"Finding Myself in China" I have to say it was a great honor to meet him, an honor that might have had more significance had I only known in which of the photo ops I actually did meet him. I'm guessing it was the guy who had both an English and Japanese translator trailing him.... Turning the camera on, I raised it and began to focus the lens. Just then a wave slapped against the side of the boat and my friends and I got drenched as water spurted up and in through the open window. By the time I recovered, wiped the lens dry, got the camera working, and focused, I had little time left to do a reasonable video, and no time at all to take any more still photographs.
Honored Dinner Guest in Suzhou
by R.P. BenDedek (11:45 AM 2/21/2015 Beijing Time)
This file was originally published in September of 2007 at Magic City Morning Star News, but in preparation for publication of my book "Finding Myself in China," it has been transferred to this site. While there aren't many photographs in this article, there is a list of other Suzhou articles at the end in which many more and larger photographs might be found.
Out and About in Suzhou
In the last two weeks it has been my privilege on two occasions to have been invited to dinner. The first occasion was on September 15th. The husband of a teacher here at college, requested that I permit him and his wife to take me out to dinner and to take a boat ride around the City Wall. This they did as recompense for the recent assistance I have rendered him, in the improving of his spoken English. The Second occasion upon which I found myself in the position of being an honored guest was last night - Friday 28th September 2007. By invitation no less, I found myself hobnobbing with some of Suzhouís Political and other prominent society figures at the Shangri-La Hotel.
When my fellow teacher's husband approached me with a request for some coaching, I refused to accept any form of payment. Being cultured Chinese folk, the fact that I refused payment meant that they had to find some other way to repay me for my assistance. When the Dinner invitation was first raised, I tried to persuade my friends to permit me to dine with them at home, but as neither of them can apparently cook, they insisted that we had better eat out. Since I prefer companionship to ostentation, I insisted that they not take me to some 'flash' restaurant, where the prices would be high, and the surroundings more formal than I prefer. It was finally decided that we would eat in an 'ordinary - common' restaurant, and afterward take the boat tour around the Suzhou City Wall. I felt a little guilty about that, because I knew that they would be spending a goodly amount of the boat ride, but was glad that we were to eat in a common eatery.
Well, where we ate was not exactly what I would have called a common eatery. It was in fact a 'fixed price' buffet restaurant, where one could eat as much as one wanted. The three of us could have gone to a common eatery for the same price for 'one fixed price meal' at the buffet. This was definitely going to hurt their pockets. The food was as good as the decor, and both were magnificent. I really wished I had taken some photographs for you, but sometimes, under certain circumstances, I feel disinclined to take photographs, because it just doesn't feel 'right' to do so.
When dinner was over, we went up to the quay near 'Shilu,' (a small Mall - now above the No. 2 Metro Line) near the city wall with the tower on top. We barely had time to board when the boat began to depart. Unlike the previous occasion when Chiara and I had taken the trip, this particular boat was fully enclosed, and this time I had a camera. Having previously done the trip, I had a fair idea which spots in particular that I wished to photograph. The journey is semi-circular as opposed to circular, and the place at which the boat turns around to head back is by the City's South Water Gate. It is apparently the only 'Water Gate' still in operation in China.
Night time river cruise scenes There are in fact many different types of cruises one can go on.
If you've ever read my articles, you know that 'Murphy's Law' is my constant travelling companion. As the boat began its wide turn, I quickly took one still shot of the South Gate, and then tried to switch the camera to video mode. Well! To enhance our appreciation of the site, the onboard interior lights had been turned off, and as my camera is still reasonably new, I was flustered in trying to find the right setting to enable a video recording. Finally I found the setting! Turning the camera on, I raised it and began to focus the lens. Just then a wave slapped against the side of the boat and my friends and I got drenched as water spurted up and in through the open window. By the time I recovered, wiped the lens dry, got the camera working, and focused, I had little time left to do a reasonable video, and no time at all to take any more still photographs.
