Saturday, September 16, 2006

Friday



I should have blogged last night, because I think I forget so much in just a few hours. Even though I want to journal, I barely have time to update the blog. And honestly, this is such an amazing experience, I don't have the words to adequately describe what is going on "behind the scenes".

So Friday I think was the day a small group of us got going early and took a taxi to the August 1st Square, which is the second largest public square in China after Beijing's Tiananmen Square. We went to see the people who get out and about in the morning to do Tai Chi and other exercises. The square commemorates the beginning of the People's Liberation Army in 1927. It was the first major Kuomintang-Communist engagement of the Chinese Civil War and took place August 1, 1927.

That was the wildest taxi ride we had been in yet probably because the streets weren't filled with cars and the driver could put the pedal to the metal. There weren't a lot of people exercising, but it turned out to be the place where people go to fly kites. We ran into some very nice people there and then wandered the streets a bit. One thing we saw was a man in a boat fishing trash and leaves out of lake/pond. It reminded me again of how all the main streets around us are very clean. Some people walk around and bang a cup because they want to collect recyleable material -- XiXi said China is very good about recycling. As we walked around, we mainly saw people heading to work and school.

The breakfast here is really good and we have a pretty good selection -- there are many Chinese food options and we get the fried rice, noodles and egg rolls. They also have eggs, french toast, pastries, fruit, etc.

This morning our group went to visit a village that is more like where our daughters are probably from than the city, which is all we have really seen so far. 75 - 80% of China is rural so it is important to see how much of the country lives. Our guides were careful to tell us that the Chinese government doesn't really want this side of China to be seen so much so we should be considerate about the pictures we put out on the internet. She mentioned that the politicians would never show a foreign official this part of China, but I don't think in the States they would do that either.

Everyone in the village was very kind to us and let us see inside their houses. One woman showed us the things in her home and we were able to video it. I loved seeing the furniture, like the bamboo chairs, the cot they use in the summer, utensils for washing clothes and most of all, the bamboo pillow. The banners that are hung beside and above the door for Chinese New Year are left out all year long. I think another favorite thing I saw was how there would be writing by the door of things the family wished for. I'll have to get our friends to translate again, but I love the idea of putting the hopes and dreams for your family out there for all to see.

The houses are very close to each other and the doors are mostly open so I imagine you know all of your neighbor's business. There was also a building near the entrance to the village and from reading the sign, XiXi said it seemed that the whole village was related and had the same surname and that this building was where they would probably meet and also honor ancestors. (Lyvi napped during both of those outings -- thank goodness she likes her baby bjorn carrier)

Some of us then visited Walmart again and had more dumplings for lunch. Lyvi had her first jarred baby food and loved it so Jason went to the local grocery store and got more. BTW -- we aren't sure why they take us to Walmart because everything we would need is right in the local grocery store down the street -- it is smaller, so maybe it can't handle 10 families wandering through the place.

Lyvi is still a very sweet little thing and puts her little bird arms a bit for us to pick her up. So she isn't reaching out, but is doing something to reach up for us to get her. She is wanting to be held more and more, which either means she doesn't want to loose another family or is bonding to us (or maybe both!) It is pretty easy to get her to smile and giggle. She will sit on the bed and play with some things for awhile, but now HATES being put on her back for things like diaper changes. This is a new thing so I'm not sure what it means, but we have to be quick when changing her.

I went with two other girls to get another foot massage. One guy kept oogling Sheri's legs, but I think it was because she was wearing shorts. I don't think I have seen even 5 girls or ladies with shorts on this entire week in Nanchang. Also, the people here dress much more warmly than we do. I think half of the time they are looking at us is because we seem so underdressed. If I was repacking, I would have brought more lightweight long sleeved shirts or a light jacket to go with things. I have been wearing pants so at least I had been covered from the waist down.

We met the group for dinner again and had a great time. This time we were in a private room so we could make quite a ruckus. The food is still amazing and I stuff myself silly every night. Mary said that the Jiangxi food is much like Hunan because the areas are connected by the river. I read a blog by someone who stayed here and ate at the hotel the entire 8 days. I just can't imagine missing out on this important part of our children's culture. Part of it may be that our agency is exceptional on the travel portion and our wonderful guides take us out for dinner every night if we want. At one restaurant, XiXi ran into a friend of hers who is also a guide for families. XiXi asked where all her families were and she said none of them wanted to go out to eat. It seems that part of the magic is that this group of families is really adventurous. XiXi said we not only try everything, but we eat it all up, too and there is nothing left (EVERYthing in the picture above tasted great.)

At all the Chinese restaurants, a number of dishes are ordered (I don't think I have ever seen less than 6 or 7 on a table) and everyone uses their chopsticks to serve themselves. You never order one meal just for yourself if you are out with a group. Considering the incredible quantity of food and beer ordered, the price continues to amaze us -- generally under $10 a couple.

Last night I completely crashed after dinner and then got up Saturday with a busy day again so there is very little time to write. It was another fabulous day here though. (photos on flickr)

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

L&J
Don't know how Lyvi can get any cuter but she's managing it day by day. Even I started kissing the monitor today. (just kidding-not really) Apparantly you are getting good use out of the shawl if it's cooler there than you anticipated.
Lots of love,
Nice ol' Aunt Jana

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so glad that you are enjoying your trip. Your descriptions bring back such wonderful memories! I love the way that you captured the rural area in your pictures.

Lyvia is beautiful and looks very content!

~heidi

1:14 PM  
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