Sunday, July 31, 2016

A very unusual event!

The iron curtain was referenced in the western world during the period of the Cold War, from 1945 to 1991. However, China had the so-called "bamboo curtain" during the period between 1949 to about 1978, at which time Nixon went to China and opened China in a dramatic way. My trip to China was actually as a result of this "opening". With the help of the United Nations, some funds were shifted to China to help with those opening steps. Technical people were invited to China for a variety of reasons, and apparently I was somewhere among those steps. It was, of course, a big event in the East Tennessee Area. Almost every newspaper carried some story of my trip and every TV station  reported my visit to my homeland. I am posting below a local newspaper report with a picture of my visit to the Great Wall of China.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Quilin(桂林), China

One of the perks included with the invitation to lecture in China was the offer of a trip to a place of my choice. The choice I made was Quilin, as it was the place which I had heard had the most beautiful Chinese scenery. There is an old Chinese saying, " 桂林山水甲天下", which translated means that "Quilin has the best scenery under the sky". After Wuhan, I took a train to Quilin. It was a very strange trip. First of all, I found out that I was the only passenger in that section of the train and during meals time, then later in the hotel, I was also the only person eating my meals in the foreign section. There were just no other foreign guests during the time! Although I was assigned a personal guide who accompanied me at all times, I had a good time anyway. The pictures below were taken then. After the trip, I flew to Hong Kong and then back home having completed my first China trip!

Friday, July 29, 2016


As I told you before, my parents were from Huang Pi, a town in Hubei, and Wuhan is the largest city in Hubei. They both went to Wuhan for their education. Wuhan is really three cities combined. It includes Han-Ko, Wuchang, and HanYang along the Yangtze River. When the Sino-Japanese war was over, I was there for a brief stay as a child. The year 1980 was really the first time that I was in this city as an adult. I went for the reason that, as the Chinese say, "it is where my roots are"! Yes, I do have relatives from both my parents' sides in Wuhan. I had only met two of them earlier, when I passed there at 5 years old. In 1980, my mother's brother was there with his daughter's family. They wrote their names down, along with those of their entire family, plus some other family members who lived in Huang Pi. That list is posted below:
Besides visiting Wuhan University, I did get a chance to take some pictures with family members:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Parties and a gift for the Department

There were several informal get-togethers with the Chemistry Department, as well as one formal party, during my stay in Beijing. On one occasion, I was asked why I had not taken a banana on the table to eat. I told them that the banana was pretty over-ripe. They had assumed that I would appreciate their effort to get the fruit from southern Canton, especially as they thought that all bananas in Taiwan were shipped to the USA and that the Taiwanese people could eat only their peels! That statement was absurd, just as the statement that was said in Taiwan that on the mainland, children were taught to love not their father or mother, but only Mao Tze-dong. I did bring a gift for the Chemistry Department which was officially given to the Chair with a hand-shake. The gift, a scientific calculator, was donated by the company Monroe Calculator, as it was then a popular desk-top machine. Other pictures were taken during some get-together times!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

News Release

In 1980, there were very few visitors to China from the western world. China had been closed to outsiders for many years, while, at the same time, prohibiting their own people from traveling abroad. Everything I saw was strange and very unusual, such as a horse- or mule-drawn wagon on the streets of Beijing. While we knew that everyone rode a bicycle for daily transportation, we did not expect that the people who transported goods in the city still made use of animals to carry them. Another interesting point was that, in order to buy anything, you not only needed money, you also needed  permission in the form of a paper to prove that you were allowed to buy oil, rice, cloths, etc. Everything was distributed by the authorities. Of course, where you traveled or stayed was also controlled by someone in the government. Since I was in China at the invitation of the University, my transportation and travel were arranged by them. As my visit was an official UN-approved one, it was reported in the China Daily News, the official newspaper of the country. I stayed at the Friendship Hotel, which provided me with a private car for daily use, together with a permission paper (a copy of which is included below). My travel, after the short course, to places which I had requested, including Wuhan and Quilin, was also arranged by the University. One ticket is shown below.