Last weekend and this weekend

Unfortunately, I do not have the time to tell you about my next two days of adventure in length, mostly because I’ve been sick and going places this weekend, thus have not done my homework yet, thus I have to do homework now instead of writing a long post.

In short, on Friday morning we visited Confucius’ and Mencius’ temple’s/homes. Confucius’ place was a bit crouded, him being more or less the most famous philosopher in Chinese history. Mencius’ place was much less crowded and more fun in my opinon. Both temple complexes (which were also where they taught their students and did philosophical things), had bunches of very old evergreens growing everywhere, and there were lots of noisy birds. All the buildings and such had been restored and repainted etc, several times over the centuries, so of course everything wasn’t just like it was back then. We had a tour guide, but I didn’t pay much attention because she was moving too fast and I was trying to take pictures.

In the afternoon we climbed Tai mountain. A very large and beautiful mountain, actually it’s the tallest mountain in Shandong province. We drove a tour bus about halfway up to where the steps started. I can not imagine how difficult it was to make all those steps, while having to lug the rock to make them up a longer and longer staircase. Anyway, it took about 2 hours to climb up to the top (actually not exactly sure, I didn’t keep the time). At the top was a temple complex where some monks lived, as well as some monuments and a government signal tower/buildings. It was very foggy and you couldn’t see a very long way, but it was breathtaking none the less. Yes, it was very tiring, but I only felt tired while I was climbing, as soon as I was done I felt all ready to do it all over again. On the way down we had to “run” to catch the last bus before it left and we had to walk down, which would have taken several hours (it was already dark by this time). While we were climbing down I counted the steps: 3851. I’m sure my count was off some, maybe by 100 steps either way. The peak of the mountain is about 1550 feet above sea level.

Saturday we went to a town famous for its traditional crafts, especially kite making. We toured the “Yangjiabu Folk Art Grand Garden” which was more or less a folk art complex where craftsmen make folk art and people can come and tour and buy it. We got to make kites, very simple, small ones compared to the beauties the craftsmen were making, but it was fun. Then we had a long trip back, getting back into Qingdao about 6pm Saturday.

This past week’s school was pretty much same ol: fun, a lot of work, and slowly improving my chinese. I don’t really know about speaking, I guess the change is so gradual that I don’t notice it, but in writing I can definitely recognize and write many more characters than I could before. And I’m getting better at guessing characters for words and word meanings.

Friday our class went to a Beijing opera drama school where they put on a small show for us so we could get a taste of Beijing opera. It was very fun and interesting, they actors were very good, though I couldn’t understand what they were saying. This was mostly because I wasn’t really paying the slightest attention to what they were saying, and also most of what they did was just acting out stuff, they didn’t do much talking or singing. Afterwards we got to meet the actors and some of the students got their face’s painted up with makeup like the actors (I declined). There were two faces the did: the lovely lady/concubine/maiden and a monkey face (very cool actually). It was a wonderful experience and an amazing opportunity to see all this stuff close up and talk to real actors.

Saturday my friend Hongmei took me out. First we went to her parents house so I could meet her parents. Her parents are such amazingly wonderful people. They were very nice and made me feel at home (reminded me of my grandparents actually). I can’t tell you their names because I don’t know them since it is culturally proper for me to address them as “ye ye (grandpa) and nai nai (grandma)” even though they are not my grandpa and grandma. The chinese language is like this, if you don’t know someone and you don’t need to be really formal, you address them using family address’s: someone my mom’s age I call aunti, my dad’s age I call uncle, a little younger or older girl I call big or little sister, male big or little brother, and older people I call grandma and grandpa.

After that we went to pick up her son Zhuang Re and we went to a public park by the seaside. After a while we went back to her parents house and had dinner. Her mom made some delicious dumplings (jiaozi) and there was also sausage, some kind of green veggie, and fish.

After dinner we went to another public park right behind her mom’s house called small Yu mountain park (Xiao Yu Shan Gong Yuan). It was evening and a wonderful breeze was blowing, and the park was very pretty. At the top there were some sculptures and pagodas and a viewing deck which enabled you to see all of qingdao in every direction. But after a little while it started getting dark so we went back down and they (Hongmei, her mom and her son) walked me to the nearest bus stop where I took a bus back to the university. I had a wonderful time and am very much in debt to Hongmei for doing so much for me. I really like Hongmei and her whole family. They have helped me out a lot and given me a chance to see what Chinese family life is really like. Plus Hongmei is really interesting and nice. Many thanks to you Hongmei if you happen to read my post.

And thats all I have time for, I’ll try to post pictures later.

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