Southern China Diary: A Consulting Visit to Guangzhou, China in 1995
In early fall 1995, I was invited by the Lingnan Foundation's Board of Trustees in New York City to lead a 3-person delegation to Guangzhou, China (formerly Canton, China) to visit Zhongshan University. The purpose of this trip was two-fold: 1) to make recommendations to the Lingnan Foundation Board regarding the projects that they should fund for Zhongshan University and 2) provide advice to the President of the University regarding the next steps that should be followed for library development and online access. Two other individuals accompanied me and the three of us worked together to complete our task: 1) Karl Lo, Director of the University of California, San Diego's Internal Relations and Pacific Studies Library and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Lingnan Foundation, and 2) Lily Hu, Head Librarian at Lingnan University, Hong Kong.
Karl Lo died on February 21, 2007, after a short and brave fight with cancer. He was a kind and gentle man, extraordinarily smart, a creative thinker and a leader in Chinese information management computing systems. He taught me so much and patiently answered my questions, especially about Chinese social customs and behaviors and how I, as a Western, Caucasian male, should conduct myself while in China. Thank you, Karl, for helping to open my eyes to southern China, its people, its customs, and its aspirations.
NOTE: The information about the institutions discussed below has been extracted from their websites.
Lingnan University, Guangzhou, China
In 1888, 14 years into the reign of the Qing Dynasty's Emperor Guangxu, the American Presbyterian Church set up a school in Guangzhou known as the Christian College in China. Its first intake of just 30 students began attending lessons there on March 28 the same year. In 1927, management of the university passed into Chinese hands, and the English name was changed to Lingnan University. Lingnan became a globally recognized institution.
The university relocated several times during its existence. It moved to Macau in 1900 to escape the repressive measures implemented by the Qing Dynasty, then back to Guangzhou in 1904. During the 1930s and 1940s, the university was forced to move several times as Japanese armies advanced across China. In 1937, it relocated to Hong Kong as the Japanese occupied Canton, and in 1942, to Shaoguan in northern Guangdong Province, as the Japanese occupied Hong Kong. After World War II, the university was finally able to return to Guangzhou.
Lingnan University, as a separate entity, came to an end with the nationwide higher education reform program reform undertaken in late 1952 in China. The former Lingnan campus became the campus of Zhongshan (Sun Yat-sen) University, and some programs and faculties of Lingnan University were merged into other institutions in Guangzhou. Lingnan University no longer existed as an educational institution in Guangzhou.
Sun Yat-sen University, originally known as National Kwangtung University, was founded in 1924 by Dr. Sun Yat-sen. It combined the National Higher Normal College, the Kwangtung Provincial Law College, and the Kwangtung Provincial Agricultural Technical School. After Sun Yat-sen's death, National Kwangtung University was renamed National Sun Yat-sen University in 1926. In late 1952, Sun Yat-sen University absorbed Lingnan University.
Within the Southern China Diary, this institution is called "Zhongshan University."
Lingnan College and Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Following the closure of Lingnan University in Guangzhou, many of its alumni began to nurture a common goal - to revive Lingnan University in Hong Kong. There were already Lingnan secondary schools in Hong Kong and Macau. In September 1967, Lingnan alumni in the city set up the Lingnan College Co Ltd, as a first step towards its re-establishment. To promote this cause further, Lingnan's educational enterprise in Hong Kong, Lingnan College Co Ltd, merged with Lingnan Secondary School Co Ltd to form the Lingnan Education Organization Co Ltd.
The first classes of the new Lingnan College were conducted at Lingnan Middle School. They were attended by 100 students, including 30 freshmen and some boarders. In 1978, Lingnan College was recognized as a registered post-secondary institution in Hong Kong; it changed its name to Lingnan Xueyuan in Chinese and started offering government-supported programs. To facilitate its future expansion, Lingnan moved to a new campus in Tuen Mun in 1995 and launched Master of Philosophy programs. In 1998, it was given self-accrediting status by Hong Kong; and in 1999 it was renamed Lingnan University. The University continues to grow as it enters the 21st century, adding postgraduate programs and establishing a school of continuing education and a community college in Hong Kong.
Within this Southern China Diary, this institution is called "Lingnan University, Hong Kong," even though its name was Lingnan College when I visited in 1995.
Lingnan (University) College
In December 1987, as educational relationships began to improve between Zhongshan University and various Lingnan alumni, the Lingnan Foundation began to re-establish contacts with Zhongshan University. This new relationship led to the establishment of Lingnan (University) College within Zhongshan University. Lingnan (University) College was launched in September 1989, consisting of Zhongshan University's computer science, mathematics and business departments. This College within the University had a separate administrative structure in addition to Zhongshan University's administrative structure. In 1997, the Department of Computer Science and Computing Mathematics was incorporated into other colleges at Zhongshan University and Lingnan (University) College became Zhongshan University's business school.
Within this Southern China Diary, this business school is called "Lingnan (University) College." Many alumni in Hong Kong are very supportive of the Lingnan (University) College and have provided substantial sums of money to launch and support this business school.
The Lingnan Foundation, formerly the Trustees of Lingnan University, was first incorporated in the State of New York in 1893 to support the development of Lingnan College in Canton (Guangzhou), China that later became Lingnan University. After the change of government in China in 1949, the Arts and Sciences faculties of Lingnan were merged with Sun Yat-sen (Zhongshan) University. From 1954 to 1979, the Trustees conducted their work primarily in Hong Kong with several colleges that became the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and later, with the institution that is now Lingnan University, Hong Kong.
In 1980, the Trustees resumed their activities and financial support with Zhongshan University on the former Lingnan campus, and since 1988, with Zhongshan's business school, Lingnan (University) College.
It is this entity that funded the consulting visit that I led to Hong Kong and Guangzhou in 1995. I received no direct financial compensation from the Lingnan Foundation other than to be able to fly business class, given the length of the trip and my long legs.
Southern China Diary
Friday, Oct. 27
We arrived at the Hong Kong airport around 5:00 p.m. (Hong Kong time) that was 2:00 a.m. for me. Our flight left San Francisco at 12 noon, a fourteen-hour flight, including travel across the date line. Other than being long, the flight was very pleasant. Fortunately, we traveled connoisseur (business) class so we had very comfortable seats and wonderful service. Two full-length feature films en route, one a ghastly "cops and robbers" production from Hong Kong that had been dubbed into English and then subtitled in Chinese. It was awful and we didn't watch it. The other was Crimson Tide, a suspense thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. It was certainly not the relaxing fare that I'd have expected to watch on an airplane.
I'm traveling with Karl Lo, head of the International Relations and Pacific Studies Library at UCSD. Karl has traveled extensively and is native Chinese, having lived his childhood in Hong Kong and Macau. Even though Karl reported to me as University Librarian at UC San Diego, he was older than I was and I treated him with great respect. We are here on business and will be heading to Guanzhou to do consulting for Zhongshan University and the Lingnan Foundation. We will then return to Hong Kong to do development work for UC San Diego.
We are staying in the newly-opened Grand Stanford Harbour View Hotel. Stunning accommodations on the 16th floor (Executive Floor). Our rooms overlook Victoria Harbor. I went through my usual routine of hoping to get the front desk clerk to feel sorry for the weary travelers standing in front of her so that we might end up with better accommodations. It apparently worked and Karl was certainly impressed with the outcome. I've never stayed in such a luxuriously well-furnished and decorated room. Fresh carnations and lilies were on the coffee tables and orchids were on the writing desk and in the bathroom. Very sophisticated electronically--the magnetic striped room key goes into a slot inside the door of the room that then turns on electricity. Electronic panels by the bed control all lights, including night lights. The bathroom is elegantly furnished. Personal fax machines in the room. Guess it's a great life if you are a traveling executive.