I took about 130 photographs in all, and of those, I ended up with only about 30 that were any good at all; even fewer worth publishing. It is really difficult to position oneself in a cramped space; really difficult to focus when the boat is rocking; and hard to take photographs whilst trying to dodge water spray. Yes! I am talking about a boat ride on a canal - not the open ocean. The number of operational craft on the water combined with the width of the canal, combined with both the small size of our boat and how low it was sitting in the water meant that the moderately choppy conditions had severe impact on the boat's stability. Nevertheless, whether one travels by day or night around the city wall moat, one cannot help but be impressed.
Top Frames Photo Below Scenes of 'Shilu' Walking Street. It has undergone several facelifts since 2007
Bottom Frames above Musical scenes from Dinner No. 2
This week I, along with the other foreign teachers, was called to the Foreign Affairs Office at school and handed an invitation letter which read:
Suzhou Municipal People's Government requests the pleasure of your company at the reception of the 58th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China at 6:00 pm on Friday 28th Sept, 2007 in Grand Ballroom Shangri-La Hotel (168 Ta Yuan Road). Dress: Business Attire.
I had no idea what was in store for us that evening but I did think it would be at least a pleasant way to start my National Day holidays. That of course was before I discovered that I was required to do an additional Ten classes Saturday and Sunday.
Decked out in a nice blue pinstriped business suit, white shirt and blue silk tie with gold tie clip, I loaded into the school bus with the others and set off on our journey of discovery. What a surprise! Murphy of course came along, and between getting in the bus and walking into the hotel, I lost one button on my coat. We were actually running ten minutes late, but so what. Nothing runs on time in China! Wrong! We walked into the ballroom as the speaker finished speaking and everyone began digging into the most spectacular buffet you could imagine.
The ballroom was filled with every race of people you could imagine and I am sure that most were as unsure as I as to what to do, apart from tuck into the tucker and the wine. With Five years of living in China under my belt, I know better than to accept wine unless I know what it is, but I guess out of nervous habit I accepted the red wine handed me by an attendant and took a gulp - and another and another and another. It turned out to be an Australian Wine manufactured by Hardys. Delicious!
For an hour and a half I walked around trying not to look lost, occasionally stopping to chat with the Japanese teachers - in Chinese of course - and on one occasion finding the new English teacher (from the Philippines) talking to some of his countrymen. (The photographs of this occasion come courtesy of his hip little camera).
A Group of Japanese Teachers - Well at least foreign anyway.
Apart from small talk, drinking fabulous red wine from Hardy's Vineyards, eating wonderful food and munching down copious amounts of deserts, the apparent purpose of our invitations was so that the school could take photographs of us with the Mayor of Suzhou. Indeed, I have to say it was a great honor to meet him, an honor that might have had more significance had I only known in which of the photo ops I actually did meet him. I'm guessing it was the guy who had both an English and Japanese translator trailing him.
Actually it was quite funny. He (I presume it was the Mayor) was told that I was from Australia and he immediately began talking in Chinese. The Japanese translator was repeating everything he said for the benefit of the Japanese teachers. When she finished, the English translator went to speak and I said, "It's Ok! I understood!" Murphy's Law again - as soon as I said that, the Mayor began saying something about which I had no clue and then I had to ask for the translation.
I asked Alberto to take a couple of photographs for me of the performers, which he did, and then he insisted on taking a photo of me. Well - it is not the best photo, but the moment I saw it I just had to laugh. It immediately reminded of something I read in the 'Denby Letters' - Letters of a Shanghai Griffin first published in 1911 - about this man's first introduction to Chinese Opera, from which I now quote:
(....talesofoldchina.com/library/denby-griffin.cfm) Letter No.XXI
I turned to the moon-faced maiden who had taken up her position on a stool behind my chair, and was about to ask her whether she had been to any dances lately, or engage her in some equally inane conversation such as is expected of one on these occasions, when she looked me squarely in the eye, made a horrible face, and let out a yell that detached a piece of plaster from the ceiling, which fell to the floor with a crash. Jumping from my seat, I yelled to my friend to get some brandy. "What do you want brandy for?" he screamed. "Look!" I shouted, pointing to the girl, "she's got some female complaint, and got it badly." "Don't be an ass," he roared, "she's singing"; and glancing around at my fellow-guests, I was astonished to observe that they listened to her hysterical screams unmoved - nay, if anything, they appeared to enjoy them. That was my first experience of Chinese vocal music. It is worse than a gramophone.
