The beautiful North

reneeriley:

Ruth is at work again to report our great trip to Israel.
Shalom, Renee

Originally posted on Piglet's House:

After showing our dear friends Renee and Barry around Jerusalem and the Dead Sea area we took a trip up to the North of Israel to attend the Jacobs Ladder Folk Festival and to show them a bit of the North of the country. On the way up I had to work in Yaffo,so D showed them around the Ancient Port of Jaffa,and then we jumped in the car and set off,stopping en route to have lunch on the beautiful beach front of Natanya. We ate sandwiches looking at the sea, and marvelled at the blue sky and warm weather,despite it being December.

natanya2

Natanya Sky

On arrival at the site of the festival, Nof Ginossar we settled into our rooms in the Village,signed in to the festival, and checked out the performers. The festival runs over Friday evening and all day Saturday, and is a wonderful mix of folk,rock,blues and…

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Where have I been and where am I going?

reneeriley:

Not only have Ruth and Danny hosted us in Israel but have given the report as well. You’ll hear more from me later, but you can tell that Barry and I are having a great time. Aloha & Shalom, Renee

Originally posted on Piglet's House:

Apologies for the long silence! Of course I have been disorientated by leaving China, and in mourning for my China life.But never fear! I have been travelling and not sitting and crying.However I have definitely been a little stagnant too,as life at home is not life on the road.This is the difficulty that long-term travellers face,how to be in a “normal,routine” life at home,with all that entails,and how to get on with one’s  non-travelling friends and relations.This has been discussed at length by many a travel blogger so I won’t dwell on it.

But China beckons once again,and it seems that in March we will be back in Xiamen in the gainful employ of another university. Ssssssh,nothing is final yet! But fear not dear reader. You will now get a glimpse of our glamorous life in Israel and the wonderful places that you can visit here,if you are lucky enough…

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Glimpses of Old City Dali, Yunnan Province, China

Barry and I traveled to Dali, Yunnan Province, home of many Chinese ethnic minorities; we found sunny blue skies, friendly colorful people, and interesting history.   Because we liked it so much, we got stuck there, staying longer than we had intended.

Sunset over the mountains outside Dali.  The tree is loaded with clementines.

Sunset over the mountains outside Dali. The tree in the neighboring yard is loaded with clementines.

We awoke to see snow on the mountain tops and warm sunshine.

Snow on the mountains, but warm temperatures in Dali.

Snow on the mountains, but warm temperatures in Dali.

The food was varied and good.

Our new friend Nature helped us find the Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant where we ate many times.

Our new friend Nature helped us find a vegetarian restaurant where we ate many times.

The Lovely Lotus Delicious Vegetarian Restaurant was a favorite.

We liked the selections - and the friendly staff.

We liked the selections – and the friendly staff.

Our friendly Muslim noodle man.

Our friendly Muslim noodle man.

Yummy!

Yummy freshly made noodles!

Restaurants of all kinds.

Restaurants of all kinds.

We loved walking the narrow streets of the Old City Dali.

Old City Dali

Old City Dali

The streets teemed with life.

The streets teem with life.

Catholics, Christians, and Buddhists have centers in Old City Dali.

Dali Christian Church

Dali Christian Church

Although this site is now strictly a cultural site, we heard chanting from other buildings, and the Buddhists provide free daily meals to those in need.

We went to the Three-Pagodas  one afternoon – and stayed so long that we had to climb over a fence in order to leave :)

Although this site is now strictly a cultural destination, we heard chanting from other buildings in Dali and learned  that the Buddhist community provides a  free daily meal to those in need.

A temple to Confucius.

A temple to Confucius.

The opening of a Belgium waffle shop involved chanted blessings (and free cigarettes and tea).

The opening of a Belgium waffle shop involved chanted blessings (and free cigarettes and tea).

The Dali residents dress in a variety of ways.

Some women in ethnic dress, some in modern clothes

Some women wear ethnic dress, some  modern clothes.