While in Hong Kong, I would open doors for Karl and carry his bags. However, he told me that that was okay while we were in Hong Kong, but the minute we crossed into China, I would be the most senior individual in the delegation and the Chinese would expect Karl to treat me as his superior so he would then be opening doors for me and carrying my bags.
The Hong Kong Airport (Kai Tak) is quite fantastic (NOTE: Hong Kong's new airport (Chek Lap Kok) opened in 1998.) It consists of one long runway built on reclaimed land that was originally part of the harbor. Because of the mountains all around Hong Kong and the location of the sea, it was difficult to find flat land for a runway. As you land, you see skyscrapers quite close to both sides of the airplane. Passing through Hong Kong Immigration took only about 30 minutes.
We placed our bags in our rooms, washed up, then walked along Victoria Harbour to find a restaurant for dinner. Karl selected the East Ocean Seafood Restaurant. Dining routines are quite different from those in U.S. Chinese restaurants where I've dined. At each diner's place at this restaurant there was a small plate, a small soup bowl and a Chinese-style soup spoon, teacup and saucer, beverage glass, and a metal rest on which was sitting a pair of chopsticks and a metal spoon. There was also placed by me another metal plate that contained a moistened washcloth to be used throughout the meal in addition to the traditional linen napkin. Karl ordered 3 dishes for us: green beans with garlic, a roasted pork and duck dish, and scallops with bean curd. The green beans were wonderful; they were quickly blanched, cut into 2-inch strips, stacked like logs on a small plate, and glazed with a clear sauce. The roast pork dish was fascinating. On one side of a small plate were pieces of roast pork. On the other half were pieces of roast duck. Lying in strips over both were 1/2" by 2" flat strips of fried skin from a suckling pig. Very tasty. My least favorite dish was the scallops and bean curd. I had never been a fan of bean curd but Karl said that you need to learn to like it. Bean curd is an excellent source of protein and doesn't contain any cholesterol. The dish was beautifully presented; it contained a single line of squares of bean curd resting on a brown sauce. On the top of each square were 2 slices of scallops over which was spread black bean paste.
If your platters of food are placed on your table to be shared by everyone at the table, the eating process can occur in two different ways--both of which are acceptable by Chinese standards. You can use your individual serving spoon to move food from the platters to either your individual plate, to your small bowl, or to your personal bowl of white steamed rice, if presented to each diner. Or, you can use your chopsticks and remove food from the serving platters directly to one of your bowls or your mouth, as long as you can do so without your chopsticks touching any common food still on the serving platter.
I asked Karl what the most exotic food on the menu was that night. He said they were offering, as specials, stewed raccoon (which Karl doesn't like) and also a thick soup from 5 different kinds of snake.
Soups and broths are a very important part of the cuisine of southern China and Hong Kong--because it is hot and humid in the summer time, Chinese will drink clear soups, with these broths being drunk instead of drinking lots of hot tea.
Saturday, Oct. 28
It's gotten light outside and the view is spectacular. My room overlooks Victoria Harbor where a number of boats, nothing huge, are going to and fro. On my side of the harbor there is a major thoroughfare, and then a large strip of sidewalk and park. On both sides and in the back of our hotel there are many tall commercial buildings. On the other side of the harbor are hundreds of tall buildings nestled in front of the hills surrounding the harbor, with Victoria Peak being the tallest.
I'm feeling slightly woozy, congested from the airplane, dealing with the higher humidity in Hong Kong than in San Diego, and coping with jet lag. The time zone differences are crazy. It's 7:00 a.m. on Saturday here in Hong Kong. In San Diego, it is 4:00 p.m. on Friday.
Today we have two social meetings--lunch with James "Jimmy" Wu and other trustees of Lingnan (University) College, then dinner with a large gathering of alumni from the former Lingnan University in Guangzhou or from Lingnan University in Hong Kong at their annual alumni celebration.
I called Mitchell this a.m. I wasn't supposed to call until Tuesday (we'd arranged the three times that I was going to call) but I couldn't wait. It was comforting to hear his voice. I wish that he were here.
This morning Karl and I had breakfast in the hotel at a wonderful buffet. Everything that you might possibly want was available. After breakfast, we changed some money at a nearby bank, rested a bit, then changed into dress clothes for our lunch.
To get to lunch, we walked along the harbor, stopping at the Kowloon Hotel along the way to change our arrival dates for our return to Hong Kong after we visit Guangzhou. We then boarded a Star Ferry to take us across the harbor from Kowloon Peninsula to Hong Kong Island and the center of the city. Even though the specific ferry that we were riding was built in 1986, it was an exact replica of the ferries that were built and running fifty years earlier, with wooden floors and seats where the back railing simply moved from one position to another as the ferry moved back and forth across the harbor, since the ferry itself never turned around. Ferries left approximately every 10 minutes with the trip across the harbor only lasting probably 5 minutes.
Lunch was a spectacular 9-course meal, hosted by Jimmy Wu. He and his brother own an extraordinarily successful restaurant and food service chain. They serve approximately 1/2 million people daily, an amazing feat given Hong Kong's population of 6 million. James Wu is Honorary Chairman of the Board of Trustees & Chairman of the Development & Planning Committee of Lingnan (University) College. Also attending the lunch were: Dr. Shu Yuan, President of Lingnan (University) College; Dr. B. L. Wong, Chairman, Trustees of Lingnan (University) College; Lam Chik Suen, Chairman of Lam Woo & Co., Ltd., whose family through several generations has attended Lingnan; Kim-Yuen Luk, successful businessman and another trustee of Lingnan (University) College. Lily Hu, Librarian of Lingnan University, Hong Kong, and the third member of our expert team attended, as well as Yeung King-Chok, the secretary of the Alumni Association of Lingnan College. We ate at the Hunan Garden Restaurant. Hunan food is spicy because of chili pepper seasonings.
Before leaving for China, Karl had told me that I should never sit down when entering a restaurant or dining area until I was seated by the host. Seating arrangements are important indicators of status so I needed to respect this important cultural tradition.
Our nine course luncheon consisted of the following dishes:
1. A medley of cold dishes: deep fried mock goose, chicken with hot-spiced sauce, and fried fish "Butterflies"
As each dish was served, it was placed on the Lazy Susan in the center of the table, rotated around for all of us to see, then removed to a side table where it was dished up on individual dishes. The final course of fruit was served with a knife and fork. When it was presented it was atop a platter of dry ice so the "foamy" air from the dry ice cascaded out across the table. We ate from 1-3 P.M., quite ridiculous given that we were to return at 6:00 p.m. for the big Lingnan Alumni dinner held once a year.
Karl and I returned to our hotel for a short nap, which was probably a mistake because it was really difficult to get back up. We took a taxi back to the Star Ferry (taxis are reasonably priced), then ferried over to the City Hall Restaurant for the evening's party.
Six hundred people attended, with 12 people seated at each table. We were guests of Jimmy Wu and sat at one of the front tables of honor. Karl and I were introduced along with several other "important" guests. There was a short program along with songs by the various classes of Lingnan students. Lingnan has a nursery school, elementary school, high school, and college, so all of these groups were represented.
