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Thursday, 27 October 2011


By Johna Ferguson

My middle son, his wife and another son’s daughter are visiting us here in Qingdao for a week. We only have one bedroom, but have two cots to set-up in the office if necessary, but not enough for five of us. Therefore one of my “families” invited us to stay in a two-story single dwelling house he has use of.

It has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a dining room that seats 10, an office and a sitting room. No kitchen but the food is brought to us from my friend’s restaurant which is next door.

You must wonder how we could be so lucky to live in four-star hotel type accommodations. Well in China, it is always who you know. I was this man’s daughter’s English teacher for three years when she was 9, 10 and eleven years old. I also lived with the family, so I am very close to them, although none of them speak any English.

I once lent this man many, many U.S. dollars so in some way he feels a little indebted to me, although that was not the reason for the lend; it was that I had that money and nothing to do with it and he could use it. He would pay me more interest that I could earn in the states, so why not.

He has paid back three-quarters of it and would pay the rest, but I feel what with the stock market like it is, it’s safer here in China right now, but I can easily get it if I need it.

That’s a little bit about China - you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. I taught English to the children of the five families I lived with and in exchange they gave me room and board. But after awhile we all ended up good friends, willing to help each other out in anyway possible.

I am still in very close contact with three of those five and I consider myself lucky to have had the chance to live with Chinese families.

But back to the house we are staying in. It is a little unusual for a friend so have such an expensive place empty, not rented. Seems it is used during the summer months by big officials from other cities who want to vacation in this wonderful scenic place.

My friend knows these power players from his high-up friends, mostly in the law enforcement field, and through other connections here in Qingdao. They eat at his restaurant and hold many meetings plus a little gambling on the side during their stays. I don’t question anything about it, but imagine it is all government subsidized somehow.

Anyway, my family is enjoying it. My granddaughter is a runner, my daughter-in-law is a long distance jogger and my son is a walker so for them it is an ideal place to stay for it is just a few blocks from the long, sandy beach front.

In a few days, we will travel to another small city and stay a couple nights at some plush hotel my other friend will put us up in. She is also a powerful but richer person than any of the others owning a rubber plantation in Cambodia, a wholesale jewelry firm plus into the field of oil in a very big way.

Her son, my former student now 37, is helping her manage the business. My son also hopes to interest her in some business he has in mind, so everything is always intertwined.

But I did bring my 17-year-old granddaughter to see our simple yet wonderful house so she wouldn’t get too grand of an idea about how Chinese live. We will take her on a tour of how the average Chinese lives so she doesn’t have a warped idea of it all.

But are having fun and enjoying the riches while we can. Wish you could all experience it but maybe you can catch a little glimpse from my writings. Below is a picture of the house. The gate is always locked at night by workers at the restaurant so we are safe.

Johna Ferguson House in China

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Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Oh, I did enjoy this. I don't know where to begin to comment. It has so many twists, turns, and everything is involved with and overlays everything else. I can only sum it up to say I think it certainly represents a life well lived - in every respect. Wonderful.

The saying that it isn't what you know but who you know applies here, but it is also a story of a life well lived and one of making good friends.

You must be a very special lady to have made friends of your students parents.

I like the Chinese culture of helping each other.

Always love reading your notes...always interesting and takes me to a different place for the whole day while I think about it..you have a wonderful life, nice that you share it...

Mary B.,Darlene and Mary F. have said it all,Johna.

You lead a very special life and we all enjoy being taken along with you to China.

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