I am home now. Linda and Michael picked me up at the Wash D.C. airport on Friday June 10th. I had two days that day. I left at 11:00 am and arrived at 11:00 am the same day. Now that was a little strange. Customs went well but getting my baggage was more difficult. One of my bags was a long skinny box that contained a Chinese wall hanging and 8 large sheets of rice paper. I had to put in a box because at the Japanese airport (China airport was fine) check-in they would not allow me to carry it on because it had a bottom plastic piece that was too long. I guess they thought it could be used as a club. Unfortunately this bag came down the unusual size package conveyor belt and it was not working properly. After a 30 minute delay two men finally climbed down the conveyor belt and retrieved my package. I saw Linda and Michael around noon and gave them both a big hug, it was good to get back and see my family. The six hour drive home I tried to sleep a little in the back seat because my body thought it was midnight – 6:00 am. We dropped Michael off in Blacksburg, picked up Sophie at the Kennel, and made it back home around 6:15 pm. It was a long day and I was in bed by 9:00 pm.
Saturday I cut the lawn and did some weed eating and Sunday I was dragging a little so I took it a little easier. Today (Monday) I have done some weeding in the garden (mostly the onions), cut some more grass, and several other small chores around the house. I have now come inside because it is quite hot outside and I thought I would write one last journal about the China trip.
First it was a wonderful experience and the people in China were very kind to me. I will never forget their kindness. The food was delicious although at times a little strange but I just went with the idea of “just try.” I did eat very little of anything that was hot or spicy. Sometimes I have stomach pains and intestinal pains after eating something spicy. I never got any type of diarrhea or stomach illness while in China so I was very happy about that. My favorite food was the Chinese dumplings since Linda and I have eaten these for years. Other favorites were barbecue pork, sliced cucumber, meatballs, and tomato sauce eggplant. Some of the unusual things I liked that I had never eaten before were lotus root, a thinly sliced marinated yellow radish, noodle broth, and sweet clear fungus soup. The fish I would have to say was my least favorite primarily because it was often very spicy, had bones, came out of the polluted river, was just the fish head, and many times I was just not sure what type of fish it was. Speaking of bones, almost all the meat had bones, sometimes it was 95% bone on the plate. The meat often had lots of fat on it, big chunks of fat. One time I had pig’s feet (I thought it was a chicken wing) and it was like eating pure fat. I did try turtle soup, just the broth; I did not get any of the turtle meat. Basically it was a whole turtle cooked in water. When frog was served I just never got around to trying it because there was so much other good food on the table. Luckily it never stopped in front of me. Remember all the large banquet meals were served with a lazy Susan. They would start with about 6 dishes and then the server would keep adding dishes until about 15 – 18 different dishes were served. When something made its way around to you, you would grab some with your chopsticks and put it directly in your mouth. You could put it on your plate but most people did not do this unless you wanted several servings of that dish. The last dish served was always watermelon, which was your dessert. Sometimes I would stop by the market before going to my apartment and get ice cream.
I got to see a lot of Nanjing often going to parks and seeing a lot of the historical sites. I became familiar with the buses but was not always sure where they were going. The bus stops only were written in Chinese. I did have a bus map but it was confusing at times. There just are a lot of buses, remember Nanjing has 8 million people. Nanjing does not have a lot of white people. I often would not see a white person for the entire day. Shanghai on the other hand had many white people. I got stared at a lot because frankly I look different. I am 6 foot 2 inch white man. This did not bother me but I did notice it.
The three campuses affiliated with Jiangsu Institute of Education were all nice and the students were very friendly. Most students would just giggle when they saw you unless they had met you before and then they would say hi. I always felt welcome.
The food in the canteen on our campus tasted good but it was difficult to order even with someone helping you. I usually would just try and point or if I saw something I liked I would say, “I want that.”
I guess that is all I will write for now. I have written more in my journal and might someday post some of those ramblings.