Tuesday, May 31, 2005

5/31/2005: Sterilized muffin, anyone?

In the morning we took bus together with students and faculty from the University of Western Ontario Canada to go and visit Dalian Commodity Exchange in Xinhai Square. This was one of the three such exchanges in China with the other two being in Shanghai and Zhenzhou. They traded different goods. In Dalian, Soybeans and Soymilk were traded. The trade was done electronically so we did not see the frenzy of CBOT or NYME. There were 198 traders in the room and the war room was really quiet but really warm. The person who received us was a guy who had an MBA from UNC-Charlotte. He returned to China in 1998 and worked in Beijing before moving to Dalian. He did a very good job explaining what they did and where they planed to be in the future. During the Q&A session, our students, especially Tyler, seemed more engaged asking questions than their Canadian counterparts. I asked why they kept the trading room so warm and his reply was related to the popularity of internet trading. Does internet trading makes a trading room warm, I wondered loudly?

During the class break I asked Rose whether she retrieved her bag. She said she found it in a different room from what we searched next morning.

Hillary, Dick’s daughter, arrived from Taipei. She graduated from Amherst and decided to take one year off to find herself. She teaches English to businessmen in Czech Republic. Today was her birthday. Since both Dick and Karin were in China, so they flew her to Dalian to celebrate the occasion. She flew to Taipei to meet her friend Joanne before coming to Dalian and Joanne would join her tomorrow. She is a very attractive girl with quite impressive international travel and working experience.

Dick treated all of us at a pancake restaurant strongly recommended by Dr. Yao Hong. They also invited Vivian to come along. I was really thankful that she agreed to go because she could tell the cab drivers (we needed 4 cars) where to go and what to order in the restaurant. After the meal, we decided to go to a local bar to have some drinks. Dick, Karin and Vivian left rather early because Vivian had to return to her dorm by 11:00pm. Hillary, Joanne and I left just before things were turning wild.

Before heading to the restaurant, Matt pulled me aside and asked me with mild panicking in his voice whether if it was OK to eat something cooked in a dishwasher. I had a hard time understanding what he was saying. We had no dishwashers in our rooms. Finally I kind of got the picture as to what happened. He put a slice of pizza in a machine he thought was a microwave and a few moments later a strange odor came out from it. He went ahead and ate the pizza nevertheless. Now he wondered if he could live. I still did not know which machine he was speaking of. We went to his room and he pointed it out to me. It was a machine above washing sink, which I had thought was a toast oven. I told Dick how to operate it on the first day when we arrived. Now after reading the instructions carefully I found out how wrong I was. It was a sterilizer. So I ensured Matt that he would survive because the food he had was sterilized no matter how bad it might have tasted. When we shared the stories at the pancake dinner table, Dick said that had been cooking English muffins in it. Sterilized muffin, anyone?

Monday, May 30, 2005


I woke up at 6:15 and this was the latest thus far, which was an indication that the effect of jetlag had lessened. When I walked back from the Canteen it started to rain. This morning we were supposed to go and visit Pfizer, for which both Dick and I were “bosses,” however small. The original plan was to take bus to a light rail station then would be picked up by the Pfizer people. But the Thunder storm altered the plan. We took cabs instead of bus. It took us about 2 hours to get there.

Lu Hong, the HR manger received us. She spoke fluent English. She made a brief introduction on Pfizer in the general and Pfizer China. This is mainly a production facility. The headquarters provide them with compounds and formula. They would get necessary material internally within Pfizer worldwide. They produce drugs and store them in a warehouse. The entire process goes through a tight QC before sending the drugs to all markets but the US. During a Q&A session thereafter, among other questions, I proposed an IT related one. How did you sync the IT operations given that your operations were so geographically diverse? It was too technical for a HR manger to answer this question, obviously.

The SU students wanted to go Pizza Hut for lunch. They finally caved in. My prediction was that sooner or later they would want to have western food although they fervently insisted that they want to eat Chinese food all the way. I was amazed that it took nearly a week for my prediction to come true..

