Friday, September 28, 2012

Mystery Vacation Part II

Sunday morning we woke up and had oranges, bread, and Coke Zero for breakfast. The Coke Zero was the only think we had to drink (no water even!)...so don't judge.

Then we hopped on the bus and were told we were going to go see a rock. It ended up being a whole park, with a giant rock balancing on another rock (the highlight), a Buddhist temple, a city wall, and a sea cave. We were given a couple of hours to wander on our own.

The famous rock.

Behind us is the famous rock.

Ashley getting her fortune told at the Buddhist temple.

On the wall.

Beautiful view!
It was so hot outside! We almost melted. Although it was pretty there, we were really glad when we got on the bus again.

Then we headed to lunch. Since we were by the ocean, we had more seafood. It was pretty good.

You always have to de-head and peel your own shrimp in China.
I've gotten used to it.

Here is a picture of my plate at one point during the meal. The
left part had my garbage shells. The right was my fish to
skin and eat. It was quite good.

Another fish. He had a giant mouth. You just peel off the skin and eat away!
Then we had some time to walk around the small town (and get stared at, I don't think they get many foreign visitors there).

Then we got back on the bus and we headed back to Xiamen.

It was a great trip!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mystery Vacation Part I

This past weekend we went on a mystery vacation! Okay, it really wasn't a mystery vacation but I wanted to call it that. I think that if the agenda is in Chinese, that means most of it is a mystery to me! We went with a busload of people from Matt's office. We met up Saturday morning and headed to Dongshan Island, which is about a two hour drive. Dongshan Island is supposedly Fujian provinces' Hawaii.

We arrived and Daniel and Ashley, and Matt and I were put up in a hotel, while the rest of the employees were put up in what they referred to as beach huts. Apparently the hotel was supposed to be nicer than the huts. Well, the rooms looked like they could have been part of a murder mystery. The walls were filthy, the carpet stained everywhere. Pretty sketchy. The picture just doesn't do it justice.


Thankfully, they decided to move us into one of the huts which turned out to be actually called a luxury villa. It did seem very luxurious compared to the hotel room! Each villa had 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. We shared the villa with Daniel and Ashley.



Then we were told to meet on the bus for lunch. And we drove...across the street! I still don't understand why we had to get on the bus. But then again, I don't understand a lot of what goes on in China.

We had a delicious seafood lunch at a restaurant next to the beach. Lunch included rice, craw fish, fish, more fish, shrimp, clams, and squid. Yes, including the black ink sack.



Then we played on the beach for awhile and took a bunch of pictures. We also played some "team building" games, which were fun relay races in the sand. We played hula hoop racing (jumping through the hula hoop like a jump rope as you run), three-legged races, and link-arms-back-to-back-with-a-partner-while-you-run-sideways-with-a-balloon-between-your-backs. Needless to say Matt and I popped the balloon on that one. We had a lot of fun (but our team lost, dang it).




Then my friend Selena decided she wanted to go on a wave runner. She had only been on once before and was a terrible driver :) After a very close call involving a group of swimmers, we switched the driving to me and had a much better experience. Yes, I didn't have my swimsuit so just went in my clothes.


Then Selena and Christine wanted to go swimming. Since we were more or less already wet, we just went in with our clothes on!


Did I mention that they didn't know how to swim? Hence the life jackets.


After we all dried off, we had a beach BBQ. So fun, and delicious food!


I had to include this picture. This is a fresh mandarin orange! I love mandarin oranges! It was even better to taste the real thing!

We ended the evening by playing a dice game that is played in China this time of year. Prizes included scratch-and-win tickets, toothpaste, and Walmart gift cards. Matt and I made out like bandits with 3 winning scratch-and-win tickets that were winners (5 kuai each - less than $1. Needless to say we gave them to our friends because we didn't know how to redeem them), 1 package of toothpaste, and the equivalent of about $85 in Walmart gift cards!! Some fireworks were set off, then we went to bed.

Matt excited about our winnings.
Stay tuned for part 2 of our mystery getaway!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mooncakes

Do you know what a mooncake is? Neither did I until last week! This weekend is mid-autumn festival here in China, and during the festival you eat mooncakes. Wikipedia says that the mid-autumn festival is for lunar worshiping and moon watching. Cool.

