Friday, July 20, 2012

llness and Injury go back to school

I still felt a bit sick after waking up this morning. However, it was one my last days in China and one of two days that I get to spend in Xia men, so I set out to go to Starbucks with the others. On the sidewalk in front of Starbucks a monk gave me a little red and gold ticket. He then pursued Desi and me to sign a little book and make a donation. I was ready to do so thinking I would be doing a good deed, but Desi told the monk bu yao which means no I don't want in Chinese. Apparently most of the monks are not actual monks but instead are con artists trying to part you with your money. I was told that if they were real Buddhist monks, they would not be asking for money. Desi's birthday is today, so Lisa she got a cheesecake, something that seems to be rather popular in China. Afterwards we bought food items at a nearby bakery. They have interesting things there, for example pork floss or green tea muffins. After acquiring what seemed like the most harmless and western baked goods we has to wait and search for a taxi. The driver wouldn't take all of us so we had to take two cars. Our first stop was the Nanputuo temple. This is a famous Buddhist temple that was originally built over a millennium ago, but had been destroyed repeatedly so that the actual temple I saw is just about one hundred years old. This is still old in my eyes, but in relation to how long the Chinese history dates back it is not old at all. We saw the lily pond and and a gate with the Buddhist symbol Hitler abused and turned around into the Swastika. Up to that point my new German friend Desi and I had been talking a lot about the Holocaust and since she shares my love for history those have been very interesting. We took a picture together in front of the gate with the symbols on each gate clearly on display.

It seemed like because a couple Westerners were taking pictures a lot of Chinese thought it might be a good spot to take a picture. Out of curiosity we, the Westerners, asked our Chinese travel companions if they knew why we, a Jew and a German, were taking pictures in front of the gate. It took a little explaining. During our time at the temple it started to rain heavily and we had to either find shelter or make use o our umbrellas. This gave me an opportunity to utilize my totes golf umbrella which drew the attention of Ivy and a stranger that asked me to try opening and closing it. All the umbrellas sold in china are garbage and given the lack of wind speed they actually work much better then in NYC. In the rain we walked up a pathway that led us to two shrines. The shrines resembled a treasure chamber, but at the same time it looked like somebody just put a bunch o stuff in storage and forgot about it. A lot of the figurines missed bits and pieces. They are mostly made of porcelain which of course is very fragile.  It was ridiculously hot and humid do after finishing up at the temple we asked a taxi driver to take us to a coffee shop. We ended up at this cute teddy bear laden cozy spot where we drank tea, ate some interesting western style spaghetti and meat dish and a rice  bowl that tasted something like polenta.

After mealing we walked around Xiamen University, which is a major attraction for visitors. The campus is beautiful and mimics elements of the elements of ivy league schools that are so desired by Chinese students.

Actually that reminds me, at a bank next to the school I spotted a Chinese looking guy wearing a Michigan fraternity shirt. Turns out he was born in Ann arbor and is a senior at Michigan. Very odd. We all traveled back to Shenzhen via plane in 45 minutes time. None of us were able to stomach another sleeper bus. In the airport Ivy wanted to discuss an article she read about Jewish mothers doing math during pregnancy to enhance their child's math skills. She also asked if the guy sitting in front of us was Jewish because his short brimmed army style hat looked like mine. I explained the concept of the yarmulke to her but reinforced that army hats from H&M have no connection to Judaism. The Chinese love to discuss religion as the topic is completely foreign to them. 

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