously embarrassed by his behaviour. Everyone seemed very interested in the young American martial artist, just like we've seen at other banquets. But, The drunken guy seemed very interested. He said he loved America, then he proceeded to repeat over and over very loudly with much slurring, “I only know 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, I love you! Wa ai ni!” That last part means I love you in Chinese. He would also just toast me over and over saying, “I love you! Wo ai ni!” with different inflections. The old Masters seemed quite pissed at this guy, but they hid it very well and seemed very relaxed about it. I figured he was their student and now he's an alcoholic. Maybe he was a budding young master.

Master Yang told me that these five guys are all Preying Mantis Grand Masters. The best from the old days. He told me that they are all in their 80s. They looked fifty and I told them so. I said they looked so strong. They thanked me and smiled with much kindness. I was afraid to ask them a question about communism, but I asked anyways. I asked them if the government gave them trouble about teaching Kung Fu thirty and fourty years ago. They said they had some troubles, but apparently the west blows some of it out of proportion. I asked them some other good questions and talked a little. Mostly Master Yang was translating for me. But, my questions were well restrained and not probing or annoying. Maybe a few years ago I would be bubbling with questions about the essence of Kung Fu and how to become Masters like them. I would be desperately trying to get past the language barrier and just getting people annoyed. Instead I was respectful and I just absorbed. Meanwhile, the alcoholic was engrossed in his phone, his head down and listening to someone speak. He kept saying softly over and over, “Wa ai ni. Wa ai ni. Wa ai ni. Wa ai ni.”

Half of what you need to learn from a Kung Fu Master can come from their body language; their eyes; the way they move. The Grand Masters were so interesting to watch. I knew from seeing them that I am on the right path; not the best path for anyone, but the best path for me; the one I love. I want to have their power, but with no desire for it; no desire to use it. I want to be powerful enough to be beyond the desire for power. Kung Fu mastery gives this to people. Any master who is power hungry or shows insecurities has fallen from Grace. They've accepted Jesus and are going to Heaven when they die, but for the moment they've lost their connection with God. They are and always will be masters, but they are no longer Masters. These old Grand Masters were at the age that it seemed they could no longer fall from grace or make mistakes. They smoked like they knew it was unhealthy and they were countering the bad energy as soon as it hit them. They showed Grace by shaking hands and smiling at the drunk as his two students carried him out. I excused myself to bring some food to Nisha, but she didn't want it and I went back down.

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Me:

Joe returned in what may have been a few hours, but I couldn't really tell. All I knew was that I tossed my cookies only once since he left, so the timing was well made. He brought up something that smelled distinctly like food, and I felt the works getting ready to explode again. "Put it on the other side of the room!" I think Joe understood the situation, and he quickly obliged. "Now, put it where I can't see it!" This time, a little hesitation added to his movements, but he still did as I asked. He made me drink some more water, and then the works started up again anyways. This time it was only small bits of water I was getting rid of, so it didn't take long and it didn't bother me too much. I also had that hunger pain mixing like a yin yang with my nausea. "Watermelon." I asked. "I would like some watermelon." I knew that at these fancy dinners they always brought out the fresh fruit tray after all the food was done being eaten and people had sat around and talked for about 15 minutes. "Well, there isn't any watermelon at the dinner, but if they bring some out I'll get it for you." That was all I could ask for. Then he told me a quick rendition of what he just told you, and then headed back downstairs for the rest of dinner.

Joe:
I listened to the Chinese and watched as the Grand Masters talked amongst themselves. We had desert and I toasted them in Chinese. I kept it simple so I wouldn't make any mistakes. I said to the five, “You are Great. . . and I am small. I love Kung Fu and I am very pleased to meet you all. Cheers!” They appreciated it much. I bowed to them respectfully and again when we were leaving. They each shook my hand and my favorite of the five had a definite twinkle in his eyes. He seemed to be the strongest and maybe the oldest, though he didn't look old. He was thin yet thick, short yet tall. He had short white hair tousled like the youth of today and large thin eyes on a round sharp face. He was made of the Tao to an unreal extent.

