I've had this blog going for nearly four years now. Prior to that I'd been journaling and it's a shame I didn't have that online for the world to see. Then again, maybe not. I'm not sure how entertaining others would find it, but I'm certaining amused as I read through the opinions and experiences I documented five years ago. I've decided to post a few of them on my blog over the next few weeks just to mix things up. Read them if you'd like.
Saturday, October 8, 2005 (month 8 living in China)
I met up with Helen this morning and we hit the 'Eight Outer Temples;' Chengde's finest! First we went to Putuo Zongcheng Zhi Miao. It's the largest tmeple in Chengde and modeled after Lhasa's architectural marvel The Potala Palace. Evidently it looks just like it, but smaller. I found it better than to be expected. Inside there were cement elephants in addition to the usual lions. There were large pillars carved with Tibetan, Mongolian, and Chinese script. The architecture was fantastic and at the top was a sweeping view of Chengde. I found it amazing, but one Italian tourist begged to differ. She chatted with Helen and I for a bit. Helen asked her what she thought of China and her reply, "It's really not that beautiful. . . . "
What?! Hold the phone. Ok, I applaud this woman for being honest, but she loses points for coming off as pompous and (for lack of a better term) stupid. I realize Italy is the home of some of the finest art and architecture in the world, but how can this woman not appreciate China for what it is? It is not Italy. And yes, it's dirty and rough around the edges. BUT, it is so different from the Western world. The people, the buildings, everyday life is so foreign--how can one not find beauty in it? Even in the ugly things--like a dirty, bustling market--there is beauty. One must appreciate it for what it is and not compare it to one's own standard of beauty.
I tried to tune this woman out, but it was not easy. She went on to say how no one works very hard in China. How they all seem to be standing around doing nothing. I guess I can understand this point a little, but I still think this woman is walking around and looking but not really thinking. If you go to a store or a restaurant in China, there is an abundence of staff--probably four times the number needed. But guess what? There's over 1.3 billion people in China! The country needs to create some kind of work for the population, therefore there are superfluous staff standing around a restaurant. They are there 60 hours a week and making $60/month; where's the incentive to work hard? And what would the difference be if they did? On the flip side, there's people like Zhao Ming who work their asses off at dangerous jobs for relatively little pay. I didn't go into this in much depth with the woman, but I did say something.
Anyways, after that temple we walked up the road to Xumi Fushou Zhi Miao. It was not as impressive, but still nice. On its roof were eight copper dragons and behind it was a 7-story ceramic tiled pagoda. By that time we were pretty hungry so we ate at a restaurant near the gym. A cold beer never tasted as good as it did today! The food was great too.
We parted ways and then I went home to Zhao Ming. He had to go to his home at dinnertime to cook for his mama. Usually her boyfriend cooks for her, but evidently they are on the outs. He proposed to her, but she's not ready. She told him that and now he's angry. I don't know how he can justify his anger. Her husband died one year ago and I think that would be rather quick for most people to remarry. Well, Zhao Ming doesn't seem too thrilled about the situation. My predition, however, is that they will get married. We'll see. . .
When Zhao Ming was finished cooking for his mama, he came back to my place so I could cook for him. I made salad (they have Thousand Island dressing here, which is a god send), Fettucini Alfredo, and fried chicken. He really enjoyed the chicken; hopefully American food will continue growing on him.
footnote: Ming's mom eventually broke up with her boyfriend. I now think Thousand Island sucks and have discovered the wonders of olive oil and vinegar. Finally, I am happy to report that Ming does enjoy western food.