First course was suckling pig. All of the lights were dimmed and the waiters came out, each carrying a platter. On the platter was the roasted head of the suckling pig at one end with meat and roasted skin over the remainder of the platter. In the eyes of each suckling pig's head were red round lights connected to a battery pack below the head. Other courses included broth with mushrooms and vegetables; shrimp, scallops, and green peas; slices of fish and some kind of meat; a vegetable dish containing baby bok choy; roasted chicken; etc. We left early, because I was exhausted from jet lag. We didn't know if it was appropriate to leave early so decided that we better stay, but then Jimmy Wu apparently noticed my discomfort (or he was told) so he suggested that we leave to get a good night's sleep. We took a taxi home to the hotel and headed straight to bed. And now I have an upset stomach. Reading through what we ate shouldn't make the upset stomach any surprise!
Naturally, I've escalated my discomfort into something major, with thoughts that I should return to the States, fearing that something dreadful is going to happen to me. I've also got the chills, probably from stress, so decided to stay up for a bit and attempt to relax.
Sunday, Oct. 29
I had a miserable night. I woke up after two hours of sleep with a really upset stomach. Thought I was going to get sick but nothing happened. Started worrying again about not being able to handle the trip, which made my nervous stomach all the worse. Then the room next door began to make noise from 2-6 A.M. so I got hardly any sleep. I was really in need of rest, especially given the day's events.
After consuming several Mylanta and having a pathetically expensive room service continental breakfast, I packed and prepared to leave. Karl and I taxied to Kowloon Station, where we were to meet Lily Hu and President Shu. Once at the station, Karl realized that he'd left his passport in the safe in his room so he taxied back while I watched over the bags in the lobby of the train station.
We traveled first class (the only people in the car) to Lo Wu, the final town in Hong Kong before entering Shenzhen, China. The train ride through Hong Kong took about 30 minutes. Very lush vegetation on the undeveloped hillsides, many tall apartment complexes. Here and there were shanties made of corrugated metal. From the windows and balconies of many of the tall apartment buildings (primarily older, less expensive ones) hung clothes to dry). At the train station at Lo Wu, we passed through Hong Kong immigration where the carbon of our slip of paper that we completed when we entered Hong Kong was taken. From there, we waited in line to go through Chinese immigration. The line moved slowly and the specific clerk that handled my passport certainly didn't feel any need to greet me warmly.
I was not at all prepared for what awaited me in Shenzhen, China, the first and highly successful special economic zone created in China. After we completed Chinese immigration and had our bags scanned, we walked across a bridge over a small stream and officially entered China. There was a very visible tall metal fence with loops of barbed wire up on the hillside to my right. As I walked across the bridge I could see a very old cemetery that snaked its way up the hill, where there were several different groups of people visiting graves and paying their respects to their ancestors. Off to the side of the bridge, there was a large electronic billboard in Chinese, counting down the number of days and minutes until Hong Kong returned to Chinese control in 1997. When we walked across the bridge, the sign read "611 days and counting!"
We spilled out onto an extraordinarily busy public square filled with people waiting for others to arrive as well as beggars and pickpockets. Signs warn the traveler to be aware of pickpockets. Professor Shen, director of the Shenzhen Public Library and his assistant Miss Lu, met us. We made our way to the parking lot and got into a Toyota van. Thus began my first experience with Chinese traffic. The majority of vehicles attempting to get out of the parking lot were red taxis. Horns continually honked but no one seemed to pay much attention. Once we made it to the street we encountered large numbers of pedestrians, bicycles, motorbikes, cars, trucks, and buses, all competing for space with little awareness of traffic lanes. Traffic management seemed to revolve around who had the most guts. Because of its special economic zone status, Shenzhen is very developed commercialized and there are large numbers of high rises everywhere. The first floors of the buildings that weren't new high rises housed stores of various types and in most cases, these stores were very cluttered. I saw one that sold tires and wheel hubs, another sold plumbing fixtures. There were also many small food stores. Banners and large signs were everywhere. A few signs, primarily names of commercial enterprises, did have some English words. My eyes darted here and there, trying to take everything in. More Mylanta. We arrived at the Shenzhen Public Library and were ushered up to a conference room where the Library's director of the computer department, Mr. Wang, joined us.
Before starting our meeting, we made a bathroom stop. I was really worried about diarrhea and became even more alarmed when I saw that the men's room had the old-style squat toilets, a porcelain-lined hole in the floor, and there wasn't any toilet paper or doors on the stalls. I discovered that you should always carry toilet paper with you. No going to the bathroom for me. More nervous stomach. After conversation over boiled water we toured the Library. The Shenzhen Public Library is one of the most advanced public libraries in China and Karl knew the director. The library had a number of subject-oriented reading rooms. Each one was filled primarily with high school and college-aged young people. There was a multimedia room where, for a small hourly charge, you could watch movies. While headphones were available, no one apparently wanted to use them, so each television blared away, causing such a din. Shenzhen Library also has a large collection of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau materials but the reading room holding these materials wasn't open on Sunday. The Library operates a successful newspaper clipping service, where its supplies newspaper clippings to local businesses and individuals, based on specific subject parameters, all for a fee. It also orders direct from publishers and catalogs books for about 40 other libraries, again for a fee.
The Shenzhen Library staff were very proud of the automated system that they were developing, based on CN-MARC. CN-MARC is a library acronym referring to the Chinese Machine Readable Cataloging format used in library automation. We were given a demonstration of their new multimedia control system, where we watched movies and looked at pictures of art on the screen. They were awaiting approval of this system by Beijing so they could continue forward with their work.
Off to lunch, again through the hectic, bustling streets. We went to a very extravagant restaurant (Karl later told me that "expensive" equals "good" in Shenzhen, especially for the Japanese business people). We were ushered into a private room and a karaoke system was turned on, if we wished to use it. Popular Chinese songs played while on the screen there appeared beautiful Chinese women, some in native Chinese costumes, posing in various natural settings while the Chinese characters appeared on the screen highlighted in blue to assist the singer. It was a Chinese version of "Sing Along With Mitch" and the first time that I had seen a karaoke system.
I tried to eat moderately. Before we went to the table we were served a very special tea made in the area that was very strong. This was presented in very small cups almost the size of sake glasses but flatter and rounder. One sip and it was gone. Apparently it is used to wake the pallet. Another immense feast was served, including roasted pork; suckling pig; roasted squab, complete with roasted heads which are a delicacy; mustard greens; the soft tender portion from the interior of mature bamboo plants; fried bean curd; pickled meats; shrimp halves smeared with garlic; a wonderful steamed whole freshwater fish that looked like a large perch of some type; side dishes of cold sliced vegetables; and Szechwan roasted peanuts. Western beverages were served as well as Chinese tea. I had a Pepsi, poured from a can that had Pepsi written in English and Chinese characters. After lunch I decided to see what type of bathroom the restaurant had. Eureka! There were Western-style toilets with toilet paper. Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn't cooperate and I wasn't able to go to the bathroom. We made our way back to the library where a car and driver picked us up to take us to Guangzhou (Canton) China. More nervous stomach and Mylanta. The drive to Guangzhou would take two hours and there weren't any rest facilities along the way. I was quite miserable.