Maybe someday I could study with him when I can speak Chinese. He doesn't teach my favorite style, but that's ok. He retired from the spotlight and Master Zhang runs things now, so it would be tough to get him as a teacher. I really have freed myself from chasing these dreams. I will just keep plodding along, trying and trying to find and convince a teacher who won't teach. I can't be detered because I've already given up. For that reason, I am certain that I will find an old Bagua Master like him. I am certain because if I don't find an old Master in the world outside, I will find the old Master within me. I will become him.

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My favorite is second from the right. Also, one of the really cool powerful GrandMasters had left by this picture. You can see him in the other photo.
Me:

When Joe returned from dinner he brought me 3 triangles of watermelon.
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Slowly he let me try my luck at eating some while we watched an episode of Castle before bed (Joe never lets me do this b/c the screen isn't good for you to stare at before you go to sleep). It was the best watermelon of my life! The amount of liquid it let out was just enough to make me hydrated, but not puke, and the food was just enough too.

Feeling better, but not quite right yet, I decide that I'm glad I visited China, but I really really wouldn't want to live here. Still, my mother has assured me that everyone has bad days, even people who live in Australia.

New Zenglish of the day: In the New Zealand version of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, he wants to move to Timbuktu, not Australia.

Posted by - Rain 06:15 Comments (3)

Happy Woman's Day!

When I asked Bing Qing if there was a Man's day, she looked at me and said "No, no, we don't have one of those. Do you?" I told her that we did not, and then said "I guess every other day is Man's day then right?" And through her laughing and nodding I assumed she agreed.

Bing Qing took us on a tour of her university (Shandong Normal University... yeah, I don't know why its called that), on the way to the 1,000 Buddha Temple Mountain! Her university was pretty cool with a huge statue of Chairman Mao in the front greens. This got us talking about Chinese history (b/c I don't remember any!) It was only within the last hundred years that China moved from an Emperor system to a Chairman system, and Bing Qing believes, as most Chinese do, that Chairman Mao was a hero who made life much better under the Communistic system. Unfortunately as with every great movement for the people, things never pan out as they should. The rich and powerful make sure of that. But she said that if she could choose between the system where the old chairman chooses the new chairman, or a system where people get to vote between 2 choices of candidates who had the most money to make it onto a ballot, she would go with the chairman system. At least then the people aren't duped into believing that they actually have a choice. She actually didn't say it like this, but if she were American, this is how I think it would have come out. Being that she is Chinese, the truth in what she was saying was skirted around and made to sound much nicer than she probably felt. However, after we brought up that we don't like either of those options, we explained (as best we could), how the parliamentary system works in counties like the ones we are going to move to; and all 3 of us agreed that a voting system based on proportional representation is the best choice because makes it so no single party has a majority of seats which better represents how no single party represents the will of an entire cuntry.

When we made it to the 1,000 Buddha Temple Joe needed to take a cold break, so we went to a restaurant and he ordered some tea. I was upset that he was waisting our time, so I didn't drink any (plus, the dinner ware comes prepackaged in plastic wrap, and if you break open you cups and plates you get charged for their cleaning and rewrapping, so it wasn't worth it to me to pay for a few sips of tea).

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Then, we finally made it to the continuation of the Taishan Mt. range! Wait, did Bing Qing just tell us that the Taishan Mt. range goes around the outside of Jinan? "Yes, and the temples on Taishan Mt. are only maybe 60 km away." Thats maybe a half hour drive! We left Taishan on a train that took 3 hours to get to Beijing, then the subway for another hour to get to the airport, then we spent maybe 5 hours sleeping at a 5* hotel to then take another train 3 hours back to Jinan! We could have hiked to the top of Taishan rather than rushing from the Halfway Gate to Heaven, spent one more night in Taian, and then took a bus, not train, to meet Master Yang in Jinan! That would have saved probably about 500 yuen and 8 hours of needless travel! Hair! Pulling out! Steam! Spewing out of ears! Damn Chinese Whispers! (That is what the British call the game Telephone.)

1,000 Buddha Temple:

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Yeah, that was the biggest Buddha they had at the temple, and probably one of the biggest ones in the world. He was big.

