China 2007

I was trying to do the Simpsonize Me thing that Erin was commenting about, but I can’t get it to work. First it rejected my .bmp cuz it wanted a .jpg. Then after I converted it, it claimed my photo was too small. And I can’t find a larger photo of my mug. So argh, forget it. Instead, I’m posting my zen.

I was walking by some night market (flea market outdoor swap-meet type thing) in Shanghai, saw this little guy at the bottom of a glass display case in a jewelry booth, did a double-take, doubled back, and cooed and awwed and pointed and giggled until Mr. W took a photo of it for me. It is THE cutest lucky cat I have ever seen to date. I’m posting it to make myself feel better tomorrow when I see this at work.

This thing always happens to me when I peruse other people’s blogs. I look at their photos and I think, “Wow, that’s a really nice photo. I wonder if it’s really a photo of the blogger.” And I’d admire the composition of the portrait, and the clever poses and outfits, the beautiful figures and skin, and I’d think, “I wanna post a photo of me like that.” But I don’t have any. I wish I just had a recent nice pretty photo of myself. Something I’d look at and feel good about. Where some huge flaw wouldn’t wave at me, like maybe my thighs look huge, or I look midgety, or my face is pudgy, or my skin is horrid, or my upper arms look obese, or I look pregnant. It’s been awhile since I’d been pleasantly surprised by a photo of myself. Just now, I looked in the China photo collection, and what kind of photos did I take? Crap like this:

Times like this, I’m inspired to draw the way I wish I looked. Beautiful, slim, dreamily gazing into the distance of some beautiful horizon, hair long and floating around me, tall with slender (but toned) limbs, nice perky butt and boobs. Sigh…

Like, what happened to THESE days?…

These photos are from LAST YEAR!

I used to think California driving was pretty bad, like they were just GIVING out licenses to anybody now. The way I see it, driving styles are separating themselves into two main categories. Road rage appears to be on the rise, as with ignorance of the drivers. With the first type, defensive driving is pretty much out the window — these drivers expect you to watch out for them and yield to their asshole driving styles. The second type, those who don’t drive aggressively like them drive obliviously and randomly, blocking your way, often gabbing on cell phones. I think this contributes to the aggression and road rage of the first kind of drivers.

I didn’t even realize how awful California drivers were until my vacation in Hawaii last year. When you signal on a freeway, the driver in the lane you want to change to slows down instead of speeds up to block you. They even give a hand gesture, similar to the ones we get in California, except the Hawaiian one uses ALL the fingers. What’s the rush? We’ll all get there soon enough, come on in, brother! their driving style seems to convey.

And then I went to China. I can’t say I was surprised since Taiwan driving is pretty awful as well, but I think Mr. W and his friends were treating it like a novelty. Pedestrians just walked into the street and stood still between two lanes as cars whizzed around them at full speed (yield to pedestrians? What’s that?), and then they moved up another lane and stood still again as more cars whizzed past, inches from their bodies. Thus they make their way, frogger-style, across the street. The driving was utterly unpredictable, as cars turned any direction from any lane, going the wrong way on streets if it was physically possible (and sometimes when it wasn’t), created a lane in between two existing lanes, and basically ignoring traffic lights, bikers and pedestrians. And other cars. Oh yes. Cars pulled out going the wrong way grazing within a inch of our vehicle, and yet they knew exactly what they were doing. Those going the wrong way or making odd turns or creating fake lanes would simply honk to let the relevant drivers know they were there, and the other drivers would move a little to let them make their obscure maneuvers. Needless to say, alert honking filled the air. No one was angry about it, no one was surprised. (Mr. W, me, his friends John and Lidya strolled around cities a few nights at our leisure, and every time we made it across a street, John would let out this big whoop and pick Lidya off the ground in celebration, laughing hysterically, thanking God that they were still alive, and commenting about how he hadn’t gotten such an adrenaline rush in a long time.)

