If you have read the Meet Mahalo page (menu choice above) you know that we chose this name for our boat because we are grateful for our good life and that Hawaiian word expresses it beautifully.
On our first trip to China in December of 2017 I felt several emotions along these lines. Although we have traveled to many countries (my count is 30 something), China wasn't really on our radar. And because of building the boat we got to experience this wonderful country and the people. Interacting with the people at the factory led to a different experience than if we were simply in Shanghai as tourists.
By asking questions when we were driving around, having meals, and so on, we learned quite a bit about China, her people, doing business there, etc. I was also reading a lot about the country's history. It's a fascinating place.
One of the aspects I really enjoyed is that Chinese ascribe meaning to literally everything. Each number has a special meaning, as does each color. In ancient times, anyone but the emperor wearing yellow would be instantly killed, for example. Every animal has it's own meaning (turtles are symbol of long life, yaaay!). And on and on.
I learned the Chinese words for "thankful" or "grateful." Towards the end of that trip I asked factory owner Jeff Chen if we could exchange presents. I asked him to have these words painted in the traditional way, and framed. We would place this on Mahalo in a location of his choosing. He agreed. When we walked around the boat looking for a place, he chose the exact place I hoped he would.
My present to him would be one of my photographs. Arriving in Shanghai in April 2018, we did our present exchange.
At home, I had taken a long time to decide which image to present to him, as I wanted it to be meaningful, not just a pretty picture. Reviewing some of my koi pictures, several appealed to me. I looked into the Chinese meaning for koi and found that they are the symbol of prosperity. And gold obviously has a similar meaning. Bingo!
I had the print made on aluminum by the always amazing www.bayphoto.com and they shipped it to Shanghai (get this: $40 for shipping, arrives in a week). This particular image has another sentiment for me as it is one of the images on the walls of my software company, which is what enabled us to do this boat project in the first place.
And here is Jeff's gift to us and Mahalo. It's just beautiful. This location is next to my "desk" in the salon, immediately on the right as you enter through the aft door. He found a university professor who is a calligraphy master to paint this for us. (And a few other beautiful pieces we will place elsewhere.)
China has more than 200 dialects. So within the country these words are pronounced in a variety of ways. In Shanghai, it is pronounced "Gawn Shen" (about the closest I can get in English).
For the April 2018 trip, Deb and I decided we wanted to see more of China, so we did eight days of touring before heading to Shanghai. While in Beijing, we had a private guide for a few days. Here in a shop in the Forbidden City she shows us how to pronounce "grateful." Note in the Beijing dialect, it sounds more like "Gaw En" with no "S" sound.
Our guide's name is YumYum and at the end Deb as a little fun with her as the one English word she can't seem to pronounce is "envelope." Ah, life is good!