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Now the staircase became narrow, steeper, and windy.
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This girl kept following us up the staircase, except from in front of us! Her and her boyfriend were ahead of us on the stairs, but anytime we would slow down to take a picture of something, they would slow down, and any time we would take a break because we were tired, they would rest too. Then her boyfriend finally had enough and turned around and asked if his girlfriend could get a picture with us.

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Thats one of the hotels on top of 1,000 Buddha Temple. That seems to be the trend with Chinese sacred places. A mixture of sculptures, engraved calligraphy into stone, temples and hotels.

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Then Joe found a rather unstable looking toboggan ride.

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And if I even sightly hinted that I might say something to talk him out of it, his eyes would fill with an anger that told me that anything I said against this idea would kill his spirit like a child who discovers that Santa isn't real because the baby in line for the photo in front of them pulls the fake beard off exposing not just the truth that this man doesn't exist, but that your entire love and trust system you had going with your family has just been proven to be all a sham as well! So, I held my tongue, and Bing Qing and I agreed to meet him at the bottom. It only cost 15 yuen, which is like $2, so it wasn't like it was a waste of money. I just got a little worried when I asked Bing Qing to translate for me what the ride opperator was screaming as Joe used both hands to push against the sides to make the ride go faster. She translated: "Slow down! Hold onto the hand break! Don't go so fast!" Yeah, theres no way Joe caught a word of that, and I'm not too sure he would have listened even if he understood the guy.

Joe:

When I first read of angry kids and fake Santa beards I didn't think it fit. But, as I think more about that day, I admit that this simile is an exquisite lie that reveals much truth.

I remember Climbing down those curving stone steps like a child on christmas seeing a huge toy racetrack under the Christmas tree. My eyes lit up and lifted a big grin from my cheeks when I saw my racetrack under many christmas pines, some decked with snow. I knew this was the one place where I could have this kind of fun for so little money, and I remember flashing Vanessa some angry eyes above pursed lips when she suggested I shouldn't go.

The track had a conveyor belt that pulled the heavy plastic sleds straight up the hill (with you on it for an extra ten yuan). The sleds looked like a heavy duty black colored version of those colorful plastic racing sleds we had as kids. The ones that were rectangular with upward curving foot pads on the front corners, sleek racy curving side walls, raised center console that turned the lower sides where your legs go into two skis, and a little bucket seat in back. I remember we had two of these and they were solid, made of one piece of hard plastic, except for the two little hand brake levers on the side walls. You could grab one of those levers and pull it back as snow sprayed at your side and your sled would turn left or right. I'm pretty sure my brother and I actually first saw those two sleds under the tree on Christmas. I remember one was royal blue; the other, fire engine red. We always wanted the blue one until it got beat up and one hand brake stopped working. We would race or curve back and forth crossing and running into each other; jumping ramps and running into trees. It's no wonder these great childhood vehicles carried us until they fell apart, destroyed.

This vehicle had one hand break lever in the center and it might have had plastic or metal runners on the bottom, or even little wheels. I was so excited, I didn't care to look. I just hoped it wouldn't be slow and boring, so to make sure I hopped on the little hard plastic seat and, with the video camera in my lap, started pulling myself quickly down the slope. Luckily I got Vanessa to give me the extra sweater and had my hood and hat pulled tight because the cold wind was freezing a dried and cracked smile on my face and making my wide eyes water.

The ride was more than I bargained for. I started going quite fast already racing around a turn. On the next straight away I grabbed the video camera (instead of the brake: aren't I smart!) and started the video. I held the camera near my chest and watched the real world. I didn't want to use the break because I'm conditioned to the American lawsuit system that prohibits any mechanical ride that could be dangerous. But, you can strap on a snowboard and break your neck because it's harder to blame a hill or a snowboard.

