Excursion for foreign experts

Wednesday 15 September is a university holiday, for it is the Mid-Autumn Festival. No teaching! (I wish Yale celebrated a mid-autumn festival!) Traditional Chinese festivals follow a lunar calendar, so this means that it will be full moon tomorrow.

To celebrate, the International Office at Peking University invited all foreigners who are teaching at PKU this semester to a wonderful dinner in the New Summer Palace (which is not new, but over a hundred years old). It is a huge park in which the last emperors of China had the palace they lived in during the summer. In the middle of the park is a large lake. There are very pleasant walkways among trees and green areas. Small streams and beautiful bridges.

In the lake is the famous marble boat of Dowager Empress Cixi. It is a boat built out of marble! At the end of the nineteenth century China had money to produce a modern navy, which it needed since it was repeatedly defeated by western powers and Japan. Cixi thought the money was better spent building a new Summer palace (after western powers had destroyed the old one as punishment for China) and to build this very expensive marble boat.

We walked through the park, passed the boat and got to the restaurant, where we were served a splendidly nice meal by servers dressed in traditional dress. The food was very good.

There was also a performance by members of the Peking University Orchestra for traditional instruments. The music was very enjoyable, and the players were very skilled.

After dinner it was time for us to get to ride a boat in the lake, to admire the full moon and the sights in the park. It was a gorgeous evening. We did not get to ride the marble boat, but we started out not far from it.

While we sailed, the players entertained with solo pieces.

I met a lot of interesting people and talked all evening with them. An Israeli professor of neolithic archeology who now works at Harvard but excavates in China, a former president of the German university of Eichstätt (who knows someone I know from Yale), a doctoral student from the École Normale Supérieur in Paris, a professor of literature from Freie Universität Berlin, a UC San Diego professor of modern Chinese history and others. We had a lot of fun and they were very nice people. Most of them live in the same apartment complex as I, so now we are going to have dinners together.

At the end of the evening, we got a package of very fine mooncakes (the sweet, largeish, filled cookies that the Chinese eat for this holiday). I am eating one right now.

Here I am outside our restaurant.

Postat av: Anonym

Fin och vacker brobild och jidbild!

2010-09-22 @ 21:35:41

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