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July, 2014:

If you are tired of nice and polite dessert…

… Here is an alternative.

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Random pictures of Harbin

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If the thermometer goes to -40°, you know that it gets cold.

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Many historic buildings are lit up at night.

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My retirement home!

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Saxophone quartet on the pedestrian street.

 

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Pedestrian street. Because it’s China, it was very crowded.

 

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Windows of an old synagogue. Mrs. Hoopie, wouldn’t this make a nice quilt pattern?

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Food stall selling “authentic” Taiwanese foods, including oyster omelette.

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The Russian influence on the local architecture is strong.

 

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Unfortunately a fire seems to have damaged this building. If no one takes action, the interior of the building will probably suffer environmental damage.

We ate dinner in a beer garden. A student group was there, on route from biking from the Bohai coast to the northernmost village in China, a place called Mohe 漠河. A map of their route was printed on the back of their shirts.

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The beer garden was a nice place to eat. We ordered food from the vendors, bought huge mugs of beer, and enjoyed the summer evening.

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Confucius Temple in Harbin

The Confucius Temple in Harbin is called 文廟 (Temple of literature) instead of 孔廟 (Confucius Temple), I’m not sure why. It’s a large complex, and the architecture is very nice.

In front of the main hall is a commemorative large ceremonial vessel, modeled on an ancient bronze style.

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Along one wall is a series of plaques that have the text of the Analects of Confucius with illustrations.

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The temple complex is orderly, quiet and peaceful, a nice escape from the chaos and noise of the city.

Separated at birth?

Three different people have said that I look like Lenin. I don’t see it, but you can judge for yourself…

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For when the Lady isn’t available?

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No tickee, …

Here is another example of why I need my wife to take care if me and to protect me from myself.

A group of us planned a trip to the northern city of Harbin for the weekend. The best way to travel in China seems to be by train: the distances between cities are great, and the train system is well-organized and convenient. The ticketing system is labor-intensive, though, a little out of step with the general modernization trend in China.

You can buy your ticket ahead of time, and you can buy online, but in order to board the train, you need a paper ticket. If you buy online, you still need to physically go to the train station to pick up your ticket. The ticket has a bar code that is scanned by a reader at the gate. A lot of the train system is automated, but if you don’t have that paper ticket, you aren’t getting on the train. If you were to lose your ticket, you’re in trouble. Big trouble. You do not want to lose your ticket.

Can you guess where this story’s going?

A coworker bought my ticket for me and handed it to me a few days before our trip. Being the responsible grownup that I am, I promptly lost the ticket.

Now go back a few paragraphs and review the part about “big trouble.”

I tore apart my desk, went through every pocket in every piece of clothing, flipped through every book, and I couldn’t find the darn ticket.

I figured that I should just buy another ticket. I looked online, and of course that train was completely full; no tickets were available for that train.

And then I thought to look inside my passport, where I should have put it, because I would need my passport to get on the train (don’t ask why). Sure enough, there was the ticket, right where it should have been, and right where I should have looked for it in the first place.

Honey, if you had been here, this wouldn’t have happened. I am really stupid over here without you…

Quote of the day

“Winter is so long here, people have to kill time by making fun of each other.” –Anonymous Consulate employee

Oh, how I wish I had a good explanation for this:

Another night run. An event in northeast China isn’t complete without plenty of bling.

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How do you know you’re in the tropics?

Answer: scary spiders.

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How do you know you’re on an Asian airline? (2)

Answer: when you get to eat aviation radish.

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