Last week when we went to the club, the manager had spoken with us an
d invited us to his restaurant, which was going to open June 6th. So we’d decided to invite some patients and try out this brand new “western” restaurant. Joe was not feeling to well so he decided he’d stay back while the rest of us went. There were nine of us from the hospital that went and the only ones in the restaurant. Apparently it was not officially opened yet, they were going to have a trial week first followed by the advertised grand opening. It was a beautiful restaurant and very nice atmosphere with a jazz theme. Eventually there will even be a live jazz band. The manager was thrilled to see us. The food was, well a noble attempt at “western” food. The salads and soups were fantastic. I thought I’d try the sirloin steak, and sadly enough, even though it tasted like hamburger it was still really good to me. I think the highlight of the night though, was when the three cheeseb
urgers that were ordered arrived. The servers set them down in front of our friends, and we all looked at each other and looked at the “burgers” and back at each other. Sure enough, the “Cheeseburgers” had no meat on them. It was just a bun, cheese and lettuce. We asked the server where the meat was and he just smiled and pointed at the buns as if to say, “yes, this is your food,” we kept trying to explain through sign language that an important part of the meal was missing and he kept smiling and pointing at the food. The manager came over to see what was wrong and quickly said something in Chinese and the plates were gone. A short time later the buns came back with what we assume and hope was hamburger patties on them. We couldn’t decide what we thought was more entertaining, the fact that they actually brought us hamburgers with no hamburger, or the fact that they didn’t think anything was wrong with that.
(Photo below: chicken hearts on a steak) After we had all finished our meals the manager came over and spoke
with me a short while. He asked what we thought of the restaurant and if it was comparable to western restaurants since his was the first in the ChenYang district. I told him it was a very nice restaurant and the food was very good. The hamburger meat was extremely rare and I mentioned that it might be a little too rare for American taste but that overall the food and service was up to par and that I was sure he would find great success. He was very pleased and he motioned to the server who quickly brought over a bottle of wine. He
told me he was greatly honored to have me come to his establishment and that he would be honored if I would accept this wine as a token of such. The server had already opened it and poured my glass. Everyone at the table was snickering and laughing because they knew that I was the only one there that did not drink, yet I was the one that he brought the wine to. He watched with great enthusiasm as I smelt the wine and brought it up to my lips and pretended to take a large gulp. I put down the glass, smiled and said “shi shi, hen hao hen hao.” The manager smiled with approval, bowed and left. I then turned and said to the rest of the table, “y’all better drink this wine!” They laughed and were happy to oblige. We paid for our meal and then hopped across the path for another evening of dancing and entertainment at the paradise club.Sunday, June 8
Sunday was another day of physical therapy in the morning, then acup
uncture and electrical stimulation in the afternoon. That afternoon Wendy and Amanda (two good friends of ours who are staff members here at the hospital) came in and invited us to their home to eat dinner and celebrate the Dragon Boat festival with them. Joe was very sad that he could not go seeing as how they live in a second story apartment. Wendy and Amanda were also sad; they had hoped that we could carry him up to their home. I felt really bad leaving Joe yet again for the third night in a row, but yet again Joe told me that it would be ridiculous to pass up this cultural experience and that I sho
uld go take pictures so he could see what their home was like.
That evening I went with a few other patients to the Home of Wendy, Amanda (translators) Fiona (one of our favorite nurses) and Martin (one of our favorite Therapists). They have a very nice, cozy apartment. We sat on stools and the one couch that surrounded the coffee table in front of their TV and partook of a fantastic meal. They are all very good cooks. The food consisted of preserved eggs, which were black in color, chicken and potatoes, beef and gourd, and green beans. The Chinese for the most part have bowls, but seem to rarely use them. Mostly you just eat off the main dish with everyone else. It’s kind of funny to see so many chopsticks all diving in a dish and fighting for food. One could almost say if a
Chinese man is skinny it is because he never mastered the chopsticks.
