Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Learning Mah-Jongg Junior for the First Time Early Winter 2010 -11

The Weaver- Glessner Family had a box of mah jongg, a tradtional Chinese game, in their homes for many years. I took out the tiles or bricks a lot as a kid, and never knew what they meant or how to play. My sis, Jane, seems always "game" to try something new and I was most grateful for hear enthusiasm to learn this game and have fun with it, in her home, with her husband Don and son Ryan. So here is Jane, counting the tiles as I was reading the manual and really trying the game for the first time!

During this time, I was planning for my trip to Asia and China, and it was fun for me to look at this as a connection to my family and our history looking at other cultures. I thank Xiaosong Liu, AKA "Steven" from Tianjin near Beijing helped to light that fire as well. Xie xie ni, Xiaosong. Hope your journey to San Fran is going well. This rule book helped guide us to play the game and build the walls just one time about a year ago during the winter holidays. Hopefully we might attract someone who really KNOWS, how to play the game and put it into cultural perspective. I wonder if younger folks from China play it. I did not see much of it in my travels this year and I was only in Zhongguo (the central kingdom) for about 2 weeks.

Here is the cover of the box as it was manufactured in the 1920's. I wonder if the spirit of Dr Sun Yat Sen is in it. I was able to visit his presidential palace in Nanjing this year and his burial place. Interesting it is one of the few places where the Nationalist Chinese Flag is still allowed to be in the People's Republic. So grateful for my tour guide I had in Nanjing, Tony, who supported my learning about the local buses and transport there.

Here are Jane, Don and Ryan building the walls of the tiles in the Mah-Jongg game. Really grateful to be able to bring out this old family international game and give it new life!

Another view of the game as the wall is built.

Another view. Looking forward to finding the time and the right people to play this traditional game in the weeks ahead.
Thanks, xie xie ni for your kind consideration. Ziajian! See you later. All the best....Two spirited Tom with a foot in both worlds....

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Glessner History in Georgia - Kennesaw Mt 1864 - Americus 1880's

From the moment I arrived at the Kennesaw Mt Visitors Center, I knew I was on the path to find and honor Edward Cowles Glessner. I had visited the grave of his father Lewis Glessner in Findlay OH and learned he had died in the battle of Kennesaw Mt in 1864. Born 27 May 1844 in Delaware OH, the second son, of Lewis, I found records here documenting that he was a private in the 57th Ohio Infantry, Morgan Smith's Division, under Gen John McPherson's Army of the Tennessee, serving under William Sherman. These are the very help staff led by WR Johnson, chief historian here, and Kay Gower. Here he gave me the info that his grave is #10036 at the Marietta Union Graveyard and gave me a map. I also was given a roster of Ohio troops which listed on page 152, Edward having volunteered at age 18 entering service Oct 7, 1862 for 3 years and was "killed June 27, 1864 in battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Ga. "

Arrow Showing the action of Ohio #57 under GSmiths Advance, the area by Pidgeon Hill where Edward fell in battle. I carried this understanding on our hike indicated on this map below.

We took the hash marked trail from the green box visitors center to the peak of Kennesaw Mountain, about 1 km (2/3 mi) walk uphill where Dana photographed Me and Scott Goodlow. (we met through MKP LKS connections)

Me and Scott Goodlow at the Atlanta Prize of War overlook.

View of place where Edward Glessner likely died in the battle for Pidgeon Hill with Little Kennesaw in the background today, in blur with the magnet showing the battle site in 1864. (Match up the contours of the mountain in the background.)

Down the road from Kennesaw in the town of Marietta, is the National Military Cemetery.  Here is the marker of Edward Glessner, son of Lewis Glessner, (my maternal great-great-grandfather), who died in action June 27, 1864 here in Georgia. 

Close up of grave marker 10036 at the Marietta National Military Cemetery. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hong Kong to Bali - Asian Transition Coffee and Food

On my way from Yunnan to Hong Kong, it was familiar enough to take the A41 bus from the HK airport to the Regal RIverside in Sha Tin New Territories without a hitch. Had a nice dinner with Keith my guide when I spent three days here earlier. Grateful for a real Western Breakfast here overlooking the river and noticing the high rise architecture as well as some green garden space. Most refreshing is that folks can hear and speak English. Yingyu spoken here! Ah, nice coffee with milk and they provide paper napkins too.

I flew to Bali after just one night back in HK. Fun to reconnect with Keith and then make my way to a tropical nation I have heard about for years. Very calm and smiling people. Wayan, my guide, pointed out his name is first born and very common in Bali, and I learned my name is Nyoman (third born) Thomas. Here I am on my way to Sanur Beach with Wayan pointing to a
Bougainvillea tree with purple flowers.

