Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Andis Kaulins in China Diary for January 30 to February 5, 2014

  • The K family went to Beixin, just north of the Yangtze, for six days to celebrate the Spring Festival.
  • Andis finished reading three books while there.
  • He also watched three movies and four episodes of some TV series he liked.
  • Tony never got over his fear of fireworks.
  • Andis paid a visit to a Beixin Church.
  • Andis saw a ghastly sight.
  • The best part of the six days was the motorcycle ride to one of Jenny's other relatives' home.

Thursday [January 30]
[On the bus to Taixing where Jenny and Tony have already gone.]

Stragglers coming on the bus were mocked by driver.

The bus station wasn't crowded.  It seemed quiet.

Weather.  It seems it is sunny.  Smog makes it hard to tell for sure.

At the Taixing bus station, I was picked up by Jenny's brother.

He had a baseball bat, in his car trunk, which he said he used for hitting people.

In Beixin, I give the mother-in-law a big kiss. I hadn't seen her in over a year.

Friday [January 31]
Last evening, had big CNY supper at Mama & Baba's with two of J's brothers and their families.

Now, have 4 packs of cigarettes.

Yesterday, I tried to take Tony for walk but he was scared of the fireworks.

Y, I bought T a toy train.  Seller spoke English.

Last night, went to bed at 9.

Lots of FW at midnight.

This morning, went to visit relatives.  Happy to pose for photos with them.

Poor relatives moved.  Their home now above gutter.  One room home they have.  The ceiling was tarpaulin.  Roofing tiles laid on top of it.  Floor was cement. Photo of Mao on wall despite poverty.  Trash all around the house.  Frightful way to live.

Spending afternoon at home.  Tony lets me use Ipad.

Saturday [February 1]
Bathing here is torture.  For one thing, it is bathing.  There is no hot water in the shower.  Water is instead boiled and put in thermoses, and then it is mixed with cold water.  I do the washing with a plastic basin.  I then wipe myself with towels and rinse by pouring water on myself with the basin.

I have watched Blood Simple, an episode of Duck Dynasty, and A Stolen Life (starring Bette Davis).  All were okay.  Duck Dynasty was the most enjoyable.  Blood Simple was gory and dragged at times.  A Stolen Life was a classic though somewhat melodramatic.

I went for a walk at lunchtime.  I saw two things.

First, I saw a man whose face was a sight that could only be photographed for medical textbooks.  It was so grotesque that I had to look away and shudder that a human could have a deformity on his face.  His lower lip had swelled to such a size that from a distance it looked like he had a big loose piece of flesh dangling from his face.

I then looked for and found the Christian Church.  It was located behind buildings fronting a road.  To get to the church from the road, I had to walk down a narrow alleyway which I found between the frontage.  The church was enclosed behind walls.  I had found it because I did see its spire when I had been wandering in the fields which lay beyond it and the buildings fronting the road.  I would never have seen it if I had been walking along the road.

I walked through the church's entrance way, and my appearance caused quite the stir.  Shouts of foreigner! brought out a man who I assumed what the head of the place.  He gave me a tour of the grounds.  I  saw the chapel, saw some sleeping quarters and the dining hall.

The chapel had a wooden stage at one end -- I was reminded of a stage that you would see in a school gymnasium.  The congregants had long wooden benches on which to sit before the stage.  I didn't see any images or photos of Christ.  There were crosses on these plush fixtures at the side of the chapel.  I thought for a second that they were confessionals, but then examining them more closely, I saw they were too small and were probably for decorative purposes.  I picked up some of the books on the benches.  They were in Chinese.  The only English in them indicated they were published by the Seventh Day Adventists.  This didn't necessarily mean the church was of that sect.  I was able to figure out that one of a books was a Bible by looking for the characters for new and old in the titles of its two major subdivisions.

