2008年9月29日 星期一

Visit Suzhou, Old Town Ton-Li 同里

The Impression
Ton-Li is one of the four famous water towns in China. Most of the buildings are well reserved in this old town but the wisdom and honesty of their old time ancestors are not.
We were supposed to be there in 30 mins. But thanks to the confusing road sign, we took 1 hour to get to the old town.

The Scene
I was surprised by the first sign of the street when we arrived the town. The roads were all paved with trimmed or carved stones. Between blocks are rivers (canals) and lanes. Beside the rivers were willows leaning toward water. Some hand-rowed boats in the river were taking visitors around the town. Roofs paved with black tiles outlined the white walls which were partly covered by vines and green leaves.
Some of the buildings were owned by some generals or ministers at the time of feudal China. The decoration of the windows, walls and interior roofs were very delicate and splendid. It was a pity that our camera went out of power, so we did not take enough pictures, and the ones we took were not satisfactory.

There are 8 gardens to visit in Ton-Li. We visited all of them. After the 4th, we felt they were generally the same. But the autumn weather was so pleasant and we did not want to miss anything in regret, so we visited all the points written in our entrance tickets. We felt the most impressive ones are Geng-Ler Hall (耕樂園)and Tuei-Si Garden(退思園).


As I just said, the honesty of the old generation was not well reserved and passed on to their new generation in this old town. And this was another impression about this town. I tried not to eat inside the town but there was no big restaurants around so we bought 2 goose eggs from a vendor. Richy tried to take off one egg shell. I help him with the other egg and smelt something bad. We felt the eggs were rotten. We did not go back to the vendor for a refund because we thought he would not give us rebate but would give us another rotten eggs. Anyway we threw the eggs in a trash can and tried to get the smell out of our hands.
In one hall called Pearl Tower, we went to see a pearl tower model. A very enthusiastic man led us the way and showed us the small model of the pearl tower. Actually there was no need to guide us, because the pearl tower model was obviously in sight. He told us to pay our worship to the statutes on the side table for blessings. Then he told us to donate some money to the glass box holding the pearl tower. We followed his words seriously and finally he took Richy's hand, led him to the side, and said: you are not a big figure nor a small role at work. He continued: you care you family a lot and your life will be better off in the future. He told Richy that in order to receive God's blessings, they would pray for us every day for 99 days and Richy would have to pay $99. I almost burst out laughing but behaved. Richy told him no need. That guy said $10 would also be fine. We still did not pay for this farce. After we left, some other visitors behind us talked about that guy's behavior and said big fish behind was going to be be fooled and hooked.


The stores in Ton-Li were mostly similar to the ones in other scenery places in Su-Zhou, but the streets were narrower and the buildings were older here. We did not feel tired walking all day because the weather was cool and the sun was bright but mild. However my feet and toes hurt because I did not wear sport shoes. This gave me an excuse to sit in a pearl store and shop. I always enjoyed shopping some souvenirs while visiting places. I liked to buy something cute and decorative to the house or myself. So I picked some necklaces mixed with raised pearls, shells, and stones. They were not expensive but looked attractive to me. And most importantly they made me forget the pain on my feet. As I was so happy about the trophies I got in this trip, Richy counted the money left in our bag and his wallet. We found we only had $3 RMB left. That meant we have to drive carefully to avoid getting on the toll high way. The links between banks and ATMs were not very convenient in China. We could not get cash on other banks' ATMs but only from our bank's. So, with the poor road sign again, we drove 45 mins home, instead of 1 hour. It only took us 15 mins more than needed on the way back.


The Monks --Official Monks or Artificial ones?

I forgot to tell you about the monks. The monks in the temple were workers in the travel bureau in Ton-li, not real monks. But they wore monk clothes and shoes and shaved. It was weird to see monks talking on the cell phone, making fun, and chatting with their companions all the time. Friends told us there was even a "monks wanted" ads in the newspaper's job posting page. Official monks are allowed to get married, eat meat, drink alcohol and smoke. Quite an insult to the real monks.

2008年9月26日 星期五

Learn the word: Melamine 三聚氰胺

Melamine is a chemical composed of nitrogen, carbon, and hydrogen that is often mixed with formaldehyde to make plastic. It was a substance not supposed to exist in food.
In 2007, thousands of pet in the U.S. died after eating pet food contaminated with Chinese melamine.
Now 2008, some kids in China died and many were sick after consuming milk contaminated with melamine.