Colorful foreigners too.

Colorful foreigners are here too.

Old City Dali pedestrian street.

Old City Dali pedestrian street.

Many shopping choices line the Old City Dali streets.

Shopping choices.

Shopping choices

Farmers bring their produce to sell in the streets.

Farmers bring their produce to sell in the streets.

Beautiful vegetables.

Beautiful vegetables.

Peanuts, scarves?

Peanuts and scarves

Shoe repair shop on the street.

Shoe repair shop on the street.

Hair braiding/threading  shop.

Hair braiding/threading shop.

Dali is known for its beautiful stone.

Dali is known for its beautiful stone.

Shops in colorful, historic buildings.

Shops in colorful, historic buildings.

Stylish women's dresses.

Stylish women’s dresses.

Beautiful choices.

Beautiful choices.

Cafés, coffee bars, and restaurants line the walking streets.

Cafés too.

Cafés 

Varied restaurant experiences.

Varied restaurant experiences.

A good place for an afternoon coffee.

A good place for an afternoon coffee.

Cool doorways -

Old City Dali

Old City Dali

Some entrances are humble.

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Stately entrances

Some have stately entrances.

Some entrances are new.

Some entrances are more modern.

White walls, black tiles

White walls, black tiles

Walls of color too.

Walls of color too.

Beautiful gates and doors in Old City Dali.

Beautiful gates and doors in Old City Dali.

Some gates are hundreds of years old.

Some gates reflect ancient styles.

Beautiful windows too.

Beautiful windows.

Old stone walls.

Old stone walls.

Old City Dali gates:

Old City Dali gate.

Old City Dali gate.

North Gate

North Gate

Local women outside an Old City Dali gate.

Local women outside an Old City Dali gate.

Old City Dali offers entertainment of many types.

Games on the street.

Games on the street.

With the name Johnny Hawaii, we had to go see this "Paper Presentation".

Because his  name is Jonny Hawaii, we had to go see this “18th Performance with Paper Reading.”

Would Jonny Hawaii do a dramatic reading?  I was hopeful his presentation would  be in English.

Jonny in the foreground; Rachel read.

Jonny in the foreground; Rachel reading.

We were warned that Jonny’s  presentation would be loud.

Many of us held our ears because of the screeching that accompanied Jonny's performance.

Many of us held our ears because of the screeching that accompanied Jonny’s symbolic performance.

Innovative Education in Old City Dali:

We discovered “The Living School” when we met Joy, a teacher, and his students selling challa bread one afternoon in Dali.  Fourteen Dali families have joined together to “homeschool” their children.  Instead of the traditional Chinese school of long hours of memorization, these children study academics in the morning and then develop their own passions (music, art, crafts) during the afternoons.  The school   encourages innovation and hands-on learning.  The students learn to cook and garden and make mud bricks and develop new skills.

Lunch with The Living School students and Joy.

Lunch with The Living School students and Joy.

The school also invites  Couch Surfers to stay at the school and share their experiences.  One  evening I saw a program presented  by Eurate & Sam who have been traveling for 2 1/2 years – by bicycle! Coming overland from the Basque region of Spain, they are on their way to  New Zealand – and they have had many adventures.

Sam & Eunate, Couch Surfers, who have been bicycling from Basque region in Spain toward New Zealand.

Sam & Eunate explain how they handled the laws of Iraq that don’t permit touching between men and women.

Sam showing the bicycle route from Spain to Dali, China.

Sam showing the bicycle route from Spain to Dali, China.

The Living School kids, their teachers, and Eunate.

The Living School kids, their teachers, and Eunate.

Eunate says all you need to travel is a smile.  She says money causes trouble, so she and Sam have traded work for places to stay and food wherever they have gone.  I love their spirits and sense of adventure.

Joy and his students singing a thank you song for Sam & Eunate's presentation.

Joy and his students singing a thank you to Sam & Eunate.

