Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Day of Exploration

Today was a day of exploration. We’ve gotten into a rut lately, just walking the same paths over and over again – school, home, store, home, school. . . . The other day we walked home from school a different way, and found some cool statues and outdoor exercise equipment. So we decided to do some exploring from home. We walked past our apartment building, up the road toward the mountain that borders Xiada. The base of the mountain is dotted with apartment buildings that I think house Xiada faculty and staff, and there’s an intriguing staircase going up the mountain to the highest building.
Going up the staircase we saw bamboo and flowers and old ramshackle huts that do not appear to be occupied – and some ramshackle huts that do seem occupied! How amazing to find such exotic beauty right outside our front door!

We reached a paved area with wooden boxes with the tops weighted down with rocks – I have no idea what they were – and what looked like stone containers with Chinese characters inscribed on them. [NB: In the comments, Wendy says these boxes contain the remains of Buddhist monks -- cool!] In front of the large containers were small jars for incense. And the place was guarded with lions – stone lions.

This was about the time my camera batteries gave out – so you’ll have to take our word for it that the apartments on the mountain looked like they were in the midst of a jungle. The greenery was amazing, and there were trees laden with some kind of large fruit I couldn’t identify. There were even wildcats prowling about -- ok, they were actually wild cats, not wildcats!

From our perch on the mountain we could see all the way across campus to the ocean, and to the rocky island beyond shore. We then wandered back down the mountain by another route which deposited us on a road near our house.

We then went out Xaida’s gate to shopping row so I could buy more batteries. We stopped at a number of the outside booths that comprise the weekend market, looking at turtles and baby rabbits for sale (as pets, I’m sure!), at pirated DVDs and CDs, at all manner of necessities to take to Nanputuo Temple for worship. I bought the girls small silk fans, and they were in seventh heaven pretending to be the 12 Dancing Princesses from their current favorite DVD.
Home for lunch and a rest, and then we headed out again for more exploration – this time walking toward the large supermarket just outside Xiada’s main gate. We found palm trees with some sort of hard fruit – these small black berries are orange inside.

We said hello to the statue of Mr. Kee, the overseas Chinese who donated all the money to start Xiamen University 85 years ago.

At the main entrance to the university is a fountain with this odd sculpture – we can’t decide whether it is a bird or a book, so we call it Bird Book Fountain! I can easily imagine it as a story book ready to fly you to exotic lands.

Our main reason for going to the store was to buy badminton equipment. I thought it would be a good outdoor activity to take advantage of our concrete courtyard. I think I’ve mentioned that we see people playing net-less badminton out there.

Boy, it was a hoot trying to get the girls to connect with the birdie. The porters for our apartment building (I call them porters, though I have never seen them transport anything – their job seems to be to drink tea and sit in the lobby!) were laughing like crazy. Maya would swing her racquet about 2 minutes after the birdie passed her, and Zoe was so intent on hitting HARD that she’d spin herself around as she completely missed what she was aiming at. Oh, well, I guess this is not going to be the sport that takes them to the Olympics in 2020!
Then dinner, showers, and bed. So ends another exciting day for Zoe the Explorer and her sidekick, Boots Maya.


mimifrancoise said...

You mean you willingly climbed a mountains? Are you in training so you can pull me up I to the botanical garden on the mountain. The girls are getting such a great education about their culture. I loved the job description of your building porters.

Wendy said...

Those pots you saw are the remains of Buddhist monks--usually high ranking. I saw a whole show on it on Around China; very interesting that the entire monk is in there--folded!
Your girls look adorable.

Anonymous said...

The statue in the fountain looks a little like a whale's tail to me - or combining the book theme a whale's tale? Of course, it could be that I am trained to look for whales and porpoises.

H. Whitaker
Flower Mound, TX