The train I boarded in Beijing is a regular run between the Capital and Shanghai, with a stop in Jinan. I was duly impressed with China’s high-speed rail system! It is clean, efficient and on time. The trains travel at speeds of over 185 miles per hour and yet their sleek design allow for a smooth and comfortable ride. I arrived in Jinan in about 90 minutes.
Along the way I see many tree farms stocked with quick growing poplars and willows. I suspect that this tree production is an attempt to mitigate the effects of air pollution. There are also many greenhouses, indicating food production. The air is very hazy. There are also large building complexes that appear to be in mid-construction and seemingly abandoned. Are these properties condemned? Are they in some form of bankruptcy or foreclosure? It is odd to see large construction projects abandoned. I was not able to gain any info.
One of the first things I wanted to do was to get some massage therapy treatment for my back and shoulder. The tumble I took on the Great Wall two days earlier was now causing some serious mobility issues. I was having trouble lifting my right arm above the shoulder without causing deep aching pain. Surprisingly there appeared to be no outwardly visible bruising of my upper back or shoulder, but I was definitely uncomfortable.
The name of clinic, Hong Wei Tui Na. Apparently Mr Hong has several clinics for massage in the city of Jinan. This style of massage was quite aggressive and would likely not be popular in the U.S. In fact, some of the techniques used in this traditional massage clinic would likely be forbidden. I will go into to greater detail (with pictures) about my massage and acupuncture experience in a future post.
One day I had a delightful walk at Da Ming Lake with Lily and Morning. Both girls are terrifically photogenic and I promised I would send copies. The picture below is one example of their composure on camera. Thanks to both young ladies for allowing me to take your picture. I am really trying to develop my portrait abilities and your willingness to be photographed and patience as I worked with the camera was helpful to that end.
A funny observation and footnote to the Da Ming Lake walk was that I felt like the white ape at the zoo. This happened to me in the Philippines and I attributed it to the fact that many Chinese don’t have an opportunity to see a Caucasian. Additionally, I am taller than many Asians and of course, my gray hair makes me stick out like a sore thumb. So, I am acquainted with a certain level of extra scrutiny that comes in the form of staring ….but people were actually pointing and taking photographs of me like I was some sort of freak! Funny.
The name of the restaurant; Blue Sea.
My student, Renee is a vegetarian. So, she was kind enough to introduce me to a restaurant that served an incredible array of non-meat items. Each of these dishes actually looked and tasted and had the texture of meat!
High culinary talent is a thing to be admired, but these dishes were examples of fine art. If you would like to check this place out, here is the name; He Xiang Ju.
I also had a special visit from 2 course advisers with whom I previously worked. They wanted to see me and had never been to Jinan, so they took the train and we had dinner and a walk around some of the springs and waterways. Great to see Kelly and Emy!
Dinner with Ellen Zhang and her lovely daughter….somehow I can’t seem to find the pictures from that wonderful meal highlighting a couple of foods from Inner Mongolia, Ellen’s native province.
During the dinner with Team Q, I was too busy eating and talking that I completely forgot about taking pictures of the food. However, I think it is safe to say that all of my students know I love to eat great food! It is a small miracle that I don’t weigh 500 pounds! We also had an informative time with a Q&A period after this meal. I found the team to be fun, curious about the West, gracious and welcoming to all visitors to China. They appear to be a group of people who work well together and enjoy each other in free time. It was nice to see such group cohesion.
I have so many, many wonderful students in Jinan!
I love you all and thank you for providing such a terrific experience meeting each of you and learning about your culture. I am looking forward to seeing all of you again.
My schedule was a little tight this trip thus, preventing me from spending more quality time with each of my students. One student I had trouble connecting with was Sky. She operates a school for young ESL students and has recently expanded her business to a larger facility. I did introduce The Game of Scrabble to her and I hope she finds it helpful for getting kids excited about vocabulary.
Next trip; More time with Sandy and Sky and other students I missed on this trip.
Climbing Mt. Tai is another item on the list for my next visit. Confucius was said to have uttered “The world is very small'” upon reaching the top of this famous mountain. I have also read that those who climb to the top will live to be 100.
I would also like to explore more of Shangdong province outside of the city.