Barry and I loved our stay in Old City Dali.  Our Dragonfly Hostel with its friendly staff, comfortable rooms, rooftop garden, and reading/music room became our home in Dali.

Our Dragonfly Hostel room.

A Dragonfly Hostel room.

Old City Dali - a mingling of the traditional and the new.

Old City Dali – a mingling of the traditional and the new.

Zaì jiàn, Renée

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Sunday in the Park: Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

Green Lake Park

Green Lake Park

The parks in China brim with life.  One Sunday, Barry and I found ourselves in Green Lake Park in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China.

People play music of various kinds throughout the park.

Several guitarists played

Some guitarists play alone.

Some guitarists played together.

Some guitarists play  together.

Some groups had a variety of instruments.

Some groups have a variety of instruments.

Some sang.

Some sing.

Some played jazz in groups.

Some play jazz in groups.

Some played alone.

Some play alone.

A lone horn.

A lone horn.

Many listened to the music.

Many listen to the music.

some do martial arts moves

Some do martial arts moves.

Under a blue sky and warm sun, many enjoyed being in Green Lake Park.

Under a blue sky and warm sun, many enjoy being in Green Lake Park.

Some people stroll the paths.

Some people stroll the paths.

Some run.

Some run.

Some bring their pets.

Some bring their pets.

Some come by bicycle.

Some come by bicycle.

Some chat with friends.

Some chat with friends.

Some come to dance.

Some come to dance.

Some come to watch.

Some come to watch.

Some offer things for children.

Some offer things for children.

Some offer treats to eat.

Some offer treats to eat.

Some offer yummy treats -and then run across the street with the hot coals when the police came.  And then they returned five minutes later!

Some grill meats -and then run across the street with the hot coals when the police come. And then they return five minutes later!

Some enjoy the flowers.

Some enjoy the flowers.

 

Welcome to Green Lake in Kunming.  There is something for everyone  especially on Sundays.

Welcome to Green Lake in Kunming, where there is something for everyone —  especially on Sundays.

Zaì jiàn, Renée

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Yulong River Bamboo Rafting, Yangshou, China

A great way to spend a few hours near Yangshou, Yunnan Province, China,  is to take a bamboo raft down the Yulong River.  That is what Barry and I did one overcast but mild November afternoon.

Bamboo raft embarcation

Bamboo raft embarcation

 

Karsts along the Yulong River

Karsts along the Yulong River

A cloudy afternoon on the Yulong River

A cloudy afternoon on the Yulong River

Reflections on the Yulong River

Reflections on the Yulong River

Quiet and fantastic karats

Quiet and fantastic karats

Our bamboo raft guide

Our bamboo raft guide

Clouds and karsts

Clouds and karsts

One karst more beautiful than the next

One karst more beautiful than the next

Ducks on the Yulong River

Ducks on the Yulong River

Bikers along the bank of the Yulong River

Bikers along the bank of the Yulong River

Clean water

Clean water

Going over a little rapid

Going over a little rapid

Occasionally, we saw some construction along the banks of the Yulong.

Occasionally, we saw some construction along the banks of the Yulong.

 

The construction didn't really interfere with the views.

The construction didn’t really interfere with the views.

We heard and saw birds along the river.

We heard and saw birds along the river.

Barry and a huge karst.

Barry and a huge karst.

Another rapids drop

Another rapids drop

Clear water all along our bamboo raft trip.

Clear water all along our bamboo raft trip.

Bananas and orchid trees along the banks of the Yulong.

Bananas and orchid trees along the banks of the Yulong.

Bananas and orchid trees along the banks of the Yulong.

Bananas and orchid trees along the banks of the Yulong.

Other rafters ahead

Other rafters ahead.

The karats vary in form and size.

The karats vary in form and size.

Along the banks, a couple set up for their wedding photos.

Along the banks, a couple set up for their wedding photos.

Fellow rafters

Fellow rafters

You can see why rock climbing is popular here.