Anyway, basically you give mooncakes to your family, friends, and employees. So Matt was given some at work (actually he was given a voucher and we redeemed it at a bakery that evening). We heard from some other foreigners that they aren't very good, so consequently our expectations were low.

They were packaged beautifully. Of course we didn't know what flavors they were, since we can't read Chinese.


We cut the one we choose in fourths.


And Matt was the guinea pig!


The verdict?? This one was not so good. Later we found out it was red bean flavor or some sort of bean. But there were also coconut ones in the package and those were actually pretty good!

Always an adventure in China!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chinese Class

When we moved to China in May, I decided I wanted to take some Mandarin Chinese classes. You know, so I could actually understand the cashier at the grocery store when she asks me if I want a bag, or so I can tell a taxi driver to turn right, etc. Unfortunately, I didn't really have time until August, because of our trip to Thailand, Megan coming to stay with us, and our family trip touring China.

I found and took a 4 week course in August at a private school. The class was every weekday for 2 hours. It was a blast! There were two students - myself and Karen, who just moved here from New Zealand (but is originally from England, so has a beautiful accent and uses great words like car park instead of parking lot, lift instead of elevator, and my personal favorite: cockerel instead of rooster. Love it!). Our teachers English name is Ammy, and she was born and raised in Xiamen.

We had a great time learning Chinese. Some of the things we learned were family members, food, colors, directions, places, numbers, time, etc. When I get home you can ask me to say something simple, like - I have a cat named Lily. She is black and white. 

On the last day of class we took a couple pictures to remember our good times in the classroom.



Thanks for the fun time ladies!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ice Cream Sundae

A few nights ago we went to get sushi. The sign said "American Sushi". We assumed too much in thinking that the menu would be in English. Oh well, we just ordered from the picture menu. It was actually pretty good.

After dinner we walked over to KFC to get a hot fudge sundae. I was so surprised that the cashier spoke English that when she asked me if I wanted mine to 'stay or to go', I said 'to go'. I figured she would put a lid on it. She did that and more!

She put a lid on the sundae, then put it in a bag, with a spoon, and put ice on top of it! So random, it made my day.

I took a picture of it from above, sorry it isn't very good and you can't really tell what it is.


Just for the record, it was an amazing hot fudge sundae!

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

The weather is finally getting cooler here in Xiamen! Matt and I went for a walk to Zhongshan Park, about a 20 minute walk from our apartment.

There is a small zoo with birds and monkeys. The monkeys were a blast to watch (or maybe this one was watching us?)


Then we bought some delicious cotton candy for about 50 cents, and just walked around and enjoyed.

Matt told me it looks like I am holding a cloud...haha.



Of course we were wearing our Utah gear, because we just finished watching our Utes beat the Cougars! Go UTES!

A fantastic day! Hopefully this cooler weather is here to stay!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mysterious Package

What would you do if you lived in China and received a mysterious package at your apartment?

I had to sign for it and my maid was here so I knew it was addressed to the right apartment.


Well...I decided to open it. And inside I found this.

I accidentally sliced this box when I opened he package up. Whoops.

CD = Christian Dior
It's moisturizing cream. There was a card slipped in that said "A gift for our best customers". I think it is promotional, intended for someone that used to live here.

What would you do?

I think I will ask some of the people Matt works with :) But ultimately I might keep it.

Always an adventure in China!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Best $13 Ever Spent

Saturday we had a fun day planned. We met up with some friends from the office for lunch at the Temple Cafe. It really is an old Buddhist temple converted to a cafe. I had a B.L.T.C.E. (BLT + Cheese + Egg), and Matt had a cheeseburger. And we all shared an appetizer of fries, onion rings, and chicken wings. Delicious!

The group.