See, there was already a serious case in 2007, and the government did not do anything further.

Learn from experience. Pets--> Human, Human--> pets. Animal--> Plants , Plants--> Animal

It is like things happened in Taiwan, Just gone with someone who corrupts ( Former President, A-Bian) , then comes someone who kills ( the new government's policy with melamined milk).

Taiwan's health burea set a threshold to examine milk's contamination of melamine. If that substance could hurt human health, there should be no threshold for the substance to exist.

Supermarket and Cooker's Heart

They really need more big supermarkets to accomadate the huge population in the cities. I went to the supermarket today to buy things before the long holidays. I would never shop in the markets during the holidays becuase it would be too crowded. But even today a weekday, the market was such a jam. People moved their shopping carts slowly in lines for foods. Many shoppers could not wait and grabbed fresh meat packs right from the chopping board. Woosh! That was really fresh cut meat. I wanted to buy some chicken legs but when I got to the shelf only the rotten or looking-bad ones were left. I bought some raw rice, eggs, lemons and DVDs, then squeezed out of the market as fast as I could. I did not buy vegetables, because I could not decide what to cook.

Been cooking everyday, I felt a bit bored and did not know what to prepare for meals. I felt I already did my best and I thought everyone was happy about it, and so was I. This morning I did not even want to prepare for breakfast. But how dare, I still woke up early and did my job. It was not inspiring at all to prepare food for Richy. Every cooker likes to see the eaters enjoy their cooking. I did not see any sign of appreciation from Richy when he had his breakfast or supper. I did get some critics from him though. However, it was quite cheering to cook for Winston. So far the only one who appreciated my cooking was Winston. He always said "Yummy" when he ate my dishes. Now I know why my mother always cooked so much food whenever we went back to the country house. Because Winston and I ate whatever she cooked and we ate like we've been hungry for days and that was a clear sign showing that we like her cooking.
I felt a bit down these days and many things seem negative to me. I am so tired of being told what to cook and what not to cook. Some family members, out of their caring hearts, even kept reminding me what to cook and what to throw. Oh, please... Stop giving me orders or suggestions..

Sanlu is one case and there may be more. But I don't want to be over-worried.

2008年9月25日 星期四

The Land Before Time

Oh, it is so hard for a woman to start learning violin at my age. I tried to practice violin this morning, but the sound squeaked so bad. Even myself could not stand it. I hope my neighbors did not hear it.
I called Jessie to arrange a day among the long holidays to come over and have dinner together. We haven't really invited her family to our new house yet since we moved in. Nine days, oh my. Winston will have 9 days off school and I have to babysit him all day for nine whole days. He told me he was very happy to start his vacation soon. I think tomorrow I will have a massage first then shop around for some vedeos or find some Kid's activity books to entertain him during the holidays. The bad news is that the vedeo stores are mostly closed this period of time because of anti-piracy law. They are supposed to reopen in November. I am looking for the DVD --The Land Before Time, a cartoon story about dinosoars. I watched it with my niece and nephews more than 12 years ago and we liked it a lot. Maybe I should check the internet and see who would sell it in the net.

2008年9月24日 星期三

Morning Exercise

This morning I brought HandyCam to Winston's school to record his morning exercise. It has been a week they started mornings exercise with rythms and songs. I enjoyed watching the kids dancing and running around so I asked the teacher's admission to record it with my vedeo camera. I would edit the film later. On the way back, I stopped by a bookstore and bought one book named "Gems of Krylov's Fables". The fables were written in an old fashioned form similar to poet. I checked some of the pages and found it interesting. Maybe I can write some of my thoughts in the blog during the progress of reading this book.

2008年9月22日 星期一

SanLu Poisonous Milk

Yes, it was the famous brand I bought a month ago for breakfast. To tell the truth, the bean milk mix was tasty. I was lucky that I only finished the first pack before the bad news was announced. Whatever eaten was eaten and we were all right. I kept the second pack in the kitchen cupboard and may dispose it later. But before I throw it away, I feel I need to take a good look at it because it was the first milk I dare buy in China and it happened to be the big brand in the top news everyday. I checked the supermarket and products of this brand were all off-shelfed. I was starting to build my trust in things made in China, but now I feel hesitated. I can only say that the best and the worst can both be found in China. But many times we just could not distinguish one from the other.

