Laizhou - Real China Immersion
Trip Start Mar 11, 2008
8Trip End Mar 22, 2008
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Side road - we then got off of the toll road and headed toward Laizhou (Population about 100,000) It lies almost directly north of Qingdao close to the Bo Hai Gulf. Interestingly this city of 100K people is not readily seen on most maps. I had to really search to find its location. The area is famous for its granite and marble industry. There are granite shops everywhere. Large granite boulders cut from quarries line the road for miles. There are over 2500 granite processors (Internet info). I believe it, they are little shed operations to larger crane run operations. Slabs of marble and granite are everywhere. There are also thousands of granite statues, again the pictures really tell the tale.
Playing Pool on the street - Laizhou is certainly not the tourist destination of some of the other Chinese cities, not as much history as say Nanjing, or Beijing. It is apparent when you arrive that westerners are not a common site. After checking in to the hotel (that is another story) I decided to see some of Laizhou. So I walked the streets, I was an attraction. Particularly when I started playing pool on the street. There were 3 pool tables, games were 15 cents a piece, I stated paying and then invited a young man to play
Street Shopping - There are many street vendors on the streets, mostly selling food, (scary octopus on a stick), pineapple on a stick, show shiners everywhere, and sun glass vendors. I decided to buy a few pair. I selected three pair (Amy I bought two colorful stylish pair for you). The Chinese language barrier then came into play. i had no idea how much she wanted for them. I kind of understood 15 RMB ($2.10/pair). She made some sign with her fingers about the total. So I am pulling bills out of my pocket trying to come to an agreement on price, not understanding one word she is saying to me. About 5 other people get involved and they are saying this and pointing and I am very confused. Finally we get to an understanding that they are normally 15 a pair, but we settle on 10 RMB a pair ($1.45). Wow I negotiated a 33% discount on my first street purchase and have no idea how!!
My instant friend - There was a guy on a motorcycle who said "hi". So I approached him and he wanted to shake my hand. So I shook his hand, and took a picture of him. I then waved him into a small shop ( basically a small cramped space with 8 tables, that would make you cringe if you bought food to eat, not exactly a clean place!)and bought him a beer. He talked to me for ten minutes in Chinese, I have no idea what he said, we did connect on the two names, Yao Ming (NBA Houston Rockets - He is a hero here his face is on many billboards), and Yi Jing Lin (Milwaukee Buck Player and Chinese National)
Food - The food experience has been fun. I like Chinese food, and it is nothing like what we have in the states, some similarities, but definitely a cultural experience. I have eaten goose feet (which were translated to us as Goose palms), whole fish, mushrooms of every shape size, texture, and flavor. More types of green leafy stuff then I ever thought existed, warm lettuce, warm endive lettuce, warm cabbage, seaweed salad, etc. you name it we have had it. The goose feet in Nanjing were not bad, spicy red pepper broth. The only issue I had were the small toe bones you had to spit out. There are 26 bones in the human foot, not sure how many in a goose foot, but there were a lot of bones to spit out! Last night we had dinner with a supplier here in Laizhou in the hotel restaurant. They ordered a wide variety of things. Some cold salads of seaweed and peppers (Didn't care for that one) There was also a salad of peanuts, peppers, and onions in a sweet type vinegar. I though they were like garbanzo beans until I bit into one and realized it was a peanut. That was good. There were also fried and boiled dumplings with vegetables and meat in them
Bathrooms - Hotel bathrooms in the rooms are western. Bathrooms elsewhere are not. basically a hole in the floor that you have to aim at. It didn't help that the restaurant bathroom last night also had been the recipient of a very drunk person who left his mark (puke) all over the bathroom. My shoes will never be the same!
Cell Phones - Everyone has one, the rings are loud, and extremely obnoxious, that and the Chinese seem to think that because it is wireless you need to yell into your phone for the other person to hear you. We were on a very small elevator and a woman on the elevator answered her ringing wonder (some kind of marching band Chinese singer music). Then she started talking, I guess the oater person was hard of hearing, as I too am now after that experience!
Well enough of the fun. Hope you enjoyed this in depth summary of my day in Laizhou. Definitely the most interesting day