I came back to California and was SO happy that people primarily drove inside of their own lanes and generally stopped when the light turned red, or when pedestrians were crossing the street. But I now have a new annoyance for pedestrians that see you driving by and deliberately step out in front of your car, forcing you to slam your brakes, as they walk slowly and haughtily across the street. “This would NOT be happening in China,” I’d grumbled more than a few times already.

So in honor of California drivers, here is something my coworker sent me a few minutes ago:

1. The morning rush hour is from 5:00 am to noon . The evening rush hour is from noon to 7:00 pm. Friday’s rush hour starts on Thursday morning.
2. The minimum acceptable speed on most freeways is 85 mph. On the 105 or 110, your speed is expected to match the highway number. Anything less is considered “Wussy”.
3. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. LA has its own version of traffic rules. For example, cars/trucks with the loudest muffler go first at a four-way stop; the trucks with the biggest tires go second. However, in Malibu, SUV-driving, cell phone-talking moms ALWAYS have the right of way.
4. If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear-ended, cussed out, and possibly shot.
5. Never honk at anyone. Ever. Seriously. It’s another offense that can get you shot.
6. Road construction is permanent and continuous in all of LA and Orange Counties. Detour barrels are moved around for your entertainment pleasure during the middle of the night to make the next day’s driving a bit more exciting.
7. Watch carefully for road hazards such as drunks, skunks, dogs, cats, barrels, cones, celebs, rubberneckers, shredded tires, cell phoners, deer and other roadkill, and the coyotes feeding on any of these items.
8. Mapquest does not work here, none of the roads are where they say they are or go where they say they do and all the freeway off- and on-ramps are moved each night.
9. If someone actually has their turn signal on, wave them to the shoulder immediately to let them know it has been “accidentally activated.”
10. If you are in the left lane and only driving 70 in a 55-65 mph zone, you are considered a road hazard and will be “flipped off” accordingly. If you return the flip, you’ll be shot.
11. Do not try to estimate travel time, just leave Monday afternoon for Tuesday appointments, by noon Thursday for Friday and right after church on Sunday for anything on Monday morning.

Turned out TurboTiger was right, the nicer hotels in China had in-house gyms. That’d be 2 out of 3 or 4 hotels we stayed at. I’d worked my ass off (well, not really, that sucker’s hanging on tight to my hip bones) before the trip in anticipation of not having access to any gym, but between the 3 workouts we had in the hotel gyms and the 2 hours of climbing the Great Wall of China and the daily walking from, to, and within sight-seeing locations, I didn’t do too badly. I think I lost weight.

PMS bloating set in within a few days of the trip, as I weighed myself obsessively in each hotel we stayed in (and then multipled the bathroom scale number by 2.2 to convert kilos to pounds). I was also nervous about the three, sometimes four meals we’d get a day. It seemed like every time we got off a bus or off a plane, we were taken to a restaurant and fed. If we were in a plane, Air China also serves full hot meals with every flight, even those only 2 hours in duration. I ate guiltily, thinking of the cliched starving kids in China, and looking out the windows for them. I did see a few begging kids, but I can’t say it wasn’t a tourist trap scam put on by their nearby and slyly-grinning parents.

After returning to California, my body started its thing on time the day after I got back, and now that I’m debloated, I seem to be a pound or two less than before I’d gone on the trip. So maybe there really IS something to that “eat six meals a day to keep your metabolism up” thing.

Just to be safe, I still hit the gym whenever I could upon my return. Monday at lunch, full workout, weights and cardio. Tuesday at lunch, we had a meeting that took half an hour away from my lunch, so I did a quick gym turnaround and ran 3 miles on the treadmill, the most effective workout I could do in the shortest amount of time. Grumpy at the loss of lunch hour, I declined showering and simply wiped off, deciding they can deal with smelling me if they’re gonna make us give up our lunchtime for a meeting. (Altho I don’t think I do smell, even after massive sweating.) Wednesday, I’d forgone the noon workout to have a birthday lunch with a coworker. Thursday/yesterday, I did weights at lunch and no cardio as I had a late start, but made up for that by going to the gym with Mr. W in the evening and doing a 65-minute run with hills on the treadmill, plus a 2-minute cooldown. Today I’m certainly going to the gym at lunch.

