China Diary:
"National Day" Trip


[Leaving Home] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Settling in Shanghai] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Getting to Work] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Becoming Routine] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Western Contacts] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) ["National Day" Trip] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Meeting Folks] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Plenty to Eat] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Downtown] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [South by Southwest] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Socializing] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Dance Fever] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Exchanges] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Business Week] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [North by Northeast] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Computer Crash] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [The Good and the Bad] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Wrapping Up]


Sep. 28: Getting Carded – Two officials from the Shanghai Immigration Office arrive to return our passports along with a Resident Permit (aka "green card") which we must always carry, and a Foreign Experts Card which serves as a photo ID. We are also given an overview of the rules and regulations governing foreign mobility: We must register wherever we stay; this is done automatically at hotels but should we ever sleep at a private residence we must notify the local police station. Should we leave the country (including visits to Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan) and want to return we must apply for a re-entry visa before departure, which takes around a week and costs about $30. Foreign experts may apply for a 30-day extension to tour the country after their official teaching duties end (students must leave immediately when classes end). Should the dates on any of these documents expire we are considered illegal. Any changes must be reported to the Immigration Office as well. And if we change our employment we must notify the local office of our departure and receive similar permission from the new office.

Sep. 29: Spot Check – With a typhoon off the coast for a week, it’s been raining since Saturday. No hoops and little biking. My MBA class is still around sixty students but the faces keep changing. After class I log on to the Internet from my desktop in my office. Jackie, my TA, stops by and I tell him about how cookies leave a trail of sites visited; he turns red, and I tell him I will keep his browsing confidential.

Sep. 30: "Heaven on Earth"  – Tomorrow is "National Day," and fifteen of us – eight "foreign experts" along with spouses, one significant other, and university officials and bus driver – begin a four day tour at a cost of $25 each, including transportation, hotel rooms, and meals. Yup ... that’s China on six bucks a day. It is Yom Kippur and I began my fast last evening, but I teach class in the morning. We head south for Hangzhou (Hangchow) right after lunch with 5:30 dinner as our estimated time of arrival. But there is an accident on the two-lane highway and we are three hours late. Maurice, who has been snacking, breaks out some chocolate after sunset for me. A serene lake city dotted with causeways and pagoda-spotted hilltops, this fertile delta shipped food to Beijing and the depleted areas of the north from the southern terminus of the Grand Canal. It first took off when the Song Dynasty (960-1234) was overthrown in the north forcing the imperial capital to move south, thereby creating the Southern Song Dynasty. Marco Polo supposedly proclaimed it in the thirteenth century to be one of the finest and most splendid cities in the world. It was also the world’s largest city at the time. Always known as the "land of silk" and the "land of oolong tea" today it claims to be the "tourist capital of China." Our hotel faces West Lake, known as "Heaven on Earth" but showing development scars. Helping the local economy, we take a walk after dinner and grab some ice cream along the way.

Oct. 1: Ancient Buildings – We decide to walk the other direction around West Lake at 7 a.m. before breakfast. There is morning mist over the lake, and people all around are doing their morning exercises. After breakfast, we leave for Ningbo ("the Calm Waves") on the shore of the East China Sea in the middle of China’s coastline. This rice bowl is flat, with paddies as far as the eye can see interrupted by a rare mountain on the horizon. It is the birthplace of the "Neolithic Hemudu Culture" dating more than 5,000 B.C. Along with Shanghai, it was declared one of the "Five Treaty Ports" after the Opium War, but Shanghai eventually overshadowed it as a trading port. We visit Tianyi Pavilion, the oldest private Chinese library built in 1561 by a military ruler of the Ming Dynasty. Across the stree is a small park with a life-size laughing Buddha. For lunch, we have jelly fish, eel, snails, snakes, and other exotics. Then, off to Ar Yu Wang Temple, a Buddhist monastery nestled in the mountains. Monks go about their business oblivious to all the tourists. I purchase some candles and take a photo of Cherry and A.J. We next hop over to Dongqian ("East Money") Lake, complete with water buffalo, and take the boat (that’s David with me) across to the dong hu si temple (that’s Maurice with me). After dinner, Yoshi and I stop in the "Bridges of Madison" bar and play some modern pukepai (cards).

Oct. 2: Something Old, Something New – After breakfast, we leave for Xi Kou, hometown of Chiang Kai-Shek, first stopping at the Wen Chang Pavilion where he often stayed and take a raft trip along the river in back. The helmsman is extremely entertaining. We then visit Chiang’s ancestral home. After lunch we head for the tomb and temple of King Yu, the great-grandfather of China because he founded the first Chinese dynasty that lasted from the twenty-first to the sixteenth century B.C. He is also credited with having engineered massive flood-control projects. We leave for Shaoxing, the capital of the Yue kingdom, where we stay in a Ming-style hotel.

Oct. 3: Zhou Time – After breakfast, we take the ten-minute climb up the mountain behind our hotel to reach the Yue Fei Pavilion in Fushan Park. General Yue commanded the Song armies during the twelfth century, but had the misfortune to be recalled where he was executed by a treacherous Song court official. He was eventually deified. We roam the tower where he is now buried, which is dated around 500 B.C. Leaving the hotel, we stop briefly to buy some yellow rice wine at the Shaoxing Distillery, then off to Zhou En Lai’s family hometown and site of his ancestral home. We walk down the street to another Zhou ancestral residence (no relation), Lu Xun, the pen name for the most influential Chinese writer of this century and a rebel of a different sort. He left to study abroad and taught at Guangzhou’s Zhongshan University in 1927, eventually hiding from the government in Shanghai’s French Concession (his tomb is in Shanghai). We visit his house down the street. It is also a museum of life in old China. One of the dioramas is of business trading in a tea room. For lunch, we eat at Xian Heng, his family’s restaurant and the town’s most popular. After, I purchase a wind chime, and we leave for Shanghai around 1:30 arriving five hours later. We have one last banquet, this time in a local Szechwan restaurant. We pile off the bus around 8:00 p.m. and, at home, I light one of my Buddhist candles and hang the wind chime.

Oct. 4: The Moon Festival – After four days of breakfast buffets and banquets for lunch and dinner, I am ready to head for the basketball courts again. This time, Maurice and I pick up someone whose team won a local three-on-three tournament in the under-18 age group, and we are a bit more competitive in our mixed-age three-on-three. Temperature is in the nineties. Home, I get a two-fer: neither the refrigerator nor the washing machine work. I figure it’s the full moon; tonight China celebrates zhongqiu jie (the Moon Festival, aka the "Mid-Autumn Festival") by holding family reunions, gazing at the brightest full moon of the year, lighting fireworks, and eating tasty moon cakes. I partake in the latter.


[Leaving Home] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Settling in Shanghai] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Getting to Work] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Becoming Routine] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Western Contacts] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) ["National Day" Trip] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Meeting Folks] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Plenty to Eat] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Downtown] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [South by Southwest] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Socializing] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Dance Fever] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Exchanges] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Business Week] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [North by Northeast] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Computer Crash] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [The Good and the Bad] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Wrapping Up]

Rainbow

Copyright 1998 Paul Miesing. All rights reserved. Please do not use without permission unless in the People’s Republic of China which does not enforce intellectual property rights. Revised on January 17, 2001.