Friday, September 01, 2006

We've arrived!

After five weeks on the road we have arrived at Beibei, home of Southwest University—a regional university of 40-50,000 students. It is a recent combination of what used to be adjacent campuses of an agricultural college and a normal school.

Vancouver was great. Honolulu is for Japanese and California tourists—we were glad we had virtually no time scheduled there. A week on the “big island” of Hawaii was a real pleasure—lots to do and really wonderful, laid-back people. New Zealand was beautiful—particularly the south island. Australia was lots of fun. Sydney is a beautiful city, greatly enhanced by the famous opera hall where we actually saw an opera. The train trip from Perth to Sydney (four days and three nights) was an adventure not to be forgotten for both the scenery and the people. Hong Kong is a busy, big city with to recommend.

Every flight and every hotel reservation went as planned. We did not have our bags opened at a single customs entry point including Chongqing where we entered the People’s Republic of China. In spite of “one country, two systems” one must pass through immigration and customs at both Hong Kong and Chongqing as if they were two countries.

We are housed in the Foreign Guest House of SWU in a one-bed apartment. We have a living room and a bedroom each of which has a room A/C unit. In addition we have a nice bathroom, small kitchen, and enclosed porch. The kitchen comes equipped with a gas burner, microwave and a fridge. We have a space heater and TV in the living room and a washing machine on the porch which serves as a drying room. We are a short walk away from sellers of water and beer and a small up-scale restaurant. We have explored and found some other places to eat. We have independently made a trip to downtown and back by local bus. That was a fun adventure.

The weather here at this time of year is hot and dry. This year as been unusually hot and dry. They are calling it a drought and the temp has hit 114 which is a 55 year record. The three days we have been here have been 100 or above with nice sunshine. People are out and about in the morning but then disappear for an afternoon siesta. Life seems to begin about 6:00pm with dinner in the 8-10pm range. Food is an adventure, particularly when you can’t read one word of the menu. In Beibei, unlike Hong Kong, street signs, bus signs, and menus come in one language only and that is not English. Many signs on campus are in both Chinese and English.


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