There was a volleyball tournament in town. The first game was between Team China and Team Japan. Given the tension between the two countries, the tickets were hard to come by. Some resourceful girls in the class managed to get the last 12 tickets remaining. Cindy couldn’t go to the game and she asked me if I wanted her ticket. I was really delighted to have such an opportunity. I played volleyball for my university and for fun for long time in the US. I had been always a volleyball fun. I was rather impressed by the gold performance of the Chinese women’s team in the Olympics in 2004 and felt in love with Feng Kun, the setter. She always had smile on her face no matter how tight the game was. It would be rather a rare treat to go to a game in person.

After having dinner with some girls, I rushed back to my room to make a phone call to rearrange a 7:30pm appointment. After flossing my teeth, I went out of the building to meet up with the girls who were already there. We walked over to the bus stop and headed to Dalian University of Technology (DUT). In front of the gym the girls wanted to buy cheer leading supplies including Chinese national flags but did not want to pay the full price. They hustled the vendor to agree to reduce the price to a level I was not sure if the vendor would make any money out of this deal.

The game was exciting but China dominated. The Japanese put up a good fight but their efforts came out short. China won 3-1 convincingly. After the game, I was separated from the group. I was walking to the bus stop by my own before three girls from the group showed up. We got to the stop but Bus stopped running. It was hard to catch a cab because not too many came this way. After a few attempts, we finally managed to get one and came back.
Some of SU students wanted to go to a Karaok bar. I debated and decided to stay in and go to bed early. I watched some tango dancing on a DVD I brought with me before I became too tired. I turned off the lights and passed out instantly.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


After yesterday’s class, Vivian told me that she would like to invite us her family to make dumplings. While thinking this would be excellent opportunity for the Americans to see a really Chinese family, I worried it would be too much work for her family. After all we were not a small group. She assured me that it would be an honor if we could make it. I told her I needed to consult with Dick/Karin, the students and Cliff and let her know as soon as possible so that her family would be given some time to prepare.

I got a go ahead from all the parties this morning. I called Vivian around 10:30am and told her that we were coming. She sounded really excited on the phone. Since we had two other places to go before we became free, she decided to invited Sharon and Belinda to join us for the whole day activities before taking us to her family.

The Seashell Museum was really educational and scenarios of the Honeymoon Park were breathtaking, but by far the highlight of the day was at Vivian’s family. There were 12 of us. We had to make two trips. The first group were all Americans but Vivian but she had to come back to get the second group. Her family did not speak English. So there was no communicado in the house while she was gone. She already got a few phone calls to ask her to rush back so communications could be re-established.

When we got there, dad was in front of the house greeting us. The house belonged to Vivian’s grandfather who was an Army general. Mom was in the kitchen cooking away. The house was full of nice armor of Chinese food. The living room was full of seasonal fruits and soft drinks. Dad and Uncle were running in and out trying to make us feel comfortable and had enough to eat and drink.

The moment of truth arrived. Mom prepared dough and fillings for us to make dumplings. Everyone was so enthusiastic and willing to try. Karin learnt it very quickly while Dick struggled a little but managed to make a couple of dumplings. It seemed like the plan of opening up a dumpling stand near SU by the Hoffmans was one step closer to reality. Cristina, Pat and Matt tried only briefly before giving up. David refused to get his hands “dirty” due to a scar he suffered from making 300 dumplings with one of his ex Korean girlfriends. Erik and Luke, however, showed their feminine sides by sticking to the process till the end.

There were so many people that we had to sit in two different rooms. I thought it was just a dumpling dinner which would be simpler for the family. Soon after the dinner started did I realize how wrong I was. Dishes after dishes and drinks after drinks were brought to the tables. Mom, Dad and Uncle were in and out trying to make us eat and drink more. I sat with all six SU students and we all agreed this was the best meal we had. Everything was hand prepared and freshly made. It must have taken the whole day for the family to cook such a feast. They had not known us at all before this afternoon and yet they poured their hearts out welcoming us. This was the “Chinese Hospitality.”

