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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Day 7 - Lunch With Ambassador Terry Branstad

Ambassador Terry Branstad welcomes Lulu to China

Tuesday - is our 7th day on the road. Thursday orientation ends and we move into our apartment.

Today - we had sessions at the embassy from 8 to 4. But the best part was lunch with our Chinese USA Ambassador Terry Branstad. Of course - the ambassadorship is a political appointment - but they picked a nice guy to serve here. His claim to fame is he was the governor for 22 years of Iowa. He is the longest serving governor in the USA ever. He was also president of the Iowa State Medical School for several years.

We walked about 1/4 mile from the embassy to a French Restaurant close by. We were at a table of about 10 people and sat directly across from the ambassador.

We met the Shadow Puppets from Hungary.  They won America Got Talent - and were on world tour.

Lunch with the Ambassador

The USA Embassy - our orientation here

Beautiful sunny day in Beijing - Tuesday 6 PM
We met the Shadow Puppets at breakfast.  

Monday, August 26, 2019

China Day 6 - American Embassy Orientation

Nancy with 2 students at the USA Embassy

Monday from 8 to 5 - we were at the American Embassy. We meet with other Fulbright Scholars and had lessons on what was expected. We talked about politics - customs - government - colleges. The above two students told the class what China students liked about visiting professors. 

It was made clear that Fulbright Scholars did not have any kind of immunity. The laws of the land are paramount. 

There were about 10 Fulbright Scholars. Most of them are here for a year or more - they were traveling without family in many cases. Harvard and Yale were represented but so was FSU :-)  We were very impressed with the support of FSU for the Fulbright Scholar compared to the Big Boys. 

I am typing this in a rush after breakfast before we go back to the Embassy to meet the Ambassador. 

After 5 PM - we went right back to the hotel and bed. We skipped supper. We slept much better last night - and are ready for another 8 to 5 session at your American Embassy.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

China Day 5 - Intro Dinner

Peking Ducks

This year's China Scholars

Day 5 was Sunday. Our main goal is to defeat this jet lag. I have been awake since midnight and now it is 8 PM. No naps - no drowsing.

First we went swimming in the hotel pool and hot tub. They are indoors. Then we decided to take a local bus to a local park/shopping mall. It was only about 2 miles and the bus was 15 cents. You are able to use your subway metro card or WeChat if you have money in your account. We will fill our WeChat account soon.

Then we came back and dressed for dinner. They walked us all to a place that specialized in Peking duck. They also put 20 other bowls of food on the table. I tried about 10 of them. It was fun meeting all the other scholars - they will spread out all over the country. Lulu gets to stay in Beijing.

The food was good - I thought I really killed it with the chopsticks. It also kept us awake. Being outside today in the sun really helped for jet lag. The Internet says it takes you a day to adjust to jet lag - for every times zones you cross. They make 12 days for us. Since we have orientation tomorrow at 8 AM - I think we will adjust nicely.

This morning we watched Miami and Florida play football. We saw it on our slingbox from home. We will be watching a lot of football that way this season.

Lulu loved the dinner - the people that are scholars and the people that run the program are very nice. This is going to be an eye opening experience for us here.

Censorship - we were watching the news on the China channels today - and when any news about Hong Kong or the trade war came on - China simply blacks it out. After the story is over - they come back on. The people are used to that.

So for the first time - we go to bed at a normal hour -we should be sleeping by 9 PM.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

China Day 4 of 160 - Walking Around Downtown Beijing

Our Beijing Hilton for first week.
It is Sunday morning at 7 AM here in Beijing. We are watching the Gators play the Hurricanes on our Slingbox. We still are having fits with jet lag. I slept yesterday from 1 PM to 10 PM - and then was up all night. I try to lie down and be still or listen to Sirius radio with my earphones. But sleep doesn't come. We try to get lots of sun - to adjust - jet lag will be gone soon. We never made a 12 time zone flight before.

Yesterday - Saturday - we took the subway to Tiananmen Square. We we got there - we did not have our passports and could not go into the complex. It was a beautiful day so we walked around the pedestrian street downtown shopping. What beautiful big department stores - 6 stories of shopping. We did that until about noon - and we were very tired. So we headed back to the Hilton. Then we slept all afternoon and evening.