After dinner we all just hung out and talked, they put on a movie as I wandered into Martins room and discovered a very small dusty out of tune warped guitar in the corner. Needless to say I was thrilled and Martin was happy to have his guitar tuned. I was very content as I hung out with Martin and Ama
nda in Amanda’s room just talking and singing and having a good time. Though it was nice to get a small fix, it made me miss Isabel (my guitar) even more. Their movie ended, we said our thanks and goodbyes and walked back to the hospital. It was a rather enjoyable evening and a lot of fun to see some of the staff, our good friends, just relaxed and at home in their own element.Monday, June 9
is officially Dragon Boat Day, although it is been celebrated all weekend long today is the official holiday. This meant that things hear the hospital were pretty slow. Not very many staff are on duty, and all physical therapy and acupuncture was canceled. Matt and I took full adv
antage by sleeping in, doing a little bit of grocery shopping, and sleeping some more. I'd have to say it's probably one of the most relaxing Dragon Boat Days I have ever had :)
Unfortunately a good friend of mine left the hospital today. His name is Zho Ja Ping, but we all just call them George. He was hired on privately by another patient (Michael) here in the hospital who needed some assistance taking care of himself. Basically, George's day consisted of following Michael around helping wherever needed. This meant he had a lot of spare time. During that time he and I would do our best to communicate with each other. From what I could gather, he is originally from Qingdao, he has a daughter who is probably a teenager by now, and he loves his job. We wish you luck in your endeavors George!Tuesday, June 10
A few weeks ago when our good friend Jim Ely(photo left) found out that I was unable to visit city
center Qingdao because we did not have access to a wheelchair accessible van, he went to work to remedy the situation. After writing a letter to his good friend, Xia Gang
(photo on right), who also happens to be the mayor of Qingdao city, he called us with the good news. Through his contacts he had arranged for the city to make available to us a wheelchair accessible van and a driver for a day. At 10 o'clock the van arrived at the hospital, with our good friend Andy on board to translate
for us.[note from Dad: Getting the van is one of the great accomplishments of the 21st Century so far! Jim worked with the Qingdao University and the Qingdao Mayor’s office and connected up a van which is for the Para-Olympic Games in summer all for Joseph and Matt’s spectacular adventure in Qingdao. UNBELIEVABLE! Sino-US relations at their best. This merits a line in Joseph's International Relations Major notations].
Our goal was to go and see the main tourist attractions in Qingdao. Our first stop was the pier (photo on right) on the coast, which was one o
f Qingdao's most recognizable landmarks. At the end of the pier is a very traditional looking Chinese building, the Chinese built it after the Germans left Qingdao just before World War I broke out. Inside is quite a nice little gift shop selling pearls and some Chinese antiquities. Matthew and I bought a few small handmade pieces of jewelry from the street vendors for our nieces and nephews back home.
Our second stop was a beautiful European
style building called Badaguan Castle (photo below right). It was located just a couple miles up the beach from the pier. The castle is surrounded by a large, and by large I mean about 12 city blocks, park with playgrounds and walking trails everywhere. The castle, made of granite, was bu
ilt in 1930 by a Russian aristocrat who later sold it to a British businessman. After the cultural Revolution the building was possessed and used as a reception facility and has been ever since. When we were there they were probably 40 to 50 brides they're having their pictures taken at the castle, and down on the beach. It felt quite odd stepping inside a European castle on the eastern coast of China, I kind of felt like I was back in Europe again.
After visiting the castle, we made a quick stop at May 4 Square. It's the
Central Park in city center Qingd
ao, and is surrounded by tall commercial and residential buildings. The Square overlooks the sea and the docks were the Olympic sailing competition will begin later this summer in August. Qingdao city has been decorated head to toe in preparation for the Olympics. Even the neighborhood the hospital is, which is about a 40 minute taxi ride away, has Olympic banners and decorations in every part and on every lamppost. The Chinese are extremely proud to be hosting the Olympics, they see it is a great honor to host the world.
We ended up
becoming pretty good friends with Mr. Wang the
driver, and we invited him to go to lunch with us. We went to a shopping center nearby that we knew would be wheelchair accessible. Andy said he was in the mood for some Western food, so we ate at the closest Western restaurant. The food was delicious! Matt ordered an Italian pasta dish with shrimp, sausage, and beef in the sauce. I went for the traditional steak and potatoes. Mr. Wang decided to try a steak as well, and he absolutely loved it! After dinner he told us (through Andy translating) that
it was the first time he'd ever even Western food, and that it was so good he was anxious to come back with his wife and daughter. Of course he also ordered a small bowl of rice and vegetables on the side so he still felt like he was having an actual "lunch" :)
After lunch we made
a quick stop by Qingdao University. This is of course where Andy studies English and Jim Ely teaches with a handful of other teachers brought there through BYU. While we were ther
e we had a chance to thank in person Fang Fang (in Photo on right with Andy and Joseph) who helped coordinate the wheelchair accessible van for us. Andy also gave us a quick walking tour of the entire campus. The first thing we came
across was a group of students who were having their graduation photos taken on the steps of the main library. Andy said there is no formal ceremony or speeches or anything of the sorts during a Chinese college graduation. Each class simply gathers on the steps of the library, has their picture taken, and then they are handed their certificate of graduation. Dressing in a cap and gown is a fairly recent trend brought over from the We
Another interesting part of campus for me was the large domed gymnasium. Inside, large tournaments of ping-pong, badminton and basketball were held. It was also the home arena for the Qingdao Hawks,
the local CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) basketball team. I had heard that some American players who were not able to get good contracts in Europe were now heading to China to play in their leagues. Judging by the poster we found, the Qingdao Hawks main star is definitely not Chinese.
I want to express my gratitude for Jim Ely and the Mayor of Qingdao for making this day possible. I have been extremely anxious to get into Qingdao city and see many of its wonderful sites. I've been overwhelmed by the way the Chinese people have treated me ever since my arrival, they have been extremely accommodating given my situation. Matthew and I have gained a strong love and respect for the Chinese people, and certainly enough friendships to last a lifetime.