This is not America. In China, it's survival of the fittest. If you're too stupid or crazy to know when you're about to crash and burn, then we don't need you. I start going really fast. The trees are zipping by now. As I round the bend, the sled slides up to the top of the sidewall. I'm having a blast. But, when the turn is done the side wall gets very short, and I'm going so fast that I come a little too close for comfort to the top of the low side wall. Sometimes the camera points up because I wanted to show the trees and sometimes I just lose control. I go ahead and pull the break just a little on the next turn as a flock of startled pigeons takes off in front of me. I probably saved myself from an ejection and an ugly tuck and roll through dead branches and rocks.

The ride was definitely the greatest entertainment I had on the entire China trip. It brought me back to Racing through the cool mountain air north of Sedona with no helmet; smiling eyes squinting and watering at the dream world of rock formations popping out of brilliant green forest; hugging the bike around insane curves with my face below the windshield.

I used to be a daredevil, but these are the only stunts that still impress. Roller-coasters are boring because they give the rider no control and the scenery is rarely great. They send you in circles and drop you where you began, instead of transporting you somewhere; taking you on a journey. In-line skating doesn't even take me there anymore. Even though I wrote a philosophical college paper on why that sport so exhilarated me as it freed me from fears and let me fly through the air. Now I enjoy most, the fast paced vehicles that transport me to the next level, through a wonderland of scenery. I enjoy being transient, but grounded. And most of all I like moving in curves.

Nisha:

When we met Joe at the large laying down Buddha,

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we got a call from Wei Ping telling us that he was ready to pick us up to go to lunch.

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He took us to the Zhang family's apartment. Lili wasn't there, but her father, mother, and brother were there, busy making us lunch. It was a little strange b/c we ate in their kitchen first, just Mr. Zhang, Me, Joe, Bing Qing and Master Yang.

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You cold tell that Joe wasn't very happy with the paparazzi.

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Wei Ping was also nice enough to video tape us eating as well with our video camera. When we found out he worked for the post office, we should have known he would be able to figure out how to use our video camera even though he doesn't know how to read english (engineers!)

Then whatever was left over the rest ate while we sat in their living room. Afterwards we took some more traditional Chinese pictures. They are really into posed photos to let you know that at one time, you were there, and you were there with them, but thats it. You see these kind of photos a lot with Kung Fu student's and their masters.

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Except w/o the arm around the shoulder, "Control yourself Joe!"

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There, much better. Now we just have to figure out that the Chinese put their arms at their sides or hold them behind the back.

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Okay, now Joe is picking up on things while I am still slow to start.

Then we headed across a park square to Mr. Zhang's office building. He used to work for this company doing engineering I believe (I can't remember), but now he is retired and they brought him back to the company simply to do calligraphy for them (like I said before, calligraphy is a really big deal in China). Here are photos of us being taken to meet his boss:

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And then we get to his workshop/ office, and we are asked to pick one word that means the most to us that we would like for Mr. Zhang to paint for us as a gift that is priceless, but if pressed for an exact amount (which we didn't do at the moment, but found out later on when filling out the postage information to mail to America), worth thousands! One word? Right now? Off the top of my head? Couldn't you give us a few days to really think this one over? Joe and I are both baffled.

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Can't someone else go first? (BTW all the paintings hung up are made by Mr. Zhang and or his teacher.)

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Ahhh! He's got the paper ready! The special read paper with the golden dragons and phoenix's circling each other on special rice paper that will last over 500 years!

I finally look at Joe and ask him "What about Dao?" This was it, this was the perfect word for Joe. Taoism/ Daoism is his philosophy, his passion, his inspiration. It was the perfect word to paint for him and he would have picked it if he had a few days to think on it as well. Then Master Yang gave me a heads up, "While he paints this, you think of what word you want on yours." What? We are each getting one? I... [my mind goes blank, like the calm before the race gun shoot, then "bam!" it starts racing through my life to find a single word that meant something to me and was fitting for the art form]

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Joe:

I was intensely interested; watching every detail of the way he stood, moved, and even the way he breathed. This lion was in his den showing grace in thought and movement. He was quite and respectable the entire time. This art has a very long history and it is deeply tied to Chinese martial arts, as well as philosophy and Daoism. The greatest caligraphers of the past knew the depth and meaning behind every stroke. Each word was a poem in itself; a story of its creation and its purpose. Painting the story brings out emotions as the master feels the connection of hard wood vibration, soft brush, and liquid flow. A mere glimmer of this feeling is transfered to the paper. However, you can recreate the feeling when you see it because everyone has had a time in their life when they felt the perfect flow; the connection. As master Yang said, "This has as much Gung Fu as any martial art."