I’ve been munching on portions of meals here and there, whatever being full-time in trial allows time for. Half a protein bar here, some coffee with a piece of fat-free angel cake there. Leftover albondigas soup here, leftover meat loaf there.

I know if I were anyone else, I’d see results in the form of 5 lbs lost in a week. But because it’s me, I’m just treading to keep my head above water.

(Go ahead, try to say the title out loud without cracking a smile.)

In Beijing, our tourguide gave us an interesting summary of what gifts/offerings made a man a desirable bachelor through the years, due to the changes in society in the pre-Communism, Communism, and current hybrid Communism-Capitalism eras.

Before 1911: China is big and transportation was expensive if not unavailable. When a woman married into her husband’s family, she was hubby property and moved into his household, away from her own family. She’d rarely be able to make the trek back to her parents’ home, and could visit only every few years. Her parents (or mother, really) gave her a jadeite bracelet for her wedding which she would wear daily as an indicator of whether she was happy in her marriage. See my post on this here. Her husband gave her a handkerchief as his gift. Why? To wipe away her tears of longing for her own parents.

1960s: After what China calls “The Liberation” (change of government over into Communism), the 3 most desirable assets a man could have were a watch (“He’s so groovy! He always know what time it is! Watch, ask him!”), a bicycle (“He actually rides to work! He doesn’t have to walk! And I can sit on the handlebars and he rides me around and drops me off at work! I’m so proud when I sit on his bike.”), and a sewing machine (“We can make our own clothes, whenever we want! As many as we can afford fabric for!”).

1980s: This’ll sound familiar to you if you’re a child of the 80s like I am. A man is bitchin if he has a color television set (the newest technology and entertainment for leisure time), a refrigerator (“We actually have excess food that we can keep for a prolonged amount of time, we’re so privileged!”), and a washing machine (“What a good life I’ll have as his wife, I don’t have to scrub my hands raw doing laundry with a bar of soap against a scrubbing board!”).

1990s: The 2 most desirable things a man could possess are a computer (“My man’s technosavvy, and he makes more money than your man. Now that wages are no longer standardized equally by the government.”), and a college or technical degree (same reason: increased earning capacity).

2000s: Can you just smell the materialism increasing over there, catching up to the rest of the capitalistic world? Now the 2 most desirable assets in a man are a car (no explanation needed, I’m sure you understand) and credit card (the goverment actually has a program where if you make a lot of money, they’ll pay your wages directly into an interest-earning account, and give you a credit card linked to that account, similar to our debit cards. So having one of these cards means you have a high-earning job, AND have credit, AND outside earnings from interest. Pretty cool stuff.).

The changes in valued assets in China indicate a change in priorities, which in turn point to a change in its political system and how it affects the people’s lifestyle through the years. In the last 20 years or so, the people have expressed much contentment with the increase in “freedom”, as the oppressive style of communism depicted in novels and movies of the 40s and 50s gradually gave way to priorities and luxuries that almost meet those of socialist, if not quite capitalistic, government ruled countries. There are still reminders that they’re different, though. The inability to show public dissent against the government; the quantity of government jobs and government-owned property; and on a more personal level, the wistfulness of their people when they express their wishes for having more than one child, or to travel outside of their country.

Technologically advanced, cell phones are a huge thing over there.

