(no subject)
patmckinnon
The city I live in is Guiyang.  The city itself is considered to be over 4 million people.  I live in the Guiyang District of Guiyang which is about 2 million people.  There are a total of 7 districts.  Guiyang is located in the province of Guizhou.  Guizhou is the poorest province in China.

I really like it here.  Once you get out of the city limits the mountains are amazing, and the culture itself is like no other in China, because Guizhou is the home of many minority groups which makes for a diverse community.  I also like it here, because I see very few foreigners.  If I were to live in Beijing, or Shanghai it would feel as if I were in a Western City, because most people speak English. In Guiyang I would say maybe 15 percent of the people speak English, and that may be on the high-end.  I feel I get more of a authentic experience here. 

Guiyang is located in in what is considered Southwest China, because of how the Chinese people view the middle of their country.  If you were to look at a map it is located in what might be North Texas to us. 




Below are many pictures of Guiyang. 

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Guiyang Symphony Orchestra
patmckinnon
Last Friday night I got a special treat, I attended the Guiyang Symphony Orchestra.  The music was very good.  They performed works by Mozart, Beethoven, and Stravinsky.  The building itself is something to see.  It can't be older then 10 years old.  All the floors and walls are marble.  People congregate outside and play games, fly kites, and socialize.  It was a really cool experience. 

After the Orchestra I went and got my weekly massage.  The massage only costs $15 for 100 minutes, and I love it!

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XiJiang
patmckinnon
XiJiang is the largest Miao Minority village in China.  It is referred to as "One-thousand Family Village" because it has just over 1000 family dwellings.  The unique architecture climbs the mountain by supporting one house upon another.  It is truly a living fossil of the Miao people, but you must go off the beaten path a bit to see it, capitalism in China has taken a little away from the true life of the Miao people.  You must now pay to get into the village.  In fact, the road is blocked and you must now take a trolly to get there.  Once there the streets or all new stone and the main street is new and reconstructed buildings.  Having said that the culture of the Miao people and the Xijiang experience is one that I glad I did not miss.

We went to a local restaurant for lunch and the first thing offered is a sweet rice wine.  While they are "forcing" you to drink the wine they are singing a traditional Miao song.  The Miao people have a totally different language, not a dialect of Chinese, and keep in mind that it is only about 170 km from Guiyang.  The song translated says " If you like the wine you drink more, If you don't like the wine you drink more, we don't care if you like it or not drink more."  Once you entered the gate you were offered rice wine as well.  The food is delicious, and the views were amazing!  A sub-culture within the Chinese culture was quite an experience.


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Si Wa Wa ---丝娃娃
patmckinnon
Si Wa Wa (丝娃娃) is sliced vegetables you pick off a tray and put them into a very very thing flour rap.  You then wrap up the vegetables, and drizzle in a sour and spicy sauce.  Si Wa Wa is healthy and absolutely delicious ( 好吃- haochi)!  It is one of my favorite things to eat here in Guiyang. Si Wa Wa literally translated means pieces of baby, it gets this name because it looks like a baby in a blanket wrapped up.  Si Wa Wa is famous here in Guiyang, and the Guiyang people take credit for creating it.  You can find different versions of it on the street or in high end restaurants. 

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Zhenshen Villiage
patmckinnon
A few weeks ago Dr. Li took us to Zhenshen Village.  This village was settled by the Meow Minority group.  For all of you that have seen the Clint Eastwood movie "Gran Torino" the Meow people are what we call the Mung people in the movie.  This village used to be rich in tradition, but the almighty Yuan has given way to restaurants and Mahjong huts.  This in not to say the village in still not spectacular.  We had lunch in amazing scenery, with Meow style food.  The entire village is pretty much made from slate and wood, but mostly slate including the roofs as you will see in the pictures.  We had a very relaxing time, which was much needed on the busy schedule I have been keeping.  We went to Zhenshen during the May Day Holiday break.  The reason for the holiday in International Labor day, made famous in Chicago.

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The High Life!
patmckinnon
So this last week has been very busy with school, meeting some very exciting people, and having some unbelievable dinners with Dr. Li.  Dr. Li is always a celebrity at all these dinners that we go to.  The dinners are held in these very elaborate and decorative rooms with many people serving you.  The food is all served on a giant wheel that sits in the middle of the table and you pick what you want off the dishes with chopsticks.  For me this has been a big challenge using the chopsticks as food goes by me!  The food is delicious, and very different from the food I am used to eating back home.

Dr. Li has been introducing me to many of his political, business, and education friends.  This week I have melt a retired congressman, a man who opened the first private business in Guiyang in 1982, a women who owns hotels and farms from Guiyang to Hong Kong, and a man who runs one of the largest  English speaking schools in China.  All of these dinners have been first class, and I have learned very much by attending these dinners of how the Chinese people show respect, and have fun at the same time.

