Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Well, today we were married for the second time, on the beach, in Qingdao China!

The Foreign Teachers Office at our University has been telling us that we were invited to our wedding on the beach, but there was never anything definite and certainly no explanations!! We were informed Oct 15th that the ceremony would be at 10:00 a.m. Oct 18, to wear our "Sunday best" and be in the lobby at 8:25 a.m.

At 8:10 Leon knocked at our door to tell us Joe should speak for a few minutes. We have been told to be flexible, and he quickly came up with this:

"We feel it is such a great honor to be here today and participate with you. The day is a beautiful Qingdao day! The sea, the beach and the Chinese people ---what a great experience. You have a beautiful city, but what we have found is that you also are a very beautiful people. Last night we returned to our apartment by taxi. Even though we spoke no Chinese and he spoke no English we had a very enjoyable ride home, as we joked and laughed with each other. He taught us the word for "moon," and we became friends in a very short time! That has been our experience over and over! We are beginning to feel as though we are no longer strangers, but part of a large family in this community. We want to thank the officials of Qingdao University and Qingdao City for your hospitality and the way you have opened your arms to us, the foreign teachers from Brigham Young University."

We hailed taxis and we were off—3 couples, Leon and our flower girls, Elissa, Victoria and Nona. The ride was 15 yuan ($2.25) and Leon paid for us. I forgot to ask the flower girls if they had to pay for their own taxi. It took quite a bit of work to get them invited and then Leon said they would have to pay for their own taxi! We arrived and were shepherded (or should we say "railroaded" into a large room in the municipal building, across from the beach. It was a beautiful German building. There were so many people at the beach, kite flying, dancing, a merry go round and so on.

A very energetic and in-charge Chinese women then told us what we were supposed to do and how to act! There would be speeches and entertainment and then we would have our turn. The person in charged gave us a place in line and then told us we would hold hands and form a circle and dance around. Then they would present us with certificates and then take pictures. We were three couples of about 20: There were several Chinese dignitaries and several military couples, as well as 3 police couples.

The Governor gave a speech welcoming everyone and it went along with all the pomp and ceremony, as only the Chinese can do. They had several performing groups. We watched darling little girls sit on chairs and perform a "dance" with their hands and heads. Little boys did Kung Fu, there were ladies dancing with the paddle and ball, dancers that looked like they were riding a bicycle—it was great.

We lined up and waited for our turn.When our "time" came, we were ushered to center stage, 2 people gave talks, Joe was one of them. They loved his speech and applauded twice during the short little talk. The women were handed a bouquet of silk flowers and the ceremony was read and then they sprayed confetti in the air.

Then we got off the stage onto the sand, held hand and danced (ok, jogged!) around in a big circle, just as we had been instructed to do. There were probably 50 photographers, lots and lots of photo opportunities and presentation of a wedding contract. The Qingdao government officials and party leaders made us feel very special and it was a very fun experience.

Just before we left the beach 3 handsome guys took 3 blushing brides to some chairs, and then on their knee proposed to us once more. We all said YES! And received a most beautiful ROCK---talk about a big diamond, wow, we are so impressed.! I told my handsome groom that I would go back to the states and get a matching ring for the left hand now.

After the big "to do" on the beach we went, in a van, to a fancy hotel for a banquet. The food and the facility were great The food was very Chinese, with the entire chicken served, including the chicken head, complete with eyes and beak. - not forgetting those attached fried chicken feet , complete with the claws. A real delicacy...Also, a "real" crowd pleaser, (especially among the Americans) shrimp - in the shell, complete with tenacles and eyes...

Just before leaving, we were all given a special bag for each couple that included a new night t-shirt for him and her, as well as a commemorative plate - complete with a stand, a book on Qingdao – written in Chinese and a single bed sheet which I will probably make into a couple of tablecloths!!!

