Sunday, May 25, 2014

Chinese dogs.....

You would think dogs are pretty much the same in all countries. Well they are but here the canines sport some novel differences. Cultural differences are so fascinating!

I think the poodles in America would be jealous!

You never know when a backpack will come in handy.

This big guy was more than impressive and beautiful!

Fuzzy galore!

Just wondered if you were paying attention. This is actually a red panda bear.

I love it!

On a hot day any dog can look like a poodle. Even a husky.

I am not sure why this one is being carried but you see it all the time.

Ahh, Mr. Fu

The Muslim Quarter - Xi'an

In the center of the walled city of Xi'an (the oldest part of the city) is the Muslim Quarter, a bustling, loud, colorful marketplace that is a tourist paradise - both Chinese and foreigner alike. Every few months we walk or take a cab there and spend a few hours walking along the crowded streets, taking in the sites, smells and haggling for a souvenir.

Most all tourists to Xian go here and most tourists are Chinese. The people watching here is spectacular and watching the Chinese from Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and other more developed cities is the most fun. It is as amazing a place, out of the ordinary from "their China" as it is for us. It is very popular and for good reason.

The Bell Tower is located inside the city wall almost in the center of the city. It's base serves as the entrance to the winding streets and walks of the Muslim Quarter.

The streets are lined with all kinds of food booths, markets, souvenier shops and peddlers. The smells range from the amazing to strange to great to, well, awful.

Dried dates, nuts, seeds and other fruits are painstakingly arranged for sale.  There are so many things we have never seen before.  Sometimes we take them to our students who fill us in on what they are.

The variety is almost endless.

Cooks prepare the food fresh while you watch. Everything from lamb, pork, noodles, squid, crabs and lots of things we have never seen, almost all of it added to a spicy, hot sauce made of the hottest red chilis. When you say no spice they merely add just a "little". The white caps are religious head coverings.

This man is chopping meat on a wooden slab of a tree trunk. They are very good at it but you don't want to get too close.

Now add to the mix automobiles and life is really complicated. the streets are narrow, the traffic rules are ignored and the idea of yieldling is totally lost.  The following pictures show this well. Who will win?

More spotlights from Instagram

Whenever we  go out to explore in China or sometimes when we are just in our apartment we experience surprises and learn more about the Chinese culture. The following pictures are just a random collection of images we have captured while living in China.

Sometimes it is best not to think about the air quality either inside or outside our apartment.  This picture is of a glass table top in our apartment just 24 hours after it was cleaned. The window might or might not have been open. Either way the chunks that landed are large! Most of the time we opt to leave our windows closed and turn on the air conditioning.

Pineapples are extremely popular in China and are sold on the street corners everywhere.  Great artistic care is taken in cutting up a pineapple and the results are most impressive! Often we are concerned about the cleanliness of the hands or utensils doing the cutting.

On this night, for 20Yuan you can see Jupiter - we think. The telescopes are portable and are mounted on the back of usually very old three wheeled cargo "bikes". The laser is pointed toward whatever we are supposed to see and the resulting image in the eyepiece is remarkably clear.  The silver sign says the telescope was made in the USA........but the "Chinglish" would suggest not. Last week for 10 yuan we saw the rings on Saturn. Very cool. This is surrounding the Drum Tower in the Muslim Quarter. There were at least a half dozen of these set up.

The things we have to do to get a taxi to take us home.  After dinner one night we came across a group of taxi drivers hitting a top with a kind of whip on a stick. Laughingly they made it quite clear that if Paul tried it they would take us home. He was actually quite good. Parks always have older men doing this - occupying much more than their fair share of Chinese personal space.

Sometimes the concept of waiting in line is lost in this country. Especially if a foreigner is being helped. One day at the airport, while the agent was helping Paul, this man totally edged in front of Paul, as did a second man. These men argued with the agent that she should help them first. She made them wait. Our Delta Frequent Flyer status has really been helpful over here.  

Cell phones are a MAJOR source of entertainment - especially while waiting for a flight. I was even guilty.

Cooking is an adventure in our apartment. We have 2 gas burners and a toaster oven. Actually, with a little practice (and a few disasters) we have been able to enjoy some of the true comforts of home!  Pumpkin pie and fudge! Below is some homemade french bread with chinese strawberry jam. Who knew?

