Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I went half way round the world to see a man fishing with a jelly bottle.-May "07

We traveled to a tropical island in the South China Sea and saw a man catch fish using a jelly bottle.

The fish were not big, but before long, he caught enough fish to feed a family. The bottle was tied to the end of a regular fishing pole. He put a couple of tea spoons of wheat floor into the bottle and put it into about 2 feet of tidal sea water from a dock and when the fish swam into the bottle to feed, he pulled the bottle up and dumped them into a bucket of water. The fish were about 3-4 inches long and would provide a couple of bites to eat.

When you are guests of Chinese, it sometimes is a burden. They pick you up early morning, drive and drive and arrive somewhere to look at something interesting, stop for lunch, drive and drive some more, arrive at another somewhere to see something else, drive some more and stop for dinner, then drive someone to the airport, then drive you back to your hotel. You come back about 9 o’clock exhausted, stop at the hotel lobby to have a cocktail, anything but more Chinese tea, and try to unwind but being unable to talk much because there are a couple of young Chinese women entertaining in the echo chamber of the lobby, singing over-amplified Barry Manilow songs. And after four days of Chinese food, you start having visions of gooey cheeseburgers, KFC drumsticks, pepperoni pizza slices, and scoops of Ben & Jerry’s dancing in your head. We actually had a plate of sand worms mixed in noodles AND it was one of more acceptable foods served at one of our meals.

Our butts are sore from the thinly padded seats riding in the rear of an 11 passenger van, riding over secondary roads. And we have missed out on lying on the beach of an excellent hotel doing nothing but soaking and Mai-Tai-ing. Down time it’s called.

The tropical island is Hainan, one hour west of Hong Kong via South China Air. Our host met us at the capital city of Haikou, at the Meilan airport and we are checked in at the Sheridan. We thought at the time, what a great place for some relaxation.

Photo from the garden.
The deserted ocean beach.
From our balcony.
When we arrive anywhere, we never know where we will be staying and we have been put up in some not so nice hotels (We call them Stalin Hotels because they were build during the time that China and the Soviet Union were comrades. They were built mostly for government officials who were able to travel around their countries. During this time, there were no foreign tourists. The accommodations in these places are very minimal, say 2 stars.) We have noted however, that lately the hotels have been 4-5 stars.

As usual, when Judith speaks at an AIDS/HIV prevention workshop, I show up the first day so I can be there when she is introduced and take some pictures. The official host of these workshops we attend in China is the CDC (Center of Disease Control) and they have offices in all the major cities. There are a few national leaders who come to these workshops and we all know each other very well by now. There are always local officials who stage the events and are in charge of our care and feeding.

We always have pictures taken of everyone attending the workshop before the workshop begins, with the national CDC people and foreign guests sitting in the front row center. They always insist that I be in the photo also. Then, introductions are made of people on the dais and other people going to speak later. I was surprised this time that I was also introduced as husband to Judith. The CDC people know me well by now.
Judith is 2nd from the end talking to her translator. Next to her is Charlie Wood from the University of Nebraska. He is a virologist.
This is a picture of the audience and is typical.

Here is a blurb about Hainan Island from a web site.

Haikou Travel Guide

Haikou, known also as the 'Coconut City', is the capital of Hainan Province, China's second largest island. The city is the provincial administrative center of Hainan as well being the focus of the local economy, culture and transportation. Haikou stands at the northern end of Hainan Island, on the west bank of the Nandu River estuary. This river is the longest on the island and the city's name appropriately means 'Mouth of the Sea'.
We were in hopes of traveling to Sanya but, didn’t make it. Sanya is more of a resort town. Instead here are some of the places we visited.

Shishan Volcanic ClusterThis tourist center features remains of a volcano. It was about 95 degrees and humid. We must have climbed a hundred steps up and by the end of the visit we were dripping wet. Judith’s jacket came off quickly.
The Jingang Monkey Farm

Here laboratory monkeys are raised. This is quite a profitable enterprise for China. The monkeys are shipped all over the world and are used by scientist to study diseases
Qizhishan, Yalong bay national resort

This place is host each year to the Asian Economic Conference. All Asian countries are represented. Bill Gates was there attending just a couple of days before our arrival. Besides the huge convention hall, there is a 5 star hotel and world class golf course here.
The Chinese men tourists seem to be quite proud of their matching outfits. There were several like this in various colors,
I love these signs. These are rules for getting on a boat to travel around the bay.
We get off the boat and debark unto this sand bar where we see this man with an alligator. I don't know whether you have your picture taken or get to hold the alligator if you pay the man.Finally we go to the birth place of one of the Song sisters, Soong Ming Ling the one who married Dr. Sun Yak-sen. The other married General Chaing Ki Seck. We saw many pictures of Dr. Sun many of them taken in the US.

Below is our friend Professor Xu from the CDC in Beijing and our translator/local host H Bin.
All the CDC officials and foreign guests always have at least one formal dinner. This is how the table looks before the foods starts to come.
There are always some pretty young women standing at the doors to greet you and to say good-by.
Hong Kong

We stayed overnight going to Hainan in Hong Kong and two nights going back.

We stayed near the airport when we arrived on Lantau Island. About 1985 I lived on Lantau Island for 4 months, taking a hover craft to Hong Kong Island and from there I took the Star Ferry to Kowloon, then either walked or took a bus to the South Seas Towers where I worked. We worked Saturdays also until 1 PM.

A boat was the only way to get to Lantau and the small Hong Kong airport then was one of the most difficult to land at in world. Now the new airport is state of the art and the infra-structure of bridges, tunnels, and roads connecting Lantau to Hong Kong Islands is, in my opinion, one of the modern miracles of engineering and financing.

On the return we stayed at the Grand Hyatt on Hong Kong had a view overlooking the harbor. We took the Star Ferry to Kowloon where we visited sections I was familiar with then. I lot of changes have been made with tall buildings being built in Kowloon equally some on the Hong Kong side. I used to be able to look out on the harbor from my desk, but that would be impossible now.
The Grand Hyatt is just in front of the Phillips building, overlooking the convention center.
Cute kid.

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