After dinner, everyone was sitting in the living room while the family, Belinda and Sharon were still busy cleaning up. I tried to arrange Dad to sit next to the Huffman’s so they could talk a little bit with Vivian or me as interpreter. He was so humble and tried not to draw attention to him. After much persuasion, he agreed. Once sitting down, he showed the color of a solider. He commanded the room instantly. He opened his speech by saying that he regretted that he did not pay much attention to Vivian when she was a little girl due to his work. He hoped that she would have as many opportunities as possible now. He wanted to her to be successful in her study and future career. One of the keys to succeeding was to learn to communicate with different people in different situations. He encouraged her to be open and make as many friends Chinese or otherwise as possible. Dick responded in reciprocal that Vivian was just a fine and delightful lady and that everyone would be Lukey to have her as a friend.

Vivian interpreted the whole thing. She did it very well. When Dad mentioned his regret that he could spend much time with her in her early age, she started to cry. I was sure her family was really proud of her that she could serve as a bridge between two cultures by translating our conversations back and forth. I could tell most of SU students were impressed and touched (David’s eyes were red and teary). They saw firsthand what a Chinese family was about.

There was no never-ending banquet. When saying goodbye, Dad and Mom insisted that we visit them again next time we would be in Dalian and we could stay with them. Matt decided to take up the offer by saying when he was in Beijing next year he would come to Dalian to see them. Mom said that they would welcome him 120%.

When we got back, David and I decided to get a foot massage but did not know where to go. We waved down a cab and asked for suggestions. The driver said he knew a nice place. So off we went. The foot massage was good and the by product was to get to know David a little better. He was a good kid. I remembered a talk we had on our way to the Seashell Museum. He said he wanted to be a capitalist with conscious. The fact that he could get a discount on Hyatt where he worked did not hurt, either.

The saying of the day was “Do it.” Erik adopted it from Movie “Starsky and Hutch” Now whenever he saw me, he would say it with a very deep voice.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


In the morning, we took bus to Modern History Museum of Dalian near Xinhai Square. Students seemed to handle it well. On the way from the bus stop to the museum, we saw a female cross guide in uniform. She was tall, slim and very pretty. David asked to take a picture with her and she graciously agreed. Just before the picture was taken, David put his arm around her shoulder. She jumped off and said sternly “no touch.” David was pretty good nature about it. As a result, a major international incident was averted.

The museum was impressive. It illustrated the modern history of Dalian from the turn of century to present. The pace of the development, especially in the last decade, was neck breaking. I was proud of the progress being made thus far. Even more importantly, Dalian knows where it would be going. I was so overcome that I wanted to come back and spend more time here.

Everyone but Tyler was at the entrance ready to leave. While waiting for him, I made up two pop quiz questions for the students. What US city was the sister city of Dalian and in what year did Russians transfer the power to Chinese after the WWII? The students seemed to have paid attention because they knew the answers. Do you?

After a long while, Tyler made his appearance, but sometime was lost. As a result, we decided to implement “Tyler Rule” in which we would preannounce a time and place for us to meet before we dispersed into another museum/place.

While walking toward the seashell museum through Xinhai park, we saw people after people wear the same t-shirts. It was the 3rd int’l walking festival. In addition to the walking event, we saw others play kites and lion dance on poles.

It was already 11am and we decided to go back to school because Dick wanted to prepare for the class. There was not enough time to go to the Seashell museum. One the way back, we decided to have lunch on the way. Cliff selected his favorite Sichun restaurant. The cooking was really authentic and the food was really spicy. We saw clusters of whole pepper in most of dishes. I purposed ordered Kong-pow Chicken and Ma-po Tufu to let students know the difference between the Chinese food they had in American and here.