Here is my friend Wayan on the beach at Sanur at low tide. We walked the beach path on a fine windy day and watched parasailors and just the life on the beach.

Here is a shop along the beach in Sanur where Wayan and I walked my first full day in Bali.

Prayer and offerings to the ancestors are part of everyday life here. Here is a typical offering at a statue along the side walk

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nanjing Presidential Palace

We took the bus from the Mausoleum area to the Presidential Palace, where according to wiki "Front gate of the Palace, taken in 2008, displays the sign "Office of the President" (總統府). Prior to 1947, the sign read "National Government" (國民政府)."

When I was a kid, and before the opening of China with visits by Kissinger and Nixon in the late 1970's, the Republic of China was the only one we learned about in the US. The flag of the Republic was associated with the KMT that left the Chinese Mainland in 1949. Here from wiki about the palace and its history.

"After the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, Sun Yat-sen was sworn in at the Presidential Palace as the provisional President of the Republic of China.
However, China soon fell into Warlord era and the Palace was not officially used until 1927 when the Kuomintang (KMT)'s Northern Expedition captured Nanjing and made it into the Headquarters of the Nationalist Government. Chiang Kai-shek had his office in the palace. During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), Chiang Kai-shek's government fled to Chongqing and the building was occupied by Wang Jingwei who collaborated with the Japanese. Following the Japanese surrender in 1945, Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Government reoccupied the building. In 1947, the Constitution of the Republic of China was promulgated and the Headquarters of the Nationalist Government was renamed the Office of the President.
In 1949, near the end of the Chinese Civil War, the Communist forces captured Nanjing, Chiang Kai-shek's government fled to Taiwan, and Mao Zedong declared the People's Republic of China with capital in Beijing. The building was then used for government functions. In the late 1980s it was transformed into a museum detailing China modern history. It is now one of the few places in mainland China where the Flag of the Republic of China is publicly displayed.
On April 27, 2005, the Chairman of Kuomintang, Lien Chan, visited the Palace on his trip to Mainland China, marking a symbolic return of the party to the Palace for the first time in 58 years."

Connection with History of Dr Sun Yat Sen

Ever since my youth, Chinese culture and history has been an interest of mine. Elsewhere on this blog, I have scanned in photos of Chinese Stamps prior to the split in 1949, of the KMP that went to Taiwan and the PRC who claimed the mainland. Still recognized as a founder of democratic China from the time of 1912, is Dr Sun Yat Sen. This is the mausoleum area created after his death. A long walk up a gradual hill in the forest began here.

A warm day, we took to drinking bottles of water, which are 1 RMB in the market, and now 3-5 RMB in the tourist sites.

The forest walk on the way from the bus stop to the bottom of the walk up the stair.

Along the side of the road are planted many plane trees, another name for the sycamore relative in many of the world cities. The mottled bark is one of the hallmarks of indentification.

Here is a map for the entire hill or mountain where the Mausoleum is built.

Impressive stone and I think a cypress tree at the entrance to the memorial site.

Entry gate at the Beginning of the many stairs to the top. 392 according to wiki : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Yat-sen_Mausoleum

The Chinese Characters likely tell the story here. Beautiful art for me AND not a lot of English here. Grateful to have a local guide to support me along the way.

Lions always seem to be big in China in the sculpture anyway. Here we are half way to the top I suppose.

Here is the building that holds Dr Sun's remians. According to wiki " . Sun was born in Guangdong province of China on November 12, 1866, and died in 1925 in Beijing, China. On April 23, 1929, the Chinese government appointed He Yingqin to be in charge of laying Dr. Sun to rest. On May 26, the coffin departed from Beijing, and on May 28, it arrived in Nanjing. On June 1, 1929, Dr. Sun was buried there. Sun, considered to be the "Father of Modern China" both in mainland China and in Taiwan, fought against the imperial Qing government and after the 1911 revolution ended the monarchy and founded the Republic of China.

Here is the view from the top and where we came from and will return to! Happy for the view!

Asian Odyssey - Hong Kong to China written from Bali

Here at the Star Ferry crossing on the Hong Kong side a couple of weeks back looking at Kowloon.
I have been off the blogging grid for a couple of weeks. Left Hong Kong for Nanjing China on Sept 12th and did not have access to this blog until yesterday and my return to Hong Kong. I am actually loading these photos from a small hotel in Bali, resting here after a 5 hour flight from Hong Kong last night. Inspired to begin writing again after Paul of www.anotherdayontherun.com asked in an email "you said that you were keeping a blog too, what's the URL? Hope Honkers (Australian slang for Hong Kong) is treating you OK." Thanks Paul. I hope to connect with his famlly again. He and his wife are both nurses and have like taken a year off to travel, with a 4 yr old son and a 9th month old as well. What a journey hey!