In Beijing, the tour group went to visit an emperor Ming’s tomb. We didn’t go underground into the actual tombs as my mother had when she went on her China tour years ago, because the government no longer allows visits down there. Too many eery things happened to visitors. They’d get sick, they’d get into car accidents on their way back, people were seemingly possessed by evil spirits. One such thing happened to my parents’ friend’s wife. Within steps into the Ming tomb, she gagged and passed out. Her face was purple by the time they brought her out of there. For years after that, her health was failing to the point where doctors who could not figure out what was wrong with her told them to prepare for her death. She’d get freakishly cold sometimes sitting in a room and cower from chilled drafts that no one else felt, and she’d sometimes feel like she were being smothered and gasp for air. They finally had a Chinese spiritual doctor come visit her. After the examination, he said she is the reincarnation of a powerful general in Emperor Ming’s army, and the land-bound souls of about 1000 soldiers who’d died with the emperor or were buried as a sacrifice there recognized their general and followed her home, and he had to exorsize her. I’m not sure I believe that, but I do think there is a possibility that in a past life, she was sacrificed there at the tombs, especially if she was a famous powerful general, because it would have been an honor to follow your emperor into the next world. And maybe she was reliving the point of death. Anyway, she was healed perfectly after the Chinese spiritual doctor did his thing.

I’m glad I wasn’t told this story until this weekend when I visited my parents, cuz I would’ve been freaked out by what happened to me at the tombs. Like I said, we didn’t go underground into the tombs, but even then, the tourguide warned us that once we step onto tomb property, we were not to refer to her by her real name, we were to call her 007. Why? Because the restless spirits that reside there, once they could identify you by name, would come to you that night and give you horrid nightmares. I didn’t necessarily believe this superstition, but I turned to Mr. W and asked, “If you screw up and say my name, can I say yours?” He said, “Sure.” I said, “See you in my nightmares.” He told his friends John and Lidya, “You don’t wanna be a part of CINDY’S nightmares, she has some FREAKY dreams.” “So don’t say my name,” I cautioned as I walked up the steps into the holy place.

The grounds were pretty, and at one place, I asked John and Lidya (without using their names) if they’d like me to take their picture coming down some picturesque steps. They handed me and Mr. W their cameras, and we snapped away, after which John said, “Thanks [Mr. W]! Thanks Ci–” and I cut him off with “DON’T SAY IT!” Realizing what he’d done, John gasped and apologized, but it was too late.
“Thanks a lot, JOHN!” Mr. W laughed.
Our tourguide didn’t realize that Mr. W’s real name was said aloud and thought I’d stopped John on time, so she laughed and said to Mr. W, “You gotta thank Cindy! You should thank Cindy! He almost said your name!”
I pointed at her. “YOU just said my name TWICE!”
She froze. “Oh, I’m so sorry!”

Things got a little better after that. On the way out of the tombs, we stopped by some people selling wares and jewelry on blankets on the ground. One of the guys selling thought I was married because I was wearing the traditional jadeite bracelet (see previous post), and asked why I didn’t teach my husband Chinese. I said in Chinese, “If I taught him the language I couldn’t talk about him behind his back.” They laughed. Then he asked whether another older Asian couple in our tourgroup were my parents. I told him no. He said, “Really? Because you and his wife look a lot alike!” I didn’t know what to respond to that, so I just smiled. The woman’s husband, however, said, “Thank you!” I was flattered.

I’m happy to report, no one had nightmares that night.

On the way to the carved jade factory in Beijing, the tour guide showed us her jade bangle bracelet and explained that it was a gift from her mother when she (the tour guide) got married. Those bangles are traditional because as the story goes, back in the day, when a woman married into the man’s family, she moved away from her parents and rarely was able to travel the distance to visit them. The best quality jade, called jadeite, is referred to as a “living stone” because happiness causes us to secrete a certain hormone or natural skin oils that over time absorb into the jadeite and makes the stone shinier and more translucent. The mother would need only a glance at her daughter’s jadeite bracelet once every few years to see whether she’d been happy in her husband’s household. If the daughter’s bracelet remains cloudy and opaque, the mother could smack her son-in-law upside the head. That’s the story, I didn’t do research on the properties of this stone.