After class, we were invited to a disco on campus because they now knew that I was a dancer. We decided to meet in front of our building at 7:30 and went to the ball together. I had not danced disco for ages so I was afraid I did not know how to do it anymore. Since some of girls were late because they had to put on make-ups, we got there a little before 8. The four guys were David, Tyler, Dick from DUFE and I and the rest were 12 girls. The admission fee was 5 yuan but we got a discount of 50% off. The room was a typical disco establishment: dark and smoky. We put three small tables together to form a big sitting area. After a little while we got situated. David and Tyler got itchy and got up and started to dance. The girls and I followed. I felt energy circulating around and I started to dance disco. It is just like riding a bike, as people say. The girls were really into it and danced like pros. Strangely enough, later Sharon, Rose and Vivian told me that it was their first time to dance disco. The way they danced did not convince me of that claim at all but I trusted them.

The room got hotter and hotter and smoky and smoky. Tyler’s t-shirt was dripping. It was around 10pm when did we decide to exit. On our way out, Rose became a little panicking because she left her bag in a studying room which was supposed to close at 10. I offered to run over with her to the building to retrieve the bag. After saying goodbye to the rest of group, we hurried toward the study room. Once we got there we found that we had a problem. She did not remember the room number. We searched 3 floors but couldn’t locate the lost material. Finally we gave up hoping her friend would take the bag for her.
On the way to her dorm we started to talk about many interesting issues. She gave me an impression that she was an intelligent, worry-free, truth seeking individual.

Once getting back to my room, I wanted to take a shower really bad because of the sweat and smoke from the disco room. But hot water refused to come out. I didn’t feel like to take a cold water shower, so I decided to go to bed without it. Next morning the first thing I did after getting up was to turn the shower on. In the beginning the water was still cold. I became a little concerned. If I could not take the shower, I would smell really bad. I was going to use a water heater to boil some water and then fill the sink with both cold and hot water and wash myself. Thanks heavens, I did not have to do it. Hot water came out from the shower and I jumped in with joy. To my dismay, the water started to turn cold in two minutes. I rushed to finish. Oh well, some shower was better than no shower.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Like Your Life, Water is Limited.

Nothing was supposed to be free. After having breakfast with David and Luke, I was ready to do some work. While brushing my teeth, I heard knocks on the door. Cristina and Luke were there and said that Cliff asked us to join some student to climb a mountain just outside the campus. They student said it took about twenty minutes to get to the top but both David and I thought it would take about 2 hours. He and Eric waged a bet. For me, no matter what, my working morning was down the drain. It actually did take only 20 minutes to climb it. On the top, the scenery was just breathtaking. On one side, it was the Yellow Sea and on the other it was the high rising apartments and construction sites. The students were jumping up and down and having a lot of fun. We took yet another group picture.

On the top there was a torn down house and half of it had no roof. It had been a see watching house but now was turned into a Buddhist temple. The area that was still covered by roof was now used for praying.

Things (people) that go up must come down. It was time for us to go down. We had a choice between an easier road down and a hard way that passed through a graveyard. I thought it was a good idea for the Americans to see the graves which would be unique.
Surely they asked questions like why they were buried on this side of mountain, were graves always on mountains, and whether the dead were still buried or were cremated.

Party was over, and class started in the afternoon. Constructions were going on during our first class. The first difference I noticed was that when speaking, American students could be heard but not Chinese ones. Most of talking during Q&A and discussion was done by the American students as well. Vivian was one of few active Chinese students engaged in asking and answering questions.

During the class break, Michael and Rose, the representatives of the group of students, who we paid for admission tickets to the Aquarium, intercepted me and insisted to give the money back. It was really hard to persuade them and sometimes I had to resort to some martial art move to avoid being handed the money. I told them the same thing as I told Michael over and over again. Finally, they gave in. That really made me happy.

Yvonne brought a basketball to the classroom and that generated interests in playing basketball games after dinner. We met at the court at 6:30 and some of them were there already. While the players were practicing, I was talking to the students who were there to watch the game. I remembered during the self introduction some of the girls mentioned that they liked dancing and swimming. I tried to track them down so they could tell me where to go. I offered to teach them tango if they could find a room and people. I also asked them where I could go swimming and was told that I had to go to another nearby university, which I don’t mind. I told them to let me know if they were going.

