What a clean city Qingdao is! It's weather is cool and dry. It reminds me of San Francisco this time of year.
Wayne and Susan (Bill's associates) took us on a driving tour of Qingdao. We started in the fish market. Here's the deal. I dressed in my very best so that I would not embarrass Bill in front of his business associates. It turns out that I was the best dressed weiguoren in the entire fish market. I wore slacks, black penny loafers, a red stripped shirt, and tweed sport coat. Come to think of it I was the ONLY weiguoren, besides Bill, in the market.
We saw all kinds of live seafood displayed in buckets and pans - slugs, snails, turtles, oysters, baby abalone, sting rays, and flounder. The flounder is the strangest kind of thing. It lays flat and has both of it's eyes on top. If you've never seen nature shows about this fish, you are in for a treat. They start out swimming like all other fish. Eventually they lie flat in the sand. Their right eye migrates to the top to join the left eye. It then buries itself in the sand and waits for unsuspecting prey. You can buy them fresh here for just $100 U.S. dollars. I'll take two.
The oysters looked good. I was telling Susan about how we used to eat these in Hawaii. Just put them on the barbecue until they pop open. Then douse them with cocktail sauce and Tobasco and drown them down with a beer. Wow! Great stuff. She said she didn't have a BBQ. I suggested it would be worth buying one.
Wayne drove us from one end of Qingdao's seaside to the other. There were weddings everywhere. Some companies will take the pictures of the couple weeks or months before the wedding and then give out the pictures at the celebration. We counted over a hundred couples. The cost is about $400 U.S. which seemed like a good price to me. It's an all day deal starting in the studio in the morning and ending on the beach in the afternoon. Some of the couples looked exhausted this afternoon.
We walked along the boardwalk of Qingdao and took a few frames. We also stopped by the site of the 2008 Olympics in China. Although Beijing will host the Olympics, Qingdao will host all of the water sports. I took some pictures of the concrete construction site to show my dad. Some of the forms looked the same as I'd seen at American sites. The only thing missing was a crane. It'll be interesting to watch the Olympics in 2008 and be able to recognize the places we visited.
We rounded a corner and saw two old men sitting on stools in front of an old store. The wall behind them was missing some of it's stucco and the afternoon sun cast it's shadow across it's rough exterior. Bill and Lynn jumped out to take a photo and left the van door open. An old woman came up the street and peered into the dark interior and looked at me so I said: Nihao. (maybe I should have said Ninhao since she was older?) She looked at me with a serious stare and said: "Bu renshi ni." (I don't know you) And then she told me her age. Wayne translated the nuances of the short exchange. I thought I may have offended her but Wayne said she was just apologizing for not remembering who I was. She said her memory wasn't what it used to be. Oh. Meiwenti (no problem).
We took a little rest before dinner but was not expecting what was next. Wayne reserved a private room in a local Chinese restaurant. I counted 12 dishes. They kept coming. Then he brought out a 1992 bottle of Chateau Changyu Cabernet, China's best red. It was fantastic. We had deep fried oysters and baby abalone. I think they may have been the same ones I saw earlier at the market. The abalone was very tender. It was absolutely divine.
I brought along my iBook and Wayne, Susan and Lee politely watched some of my pictures float by. Afterward Lee told me he has a friend that is one of the best photographers in all of China. This guy has view cameras (8x10 negatives, that's right, the NEGATIVES are 8 inches by 10 inches). He once camped on top of a mountain for three days waiting for the best light. National Geographic bought one of his great photos and printed it in their magazine. Sheesh, I wish I'd had known all this before; I'd have never showed any of my pictures. Lee says he's got all kinds of camera gear himself. He's also a photographer. Susan volunteered that the guy that spent three days on the mountain is now divorced. His wife couldn't stand his obsession. I turned to Ruth and asked her if I'd ever left her for three days to take a photo. She said: "No." So I turned to Lee and said: "See this is why I'm not so good."
When Wayne dropped us off earlier at our hotel he gave us bags (that is, more than one bag) of fruit. He bought it while we were eating lunch earlier in the day. They were so big and heavy it took both of us to carry it up to the room. We were overwhelmed by his generosity.
Ruth and Lynn came back to the room to play some Scrabble. I laid down and began dreaming about sea food and China. Qingdao is a city I could easily live in.
物是人非 (wushirenfei) Things stay the same just the people change. -Chinese proverb