You can see why rock climbing is popular here.

Captured "working" cormorants.

Captured “working” cormorants on the banks of the Yulong.

The fisherman and his cormorants.

The fisherman and his cormorants.

This rafter brought her bike on the along.

This rafter brought her bike on the along.

A camel and two monkeys waited on the bank for photo opportunities.

A camel and two monkeys waited on the bank for photo opportunities.

Barry and I had a great, relaxing afternoon on the Yulong River.  You would like it here too.

Aloha &  Zaì jiàn, Renée

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Marriage Update: China

“A famous Chinese saying goes, ‘All the land under heaven belongs to the emperor and everyone is his servant.” China has the longest continuous civilization on Earth, so in the Shanghai Museum, for instance, you can see pottery from the 5th century B.C.

Grey pottery jar with incised rope pattern - Songze Culture - 3800-3200 B.C. at the Shanghai Museum

Grey pottery jar with incised rope pattern – Songze Culture – 3800-3200 B.C. at the Shanghai Museum

However, until the 20 century, much of that civilization was based on a feudal system. The Chinese have lived for centuries having to follow what their leaders have said to do.

But now, the Chinese central government is placing a priority on “the rule of law.”   It’s a challenging process in part because of Chinese customs and traditions. Some laws have already benefitted the general population in China.

In 1949, for instance, the Chinese Communists outlawed and stopped the 1,000 year old brutal practice of foot binding.  According to the Wūzhèn Museum, “Starting when the child was five, the girl’s feet were broken at the arch, their toes fractured and folded over toes to heels.  The broken feet were bound tightly so the feet would remain in a tight small shape.  It usually took three years to remold the feet into a shape and size that many males of the time admired” – the “perfect” three-inch lotus foot.   About two billion girls (estimates vary) suffered this fate – but no more.

"The perfect" shoe size"

“The perfect” shoe size”

Photo from: http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/image_full_width/hash/2a/33/2a33d7119ce520b6b031581493060da2.jpg

Another traditional practice that shows how much the Chinese are changing is reported in a Shanghai Daily “ News Feature, “An arduous journey toward the rule of law.” During the feudal society, common people “had no right to choose their spouse. This situation didn’t change until 1950, when the New Marriage Law was enacted as China’s first basic law after liberation. It banned marriage by proxy and stipulated both parties should agree to the marriage.

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This couple on a street in Kunming, Yunnan Provence, China are very likely to have had an arranged marriage.  Have they been happy together?

Did they come to love each other?

Did they come to love each other?

Did they just accept their fate?

About 90 percent of marriages were arranged in 1950 and this declined to 10 percent seven years after the law as passed” (15 Nov. 2014, p.10).

That may be true, but arranged marriages are still happening and not just among the poorest people in China. One of our favorite Zhejiang Agricultural and Forestry University students who has graduated and has been doing a LED light business in Dubei just came back to China in October to get married to a girl selected by his parents. He did not seem thrilled. But he feels he owes his parents much, and they wanted to see him settled. So even some successful, educated young Chinese are still entering into arranged marriages.

When the topic came up in one of my oral English classes in China, students had a range of opinions. Some said they would marry for love someone they met; others said they would consider their parents’ suggestion. One 19-year-old student said he would marry whomever his parents selected, “Because I am a good boy.” It’s not likely that anyone raised in the West would say such a thing. If Barry and I selected someone for our son, I’m sure that John would just laugh.

A young couple in Green Lake Park, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

A young couple in Green Lake Park, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

There’s much evidence that many young Chinese do not rely on their parents to find them a suitable spouse. According to Hu Min’s, “216 weddings from singles event,” “ More than 200 couples who met through the city’s largest matchmaking event have gone on to tie the knot, according to organizers.

Almost 200,000 singles have attended five massive gatherings since November, 2011, the Shanghai Matchmaking Association said this week” (Shanghai Daily, 15 Nov. 2014, Metro 4).

