Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I’m sorry for the delay in posting; there hasn’t been much out of the ordinary to note. The excitement and feelings of adventure have waned now with the stability of a routine. Overall, we had a very good week and we are thrilled to have our longer weekend here in Baoding.
Baoding has been wonderfully smogless the past couple of weeks – a welcome relief to our bodies and minds. But, don’t let that brilliantly blue-sky fool you into thinking you want to go outside; there is a viciously biting wind that will knock you over with pins and needles as soon as you round the building corner or open the door.
Sunday, we went and played Ping-Pong and pool with Enkui and his wife before going to a Western-Chinese fusion restaurant that was astounding – seriously it was some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. After a rough day on Monday, Tuesday was great! All of our classes were well behaved and enthusiastic to see us and participate in the lessons. I’ve been teaching a mini thanksgiving lesson this week and some of my more humorous responses to “what are you thankful for” have been “computer, TV, Obama, and dinosaurs”. One of Duncan’s kids responded that he was thankful for “Gangnam Style”. The first response, though, from all of our students was always “my mother”.
All day and night on Tuesday the power was out at the school. This wasn’t a problem during the day but at night when we had no light, heat, or running water, we were “forced” to hang out in QLH for longer than we usually would so that we would be warm and be able to use the Internet. The power returned around 10:30 Wednesday morning and has been on ever since! Though certainly an inconvenience and a little stress inducing considering our plans to communicate with family over the holiday, it ended up not being a big deal at all.
Thursday night, to celebrate Thanksgiving, we were going to go to a locally famous restaurant Johnson and Samantha told us about that has only two dishes – big plate chicken and small plate chicken. When we asked them for directions on how to get there, however, they told us that we wouldn’t be able to get used to the smoky atmosphere and were concerned that we wouldn’t be ok with the parts of the chicken they use (all of the chicken). We kept telling them we were ok with all of this but the more they talked, the more convinced we became that we weren’t up for an adventure. We wanted our Thanksgiving celebrations to be easy and relatively hassle free and so we decided to forego big plate chicken (for now) and we cooked in the apartment.
After our at-home dinner, we traversed town (while singing Christmas carols) in the frigid cold to go to Starbucks. We ended our Thanksgiving night celebrations with two holiday drinks and chocolate cheesecake. While certainly the cheapest Thanksgiving meal we have had (even with the trip to Starbucks), it was very enjoyable and it turned out the best way possible considering we live in a country in which Thanksgiving is not a holiday, turkeys are expensive (and hard to find), and ovens in residences are a luxurious rarity.
This weekend we are going to go to a brand-new Wal-Mart that opened up and try to find a Charlie Brown Christmas tree of sorts to decorate the apartment. We may not be able to celebrate Christmas in the States with our families, but we are happy to start Chinese-American holiday traditions of our own. We are also on the look out for more winter clothing (specifically ski mask –type face warmers and knee warmers for when we are on the bike).
Tonight we have plans to continue our Thanksgiving celebrations with dinner at Philly Story, the restaurant with table-sized pizzas and relatively inexpensive (and sometimes quite strong) mixed drinks.
We are beginning to plan our next trip (to Xi’an) that will take place in the next couple of weeks. Though it will probably be one of our more expensive trips due to the distance, we are excited to see the Terracotta Warriors and to avoid “regular” trains by using the direct bullet train from Baoding to Xi’an.
Duncan’s third graders learned the phrase “very cool” this week and at the beginning of ever class would come up to Duncan and would say to him, “Are you ok? Very cool!” while framing their chin with their thumb and index finger. This is a “very cool” huoji:
Thank you for reading and I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving!
Until next time,