[Photo Gallery:] the old Licun Chinese Prison

A literal stone’s throw from the south wall of the Rockcity Mall (伟东乐客城) in Qingdao’s Licun (青岛李村) sits the last remnants of the old Licun Chinese Prison (李村华人监狱). It’s surrounded by construction fences, but you can get in through the loosely chained construction site gate on the north side.

The walls inside and out are covered in barely legible Mao Era slogans, which, along with its history, make this a fascinating stop for urban explorers. But unless the authorities have plans to turn it into a museum, I doubt it will be standing for much longer. Along with the Binhe Lu Christian Church (滨河路基督教堂) and, until recently, Licunji (李村集,the canal bed market), this prison represents the last wisps of tangible history in a fast-developing district.

According to Baidu, German imperialists built the Licun Chinese Prison in 1897 (they had a separate prison on Changzhou Lu 常州路 for foreigners). Around 1939 it underwent major restoration. In 1941 during the Japanese occupation there was a famous prison break, commemorated with a photo. After Liberation most of the original structure was torn down and rebuilt.
In 1954, criminals were given three months of winter thought reform training in the “3 Destroys, 3 Erects”:

“Destroy reactionary thinking, erect socialism thinking;
Destroy exploitative notions, erect the glory of labour;
Destroy old bad habits, erect new morals.”

That slogan and many others are still visible on the prison walls — I’ve translated all the legible ones in the photo captions below (with much help from my Weixin pengyous). (The most recent writing I found was a posted notice from January 2007 listing sanitation duties.)

These photos were taken on December 12 and 14, 2016. Click a thumbnail to get started!

I found two other photo collections: one from August 2013, and one from April 2016.

Chairman Mao on working out

I’m on my third Chinese gym in three years. The first one got kicked out by the landlord (and didn’t refund the remainder of our membership fees). The second one operated with no electricity for over a month before the management suddenly locked the doors and disappeared (and didn’t refund the remainder of our membership fees).

But my third and current Chinese gym has Chairman Mao speaking English:
I was sold.

It was also the cheapest by far of my remaining options.

But it turns out this quote from some calligraphy by Chairman Mao in 1952 is famous, and was used in propaganda posters:

fāzhǎn tǐyù yùndòng,zēngqiáng rénmín tǐzhì

Here’s a little collection of posters and images I scrounged from the internets (click one):

[Photo Gallery:] Happy Chinese New Year 2016 from Bangkok!

On Chinese New Year’s eve, I followed some lion and dragon dance troupes around our area of Bangkok.

[Photo gallery:] Eating starfish in Qingdao, China

I ask these two Chinese friends, both young, wealthy, educated urban women, if they’ve ever eaten 毛蛋 — literally “hair eggs”, actually fertilized chicken eggs (i.e. a chicken fetuses) that simmer for hours in woks on Qingdao sidewalks:

“Oh, gross! We wouldn’t dare! No way!”

What about starfish (海星)? Do you eat starfish?

“Of course.”

Earlier this week we were running around with some friends from Kunming and stumbled upon a starfish-eating opportunity that we couldn’t pass up. Click the first thumbnail to open the viewer. And read the captions; it’s like a little story…

For more Chinese food adventures, see:

[Photo Gallery:] Eating chicken fetuses 毛蛋 in Qingdao, China

IMO, adventure eating isn’t any fun by yourself. And it’s not any interesting if the food isn’t “real” local food, meaning if it’s something locals made up just to freak out tourists but don’t actually eat themselves then I’ll pass. Unless it looks tasty. But I’ve seen 毛蛋 (chicken fetus eggs) and starfish (and cicadas and silkworm chrysalises) in normal Chinese settings far removed from any tourism. I pass by piles of them every week in Qingdao. So when some undauntable foreign friends from Kunming visited us last week, it was the perfect chance to try them.

These things are common, but they’re also not a regular thing for most people, and a lot of people think they’re gross. Below the photos I’ve translated some of the reactions I got sharing a 毛蛋-eating picture on 微信 (aka WeChat, the Chinese answer to Facebook). Click a thumbnail to open the viewer!

Some 微信 reactions:

[alarmed/dismayed/appalled] / [惊恐]
No No oh my。。。
[astonished] / [惊讶][惊讶][惊讶][惊讶][惊讶]
Can even write Chinese, awesome / 还会写中文,厉害
This seems unhealthy! / 这个好像不健康!
[alarmed/dismayed/appalled] / [惊恐][惊恐][惊恐]
I’m terrified [supercilious] / 真惊了[白眼]
[cold sweat] I don’t dare eat that / [冷汗]俺不敢吃
Isn’t this cruel? / [撇嘴][撇嘴][撇嘴]是不是很残忍
[Strong] / [强]
You really do this! I’ll ‘like’ it, but won’t imitate [awkward] / 你真行!点赞,但不效法[å°´å°¬]
[stunned][stunned][stunned] / [发呆][发呆][发呆]
James asks you: does it taste good? How’s the texture? / James问你:好吃吗?口感怎么样?
[become weak] / [è¡°]

But some people do like them, like this woman, who snagged one today right in front of me while I was waiting for my lunch.

For more Chinese food adventures, see:

[Photo Gallery:] Spring taiji lessons, our neighbourhood, Qingdao, China

It’s that magical time of year again in our neighbourhood, when spring blossoms surround the taiji lessons (太极拳). Took these this morning on the way to work. Click a thumbnail to open the gallery viewer!

For more tàijí from our neighbourhood, see:

[Photo Gallery:] Chinese group tour, Qingzhou, Shandong 山东省 青州

Joined a Chinese group tour with 50 of my coworkers over the Tomb Sweeping Festival holiday weekend — so domestic tourism, China-style. We visited tourist traps in and around Qingzhou 青州 (near Weifang 潍坊) in Shandong Province (山东省):

  • Huanghua (“Yellow Flower”) Creek 黄花溪
  • Taihe Buddhist Temple 泰和寺
  • Yunmen (“Cloud Gate”) Mountain 云门山
  • Ouyuan Street 偶园街
  • Qingzhou Museum 青州博物馆

Click a thumbnail below to launch the viewer.

My only non-Chinese coworker (from another branch of the preschool) also came, and her photos are here and here.