I found the story irresistable. So at the jade factory, I bargained on a fine piece of jadeite. It was a bangle, the type I’d never wanted to wear before because I thought it made a loud statement about me to the effect of “Hi, I’m fresh off the boat!” But there was just something about this piece — the surface had a silvery ripply sheen underneath that reminded me of fish scales, and the colors faded from light green to milky white to a rare pastel purple. It was amazing, it was jadeite, and it was A quality jadeite. Jadeite, we were told, ranged from AAA (best) to A, B, then C. B quality may be artificially enhanced by injection to remove some of the internal cracks; C quality may be dyed. The A range is natural, rare, and harder than standard jade. The opening ticket was $900 US dollars. I got it down to $650, and then $600.

I was happy, until I got to Shanghai toward the end of the trip and met up with my dad’s friends, and my mom’s grandma’s friend. Dad’s friends said I overpaid and it was worth less than $100; that I was the victim of a tourist “scam.” I explained I bought the piece in a government store and that it was guaranteed to be real, whereas on the streets, altho I could get it cheaper, I did not know my jade well enough to know I wasn’t being ripped off with a piece of glass. They said crooks reside both in and outside of the “official” stores. Oh well. The bracelet is supposed to appraise for $1100 in the States, so maybe I’ll check that out. They also laughed when I said it’s supposed to get more translucent over time. They said it’s impossible; a stone’s a stone, and the more translucent it is upon purchase, the more valuable, and mine was cloudy. But some of these guys were restaurant owners, and they didn’t even look closer at my bracelet than across a large round dinner table. I felt worse, though, when my grandmother’s friend, who owns a jewelry business, said I overpaid by about 15 times what I could’ve gotten it for if I were a local. My parents, however, comforted me saying it really was a beautiful piece with rare color variations, and even tho the cost was high, these people who said I was scammed wouldn’t necessarily be able to find me a piece like that, and since it’s cheaper than what I’d pay for it if it were purchased here, then as long as I’m happy and enjoy my purchase, it was all good. My mom also confirmed that it was absolutely true jadeite grows more translucent with daily wear. And I’d thought my parents would yell at me, too. They said they, like all tourists, were tricked into overpaying for everything also when they went on their China tours. “Why didn’t you warn me?!” I wailed. My mom said, “I DID warn you! I told you, ‘Don’t buy anything!’ ” Oh, like that told me anything.

Lidya bought a better quality (more expensive) jadeite bangle than me, and the day after climbing the Great Wall she woke up in the morning to see that there was a crack in the bracelet. She was upset about that, but wore the bracelet anyway. The last few days of the trip, she mistepped in a restaurant and went down hard on her right knee, cracking her knee cap on the hard floor. A x-ray in Shanghai revealed a fracture in her kneecap. She was out of commission for the next 2 days until we came home, casted from hip to ankle. Her perspective on that incident was, “Isn’t jade supposed to protect you?” Yes it is. You’re supposed to wear it on your left wrist because it’s closer to your heart that way, and purifies the blood that flows through your veins on its way back to the heart. It’s also supposed to protect you from harm. “Maybe the bracelet cracked because it gave its life early to protect me, maybe I’m supposed to have a compound fracture, or break my leg or something worse, and the jadeite broke in order to take some of the damage so that all I had happen was a kneecap fracture,” she mused. This woman is inspiring. I love that romantic, optimistic concept.

I guess if I’m going to write about random experiences in China, I should start at the beginning. Our flight there left really late Friday night, at 1:30a.m., which was really Saturday morning. I worked a full day on Friday, and all day I had a resigned-to-die feeling. I couldn’t picture myself in China, which made me think that maybe I wouldn’t make it. “If your plane’s gonna crash, see if you can get it crash on the way back so you’d still get to experience China,” a coworker joked. I told myself that I couldn’t see myself in China because I did so little research about modern China that I had no mental picture of it to place myself in, that this was always really Mr. W’s dream trip, and not mine, and I wasn’t looking forward to it the way he was.