At first, three teams formed 2 Yellow with all Chinese and 1 White with all American (David, Eric, Pat the old guy and Tyler). The Yellow team was really good and they beat the White easily. The games went on while spectators started to gather to cheer both playing teams on. I was on the side line talking to the cheerleaders including Rose and Belinda. Again some serious discussions were generated. They also agreed to help me to pass on my blog to their classmates since the blog website I used was not accessible in China. At around 8:30 they finally called it night. While walking back to the dorm, I was informed by some students there would be a disco dancing event tomorrow evening. I was interested and asked them to meet at one place and go together.

Pat and I decided to get foot massage. After walking the whole day yesterday and climbing the mountain in the morning, my feet deserved some pampering. We took a cab and headed to a placed recommended by Cliff. The driver obviously did not know where he was going. He took us to a different place. Strongly convinced of that Cliff’s recommendation couldn’t be wrong, I insisted the driver to find the place. Only after phoning in and asking another taxi driver did he managed to drop us in the right place. We walked in and ushered upstairs. Two lovely young small ladies brought in two buckets of hot herb water and motioned us to put our feet in and left the room. A moment later, they came back and started the massages. It was hard to image how strong their hands were given their small physical status. The lady commented that Pat was the 2nd American guy she worked on today and both their skins, though nice, were twice as thick as Chinese’s. The lady who worked on Pat told him that he had problems with his sleeping and digesting system while mine said I had shoulder problem. They were both right on. How could they tell, I wondered?

The title “Like Your Life, Water is Limited “was a slogan I saw in one of the restrooms in DUFE intended to remind us not to waste water.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


We were invited to march together with the SIB’s athletes during the ceremony of DUFE’s 33rd annual Sport Meets. It was quite an honor for us. We saw sea of people in the stadium. The format was very similar to the Olympics except nations were replaced by departments and colleges. We marched, watched others march, and stood before the podium for congratulatory speeches. I really felt I was part of the whole festivity. I was sure our students felt it was once in their life times to take part in such an activity.

After watching the preliminary men’s 100m heats, in which we cheered the races as if they were our own, we boarded bus and started our city tour. Our Chinese student mentors were already on the bus. Off we went and on the way we picked Pat. Since our student met their mentors yesterday already for shopping, they started talking to each other without any awkwardness. It was amazing how they from two ends of the earth just met and became friend so instantly. The Chinese students were warm, polite, and open minded. They were willing to discuss various topics, including some sensitive ones, with us. We went to a seaside park and Tiger Beach before heading to have a dumpling lunch. Pat offered to pay for the students. Dick and I thought it was good idea. So we three pitched in. The next stop was to visit Dalian’s Aquarium. The admission was rather steep for the students. So we offered to buy the tickets for those who wished to go in (some of them had already been in before). They resisted and finally agreed because they did not carry enough cash with them. Michael promised to pay us back. It took quite some persuasions for him to drop that idea. We told him if they would pass on the goodwill to other students when they were in our positions in the future we’d be more than happy and content.

After the dinner, David, Erik, Matt and Tyler decided to play basketball game. Cristina, Luck and I came along. When we got the place, all the courts (8 of them) were full. Cristina and Luck were tired of waiting and left. The rest of us stayed on waiting for our opportunities. At a point, David said he had to go back to the room for a few minutes. Now we only had the only eligible players Erik, Matt and Tyler. They tried to talk me into playing but I resisted the temptation and urge to play. I told them I would be their “Phil Jackson” the Zen Master. Finally, a game on one of the courts was over. We went over to ask if we (or they) could play and told we had to wait out for another game. So, the boys started to stretch and warm up and I started to worry that I might have to play. Luckily a Chinese student nearby and started a conversation with my boys. So it was our time to play, we asked if he wanted to play. He graciously accepted. Later we were thankful he did because he was a good player. Our team won the first game so continued to play for the next. We were 5-2 (played to 6) when the other team came back and beat us 5-6. Oh, well, we gave it hack a run. It was time for massage.

