Two Months in China

…..So I’ve been in China for a little over two months now. I wanted to wait until I had enough content worthy of being put here, and now I guess I do. The first few weeks I didn’t take very many interesting photos, I was still getting adjusted to things; how to get food, how to get from one place to another, finding a proxy that worked, etc. Things have normalized, I can get around town by bus, bike, taxi or on foot. I’ve used the train station alone once so now I know what to do the next time I leave the city by train, I’ve gotten into the rhythm of teaching, and gotten pretty quick at looking up words in the dictionary.
…..Friends have been asking me, “How is China?” and I don’t feel like I can answer that, perhaps never. How is America? How is Texas? All 3 places are quite large, and any description one might give is just a summary of one’s own tiny fraction of a percent of experience and perception. Of course, people mean how is my experience so far, a good answer, I think, is “interesting.” There are good and bad differences, good and bad similarities, I guess like everywhere. I was already aware of the pollution before I came, and having spent some time in New York City and other large metropolitain areas, it’s not really a shock to me. One bummer is the lack of gorgeous blue sky every day. It’s blue sometimes, but perhaps more of a white blue, likely due to the f(sm)og. Windy days are great, it blows all the stuff away and the sky is as blue as I remember. I suppose I’m just fixated on this being a photographer.
…..While typing this, the large clock tower outside my window announced that it’s four o’clock. It chimes hourly, starting at 8:00 am, and endiing at 9:00 pm. Since I just work weekends, it’s a little bit annoying in the morning, but it only takes a few minutes to fall back to sleep anyway. Not that it matters, the department store across the street from me plays music pretty much the entire time during those hours, and there’s a car, truck, bus or bike honking at least every half minute. It’s definitely a lot noisier here. But, I suppose so would any city be with a million and a half people in it.
…..The food is pretty delicious, the ones that I like anyway, there have been a few I don’t, and I couldn’t tell you the name of either of them. I’ve had lots of pork while here, lots of chicken, and lots of lamb and duck which I never really had in the states. Being able to eat for so cheap has been nice, I could eat a small meal for maybe 50 cents, or get really full on 3 dollars on the cheap end, or have a multiple course meal for as little as 7. Speaking of, I live above a grocery store called Tesco, which has a KFC inside it. There are probably more than 10 KFC’s here, and two McDonald’s, though I’ve only seen one. I’m finally starting to learn a little more about cooking from my friend/co-worker Natalie, as it was quite obvious I had not much talent in that area. I think I’ll seek out some ground beef soon, which isn’t as common as pork, and try to find some buns and cheese (rare) and see how good a cheeseburger would turn out. I’m also guilty of making a few PB&J’s.
…..I have been eating less overall, I do believe. I’ve lost about 6 kilos, which is aroun 13 pounds, since I bought the scale in late September. It might be a little more than that, as I didn’t weigh myself until I had already been here for a month. I’m walking more than I ever did at home, and with the bike I got a few weeks ago, I’ve been biking a bit too. Done that 15 mile lap twice now, as well as a few shorter ones. Also I’ve been walking up the 26 stories above me every now and then. I’m telling myself it’s ‘training’ for Tai’Shan, which is on my short list to visit since it’s close to where I am. I suppose I should hurry up before it gets too cold.
…..Okay, can’t think of what else to write at the moment, so now I’ll just go through and add captions to the photos.

My cousin Daria, my co-worker Natalie, and Julie on our way to the technical market, the entrance to which can be seen on the left side of the photo, to find me some speakers so I could listen to music properly. Julie was able to haggle the price down as she had bought the same speakers earlier.

A worker on the street cutting a pipe that they had dug up the road to replace.

The books I use in class, though because of some attendance issues, I don’t use any of the Cambridge books, just the Beeline Plus books. I teach three Beeline 4 classes, and one of each of the others.

Here’s a 180° panorama from the 31st floor of the building I live in, facing north. The street seen on the far left side of the photo is one I walk very often, as it is where a few good grocery stores are, the river, the park along the river, etc.

Here’s one of the bridges that spans the main river in town, lit up at night. All of the bridges have some kind of light on them at night, I should make a point to photograph them. First I’ll get a tripod. This was taken from a footbridge that crosses the river.