After looking around the chapel, I went to its back, passing a woman praying, I espied a box near the chapel entrance with a slot on top.  I said
to the man accompanying me, and getting a positive response, I made a donation.

The man then lead me to the dining area and sleeping quarters.  There were about a hundred people eating which explained the size of the kitchen's cooking pan -- it was the biggest I had ever come across.  I was asked if I wanted to eat, but I declined.  I felt rather shy about being there, I must confess.

The man showed me a couple posters he had on the wall.  They were full of Chinese writing so I took a photo of them to get a translation later.

I then posed under the church's entrance with the man and some others.  I awkwardly bade them farewell and wished them

Thus was my visit to the
北新 church.

I have spent the afternoon eating snacks. There is nothing else to do. I have seen all there is to see.

Sunday [February 2]
I finished watching Oklahoma! and reading Jeeves and the Wedding Bells.

In the afternoon, we went to the home of J's Shanghai relatives for supper

We were taken there by e-bike and motorcycle.  On the motorcycle, I rode with two others and I took some great video.

At the home, which was down some narrow lanes and in the midst of fields, lived a brother who had MS and a grandmother, in her 80s, who was hunched over.  I took photos with them thinking they would suit my purposes for blogging.  These two poor souls brought out the sappy sentimentalist in me.  The brother who had MS was always smiling at me, or so I thought.

The home while not in a prime location was spacious.  Too bad, there had to be garbage everywhere.

I had two beers at supper:  my first since coming to Beixin.

We were driven back to the in-laws compound by car.

Monday [February 3]
I forget to mention.  I played badminton with Jenny and then her Shanghai female relative on yesterday's excursion.

Today, we were driven to Jiangyan, a part of Taizhou.  Jiangyan, not Jiangyin, is said be where Hu Jiantao, spent his childhood.  We weren't in Jiangyan long.  We went to a tea museum and then picked up pizza at a Pizza Hut.  While the pizza was being ordered, I got myself a coffee at a nearby Starbucks.

I would have liked our visit to Jiangyan to have been longer.  The area we went to seemed worth exploring.  As it was, the drive to Taizhou and then back to Beixin afforded me some interesting sights.  I saw a yard where canal-faring barges were under construction.  I also saw a decorative erection of columns and pillars that reminded me of the Champs D'Elysee.  On the drive, I reflected on how vast China's population is and how massive it's development has been as well.

We passed a factory for a company called Elite.  I would have pronounced it E-Light because the E was highlighted so that it stood out from the lite.

I was thinking to throw my Starbucks paper cup on the street of Beixin.  It would elevate its street trash I thought.

It is cold today.  I have put on my long underwear just now.

One more night.  Tomorrow, we go home.

Oh.  The pizza was good.

Tuesday [February 4]
[I am typing this on the bus.]  We are on the way home!  Behind us, sit Alison & Vaughn.

How was my trip to Beixin?  I survived.  That's all I can say.

At midnight last night, the locals went crazy with the fireworks.  I recalled there was some tradition about the fifth night of the new year.

I finished reading Ameritopia by Mark Levin.  Levin is on the side of the angels, but this book was a bore I thought.  He spent too much time regurgitating Locke and Montesquieu, not enough time writing about himself.

We are on the freeway, and traffic has come to a halt.  We could be stuck in one of those notorious Chinese holiday freeway jams.

[Home Laptop]
The jam was just a temporary bottleneck caused by vehicles stopping at the toll gates of the Jiangyin suspension bridge. The traffic was slow enough that I was able to take some great video of the Yangtze.

I am in a daze. So many things to catch up on like blogging and emails and podcasts.

The Seahawks win the Super Bowl in a handy fashion. You can read the real story about it at the Wuxi China Expatdom Blog.

Wednesday [February 5]
[Home Laptop]
Well. That's it for this diary entry. I will publish it after some editing.

The next time, you will read this diary. I will have been to Hong Kong.

Happy Year of the Horse [and the Firearm, Harry!]!!

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