David, Erik, Matt, Tyler and I went out for massage. Cristina and Luck were supposed to go with us but no one seemed able to wake them up. We five squeezed into a cab and headed to a Korean style massage establishment recommended by Cliff. I was sure this would be quite an experience for these four guys. We walked into the locker room and asked by a male server to strip off. David asked for a robe first before he took his clothes off. This was just the opposite of the order expected here. They waited us to strip and wash ourselves in a public shower room equipped with sauna before giving us robes. I didn’t think none of the guys would feel comfortable doing so. We said we took showers before coming here, which was partially true because the guys who played basketball did. They gave in and handed us robes. We put them on and walked out the dress room. A dozen or so young women had lined up before us intended for us to choose. I did not think it was a good idea to do such degrading thing in front the American guys. We just kept walking passing them by. Then I heard the lady in charge call out “lady #1” and saw the first five ladies in line turned and walked together with us downstairs. Since it was during very busy hours, we couldn’t find adjacent rooms for all of us. So we got separated. David and Matt got their own rooms and Erik and Tyler got a room together. Things started to get interesting. Four American guys practically spoke no Chinese and were getting massages from Chinese women who spoke practically no English. I could image how comic the situations could be. Later, Tyler told us that his lady laughed whenever he spoke something. Erik could only say nothing but “Ni Hao.” Erik and Tyler were put on mascara on their eyes because it was thought funny by their ladies. They had a hard time washing the make ups off the next day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


The highlight of the day of 5/25 was being wined and dined by the vice president/provost of DUFE. At the table were also Dr. David Wang, the Dean of School of Business and Mr. Wang, the director of International Cooperative office. I was told that such high rank university officials had never invited foreign students to dinner before. Thanks to Dr. Yao’s personal connection, this happened to our SU students. Pat was also there. He got in this morning without his luggage. So he dressed up as a Chinese dude. Again, the officials were impressed by the students and very glad that we came. Dick gave a short speech in Chinese to the fact that we were happy to have come to this beautiful university and our welcome was far beyond our expectations.

One thing I worried about during the banquet was that they served us with Chinese liquor which was made of rice and wheat and really strong. I was afraid that our comrades from America were not aware of its potency. Once they finished their glasses, someone would pour more. Pat just kept drinking when his glass was full. His face soon turned red and then yellow. The next phrase would be purple, I joked. His hotel was 30 minutes by cab from the university and I worried if he could find his way back. He asked me to go and check out his hotel. So I went. We first went to see his swimming pool, then made a phone call to the airline to check the status of his lost luggage, and finally walked around the nice neighborhood near the hotel. After that I took a cab and came back home.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Panic Attacks

Dick and Karin picked me up at my house at 4:15am and headed to the meeting place. David and his father, Eric and Matt were already there when we arrived. A few moments later, Cristina and Luck pulled in the park lot while David’s father boded farewell to all. Dick distributed the tickets to each individual and we discovered that we missed Matt’s. Because he joined the group late, we booked the ticket late for him and the ticket was never mailed. I did not even bother to check just assuming everything was taken care of. Since from Reagan Airport to Chicago to Beijing was e-ticketing, we figured he would be safe at least for this part. The worse case scenario was to buy a ticket again from Beijing to Dalian while in Beijing. The price was not going to too bad since it was a domestic fare to be purchased in China.

While figuring this out for Matt, we found the bus has not arrived, yet and it was already almost 5am. It was supposed to be here at 4:30pm. Our first flight took off at 8:45 and it would take us a little over 2 hours to get to the airport. Dick thought he brought the driver’s cell phone number but couldn’t locate it. Then we tried to find Rob’s (Director Int’l Studies at SU) home number, none seemed to have it. Since we parked near the university police dept, we decided to go there and ask for Rob’s number. We located the number and tried to call it using my cell phone but got a strange recorded message from VerizonWireless my provider. We also tried to find the bus company’s number but to no avail. As the time approached to intolerably near missing our flight, the bus arrived. The excuse of the driver was by asking a question “what time was it?”