Off we went, driving through the streets of Shenzhen. Women wearing wide brimmed straw hats swept streets with large brooms made from willow. Gardeners cut tracts of grass with large shears, similar to our hedge cutters. Motor scooters whisked by, horns honked, people fearlessly crossed streets walking in front of buses and trucks. We passed a large poster showing a prosperous Shenzhen/Hong Kong and Deng Zhou Peng's bust along with one of his slogans. Our driver, joking in Chinese, relayed a story that the original poster showed Deng pointing to the left with a slogan reading "Reform is Dead End" which caused all of the drivers to turn left, thinking that the road was a dead end. Continuing his joking, he said that the poster stayed up until a typhoon blew it down.
We continued driving out of Shenzhen, and at the outskirts got on a toll road heading to Guangzhou. We drove through the "mini border" between Shenzhen and China proper. Our drive to Guangzhou took approximately 2 hours. We passed through lush countryside filled with small plots of land devoted to gardening. The road was bumpy and filled with wild drivers hurtling down the 3-lane freeway. I saw farming going on where water buffalo were dragging plows behind them. I also noticed large numbers of rice paddies.
After 2 more Mylanta, my stomach settled down a bit. Over and over, I kept on telling myself that I was in China. As we approached Guangzhou, the air got dirtier and dirtier. A heavy pall of pollution continually hangs over the city. The traffic was much worse than it had been in Shenzhen, especially because of the large number of individuals riding bicycles.
We made our way to the Plaza Canton, a 2 1/2 star, 24 story hotel about 10 minutes (no traffic) from the university. This hotel was constructed to support the Canton Business exhibition, an important import-export fair that attracts many Westerners. Therefore, the hotel was used to catering to foreigners. We checked in and went to our rooms. The rooms are sparsely but adequately furnished. It's actually better than what I was expecting. There's a fully stocked bar, a desk, side chair, TV with English-language stations from Hong Kong, plus a well-functioning, Western-style bathroom.
In the lobby there are three different restaurants: one Western, one Chinese, and one Korean. After dropping off bags and freshening up, we met at the Chinese restaurant for dinner. Given my upset stomach, I ordered congee with preserved eggs and pork. Apparently, in China, congee is served at home when you have an upset stomach. It is rice soup and looks like a thick porridge or cream of wheat. It's made by cooking rice in lots of water for 2-3 hours until the rice mushes up. (Speaking of water, we can't drink any tap water since it is unsafe. The hotel does provide boiled water in carafes but I've been sticking to the bottled water in the refrigerator in the room. This restriction also applies to ice cubes, since you don't know what type of water was used to make the ice.) We agreed to meet every day at 7:30 for breakfast to develop daily strategies and review events. After dinner, 3 individuals from Zhongshan University came to the hotel to review our agenda for the week: Vice President of Lingnan (University) College Chen; Professor Zhao, Director of Libraries, Zhongshan University; and Professor Tan, Head of the Library Science Department, Zhongshan University. Chen's English is very good; he lived in Ohio as a student and lived in LA for five years as a diplomat. Tan and Zhao understand English, but do not speak English. These 3 people will be the key internal group with whom we will be working throughout the week. Chen stated their desire to make the library system be a model for China. Tan and Zhao want centralized management for all library facilities. Chen also stressed the need for library staff training. After pleasant conversation, I indicated that I was very tired so we adjourned. Off to bed.
Monday, Oct. 30
Finally got a good night's sleep and my stomach is no longer upset.
Met Karl and Lily for breakfast. We planned the day's strategy and reviewed observations from the previous evening's meeting. We decided that as a general strategy we would make any and all recommendations that we thought appropriate, regardless of whether or not we thought that they'd be accepted or would be implemented, for whatever reason.
We were picked up at 8:15 and driven to Lingnan Hall on campus. Once you enter the walled campus, the environment changes dramatically. The campus is very large and very lush, with many huge trees, palms and other exotic plantings. A rich dichotomy of architectural styles appears throughout campus. New contemporary buildings sit next to architecture from 40-50 years earlier. Touches of Chinese architectural style appear here and there. All faculty, staff, and students live on campus. The President of the University serves as Mayor, Chief of Police, Chief Welfare Officer, etc.
We were brought to Lingnan Hall where a delegation of greeters awaited us on the steps. In addition to last nights' visitors, the delegation included Vice President of Zhongshan University Wu; Lu Changling, Assistant to the President of Zhongshan University; Librarian Xie, head of the Lingnan (University) College Library; President Shu of Lingnan (University) College; and my translator, Michele Xiao. [Given that I am making detailed notes in my role as a consultant, I am not going to include all of the details of all of the work meetings in this diary.] We gave presents at this first meeting--3 coffee table books on California to Wu, Shu, and Tan and UC San Diego pennants to Wu, Shu, Tan, and Zhao. At least my suitcase will now be lighter. Lingnan Hall is a very modern conference center. We were the only users of the building; our meetings throughout the day (and week) are occurring in the Board Room. After tea break, Wu and Shu left. We then had our first meeting focusing on the library in general.
Lunch was in a cafeteria and came from Maksim's, owned by Jimmy Wu, our host in Hong Kong. After lunch, Karl, Lily, Michele and I took a long leisurely stroll around campus. Needless to say, I received many stares.
We toured the empty new Lingnan (University) College Library building that had just been built and not yet finished inside, built by Jimmy Wu's brother. One of our primary missions is to make recommendations on how this building should be internally equipped. It consists of five stories with an open atrium going up to the roof. Doesn't make very effective use of square footage, given the amount of space taken up by the atrium.
We then toured the current Lingnan (University) College library located in a 50-year old building. The facility would be considered very substandard by Western expectations. The facility is dusty with no environmental controls. There were only three chairs. Only faculty, post docs, masters and fourth year undergrads can use the facility. Many Western journals on the shelves were photocopies, illegally copied and redistributed by the Chinese government. When asked about this, VP Chen tried to tell us that the dates on the spine were binding dates, not imprint dates, but this was clearly not the case.
We then toured the Computer Science Department of Lingnan (University) College. They have about 200 workstations for student use. One of the computer science faculty demonstrated a search/retrieval software package that they had developed for use with electronic data about businesses and business people in Guangzhou. We also saw a multimedia prototype for Aetna Insurance that the department was trying to sell to Aetna. Karl tried to get his portable workstation connected to the Internet but to no avail.
Off to the Central Library of Zhongshan University for a tour. They were very excited about four terminals that had recently been made available to users. The terminals accessed a database that was still very small, overextended, but clearly heavily used. The database provided access to Chinese titles only.
After the library visit, we battled traffic and headed back to the hotel to freshen up. Then back to campus to a restaurant there for dinner. The Party Secretary of Zhongshan University, a cousin of Karl Lo's wife, hosted dinner. We were seated in a private dining room. Custom appears to be: tea served as you sit down, then drink orders taken (many of the Chinese with whom I've dined here either drink beer or a wonderful canned orange juice called "Pulpy.") Then came a soup of corn and pork. Then various main courses arrive. Tonight we had Cantonese chicken (all chicken dishes come with the head roasted with the head considered a delicacy); a beef dish, bok choy and mushrooms; a whole fish; pancakes (very similar to a potato knish except that they were a half oval made from flour and spring onions and were fried; spare ribs; and bean curd topped with scallops. At each person's place are a small plate and a small soup bowl and spoon. Food goes into the soup bowl and bones and other inedibles go on the plate. The plate gets changed several times throughout the meal. Tea then concluded the meal. The quality of the food served at this restaurant was not as exceptional as the other restaurants in which I've dined in Hong Kong. Home to bed.