No this is not a comment on the Music and Singing
I do understand the man's reaction. When I first came to China I regularly ended up in fits of laughter when I listened to Chinese Opera and admit that I used to make fun of it. Over time however it has definitely grown on me and I have developed a taste for it, particularly the local Suzhou variety.
Well that's it! I hope you have enjoyed these little anecdotes in the life of an honored guest in Suzhou China.
Toward the end of dinner, some children spotted the foreigner and began coming to the door to say 'hello' 'hello' 'hello,' as they do, and then one little girl entered the room and handed out candy to us all. That was a first, as too was the cappuccino that I drank at a coffee house after dinner. I could swear it was an espresso. Ah! What would a foreigner know! Next morning we headed off to our next destination, the major places of interest of which (according to the 100 rmb entry ticket) are, Little Lotus Villa, Home of Zhang Shiming, Jiaye Library, Qiushuli Place, Home of Liu Tiqing and Ancient Stone Bridges. Additional Photographs
Well to cut a long story short, I walked all the bloody way to Tiger Hill. With Sweat pouring off me I finally met up with Chen Rongmei who had telephoned 'Meimei' to come and help look for me. The two of them had apparently been driving all over the place looking for me. Hot and exhausted, the three of us sat down in a little cafe, under an air conditioner, and cooled off while we ate a very nice 'overpriced' lunch. After lunch the three of us did the tour of HuQiu, and while I really loved the place, the heat of the day combined with all that walking (before and during sightseeing) gave me an awful headache. All I wanted to do was rest. I even considered booking back into my hotel! See Also:Cycling Around Tiger Hill Area SuZhouandTiger Hill Additional Photographs
Hanshan Temple Suzhou by R.P. BenDedek Various Dates
This Stele is made of Shandong Jiaxiang Blue Stone, and composed of stele cap, stele body and stele pedestal. Its facade is engraved with Zhang Ji's (Tang Dynasty) poem To Moor at Night at the Maple Bridge inscribed by Yu Yue (Qing Dynasty); while the back is engraved with The Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra in Sanskrit) handwritted by Emperor Qianlong (Qing Dynasty).
Dr. Ben-Shahar made a statement to the effect that people need to understand that it is from the journey itself that we derive pleasure, not the destination. In order to find balance in life, people must stop and take time out to look at the day's events, and see the joy that was in it. Far too often we only reflect on flaws and failures, rather than on joys and successes. True happiness is found in the many small moments in our lives, and we have to remind ourselves daily of all the things we are grateful for and appreciate.
After following the pathway around the mountain we were faced with a choice of either a path downward or a trail upward. We chose the upward trail, and hoped to find something. After climbing over boulders and headed in the direction of some boys sitting atop one, we arrived at a spectacular viewpoint. We had an almost 360 degree view of Mudu. While we were marveling at the view before us, I heard a few voices off in the distance behind us. When I turned to look, I was surprised to find that there was a ridge there, completely jam packed with people taking in the 'better view.'
The Garden of Couple's Retreat. Located on the northeastern edge of the ancient city of SuZhou, the garden was first created in the early Qing period as a pleasure garden of Baoning Prefect Lu Jingzhi. In the 13th year of Tong ZhiReign (1874 AD), Shen Bingcheng, governor of Susongtai Region, acquired it and expanded it into the present scale.The park is located by one of the major canals on the North / East side of SuZhou. It is not far from the Old Water Gate, and right behind it is the SuZhou Zoo. I have been in YanCheng now for 6 months and no longer have a map of SuZhou from which to give precise directions. The entrance looks great from the overpass, but otherwise you wouldn't know it is there. I did take some photos of it at night when I was on the canal tour. That tour leaves from 'ShiLu' which is the 'small' walking street - not Guanqian Jie which is the big walking street.
