Saturday, January 24, 2009

In Spite of it all...

"Scooting" in high heels is quite common!

Tall Golden Buddha at monastary where we had vegetarian lunch.

Laughing Buddha in the (drained) swimming pool atop the roof of the monastary!

View into courtyard

At the street market - daily items as well as

Red and Gold New Year's decorations!! Chinese New Year is as celebrated as Christmas is here - family get togethers, vacations, gifts, and decorations.

Taking home holiday flowers on the scooter!

Dried and salted fish, fruit, and candies at the market

mmmmm... Lychee!!

and Dragon fruit!!!

Prize winning Pears (about the size of Pomelos!) be-ribboned with New Year's wishes.

Dinner at the Hunan restaurant: Deep fried skewered and peppered shrimp. We each ate about 15-20 :)

Xiao Yu & Mango and dinner - plate of red peppers at the left was what was left after we polished off the shrimp!

Jon plays hacky-sack with guys on the street :)

I love to travel :) An opportunity to learn patience and flexibility :)

Below is a list of the things that complicated this last trip to Southern China:

1) Sent my passport to have additional pages and a Chinese Visa inserted. Passport was not delivered to proper people. Was not notified of said non-delivery for 2 weeks. When told, had to inform the US Postal Police (Federal Agents), file forms, call strange and suspicious people who may or may not have actually stolen the passport for nefarious purposes, swear to God and police that I was sane and sensible, send off for a new passport, and a Chinese Visa, and pay additional fees for "expedited" service.
2) Despite actively asking any reasonably mature person who came within 10 feet of me for weeks, failed repeatedly to find a dog-sitter. At the last minute, cobbled together a melange of father-in-law, friends, and Amelia to care for the dogs. Worried all trip long....
3) On our (usually a one and a half hour, but apparently this time 45 minute!)lay-over in Tokyo Narita airport, we decided to have sushi and a beer and somehow managed to miss our flight. There is only one NWA flight each day from Tokyo to Hong Kong. After several deep breaths and a few swear words, we were grateful that we found an airport hotel with an available room. A rather expensive room.... with custom stained carpet, eau du cigarette, and twin beds! And for a small fee, were able to upgrade to a clean room with one large bed and a wireless internet connection :)
4) The next day, whiling away the hours in the airport lounge, we discovered that we had had several hang-up phone calls - the phone message we had recorded for the business phone was non-existent. Note that forwarding phone calls to an internet phone service is dicey... ok, renewing our "can-do attitude", we fixed that one too, recording live from the unoccupied children's play room in the airport!
5) Arriving in Hong Kong a day late, we discover that our hotel reservation had been made for February, not January as was noted in our English translation... got a room anyway :) sent off our laundry to the hotel laundry :) went to dinner :) came back to find we had to move to another hotel down the street for night two. Negotiated luggage and laundry swap.
6) Using remote log in, I had been pleased to have been processing orders, and printing shipping labels and invoices on our office computer but about now, Sara wrote to say that only shipping labels were printing, no invoices..... switched to emailing Sara copies of the invoices that she could print out at her house, take to to the office and put in the boxes.
7) Discovered that the International Data Package that we purchased for Jon's new Blackberry did not in fact include the ability to act as "pig tail modem" and allow us internet access on the road in a foreign land. We breathlessly await the latest bill to see just how much roaming we did.....

>Mango and Jon at their Tea Shop - along the top of the shelves are framed, formed tea bricks that say Gung Hey Fat Choi! (Happy New Year).

Xiao Yu, Mango, Jon, Robbin at the Tea table

Nan (wearing Auntie Robbin's glasses!), Xiao Yu, Robbin and Xiao Yu's Mother

Our PROUDEST moment- watching Obama's inauguration, live at 2 a.m. local time, on Chinese TV. It was such a momentous occasion for them that they ran it, in time, with a running voice over translation!! I was definitely a bit teary.

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