Today was the first full day in Tianjin. We started the day with a boat sightseeing trip down the Haihe River. The Haihe River is the mother river of Tianjin. The river is a major source of recreation. There were people swimming and fishing in the river. The river is much like most of the water in China in that it is somewhat polluted. Everyone in China drinks bottled water.
Exercise is a major part of the Chinese people’s lives. They bicycle every where as well as spend a great deal of time working out in the local parks. I have found the Chinese extremely friendly. They want to know just as much about us as we do about them. You can clearly see the cultural difference between the generations of the Chinese. The youth look like they would fit into any major city in the United States.
We then traveled to the “Five Main Roads,” which were a concession of the nine foreign powers and now is the major area for International Architecture. After lunch we traveled to the Tianjin Museum. The Tianjin Museum hosts over 200,000 pieces of cultural and historical relics. The museum allowed everyone to really learn about the industrial development that has taken place in Tianjin over the past 100 years. We ended the day with a formal banquet hosted by the Tianjin Educational Commission. One of the purposes of this trip is to establish relationships that may provide opportunities for English speaking Chinese teachers to travel to the United States and teach for a year at a time. Superintendent Vernon Newsom (at right in picture) is our group's leader and has performed the official duties anytime there has been a ceremony or a presentation.
On the search for food front...my Chinese hosts are beginning to worry about me. They are trying very hard to find foods that they think I would eat. What gets lost in translation is that I have always been a picky eater and it matters not what country I am in at the time. We went to a Chinese Restaurant where they specialize in Western cuisine. As you can see in the photos, there needs to be some work between our cultures on what is considered Western. I am thankful that they are concerned, but they don’t understand the amount of food I brought with me and that I am really not going hungry. Word on the street is that there is a restaurant around the corner that has French fries. I will give you a report tomorrow on my efforts to find American food. (UPDATE: I found some French fries. All I can say is they were great!!!!!)
Signing off for now,
Bob Morrison is deputy superintendent of Mansfield schools.