Tuesday, Oct. 31
Up at 5:00ish. Worked on diary; there's so much that I want to cover but I don't have time to squeeze it all in. This morning, while being driven to campus, we passed a bicycle loaded with a crate packed with live chickens. It was such a striking visual image to see these chickens, constantly surrounded by motorskooters zipping in and out of traffic, competing with trucks, buses, cars, and other bicycles and pedestrians. I wonder if the chickens were worried about traffic. During another drive to Zhongshan, I looked out to the right of the van and saw a bicyclist with about 10-12 automobile tires stacked one atop another and tied to the back of the bicycle. I looked out to the left and saw a new BMW, with a young couple in the driver's and passenger's seats, elegantly dressed, with the drive on a cell phone.
I think I've finally deduced the rule of the road--first person in a space goes. There is no such thing as yielding to traffic unless there is a stop sign, light, or traffic cop. Speaking of stop signs, I just realized that I've not seen one yet.
Our first visit this a.m. was to the Resource Center of Lingnan (University) College's Dept. of Mathematics & Mechanics. Staff had printed a sign in Chinese and English welcoming the delegation. The building was old, somewhat decrepit, but to my surprise was built in the 70's. Numbers are difficult for the Chinese to translate into English however because they use a concept of 4 digits, rather than our concept of 3 digits (that's what my translator explained to me, but having written this down it doesn't make sense to me.) Karl went a separate direction this a.m. since he is trying to see if we can get connected to the Internet to do a demo of InfoPath (UCSD's website) this evening to faculty, staff, students, and administrators.
The staff at the Resource Center were most delightful. There was an elderly gentleman, a professor, extremely well respected, who did the talking in English. He apparently is well known, published, and well traveled. They showed us faculty research that had been published, based on the holdings of the resource center. They also had an online product, on floppies, that contained math holdings from 18 institutions in China for a 5-year period. They were extremely proud of this product, especially since the Deputy Director of the Library, Professor Yun-huan Lin, was instrumental in developing this product. While we visited with the older professor, he stated a wonderful ancient Chinese saying "Maintain an army for a 1000 days for use in one hour" (Karl later said it should be for use in one morning.) We all agreed that that saying was a good statement for why research libraries collect books: many titles may sit unused for a long time but at some future date, someone somewhere may need to use them for their research.
From the Resource Center we were driven to Zhongshan University's Branch Library for History, located in one of the newest buildings on campus. We were met by a young man, Professor Chen, who was a professor in the Department of History, a woman who was head of the library and several other staff. There was also another sign in the entrance hall--same style as the other one, welcoming us. We took photographs then were ushered upstairs to a very posh conference room set up for tea. The professor talked for a few moments and then the branch librarian went on and on and on and on about how good the library was, how much work they did (because she was a strict supervisor) how much praise they received from users of the library, etc. The library was the best equipped of any we had seen (I'm sure this was because it was in a new building). We received a quick tour and then were driven to Lingnan Hall. As we approached the Hall and got out of the car, a large number of preschoolers or kindergartners passed by in single file with their teachers. They were really sweet; many were very excited to see a "Westerner" and waved hello.
We then met with the faculty from Zhongshan University's Department of Library Science, chaired by Professor Tan. The majority of the conversation focused on the proposal that the department had already formulated and distributed to the Lingnan Foundation for funding. The faculty really didn't seem to be interested in providing any other suggestions for library service.
Lunch was in the lounge at Lingnan Hall. Nothing unusual.
Our afternoon meeting was with the Zhongshan University's Computer Network Centre staff, where we were introduced to the campus' plans for their network.
We were then driven to the hotel to freshen up, then back to campus for dinner with Professor Tan and Professor Zhao at one of the campus restaurants. Outside the restaurant were cages containing live pheasants, chickens, rabbits, snakes, quail, squab. Large plastic buckets contained eels; many varieties of clams; live large water beetles; crabs; and snails. A large wall of tanks contained varieties of fish-all of the above containing prices for these items when served at the restaurant. We didn't have anything that unusual for dinner. Menu included chicken, squab, greens, tofu, fish, and sweet pancakes. Our driver joins us for all dinner meals and occupies an important, powerful position. Ours works for Lingnan (University) College. He's a younger man, probably in his early 30s. Doesn't speak any English, but is very kind and pleasant.
After picture taking outside the restaurant, we headed home for a quick shower before returning to campus to give our presentation on the Internet and the World Wide Web. After much hard work the Computer Network Centre and Karl were able to use the one Internet connection to reach InfoPath. When we arrived at Lingnan Hall, I was surprised to see that the room was full. Every Zhongshan University Lingnan (University) College administrator was there, including the President and the Vice Presidents. We talked briefly about the Internet, the World Wide Web and Home Pages in general. We then demonstrated InfoPath and the homepage for Lingnan University, Hong Kong. Mr. Yu showed the group the home page that the Network Centre was developing for Zhongshan University. He also very proudly showed The White House home page. I wasn't that pleased with my presentation, but it was a challenging one to do given language translation issues and the fact that it was very difficult to figure out the expertise levels existing in the audience. I am sure that many people in the room had never experienced the Web before.
Wednesday, November 1
This will be our busiest day, filled with four 1 1/2 sessions. We began the day by having Chinese breakfast. To order, you go to the cooking area and look in the case to see what's available that morning. You make your selection and these items are then cooked for you and brought to your table. You can also order cold items from carts that are wheeled to the table (like dim sum.) We had rice pancakes that are thin and rolled up like lefse; sweet buns filled with pork, yummy dumplings filled with vegetables and another filled dumpling of some sort.
We head to Lingnan Hall for our first meeting with faculty from across the campus. We are discussing library services in general. I'm surprised by how frank the faculty are. Problems cited include lack of materials, inability to find books, unacceptably long delays in waiting for books to be processed, lack of quality staff, poor library management, unacceptable facilities, lack of electronic information, and lack of automated retrieval systems. All of the faculty observations appear to be accurate, based upon what I've seen, which makes our task all the more challenging. Before starting the second session, we briefly observe a computer graphics design class being conducted next door. I guess they want us to see the use of multimedia in the classroom. The professor is displaying class notes using Microsoft Word.
The next session is with students. Not a full house, since students would have to miss class to come to talk to us. Some of the students' concerns were the same but there were new ones-they didn't like the hours (libraries close at lunch and aren't open in the evenings or on weekends, for the most part). There aren't enough seats in the library to study (dormitories are so crowded and noisy that you can't study there), they can't check out books from branch libraries outside their own department, and lower division undergraduates can't check out books at all. They need better training so they can learn how to use library resources effectively.
For lunch we drove to a restaurant off campus so that I could see a typical place where a Chinese person would go for lunch. Karl, Lilly, and I were joined by Vice President Chen, Mrs. Lu, and our driver. Outside the restaurant, large numbers of motor scooters were lined up one next to the other. Again, live animals were outside waiting to become dinner. Cooking was also going on outside the entry door but I couldn't tell what types of things were being cooked outside and what types of things inside. The restaurant was very large and was almost full when we arrived. The room became quiet for a brief moment and more than 400 people turned their heads to look at me when we entered. Then everyone began talking again. I believe I was the only Caucasian in the place.
Lunch consisted of:
1. Fried fish skins
The fried fish skins were awful and I didn't eat the sweet pancakes because of the coconut. Everything else was very delicious. The tea served here was different from all the other tea that we'd been served up until now. This tea was sweetened chrysanthemum and was very good.