The bus was a party bus. It had two rows of seats on each side from head to toe with a bar, TV and movies. But none seemed to be in a mood partying. Maybe it was too early or the bus was too late.

While on the bus, I decided to call Zhou Hong our travel agent to find out what happened to Matt’s ticket now that it was not too early to wake her and her family up. I first tried my phone, I got the same message. It was then did I realize that I had put my phone service on hold while I was going to be gone for 80 days. This was good in a way that it saved Rob from a panic attack because otherwise my phone would have woken him up at 4:45. I made the call using Matt’s phone and was told that the ticket was never mailed. She said the same thing as we had always figured it out. We were Ok to Beijing then had to buy a ticket from there to Dalian. But she agreed to give us a refund.

Cristina, David, Eric, Luck, Matt and Tyler (who met up with us at the Reagan) were a really good bunch of students. They were easy-going, respectful, curious, open-minded and polite. They conducted themselves well. They exhibited little traits of “ugly Americans.” This assessment was confirmed later by Tammy when I arrived in Dalian. She commented that she felt comfortable instantly as soon as she met us at the Dalian airport and we were not the same as others from the US and Canada (in a good way). On a larger scale, it may be said about students at Salisbury University and youths on the eastern shore of Maryland in general. I remembered a small debate I had with David while laying over in Chicago. He was “sadly” (his own word) born and grew up in Salisbury. I said it was a good thing to grow up in this small rural town. He pointed out that while good, exposures and choices while growing up were rather limited. I joked that was perhaps why he was not as “wild” as other American youths.

Nothing to say about the flights from Reagan to Chicago or Chicago to Beijing except the latter was long (12 hours and 35 minutes). Two interesting things happened at the Beijing airport security check point. While waiting in line, an attractive and tall Chinese girl cut in right in front of us without saying anything (she acted the way like this was nothing out of abnormal). David, Tyler and I were puzzled by her rudeness. David asked me how to say “excuse me” in Chinese and said that to her. I saw her face turned red and smiled at him. I guess this is the way how David flirts with girls.

Everyone passed the security check but Dick, who was stopped by a guard. She went through his bag and was sure there was something dangerous in it. She asked if he had any metal material in the bag and he said there were three envelope openers to be given as gifts. The security guards told us that we could not bring them with us as carry-on and must send them in check in luggage. I tried to talk them out of this demand, but they wouldn’t budge. As the boarding time was fast approaching, we had no choice but went back to the ticketing counter and checked in my backpack with the letter openers. It is ironic that we came out the US system unscratched but were deemed a “security threat” in China.

Tammy, Cliff and a driver met us at the airport and transported us back to DUFE with a car and minivan. They were really super nice people and we were all impressed by their warmness and hospitality. On the way, there was a terrible traffic jam. Cliff commented it was the worst in the six years he had been in Dalian. The driver joked that since this was our first time in Dalian, all the cars in the city came out welcoming us. After seeing the dorm rooms we were to stay for the next two weeks, we were all shocked by how nice they were. They were two bedroom apts with bath, a full scaled kitchen with microwave, gas stove and refrigerator, and dining space with a table and four chairs. The entire floor was hardwood. Each bedroom had a color TV set. To me it was almost like a 4 star hotel. After briefly freshening up, we were treated to a Peking Duck dinner hosted by Tammy and Cliff. We had a lot of fun at the dinning table trying different dishes. Karin seemed to like her first Chinese wine experience while Eric, Tyler and Matt enjoyed their Dalian beers. Some of us had problems using chopsticks to pick up the food from the rolling Lazy Suzy. Some did better than others. Tyler could pick up whatever he wanted on the fly no matter how fast the table was turning while Luck vowed that he did not deserve the meal if he could not learn how to use them.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Speaking English kills

For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.


Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.