Picture of the inside of the cafe.
Then we headed to Xiamen's waterpark for an afternoon of waterslides! Entrance fees was about $13, a steal in my mind because it was seriously one of the funnest afternoons - because of both the waterslides and the people watching. The people watching was the best ever. Highlights included:

  • An adult woman coming off a ride crying hard and trembling because she was so scared.
  • Two Chinese midgets try to throw each other in the swimming pool.
  • A 10 year old chunky child smoking a cigarette. Right along with his family.
  • Lots of adults wearing life-jackets in a 1.2 meter swimming pool. Apparently a lot of Chinese people don't know how to swim.
As a side note, Matt and our friend Daniel got told on multiple rides that their safety cannot be guaranteed on any ride if they weigh over 90 kg. Didn't prevent them from going on the rides, just a warning.

The rides were as fun as the people watching. The best ride was shaped like a trumpet. You sit on a four-person tube and get dumped out of tube into the trumpet shape. Here are pictures.



We had our friend try to take some pictures of the midgets and the kid smoking, but the quality wasn't very good and they were taken from a distance. Too bad...here they are anyway.

Little people

Children should never smoke.
We ended the evening by eating pizza, making peanut butter cookies, and watching Dark Shadows. The movie was a little disappointing, but the pizza and the cookies were great!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Airport Delays

Unfortunately, having your flight delayed when traveling in China is more common than not. Usually it is just an hour or so. On this one particular evening, it was a lot longer than that.

Flash back with me to my Sunday evening a few nights ago in Shenzhen. Matt and I spend the weekend visiting our friends Eric & Crystal that just moved to China. We were headed back to Xiamen on a 10:40 p.m. flight.

8:30 p.m. - said goodbye to our dear friends and headed to the airport on the subway.

9:30 p.m. - arrived at the airport. Checked in for our flight. After the lady at the counter handed us our tickets and checked our bags, she told us to walk over to the information desk to get our hotel voucher. Excuse me, what?! Then why did you take our bags?!?! She really didn't speak any more English than that.

9:40 p.m. - Stood at the information desk with a bunch of other people from our flight and tried to figure out what was going on. Everyone else knew what was happening, we didn't since we don't speak Chinese and the lady at the information desk didn't speak English. Luckily one of the passengers was bilingual and translated for us. He told us our flight is delayed until 1:45 a.m. The airline is putting us up in a hotel until our flight leaves.

10:00 p.m. - Arrived at the hotel. We traded our boarding passes for a hotel room and 2 packets of ramen. We were told (in broken English) that the front desk would call us when it was time to head back to the airport.

Trust me. The hotel wasn't very prosperous.
I guess this is the equivalent of a meal voucher.

This picture makes the hotel look nice. In reality it was a bit sketchy.
12:25 a.m. - Woke up to our phone ringing and the manager banging on the door. Time to get on the bus back to the airport. Stood outside for about 20 minutes waiting for the bus. I could've used that extra 20 minutes of sleep.

1:40 a.m. - Flight left. Got some peanuts and some gross dried fruit on the flight. Yes, I tried the fruit. It looked like fruit snacks until I started chewing.

2:30 a.m. - Arrived in Xiamen. Got our luggage. Took a taxi to our apartment.

3:15 a.m. - Finally in my bed!

Obviously it was really nice of Xiamen Airlines to put us up in a hotel for a few hours. Just think, if I was in the U.S. I might have been given a measely food voucher that would buy me half a smoothie in the airport. Maybe. Instead I got a hotel room and ramen :).

Luckily I got to sleep in that morning. Matt however had to leave for work as usual at 7:30 a.m. Poor guy.

It was definitely an adventure to end our fun weekend in Shenzhen!

Slacker

That's me! A slacker at blogging!

I'll try to finish my family trip around China at some point. For now I am going to try to start with what we were up to last weekend and try to stay current.

Stay tuned!

In the meantime, look at only a small part of the amazing Hello Kitty paraphernalia I have collected while here in China.

Did you know there is a Hello Kitty terminal at the Taipei, Taiwan airport?
Neither did I! Matt was in Taiwan on a business trip and picked me up some stuff while he was waiting for his flight.
Thank you Temple street market in Hong Kong. Hello Kitties wearing animal costumes.
I have decided the black one next to the frog is a jester. But that isn't an animal. Any ideas?