On this date, Tom Ig should be leaving China. It will be a bummer to lose my travel companion, but I still have San. Unfortunately, Tom does not have a direct flight back so I’m sure he’s not thrilled either to get to spend another 20 hours in a plane.
Ideally, by this date we will have finished all the tough work here at the mill. That would be fantastic, though it’s not completely likely.
Tai Shan means peaceful mountain and is located just southeast of Ji’nan in the Shandong province. This is a hot tourist spot, and from the descriptions, I can understand why. Tai Shan is spotted with many temples, hundreds of ruins and tablets, and over a thousand stone inscriptions. The picture below shows a natural rockfall known as the immortal bridge.
This beautiful mountain also has historical significance in that many emperors and notable Chinese climbed the mountain in order to gain “assurance that their heavenly mandate would be maintained*” Included in this crowd were Qin Shi Huang (first emperor of China), Confucious, and Mao Zedong.
If I have any free days whatsoever, I’m going to do my best to go here. Chinese mythology claims it to be “the most significant mountain under heaven**” I think this would be an ideal way to see and feel China’s natural side.
* China, Eyewitness Travel Guides cw 2005 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Probably about a good 8 or 9 hour drive from where I’m staying is Song Shan and the Shaolin Temple. Kung fu loosely translates to “skill” and can mean anything from martial arts to musical strengths. Shaolin translates to “young forest” and the monks that practice there are known for the incredible feats of will and strength.
Unfortunately, I’ve read that this area has, to a certain degree, sucumb to blatant commercialism.
I’m told that the Kung Fu that I’m learning is a Shaolin style. but I’ve also been told that it’s a southern style… and the temples that I’m referring to in this post are most definitely in the north.
I’ll try and figure all this out and get back to you with more information.
Who is Chairman Mao?
Mao Zedong is a famous historical figure in China who had a huge political and cultural influence on the country. Born in 1893, Mao’s young life lead him to politics and ultimately Marxism.
By 1949, after many military victories, Mao had reached great political status . He had successfully overtaken his US Supported adversary Chiang Kai-shek and established “The People’s Republic of China.” He took over the media and boosted the public support of the Party. At first he was open to suggestions on ways to run the government, but this soon changed and those that showed opposition were persecuted.
In 1958, Chairman Mao took over the private farms and food providers and moved much of the farm labor into industrial work in an effort to boost the country’s industrial standing. Unfortunately, this “great leap forward” did not work out and millions of Chinese peasants died in a massive famine.
In 1966 Mao began the Cultural Revolution which sought to secure the rule of Mao by giving more power to the army and pull the country out of the past and into the future. The army went about and destroyed all sorts of cultural heritage while severely punishing anyone who spoke against the Party. This included intellectuals, many of whom were imprisoned. The Cultural Revolution was ended in 1969.
Chairman Mao died in 1976.
His rule is controversial. While many say that he improved the social and economic strength of China, it is clear that many mistakes were made and tens of millions of Chinese died because of his actions. Even still, his body is buried in a mausoleum in the center of the Great Square. It is shown every day at dawn and dusk and many Chinese still idolize him as the founder of modern China.
So China continues to be quite the experience.
Work is difficult because a large precentage of the equipment we shipped was damaged or not tested properly back at home. This = bummer. BUT, all of the equipment that I designed seems to be working great and I have no doubts that my stuff will rock China harder than communism.
We are brought by bus to the mill each day, our working time is strictly 8am to 8pm. This is good because we’re guaranteed to be out by 8pm. It’s bad because sometimes we stay late and don’t end up leaving by 8pm.
things I’ve eaten:
snail (different than escargo)
the hotpot (yes!)
rice maggots (no!)
Other things that are really really strange:
Tonight we were taken to a Karaoke place. But wait, this was no normal Karaoke place. The five of us were dropped off by the vice president of our customer. We walked up stairs and were taken to a small room with large couches, two coffee tables, and a large Karaoke TV. San immediately picked up the mic and started singing. We passed around the mic a bit and then the door opened. Suddenly about 15 girls filed in. We were told to choose one (awkward?). Then that girl came over and cuddled against us as we sang.
wait? cuddling? huh?
They also refilled our tea and gave us slices of watermelon on napkins.
It was really weird. BUT, I assure you, the weirdness did not prevent me from ROCKING unchained melody as it has never been rocked before. I sang it to my little Asian. She laughed, but inside, I think she swooned.
I sat down with the President and Vice President of my company before my departure and my trip to China happened to come up.
Immediately, the horror stories started coming up. Here are some bits of the conversation.
President: “and they strung the live cat up by its neck and threw it screaming into the boiling water for about 30 seconds”
Vice President: “like a lobster.”
President: “just like a lobster. And then they pulled it out and pulled off all the fur.”
Vice President: “DO NOT EAT ANYTHING NOT SOLD AT A RESTAURANT. You’ll go home, and die before dawn.”
President: “well, that might be an exaggeration.”
Vice President: “Barely! When I got sick I was out of comission for four days. Couldn’t move.”
Vice President: “If the meat isn’t labeled, don’t ask what it is.”
President: “Duck tongue is pretty good though.”
Vice President: “oh yeah. Eat the duck tongue. The dog is rough.”
President: “yeah, I don’t know about the dog.”
Vice President: “cat is decent. ”
President: It’s the giant raw squid that’s bad.
Vice President: you might get to try scorpion.
President: “feel free to use the cell phone to call if you need anything.”
Vice President: “yeah, if you go to jail or something.”
President: “ha ha! he’s not going to jail.”
Vice President: “you never know.”
Qingdao, in addition to being one of the few destinations that Andy recommended, is a unique port city in the Shandong province. It was taken over by the Germans in 1897. The German’s started laying down the groundwork for an impressive city and the resulting architecture is odd. The German’s occupied Qingdao until 1914 when it was taken from them by the Japanese who hoped to expand into mainland China. This didn’t last however as there was a huge uprising on May fourth 1919 where students demanded that the government rid the country of foreign controllers. The uprising was so substantial that all of shanghai went on strike.
Despite this, Japan held onto Qingdao for three more years until 1922.
Qingdao is most famous for brewing Tsingtao beer. Made with mineral water from a local mountain, the beer was originally created by homesick Germans in dire need for boos.
This city is rapidly expanding and is compared to Shanghai in its growth and ambition. I will do my best to get here for a weekend. Though I think it’s probably a solid 4 or 5 hour drive from my workplace.
China / US
Total Area: 9.59 million sq km / 9.63 million sq km
Population: 1.3billion / 298 million
Life Expectency: 72.5 yrs/ 77.85 yrs
Literacy: 90.9% / 99%
Public debt: 28.8% / 64.7%
Oil consumption: 6.4 million bbl per day / 20.03 million bbl per day
# cell phones: 335 mil / 194 mil
Great Walls: 1 / 0
Military Expenditures: $81.5 bil / $518.1 billion
I think I’m just as shocked by some of those US numbers as I am with the Chinese stats!
First, I had no idea that china was almost the exact same size (area wise) as the US. I also had no idea that the US literacy rate was so high. Three cheers for education.
The oil consumption statistics are disgusting. As is the fact that China has totally one upped us on “great walls.” Let’s get our act together America!! If the democrats want a surefire way to the presidency in 2008, they should probably start campaigning right now for the construction of The American Greater Wall… nay… Greatest Wall.