It’s a good thing how nothing much in particular can turn out to be really nice. I haven’t done anything exciting this weekend, but it has been a good one.
To start off with I watched Valentine’s Day which was a bit sappy, but not as much as expected. The plan for Saturday was to get up at the crack of dawn then head out to Hero’s Mountain in Jinan for a mild hike, followed by lunch at a Xinjiang style restaurant on food street (near the old stadium). Due to unforseen circumstances (i.e., I was too lazy to make it out of the house that early), lunch came first (due to ravenous hunger) followed by a really long sit down in the park at the bottom of the mountain (well, I think it is a hill, to be honest, but that doesn’t sound very heroic, so let’s say mountain) watching chickens. The sitting in the park was necessary after devouring too much good food in the restaurant. Dapanji (stewed chicken), Dingdingchaomian (stir fried noodle pieces) and Yangrouchaonang (fried flat bread with mutton… well, actually, probably goat). Yum. Unfortunately I scoffed too fast and spent the next hour in regret. Here’s a picture of me scoffing the Dapanji…
In the photo below are Dapanji (top right), Nangchaorou (well, maybe that’s its name… left) and Dingdingchaomian (bottom right).
It was pretty hot yesterday. Still the hike was nice, apart from the people who insisted on blahblahblahing "waiguoren" as they passed me or, worse, taking photos of me on the sly. Lot’s of foreigners get unbearable egos when they come to China, but when so many people treat them to this kind of celebrity status, is it any wonder? I find it really annoying personally, but I can see how some people might get off on it. If nothing else, it gives me an excuse to wear a hat and sunglasses, which is kind of nice I guess. Although neither do much to cover my great long pointy nose, which I suspect is the big give away. There were a whole bunch of old guys nattering away to each other at the bottom of the hill who, refreshingly, completely ignored me. It turned out a couple were old soldiers who were talking about politics and war to those willing to listen.
We stopped at the war museum on the way up. Lots of people got turned away at the gate because they were dressed inappropriately. While I can understand this, I felt a little sad on behalf of some guys who were obviously laborers. They got turned away because their shoes had holes in them and were too dusty. I am thinking this was dieemed disrespectful. Unfortunately that’s what happens when you do that kind of work and don’t have enough money to buy new ones. And to be frank, I don’t think the soldiers who fought to liberate Jinan would ever have begrudged them this. I still remember some people I saw in Shaanxi who spat in the hall that housed the terracotta warrriors; you can be dressed nicely and still lack manners and respect. I think respect is the important part, not the shoes.
To be perfectly honest, I am still not 100% sure what Hero’s Mountain is remembering. It says something about remembering the heroes who died for the revolution, but I am not sure which one they are talking about… 1911, liberation from Japanese occupation, or the civil war between the PLA and the KMT. I asked a friend and he said all three, in a way that implied ‘revolution’ obviously included all three, which just confused me more. What can I say? As the locals are so fond of reminding me: Chinese history is long and apparently too complicated for the likes of me. Particularly the last one hundred years.
Anyway, at the top of the first hill where the column is, there were a couple of guys from Guizhou who were protesting. I’m not sure what they were protesting because (ok, I admit it) I was too lazy to read the whole of their banner. If you saw it you would understand… it was really, really long and I was really, really hot. What I could make of it was that they had been diddled over some land that had something to do with mining and that the police in Guizhou wouldn’t investigate. They had tried campaigning on the internet to no avail and so had come to Shandong to try their luck. Except that the whole thing seemed a lot more serious than I just wrote. In any case it was a grievance that had not been addressed by the system. I don’t know why they would come to Jinan except that it is closer to Beijing, which, when people have a grievance that is ignored at a provincial level, is probably the place they want to see it taken. But then I guess Beijing authorities are probably fairly practiced at shooing away this kind of thing, so maybe that is why they decided on Jinan…?! Who knows? If what they said is true, I wish them luck. But I was surprised it was tolerated.
After a walk about the pavilions, some shopping and a night spent watching Sex and the City (sad but true, after a day of remembering the revolution, whichever one it was, I was in great need of some fluff), today began. I got a phone call saying various important people were in Jinan and that I was expected at lunch. Pronto. Thus ended my plan to be virtuous and study for several hours. Nope, instead I got treated to whole bunch of Lucai (Shandong style food) at a nice restaurant and plied with baijiu and red wine. And there went the rest of the day! I’m not complaining. It was a good day. At some stage I am going to have to write a piece about differences in Australian and Chinese eating and drinking etiquette, but I think I will save that for when my head is a little less foggy.