If you know the way they drive and the way they honk in the midnight and whole day while driving, you would understand how they do not respect life and people. In the midnight, they honk long just because they want to declare "My car would not stop for signs, make way!" even when there is no car on the way. If you know the way they talk to and manage their workers, you would know why the workers would not respect anything but money. I believe the problem is "People" and the " System". If you only come to China for a short time, you would appreciate how progressing the country is, but if you stay here long enough you will see the conflicts everywhere and know that there is still a long way for China to be among the top of the world. I can only say China has great great potential to be the top because of its aboundant resources. However the most difficult part to manage is people. It is hard to change or manage people's value, attitude, and habit. Education may be a good way. Nevertheless, the one-child policy has created so many self-centered family Kings crammed with knowlege and skills but vulnerable to adversaries.

I like to see the good change in China, because I always believe the best exists here but many times it is hidden because too many inferiors appear in the surface. And it is good to have the chance to experience something good here.

2008年9月21日 星期日

Sunday in Gold Chicken Lake

We walked to the lake in the morning and came home at 3:30pm. It was great to play all day in the neighborhood area without driving.

Winston jumped from rock to rocks and walked in the water beside the lake. We took a boat to the central island called Tao-Hwa(Peach flower) Island and had tea in the island. The boat ran so fast. I was scared but Winston and Richy enjoyed the speed a lot. We had lunch in a Germany food resturant. The food looked great but tasted so so but the beer in the resturant was excellent.

2008年9月18日 星期四

Very Autumn

The weather is very like the typical Fall. Hot in the daytime and cool at night.

Change Violin Teacher

I decided to change Winston's violin teacher based on 2 points: 1) the teacher taught in a very old fashion and slow way, her teaching did not interest me, not to say Winston, 2) we met three times and she talked about tuition 3 times. The former was the key point to my decision. One more reason is that she lives too far from us. If I drove to her house, there was no place to park my car, and if she rode to my house, she asked for additional money which was more than the transportation fee needed. I felt awkward but still decided to fire her. For some local residents, when they know we are from Taiwan, they charge more for everything while some would not. The violin teacher charged me since the first time Winston and I went for a short interview with her. After the 3rd time she mentioned that she wanted a raise, I felt I need a change.

Someone who came to my house to tune up our piano recommend one teacher to me yesterday. I took Winston there after school. The teacher was very good and his teaching was very interactive. The most important thing was that " I did not smell the scent of money on him". He taught Winston a lot during the interview. I told him I would pay for the teaching, but he said no need. He said he just wanted to know more about the new student in the first interview. He sounded very different from the present teacher we have.
I felt he was someone interested in teaching violin not in making money.

2008年9月17日 星期三

Baked Spinach Rice with cheese

Last Sunday we ate out in an Italian restaurant. The food was not good but it gave me an idea of using spinach for improvement. We bought some China-cookware for baking. Winston was the number 1 advocate of my cooking. See how he enjoy my food.

My recipe for the new invention:

Cooked rice: 2 bowls
Mushrooms: as you wish
Carrots: as you wish
German sausage: 2 rows
Spinach: some
Cheese: as you wish
Salt: a little

Add Raw Spinach with one cup water to the juice maker= spinach juice
1. Slice sausage, fry sausage in the pan, add mushroom and carrots.
2. add rice and spinach juice, stir mix
3. put the cooked food in a baking bowl, Add cheese on the top
4. bake for 15 mins at 150 degree. F or C degree ? Follow your instinct.

Winston liked it for supper. He told me to cook it every other day.

2008年9月15日 星期一

Moon Festival Weekend-Pan Gate

Saturday night we went to my college friend, Jessie's house for a Bar-B-Q party with about 20 of their friends at their balcony. We had great time there and made some new friends.

Sunday Richy's cold was worse so we stayed home all day. He had sore throat since Friday morning. Monday was another day off for the moon festival. Richy still coughed but we went out to Pan-Gate (盤門) and visit a Pottery store near-by. Pan-Gate is a sightseeing place with traditional Su-Zhou city gate sorounded by river as a defensive blocker. The weather was hot today. We took a small hand-rowed boat with an old woman singing old songs for us. The view from the boat was excellent (see attached picture) but the smell of the water was bad because of pollutions. After we left Pan-Gate, we visited a pottery store owned by the friends we met in the BBQ party. The couple was very nice and patient to explain to us the background and history of every special piece in the pottery. Richy wanted to buy one China pot but we did not see one with right color and shape yet. The owner told us to reserve one and check it out later. We told them what we need and we'll see it two weeks later.

