School News

Dr. Beall Reports From the Ancient City of Ningbo

Yesterday we flew to Ningbo, an eastern port city in China. Its name translates as “Serene Waves” but we haven’t visited the coastline yet to see the city’s namesake. Ningbo is one of the oldest cities in China, with a history extending back to 4800 BC. It was a trade city on the silk road two thousand years ago and a major port for early dynasties but was isolated from other major cities in China until 2008 when a 20-mile long bridge was built across the Hangzhou Bay, cutting travel time to Shanghai to two hours. That’s a good example of the willingness of the Chinese government to invest in huge-scale infrastructure projects. I understand they are currently constructing subway systems in at least ten cities.

Mass transit in the nick of time. The proliferation of cars has brought significant air pollution, and unfortunately the crystal clear days in Beijing have given way to the smog of Ningbo.


The air was much better outside the city. Our hosts arranged an outing to the birthplace and estate of Chiang Kai-shek and a look at life in smaller cities. No Starbucks or KFC seen here. The local specialty food is “hundred layer” snacks hand-rolled and baked in wood barrel ovens. Some are sweet, some are seaweed.

The food here has been spectacular in its variety. We have to ask our hosts multiple times at each meal, “What is that?” We eat almost exclusively with chopsticks, and that considerably slows a meal—a healthy habit—and restricts the size of each bite, at least for me. Eating a cup of corn kernels—one at a time—was an exercise in patience.

The venues have also been amazing. This is an exotic dinner theatre with traditional Chinese singers entertaining. We had a separate private room with a balcony overlooking the stage, complete with a sleeping alcove for the post-meal nap. Nope, we didn’t slow down long enough to use it, but it sure looked inviting.

With all the cultural differences, the underlying humanity is universal. Moments after this picture, the little girl turned shy and buried her face in her mother’s legs to avoid the camera, a common reaction in any culture.








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