Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Too Many Cooks . . .

. . . spoil the spaghetti? Not at the Rice's house!

It's so nice to be able to have "family dinners" with great American food over at the Rice's house once a week. Since Katie, Dave, and I have rather small kitchens that make cooking rather cumbersome, we'd be really hurting for some good Western food if it wasn't for Victoria and all of her culinary delights (and Caleb and Rachel who cook dinners for us sometimes too).

Monday, November 24, 2008


In Yichang, Brad and Amy found a little stall that sells waffles. Finding waffles in China is rather amazing. You could choose from a variety of toppings (I chose chocolate, Brad and Amy went with blueberry . . . butter, apple, and strawberry were the other options). Your waffle gets covered in topping, folded in half, and is then slid into a paper bag. Waffles to go! Now I'm wanting a waffle stand in Mengzi . . .

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wrong-Way Street

While out in Yichang one afternoon, Brad and I saw this rather incongruous set of road signs which made us both laugh. So I guess your only option is reverse if you're driving on this road. Hope there's no one behind you. Of course, as I've often noticed, road signs and traffic rules in China seem to be a bit, um, flexible.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yichang Visit

Last Thursday, Katie and I flew back to Yichang for a visit. We had three days off at our school because of some nebulous local anniversary/holiday. Combine those three days with the weekend and our relatively light/flexible teaching schedules and it worked out that we could spend almost a week in Yichang. It was a little strange being back in Yichang and back at TGU but not actually living there, but it was nice to see old friends and students. It was especially fun to hang out with Brad and Amy and make a trip out to Yidu to see Mary Beth, Jennifer, and Mira. We also made a trip back to Yichang Foreign Languages School, the middle school that we taught at for two years. One of my students from TGU is student-teaching there. Interesting to go back to my old middle school and find one of my old university students (who was a freshman when I first taught him) teaching a completely new generation of students there . . . made me feel, um, a little old. All in all, despite the slightly gray weather, a moderate bout with a cold/flu for both me and Katie, and the nightmare that is the Kunming bus station, it was a nice trip and a fun time. It's nice to have a hometown in China where I know I'll always have friends and memories.

Oh, and a fun happening on the way home . . . I went through my first Chinese drive-through! One of the McDonald's in Kunming has a drive-through which is a completely novel concept in China, so much so that it seems most people don't know what it is, why it's there, or how to use it. It's the only drive-through I've ever seen in China. Conveniently, that McDonalds is located halfway between the airport and the long-distance bus station, and Katie and I happened to have a surprisingly jolly, accomodating cab driver who picked us up at the airport. We easily talked the cabbie into making a run through the drive through on the way to the bus station. How fun! Big Macs on the fly. It felt so . . . American . . . except that we had to order in Chinese . . . and our fries got lost in translation. And, McDonalds in China now has Coke Zero which is also novel and progressive here in a land that knows nothing of "diet" foods.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Birthday Thanks

Thanks to everyone who made my birthday special!

On Friday I got a wonderful birthday package from Dad and Mom, John and Kara. I got to open my package while talking to dad and mom and using the webcams which was so much fun (technology is so amazing . . . well, when it works, at least). My family always sends great things in boxes and this box was no exception.

Yesterday I got to celebrate my birthday with the Rices and Dave and Katie. They gave me lots of nice presents (including a birthday scepter . . . ) and Victoria made my favorite cake, Black Magic cake with cream cheese frosting. Yum! Tasted so good. And it was a bundt cake . . . even better!

Today I got this fun picture from Brad and Amy which really made me smile. Their Halloween paper-mache mannequin (a.k.a. Stevie Nicks the Impaler) had a special birthday sign for me. Oh and in case you're wondering, yes the sign says "Kimb." A while ago, a student gave me a card and on the envelope it said "To Kimb" . . . it was like they first wrote Kim, then wanted to go for Kimberly, but got stuck after the "b" and then gave up. "Kimb" kind of stuck with my Yichang friends.

