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June 11, 2012
On Yelp we found “Sisters of the New South.” The meat and three had ocean murals and the menu painted on the wall. I had the hamburger steak special with okra and tomatoes, cabbage, cornbread and sweet tea ($6). The sliced yams, barbecue ribs and mac were also delicious.
On the south end of the historic district at Colonial Cemetery Park we visited the grave of a French sea captain who was commissioned by Washington and defeated a British ship in the American Revolution. The white cathedral of Saint John the Baptist had a sumptuous marble altarpiece, and we met a Girl Scout on the steps sheltering in the rain. She had been to a national conference in DC and got dozens of tokens (like the Washington Monument made of sponge) that she pinned to her hat. We walked across two green squares to the Episcopal church of Saint John, once the center of religious life in what was at first an anti-Catholic colony. On the north end of the district we saw the firm and angular First African Baptist Church. Built in 1859, it was the first brick building in Georgia owned by blacks. We could only peek through the keyhole at the pews and geometric glass. Homeless people sat to chat in the park by a statue of black Haitian soldiers.
I had pea soup ($4) and iced coffee at Soho South Cafe, a French cafe and art gallery on Liberty Street. They let us in just before closing time and let us stay an extra hour. I found a “wheresgeorge.com” dollar bill and checked its provenance: the Regions Bank in Mountain Brook, Alabama, home of my grandparents. I left it in the tip.
Men on scaffolding were molding the archway over a building off Ellis Square. Men on lifts were installing windows, and on the other corner Paula Deen’s restaurant carried on. It rained on us. We mailed postcards in the city market, drove out through a storm and had bright daylight around 7:30. On Interstate 16 West to Macon, the sun set on the road.
PS: The day before yesterday, I forgot to mention that we bought a Doraemon bobble head at “Fun Land,” a store selling Super Nintendos, dinosaur toys, Pokemon cards, and just about everything else I ever played with. Yesterday, I forgot to mention that I talked language with two cashiers at CVS, one of whom had studied Japanese and could read kana.
June 10, 2012
The tide rolled in under the dock and lapped the mossy green grass growing in the muck. We ate pancakes on the veranda, talked about our friends that weren’t there, parted.
We took the highway past downtown and out to the west side, where we ate at Masada Cafe inside the United House of Prayer for All People. A Frommer’s “Find,” we heard “best down-home Southern cooking in Savannah” and won’t disagree. We found the UHoPFAP by a highway overpass and another church where some were out in their Sunday best. Signs said, “Kitchen Open.” A metal cafeteria counter was nearly empty, but luckily the rest of the food was in the back. I went for cash while our chicken fried. We got meat and three with cornbread and tea for $7. The skin was thin and crisp, the meat was juicy, and the sides were rock solid. I ate fried chicken, succotash (Lima beans and corn), green beans and mac and cheese.
Downtown is for squares. We strolled among “green lungs,” columns and iron rails. We passed homeless people, boarded buildings and the Housing Authority in the projects. Our car cobbled along River Street and down the back alley under Factor’s Walk and Row. We watched a cargo ship churn down the river and got a toot from the tugboat of the “Charleston Express.” We ate peanut butter pie in Gallery Espresso. We crossed iron bridges by the old Cotton Exchange. A group of kids passed a Corvette parked under a brick arch on the cobblestone street where dockhands once ported rice and cotton.
We ate dinner on the south side, at Sammy’s Greens, which occupies one side of a narrow building on a residential street next to “Rent Savannah” red brick apartments. Sammy’s was bright. We had house made ginger ale, and I ate a curry sandwich with pear chutney and tofu on French bread (6″ for $5) and couscous with tomatoes and olives ($2). A “Buddy” 50cc mint green Taiwanese scooter sat outside.
John Giles, Jr. (1788-1871) was a Georgia schoolteacher, and my ancestor. Two pages from his notes, circa 1806-1836:
Plus: an old typewriter, and the central piece of a cotton gin, for separating the cotton from the boll.
And: Sawblades from the sawmill.
At the Terrell property, on Terrell Lake, Jonesboro, GA. (My mom is a Terrell.)
June 11, 2011 (Saturday)
Sixteenth day in China, first day in Hangzhou: 吳山 Wushan, 西湖 West Lake
Got up and washed my clothes. Lots of shops on Hefang street sell tea. I ate a fish with rice for lunch. I bought some sea salt tea at 85 Degrees on the corner and walked down to Wushan Square. A glistening stone path led up into some trees on my left, so I wandered up there amid fragrant greenery, in the light rain. On top of the hill were trees too thick to see Suzhou below and a stone path that took me past guys playing cards and drinking tea to 药王殿 a temple of the “Medicine King.”
I climbed the 城隍阁 Chenghuang Tower, a “pseudo-classical” modern pagoda that houses exhibits about Hangzhou history, and the Hangzhou pavilion from the World Expo, photos of people in Hangzhou in rotating glass boxes with their comments on the other side. On the second floor were (modern) painted wood carvings depicting Hangzhou in the Southern Song dynasty (12th to 13th Century, up to the Mongol invasion), when Hangzhou was the capital of the dynasty, and possibly the most populous city in the world. On the fifth floor I climbed some steep stone steps and saw distant Thunder Peak Pagoda’s silhouette in the mist over the West Lake. The opposite shore was shrouded in fog, and a rain fell over the lake, temple rooftops and trees, and the apartments below.
