I still can’t believe how amazing it is in China! The day is 12-23-2011 🙂
I was able to wake up by 7:15 and wrote for about an hour. I chatted a bit with my mom, Sarah (my sister), and my dad, and they were happy to see my face and hear my news. We (me, Shuyan, and Hanshin) left late and picked up Shuyan’s mom, aunt and uncle, and drove to a town (where Kung Fu Panda Man lives) about an hour away. Hanshin brought a lot of candy to give to his old co-workers (where KFPM works) and KFPM came out to take us to the tourist area and get us free access. He left us after that with a promise that we’d still visit soon (probably on the weekend). One of the nice things in China is that if you’re a local in a city or town, you have free access to all of the ‘tourist attractions’ and can get guests in for free. Always a plus!
The place we went to was the ancient home of one very rich man in China. The architecture of the place was stunning, and I spent a lot of time taking pictures. They ate some fried stinky tofu and got some sugar candy that needed pulling to play with before getting rid of it! I took a small taste and it was just too sweet. For the Middle Easterners and Indo/Paks, it looks like sugar wax but they kept stretching and twisting it until it became white. We had lunch at a really nice place that Hanshin likes, and the food was really good. The husband of Shuyan’s aunt came from work and joined us at this point. We ended the meal with some kind of papaya filled sweet and some sugar cane, and it was really good. We then went to visit Shuyan’s great uncle. I went in and everyone was very excited to see me. They served me a different kind of specialty tea and I didn’t really like it, but I kept it near my hands to keep them warm as it was cold. I had to take a few obligatory sips, but I didn’t drink much. They gave me a milk candy that was ok, and then I ate two tangerines and that made them all super happy. There is an old lady living with him, and both help in taking care of each other. He’s 85 and still healthy and able to walk, but they’re a bit worried about his memory from time to time.
They were teasing the great uncle about not being able to remember birthdays, and he went and got his notes to double check with everyone. They also laughed because he called the aunt’s husband the bride, and they said that he was the best looking bride they’d ever seen. Aunt’s husband followed that with asking where was his red envelope (the money packet they give married couples), haha. We split up at this point, with the aunt, her husband, and the uncle going in one car, and us going back with Shuyan’s mom. They told me that the plan was then to go to the temple I’ve been seeing every day and I was really excited except I wasn’t wearing my sneakers. I asked if we could go back to the apartment so I could change my shoes and do my ablutions for praying. I napped on the way back, and so did Shuyan. We both feel bad for Hanshin; he’s gone to bed very late for several days straight and hasn’t had the chance to nap at all. They called Guy in the Hat to ask him the best way to get up the mountain, and he immediately made plans to come with us. We dropped of Shuyan’s mom at her apartment and went to pick him up from the 24-hour KFC (WHAT). When we stopped, a girl came in and sat next to me in the backseat instead while GitH went to sit in the front seat next to Hanshin. I immediately didn’t like her as she didn’t acknowledge anyone or say hello, which is super rude considering you’re a stranger to everyone there. She spoke only to GitH before lapsing again into silence. Shuyan and I giggled together a bit, laughing about how excited I was for the temple, and looking at the girl, trying to initiate some kind of conversation with her. GitH asked her if she understood what we were saying, and she replied she understood a little bit. She didn’t say anything else during the car ride.
We arrived at the temple, which wasn’t too far a drive. I took several pictures and we began the long climb to the top. We stopped several times (both for pictures and for breaks) and the girl acted as if they were a loving couple, or at least interested in each other. The climb up to the top was super long; it took us more than an hour to climb the 13,000 steps! I was told that the temple wasn’t actually old: the construction had actually finished only three months or so ago, and GinH’s company was involved with the construction (which is why Hanshin called to ask the best way to climb). Once we made it to the top, Hanshin told Shuyan who told me (oh my gosh, this game is like ‘telephone’) that this is the girl who has been making GitH’s life terrible: she is an ex-girlfriend who calls him like crazy, crying and saying she would get her village people/friends/family to beat him up if he wouldn’t see her, and always asks him for money. She was not supposed to go with us; none of us aside from GitH knew her, but she just conveniently showed up at KFC (she knows he hangs out there sometimes after work) and wouldn’t leave. Drama!
With all of that information, I performed my post-sunset prayer at the top of the temple. It’s humbling to think I may be the only person to have ever prayed in that spot of the world. I made lots of du’a; may it be accepted. We walked around a bit on top of the temple and looked at some of the water paintings and calligraphy inside.