We have not straightened out our money yet. We turned some American dollars into Chinese Yuan. We put $60 in the machine - and out came about 400 Yuan. That was easy - but I am sure there was a fee. They use a program over here called WeChat. It is like email - text - credit card - all in one. It is similar to Apple Pay. We must connect it to a bank account - and then that is all we will use.

The subway was cheap - 12 stops costs 60 cents total - to downtown from our hotel - about  6 miles. There is a bank called CITIC that we think lets us open an account. Then we will be set.


The people are very nice. They love Americans. They love Lulu's hair and fair good looks. She will be Lady Gaga if they want. A grandmother brought her granddaughter over to talk to Lulu. It was a nice moment. We look forward to many like that.

Gators 7 Miami 3 - we are watching along live.


The biggest success we have is our T-Mobil iphones. We use them for everything here. I love the Google maps for getting around and subways. We have free text - email - data. We do have to pay 25 cents a minute for world calls. We can video chat free - we did that yesterday with both our sons' families. One is in Paris - one is in the Bahamas. It is the same plan we have at home - $90 a month for 2 phones. That includes unlimited service - free unlimited calls on Delta planes - and free service in 200 countries. We can also hook our computers wirelessly to the iphone and surf the net with our computers.

We are watching the game on ESPN over our phone right now.


Our Hilton Hotel - our home for the first week - is just next to the American Embassy. Tomorrow at 9 AM our orientation starts there. It will be really neat going in there. They will probably help us with the bank angle - among other things. They do not want us to take our laptops there.

The breakfasts here are wonderful - so many choices. I am trying many things - in a way I was hoping I would lose weight here. Not if I eat like I have been. I weighed 100 kilos when I arrived. There are tons of American restaurants - even more local ones.


We are in a very nice section of Beijing. You do not see litter anywhere. You do not see any graffiti. There are people with brooms constantly sweeping. Lots of machine sweepers. Most of the bikes and scooters are electric so it is very quiet. In the sparkling subways - people hardly talk - just whispers. There is a cop on each train. A guy was watching his phone with the volume too high - the cops told him to silent it - he did - no argument. There are a lot of guards all over - I attempted to take pictures of them - and got a quick "halt." I complied - no problem there.


Thursday they move us to our campus apartment. That will be our home for the rest of our 160 days. Lulu will teach one library class a week - the rest of the time is ours. If our apartment is 1/10th as nice as our hotel room - we will be happy.


All in all - our worst problem is the jet lag. We will adjust normally. They take us out to dinner for Peking duck tonight - that will help us a bit.

A person with OCD would certainly love the litter thing - and the organization. The Internet seems to
have aligned the people with the rest of the world. They love American products and style. This country has over a billion people - almost 4 times what the USA has. They have risen rapidly - passing out Germany - England - France - and Japan - to become the number 2 world power.

First sunrise in China

Our Hilton breakfast

Clean - quiet - safe - subways

See the cop inside subway

These scooter are popular with older women

Electric 3 wheel truck

Knock off Rolls Royce

Department Store

Chinese food truck



Big water fall show in front of this building - reminded me of Hess's

Friday, August 23, 2019

China Days 1-2-3 - Enjoying The Differences - And Jet Lag

Lulu in front of Kempinski Hotel - third day

We used to say as a kid - you dig a hole deep enough - you will end up in China. The whole premise of the movie - The China Syndrome - was that a nuclear meltdown would keep digging its way all the way to China. Lulu and I are on the other side of the earth. This makes it easy - It is 10 PM here and 10 AM there. We already enjoyed Friday - you have it coming yet! I can tell you all about it.

I slept from 2 PM to 9 PM here. My body thinks it is in Tallahassee - my eyes say we are in Beijing. My brain it having trouble doing things that were routine in Florida - like taking pictures and writing my webpage.

