Very first days in Hangzhou

Everything is big in China. A nice welcome committee of a Zhejiang U. professor and two students met us at the Hangzhou airport Saturday night. “We have a minivan and driver to carry you into town with your luggage.” Uh oh, we think – no way a minivan can carry eight passengers plus eleven pieces of luggage. But the minivan seated…22 people. Easy. Hangzhou is broiling, reaching hottest temperatures (106 F on Monday) in decades right now. That’s actually a first geography lesson. We told everyone the city was about the same latitude as Washington DC. Wrongo! Hongzhou shares latitude with…Tallahassee. Far different, very far south of Changchun, our initial assignment, which is about as far north as Montreal. Sweltering now, but hopefully a much milder winter.

Our first day of shopping on Monday: to — where else? — Walmart, about a mile from our apartment. Along with shampoo, dishes, electronics, groceries, etc. they have a nice selection of live fish ,frogs, crabs, all (and I mean all) parts of a duck. On the flight over we shared a row with a visiting American professor of theater headed for Shanghai to teach a month long workshop to Chinese students. How’d he like the food? “Just get ready for things you haven’t seen before. But it’s important to try everything especially at ceremonial meals. Remember, you’re eating for America.” Good point. 

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