Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Our Shu-shu, our "uncle"

Our Su-su came to join us sometime after we moved to our new place in Taipei in 1954. He was a refugee in Hong-Kong from the same county where my father was born, which was Huangpei county in Hubei province. Somehow my father recognized that he had come from the same place and made all the arrangements for him to join us in Taipei. My father also arranged a job for him in the University. We were told to call him "uncle" in Chinese. The picture below was taken in 1981.
When we stayed at the Guest Professor Residence area, Su-su was the person who took care of all the arrangements for the professors living in the compound. One of the families staying there as residents was part of the extended family of Confucius, in fact part of the 79th generation of direct descendants. Su-su asked the head of the family to do us a favor by writing the doublets shown below as a gift. He agreed and later presented us with the beautiful calligraphy. 
The words on the right side of this doublet state that this was written for our enjoyment with our names specified. On the left side is the signature of the calligrapher. In the middle, the two panels paint a picture in words. Each individual who reads the poem will have a different interpretation and envision a different scene. That is the interesting part about calligraphy!  The scene can even change for one individual over time. In this case, the words on the two panels are matched, in that nouns, adjectives and numbers are all paired with a similar structure on the opposite side. Here we have 
on the right side: "Flat bridge, wild stream, two thousand pages of poems"  and 
on the left side: "Far tree, isolated village, a moon across one curtain".
I hope that you will enjoy reading these words written by a direct descendant of Confucius.
 The doublets have been a treasure in our for home many years!

Monday, November 14, 2016

It was a great gift!

The gift to us from Sanlu and Taotze, that afternoon at Yangming mountain, was very special because it required much time and energy to organize. The afternon swim in the hot Taipei weather was just the starter. At that time, they were living and working in Kaoshung, which is at the southern end of Taiwan, while Taipei is in the north. I do not remember now if they took the train the day before or came by train that same day. Regardless, they had to take a long train ride to get there and then spent the entire day together with us. Every time we went back to Taiwan they made similar arrangements. When we say that we are good friends, we really mean that! On this particular occasion, we all had dinner together at White Cloud Village (Baiyun Mountain Place), which was then also a resturant. That made this get-together perfect! I forget what we ate, but all of us enjoyed a wonderful day!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

White Cloud Village at YangMing Mountain

As usual, we made arrangements to meet with Taotze, my best friend from Banqiao Junior High School, and his family. This time, they came up from Kaoshung to meet us at Yang Ming Mountain, in a place called Baiyun Village. Besides Taotze's wife, Sanlu, and their two children, they also invited Sanlu's sister and her family. The six children of our three families went to swim first. They certainly enjoyed the cool water during the hot July days of the subtropical weather in Taiwan. We shared a lot of chatting under the shade of the umbrellas provided at this nice villa-like setting. The adults also tried to cool down by dipping into the water once in a while. You can see our children's happiness from the picture below:

Friday, November 11, 2016

Another Visit to Taiwan

Since we had traveled half way around the world, of course we had to stop in Taiwan on the way home! At the time, Taiwan was still very suspicious of Mainland China's intentions. This was to the degree that my father had been telling me to be very careful about getting involved with any political tendency. When we arrived Taipei, my father even made an appointment for me to meet with the "private" son of President Chiang who at the time was the second in command of the Foreign Affairs Office for the Nationalist Government. You can see how careful my father was at the time! It had been arranged for us to stay in a Visiting Professor residence so that we could more freely come and go, without worrying about our parents schedule. That was definitely very convenient for us. The first picture below was taken in front of the entrance  of the Visiting Professor residence where we stayed. The next two pictures were taken near my parents' home and the last picture was taken in their front yard.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Nanking, where I started my first grade!

After Beijing, we flew to Nanjing, where I had started going to school in first grade.  I was interested to show our two children the place which held my earliest memories. We went there and enjoyed fried dumplings until we were truly full. We then went to the elementary school which I had attended. At the time when I was in school there, it was part of Central University. By 1981, it had become part of Nanjing Normal University. We met a lady teacher who had been a teacher during the time when I was there. She came and had her picture taken in front of the school. Then we went to see my former home. Of course it was much smaller than I remembered. We had lived upstairs. There was quite a bit laundry hanging outside. The pond which I remembered right in front of the yard was no longer there. I took a picture for memory's sake! Finally we went to visit a number of places in Nanjing, including Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum, where our children had their picture taken to remember the occasion. There is a family joke about this visit. Whenever our children complained about their "long walk" to school every day, I would remind them that when I was in school I had a much longer walk which took a very long time! However, during this visit, our kids noticed that my "long walk" was not longer than their's - in fact it was, perhaps shorter! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Animals at the Ming Tombs

Almost every tourist in China visits Beijing. He or she would go first to visit the Great Wall. But not many would know that they would be just a short distance from the thirteen Ming Tombs. It is another unbelievable historical World Heritage Site. We should certainly appreciate that our ancesters left them for us. I believe that the Ming dynasty had a total of 14 emperors and thirteen of them are buried in this site, situated all around the mountains as shown in the picture below:
At the entrance to the site, in the middle of the picture, the tombs were guarded first by different animals, and then by human statues, as in the pictures below:

In 1981, not only could you walk among these animals, you could also climb on top of them. You can no longer even see these precious statues as they are protected from visitors.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Our first Family Tour of China

Right after I finished my short course in Wuhan, we started our family tour of some important cities in China. (Again, please see the webpage posted earlier:  http://jat.esmartweb.com/mainland.htm. I will not repeat here.) We met more relatives in Beijing. They were family members of my fourth cousin. He and his wife had lived there all their lives. They had a daughter and a son, living nearby on the east side of the city. We went to visit them several times during our stay in Beijing while we were staying at the Friendship Hotel on Beijing's western side. Not only did we have some great dishes to eat in their small apartment unit, but also they accompanied us to visit the Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. We have
 some of these pictures to show you below:

Friday, November 4, 2016

Animals at East Lake, Wuhan, China

Both Margaret and Steven were old enough to enjoy the China trip in 1981. While we were teaching at the University, they had the company of a couple of graduate students who took them to visit some local places. For example, they told us about their visit to the local pool, where the Chinese Olympic competitors practice. The water was so green that they did not dare to swim in there! The University provided us with very good meals every day, but during the early summer time at that time, local fresh vegetables had not yet come out, so we had very few choices for vegetables. Margaret and Steven certainly got the chance to see how the Chinese were living, which was a very good experience for them. We went to the East Lake area to enjoy the scenic beauty quite a few times. Our children enjoyed the man-made animals there. They climbed up on them and I was happy to take their pictures!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The whole family visited China for the first time!

After my trip to China in 1980, when I went by myself, I decided to take more trips there, with the whole family if possible. My feeling was that China was in the mood to open up and try to connect with the rest of the world. I believed that we should take advantage of their willingness to accept outsiders and plan to visit this enormous country while we could. So, in 1981, I made arrangements to lecture on Chemical Kinetics at Huachong Normal University in Wuhan and, after the short course, to travel with the whole family to Chungking, Xian, Beijing, and Nanjing. The trip has already been described on my web page. (Please see http://jat.esmartweb.com/mainland.htm. for details.) While in Wuhan, we did visit my mother's Normal School and took a family picture there under a Linden tree. It was still operating as a school and we were impressed! And there are two more pictures I would like to post here. They were taken at the great wall of China and they are among my favorite pictures!