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JE 2008

China time and date:


Sunday -- Fun Day!

Hey everyone!

tn_Now this is recyclingWe’ve got quite a few photos today, and new sound bites, showing us more of the many activities on tap for the gang’s stay in Chongqing.

Did you know that The name Chongqing comes from the Jialing River that runs through the city into the nearby Yangtze River. The gang will be taking a dinner cruise on the Yangtze River. How cool is that?! The Yangtze River is the largest and longest river in China. And the third in the world! (Behind the Nile and Amazon). Can anyone tell me how long the Yangtze River is?

Yesterday we introduced the first, of what we hope will be many, sound files from the Journey. We thought it would be really cool to be able to listen to your kids, performances, and general sounds along the way. Mike Roberts came up with the idea and will be performing random “interviews.” There is now a link to the left “Listen In” that will take you to the sounds of the journey page. Pretty cool!

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Hey! Who’s that guy in the center? It’s Tom! But who’s taking the picture?

Okay, Jake Huston is anxious to get this day rockin’ so I’m turning the stage over to Jake. Warning: Jake’s description of some of the food (I told you food would be one of the main topics of discussion throughout this journey!) is a little edgy.

Jake Huston – Chongqing, China - 3/29/08

Today was our first full day in Chongqing and it’s a stark contrast to Shanghai, with many startling differences. Shanghai is an urban metropolis jam packed with high rises. While on the other hand, Chongqing is also a large city but it is interspersed with mountains, forest, and lush agricultural land. It is amazing to see a city under so much construction. Everywhere you turn there are buildings that are under construction with scaffolding wrapped around them. We started our day with a later wake up call (8:00 am). Then we had a smorgasbord of food for breakfast, which included potatoes, dumplings, beans, ham, and much more.

We left the hotel to go to an ancient city (Ciqikou) and we got to go explore the streets and buy souvenirs. We had a great time taking in all the sights and sounds (well some of the smells), but then it was time to go eat lunch. Lunch was one of the more exotic meals we have had thus far and we soon discovered things aren’t always what they seem. Everyone was enjoying our meal until, someone announced that they found a chicken foot in their dish (a dish we all had eaten from) and lo and behold I examined our dish and found an entire chicken head. 

After lunch we got back on the bus and drove to the Three Gorges Museum. There we all enjoyed a sound guided tour through the museum that explained Chongqing’s unique and exciting history. Finally went to Hongyadong Ancient Street and got a bit more free time to explore that area. It was then time for dinner….Now when I said lunch was exotic I hadn’t had dinner yet. For dinner we had hot pot, which is a method of cooking where you create a broth consisting of a variety of interesting spices and veggies and bring that to a boil. When the broth is boiling you then take the items to be cooked, in this case cow stomach, squid, crab, throat of some sort, mushrooms, beef, etc and cook them in the broth. This method gives the food you cooked many different flavors which they absorb from the broth. At our dinner the two flavors we had were mild and spicy. I can’t say I ate much but it was interesting to watch people’s reactions as they learned what the food they had just eaten was. I now know better that some questions are better left unasked and unanswered. 

At last it was time to see the show, so we walked over to the theater and settled in until the performance started. The performance was one that felt as if it could have been on Broadway, with the skilled actors and spectacular special affects. The performance was both exciting and educational, because the show featured many pieces of Chongqing’s history. By this time almost everyone was tired and we trudged back to the bus and the only thought I remember was “today was a great day”.

Uh, yeah, thanks for the detailed menu, Jake. Wow. My guess is most of these kids don’t eat like this at home -- both types of food and quantity!

Jake finished his report with “today was a great day.” They will soon find out that every day of this journey is going to be a great day!

Here is an update from Tom . . .

    We visit a Children's Palace today, which will be lots of fun. [Lots of] young kids learning all sorts of things from English and math to violin and dance.

    We visit a "Guild Hall" of some sort this afternoon and then have some shopping in a traffic free downtown area.

    Dinner and cruise on the Yangtze and Jialing tonight, will be fun. The kids will see more neon that they have ever seen in their lives.

    Interesting note; Mr Li, the Director of the organization that is hosting us, told me that in 1997 there were four bridges spanning the Yangtze and Jialing in the downtown area of Chongqing. Over 20 new bridges have been constructed since then. We're not talking about spanning the West River here. These are multi-lane highways carrying thousands of cars, trucks and busses every day. Truly amazing.

    In Chongqing Municipality, which covers a much larger area than the downtown and has a population of over 30 million, there are now over 44 such bridges. I thought after seeing this city a year ago that the construction of these massive high rises might have leveled off a bit; not even close. By the way, one of the photos [below, top row, far right] shows four or five story buildings under an overpass, which I thought was a little unique.

Cool. That does indeed sound like, as Jake put it, “a great day!” 44 bridges? Whoa!

Okay, here are a few photos of life in and around Chongqing . . . and you might spot some of our group in these as as well.

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Out and About in Chongqing

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Just heard from Tom. They visited a Children’s Palace today and below are the photos from that adventure. We also have some more sound bites. Be sure to check them out at “Listen In.”

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The Children’s Palace

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Here’s what Tom has to say:

    [The Children’s Palace is a] huge building, thousands of young kids accompanied by parents and grandparents, many of whom sat in on the classes with the children. Our kids sang and danced with one class as you can see by the photos.

    We visited an English language class, an art class in which Lena, Michaela and Graham participated in, a Kung Fu and Tai Kwan Do class and an amazing math class. The kids in the math class, all of whom appeared to be about 8 or 9 years old had a 4 x10 inch plaque on which they could write. The teacher, using a microphone, gave the kids math problems orally, carrying to 3 decimal points. The kids would listen and make all of the calculations in their heads, write down their answer as quickly as possible and hold their plaque with what seemed always to be the correct answer. The amazing thing was that . . .

      virtually 2 to 3 seconds only would pass from the time the teacher finished the problem and the kids flashing the answer!

    Taylor Horn is quite a good student. [And even] he sat there totally dumbfounded; amazed, dazed, and confused. It was impressive, to say the least!

    The fee for classes at the Children's Palace is 320 Kuai for 16 sessions of and hour-and-a-half; a total of 24 hours at a cost of roughly $45. The classes are held on Saturdays and Sundays.

    There are Children's Palaces all over China. My first and very memorable experience with them was on my very first visit back in 1997 in Kunming, Yunnan Province. That "school" was in a series of dilapidated, run-down, broken-windowed buildings that may have been warehouses at one time. The quality of instruction and performance by students in what many would consider to be unbearable conditions was exceptional beyond belief. It seemed to be all about the motivation of the students, the support of the parents and extended family and the quality and obvious love for what they were teaching by the teachers. The facilities here in Chongqing are very, very good; computers, LCD's, etc. [Tom]

I’m sure we would all sit there amazed, dazed, and confused. Wow.

Finally, someone mentions money. Thanks Tom! Tom refers to the cost of the classes at the Children’s Palace as 320 kuai, or yuan. Currently, 1 US dollar equals 0.142621 yuan/kuai or 7 yuan/kuai per dollar. When pronounced correctly, the word "yuan" should sound like the English word "wren". So, 320 kuai is, as Tom mentions, about $45.

Yuan in Chinese means a "round object" or "round coin". In many parts of China kuai is used instead of yuan.

We’ll get more into the money things a little later on. It’s quite amazing to see all of the various paper currency and coins!

Okay, everybody., that’s it for today. Get lots of sleep tonight. We have a big week ahead!

See you on the flip side . . .

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