Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Xiamen Highlights

Our long weekend in Xiamen was good. It was really nice to get away from the now familiar Shanghai sights. Here are some highlights from our trip...

Day 1: After insane amounts of transportation (taxi, bus, plane, van, ferry & tram) we arrived finally on Gulong Yu, an island right next to the island of Xiamen. Both are located west of Taiwan. Our hotel in Gulong Yu was the only 4 star hotel on the island, but was definitely not what Scott and I would
consider 4 stars. There were no elevators!!! We were on the third floor, so that got a little annoying with Timmy and stroller in tow all the time. The island itself was only worthy of a day trip, but we enjoyed the time anyway.

We were traveling with 7 of Scott's coworkers, all young/our age single people. They were
traveling cheap, so they stayed at a hostel. We joined them for a few meals and got to experience what traveling cheap means to a twenty-something Chinese person! Some of the places we ate at I would have never thought to set foot in, much less actually eat at. The first meal in Gulong Yu was delicious. Since these islands are in the ocean, lots of seafood. Some
good, and some gross.

Day 2: We took the ferry back over to Xiamen and found our new hotel, much nicer. We searched the internet on our phones for "American Restaurant Xiamen" because after two cheap Chinese meals, we were ready for a burger! We found some place called the Red Armadillo, but it didn't exactly have an address. We decided to go anyway and hunt it down. After an hour long taxi ride, and glorious tour of the southern coast of the island, the taxi driver dropped us off on the side of the road. We had no idea where this place was. We started wandering and after about ten or fifteen minutes, a really sunburnt white guy yells down the road at us, "Red Armadillo?" Sweet. We followed him to his home, which I should have taken a picture of because I can't even begin to describe it. Definitely not your normal restaurant. He was an American expat, who has been in Xiamen for 8 years. The food was delicious, and we talked to the owner (sun burnt guy) for a while. It was super relaxing, complete with Jimmy Buffet on the stereo and a view of the beach.

After lunch, we went to the beach. Due to a recent typhoon, the water wasn't what we
considered swim worthy. So we played in the sand, walked down the coast and watched 4 different engaged couples take wedding pictures on the beach. In China it is a thing to hire a photography company to take pictures of you
and your fiance in different wedding attires at different locations. Many are like costumes, some are more traditional wedding garb. Either way it was fun to see. While we were people watching the brides, everyone in Xiamen was watching us! Timmy seems to create a scene wherever he goes. Its really annoying. On our last day Scott and I both actually hit someone for touching Timmy because she wouldn't back off.

Day 3: We went to the 10,000 stone botanical gardens, but we didn't stay long or take very many pictures. It was ridiculously hot, so much that Scott and I were drenched in sweat and the whole place was full of stairs. Not exactly fun with the stroller. Not to mention the intrusive people that want to touch Timmy. This is where the hitting incident took place. So we made a short loop through the gardens and retreated back to our hotel for some AC. After some shopping with our Chinese friends, and lunch at the highest Pizza Hut in the world we came home.
For the rest of our pictures, click here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Long Weekend!

So Scott has a random day off on Monday for some type of power shut down at his company so we are going with 6 of his coworkers on a trip! We will be flying south the city of Xiamen (She-Ah-Men) which I am pretty sure is also the name of the island it is located on. Its a beachy place and is said to be in the top 5 most beautiful cities in China. Yea! I will of course be taking a lot of pictures so stay tuned. We'll be back on Monday.
It will be interesting to travel with 6 young single Chinese people and Me, Scott and Timmy. Already we are staying at a different hotel than them because they are going cheap and roughing it at a not so nice place. Yun Lou (our friend/translator/angel that I have mentioned before) didn't think we would like where they are staying. So this could be interesting. I hate being the snobby, rich foreigner because we are not rich, just not as poor as the average Chinese person. I am snobby I suppose, but I still don't like the label! :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

One Bad China Day

So usually I try not to complain here and just share the fun, weird and interesting things in China. Today I need to vent because it was a bad China day. Then I will share some good things so as not be just be a downer....

1. Mrs. Zhang is leaving us for a month.
2. Timmy has entered terrible twos, every diaper change is a battle royal.
3. Its freaking hot and terribly humid.
4. I still can't get taxis easily, today 30 minutes to get one.
5. On the way home from a play group today Timmy got car sick, buckets of stomach acid and fruit leather pieces all over me, him, cow and the taxi. (I gave the taxi driver about $20 USD because I felt so bad for leaving a mess in his car).
6. The pool in our apartment development is still under construction, no end in sight.
7. The stitches in my gums are starting to come loose, but need to stay there for another week. Feels like junk stuck in my teeth, gross.
8. Two of the three regularly scheduled activities that Timmy and I attend are on break for the month of July.
9. Timmy took no nap today, but needed one desperately.

