Sunday, June 27, 2010


Well, anyone who knows me knows that I have no sense of direction whatsoever. This is no false modesty resulting from my time here in China, but just the truth. Over many years of getting lost, whether by foot or in the car, I’ve become very used to it, and I don’t really mind getting lost anymore, so long as I’m not in a rush. It helps to think of these times as adventures, I’ve found.

This week I tried going out to see a famous local temple. I remember it being very large and beautiful from my study abroad in Xiamen a few years ago. (We did a tour of southeastern China, and among the places we visited was Quanzhou and the Kaiyuan Temple. ) However, this time, I was by myself and a little vague on the directions, so instead of the temple, I ended up at a park downtown. The park was nice though, with lots of people of all ages hanging out, as is normal in Chinese parks. Chinese parks are much better utilized than American ones, in my opinion.

I dutifully took some pictures, unlike last time.

This picture would look better if it were bigger, but you can see folks outside enjoying the momentarily acceptable weather. It's been cloudy and rain here for weeks now. I would guess we haven't had more than about 5 hours of blue sky for at least three weeks. For example, the morning I set out for the temple, there was a blue sky for about an hour. Clouds quickly rolled in though, and by the time I reached the park, the sky was gray. At least it didn't rain until a few hours later.

The rain here has been unbelievable. One day it quite literally poured all day. Not surprisingly, there have been flooding in the region. All of southeast China is having this problem. The rain doesn't really make much of difference to me though. When it's not raining, it's so humid it might as well be. When it does rain, it's almost like the only change is that now the water in the air is visible.

Graffiti of this kind is rare in China, so I took a picture.

The sign says "area for makeshift tents," which is actually quite a good translation. I wasn't expecting that, haha.

The writing on the bus roughly translates to: “Uphold civilization, pay attention to protocol, comply with authority, establish harmony.” This kind of public service advertisement is quite common. Everywhere there are reminders to behave with civility, keep the city clean, drive carefully, etc. My favorites are the ones that instruct citizens that girls are just as good as boys (part of the campaign to reduce the still-present notion, especially in rural areas, that sons are preferable to daughters.)

I'll work on getting to that temple. Cross your fingers that the weather cooperates, and I find it alright!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Picture Failure

Ok, despite multiple requests for pictures from the Dragon Boat Festival, I have none to share. Partly my own fault, and partly because there wasn't anything to photograph.

Yes, that's right. There were no Dragon Boat races to photograph, or even Dragon Boats. Not that my friend and I could find anyway. No one we talked to (Chinese or otherwise,) knew of anything going on, despite it being a national holiday. We tried going to the largest park in the city, which also has the largest lake, but no luck. It was probably for the best anyway, as it rained all day. We went to a nearby museum instead, about the relations between Fujian province and Taiwan. It's a good museum, if you can appreciate it apart from its obvious propaganda function.

I have no excuse for not having pictures of the museum. I just forgot to charge my camera. Whoops!

I can offer you a picture of a zongzi though, a food traditionally eaten on the Dragon Boat Festival. Zongzi are bamboo leaves filled with sticky rice and other fillings. In Quanzhou, they're a bit fishy tasting, and not particularly to my liking, but in general they're quite good.

The origins of the Dragon Boat Festival involve a poet who was accused of treason, so he committed suicide by throwing himself into the river. The local people paddled Dragon Boats to save him/collect his body (stories vary,) and also threw in zongzi so that the fish would eat those instead of him.

I guess it's understandable that people don't get too worked up over the holiday. My mom tells me that Concord, NC has a Dragon Boat race in August, so maybe I can share some photos/actual Dragon Boat experiences then. I think this might be an example of situational irony.