As plane reading material, I brought along a book Grace had sent me a long time ago. Another book I’d been meaning to read but hadn’t gotten around to. Her Post-It note on the book said, “Hi Cindy — This is a recent book I’ve read. Quite a quick read. Interesting…enjoy. –G” It is Elizabeth Berg’s What We Keep. I cracked the book open soon into the flight. In the first few pages, a ticket stub emerged. “New Orleans Saints vs San Francisco 49ers. Louisiana Superdome. Sunday, October 20, 2002, 12:00 pm.” I know she’d visited New Orleans, she must’ve cheered for her 49ers there. Her 4 years attending UC Berkeley made her a fan. I imagined her using the ticket stub as a bookmark. I was using a wallet-sized photo of myself, which I had plenty of and a stack was within grabbing distance as I left for the airport. I’d always place the photo face-down near me when I read the book; I couldn’t explain away the appearance of vanity if anyone were to question me about it.

A few more blank and dedication pages down, and in shock, I read:

Decorates our table
Funny how the cracks don’t
Seem to show

You’re right next to me
But I need an airplane
I can feel the distance
Getting close
— from “China,” by Tori Amos

Yes, I realize the song, which I’d never heard before, is referring to chinaware, and not China, the country. But here indeed I was on an airplane, with Mr. W next to me, flying to China, so on a literal level, it applied to me precisely. I showed it to Mr. W. “She’s telling you she knows where you are and that everything will be all right,” he said. I liked that.

Here is how the book opened, the first chapter:
“Outside the airplane window the clouds are thick and rippled, unbroken as acres of land. They are suffused with peach-c0lored, early morning sun, gilded at the edges…”
2nd paragraph:
“Whenever I see a sight like these clouds, I think maybe everyone is wrong; maybe you can walk on air. Maybe we should just try. Everything could have changed without our noticing. Laws of Physics, I mean. Why not? I want it to be true that such miracles occur…” I went on to read in amazement a narrator who is so much like me, I wondered if Grace had thought so, too. I’d told Mr. W that the book was getting really interesting, and the character, when reminiscing about her childhood, keeps having thoughts that I’d had as a child, and that it was like reading about myself if I had lived some of Jordan‘s life. (The main character is almost exactly 10 yrs older than me, so that’d put her around Jordan’s childhood era. Especially the narrator’s insistance that she would not do to her kids what she felt was wrongfully done to her and her sister by their mother.)

I was kept too busy in China to read much more of the book, but I read it on the flight back, and dove into it voraciously in Las Vegas Thursday and Friday nights, until I finished devouring it at 3:30a.m. early Saturday morning. “Wow,” I thought, closing the book. I wanted to hug my mom. I wanted to re-read the book with the new perspective I’d gained at the end. And then, the inevitable — I wanted to talk to Grace and discuss the book with her.

The Tori Amos song was right about something else that I didn’t see coming. In the last night of the trip, the petty bickerings between me and Mr. W got so bad that it made me reel a little. I didn’t sleep well that night, and woke up the next morning feeling sick and stressed, which I’d told him about. Do we just not get along? Do we just naturally rub each other the wrong way? If something small became so big the night before, do we want to deal with that forever once the young love/lust is gone? Cuz that’s what we’re left with, right? He didn’t have anything to say about it, just got up and started packing without looking at me again. I sat sadly on my bed (we had separate beds the whole trip), watching him. Silence but for the sounds of zippers, boxes closing, clotheshangers clacking against each other. You’re right next to me, but I need an airplane, I can feel the distance, getting close… Finally, he asked, “Do you need this bag for anything?”, holding out a plastic bag. “No,” I said in a small voice, “But I could use a hug.” He crossed over the room and we held each other, my face smushed into his chest. He held my head to him with one hand, and said, “Whatever it is you’re feeling right now, I love you. You know that. And I think we can get through it.” I couldn’t talk as tears drained out of my eyes in surges. He took my silence as a negative thing and said, “You don’t think we can, huh?” I sniffled a little bit, trying to get myself under control, and then I pulled away, said, “I feel better now,” wiped my face, and got packed. Just like that, the clouds were gone. I didn’t feel alone anymore. He didn’t need an airplane to bridge our distance, only to get back home.

