To wrap up our long weekend, we started this morning with a friendly game of badminton with Enkui, his wife, and some friends of theirs. They picked us up at the school and took us to a big indoor badminton court right down the street from where we normally hang out. I haven’t played badminton since I was little so I was a bit rusty at first but quickly picked it back up again while being internally flooded with childhood memories. We had a wonderful time! We ended up playing for a little over two hours but the time just flew by! We made plans to do it again with the group and hopefully Duncan and I can make this a routine activity by ourselves also.
After badminton, we went to lunch with the group. When they asked us if we like hot-pot I suspected they were going to take us to one of the small local hot-pot restaurants and we were going to share. Instead, we ended up at another gigantic and very fancy restaurant called Lao Yue in Chinese and Northwest Flavor in English and was very loosely modeled after architectural and cultural aspects of Northwestern China, such as Xinxiang where Duncan has been before. We were denied a private room because of a wedding so instead we ended up in a circle booth sharing with everyone. At each person’s place setting, was an individual burner meant for the pot of boiling liquid that characterizes the hot-pot.
After we received our pots of flavored liquid (typically oils, broth, and spices), we were served dish after dish of thin strips of raw beef and mutton to put inside the hot-pot liquid. Because it is boiling, the meat (and any vegetables you choose) is cooked very quickly and absorbs a lot of the flavor of the liquid. Since hot-pot is characterized by being very spicy and is famous in Sichuan Province (also known for spicy foods), I chose a more neutral broth that was not spicy but was still very flavorful. Duncan, however, chose the hot broth that was so spicy he turned red and was sweating the whole time he was eating. I was never brave enough to try some of his. After this meal, I have decided that hot-pot is one of my favorite ways to eat in China. It’s simple, fast, delicious, and the most meat heavy (which, as a carnivore, is very important to me).
After lunch, they wanted to show us someone’s house so we could see what “the daily life” is like in China. Expecting a place a little nicer than our own, we were dazzled when we were taken to a huge European-inspired condo complex. The most accurate way of describing the inside of this woman’s apartment is that it is a mini Biltmore House. It was the nicest, fanciest house I have ever seen and was truly nicer than I imagined a house could be. And then she tells us she doesn’t actually live in this home – it is her second home! Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures to share, but look up rooms in the Biltmore House and you’re basically seeing the inside decoration of her condo.
We ended up hanging out there for the rest of the afternoon. We were served cup after cup of tea along with Chinese dates, watermelon, and chocolates. Even though we had eaten more than our fill at lunch, they told us we had small stomachs and were convinced they needed to keep feeding us. While there, we watched a really funny Chinese movie (Lost in Thailand) on a tremendous HD television while some of the people played poker in the other room.
Before heading home, they surprised us with a big box of moon pies (a traditional food) to celebrate the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival.
We departed with many thanks and promises to hang out again soon. Truly, we have been treated with exceptional kindness and friendship and now we are trying to think of a way to express our gratitude and friendship to them, though no matter what we do it will not compare to what they have done for us.
Tomorrow I teach sixth graders all day. Wish me luck!
Wan shang hao! (Good night!)