First off - we are so happy with our electronics status. I just had a free video chat with Drew and his family - they are boarding a Disney ship for a cruise. The audio and video were as clear as clear could be - we were almost there. Our iphones are on T-Mobil - and it works swell - I cannot remember when I used swell last. I am presently typing on my laptop in our Hilton room. Thanks to our VPN program - nothing seems to be blocked. I can read the NY Times - Washington Post - Tallahassee Democrat - see CNN - listen to Howard Stern on Sirius radio - send and receive texts and emails. Do not worry - there are still plenty of differences.


We had three flights - Tallahassee to Atlanta to Detroit to Beijing. All were on time - no delays - no sitting in line - etc. I will concentrate on the last leg over here. We left Detroit on an Airbus A350 at 2 PM Wednesday. We had first class booths - 1B and 1C - the front row. The plane has a first class door and a coach door. We never explored farther back than row one! We had booths. We had a bathroom right there. The attendants kept us busy with drinks - meals - snacks - hot towels - etc. The flight was 13 hours - but I only remember 4 hours because I slept 9 hours. I had a flat bed and a large flat screen TV. I had a super supper and had to be awaken for a hot breakfast. It was time to land. Lulu bought the first class bed seats at the last minute. They cost $450 extra on sale - she insisted for medical reasons - I went along. :-)

We landed on time - I had a stop watch set and it was 13 hours lift off to touch down. Customs went fast - we were the only plane going thru. So far - it was a typical flight and typical airport. A car was waiting and it took us to the Kempinski Hotel. It is a luxury German hotel and I am guessing the Hilton was overbooked. We were probably bumped.


What a fine breakfast they had. Also the room was full of fancy electric stuff. With a touch of a button - the glass bathroom walls turned opaque. We slept a lot there.


Because Lulu is working we needed Medical Cards. One of Lulu's students took us to the Medical Center for the battery of tests - there were 10 tests. It reminded me of when I enlisted in the Air Force in 1970 - only to flunk the eye test and hearing test. Blood Test - Blood Pressure - ENT - EKG - Height - Weight - Sonogram - I forget the rest. They will courier our cards to the Hilton - where we are for 7 days.


We got into our hotel room at the Hilton - just a few hundred yards from the Kempinski. We passed the USA Embassy on the way. We will do our orientation at the embassy - starting Monday. The weekend is free. We got into the Hilton with our 7 bags - and hopped into bed - I slept from 2 PM to 9 PM - now it is dark - but I am ready for the end of Day 3!


We have not gotten our money straight. They use a program here to pay for stuff - WeChat. We have it on our iphones. We must get a Chinese bank account to link it to pay stuff. It is a very secure payment method. We could not do it from Florida. I tried using my Wells Fargo ATM card here and it did not work. I forgot to tell them we were coming here. I will call them today. Once WeChat and Wells Fargo ATM are working - I will feel like home.


If you are reading this - you know how to find me web page. Facebook does not allow me to paste in "" or "" - I think they do not like the word "cracker." I will always put pictures and text on my page - but also send some privately to my family list.

My page will be one picture at the top - then text - then a long row of other pictures. Most pictures will have captions.


Please follow along. Excuse me if I am redundant. I am old - I am jet lagged - I am overweight. This is Lulu's dream - and I am here to back her up.

Everyone is interested in us. In the cabs - I sat up front. The driver noticed the scar on my knee from a childhood injury. He ran his finger along it and commented. He also commented on the scars on my chubby American fingers from my new joints. Not being rude - in his best English - "fat fingers." I am over 100 kilos at my health test!

Kathleen - the director of the FSU London Center says - "Embrace the Difference!"

Early morning leaving Tallahassee

First course supper on jet to Beijing - second course - steak and potatoes

Third course - ice cream sundaes from scratch

My view for 9 hours - flat in bed

Delta A350 - our private compartments

Lulu in middle of the night

Booths 1B and 1C - we were first off the plane

Prawns at breakfast in Kempinski Hotel

Kempinski Hotel is German - thus the soft pretzels

Chest Xrays for TB

Blood Pressure

The big Y means Yuan.   $1 = 7 Yuan

Very simple LED lights all over the place

Really - they were very gentle - they would do several a minute

With my plastic finger joints - that is a fist

I loved this 3 wheel electric scooter

So many electric bikes - scooters - cars

The black building by the red roof is American Embassy