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Nisha:

Now the heat was on me, but I was ready for it.

"Breath, Spirit, Chi." An all in one word that encompasses this unexplainable (in my opinion) energy of the universe that is linked to the Yoga Prana and Pranayama (something I feel a closer attachment than the Tai Chi and Chi Gong of Chinese breath energy practices). Prana is the natural and intelligent innate energy, and Pranayama is the practice of breathing associated with it.

I like to think that Chi does not belong to any one philosophy. I disagree with how some people who feel Chi and try to explain it to me as if it was some amazing thing that if I only knew what they knew... I just feel like this kind of talk is a way to empower yourself rather than the source that you feel empowered by. Chi is something that is universal across multiple paths of discovery. It is also individualistic, and it doesn't belong to anyone in particular, not to the masters of Chi Gong or the practitioners of White Magic. So for anyone who has ever who has ever done something like closed their eyes as a child let the wind and energy of the world guide where you walked not because someone told you that this was Chi, but because you thought it was something that could possibly work all on your own, let that feeling wash over you again, and know that here it is in the present (or recent past as this video was taken a few months ago at this point), for you to see, and possibly even feel, but only on a metaphysical plane, no fingerprints on this painting!

Joe:

Master Yang and I agreed that Nisha's caligraphy of "Chi" had the most Gung Fu (mastery). You can see the way every movement flows into the next. He put his breath, and his energy into the word. The brush smoothly rises and falls, creating waves of different thicknesses; from heavy pools of blackness, to that thin circular touch; a brush with nothingness. If you didn't catch that, try watching the previous video again in fullscreen and close your eyes and take a deep breath before you press play.

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Nisha:

Now he was onto Bing Qing's scroll where she asked him to write a quote from Confucius about the search for knowledge being separate from the desire for the corruptors of money and power.

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Then onto Master Yang's. He said he already has a few of these paintings hanging in his house from previous visits, but this time he, a man born in the year of the tiger, wanted to honor the new year (the year of the tiger) by getting the word "Tiger"

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Master Yang's father got the symbol for Happiness (I think, the same as at the banquet the other night) and a quote from his quote book written (I'm not sure which one he picked). He basically writes down quotes he hears that he likes from almost any source, as long as the philosophy is good.

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I liked his idea about the quote book, and I started having Bing Qing translate quotes for me because Mr. Zhang wanted to make Joe and I another painting, but this time a long quote scroll, and I was out of ideas. Joe was running around with Wei Ping trying to find the Tao Te Ching written by Lao-tzu while Master Yang got a quote scroll about how Kung Fu is all about training on the basics.

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When Joe had given up on finding the book that was supposedly somewhere, and Bing Qing read us the first quote on the new page, we both thought it was perfect... for me. It basically said that if you want be happy you must first learn to be independent. Joe kept messing around, saying that he wasn't sure, and maybe he wanted to try and get Bing Qing to translate into Chinese one of his own philosophies, but we were running out of time. Bing Qing quietly came up to Joe and finally said "This man, he is very famous, and it is not right to keep him waiting, so..." I had heard enough, and I told Joe he could either have the introduction of the Tao Te Ching or the quote from Master Yang's father's quote book. Joe was completely against using the introduction because it wasn't real philosophy, it was just saying "This book is about philosophy" essentially. So we went with the the quote book. This spanned 2 lines of Chinese, and so he made 2 vertical wall hangings that he said we must separate with something in between them, like the Chi or Tao scroll (but I think I want to buy a Chinese painting to use there instead, too many words otherwise).

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The, the token documentary photograph where you have no idea what we were doing together, but you know that we were, in fact, together.

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Then we headed back to Mr. Zhang's place and had some really great dinner.

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Posted by - Rain 00:24 Comments (1)

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