This is part of the newly completed square next to the river, just a few hundred meters from where the photo above was taken. Seen here is the floor, but it’s see-through, as it is also the ceiling to the shopping center below. There’s a large LCD screen that often plays movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Dark Knight.

The house band for a bar called M-box. Lots of foreigners go to this bar. I’ve only been a handful of times because it’s expensive.

Another shot from the top floor of my building, facing west. In the distance a small mountain range is visible.

Here’s the footbridge I mentioned earlier, and all the construction behind it. My cousin lived in the building in the middle, but when she began renting the place not too long ago, none of these buildings were being built yet, and the noise from the construction wasn’t present either. The view was great, but because of the noise, she relocated.

I was delighted the first time I happened upon some bridal photography going on in the park next to the river, and since have seen it almost every time I go to the park on a relatively nice day. I more often see non-white dresses than white.

Natalie and I have handed out fliers to kids coming out of their regular schools to try and advertise the school we teach at, which is a private school on weekends only. These hours counted, so I didn’t mind.

My birthday was quite fun and here’s a blurry ‘shot’ to simulate that. I have a video of when they brought me on stage at midnight and the entire bar/club sang me Happy Birthday. A little embarrassing but worthwhile for the humor.

She’s famous everywhere!

Blurry photo courtesy of Natalie.

Me on stage not knowing what to do as the whole place sang me Happy Birthday.

Dafan asked if I wanted to see his Jesus impression, so I said yes.

It was fun trying to tell whoever took this photo that they needed to hold it very still, while using my HTC Evo’s flashlight app as the light source, as I had left my external flash at my apartment.

Here’s part of the room where I teach in, which is essentially two large apartment rooms across from each other, down the hall from my apartment. Getting to work has never been so easy!

Here’s the classroom I use. Most of the time, the kids are huddles around this desk on stools.

The other side of the room where I teach.

As we were coming back from handing out fliers, I was taking a photo of this dog, and the woman jumped in to try and block the shot (thus making it even better.) Natalie asked why she didn’t want a photo of her dog taken, the woman replied “Why take a photo of my dog?” Natalie said “because it’s beautiful?” “Oh! because it’s beautiful!” we had already walked away at that point. People are funny.

New vs. old

A little pagoda (?) thing across from one of the many footbridges that span the river in this part of town.

I did a juice fast for a week straight, meaning I ate nothing and drank only water and fresh apple, orange, carrot, peach, tomato, celery, spinach, lettuce and other fruit and vegetable juice. It was easier than I thought it would be, but the taste was a bit boring, but I think that was my fault because I often juiced a lot of different things at once, when I should have just done two or three. I’m still juicing every now and then, in fact my lunch today was apple / carrot.

This was about what I drank in one day.

Wal-Mart is everywhere. There’s a movie theater in there, and a bunch of other shops, it’s more like a mall, with a Wal-Mart underground. They definitely know how to make use of space here.

Natalie and Santalia and I went to the theme park in town. It was about as fun as theme parks usually are. Tons of lines.

Some girls that were dancing were passing out something to the crowd.

The view from atop the ferris wheel, one of the only rides that had a line that didn’t look like a nightmare.

Natalie & Santalia in ferris wheel.. thing.

The view from atop another ride which looked like hot air balloons, again, with a line that wasn’t daunting.

Daria led Natalie Santalia and I to the wetlands park about 4 miles south of town. I have since gone there many times, it’s about as close to nature as I can get without traveling very far. It’s very nice there, for being man made, very secluded, and huge.

One of the main structures in the wetland park.

Funny translation is a constant source of mirth.

Natalie’s friend took us all north of the city to a man-made beach area, and treated us to some yummy seafood.

There were sand sculptures here for some reason.


He then took us on a tour of the factory where he works. Rattled off a lot of stats which sounded to me like bad facts about pollution, but what are you gonna do, it’s China.

We then stopped along the side of the road to buy some fruit from a vendor.

Tons and tons of corn was being dried, shucked, and whatever else you can do with corn, on the side of the road as we took back roads back to the main highway.