Our next meeting was with three staff from the External Affairs Office. It was an interesting meeting and more "off-the-record." The External Affairs Office is responsible for working with the external community, such as the alumni in Hong Kong who gave money to Zhongshan University and the Lingnan Foundation in New York City. This office was also responsible for making all of our arrangements for our visit here. We found out very valuable information regarding what might be possible regarding funding for the libraries.
Our final meeting for the day was with the President, Vice President, and Librarian of Lingnan (University) College. We discussed our thoughts regarding how to use the Lingnan (University) College Library Building that sits empty, waiting for our recommendations.
Professor Tan and his wife Professor Zhao took us out for dinner. We drove to a Western-style restaurant in downtown Guangzhou. I was very pleased that we were heading downtown because it gave me an opportunity to see that part of the city. As usual, the drive was hectic. We drove along the Pearl River. Trees lined both sides of the streets. Lots of bright neon lights on the other side of the river marked a section of restaurants. As we crossed the river and entered downtown Guangzhou, I was surprised to see all of the colorful neon signs on both sides of the street.
Our driver dropped us off and found a place to park the car. We took an elevator to the second floor and entered the restaurant. Given that this was a Western-style restaurant there were knives, forks and spoons and no chopsticks. The specialty here was squab. I preferred to have roasted chicken, which consisted of a flattened chicken breast covered with some type of a tomato sauce and noodles with some type of herb seasoning that I didn't like, plus garnish. A fish soup was also served. I would have preferred to eat in a Chinese restaurant. Lily shared some of her squab-it was very tasty. The skin is cooked with vinegar and honey, giving it a smooth crusty finish, which was very tasty. Professors Tan and Zhao didn't return with us and instead went directly home. Our driver took us back to the hotel and I went to bed. I was the most exhausted that I've been since arriving here. Thursday and Friday should be a bit more relaxing. We have only one formal investigative meeting left, then the three of us will work together to prepare our report to be presented to the University administration on Friday afternoon. Tomorrow night we are hosting a formal banquet for 15 people at a cost of $800 US dollars.
NOTE: It is actually Sunday, Nov. 5. I've fallen behind with journal writing so am playing catch-up. It's 5:30 a.m.; I'm freezing cold wearing pajamas, a hotel bathrobe, and a blanket wrapped all around me. This hotel keeps its public areas air-conditioned to such a cold temperature that it's impossible to keep warm in the room, even with the room air conditioning tuned off.
Chinese breakfast with Lily and Karl in the hotel. We then are driven to Lingnan Hall for our last formal investigative meeting, this time with Zhongshan University library leaders. There are about fifteen staff waiting for us. We've met a few of them during our tour of the library. Professor Zhao leads the meeting. Many of the problems faced by these librarians are the same ones that we in the U.S. face, except to a greater degree. All center on lack of resources. We pursue questions on topics for which we don't yet have clear answers. What is the extent of online holdings, planning for retrospective conversion of card catalog records to machine readable form, number of workstations for the online catalog in the library (turns out to be 8), rare book holdings, etc.? At the conclusion of the meeting, Professor Zhao presented lovely presents to us. I received a beautifully boxed vase. Lily and Karl received framed embroidered screens on pedestals. (Later, when leaving for lunch, Lily gave me her screen since she had received a similar one last year. I thanked her profusely and decided to give it to Mim, Mitchell's mother, given her interest in embroidery.)
I had thought that we were finished with all of our meetings but it turned out that we had one final meeting with the internal team scheduled before lunch. The internal team consisted of Professor Tan, head of Zhongshan University's Dept. of Library Science (and chair of the team); Vice President of Lingnan (University) College, Chen; Mr. Tsie, head of the Lingnan (University) College Library; Mr. Yu, director of Zhongshan University's Computer Network Centre; and Professor Zhao, head of the Zhongshan University Library. As we did the day before with the Lingnan College meeting, we reviewed informally where we were and shared our preliminary thoughts regarding the recommendations we would make in our final report. Our initial ideas seemed to be well-received by the group. Finally, our formal meetings ended.
Our driver took the three of us to a special restaurant for lunch, located out in the suburbs of Guangzhou, in the Panyu region. Our drive took about half an hour, highlighted by a busy trek across a huge toll bridge crossing the Pearl River. The region through which we traveled had apparently been farmland up until about three years ago but was now dotted with huge restaurant/hotel complexes, housing, and even a large amusement park. Our driver pointed out the restaurant complex where we would dine on Friday evening as guests of President Wang. Our lunch restaurant turned out to be very quaint. Again, I was the only Caucasian in the place.
At this restaurant, you walked over to the kitchen area and viewed all of the various dishes that could be prepared for you and made your selection there. Among the various selections was a plate of fried silkworm beetles. Karl didn't recommend that I try them. We ended up having yummy foods, including fish soup, fried pancake-like discs containing fish and beef, stuffed dumplings, the ever-present plate of greens, since I like them, and other specialties that I can't remember. After lunch we drove back to the campus, where the 3 of us worked on our recommendations until 4:30, at which time we were driven back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner.
Tonight's banquet was hosted by me. The guest list included seventeen people. All of the Zhongshan University people were waiting for us in our private dining room when we arrived. Everything was quite elegant and formal. As usual, seating was carefully arranged. To my left was the Party Secretary, to my right, the President of Zhongshan University (the left side position is of greater honor than the right.) The food was quite grand and the service superb. At least four individuals were in our room serving us.
The menu, served in courses, was as follows:
The whole suckling pig was served, one for each table. Every dish was presented, then dished out by the servers. Only the skin of the pig is eaten; it was already cut into 2 inch pieces then carefully returned to the pig so that the entire shape of the pig was preserved. The snake soup was very tasty. I had been talking about wanting to taste snake, so Karl must have passed this on to the restaurant's chefs.
Another interesting dish was the lobster. A large wooden boat approximately 2 feet long was placed on each table. Piled on a bed of ice were pieces of raw lobster that we could transfer to our individual plates. We could then eat the lobster raw, Japanese style, or we could cook the fish ourselves using metal strainers that each of us had in front of us, and placing these ladles into hot broth sitting in a container over a fire. I cooked mine, given that we didn't know about the quality of the ice, and it was very tasty.
Once our drinks were served, I toasted the President (I forgot about the Party Secretary but what's a Westerner supposed to do...) and the other colleagues in the room. Our dinner lasted about 2 hours. About 3/4 of the way through, the President stood up and toasted us. President Wang speaks English, but prefers to use Chinese. He is younger than I and has only been in the job several months. He is very delightful and pleasant. He taught me the Chinese characters for the numbers one, two, three; mountain; man and woman; and up and down.
As the dinner concluded all of the waiters escorted us down to the cars and joined the Zhongshan University people in waving goodbye to us as we returned to our hotel.
Friday, Nov. 3
I woke up today with something wrong with my left eye. My eye is tearing a lot, and my vision is affected. I'm concerned and worried, and true to form, expect that I have some exotic disease that is causing me to go blind. As the day progresses, however, my eye heals. Apparently, a particle must have scratched my eye. Life goes on!
Lily, Karl, and I have a western-style breakfast in the hotel and then work in Karl's room to prepare our preliminary report that will be delivered at 2:30 in the afternoon. We make good progress.
