Thursday, August 21, 2008

back in the saddle

After a long summer we have finally arrived in China. As usual I was thinking I am bigger and tougher than I actually am. I had it all worked out that in about two days I would have conquered my jet-lag and be good to go. Such is not the case. It took all of us a good week to conquer the time change. We flew out of New Jersey on a direct flight. The flight was delayed for about three and a half hours, so instead of arriving in Hong Kong early evening we arrived around 11 p.m. It was almost 2 when we made it to the hotel.

I was so longing for a soft warm bed to snuggle into. I walked over to the bed and plopped down not to be met with inviting, pillowy softness but a big hard thud. I actually think that in the two weeks that I have been here I have gotten used to it. It is so hard - like sleeping on a board. Remy always complained about how his mattress is too hard now he will welcome it with open arms.

It had been exciting to be here for the Olympics. I know there is a lot of negative talk about having them here, but everyone is so excited. Although I am not close to Beijing and will not be attending in person. Just the pride of the people to host this event is great. People don't want to go to work and everyone has given up nightlife so that they can all watch the events. The kids and I have really enjoyed watching the near full coverage.

Last weekend- our first full weekend here - Hubby had a team building weekend event. We all got up Saturday morning and got on a bus to head to the beach. I love the beach, but must say that I am not ready to bare my overweight body in front of a bunch of skinny Asian women. Did they not get any fat genes? The bus trip was straight out of a stereotyped movie. The tour guide stood at the front of the bus and called people up to sing solos and played number guessing games. It is all true. We stopped along the way at a temple. It was over 500 years old. I tried to impress the awesomeness of this to my darling daughter as she unexcitedly trudged up the small hill to get to the temple.

Upon reaching the temple there was a great deal of activity. There were many tour buses and it was a pretty small site. The first thing that happened is that people started coming up to us and trying to get their pictures made with our children. The kids were hot and did not enjoy being man-handled. We did manage to push our way through though. At the base of the temple was a statue of a lovely Buddhist goddess - guan-yin. She has a long story ( which I looked up on the Internet ) but suffice it to say she is the goddess of caring and compassion. there were people selling incense and making offerings. They had a long line of people waiting to wash their feet and hands in the mountain spring water. a lady came up to me and explained that if you were to get washed with this water your family would have good luck for the year. I wanted to get my feet washed but the line was long and the bus was loading.

Next stop was lunch. This was our first real Chinese food. I was ready to be adventurous but not everyone in my party felt the same. It was an open air kind of situation and not really all that clean. They served family style. first they brought out tea - not to drink but to clean your dishes and chopsticks with. At this point Bronwyn was already balking. Then the food started to arrive and she started speaking to me in her language of protestation - Portuguese. There was plenty of rice and there was some squid that really didn't have too much taste, but it was very tough and rubbery. Lots of vegetables and some delicious celery. Some really disgusting soup and various other seafood items. Most of the Chinese people said they didn't like the restaurant but i was feeling adventurous and had a good time. Gwendolyn did a really good job of trying things. i also bought a bag of some kind of fruit from a lady who came to the table. In china they call it a red feather fruit. It is red with little flag like projections - you peel that off and inside there is a fruit something like a lychee but not as sweet.

There is so much more to write, but this is getting longer than necessary and it is late. Needless to say I think we had a good time. The kids had a blast at the beach collecting hundreds - not an exaggeration - of hermit crabs and building them a holding pen, and except for our first foray to the hole in the ground toilet we had fun.