Friday, April 24, 2009

zao chen hao (good morning) day 4 in China

Hey y'all--- wow haven't said that to anybody for about four days... It's Saturday now, Chris is off to prepare the band for this evening's concert, so I'm going to update you since he's a little behind. Chris is enjoying working with the kids here and had a fun time trying to communicate with his Homewood students last night via a "skipe" type program. I use "fun" loosely because we have been having some trouble with our computer freezing up--- so after a few choice words and a number of restarts, we finally got it working and he talked to 2 classes and we were able to talk to Molly Kathryn and Mason before she left for school Friday. I have been fortunate enough to hang out with the choir director's wife, Stacia, and we have been having a great time seeing, shopping and eating. It's been awesome to be here and very interesting as two blondes walk through Tianjin. Yesterday while we were out, a young man asked to take a picture with me! :) At first we thought he was asking if we wanted him to take a picture of us, but Stacia had a quick conversation with him and realized he wanted one with me. How funny that I may be in someone's scrapbook here in China... I also took a picture with him... for mine. I was able to have a chance to look at some really neat things yesterday and even bargain back and forth to get a good deal. Obviously, Stacia did most of it for me, and I was able to get some amazing porcelin dolls, a beautiful red jacket, a very cool hand-painted eagle kite (war eagle..), and some other handmade items. These things were purchased at a plece called "ancient street". In that area, I saw the "drum house" which would be compred to the town's bell tower in colonial days. A lot of chinese tourists were there and Stacia and I noticed a number of people kind of sidling up to me to get a quick picture with the "foreigner" without having to talk to me! After a near death experience in the taxi (just kidding) we went to a Chinese restaurant (yes, I mean literally) for lunch and had lu sun (asparagus-steamed) and bao zi (which is a steamed bun that usually has a stuffing-- looks like a big puffed piece of garlic) with pork and vegetable stuffing and tea of course. We also ordered water... which is served boiling here, unless you ask for bottled. After lunch we went to "food street" and had two things, sorry can't recall the names right now, that were kind of snack/dessert items. One was like a a twisted hard pretzel/cracker item and the other was a flaky bread (baklava flaky feel) with a sweetened red bean paste in it. The first was too plain for me and the latter was great--tasted better than it sounds. The three things we ate were recommended by one of the students Annie that I met yesterday at the college. She is from Tianjin and was all about me trying "the three best foods" in Tianjin at food street. She actually said the three most "extinct" foods in Tianjin, and I explained that it was "distinct" not "extinct"... distinct means special/stands out and extinct means dead/ no longer living like dinosaurs... she laughed..."so sorry"... we were teaching each other. :) Stacia and I had a great day it was tiring but fun and I was able to try some of the Chinese that I am learning. The people here are kind and funny and patient as I am sure I am mutilating their language. They are very curious about me too and I have learned that the stares (although seeming unfriendly) are just curious since I look so different. I noticed a number of times yesterday and last night that a few people on bikes made a couple of "passes" by us to check us out. [I don't know if Chris told you, but two nights ago a little boy saw us after dinner and said, "America, America". :)] For dinner last night the band director, Kimberly, and her roommate took us out for dinner near their home at a market place. Besides produce and meat, people are cooking outside all kinds of meat and breads. Kind of like shishkabobs and stuffed dinner pastries. You sit in little "huts" to eat. We ate food that was cooked by people from upper/greater Mongolia who are mostly Musilm, so no pork. They have more of a distinct look than other Chinese-- their faces are flatter and darker. Dinner was great, their dishes are spicey, so Kimberly ordered some plain lamb for "ketchup's-too-hot-for me" Chris. :) We started off with something similiar to what I had for lunch,but the filling was lamb and the bread was grilled instead of was cooked in a large drum barrel... we had another dish with lamb and onions and red peppers and grilled pita type bread and lots of seasoned spices, lamb kabobs and this noodle dish with more of the above. Tea was served, and we also ordered coke minus the ice (the 2-liter cost just under a dollar) all of that meal was less than 10 dollars, and the girls had at least another four servings to take home. After dinner we walked over to where they live. They call it the slums, but it looks a little shadier than it actually is. There is hardly any violent crime but a lot of petty theft, like for bikes. Kimberly said that they will take the bike from under your nose, but you can totally let your child go from a to b and they would be unharmed. The inside of their apartment was very nice and the have a fridge that they considered big for China, but was about 1/3 the size of ours. Also, the Chinese don't have ovens; but the school owns the faculty's apartments and they put in ovens and kind of Americanized the bathrooms.... I'll tell you later about "squatty potties"... hope that all is well for you to you later...zai jian P.s. we will send more pictures later, i don't know how to do it...


  1. Ugh - the toilets! To this day I don't leave the house without some sort of tissue product.

    ~Cindy Bertossa-Weger

  2. haha. my sister eating asparagus!?! j/k - this blog is great and we're praying you guys are having a fabulous time!! can't wait to see more pics.