We then began a wild goose chase to cash traveler's checks. We need to pay Lu Chang-lin 8,720 RMB in cash for the hotel, since the university has paid for our rooms because they are able to get a significant discount. So this means I need to cash $1,200 worth of U.S. traveler's checks. The hotel allegedly doesn't have enough RMB on hand. We're sent to a bank next door. No conversion services there. We're sent to a bank about 10 minutes away. We make our way to that bank. They don't accept traveler's checks. We're sent to another bank. No conversion done there, so we give up. We decide that we'll just give Mrs. Lu traveler's checks signed over to Zhongshan University. We report our difficulties to Mrs. Lu.
We grab a quick lunch at the hotel in the more formal Chinese restaurant and then change clothes in preparation for our meeting. In attendance at the briefing are Zhongshan University President Wang, Zhongshan University Vice-President Li (to whom the libraries report), Professors Tan and Zhao, Mr. Yu, Mr. Tsie, Vice President Chen of Lingnan (University) College, President Shu of Lingnan (University) College, my translator Michelle and the three of us. I walk through the recommendations, which takes about 1 1/2 hours. We take a break, have formal pictures taken on the steps of Lingnan Hall, then return to the Board Room to continue discussions. We talk about the recommendations until about 6 p.m. President Wang presented each of us with a copy of a book published to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the campus, plus a tie.
We take two vans and travel out to the Panyu region for our final banquet hosted by President Wang. We arrive at a magnificent hotel/restaurant complex and are escorted to a finely appointed private dining room with its own western-style bathroom, no toilet tissue, however, which is almost always the case here in China.
The dinner was grand and very tasty. For this meal, we were not served; instead, food was placed on the Lazy Susan in the middle of the table. We are a smaller group tonight and can fit around one large table. The mood is light and pleasant. The menu was as follows:
1. Strong Tea (I have now found out that this type of strong tea is called "Kung Foo style")
After dinner, I went into the bathroom to use the facilities and was in there for a bit longer than I had expected. When I came out, I was embarrassed to discover that everyone was waiting for me and wondering where I'd gone. Karl whispered to me that since I was the guest of honor, I had to leave the room first and then everyone would follow. We bid goodbye and return to the hotel.
Saturday, Nov. 4
The three of us meet for breakfast. Lily went book shopping with Professor Zhao and then returned to Hong Kong. Karl and I were taken on a site seeing trip by Mrs. Lu and Mr. Chen. Before departing we were now able to convert the necessary U.S. travelers' checks into RMB. After we had contacted Mrs. Lu about our earlier problem, she contacted the hotel and told them that they had to convert our travelers' checks. I changed the necessary traveler's checks, then signed up for a safety deposit box so that we wouldn't have to worry about theft during our day's outing, given the amount of Chinese bills that were needed to make the 8,720 RMB (the largest RMB denomination was 100 RMB so I had a pile of bills.)
Unfortunately, Mother Nature, yet again, didn't cooperate and I wasn't able to go to the bathroom in the hotel, which meant that if Mother Nature came knocking during the day, I was going to have to use the squat toilets. Needless to say, I tried to keep everything bottled up as much as possible.
We headed out to the prefecture-level city of Foshan, about an hour's drive southwest from Guangzhou. "Fo" means "Buddha" and "Shan" means "Mountain". I was hoping that we'd get out of the pollution but to no avail. Smog hung everywhere as we left Guangzhou. Upon arriving at Foshan, we started by visiting Xiqiao Mountain in Nanhai district and the Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) statue. The Chinese have started construction of an immense bronze statue of the Goddess of Mercy that will rest atop the mountain. The sketches of the project reveal that the monument will be absolutely gigantic and over 200 feet tall.
From there we drove on a rutted gravel road to an old village called Li after the family who lived there. The village was extraordinarily quaint. We went into a small Buddhist temple, lit candles, and burnt money. We then explored the village on foot.
We left Xiqiao Mountain and drove about 5 minutes to a restaurant for lunch. More new dishes. The highlight was "little bird," that turned out to be migratory sparrows of some type that are caught in nets as they come to feed in the rice patties. They're plucked, cleaned and cooked whole. They were served sizzling in a clay pot. To eat the "little birds" you pop the whole bird in your mouth and chew away-bones and all. Given that these birds are migratory, they aren't available all of the time throughout the year.
While at lunch I thought that Mother Nature was finally going to cooperate, so I prepared to use, for the first time, the Chinese "hole in the floor." Well, after positioning all of my various articles of clothing appropriately, squatting over the hole, balancing with one hand against the back wall, nothing happened. So, all of my preparations were yet again in vain.
After lunch we walked up to another temple. Outside the temple were two wall murals showing the 24 acts of filial piety using exquisitively crafted porcelain figures. One of the 24 stories shows a son lying on the ice in order to melt it so that his father can fish. We walked to another temple that contained a statue of Wei-To, the god of books.
From there we drove to a pottery factory in Shiwan, a town located in the southwest of the city of Foshan. Since the 10th or 11th century, Foshan has been notable as one of the four main handicraft centers of Old China. Shiwan became famous for pottery. The various one of a kind pottery figures were stunning and very expensive. There were also a large variety of "mass produced" figurines that were quite cheap. We briefly toured a production area where five women were hard at work.
We then headed to a very large Taoist temple complex called Ancestors' Temple, located in the center of the city. The original temple was built during the Song Dynasty in the later part of the 11th century. It was destroyed by fire at the end of the Yuan Dynasty in the mid-1300s and was rebuilt in 1372 at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty during the reign of the first Ming Emperor Hong Wu. The Ancestors' Temple was converted into a Taoist temple because the emperor worshipped a Taoist god.
The main hall contains a huge bronze statue of a god known as the Northern Emperor (Beidi), God of the Waters. He's also known as the Black Emperor and rules over water and all of its inhabitants, especially fish, turtles, and snakes. Since South China was prone to floods, people often tried to appease Beidi by honoring him with temples and carvings of turtles and snakes.
In the courtyard in a pool of murky green water, there is a large statue of a turtle with a serpent crawling on top of its shell. The Chinese visitors would try to throw coins into the pool so that the coin would land on top of the turtle's shell.
Surrounding the temple are a large number of preserved porcelain figures, walls and other historic artifacts. The temple also has an interesting collection of ornate weapons used on ceremonial occasions during the imperial days. On our way out of the temple we stopped at a store and I bought an eggshell porcelain bowl.
We returned to Guangzhou. Mrs. Lu and Mr. Chen joined Karl and I for a simple dinner at the restaurant. Following dinner, I spent the rest of the evening packing and getting ready for our return to Hong Kong in the morning.
Sunday, Nov. 5
Karl and I had a western-style breakfast, checked out, and were met in the lobby by Vice-President Wu, Zhungshan University; Mr. Chen, Vice President of Lingnan (University) College, and Professors Tan and Zhao. Wu is traveling to Hong Kong on the same train that we're taking. The trip to the train station took about 30 minutes. Then we needed to wait in line to go through Chinese customs. Luckily, we had assigned seats on the train. It was a nerve-wracking departure, primarily because of the large numbers of people waiting in line, or perhaps more accurately, pushing each other to board the train.
Once situated, the train ride was very relaxing and very pleasant. We purchased some tidbits to eat from a trolley cart that was pushed down the aisles by a woman. Upon our arrival in Kowloon, we had to wait another chunk of time to enter into Hong Kong. Finally, we cleared immigration and took a taxi ride to our hotel, called the Kowloon. We made it to our rooms around 2:00 p.m. We walked across the street to the Peninsula Hotel for lunch in the lobby. The Peninsula is one of Hong Kong's most prestigious landmarks. A string quartet played in an alcove on the mezzanine. High, gold trimmed ceilings added to the grandeur. What a contrast to the environment that we had left behind only a few hours earlier.
