Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Made it.

The final leg of our trip is over. We left the hotel early, too early, because we had to sit at the airport for one and a half hours before check-in and security. Better early than late. Security didn't like all the baby food but let us take it anyway. The only thing that didn't make it was the dark corn syrup for DJ's morning bottles Jenni gave us in Beijing. Security took it because we had it in carry-on instead of a checked bag. We can't find any here, and they never even heard of it, so I will just have to make some myself. The airport is so small no planes stay here and there is only two flights a day during the week that arrive and then leave. We exited the plane by walking down the steps they pushed up to the door and then we walked into the one room terminal building, collecting our luggage off the only conveyor. I have seen airports this small but not many much smaller. The apartment is much bigger and nicer than we expected. Most of the apartment buildings are only eight floors, because if they were any taller they would have to have elevators. We live on the second floor with views out the front and back of the other apartment buildings and right now about two to three inches of fresh snow on top of the already four to five inches. The first night the principle of the school took us and the three other teachers out to eat. There is only one female teacher, Cherney (I hope I spelled that right), from Hawaii and has already been here for one year. There is picture of the other three teachers with her on the left. The man on the right is George from Canada and the man in the middle is Anthonay from England. We are the only foriegn school teachers in the city, so there are not many foriegners here at all. The other pictures are of the school Chinese staff and the lady with the big smile is the school principle, Mrs. Mei Han.

I walked down to the local store at the end of our building and picked up stuff to fix breakfast of ham, eggs and toast with strawberry jam. After breakfast I walked two and a half blocks to see the school which is on the 8th floor of the same building as one of the two huge underground shopping malls. The apartment has raidant floor heating which is nice and they provided us with some things to get started here including a bed for DJ. We are going back to one of those malls to pick up a few more things to make it more livable for us before I start work tomorrow. Most of my teaching time will be on Saturday and Sundays from around 8am to 9pm.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

It's a small world after all.

Ever since we started thinking about this move we have had Tiananmen Square as our starting point on Google Earth and now we have been there. Saturday we took the subway to see the ancient observatory which has stood for over 500 years and then headed for Tiananmen Square. The subway ride to the square was a little longer than was expected. We were caught in an ocean of Chinese on the subway and packed tight so we could not get off at either of the two stops. We had to ride until enough people got off a few stops later to get off, walk across the platform and get on going the other way. As soon as we exited the subway we saw the National Centre for the Performing Arts with its dome shaped building. After walking under the street through the tunnels they have for getting to the other side of the busy streets, we came out in front of the Great Hall of the People which is on the West side of the square. Across the road to the North of the square is the main gate to the Forbidden City. The National Museum of China is on the East side of the square. In the middle is the Monument to the Peoples Heroes. On the South of the square is the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. To the South of the mausoleum is the old outer Forbidden City gate and archery tower. We took the subway East a couple of stops and got off near where we were the night before on snack street. The exit we took opened up into a three story, city block size mall with all kinds of fancy shops. We did not buy anything or even go into any of the shops as it was all too expensive for us. There was plenty of restraunts inside the mall and after eating at one of the two KFC we went to one of the two Diary Queens and had some ice cream. While sitting there in the middle of this huge mall in a city of 15 million mostly Chinese our friends TJ and Jenni just happend to be walking by. Just like the ancient observatory that saw the city built around it had constants in the stars above revealing the vast size of the galaxy and the Earths relative small size, we too found it is a small world.

Friday, February 19, 2010

'What is that?'

We spent friday afternoon and evening visiting with our friends TJ and Jenni at thier apartment, having dinner and going out to snack street. They have a very nice apartment with lots of room and built-ins for storage. They have two great boys Nate age four and Noah age five. We visited for awhile and then Jenni agreed to watch DJ and her two while TJ took us out to eat Sichuan and then go to snack street. For dinner we had a pot of lamb, broccoli, greenbeans and potatoes with as little heat as you can get in Sichuan food, which was still almost too much for even me. We also had fried and seasoned shredded potatoes, plain rice, grilled bread and grilled pumpkin patties. There was lots to see on snack street and plenty of what we would call exotic foods to try. We saw everything from scorpions that were still moving to a variety of snakes, all deep fried or grilled on a stick. Suzanne and Debora had deep fried ice cream. It was some flavor of green ice cream coated in egg white placed on a slice of bread and then deep fried. The ice cream was still cold on the inside and was good. I had some grilled chicken hearts which I have always loved and TJ and I both tried something new for us, grilled sheep penis. It was not as tough as I thought it would be and we ate it all. Jennie said DJ was real good for her. Thank you DJ for being good and thank you Jenni for watching her. It was nice to get out without having to worry about her.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Suzanne says "It was AWESOME!"

Thursday morning the weather was warming up and the wind was much calmer than the day before when we were taking the Beijing tour. On our way to eat breakfast we saw this gentlemen out walking his pet goose down the sidewalk. We have seen many dogs, most wearing coats, one cat under a car trying to stay warm and even a pet chicken just outside the gate of the house where it lives. We walked on past the goose and for a short time it looked like it wanted to follow us. We walked down to the local Wu-Mart after breakfast just to look around and pick-up a few snacks to keep at the hotel. Later that night we went to an acrobatic show. We arrived early and met two young ladies named Sara and Holly from the states who are teachers in Korea visiting Beijing during Spring Festival.