Did I mention there was a whole hell of a lot of corn?

I live on the 6th floor of the building on the left, seen here from the park across the street. ICBC, the bank I use, is the smaller curved building more to the right.

One of the many bridges I go under on the way to the wetland park.

Daria made some delicious Czech-inspired open-faced sandwiches, which tasted very similar to how I remember them tasting. A delicious meal it was, even the Wal-Mart chicken.

Weifang University celebrated it’s 60th Anniversary and it was a big deal apparently. I guess I’m immune to big deals, I only thought it was a deal. Seen here are some fireworks going off from behind the gate which I was behind because they weren’t letting people in, and then decided to jump over because others were doing it, and I knew my photos would suffer if I didn’t get inside.
Once inside, here’s what the crowd looked like.

I then made my way to the stage and pretended to look like I knew what I was doing, even though I was wearing shorts and it was somewhat cold. What came next were several acts, singers, performers, speeches, all of which weren’t really for me, but it was cool getting to document an event like I’m so familiar with doing back at home.

The crowd right in front of the stage.

Oh, Communism.

This guy was alright. He had the sense of mind to actually move around the stage and, you know, perform, whereas most of the others stayed on the corner opposite from me, planted in front of the China TV camera.

In this series you can see him flinching from the fireworks going off somewhat close to him, but he took it like a champ.

Probably the best shot I got that night. Yay bubbles!

Some dude wanted his photo with me, which I initially didn’t understand and just kept repeating “I don’t understand” as he was speaking to me, until someone overheard and translated. I’ve been making it a point to get a photo with everyone who wants a photo with me, just for hilarity’s sake.

I decided to go to Qingdao by myself, and here’s a little wreck I saw while in the taxi on the way to the train station.

Here’s what my room in the hostel looked like (this is 4 photos put together.) It was way nicer than I imagined any hostel ever being.

I set my stuff down, took out my camera and immediately went out walking. Here are some people picking up shells and things along one of the piers in the old town area.

This little pagoda (?) thing is at the end of the pier.

Here’s about a 270° panorama from the pier of part of the city skyline.

Some temple (?) thing I came across.

I believe these are wishes, put on the tree.

A place to burn candles and incense. I’m sure there’s a lot more to it, but as I had no guide and no real way to Google, your guess is as good as mine.

I walked along the coast as that seemed like a good idea. Here’s one of the many beaches of Qingdao.

He posed so I took a shot. I was later told this has something to do with one of the characters from a Chinese traditional story.

Various sea items being sold along the beach.

The Tsingtao beer brewery, China’s most famous beer, as the bottle says. They can thank the Germans for that, who settled (?) this town in the early 1900′s.

Fruit & vegetable market.

Here’s what many of the residential buildings look like here.

When I was done exploring the city the first day, I came back to the hostel early to rest my feet (I had walked about 6 miles) and have dinner. While waiting for the food, I read all of the guestbooks they had available to sign, write and draw in. I found some cool things, like this art seen here.

Also several “philosophical musings” and other emotional type entries. I think it might have had something to do with the bar’s selection of slow music like Lily Allen and etc.
The next day, after much consulting of maps, I decided on where to go and how to get there. Here’s one of the Christian churches, and about 30 couples were having their portraits taken here.

I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the interesting poses that were going on, though. To each their own!

Here’s a full 360° panorama of the Christian church and the surrounding areas. It’s worth noting that down the road, on the left side of the photo, is a KFC and a McDonald’s. They’re everywhere!

Here’s the Catholic church. Less popular of a place as I had to pay about a dollar to enter the area.

I read up on where to get a good burger and headed straight there. It tasted like home! Delicious. Of course, I saw a handful of other foreigners eating there too.

A full 360° panorama of the May 4th Square and the downtown skyline near the sea.

I didn’t know anything relating to police could ever be cute.

I saw this on the map, was relatively in the area, so I decided to go to it.


I pet a kitty.

I then noticed a hill nearby and decided to climb it. Here’s an elderly gentleman stretching looking out over the city.

Here’s a 270° panorama from the (almost) top of the hill, where I met a nice English speaking person and we had an hour long conversation atop this hill.