2008年9月13日 星期六

Moon Festival Party

A Moon Festival celebration party was held in our community by the community management company. Two small shows included Chinese musical instrument performance and puppy show were performed on two side platforms. Singing and dancing shows were performed in the cetral garden's main stage. Vendors selling small crafts and food were lined up on the sidewalk. In the end there was a big and long firwork show.

It was our first moon festival in China. Winston liked to listen to the music played by traditional Chinese instruments. He asked me the difference between Violin and Er-Hu (二胡). Richy told him Violin has 4 strings and ER-Hu has only 2 strings. The two instruments are very similar. It was interesting that some of the music came out directly from the Disc , not by the performers. We knew it because when the players stopped, the music went on. The audience seemed fine with it. We had to think that the spirit of this show was to bring up the heat and the feeling of the festival, not to show the quality of music. However on the main stage, every performance was a real and good paly. But we did not watch the show in the main stage, because it was too crowded and loud.

2008年9月12日 星期五

Rude Police and security concern, Sept. 12

Yesterday since waken up by a noisy morning call, two more unhappy things happened. One was in the morning when I drove back home from Winston's school I saw two policemen snatching one middle-age woman's bag on the sidewalk of the street. The woman tried to protect and grab back her bag, but the policemen grabbed it and threw all the things in the bag to the ground and stepped rudely on the woman's belongings. Now I really witnessed the picture which I usually saw in the Newspaper. I did not record it in my camera because I was driving on the street and I did not bring my camera. I did not know what was going on, but the woman did not look like a criminal. Anyway, the policemen should have done whatever they need to do in a more respectable way.

The second thing was my car's back window wiper. I parked my car in our parking space in the basement of our building. The security guard found that someone had intentionally broken my back window wiper in the basement and thrown it on the floor. The security center in our community could not find who had done it. They admitted that the basement was still under some construction and the background and the quality of the workers may cause problems to the safety of residents' property. What could I do? Here, for this kind of case, you just need to take it and swollow it. Every division only cares about itself and when things happen they start kicking balls. Though I will still try to file a complain to the security management office. I think they need to learn to take some responsibility. We did not park free, we boght the parking space and paid for the managment fee.

Richy was very upset about the car's wiper thing. I know the feeling. Although this kind of thing happen a lot, we just don't want to be the victim.

I still want to believe that there are still a lot of good things and good people here. I just begin to love living here, I don't want to step back.

2008年9月11日 星期四

A Noisy Morning Call, Sept. 11

Richy and I were waken up at 5:00am by the road construction workers. Although we live on the 28th floor and kept the window closed, we still could hear the loud sound of worker's drilling the road. The workers slept early and they began their work early without worrying interrupting others' sleep. Usually we wake up at 6:30am because the honks of the trucks and cars just never stop since then.

There is no noise regulation in China. You can hear firework in the midnight, and big construction noise in early morning, and no policeman will stop the noise for you. Our neighborhood is a well-developed district in terms of the public facilities, infrastructures, and industries. But the cilivilization of some locals still did not catch up with the speed of modernization in this area. I saw many cars driving the wrong way on the street even in front of policemen. It was even worse in the area outside of our neighborhood. As for the policemen, some are strict, and some are lazy. I saw some policemen sit under the shadow and chat at work. Anyway, we saw many policemen on the street all the time, but very few really do their job. The only time I saw them do their job was when I was stopped by one policeman on the main street of Su-Zhou city when I made a wrong U turn which was not allowed on that street. I respect that policeman because he is strict but kind, and most importantly, he does his job without a miss.

2008年9月10日 星期三

A Happy Mother

Winston showed me his painting at school. It was about himself and his favorites. I am happy to see that he drew me as his favorite person. His favortie animal: cat, looks cute. It is interesting that his favorite thing to do is watching TV, very honest.
I decided to move my blog to Google because the speed in Yahoo 360 was terribly slow.

Stomach Discomfort Sept.10

Again, my stomach did not feel good these days. Whenever I ate Chinese food in local resturants, my stomach suffered the next day. Last Sunday we went to the museum and ate out lunch and supper, so I am suffering now. It was not worthy to eat out one day and suffer for three days. I cook Monday to Saturday and I like to eat out Sunday. I need to find some resturants that are kind to my stomach.