Now I am not going to repeat the title here, but it showed a room in which plant roots are used to grow new plants. Unfortunately, whilst the caption may have been strictly correct in an Agricultural context, the words also constituted a very vulgar idiomatic expression in English. As the particular slide lit up on the big screen, there was an audible gasp from numerous people (including Chiara and I), followed by muted laughing and serious attempts by individuals not to break into hysterics.
Moving to Suzhou by R.P. BenDedek February 21, 2015 (2007 Magic City Article transferred to Kingscalendar)
I had been told many times that if I could be a successful teacher in Hubei, then I would find it so easy to teach elsewhere in China. I never understood what that meant, until I came here. These kids are a joy to teach, even though their English level is no better than the kids in Hubei. It really feels like I have been transported to a different country.
Traduzione di Chiara Braccagni: Nel 2005 mi sono trasferito a Wuhan da Hong Hu, in modo da poter insegnare inglese e allo stesso tempo imparare il cinese. Tuttavia, dopo due anni a Wuhan, avevo seguito solo un semestre di studio del cinese. Avevo accettato il lavoro di insegnante a Wuhan ad uno stipendio minore rispetto a quanto mi era stato offerto da altri istituti, in modo da mettere in pratica il cinese che impraravo in un dialetto che mi fosse familiare. Quando ho richiesto all'agenzia di trovarmi un nuovo lavoro per il 2007 ho messo in chiaro che lo stipendio era la mia priorita.' Sebbene il governo cinese avesse decretato che gli insegnanti stranieri potevano ritornare a casa in anticipo lo scorso semestre, cosi' da trascorrere il Natale con le loro famiglie (decisione resa possible dalle anticipate festivita' del capodanno cinese) la mia scuola non mi ha lasciato partire. Infatti, una clausola mi obbligava a rimanere a scuola fino all'ultimo giorno del mio contratto. E cosi' ho fatto (e sto ancora aspettando lo stipendio che mi devono).
I have to say it was a great honor to meet him, an honor that might have had more significance had I only known in which of the photo ops I actually did meet him. I'm guessing it was the guy who had both an English and Japanese translator trailing him.... Turning the camera on, I raised it and began to focus the lens. Just then a wave slapped against the side of the boat and my friends and I got drenched as water spurted up and in through the open window. By the time I recovered, wiped the lens dry, got the camera working, and focused, I had little time left to do a reasonable video, and no time at all to take any more still photographs.
I can say that the new computer cost me half of what I had expected to pay, and the money saved will almost pay for a special trip I'm planning to the other side of the country in October. We had our conversation on a Tuesday at about 11.45am at the end of March, and two days later on the Thursday, I picked up my brand new computer already loaded with all my programs. It also came with a gift of some high definition movies (Mr. Kang is able to provide 1500 HD Movies on an external hard drive.) If you are coming to Suzhou and you really NEED to buy a new computer, go talk to him. Maybe you just need some repairs - he'll fix you up. Maybe you want some High Definition Movies - he's the one to talk to. -and-Computer Repairs in SuZhou City Jiangsu Province Nov 7, 2011
I ran into Jian up at Shi Lu one night, just before the Americans left town. We had a long talk about the fact that he was wasting his life; that his parents really just wanted him to apply himself equally to Chinese and Math studies, as to his English Studies. When I left him, I thought that maybe he was finally going to go home. I spoke to him about the parable of the Prodigal Son and asked him to get the Americans to explain it
One of the things you often see in China, is people washing their clothes in the nearest body of water, and living by a canal makes it just so easy to wash your clothes. Whilst the location sounds ideal, given the rather 'shaky looking' foundations to the local domiciles, I'm not sure if I would feel particularly safe. And given our western concern to control every possible negative possibility in life, I doubt that anyone with kids would be allowed to live in such a place.I would take this opportunity to point out that if I actually lived in such a place, I doubt that I would be as friendly a resident as were these locals. Can you imagine people day in and day out looking in your back door; watching you wash your clothes; and constantly taking photos of you and waving? I'm pretty sure I know what type of gesture I would be returning.