Her name is Jane. We then descended the hill and headed toward the beach.

Sunset from the jagged rocks in the sea.

We then headed to a small street off of Hong Kong street to get something to eat, after we found the restaurant she wanted to eat at was closed.

This is the little alley full of places to eat.

My bike! The seat is a little too low for me, even at it’s maximum, and so are the handlebars, but the price worked so I got it. I’ve ridden it a few times now and it’s fun.

I found a photographer event meet-up type thing online thanks to Google Translate, but when I got there it turned out to be a much bigger deal than I thought. Turns out the event that I found was a small sub-event based on this event. I thought 20 people would be in attendance. About 150 were. Canon ‘reps’ and all kinds of delicious gear was there.

Also, anyone who takes a photo of me (that I notice) I take one of them. This guy probably took 20 of me, haha.

We then split up into groups, I was in group “#1″ – the man who was leading the event told me. I also found some English speakers. I need to learn this language fast! Seen here is all the people in my group getting the same shot of this yoga girl, except it was facing the sun so I had no interest in getting a shot I knew wouldn’t be good, plus it was funnier to get this one.

They had models there for us to photograph. I asked before I took this photo. She’s a student at WFU.

Three of the people I met and spoke with (guy on the left, too.) It was really something, seeing a 50mm f/1.2 being handled the way it was here. :P

Take a photo of the laowai, go!

There’s an abundance of cute accessories here. I’ve never seen so many different kind of cute type pens for girls and crazy gun/knife pens for boys than I have in my classroom. All of which are great things to take away from them if they’re being bad.

I definitely didn’t tell her to pose like this. xD

This bird was actually freaking out and flapping all over the place in the cage, I’m lucky I got a shot of it seeming to be still. Old men carry around these kind of bird cages with birds in them, you see it often. They bring them to parks and hang them up in trees and sit in tiny little fold up chars (like 1 sq foot) and play some kind of game together.

I met a white guy while walking to my apartment (simply does not happen.) and turns out he knows my cousin Daria, knew my name already, he’s from Poland and he invited us over for dinner. Here’s Natalie reading to one of his daughters.

Here’s the other one! Aw-dorable, right?

We had a Halloween party! Seen here is almost everyone in attendance, minus two people who came after the photo was taken.

My Halloween costume was just a mask I picked up at a local grocery store, and it it was a popular item to try on.

The tiniest Jack-o-lantern I’ve ever carved, for sure.

Playing beer pong with paper cups was quite a fail. I think I knocked more cups off the table than I actually made.

We were too loud, it was a Monday night, after all, and so upon a notice from the landlord, we took the party down the road to Soho bar.

They wouldn’t let me bring my camera inside, despite everyone’s drunken pleas otherwise. So I took it back to Natalie’s and put it up. Odd, because I had brought it into the bar many times before. My birthday, etc. After the bar we went to Chinese BBQ at like 2:30 am, which I’m glad to know is open in case I ever want a really really late meal. Jimmy was a boss and paid for the whole thing. Too bad he’s going back to Australia! He’s one of the guys I met at the photo meet-up the other day.

If you made it this far, props. I think I’ll try to update after each ‘event’ from now on, or like bi-monthly or something (granted anything interesting occurs) — right now I’m trying to save for a planned trip to Cambodia during Chinese New Year, so to save money I won’t be travelling too far too often. Tai’Shan, yes, and I also believe I’m going to Tianjin in a few weeks to meet up with a friends’ ex-girlfriend I knew in Texas. From there, I think we might visit Beijing, which I still haven’t seen yet. If that happens, I’ll for sure update!

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask me here, I can try to address them. Just be aware I may not see the Facebook comments immediately because my proxy is hit or miss.

As usual, all my photos can always be seen on my Flickr, some on my Facebook, and to a lesser extent, my DeviantArt.

Peace & Love.


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3 Responses to “Two Months in China”
  1. Maggie says:

    haha~hello Charlie.I had your class today and u gave us the website.I like your photography so much and it seems that u really enjoy your life in China.Hope u can also enjoy your time in Weifang!Best Wishes~

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