For example on Tuesday I had dinner with a few doctors, and some men who were administrators at Guizhou Medical College.  We had been eating and drinking for about 30 minutes when their bosses made a surprise visit.  A couple of the administrators excused themselves from the table, and their bosses sat down, and had drinks with us for about 30 minutes.  Once they were done and left then the gentleman we were originally eating with came back to finish dinner.  They did this as a sign of respect, and because of the hierarchy culture dictates this.

Before I go any further I need to tell you what we drink at these events.  It is a clear liquor which is called Maotai.  Maotai  in not famous in the US, but it is around the world.  It it 53% alcohol or 115 proof.  A bottle cost anywhere from $300 To $1000.  We usually go through 2 or 3 bottles between 8 or 10 people.  I have never felt hungover, or tired from drinking Maotai. I also have never felt drunk for that matter.  It is a very different feeling, you just get real hot when you have had too much, but this feeling goes away quickly.  Many people here consider Maotai to be good for you.  They say it cleans your system.  In fact, some studies have been done to support this argument.  Maotai is made here in the Guizhou province, and is the National Liquor of China.  Below I have pasted an article about Maotai.


Guizhou Maotai Liquor
Maotai Liquor, the world-renowned liquor in China, brewed in Guizhou Province, is honored the National Treasure in its kind. Maotai Liquor is as famous as Usquebaugh of Scotland and Aquavit of France -- the three are renowned as the Three Famous Wines in the World.

Dating back to the Han Dynasty more than 2,000 years ago, Maotai Liquor has a long history of brewage. As early as in the 18th century of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Maotai became the first excellent wine brand in large-scale production, with an annual output of 170 tons, which was very rare in China's wine brewage history. Before the liberation, there were three main wine factories in Guizhou, whose products were respectively called Hua Mao, Wang Mao and Lai Mao, among which Hua Mao is the predecessor of today's Maotai Liquor. In 1915, Maotai Liquor was brought to Panama World Exposition and awarded the gold medal of the exposition.

Maotai Liquor belongs to catsup fragrance style, tasting pure, sweet and refreshing. Maotai Liquor is made from jowar and barley. The brewage of the liquor will go though 8 times of ferment and 9 times of distillation, the whole process lasts one year. After the process, the liquor will be stored for years. The specific techniques of brewage make the strong liquor suitable for drinking and beneficial to the health. You won't feel dizzy even if you drink too much.

One of the dinners that I attended I met the Vice Police Chief, and a few of his deputies.  I drank more Maotai with the police then I did anyone else.  The dinner was held at a fantastic restaurant on the top floor of a building which overlooked the river running through Guiyang.  Below are some pictures of the room which we were entertained in and the view.  After dinner everybody played Mahjong which is like a card game, but you use Dice.  The closest thing I can relate it to is Gin. 

All in all it has been a great week, and I look forward to more many great experiences here in Guiyang, and throughout China.  What I do like here is that I get a taste of how the wealthy live and a taste of how the common person lives. Both lives are interesting and unique, and I learn so much about China, and how the rest of the world sees us.

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Easter Sunday.
patmckinnon
Easter Sunday I went to the Oakland Center where I teach, and I helped teach the kids about Easter,  The kids decorated eggs, had learned about the Easter Bunny, Egg Hunts, and what we do for Easter.  It was a whole lot of fun, and the kids really seemed to enjoy it.


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Massage
patmckinnon
Last night my new friends Stew, Bei Sun, and I went to get a traditional Chinese massage.  Stew us from England, and Bei Sun is from Japan.  The night was super fun.  During the day we had an American style BBQ with some other friends, and then the three of us got a cab and asked him to take us to a good massage place with no extras just massage.  The cab took us to this beautiful building around 10 pm and it the place said it was open for 24 hours.  We decided on the traditional Thai massage. The massage lasted about 2 hours and cost about $30.  During the massage I felt like I was getting beaten up by a girl, but when she was done if felt great.  The massage consisted of what we would consider a massage in the US, but they also used their feet to massage your back and legs,
and they stretch you in ways I did not think I was capable of.  Check out some of the pictures they are really funny!



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A Promise
patmckinnon
I know I have been slacking on my Journal.  I have been very busy, but I need to make this a priority so for now on you can expect at least 2 journal postings a week starting today.

Country Side and Cave
patmckinnon
The day we left the Hot Springs, and before we went back to Zunyi for the night we took about a 20 min drive thought the Guizhou countryside.  It was absolutely beautiful, as you will see in the pictures.  The natural cave was a truly awesome experience.  At the farthest point in the cave we were about a mile and a half in. There were huge rooms that made it seem like you were in a mansion, and tight spaces that were dreadfully scary.  A river ran through the cave creating pools on the cave which held fish with no eyes.  The river finally wound its way through the mountain and released in a small waterfall that made it's way to the river. Doing things makes me realize how magnificent this world is that God has created for us!











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