25 July 2011

Cruising on the Yangtze

We just finished a week-long cruise down the world's 3rd longest river, the Yangtze.
The river is at it's low point, as indicated by the water line in the Three Gorges. This area was dammed over ten years ago, displacing over 1.3 million people.
The Three Gorges Dam is China's biggest engineering project since the construction of the Great Wall. It ranks as the world's largest concrete dam.
We took a day excusion to Huang Shan, the Yellow Mountain. The bamboo forests, granite peaks, and twisted pines were simply breathtaking.
The mists added to the ambiance, as did the padlocks young lovers lash to the chain railings as a symbol of their eternal love. Although we recently celebrated our 35 anniversary, we were without a padlock.
The ship's crew treated us to several shows -- by day they're waiters and cooks and in the evening they sing and dance.
We sailed downstream from Chongqing to Shanghai, passing a mix of newly built cities, terraced farming areas, and industrial development such as this coal port.
The Yangtze already transports 70% of China's shipping, and these boats under construction will add to the 2 million vessles currently licensed on the river.

We enjoyed a farewell dinner with fellow travelers -- two French women (one teachs in French Polynesia) and a couple from the UK (he operates a high-end whiskey packaging business in Shanghai and his wife is a retired physician). Gan bei! (Chinese Cheers!, literally "bottoms up").

16 July 2011

From North to South

We've been on the road for a week, making our way from the north to the south of China via trains and planes.
Our first stop was Xi'an, where we met up with our friend Hilary. We attended her wedding last January and since then she's been trying to get a teaching position (interviewers have said she's either too short or the wrong gender). 
This is the bus for Qinzhou University (the photo's not backwards but the sign is), where we will be teaching if we return for a second year. The city and university are of similar size to Baotou (3 m. and 10,000 students).
But the view from our housing is completely different, as we watched rice being planted. We're going from dry and cold to wet and hot.
We also said farewell to our travel companion William, who led the English Bible study we so much enjoyed in Baotou.
And then to Chongqing, one of China's megacities of over 30 m, where the air is thick all day. Shopping is the new liberation, as the relative size of the Liberation Monument and new shopping centers and towers attest.

We enjoyed an evening on the river admiring the lights, a foretaste of the Yangtze River boat cruise we start tomorrow.

08 July 2011

Goodbye to Inner Mongolia

The semester is over and we've been saying our farewells.
Daniel will miss being surrounded by a bevy of attentive students.
One of our teaching colleagues invited us to her home for a taste of Mongolian dishes ... delicious.
And the middle school teachers had us over, where we ate and sang (our contribution was "Happy Days are Here Again").
Students gave us lots of unique farewell presents. This is a cartoon of our family with the apples on the left representing our children and their children. So that's what we look like to them!
Daniel spied this BP sign so paid homage to his former employer.
July 1st was Canada Day (144 years) and the anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (90 years); here we are at the Red Museum.
The church Bible study group celebrated our departure with with food and games.
It's been an absolutely great year. We leave for several weeks of travel in China and Japan, and then to Houston  -- home sweet home!

07 July 2011

Home Visit

After finishing classes, our student and fellow-traveller invited us to visit her home.
Nicole shows us her family home, built a few years ago by her father and  brother.
Her 43 year-old mother, who cooks in a nearby restaurant, never attended school so is unable to read and write. She's deservedly proud of her college daughter.
School-approved hair styles for high school students.
We spent a day hiking sand dunes bordering the Gobi Desert.
A sand sculpture representing happiness.
Can you name all Seven Drawfs?
We were treated to a factory floor tour by her aunt who works at the Erdos Cashmere No. 2 Knitting Factory.
Slogan: Cod helps those who help themselves.
Karaoke came to China from Japan in the 1980s and was named KTV. In a private suite we gave our best impressions of ABBA while Nicole and her cousin preferred Ayong Zerang.
And no visit is complete without seeing one of China's "ghost cities." Money was poured into Kang Bashi, built by the government for 300,000 but housing only 30,000. Nicole's cousin is standing in front of the libraries, magnificent but almost empty.
Diane's 30-year old traveling bag gets a repair to continue the journey.