What will influence these young people in Dali?

What will influence the marriage choice of these young people in Dali?

But another China Daily story notes, “A 30-year-old man in Cangnan county took drugs on Singles’ Day and called police to take him away because he believed that staying in a detention house was preferable to being bothered by his parents about not having a girlfriend. The man’s parents are always telling him to get married soon” (11/13/14 p. 4).

In contrast, I got an e-mail recently from another past English class student, Kris. He says, “ I had a great 4-year college education in ZAFU . . . and I also met my girlfriend in college. She is still enrolled postgraduate. We are going to get married after her graduation.”

Such reports show that times times are changing in China. The “Rule of Law” is likely to bring many benefits and changes to what was once a feudal society.

In the future, what will life be like for this Chinese girl who lives in Dali, Yunnan Province?

In the future, what will life be like for this Chinese girl who lives in Dali, Yunnan Province?

Zaì jiàn, Renée

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Barry’s Gleanings: Angola

Angola large color map

http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/africa/lgcolor/aocolor.htm

One reason we like to travel is we see the daily news from different perspectives than we find at home in the U.S.  The China English language CCTV, for instance, has a daily news report from Africa – of mainly good news – not just Ebola, HIV, war, and strife.  An example is a Nov. 17, 2014, news article, “Changing the face of real estate in Angola,” by Li Jing in the business section of the China Daily.
“Since Angola’s civil war ended in 2002, Africa’s second-biggest oil producer has surged economically, with a 5.1 percent growth rate in 2013.

The government has invested heavily to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, in an effort dubbed by the leaders as ‘national reconstruction.’ Construction of new roads, railways, schools and hospitals has cost tens of billions of dollars.

With its abundance of resources that include crude oil, diamonds and gold, the southern African nation has seen scores of China’s State-owned enterprises and private companies enter its borders hoping for an economic opportunity.

In 2008, CITIC Construction Co, a State-owned enterprise and one of the largest construction companies in the world, joined the nation’s reconstruction efforts.

‘We are an active and responsible player in the country’s post-war reconstruction process,’ says Liu Guigen, president of the African regional division of CITIC Construction . . .

That year, the company won a bid to build housing in Kilamba Kiaxi, one of the capital city of Luanda’s six urban districts that is located 30 kilometers from downtown. . . .

Last year, the $10 billion project was completed with a total of 20,000 residential homes, 200 retail stores, 24 kindergartens, nine primary schools and eight middle schools. CITIC claims 90 percent of the homes are already occupied.

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos hailed the satellite city project as a model for the country’s post-war reconstruction.

CITIC Construction, which was tasked with mapping out the satellite city’s overall development strategy, worked with about 40 other enterprises from China to install water, sewage and electricity systems.

The companies then set up a 300-strong team to train Angolans on maintenance and security work for the neighborhoods. . . .

Backed by the success in Kilamba Kiaxi, the company is now working with other Angolan city governments to build similar housing projects. It is also exploring opportunities in the nation’s farming sector to help reduce Angola’s dependence on food imports to feed its population of 18 million.

‘Angola has so much fertile land, but it is also a large food importer,’ Liu says. . . .
The company has also invested heavily in the country’s school system.

In May 2014, the CITIC BN Vocational School was founded in Luanda to provide free vocational training for impoverished city youths from ages of 16 to 25. The students can learn skills in electrical and mechanical engineering and will eventually be recruited by the Chinese company after graduation. . . .

Since 1999, when China encouraged its State-owned companies to invest overseas, CITIC Construction has conducted almost 95 percent of its work abroad. It says that 60 percent of its business is in the African market.

‘We are confident that we will expand projects across Africa in 2016,’ Liu says.
CITIC Construction plans to kick off new projects in Kenya and Cameroon at the end of this year” (p. 14).

It’s wonderful to know that good things are happening in Africa.

Aloha & Zaì jiàn, Barry & Renée

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