For dinner we went to the top of Victoria Peak to the Cafe Echo for dinner. To get there we took the Star Ferry
over to Hong Kong island, then a taxi to the Peak Tram. The tram takes about 10 minutes. It opened in 1888. I
was a bit frightened on the way up-we traveled at a angle that was over 45 degrees. We had a stunning view from
the top. Dinner was very tasty-we ate Indian food. On our return, I was surprised to see that the tram cars
didn't turn around-the cars simply went back down, so now, everyone descended backwards down the hill. Amazingly,
it wasn't so frightening on the way down. We walked back to the Star Ferry, crossed the harbor, and went to bed.
Continental breakfast at the bar-wonderful food. Then to the Chinese Business Center at Hong Kong Polytechnic for a meeting with Mr. Chen, the director. He is doing research on China and has several Chinese databases that might be of interest to UCSD. It is clear that he's got nothing to share at this point in time so our meeting doesn't last very long. We take a city bus to the Macau ferry terminal for an afternoon of relaxation.
We take a Far East Jetfoil (like a large hydrofoil) that gave us a very smooth ride. The trip took about an hour. Upon arriving in Macau, and after going through immigration, Karl called his high school classmate to let him know that we'd arrived (Karl attended high school in Macau). Macau is the oldest surviving European settlement in Asia and was Portugal's last colony. It also offers legalized gambling so it is a popular spot for many Hong Kong Chinese.
Mr. Chan picks us up and takes us to a restaurant where another of Karl's classmates waits for us. A third classmate arrives later. We have a simple lunch. I had told Karl not to worry about translating and for him to have a relaxing, enjoyable time. I basically sat in silence since all of the men were talking in Chinese.
After lunch, Mr. Chan drove us first to the Bamboo Forest Buddhist Temple where Karl's parents are remembered with a memorial. Outside the temple, a number of elderly beggars seek money. Inside, in alcoves of the main temple, are arranged rows of plaques about 1 ft. long and about 5 inches wide. Many contained photos at the top of the plaque. Karl's mother and father have memorial plaques here. Since Karl's mother is still alive, a red ribbon hangs on the left side of her plaque. Karl lit incense and candles and burned money in honor of his parents.
From there we took a brief driving tour, going first by the St. Paul Ruins. Some say was the St. Paul Cathedral was greatest monument to Christianity in the East. The cathedral was finished in the first decade of the 17th century, designed by an Italian Jesuit and built by early Japanese Christian exiles. All that remains is the facade, a mosaic floor, and the stone steps leading to the church. The church caught fire during a disastrous typhoon in 1835 and was never rebuilt.
Mr. Chan then drove us up to Lingnan School, where Karl and Mr. Chan graduated from high school. The school was originally the private home of a wealthy Portuguese trader. It has a commanding view of the harbor. From there we drive across a 2-mile bridge and visit Taipa Island.
Back across another bridge, where Mr. Chan then drops us off at the Lisboa Casino, Macao's largest and liveliest casino. When a Signal 8 typhoon flag is hoisted, all the other casinos shut down, but the Lisboa Casino is the only one that stays open. I lost about $25.00 on the slots but had a good time. From there we taxi back to the ferry terminal and caught the Turbo Cat for the trip back to Hong Kong. This boat is a very large catamaran and very plush inside. However, the ride was not smooth like the jetfoil that we used coming over. I was quite happy to arrive back in Hong Kong. We pass yet another immigration point.
Karl and I have a quick dinner of noodles at a noodle restaurant in the ferry terminal complex. Karl has a bad headache so we didn't want to make a big deal about dinner. We decide to take the subway home. Thousands of people were everywhere. What a mass of humanity. After arriving at the hotel, I headed back out to look for souvenirs for friends. I couldn't make up my mind so I decided to wait until Thursday to shop-in that way I won't be able to put off shopping, since we depart on Thursday evening. On the way back from shopping, I stopped at a McDonalds and had a chocolate shake.
Home to bed.
Tuesday, Nov. 7
Karl and I have another wonderful continental breakfast in the hotel bar. We taxi to the New Territories to spend the day at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Our visit is coordinated by the Office of Academic Links, directed by Mark Sheldon. UC has an active relationship with CUHK, so we were treated like old friends. We spend considerable time during the day with Michael Lee, the director of libraries, who will be coming to UCSD in December to participate in our multilingual digital library seminar. Michael has spent great amounts of time in the States. The Yale-China program is also an important part of the CUHK landscape, so my past Yale connections are always mentioned.
We have a western-style lunch in the former home of the Vice-Chancellor, now converted into a conference center. Our private room overlooks the hillside and the water-a gorgeous view. Chinese University sits on several hills-the campus is very beautiful.
In the afternoon, we visit with Professor Kuan Hsin-chi, Director, and Mrs. Jean Hung Li, Associate Director, Universities Service Center. The USC collects materials on post-1949 China, including many internal government publications not meant for external distribution.
We have dinner at the Chung Chi College Staff Club with Dr. Lee, Mark Sheldon and three librarians from Michael's staff. We taxi home and I'm in bed by 9:00 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 8
Again, a continental breakfast with Karl. I get to make my final call to Mitchell, given that each call costs around $50.00. Lily Hu has arranged for a car to pick us up at 8:30 a.m. to drive out to the New Territories to visit the new Lingnan University campus. We ended up in a horrific traffic jam and it took 2 hours to get to campus. For a while, we were diverted into the shipping port area and were completely surrounded by semi trucks.
We have a pleasant visit. Lily has had to deal with a variety of different problems since moving into her new library. First, there was a Signal 8 typhoon that caused extensive flooding in the library before they were even moved in. Now they have a serious rat problem with rats eating the Chinese books because of the glue used. Rat poisoning is placed throughout the Library.
Following our visit, the three of us are driven to the Sichuan Garden for lunch hosted by Jimmie Wu. Attending lunch are Wu, Mr. Lue (who had dined with us before we went to Zhongshan), Mr. Lam, and Daisy Li, Director of Swindon Books. Her grandfather started the western-language book business in Hong Kong in 1906. Jimmy Wu owns this restaurant; the service is wonderful. Jimmy wants to know about our visit to Lingnan; it's clear from his comments that he's already been briefed by folks from Lingnan (University) College at Zhongshan, since he expresses some of the same concerns that folks at Lingnan expressed about the recommendations to be contained in our report. Lunch includes:
1. Duck tongue with chili sauce
As we depart, we take pictures in front of a stunning large silk embroidery created by 12 famous Chinese artists that took a year to make.
Karl and I return to the hotel, then make a quick trip to a second hand store to buy some traditional Chinese music on CDs. Back to the hotel to freshen up, then over to Hong Kong island via the State Ferry to meet up with Mr. Henry Fong who has invited us to join him for dinner.
We arrive at Mr. Fong's office for our last formal dinner meeting. Mr. Fong shows us his conference room filled with his awards, honors, and pictures of him with famous people. Dinner is at a private club serving Shanghai cuisine. We are joined for dinner by Professor Tam, Director of the Opening Learning Institute of Hong Kong. Karl and I breathe a great sigh of relief when our last dinner finally concludes. As we walk back to the ferry, Karl told me that ordering the proper combinations of food was a skill that indicated whether or not a Chinese person was educated and sophisticated.
Back to the hotel to bed. Tomorrow we return to the States.