I walked through Wushan Square down through a gate into the wooded area at the south edge of the lake. I crossed old stone bridges, saw little bits of swampland and stood under a pavilion, watching boats cut slowly across the lake.
Walked northeast along the lake. A stone ledge and no shore to speak of runs along the lake. I crossed a long stone bridge over to 西湖天地 Xihu Tiandi, a bit of land sticking out into the lake full of fancy restaurants. A wedding party was having dinner inside. I saw the statue of the golden ox emerging from the water, as in the legend. I caught a bus back to Wushan Square and went into a food court for dinner.
Hangzhou, by the way, is the home of 許仙 Xu Xian (sometimes 許宣 Xu Xuan) in the 白蛇傳 White Snake Legend. In the earliest written version of the story (17th-Century 白娘子永鎮雷峰塔, in 警世通言 by 馮夢龍 Feng Menglong), he meets a beautiful widow (surname 白 “White”) in the rain on a boat in the West Lake and loans her his umbrella. When he comes to her house to retrieve it, she proposes marriage. She keeps giving him stolen stuff, so he keeps getting arrested and banished, and eventually it’s determined she is really a spiritually cultivated white snake demon in disguise as a human. A Buddhist priest helps Xu Xian capture the demon and imprison her forever under Thunder Peak Pagoda. According to my professor, a crypt was discovered under Thunder Peak when they excavated it before building the modern tower, the crypt contained… nothing.
June 10, 2011 (Friday)
Fifteenth day in China, third day in Suzhou: 苏州博物馆 Suzhou Museum, bus to Hangzhou, new friends & a late-night snack
Ate some crab xiaolong, spring rolls, cold noodles and plum juice at a place with wooden shutters next to a stone bridge on Pingjiang Street and walked some back streets to the Suzhou Museum. I saw lots of artifacts dug up around town, including a beautiful celadon cup in the shape of a lotus found inside the Cloud Rock Temple Pagoda, and pottery from thousands of years ago down to the present. I saw lots of painted fans on loan from Qingdao, and Buddhist statues. The center of the museum is a garden, with a sculpture of tall spindly flowers and a walkway across the water, into a bamboo thicket. The museum also contained inkstones, birdcages, and other things collected by the literati of Ming and Qing times. A kind of squarish high waterfall dripped green water by the stairs.
The museum also contained the former residence of 忠王府 Prince Zhong, a military leader of the 太平天国 Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. According to the museum, a man named Li was a peasant who joined the Taiping Army to fight the Qing imperial government, and rose through the ranks during the 1850s, becoming a general, and later a prince. Around 1860 the Taiping army defeated the Qing army in many battles, took lots of land around Suzhou and Hangzhou, established their own government, and almost drove the foreign colonizers out of Shanghai before they were finally defeated. The buildings are part of the museum, and full of documents issued by the Taiping government.
Near Guanqian road A big temple sat off the main shopping area. A heavy rain was falling, flooding the medieval-era well in front of the temple. The ground was slippery and rank, but the rain smelled fresh. I wandered back through some narrow whitewashed alleys dotted with little shops and restaurants.
Took the bus to Hangzhou.
Arrived in Hangzhou (~9:00pm) and took the bus, then a cab to Wushan Square, near my hostel, which is on Dajing Lane off Hefang Street, a shopping avenue with no cars and old-style buildings. I checked into 杭州荷方国际青年旅舍 Hangzhou Hofang International Youth Hostel, then walked around the corner looking for food. I passed under an arch and saw people eating at a restaurant with 夜宵 “late night” written over the menu. The place looked full, but the staff had more tables set up in the street. I got some beef and wonton soup. Three businessmen brought me beer to say cheers with them. 🙂
June 9, 2011 (Thurs)
Fourteenth day in China, second day in Suzhou: 網師園 Master of Nets Garden, 虎丘 Tiger Hill
I ate fried noodles with beef on 凤凰街 Fenghuang Street, then walked an alley past touristy shops and toured the Master of Nets Garden, full of rocks full of holes. I enjoyed the old woodwork and furniture, and the 1000 year old tree beside the pond.
Caught a bus (529) across town and alighted at 虎丘 Tiger Hill. The hill is topped with 雲岩寺塔 Yunyan sita, or Cloud Rock Temple Pagoda, built in the 10th Century. It stands about 47 meters, made of stone, and leans. The trees all over the hill smelled quite good, so after seeing lots of gardens, pavilions and rocks I walked the circumference of the hill, along the water, where whitewashed homes faced me from the other side. In a bamboo grove, one stalk stuck up right in the middle of the path, at hand-height worn yellow, and scratched with the names of passersby.
I left by the south gate, wandered down the street and ate some fresh flatbread. I got soaked in the rain walking from the bus stop, traded my bag for a raincoat in the hostel and went back around Guanqian Street to 老妈米线 [Laoma rice noodles] for some spring rolls, and thick rice noodles with vegetables in a broth that really tasted like chicken noodle soup. Met my roommate from Qingdao and talked for a while.
Wish I could put up some photos to show you Tiger Hill.
PS: If you are reading this blog for the first time, please read the post “Notice” from 6.12.2011.