A Travellerspoint blog

Student tour guides, Buddhas, & KFC...

sunny

On 12 June 09, two Chinese students, Alice and Lydia, suggested that I visit Thousand Buddha Mountain, Qiān Fó Shān, southeast of the city of Jinan, which is a local attraction. As we got off at our stop, we started to walk up the street, both sides of the sidewalk, leading up the mountain and before the admission gate, there were people sitting cross legged in front of a spiritual pictured mat and burning incense.

"They are here to tell you your fortune," Lydia explained, then asked me if I would be interested in knowing my 'future news' ... I laughed and told her, "No, I've already made my future my present."

We entered and immediately saw all types of buddha from each side of the cemented path. Lydia would name the deity and explain its purpose, which most dealt with the want of prosperity, wealth... and procreation (I hastily made my dash away from that temple). I told Alice and Lydia, if upon I wanted wealth, that would be for my health and that I continue enjoying my life as I am now. My philosophy in earning money is to pay my bills and pay for my next holiday (vacation). One cannot enjoy use of money when sick... I prefer being healthy.

I taken photos of statues I thought as most amusing, however, I did take unique shots whilst inside the actual mountain itself... note images posted.

My teen tour guides were very good and quite fun, they amused me when they were trying to decide where we were going... Alice and Lydia was confused as I in what sense of direction.

Weekend of 13-14 June, James and I went to north of the city of Tai'an, in Shandong Province, to climb the most famous Tai Mountain (Tài Shān). We left that Saturday morning and arrived in Dong Yue, James suggested that he do most of the 'talking' since I am 'foreigner' and wanted to ensure that the locals to do take advantage of pricing, both in taxi and hotel.

James said that his parents told him possible cost of hotel of 800RMB, but female taxi driver drove us to government funded hotel and offered discount to students and foreign teachers. We were in luck, we each only had to pay 100RMB for a shared room, and most locals, visitors and tourists visit Dong Yue to climb Tai Mountain to see the sunrise... which meant that we had to climb VERY early in morning.

Before we decided to rest, we visited the local temple park, Dai Temple, in stretching our legs, and take photos (also see photos posted). We then taken a nap to rest from bus ride, reawaken to shop for snacks to eat for mountain climb Saturday. We went to 'shopping mall' - not what Americans would consider as such - and we purchased snacks and ready-to-eat dinner, well, at least I did.

James was too pleased in seeing a KFC and wanted his meal there. He purchased two sandwiches, fries, and a drink...now keep in mind, we were eating items from the grocery store as well. I simply watched James as he ate his additional meal, and praised how he LOVES KFC. I only shook my head whilst snickering, then said, "Aren't you on a diet?"

"Yes, but we climb mountain tomorrow," James answered, "I will lose in morning." He also raved how he can eat KFC every day, personally, I could not resist laughing at his fond discovery of American Junk Food. He then offered this odd looking root what he called 'tropical fruit' ... it, exactly that - an IT, smelled bad ... no joke, and I hesitated in trying, although I am known to try almost anything new ... including food.

I watched James in amusement as he taken a forkful into his mouth and "Mmmmm, this is good" smile beamed on his lips. He offered tray to me, "You'll like, trust me." I made a face as I sliced a small portion of this 'tropical fruit' ... truly, I was just waiting for an alien to leap out somewhere after I seen the large brown seed inside. I finally put into my mouth, the texture was smooth, almost like firmed custard and had a rather pleasant taste. Not bad! Nevertheless, the shape and look of this metaphorical 'tropical fruit' looks like a blob or other, but if you close your eyes and taste, your tongue will tell you otherwise.

Before my wake up alarm for 1230am, I was rudely awaken by the on/off flickering of the bathroom light, this ghostly event continued for an hour till the moment we had to wake up and prepare to leave to catch bus for climb. At that moment, the lights switched off whilst I was ready for a shower... oh, joy... seems our entire morning was quite interesting, but we got to the starting point and the half moon was a guide.

In a nutshell, what a climb and I certainly do mean CLIMB! James was considerate but he didn't understand my way of handling a challenge ... I was extremely quiet and maintained rhythmic breathing as steps became steeper. James, such a dear, kept asking if I was ready to rest, I wasn't ready till we reached mid point, in which I did rest... Also, there was massive people that morning wanting to see the sun rise... I have to share in saying, what an experience!

Posted by mskaye 16:14 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (5)

Jianan's famous Quan Cheng Square

On my 2nd day in Jinan, that morning I looked from my balcony view and saw the full moon above the roof tops. The sky was so clear that I had to capture this moment for I didn't know when I would have another opportunity of getting such a perfect view. Visit most pics at Picasa photo album: http://picasaweb.google.com/myp.ms.kaye

Later, I headed to the office in which Sally may assist me in scheduling a trip within and outside of the city through travel agencies. However, the hotel's agency didn't accept any 'foreigners' to accompany their tours, also, if I had wanted an English translator that was an extra 300RMB plus price of tour if they decided to accept me. We faced similar situation at local travel agency 5 minutes from office.