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Mr. Fu (or Peter as he is also known) lives by us and is so fun. Never a smile but he quietly tolerates everyone in his regal way. He can be very startling in a dark stairwell. Saw a picture in the paper of a zoo displaying one of these as a lion and in another zoo, dying one white and displaying it as a panda. Truly "OIC" (only in china) moments!

Peddlers sell "beach pearls" and we enjoy buying trinkets and necklaces from them. We hear from many foreigners that they "successfully" negotiate 10-30% off. Paul typically buys for 10-30% off their starting price. They sell to him so they must still make a profit, just not the bonanza they hope for from foreigners. This is the South China Sea, the sea of great international controversy. Beautiful

Thursday, May 22, 2014

This & that from Instagram

Right or wrong, we typically do not post a blog until we have a lot to say/show on a topic. As a result, of lot of smaller but still perhaps interesting items never quite make it here to the blog. As social media challenged as we are, we do however also post on Instagram and a lot of our daily China living shows up there (grammaann and pwilson75 if you are interested). This post will be a recap of some of the one-off photos from Instagram.

Jenny has a new roommate for a summer internship. Abby Curran. Niece of Carol and Steve Hansen. Jenny has not met her yet but she just visited us in Xian this weekend.

Small world enough that Abby was, one of the fellows in this group of six BYU MBA students was a cousin of Ann Hedstrom's. He will be living this summer with my cousin Dow Wilson near Stanford while he does an internship. Dow is married to Lynne who is Ann's sister. Aren't we almost all "shirt-tail" relatives to everyone else in the church?

Abby came to church this week and ate luch with us. Fun time!

Ann's office chair broke this week. Paul went out to buy a replacement on Friday. Combination of bus and walking a couple of miles to a street of very small furniture stores. Found one full of chairs. The proprietor spoke absolutely no English. Paul finally negotiated an acceptable price that included delivery to our apartment and carrying it up the stairs. She whistles over a delivery bike and they start loading it while Paul got a pedicab for his transportation and to lead the delivery bike. The proprietor nixes the pedicab and indicates Paul should sit on the back of the delivery bike. What an adventure. Watching him arrive he looked hilarious. Apparently Paul reported the same thing. All the motorcycles he was around either had huge smiles or were laughing. Seems they don't see many westerners riding on the back of a delivery vehicle over here. He was likely the first most of them had seen. Not many westerners in Xi'an period.

Here he is just leaving the furniture store.

He made it! This is the entrance to our apartment.

Our university grounds are so beautiful. We love living on the campus. Out walking last week this rose just begged to be made into a MormonAd so Ann did.

Tree moving in China is not anything like what we have seen in the US.  Size or age is no barrier. We have seen some amazing things as noted below.

These very large trees were dug up, bound, and transported out to our new campus to be put into the landscaping being done at the new library.

Umbrellas are used constatnly in China. With all the walking we do we very often have one with us. It is fun to go to the market and see all the colors and patterns.  Then there are the parasols used only for the sun. They are just as pretty but are tinted black on the insde.

They have to be put somewhere to dry and the hallway outside the classroom works just fine.

Western bathrooms are just not that important in China to anyone but us westerners.  We were told there were not any on our New Campus. Often they are found hidden away behind lock and key and used as storage closets. One day Paul opened a "forbidden door" and found these. We have subsequently found dozens more - all out of comission for storage. Many Chinese, when forced to use one, stand on the edges because sitting is unsanitary.

Often when we go into a store we are followed the entire time we are shopping. I am not sure if it is because we look suspicious or if the employees are bored or if they are just curious. Anyway, it has a way of shortening our shopping! The following pictures give convincing evidence of being followed.


I think our favorite feature and attraction in Xi'an is the City Wall.  It is flat out the most compelling, impressive and beautiful structure here.  We love it in the daytime and we love it at night. the view from the top is spectacular and we love walking and biking on it. Here are a few pictures from the top as we bkie around it and at night when you are allowed to walk along the top and get close to the guardhouses.  Memorable!!

A very wide wall with great views of the city

Often when we are touring we find people dressing alike. A romantic couple, 2 or more girlfriends, 2 or more men like to do it.