Walking down was a lot easier than going up. My ankle was hurting me a bit, so I tried to go quickly. Shuyan was initially walking with me, but as GitH and Crazy Girl (CG) were walking together, I told her to go walk with Hanshin. I went a bit ahead of the group as I wanted to get down to one of the mini towers and take a look around at the post-sunset view. At this point, it became apparent that CG was super jealous of me. They were speaking of the wedding and karaoke, and GitH dropped a compliment of me in the conversation and she started shooting me death glares. I had already gotten a hint of her jealousy at the top of the temple when she would edge her way in front of me, but it was amusing to see her get so worked up over nothing! This girl was doing her best to get a rise out of me. Shuyan and Hanshin tried to get GitH to walk down with me, but the girl wasn’t letting him go and I didn’t want to start any trouble. I let her have her small victory, but I definitely won the bigger battle later on.
We came to the entrance of the are with my ankle hurting a bit (I had had surgery a few years ago and it sometimes still pains me if I walk on it incorrectly). The lights were all on at the bottom of the temple and the temple was also lit up, as lots of people, including GitH’s father (who used to have a really big belly) come and climb after dinner for exercise. That’s seriously awesome.. it’s a tough workout and I was tired! We got back in the car and went to get Hanshin’s car from the lot so he could park it at his work place so their space in the new complex would be free for the jeep and so they wouldn’t get in trouble with parking the car in other spaces (omg that made no sense). Shuyan followed GitH and Hanshin to the workplace with me in the front seat and Crazy Girlin the back. Once again, she didn’t speak to us and instead sat there in stony silence…. with her arms crossed. It felt like I was dealing with a sulky 5 year old! We stopped the car near the parking entrance and waited for the guys to come up. Shuyan got a package that was waiting for them with the attendant and we all climbed back into the car to go to the 24 hour two story KFC. for dinner. Shuyan and Hanshin dropped me, GitH, and CG to find seats while they parked the car (parking really sucks in China). We went upstairs and got into a booth before moving to a bigger table. Crazy Girl sat on one side while I sat on another, and GitH went to order or go to the bathroom. Crazy Girl spoke to me for the first time, telling me she as going to the bathroom. With this encouragement, I started speaking to her when she came back. I mentioned how much I was reminded of America because of all of the Christmas music playing. I had my little notebook out so I could write notes and such from the day, and I had been writing when she went to the bathroom (I still had my pen in my hand when she came back). She asked if I was keeping a diary, to which I replied ‘sort of, I’m typing the rest when I get back,’ to which she gave me a strange look and replied ‘that’s weird…,’ to which I raised an eyebrow and responded ‘no.. no, not really.’ We were silent until GitH got back, and then he sat next to me which made her give me the evil eye (yet again..). Shuyan and Hanshin came up at this point with the food. We began to eat, and my spicy chicken sandwich was delicious. If KFC is at all like this at home, I just might have to try it.
Police guard came and joined us at this time, sitting next to GitH. I have to say how impressed I am with how well the Chinese eat their food; no meat was left on the bones at all. This could definitely be better applied in America; we waste so much food this way. We are so spoiled! We complain over the smallest bones in our food, we want everything small and bite sized, we don’t want to use our hands.. we really miss out. At this time, CG thought to spoil my reputation by telling how ‘rude’ I’d been to her by saying that my keeping a diary of sorts wasn’t weird as she’d implied. I couldn’t follow the story, but I could see the triumphant looks and side glances she was giving me while speaking. As soon as she finished, she sat back with a smug look on her face, looking around for everyone’s reactions. I don’t think she expected everyone to leap to my defense.. they asked her why she was talking about me when I was right in front of her, that there was nothing weird about keeping a diary when traveling, and telling her how rude she was to speak ill of someone as it makes one lose face. Despite not understanding the conversation, I got the gist of what was being said. I laughingly pulled out my notebook again and wrote a few notes while they laughed and relaxed. So the plan was for all of the guys to come over to the new apartment later for cards and no smoking (Shuyan doesn’t want smoking or gambling in the new apartment, and I say good for her). When we were ready to leave, CG clung to GitH and made it so he wasn’t able to come over, so the guys kind of fell through as well (GitH is the funnest of them all and is by far the life of the party).
They laughed at my amused and cool state in the car, and again mentioned how badly behaved she was/is. I told them that it was no big deal.. jealousy can do a lot to someone. Oh well, just leave me out of it! Hanshin went to quickly wash the car before coming up, as it was going to be used by her dad tomorrow. We relaxed at the apartment, watching an episode of the Big Bang Theory and just talking. Hanshin told me that after her little set-down, CG was whining for GitH to buy her an expensive phone cover even though there was a place much closer that sells them much cheaper; apparently she continues to whine for him to buy her things all the time, and threatens to call her village people on him if he doesn’t answer. She calls him every day on the hour, looking for where he is, what he’s doing, and who he’s with. Thank goodness I didn’t meet her again while I was in China! I must be doing something right; I have two Chinese nicknames at this point and have made an enemy. What a vacation!!!!