Saturday, June 9, 2012

In the "Way Up North" Province

I went to Changchun last week for work. It was a pretty typical business trip, filled with work and restaurants. I got to spend nights in a super nice hotel and spend days breaking stuff...big, heavy, yellow stuff.

Based on my limited exposure to China, Changchun seemed pretty typical. Two things really stood out as unique. First, it was pretty darn close to that blank spot on the map North Korea. Also, the locals displayed a rare respect for each other at bus stops; they would stand single file while waiting for the bus...the first guy in line always looked so smug.

Everyone said the best time to visit Changchun is during the winter when it's cold. They're about even with Minneapolis in latitude and I think that sounds dreadful. People mentioned skiing being popular, hopefully I'll never have a chance to find out. In late May the weather was wonderful, the willow trees were making it snow and something in the air triggered an allergic reaction in my sinus cavity.

I told Shayne that people up there must eat more meat because "the men are muscular and the women have boobs." Honestly though, the local population was healthier looking than the skinny people around Suzhou...but I suppose that depends on your definition of healthy.

I spent the week with one other American and four Chinese people, and they made sure the white guys had a good experience. It was fun to walk around the streets looking for a restaurant that met my two requirements:

  1. It has to be clean (by my standards)
  2. No fish, because fish means carp and I hate eating around the y-bones
I added a third rule when I pointed to a clean place and inquired if it met #2. They said "I don't think you'll like that place, it is dog meat." Apparently, eating dog is common in the north of China.

We got done breaking stuff about a half day ahead of schedule, so on Friday we had a few hours to kill before catching an afternoon flight back to Shanghai. We visited Jingyue (Clear Moon) Pool National park. Most of the pictures in this post are from the park.

The park was nice, centered on a large man-made lake. The say the name comes from the way the lake looks like a crescent moon, but I can't see the resemblance.  None-the-less, it was a nice day to walk around the park and pose for pictures with Chinese people.

In the park is a large temple. I assume it is a Buddhist temple because inside were three enormous golden statues of Buddha. However, I was surprised to see people bowing to the statues like Christians might do in church. Either I need to improve my understanding of the Buddhist belief system or these people weren't actually Buddhists...perhaps they were tourists like I, having a walk in a park.

I was told it would be disrespectful to take pictures inside the temple, so I didn't. But it was extremely difficult not to, the place was decorated from floor to ceiling with eye popping beauty. Aside from the three Buddha statues, there were countless smaller statues of things like Budai and the chick with one thousand eyes and one thousand arms.

I realize now that I didn't take many pictures IN the city of Changchun. I have quite a few pictures at the park, and even more work related ones. I'll probably have a chance to go back and try again. I just hope it isn't in winter time.

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