We returned to office, I was slightly disappointed for I wasn't too concerned of having a translator as much as Sally was. She wanted to ensure that in case I had a problem or gotten lost, there was someone who could understand me. I personally was more interested in touring and taking photos, I can always purchase a brochure of the site.

Susan, whom interviewed me, offered her student James to be my personal guide that evening. She explained that he spoke very good English and have expressed great interest in sharing conversastion with a 'foreigner'. I was gamed.

James was unusually tall for an Asian, wore glasses and articulated well when speaking the English language. As we left the office, he explained that he had planned an itinerary for the evening also he wanted to discuss his hobby: photography.

I was in best company, better than any tour translator also he knew how to compose a photo. Fantastic! Couldn't ask for a better evening. He did request that if he required when speaking or there was another English word or phrase to best describe situation, "Please free in correcting me."

Personally, I don't say that I'm correcting, mostly, only assisting by expanding his vocabulary. "You too feel free in correcting my Chinese," I told him. At restaurant, Jasmine, which is similar theme to Hollywood Planet but made Hollywood Planet look like a snackbar, we shared a small meal and intellectual conversation.

From there, we walked to Heibu Springs which is a park of natural spring water which one can literally see the very bottom and see the waving of the reefs from the currents. Locals flock at the park to fil their water bottles, for cooking and brewing their teas, or just to relax and absorb the crisp smell of fresh water. We walked and taken a few photos until we reached Jianan's famous Quan Cheng Square, we arrived in time before the foundation's colorful luminated water performance. We both captured great images (as I also with video) from a two story sky walk. Although James camera 'was losing energy', he was still able to take spectacular stills.

Evening gradually darkened the skies, and we continued to an 'off beaten path' which James was glad that I was not typical 'foreigner' who preferred the tourist site locations. He taken me to an alley in which both sides had rows of food caterers of everything to anything. One could smell the sizzling grease from the crisped chicken or duck skin, hear the boiling bubbled water from broth soups, steamed dumplings or bread, and witness locals with ease and skill use chop sticks to collect portions of their meal to easily place into their watered mouths and anxiously awaited taste buds.

James purchased 4 sweet buns in which the only owner, charged him for the four but handed me the fifth one for free. The late snack was doughy and sweetened just right, James ate his (guiltly admitted very quickly) in two bites. I confessed that I was still nibbling on mine for I savor great taste in which James then handed me the remaining three... "Please take and have for breakfast, I must watch my weight."

Posted by mskaye 00:32 Archived in China Tagged photography Comments (4)

illuminating rainbow water colors at quan cheng square

Full moon and Square was crowded with both locals, visitors and tourists! A wonder of astonishment no one should miss!

Posted by mskaye 01:36 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

Province Location: Jinan

sunny 22 °C

I arrived to Shandong Tuesday morning. Met with staff, very wonderful people and so friendly... I never laughed or felt so relaxed so much, I immediately felt welcomed as though I have known them forever. In confessing, Sally and I have been corresponding since last year October and on the day of being collected at airport, she and we finally meet!

What a great union... we both mentioned, we look like our pictures!

Ironically, I awaken early Wednesday morning thinking later of morning, but at 0430 the sun was making her appearance... very different from Sichuan. At least I didn't hear any squealing of the pigs this AM. I did see a clear view of the full moon this morning and taken pics from over roof tops, not as scenic as I would like, but appreciative in capturing his essence.

Comfortable apartment, upon putting my clothes away was not till I realized how little of amount I had packed. Tis ok, I plan wise shopping. According to Sally, some of the clothes are shipped from Sichuan... I thought, oh, no, just as trendy but sized bigger... LOL! Here in Jinan, the people are "higher" whereas in Sichuan, they're "lower".

You do know that in translation regards to differences of height.

Later after visiting office, I'll probably visit travel agency and schedule a trip or this weekend, hike on Tia Mountain. Just have to get bus schedule and I'm there. Sally said Tia Mountain (correction: very close by train) could ride bus (priced cheaper) then Susan, whom interviewed me on phone last month, inquired, "Do you drive?" Susan and Sally burst out laughing with my matter-of-fact response when I simply answered, "Not here."

Also, apartment is equipped with desktop computer, really not necessary for my laptop, but good for office and when teaching ... so not a total waste of weight. Time is after 0630 of morning and I'm already freshened to start my day, just had my breakfast and I'm in gear... LOL! For holiday / summer work, I never cease to know when to just sit and relax... well, not true... I do cross-stitch close toward evening.

Posted by mskaye 15:24 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (3)

Last days of Spring... come forth Summer

sunny 20 °C

Taken great shots of Dujiangyan, sun was shining... one can feel the forth Summer on her way. Enjoy my photos which I made into artistic sketches... Images never looked so majestic!

Posted by mskaye 05:21 Archived in China Tagged photography Comments (0)

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