Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Local Explorations

On Sunday afternoon, we explored the local area. The Buddist temple located on the hill across from the campus proved to offer an excellent view of Chongqing. We arrived shortly before the gates were closing so we will come back and climb to the very top one afternoon. On our way out, we observed a burnt sugar artist at work. He drizzled the hot syrup in an intricate pattern and added a stick much like a lollipop stick.
The sky is generally this hazy...











Military Exercises

All incoming freshmen complete military training. The students learn how to march, stand in formation, salute, and turn. The training begins in the early morning hours, and when 5,000 students and their drills sergeants are grunting, it is loud. They have a lunch and dinner break, and we are happy that there is an 11 pm curfew. Although we are not right next to the field, we can hear it through the windows.  These poor students do they have any voice at the end of the day?

Noah and Lukas who live on the side of our building facing the fields are grateful for noisy air conditioning units and headphones to drown out some of the early and late sounds.


Only torrential downpours stop the exercises for a moment 



The Hill

It is 115 steps down from our apartment entrance, and then we walk down the hill to the gate. Noah has counted them!

Pastries

Although we were tired from all the walking and bouncing on the bus, the pastries were too tempting to be left for the next morning. Bob bought one that looked like a sheep head. According to tag, it was coconut flavored. Noah grabbed the last Oreo stick, and Lukas chose a strawberry mini bundt cake. The verdict - Lukas' had the most flavor. What Noah thought and anticipated being vanilla cream was just whipped butter, and there was no coconut to be found in Bob's sheep head. That none withstanding, they enjoyed their pastries and are now a bit more familiar with Chinese desserts.


City Sightseeing

On Saturday afternoon, we ventured out. We caught the bus outside the campus gate and headed into Chongqing. It was quite an experience to travel by bus, and we got a flavor of the local population. An empty seat disappears in a flash even if it means pushing and showing someone. The bus' TV is blaring although seemingly nobody is watching it -  most if not all passengers had a phone in their hand and was watching something, texting someone, or most commonly playing a game. My phone that recognizes networks scrolled through pages of available networks - 'everyone' has a cell phone and use it continuously.

We got off the bus at one of the stops on the bank of the Yangtze River. This river is deep, murky, and fast-moving although rather narrow at the point where we saw it. The bank was dotted with people with fishing poles in the water. What were they hoping for, wishing for, planning for, we wondered? It seemed inconceivable to us that anyone would want to consume anything caught in that water.

On the opposite side of the river rose massive skyscrapers - some complete and others under construction. We wondered how they got the cranes to the top and marveled at the engineering feat of constructing a curve building. Behind us, as a contrast were dilapidated sheds, overgrown vegetation, and broken stairs - a city of contrasts.

The city has several interesting bridges. We followed the trail of people to the stairs that would bring us up to the bridge and walked out to the middle before our stomachs called for food.

After two weeks of Chinese food, the thought of a good hamburger was enticing, so we opted for trying a newish Australian Hamburger place. The menu was in both Chinese and English, so we could read it and know what we ordered. The only unusual item on the menu was the croquet of homemade mac'n'cheese.  For dessert, we perused the upscale bakery located next door and headed home with a bag of pastries.

Two buses later and some walking we were back home. As the bus drove up the hill to our suburb, we got a great view of the city with all its lights. The cityscape that during the day was mostly gray and dull came alive with thousands of lights at night. We are adding a night visit to Chongqing to our 'to see' list.
Our bus stop. We showed this to the driver on our way home to make sure we were on the right bus. 









In Flagstaff, we have cell towers disguised as pine trees...
Noah looking out the window as we rode down the hill.















An Australian hamburger and fries




Bus entertainment

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Opening Ceremony

On Saturday morning, Bob was invited to participate in a formal ceremony at the school. He was seated in the grandstand at the stadium, in the row behind the president. To make sure he sat in the right seat, the provided a tent card with his name on it. Since he sat right behind the speaker podium, he is making cameo appearances in all the photos of the speakers. He was given a complete schedule of the events - all in Chinese - and had tales to tell when he came home an hour and a half later. The Chinese are big on official, impressive, formal ceremonies. The stadium, which usually looks rather drab, was festively decorated with planters and banners.





When it was all over