Can you believe that it is 2008? It is really so amazing how fast time flies. Andy and I brought in the new year at the Jin Mao tower in downtown Pudong. We ate dinner on the 56th floor at a restaurant called “The Grill” and then there was a big party in the atrium of the hotel, which is hollow all the way to the 88th floor, where they dropped over 10,000 balloons from at midnight. The final count-down of 2007 and the balloon drop are captured on our camera and can be viewed on YouTube. For those of you in China, view quickly because it is speculated that the Chinese Government will shut down YouTube in China relatively soon as the “Great Firewall of China” adds another section.
I have to say that the New Years night followed the very international theme that the rest of our time in China has. At dinner, we had a Japanese couple sitting in the table to our left and a couple from Mexico/U.S. on our right. Then at the atrium party, pretty much every nationality seemed to be represented. It was honestly the most fun party I have ever been to where I didn’t know a soul besides Andy. We thought the party hats and free-flow champagne were a nice touch as well.
After the party, we stayed for probably 20-30 minutes then tried to catch a cab home. Unfortunately, everyone in Shanghai was trying to do the same thing so it was nearly impossible to get one. Andy and I started walking home (I was really glad I purchased my over-priced but super comfy black high heals while I was in Boise!) About 10 minutes into the walk, we finally hailed a cab and caught a ride the rest of the way. We were much happier with this night than our experience on Christmas Day and we were very proud of ourselves for staying out past midnight.
New Years Day we went to our friends Jennifer and Phil’s very nice apartment in our complex and made/ate Indian food. Jennifer is an amazing cook and they had just recently returned from a trip to India so it was a wonderful treat that she was willing to show me how to cook some of the dishes. Those of you who know me well better sit down before you read this next line. I was in the kitchen for FOUR hours and the whole time Andy and Phil were just chatting and drinking beer. I even helped serve them (only a little). I was fighting my feminist preconceptions the entire time, but it helped that Jennifer and I had already analyzed the pros and cons of the feminist movement and discussed how in some cases it definitely went too far. It was still really hard for me to be in that role though. Luckily, it was fun to chat with Jennifer the whole time and we covered a wide range of topics from the formerly mentioned feminism to the oppression of many Indian women to the spices used in Indian cooking (there are SO MANY!) to the price of tea in China (literally.) The evening ended with a feast of a meal which was very delicious.
Jumping back a couple of evenings on December 30th, we went to Alan, one of the guys from the sailing club’s apartment and enjoyed a nice evening of Whiskey tasting (who knew there were different kinds?), healthy eating (this guy has got to be the healthiest eater I know) and then playing a version of dominos called Maltese Cross Dominos. I got dubbed a blond-American airhead when I thought Neil said “Malt Scotch” Dominos to which I replied, “I thought we had already tasted all of the kinds of whiskey you brought.” The game was fun and apparently one played often in Neil’s family back in England. Playing the game made me realize how much I miss playing games and I have since talked Andy into playing cribbage with me twice! Andy does not generally like to play games. I was amazed at how quickly he picked up the rules to cribbage since I have seen many people struggle with them. I still cannot help thinking of what my grandpa’s response to every scenario of the game would be and luckily Andy doesn’t mind if I say it out loud. “15-that” after putting a 4 or less down; “15-2, 15-4, thats all there is and there ain’t no more” ; you get the picture.
In China, there is no concept of an HVAC system that turns itself off when it gets warm enough or on when it is too cold. Both air conditioners and heaters are either OFF or ON and continuously blow air. Our crappy China heater broke this week because apparently you cannot turn it off…it needs to blow continuously or else it will break. Our bedroom was so hot that I turned it off and then it started making this horrible repetitive noise. Then, it somehow morphed into a super machine that would not turn off even when the power switch was off. We would have to turn off the power to the entire apartment to make the noise stop so we could sleep. It was funny because when the repairman came he kept saying “China bad” “China bad” and pointing to the heater, which was either something he had heard from other unhappy customers or something that he knew would make us laugh. I think those were the only two words of English he knew and he enjoyed repeatedly saying them.
I am reading another great book on China that I may have already mentioned called “River Town.” It is the true story about a Peace Core volunteer who lived in a small town called Fuling on the Wu and Yangtze Rivers teaching English and English Literature. It is incredible how much I can relate to so many of his stories even though it took place in 1997 and China has changed a lot since then. It has been a lot of fun reading it. I am also still moving forward with my New Years Resolution to read the Bible this year. It feels a little rebellious doing it in China. I have to say that it was not at all what I was expecting (CCD left out so much…or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention), but I am still finding it interesting. Eight days in, my teeth are happy to report that I am still on track for my resolution to floss as well.
That is most of the stuff worth mentioning for now. It is looking to be a busy month and then the Spring Festival starts about a week into February which is the Chinese-equivalent of Christmas where everyone goes home to see their family. We are hoping to work through the holiday and take ours immediately after it is over to avoid the Chinese travel crowd. Hopefully this will be possible.
We wish you all a very happy 2008! What a great year to come visit China! Cheers! Gan Bei! Salud! Proast! Salute! Happy 2008!
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