We came home, went to a store for Sunday groceries and then took a taxi 30 minutes away to East Campus where I teach. My students had asked me to come Thursday, changed it to Friday (and we couldn't) so changed it to Saturday. When we got there we found about 200 students outside the library waiting for their guests. Once again we were treated like rock stars, they were wonderful and so very appreciative that we would come. I talked about becoming a teacher of the deaf and Joe talked about what it was like to go to school in the US, how he got his degree and what he did as a career. We got home at 8:30---I told Joe I didn't think we would ever have another 12 hours where we were literally the stars of the show!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Our Silk Road Trip

We thought you might enjoy seeing a few photos from last week's Silk Road trip during a national holiday here in China, therefore - NO CLASSES!! I'm finding the "professors" enjoy time off just as much or more than the students. The trip began at Urumqi in the north west cornor of China along the Silk Road route to Xi'an right in the middle of China. Transportation between the two cities was a mixture of airplane, train (sleeper car), motor bus, bicycle built for two, camel, and donkey cart with a taxi or two thrown in for good measure. We saw a lot - old and new, mostly old. We had a great time - with just few little stomach problems. Gratefully all is better now.

Enjoy the pictures. They are from both cameras so the order is random but hopefully the following captions will help.

We are both enjoying our teaching very much. The university students are wonderful, really a pleasure to be with. They are extremely bright, work very hard, and will do anything we ask of them. The classes are quite large upwards of 50 students per class. the only problem is the English level often varies a lot in any given class. Each class is two hours long. I was afraid I wouldn't have enough information but I'm finding that the class time is too short. Perhaps that is how life will look also as we look back on it.

I have a friend that I worked with who told me his greatest fear in life was being bored by getting into a job where he would have to begin doing the same thing over and over again. Well that is not our problem, we are very busy with many great challenges.

All is well with us, we are learning much more than we are teaching.

Joe and JoAnn

Hot!!! peppers drying in the sun. You don't want to eat the peppers, as in "quick give

me anything to drink or eat". But they do add spice to the other foods.

Flat bread cooking on the side a large metal pot with an open fire

in the bottom of the pot. This bread is really good.

Entrance to the main Buddha Cave at Mogao Grottos. The Buddha was as tall as the building from floor to ceiling of the cave. There were over an 100 such caves and each that we visited had very beautiful statues of Buddha along with many other statues of his followers.

Buddhist Monk chanting in front of the shrine at Mogao Grottos.

JoAnn the Terracotta Warrior.

Buddhist temple site – The Big Goose Pagoda completed in AD 652 was

built to house sacred Buddhist papers that a monk spent 17 years going to

India to get, then another 19 years translating into Chinese.

The pomegranates are in full season and are great – both the fruit and the juice.

This one is for Jody – a Traditional pharmacy – We saw many on the trip.

This caught our eye – Delicate Arch used as an advertising backdrop in the town square –

notice KFC behind the picture. Can't get away from them and yes they are bad.

Urumqi's night market with dinner ready to be cooked. The market is

put up and taken down every night in blocked off streets.

Children engrossed in toys for sale on the street.

No matter how far I go I can't seem to get away from power plants.

Heavenly Mountain near Urimqi – A very pretty summer

resort area in northwest China near Kazakhstan.

I have no idea what the red painted carved rock says behind us

You can see why this is named Heavenly Lake.

Notice the snow capped peaks in the background.

These are yerkes the local people live in during the summer months.

They get a lot of snow here in the winter but no skiing.

A pathway in a small Islamic village. We felt we were back in Egypt many

times on this trip with the desert, Arabic, and Islamic influences.

Mosque in Tuyugou Valley an oasis in the desert along the old Silk Road near Turpan.

A Pathway in Tuyugou Valley.

Children of Tuyugou Valley who were very interested throwing

"small" rocks at the American with the camera.

We are overlooking the Pachikli Grottos, an old city built on top of fifty foot high cliffs

on all sides for their protection. The cliffs held back marauders many times--just not every

time. It was an old Buddhist city with what must have been an elaborate temple at one point.

As is always the case the children were colorful.

Well that camel ride wasn't toooo bad.

Here we are on a bicycle built for two but only built for half way around

the 8.5 mile city wall. The back tire fell off exactly half way through

the ride four miles from where it had to be returned.

This is the man who in 1974 was digging a well in Xi'an and brought up a

terracotta head in a basket of dirt. The discover of the Terracotta Warriors

is said to be one of the most important finds of the 20th century.

JoAnn's new best friend even if only for 30 seconds but it was a long 30-second kiss.

The Army of Terracotta Warriors is over 8000 strong found in three pits. Each

kneeling archer, standing archer, cavalryman and horse, mid-ranking officer and general

all have very distinct facial and body differences and are thought to represent actual people/horses.