I’m back from the land of my ancestors, China! (This means that James, you can give me my bag o’ schtuff back. Sorry, you can’t keep it for your personal use. Unless you DID already use them, in which case, you can keep them.) There is so much to tell, that I don’t know where to begin. I guess I’ll do some preview photos and blog about current stuff since my return and then let the trip details come out anecdotally when the muse strikes.

I’m not back home yet, although I am back in the ‘States. My flight touched down at 5:25pm yesterday evening after being in the air 12 hours. Mr. W and I hailed a taxi to go back to my house, and when we were on the freeway, I received a call from my parents saying they were AT the airport waiting for us. I felt SOOOO bad. The taxi cost us $91 including tip, too. My parents are wonderful. Too wonderful. =) After my house, I drove us to my parents’ house, where we’d left Mr. W’s car when my parents dropped us off at the airport to go to China, we hung out with my parents, we gave them some souvenirs from China (expensive Emperor green tea and agate bracelet), and Mr. W and I up and drove to his parents’ house in Las Vegas, where I am now, to spend a few days with them for Mother’s Day. We figured we’d be jet-lagged anyway. We got here about 2:30am, and will be returning home on Saturday around noon to spend Mother’s Day weekend with my parents.

Here are some photo previews/evidence that I was indeed in China. (Rest mouse pointer over photos for captions.)

Day 1. This is on the tour bus shortly after arriving in Beijing. It’s a horrible photo of me, but in my defense, I wasn’t aware that I was being photographed. I’m not naturally pretty, ya know. Lidya and John (Mr. W’s friends who came with us on the trip) look really good, tho.

Day 2. The world-famous Tiennamen(sp?) Square. After the student protest incident with the tanks, I performed an interpretative dance routine about the issue at International Festival in high school, and never thought then I’d actually be standing there. Frowning.

Day 2. In the Imperial Palace, Beijing. I’m tugging on the giant door jamb that bars the ancient thousands-years-old doors closed.

Day 2. Outside a temple in Beijing. We were busy every day on this trip!

Day 2: Yes, I climbed the Great Wall. Twice. More on that later, if I remember. We also took a photo of a full moon at one of the Great Wall guard towers. How is that possible when it’s clearly daylight out, you ask? Well. More on that later, too. And if you’re lucky, I’ll post that photo.

Day 2: The 2008 Olympics will be held in Beijing, China. These are the 5 mascot characters, “The Friendlies,” for the 2008 Olympic Games. Each character takes on a color of the 5 Olympic Rings, and the 5 names are Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini, which are repeated sounds in typical Chinese cutsie fashion. Altogether, the phrase in Mandarin “Beijing huan ying ni” translates to “Beijing welcomes you.” I thought it was ingenious marketing. You have to collect ’em all for the phrase to make sense. These little characters’ paraphernalia were sold everywhere.

Last night in Shanghai, which is also the last night in China. Beautiful skyline. The building with the balls is the TV Tower.

Thanks for commenting on my blog when I was away. It was great to see when I got back. I was thinking it’d be so sad that I posted these time-bombed entries and then I come back and see that no one has read them or visited my blog when I was gone.


…am in CHINA…

…and YOU’RE NOT, nyah, nyanny nyah, nyah! 😀 Well, unless you’re a lurker Chinese person viewing my blog FROM China.

You guys miss me yet? I bet I miss you. I probably don’t even have internet access over there. I’ll be home soon-ish. (As you can tell, this post was written before I left.) Man, the lengths I go to, to entertain my reading public!

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