Beth wrote a fun, sweet birthday post for me on her blog which I loved. Thanks Beth! Reminds me or your great "chose-your-own-adventure" stories. And, she says there's a box on the way for me so I have even more to look forward to!

Thanks to friends and family back home who gave me cards and presents . . . my grandparents, Ruby, the Dillons, and others. Several students and friends from here at HHU and from Yichang sent me text messages and I got more Facebook birthday wishes than I could keep up with.

This year there wasn't a big party with a large group of friends like I've done the last few years (oh the fond memories of roller skating and the murder mystery dinner theater!), but I had a nice relaxing day with beautiful weather and a fun time doing dinner and a movie with Katie and Dave tonight. And I got to talk to my parents and to Kara to finish up the day.

Although birthdays take on a slightly different character as an adult, it's still nice to be treated special for a day. Despite the fact that I now definitively fall into the "late 20s" age bracket, I'm thankful for the past year that God gave me and excited about another year to come.

And I have to make a special point to say Happy Birthday to my sister and best friend. Happy 24th birthday Kara! I hope it doesn't sound cliche, but you really were the best birthday present I ever got! Love you lots! (Yes, my sister and I share the same birthday :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fear Factor Food

One of the nights we were in Lu Chun, we went and had Chinese "BBQ". Night market booths with little grills serve beef and lamb kabobs and also potatoes and other roast veggies. The normal meat and veggies are pretty good, but you can also order an assortment of other "meat."

Anyone hungry for some tongue? How about a hoof or a tail? Or intestines? Or something completely unidentifiable?
Karry (one of our Chinese student-friends that went to Lu Chun with us) highly recommended the pig's tail and ordered one for herself. The BBQ lady chopped the tail up with scissors and used a knife to make small slits in the pieces and then grilled it. Karry kept telling me it tasted great, but I couldn't figure out how she was eating it. It's seriously nothing but cartilage. One of the great mysteries of Chinese people . . . how are they able to gnaw on something so tough and rubbery and call it food?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Terraced Fields

The town of Yuan Yang and the area surrounding Matthew's village are famous for the terraced fields. Since the land is quite mountainous, the peasants terrace the sides of the mountains so that they can have enough flat land to grow rice. Before planting, the fields are flooded and saturated with water making them look like a maze of layered lakes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Gorgeous Rainbow

When we arrived in Lu Chun on Friday, it was raining. But, at one point, the sun came out at just the right angel and there was the most beautiful, brightest rainbow I've ever seen. Actually it was a double rainbow (the second rainbow is there in the photos but it's not as vivid). The rainbow went over the town in a perfect arch and it was visible for more than 5 minutes! Yeah for Brian having a wide-angel lens on his camera that could capture the whole thing.

Almost seems like these photos aren't real, especially the one of Brian. It looks like he was superimposed onto a rainbow background. But I know it's real, I was right there!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Long Table Festival

This past weekend, I got to go see the "Long Table Festival" (or if you directly translate the Chinese, the "Long Street Feast") in the town of Lu Chun. Brian drove his jeep and another friend drove his car the 6 hours from Mengzi to Lu Chun. There were 8 of us in our group. The Long Table Festival is the biggest holiday for the Hani minority group. Matthew, one of our closest student-friends here at HHU, is Hani and he came with us and taught us a lot about the Hani people.

There are over 3,000 tables set up in Lu Chun for the festival! It goes for literally miles through the one main street in the town. When I asked how the logistics worked, I was told that the government pays local Hani families to provide the food and serve a group of tables (maybe 3 or 4). Guests then buy tickets to attend the festival. It's like a giant pot-luck. Sadly it was pouring down rain most of the time we were in Lu Chun but we still had a fun weekend.

Brian's umbrella broke so he went out in search of a big "manly" umbrella. This is what he bought. We laughed and laughed when he carried that massive umbrella down the crowded streets.
A lot happened this weekend and it's hard to cover it all on my blog. Besides all the Long Table Festivities, we made a trip out to Matthew's remote village where his parents and extended family live. I'll probably do a few more posts about the trip, but if you want to see an online album with captions, you can click on this link - Long Table Festival.