The night before I left for China, I got a chance to view the skyline of Hong Kong Island here. Iconic view.

Here is the tower in Kowloon at night net up to celebrate the Autumn festival. Along the harbor.

Mid September I learned is a time to share moon cakes. So here is one I got on the flight to Nanjing from Hong Kong. Filled with fruit and nuts and perhaps part of an egg. I sense it is kinda like fruit cake for the American Christmas time. The two men I had as guides, both in HK and Nanjing, really don't care for them much.

I arrived in Nanjing and my friend and guide Tony found the bus to get me to my Hotel booked by the Australian Travel group Flight Center. Here is the view out of my window. Only about a half mile from the Yangtze River here.

Here is the Nanjing Train Station where much of my activities centered out of. Took a bus here from the hotel and then took the subway to a part of Nanjing where I got a Chinese Cell phone. Was very handy to call around Zhongguo.

Here is the shopping are in Nanjing where I got my China Mobile phone

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saturday in Hong Kong - Night in Kowloon

Keith Lau picked me up at the HK Airport and we caught a bus (after I picked up an Octopus Card - for all transport, trains and busses, like an Oyster Card in the US) that took us directly in about 45 min to the Regal Riverside Hotel along the Shing Mun River in Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong. This is the view I found in the morning from my 15th story window. Keith had been quite organized in covering the bases on my 2 days travels here. I high school teacher of Chinese and World History and a native of New Territories, he knew all the short cuts and cheap ways to see the parts of the city, from the Star Ferry, to Peak View Point on Victoria Peak, to Up Scale Shopping and People watching at the tall tower, Two International Finance Center, that is, and then back to Kowloon on the ferry

I got a lesson in conversion as the Hong Kong Dollar has an exchange rate of about 12.83 HK per US Dollar. So this 500 dollar note is worth about 64.13 US dollars. What I find interesting is the HSBC clear writing and the direct affiliation of Hong Kong and Shanghai on the bill. I have seen the HSBC logo all over in my travels, and now knowing it stands for Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. The new world economy for sure.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Japan transition to Hong Kong Shatin -Shing Mun River

Here is a sign from the street in Tokyo where I stayed for 3 nights. I took the subway from here to visit Dr Ken on Thursday, a PA who goes to the US to learn about pediatric scientific advances for an integrative clinic in Tokyo. We met at an Autism One Conference in Chicago and I enjoyed his far reaching interest in public health. We talked about the change in radiation level from the Fukishima 3/11 event and how the diet of fish may be compromised. I remember the strontium 90 days in the US, when our nation was still testing atomic bombs in the environment.

This is the non-descript building where the administrative office is for the clinic where a met "Dr Ken". The office across the hall did not even know they had an office there. Persistence in asking for directions!

Friday AM I took a Taxi to the Tokyo rail station where I got a orange shuttle bus to Narita Airport. I made it in plenty of time to sit in the Starbucks here and check out the ambience before getting onto the China Eastern Airlines plane to Shanghai Pu Dong. Remindful of how my grandfather and my mom, likely sat in a Fred Harvey Restaurant waiting for the Santa Fe Railroad in the 1920's much as we wait for airplanes in the new Century.

I was pleasantly surprised with the free food on the China Eastern airplane. Here is the full meal I received on my way from Tokyo to Shanghai! Food is an interesting metaphor. Soba Noodles, a beef and rice dish.

And as free beverages, even got a Chinese beer after several glasses of orange juice. Staying well hydrated on this trip.

View from my first room at the Regal Riverview Hotel along the Shing Mun River in Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong. Noticing the general haze here which I sense is from the mainland Chinese nearby burning a lot of coal. Lots of activity alone the river, where I took a walk this morning. Grateful for my Amazon Herb and Probiotic Supplements that are keeping my immune system stable here!

Levels of transition. On a world finance level, here is a Hong Kong 500 dollar bill which converts to about $64.13 US. What I find interesting is the HSBC clear writing and the direct affiliation of Hong Kong and Shanghai on the bill. I have seen the HSBC logo all over in my travels, and now knowing it stands for Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. The new world economy for sure.

Here is a park across from my hotel where many folks are doing group exercises before 7 AM. Looks like chi gong.