Wednesday, August 24, 2011

day 11

Today started out as every single other day. We ate breakfast. And I have to tell you that although the buffet is amazing and varied, I have had had the exact same thing every morning. If you know me at all you are not at all surprised. And because I know I will forget this one day, I have an omelet, one piece of bacon, and potatoes for my first plate. The potatoes here are on a three day cycle and day three is my favorite, a homemade version of mini hashbrowns. I think they probably use the leftover potatoes from the two previous days and mush them all up and make them into pretty little mini potato cakes but I don't mind. It's the best potato concoction I've had. Well, for potatoes involving no cheese, that is. Anyway, then I start to drink my black tea b/c until then it's too hot to drink. I eat a small chocolate pastry with it. "Chocolate" is a bit of a stretch b/c it tastes nothing like chocolate but it's decent enough to fulfill my daily sweet fix. Oh, and speaking of chocolate. It's the one thing China fails miserably at. They have no appreciation for chocolate here. None. The preferred dessert of choice here seems to be fruit on a stick (most notably, cantaloupe) or tiramisu. Weird, huh? Then I end my meal with a yogurt. Yogurt that is almost like milk b/c it's so watery. In fact, it took Andy and me nearly a week to realize that you are actually supposed to poke a straw through the lid (think yogurt cup/juice box mix) and drink it. We probably looked like fools trying to pull off the plastic top each morning. We kept wondering why it was so hard to do. Uhm, that would be b/c you're not supposed to do it that way. You drink yogurt here. Who knew?! As you can see, breakfast has become somewhat of a serious Groundhog Day experience except every two to three days we realize that all of our familiar faces have been replaced with new guests in the hotel. Andy and I say to each other, "Oh, look, the whole place is filled with new people today." We feel like the breakfast buffet room has somewhat become our own home/kitchen and I deny my urge to welcome all the new people and tell them things like, "Hey, wait for tomorrow's potatoes!" or, "You should really skip the pancakes, they're soggy." or, "Yogurt? Use a straw it'll save you five minutes of trying to tear off the top." And that's our excitement for the first hour of day. That and french toast day. Again, it's on a three day cycle with pancakes and waffles. The french toast is good and replaces my fake-chocolate danish. Only one more french toast day left. Friday, our last morning. Groundhog Day excitement.

Ok, enough about food. But I know I'd forget all those details someday and I'll look back and laugh. Today we went to the Temple of Heaven. We spent the morning walking around the park areas and it was lovely. It was way less crowded than the Summer Palace. It was the most peaceful, quiet place we've been to so far. And there were no strangers asking us for pictures and pretty much no stares from people. It was nice. Hope started talking to a sweet little boy at one point and I took a lot of photos of the two of them. They were running around and just being silly together. She is used to being with children 24/7 so she was probably thrilled to be able to interact with someone other than adults, aka, Andy and me.

Hope loves the camera. She is hilarious about getting her picture taken. She starts by putting her hand on her hip, tilting her head and smiling the biggest smile ever. Then she tilts her hip the other way and moves her head a bit as if she were a supermodel just waiting to be photographed. She is all serious about it and then can't help herself and starts giggling. She takes control of every impromptu photo session by moving around to various locations and repeating the hand on hip, head tilt routine. Thus the reason I took a million photos today.

Conveniently, the Temple of Heaven is right next to The Pearl Market which is the store we went to yesterday. It isn't just a pearl store, it's a muli-level indoor shopping extravaganza with everything from junk Chinese touristy-trinkets to fake designer purses, clothes, and watches to real pearls and jade and on and on. We walked around there to cool off and take a few photos since we didn't have our camera with us yesterday. Then it was back to the hotel for nap time. I had an almost-migraine headache by then and desperately needed to sit in a dark, quiet room. Uhm, dark happened, quiet didn't. Hope did her best yet to fight nap time but Andy won in a last second shot. Thank you, Andy!

We had dinner at my dumpling restaurant and I savored every bite. Only one more meal there tomorrow. I'm sad already. Then we went to a tea store that is next to our hotel. We asked to sample some teas and had a somewhat relaxing time having a tea party. Thankfully, there was a fish pond in the store so we had some entertainment for Hope. She loved the fish but loved all the ladies that gave her attention and talked to her in Chinese even more. She cried when we left the store.

And that was day 11. Tomorrow is our last full day here and we can honestly say that in some ways we feel like we just got here. Part of that may be because our first day here seemed a lot like today and it has all just blurred together into one long day. But then another part of us feels like we've overstayed our welcome here and it's time to go. We were remembering how crazy it felt the day we checked in to the hotel and the hotel lady said, "You are here for 13 nights, correct?" Andy and I looked at each other and thought, "Uhm, yes we are. Can we do this? Can we do 13 nights? We've never stayed 13 nights in a row anywhere but our own home." But we did it. Well, almost. And there have been definite Get Me Out Of Here moments, days, really. But all in all we've made memories and have experienced Caleb's and Hope's country in ways we'll never do again. And a few years from now I know we'll look back and think it was the most wonderful time ever. I have two million pictures to prove it was wonderful. Pictures...they're funny, aren't they? They make life look so much grander and perfect than it ever really is. If you want the grand-lovely-we're all a perfect family-version of our day...

Click here for photos from today, {part 1}
Click here for photos from today, {part 2}

1 comment:

  1. There is a fabulous Chinese restaurant in the same building as the pearl factory, probably our favorite food in Beijing. The yogurt is a specialty of Beijing and you won't find it elsewhere in the country, except at a high price. You WILL be able to find good chocolate in Guangzhou. Don't know where you're staying, but there's a little store between the White Swan and Lucy's that has cold Diet Coke (I went there daily) and good chocolate.