Day 13 - Wednesday June 11, 2008

Well, I haven't shown you a toilet from China, so here it is... called a squat toilet. The only place that had a western style toilet was the hotel we were in, but I used the squat toilets quite often. They don't provide toilet paper, so never leave home without a kleenex in your pocket - like your mother taught you.

I decided not to go down for breakfast this morning and ended up spending the entire day in the hotel room... working on my blog, catching up on my forum etc. At first I thought I’d go to the market, but then I decided; well, I don't really need or want to buy anything and it would be worth the time to set up a new blog and attempt to put as much in it as I could. It will be a good reminder of my trip.

I got really antsy around 4 pm because I hadn’t heard from Michael all day. We were supposed to meet and have dinner with the chancellor Mr. Lao this evening. So at 5:00 I called Chunhong’s cell and asked for Michael - he was in a meeting but would be finished in about an hour. She said if I walked to the university, he'd probably be done by then... so I did.

This family passed me and I thought they were cute so I turned around to take a picture and they had stopped to look at me. The young girl even got off the back of her dad's bike!

I've seen this before: morning role call at a restaurant ...

And this group was outside right beside the restaurant ... I didn't know what they were doing there, some sort of drills ... I didn't see any military type buildings.

Oh, maybe they were recruiting! A farming community seems to be good ground for that. The kids have opportunities to get out and see the world.

Interesting and unusual sites ... all dressed up and going somewhere, with a baby on the back of a wagon!

There's good use of a bicycle ...

Finally I was getting close ... these are newer versions of the apartments that the international teachers stay in. In a couple years the university will be finished building a "Friendship House" where foreign teachers will have residences (next to their new International building and library).

Above are water heaters and you find them on the tops of buildings, or down on the street beside the buildings. They take up a lot of sidewalk space, so we walk on the road and get beeped at by the vehicles.

Some of the residents make lovely little gardens - others just plant in any odd little space they can find. Frank told us the people even grow crops on any open patches of university property - everybody has to eat.

Above is just a few feet away from those apartments. I suspect they'll eventually be taken down but believe it or not: right now the residents of these places also offer public eating arrangements inside called an "open kitchen". We didn't go.

Pretty flowers on trees on the highway in front of the University.

The Huanghuai University gate (everyone who enters the university goes through this gate and there are always guards on duty).

One view from the balcony of the International Building.

When I finally got there (it took me probably 50 minutes with photo taking), Michael was in the Foreign Expert’s office waiting. So, we waited in the foreign expert’s office for about an hour and a half while we listened to Dean - a teacher (age 50) from the US, but living in China for 3 years already.

He had just come back from 20 days in the earthquake zone in Sichuan. He had been helping with relief efforts and told us about searching through the very rural mountain areas for survivors - of which he found many.

He spent most of his time delivering supplies: carrying shoes in his back pack up the mountain, taking tents up the mountain with a 3 wheeler, asking people if they knew of others in need, taking notes and taking pictures.

He said the number of casualities is greatly understated - from what he was hearing there have been between 400,000 and 500,000 deaths, and of course 5 million homeless. Very sad.

He didn’t stop talking - I figured he was needing to release, it must have been extremely emotionally traumatic having seen so many dead and needy people - and he would have gone on talking if we didn’t have to leave.

But it turned out that the dinner with the Chancelor had to be moved to the next evening and we didn’t find out until late. Oh well, that’s the way things go at this university, schedules change on a moment’s notice. It’s very hard to plan anything. People who work here at the university seem to give their whole day - there seems to be no such thing as a home life.

So, Michael and I went home and had dinner at out hotel for the second time. We had a lovely room (with it’s own toilet room, which we didn’t see until we were ready to leave). The room was beautiful and the dinner was tasty, as usual.

Yummy mushrooms!

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