The theatre soon was filled and the show began. We all really enjoyed the show. Even DJ only took a nap during intermission so she wouldn't miss anything. Suzanne liked the guys clinbing the two tall poles and the way they jumped from one to the other because it looked like they some how turned off the gravity for that part. The whole performance was excellent. After the show we took a taxi to an American style restraunt called Grandma's Kitchen which is the only place we have found that has Suzanne's beloved rootbeer soda. We are going to TJ and Jenni's apartment friday and then out at night to snack street.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Beijing Tour

We took a guided tour today to see the Heavenly Temple, Forbiden City and Summer Palace. It was very windy out. We were the only ones on this tour but there was many Chinese visiting because of the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival. Our guide took some of these pictures. We new the tour included transportation, tickets and lunch. What we didn't know until we were on our way was that it also included a tour of a silk factory, pearl factory, porcelain museum and a tea house. These other stops were mixed in with the first three along with there full-court, high-pressure sales pitchs. All we got was a $15 bracelet for Suzanne. It was a long day so everyone is crashed-out early and I am headed that way.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Drum and Bell Towers.

We went out Monday to see the Drum and Bell Towers. It isn't too far a walk from the hotel. We bundled the baby up good in her stroller because it was very cold out. We did not go into the towers because of all the stairs but did enjoy the walk down there and back. We got to see lots of people and things. We also had lunch at our favorite 'hole in the wall'. We did have a tour planned for Tuesday but DJ is running a little fever we want to keep an eye on so we will try to reschedule for Wednesday for the tour to see the Summer Palace, Heavenly Temple and Forbiden City. Thursday night we hope to go see an acrobat show and on Tuesday the 23rd we will be flying to Jiamusi and I start work on the 25th. The red tower is the Drum Tower and the other is the Bell Tower as seen from the base of the Drum Tower.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine Day Sunday

We started the day out walking to the subway headed for an American style breakfast at a place called Grandma's Kitchen but it was closed for the holiday so we just had something at Starbucks and then went to church. TJ met us at the station and took us to his church. It is at a big hotel auditorium. We had to show our passports to get in since it is not for Chinese citizens. We had a good time and after TJ showed us a good Italian place to eat. We got a little turned around but finally found it and had a great late lunch. Suzanne had spaghetti bolognaise and we had spaghetti carbonara. We have been doing a lot of walking in the last few days and some holding the baby and although my legs may be stronger, I still don't think I have lost much weight. It probably has something to do with eating spaghetti carbonara three of the last four days. We went next door to the restruant to a store called Jennit Lou's which has many of the things from home that we can't find in a Chinese store. We needed tiolet tissue; always handy when out walking and need to use a public bombsight that has no tissue; and some more water; which we use on anything that goes into our mouths (baby bottles, toothbrushes, drinking, etc.). We also picked up some cocoa rice cereal and a rootbeer for Suzanne. She says she doesn't like this brand of rootbeer so I guess I won't have to worry about paying the higher price for that again. The cereal was a cheaper brand for only about $3.50 US currency but the soda was around $2 for one can. I took this picture looking across the street from the store waiting for a taxi to take us back to the hotel since we had groceries and were tired of walking. I don't know for sure what it is, maybe an entrance to a fancy hotel. It cost $0.30 US per person to ride the subway one time including transfers. Buses are half that much but it is hard to figure out which bus is which for us right now. The taxi ride home was almost $4.50 US.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

春节快乐!Year of the Tiger.

After breakfast we walked down a nearby main street and looked at the shops and stopped in some to renew our supplies. On the way back I took the first picture of Deb in front of a temple of the god of weath. The sign out front says the original building was finished in the mid 17th century and was replaced be this new building less than five years ago. We went back to that same main street that evening for supper at an Austrilian pub where Deb had a chicken burger and I had an Italian pasta dish. Suzanne choose to stay at the hotel and rest some more. The night before, I came the long way down this same main street looking for a pharmacy for Suzanne's sinus infection and got lost trying to find my way back through the hutongs. I found a short cut through the hutong to go to the pub that was much easier. As we were eating, night was falling and the fireworks began to pick up a little. We went back to the hotel and tried to get some sleep but at 11:45pm the fireworks began to peak so we went to the next floor up stairwell window and watched the Chinese new year arrive. The sky was filled with fireworks all over the city and DJ was entertained for a short time before it was time to go back to sleep. Tomorrow we will go to church with our friends.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Two days become one.

We went out to a local place to eat and picked up a few drinks and snacks at a shop to keep in the room. Since we are staying n the old part of the city called the Hutong, the streets are more like alley ways. We walked back to the hotel and started our recovery from jet lag and two days becoming one. The next morning on the 11th we walked out to a main road and found a McDonalds for breakfast. There weren't any biscuits, only english muffins but for the most part it was the same as back home. Suzanne had hotcakes, Deb had an eggmac and I had a big breakfast. The food was great; thank you McDonalds. There is a bakery next door we will have to come back to later.
There are not a lot of people out early in the morning, in contrast to the streets being crowded even late at night. We went back to the hotel and relaxed a little waiting on our friends TJ and Jenni to come visit. They are from home but have been here for a few years. They took us to a place past the drum tower were Suzanne had a cheese pizza, Deb had Lasagna and I had spaghetti with mushrooms, bacon and egg.
After lunch we split up with TJ taking his two boys home and Jenni taking my three ladies for a little shopping while I went to follow up on a call I received from the principle of the school I will be teaching at about our dog. After nine hours of going from one place to another and much paperwork later, I got him released from customs and into a place that will take care of him for the full 30 day quarintine. It had been 62 hours since I had last seen him and found him in a warehouse 29 hours after our plane had arrived. He was scared, freezing, dirty, hungry and thirsty. He was very glad to see me and I got to let him out to love on me, feed and water him. I paid someone to take care of him while he is in quarintine and will make arrangements to get him later.