Okay, that's enough. Now for the good.
1. Praise God that Scott still has a job.
2. I am thankful that we are going to a city on an island called Xiamen this weekend to get away with some of Scott's coworkers and take advantage of a random day off of work that Scott has on Monday.
3. My moms and toddlers prayer and play group is NOT taking a break during July.
4. We have air conditioning.
5. Timmy is happy to be here with all his toys and friends.
6. Timmy is starting to learn Chinese, he can say Daddy, One, Two, Grandpa and Grandma in Mandarin.
7. Mrs. Zhang bought me a new plant this week. I love flowers.
8. I found a good restaurant in the neighborhood for Chinese take-out.
9. Timmy started sleeping through the night again, hallelujah! Those 6 weeks in the US were rough.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Watermelons Galore

Just a quick picture of watermelons, lots and lots of watermelons. I thought it was pretty amazing to see so many in one place, and there was another van full of them that didn't fit in the picture. Crazy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Today's Adventures

So Mrs. Zhang is leaving Thursday night on vacation for a month. I have been prepping myself for a month of hauling Timmy all over the city to buy groceries and such. Then, last night, our friend/translator/angel, Yun Lou, called to say that Mrs. Zhang's neighbor would be willing to fill in for her while she is on vacation. Hmmmmm. This is a tough call, we already took a leap of faith once with Mrs. Zhang and it worked out great, but should we do it again with basically a stranger? Well, she came to work with Mrs. Z today, and seems okay, but what do I know, I can't really interview her or anything. I asked her what her name was in Mandarin and she answered, but darn if I know what the heck she said! Anyway, we have a few more days to decide on this one.

Today I took a chance with a restaurant in our neighborhood and ate there without help. I guess this might sound kind of stupid, but its a big deal for me to go out for Chinese food without someone that speaks Chinese! And guess what? It was delicious. I decided to try it because it was a newer place, they had a menu outside in Mandarin and English, and I was hungry. I have been hoping to find some place near our home that was like this, it just seemed like everywhere only had Chinese menus. Yea for small victories!

And one more thing...I got a haircut today. Nothing special, I went to the same place I have always gone, but you would think I was the only laowei (foreigner) they had ever seen! It was funny, just as funny as the first time I went there, only weirder because it was like the dozenth (is that a word?) time I've been there. I guess 6 weeks away makes everyone forget about you.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hot, Hot, Hot

IT IS HOT!!! Hotter than I have ever experienced. By 9:30AM its in the 90s, and the Weather Channel says it feels like 109 degrees F. I start sweating just thinking about it. Thank goodness for air conditioners.

Anyway, here are a couple of pictures from our first day back
in Shanghai. Timmy and I met up with the ladies and kiddos from our Moms & Toddlers prayer and play group at a cafe that had a great outdoor playground for the kids. Unfortunately it was a billion degrees, even in the morning. On this particular day there was a nice breeze in the shade, so we had a good time anyway. These pictures of Timmy and Maddie, my friend Meg's daughter.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Welcome Back to China...grrrrrrrrrr

So I think that blogger.com is now blocked by the Great Firewall of China. This means I have to use Scott's computer (that does not store our pictures) or a proxy website (which I hate) in order to post here. How annoying! I guess it was bound to happen someday, hopefully it will get unblocked soon, sometimes this happens. This is China, so who knows. So for now, no pictures since I'm on Scott's Mac and I keep all our pictures on my laptop.

Our flight back to Shanghai, via Toronto on Air Canada was okay. Timmy did not sleep as much as on past flights, but he was tolerable nonetheless. The most eventful part of it was when we landed guys in white jumpsuits and masks came on board with laser thermometers and took everyone temperature. It was straight out of the movies. Even the flight attendants were taking pictures. I guess the swine flu is still serious around here.

The time change has been a bit of a beast this time around. Yesterday and today Timmy took a huge nap in the afternoon that he had to be woken up from, and he was not happy about it at all. We all ate popcorn and pop-tarts at midnight and watched cartoons on Wednesday night before going back to sleep. Similar activities last night, but it was granola bars at 2AM instead. I'm hoping to get through tonight a little better.

It was 90 degrees and super humid yesterday. Its going to be a long hot summer in Shanghai.