They carefully explained that the ticket office is moved, and that I must 'go over there'! I looked at the guy, looked 'over there' and said: 'There's nothing @#$%^ over there!' He laughed and said: 'Come! I'll show you!' And he did. 'Over there' was a place a couple of hundred meters 'over there where they are digging' and you could get 'over there,' by a little walkway that they had prepared. Ah! I went back and got my bicycle and headed off to go 'over there,' but when I got 'over there,' I found myself on a main road, and had to ask a policemen where to go. Finally someone who could help me. He kindly pointed out that the ticket office was 'over there'!
It is uncertain what caused the following event, but something on the pylon hit one of the windows. The people in the immediate vicinity fled their seats, and as the ship continued reversing, the window buckled and smashed, sending shards of glass everywhere. One man received a cut to his arm, and while not bleeding profusely, nevertheless was bleeding. A young boy was covered in glass, and although unhurt, had to be deftly 'de-glassed.' I felt someone's hand on my back pocket. Always cautious, I was walking with my hands in my pockets, specifically to keep the cloth on the seat of my pants tight. I tightened my grip. When this did not seem to discourage the brazen (and inept) thief, I quickly sidestepped to the left, and left him both surprised and embarrassed. He dropped his head so I could not see his face, and quickly retracted the jacket that had covered his hand to conceal his actions. He disappeared quickly.
Between September 1st and October 5th quite a number of things have happened, not the least of which is that the city Sign has disappeared. Over a period of days I saw the sign being dismantled and had assumed that they were going to 'refresh' the place so to speak. One evening on my way home from visiting Judy, the traffic at the roundabout up from the school, was stopped. The road was blocked off with a rope, and a number of people in hard hats were running around. I had no idea as to what was going on and as there were only two of us left on the bus I decided to walk the rest of the way. A very officious 'hard hat' started signaling me to go back. A student ran up to me and warned me that it was dangerous to proceed.
We were also treated to a demonstration of 'Shaolin' arts. Not only did the performer put himself through the hoops (pardon the pun) but got Sam up to 'trip the lights fantastic!' When they called for volunteers to take part, Sam eagerly volunteered. Never ones to miss an opportunity to see a foreigner make a fool of himself, the Chinese MC readily accepted Sam's offer. The tiny performer took one look at him and said: 'Whoa! How heavy is he?' Just to see if he could do what he wanted, he picked Sam up in a bear hug. That was certainly entertaining. What Sam thought when the guy grabbed him front on and lifted him, I have no idea!
Since 2004 he has been writing academic articles, social commentaries and photographic 'Stories from China' both here at KingsCalendar, and formerly as a contributing columnist at Magic City Morning Star News (Maine USA) where from 2009 to 2015 he was Stand-in Editor. He currently has a column at iPatriot.com and teaches English to Business English and Flight Attendant College Students in Suzhou City Jiangsu Province People's Republic of China.)
BenDedek originally created the site to publicize his research results into the Chronology of Ancient Israel. Those results were published under the title: 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran.' Whilst there have been many attempts to solve the chronological riddle of the Bible's synchronisms of reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah and their synchronism with other Ancient Near Eastern Nations, no other research is based on a simple mathematical formula which could, if it is incorrect, be disproved easily. To date, no one has been able to dismiss the mathematical results of this research.
Free to air Academic articles set forth Apologetics for and results of his discovery of an "artificial chronological scheme" running through the Bible, Josephus, the Damascus Documents of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Seder Olam Rabbah. Check the Chapter Precis Page to see details of each chapter and to gain access to the Four Free to Air Chapters
(The Download book does not contain a section on Seder Olam)
Definition: King's Calendar Chronological Research
The Premise: Between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE (but continuing down to at least 104 BCE), Sectarian redactors transcribed the legitimate 'solar year' chronological records of Israel and Judah, into an artificial form, with listed years as each comprised of 12 months of 4 weeks of 7 days, or 336 days per year, thus creating a 13th artificial year where 12 solar years existed.
When the Synchronous Chronological Data provided in the Books of Kings and Chronicles for the Divided Kingdom Period are measured in years of 336 days, the synchronisms actually align. [Refer to Appendix 5. to see how it synchronises the Divided Kingdom Period]