The highlight of this week was our three day holiday for the Tomb Sweeping Festival, or Qing Ming.
I asked my students to write on this topic and we had class discussion, and learned a lot. It’s quite similar to the Day of the Dead in Mexico. From my students’ essays, their view points ranged from the holiday being a boring ritual, to it being a great opportunity to reconnect with their family. They all seemed to agree on the great food. Lol
Everyone is supposed to go back to their hometown (why does that sound familiar??). One student told me he had to ride in a car for four hours each way, another one said she had an eight hour train ride each way. Also, depending on each family’s circumstance, the number of ‘tombs’ (graves) to be visited varies. My student V told me that he had to visit 8 tombs, and the rituals had to be completed again and again at each one. These include the cleaning; burning joss sticks, incense, and paper money; kowtowing; and making sacrifices of food to their ancestors. Some students flew kites, while others seemed horrified when they heard this – saying that it was too solemn an occasion for doing something so frivolous.
Since I had time off, and it didn’t seem realistic to travel for such a short time (especially with a broken ankle, walking cast and crutches), I decided I would have a Staycation. My coworker S’s sweetie C was in town and wanted to see things. Sadly, S wasn’t feeling well for a couple of days so I was happy to hang out with C. We really hit it off and are now BFFs. 🙂
Some of S’s former students from the Star Trek group offered to be our tour guides. One afternoon C and I went to the Industrial Museum, which was actually quite interesting. Our tour guide wasn’t a student, but rather an older gentleman who also attends the Star Trek group. He works at the museum, so he knew all about every exhibit, and speaks good English. He even translated some of information for a few of the exhibits’ displays.
Our guide S got me a wheelchair so that I wouldn’t get tired. We then proceeded through the many exhibits on the first floor. The exhibits were chronological, beginning with early industry, such as Liuzhou coffin making, and water powered mills.
The exhibits then shifted to more modern industries, such as making steel and motor vehicles.
Then there was an area with Chinese cameras and an old typewriter.
After viewing everything, S asked if we wanted to view the second floor, but we’d already been there a few hours so I suggested coming back another time. Of course I asked where the WC was located, and it turns out that it’s in another (newer) building which is attached to the original building. This museum might be as large as SLAM!
The exhibit I found most interesting was the charcoal powered truck
Another day we went to the zoo. I had been wanting to go there because I’d heard that they have two pandas. Sadly, we were disappointed.
The Liuzhou City Zoo is set in a lovely park setting – lots of plants and flowers, with pathways between the animals. When we arrived at the entrance, we still had a bit of a walk to the ticket booth. S’s former student J and his girlfriend (also J) were our guides that day. J got our tickets for us, but as I went through the entrance, the worker wouldn’t take my ticket, although he took the others’. Then he started yelling. It was confusing for a minute or so, but then the ticket vendor came over and thrust some money into J’s hand. They weren’t charging for my ticket because I’m on crutches!
Unfortunately, the zoo didn’t seem to have any wheelchairs, but there were plenty of benches where I could stop to rest. It was a beautiful day, warm with a slight breeze (and good AQI) so it was pleasant walking along the pathways. (It had been rainy on the day we went to museum, so the weather chose our itinerary for us). It just might be bigger than the STL zoo. There is a small building just inside the entrance which seemed to be the education center. I asked if they had a map or brochure in English, but they didn’t.
While we were walking in and entering the gate, we kept hearing peacocks. I’ve mentioned before that there are two peacocks at LiuGao, but they’re not very talkative. These peacocks kept talking all the time! There was a large enclosure with several peacocks. As we got closer to take photos, I noticed a peacock sliding through the bushes right in front of us, outside the enclosure! We stayed a while so that each of us could get photos, and the loose peacock kept walking around and between the onlookers.
The pandas were next and it was very disheartening. The first panda was in a room with a glass wall for viewing. The panda seemed anxious and kept walking the perimeter of the room over and over. I couldn’t watch, so I crutched over to check the second room, but it was empty. It felt very sad. I crutched out through a doorway, hoping that it lead to an outdoor enclosure. It did, and the other panda was there, but it was sleeping. It actually looked dead, the way it was draped over the edge of the platform where it was laying. I felt terribly sad for the pandas, and found it ironic that their enclosure was so near to little mountains where they might frolic in the wild.
Our next stop was the elephants. The elephants were even sadder than the pandas and I almost cried. There was NO visible water for them to drink and the larger elephant was obviously dehydrated, with his skin hanging loosely. He kept banging his head on the gate. It seemed like he wanted to go into his pen, but it could just as easily been hunger or thirst. The cages were just big enough for each elephant to turn around. Even the pandas and peacocks had more room to exercise. Both elephants had scars and open sores.
Most of the other animals also seemed unhappy. We saw very few water troughs for the larger animals, though there were a few for some of the smaller animals. The big cats were also visibly dehydrated and depressed. The kangaroos seemed to have a decent size space, but they were all listless. We did see several more loose peacocks throughout the zoo. Oh, and there was an area with baby bunnies that you could feed. My favorite animal was the red panda, which kind of looks like a large raccoon. They at least seemed healthy.
(The following week my coworker asked me how I liked the zoo. Her sister is a vet there. I told her honestly that I found it sad and the animals seemed unhappy. She told me that her sister had told her about budgetary issues at the zoo and that there were plans to upgrade. Good, but surely then can afford water for the animals?? It’s a basic requirement for all lifeforms on our planet.)