Southern China:

Zhanjiang Gravity Meter Test and Guilin

March 1997


Text and Photos Copyright ©2001 Mark E. Halliday


A major training/installation program was scheduled for our biggest customer in China.

I flew to Beijing, and joined Pat Hobbs and Dr. Lin on a flight to the port city of Zhanjiang, on the south China Coast.


Projects in China usually start with an "Opening Banquet" and finish with a "Closing Banquet". This is where the Chinese take the measure of "the other side".

In most cases, this involves some fine eating and drinking.

Toasts to each other throughout the meal are traditional.


This banquet was more animated than most. The director was pretty sloshed, and wanted to arm-wrestle the big foreigner!

I thought about letting him win, but decided against it.



So the director ordered up a Snake to really test me.

They killed the snake, and filled glasses with Snake Blood and "MaoTai", the local sorgum-based firewater.

This was not so bad, just a bit salty.


In desperation, the director ordered up a glass of green liquid bile squeezed from the Snake's gallbladder.

I drank the snake bile, but really struggled to keep from throwing up right there at the dinner table. Yuuuch!






The next two weeks of work were very stressful.


We set up our equipment in a hotel room for training and testing.

Unfortunately, we had serious problems with the gravity meter when using the local power supply.

We were constantly surrounded by seriously unhappy faces as Pat changed circuit boards and other components.!

Eventually we found a solution,

which was simply a grounding rod

outside the hotel-room/test lab!




The quality of our meals was sometimes correlated with the the success of each day's work!

After we solved the power-supply problem, we had a very nice dinner at the Zhanjiang City Floating Restaurant!

Take your pick, Shrimp,

Sea-Snake, and lots more!




Another end-of-dinner group toast

to the success of the project.


We enjoyed more excellent seafood, especially squid, seasnake, dog, snake, scorpions, and even some kangaroo meat for variety!

The only disappointing aspect of the food is the lack of hot pepper.


Chopping Dog Meat


English translations are sometimes humerous!






The project culminated with a three day "cruise".

We installed three gravity meters on a Chinese military vessel that had been carefully stripped of anything military, like deck guns.

The ship was repainted

from grey to white for our visit,

and would be re-painted grey with its

military numbers after our departure!



The script said this was an oceanographic survey vessel, not military.

We were expected to play along with the game!

Our test cruise took us into the South China Sea near Hainan island, not far from the coast of Vietnam.





The chinese were very conscientious about preparations for the foreigner.

They built a special bed in one of the officer's cabins for me, since I could not fit in a Chinese-sized bunk!

In the afternoon, as the ship warmed up, giant flying cockroaches would come out of the walls and fall on me from above!





More than $1 Million worth of Gravity Meters!





I conducted onboard training classes to help the customer gain confidence in the system.

The test data matched previous survey data within a few milliGals, so the customer declared the test a success.

The Chinese hosts offered to spend a day showing us around Zhanjiang before we departed.





We visited a volcanic lake a short drive from Zhanjiang city.

There was this carved-face entrance to a cave built into the volcanic rock surrounding the lake.


Inside were these very

strange ceramic characters.




How these images fit into Chinese

culture I have no idea!



A few days earlier one of the Chinese hosts asked me if I liked guns. I assumed he was curious about typical Americans, who, according to cowboy movies, all carry guns.

It turned out he had something else in this cave was a shooting range with AK-47's for hire!

While the others carefully tried to hit the target with single shots, I put the weapon on full-Auto and emptied a clip.

The barrel got so hot I burned my hand on it!




The traditional "Closing Banquet"

where everybody thanks each other for their hard work !






I took a train north from the coast to Guilin, a common stop on any tourist itinerary in China.

Here are the famous vertical limestone peaks often seen in Chinese paintings.

Although it rained most of the time, a boat trip down the river was worthwhile, with a cave tour and great scenery.









Limestone Pillar

near Yangshuo.


Riverboat arrives in Yangshuo




Yangshuo City






Text and Photos Copyright ©2001 Mark E. Halliday