This week we had a very special Taiji class: the professor taught us a sequence of movements with a sword! He brought his own custom-made sword; it was beautiful and pretty heavy. Curiously, people walked by very close to us even though we were flinging a sword around and there was more than enough space to keep a safe distance.
Even more curious, right outside the building where we have our Chinese language classes, someone was drying fish! Right on the ground! Dried fish is sold everywhere here. It is a pretty common snack, but I had never seen someone actually making it. Another interesting food is a big, prickly fruit called a Durian. It smells very strange (almost offensive at first, until you get used to it) and is extremely sweet.
The highlight of these two weeks was a trip to Hainan, an island in the south that is commonly referred to as the Hawaii of China. It could not be more true. We went to the city of Sanya and it is absolutely spectacular. There are gorgeous beaches, mountains and it is bright green as far as the eye can see.
We stayed in a lovely hotel, the Aegean Conifer Suites Resort. It was right on the beach, and even had a hot tub on the balcony in our room.
Very close to our hotel was the Crowne Plaza area, which had the hotel, of course, along with a number of bars, restaurants, spas and a massage parlor. The guys also managed to find a wall covered with pictures of Miss World candidates, since the pageant took place there in 2007.
We also visited Monkey Island. To get there, you take a cable car that spans two kilometers and goes through beautiful mountains and overlooks a bay full of fishing boats.
They had an amazing acrobatic show with monkeys jumping up and down and all around, along with a mountain goat with exceptional balance:
On our last day in Hainan, we went to a national park referred to as “The end of the earth.” It was breathtakingly beautiful. The beach went on for miles and miles and it was right next to the mountain.
We also returned to Taidong, the big outdoor night market. We met a cute baby with a very weird haircut. The parents let us play with him and take pictures, a far cry from parents in the U.S.!!! Here, people are incredibly happy to show you their babies and even hand them to you to play with.
We were in Taidong just as the market was being set up. It is amazing how quickly the vendors wheel their carts and stands into the large open space and create aisles of STUFF. Everything and anything you want . . . just a lot of stuff. Towards the north end of the aisles, the food carts are set up. There is a strong, sour (and sometimes pretty foul) smell when you approach this end. Later we learned that it was because of the squid some of the vendors cooked.
That week was the last for our friends from Bard College in New York state. We went to the beach to have a goodbye party. Some of them even engaged in martial arts practice with some local friends. We had a great time. Later, we went to Le Bang, one of our favorite nightclubs, to dance and so the Bard kids could say goodbye to more people they met in Qingdao. It was a great end to the week!
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