Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving in Chongqing

Thanksgiving Day

The first thing I can say we are thankful for is that we are learning that our Orli wakes up first thing in the morning as Happy Baby, with a big smile on her face.  J  Sure makes it a nice way to start a day.

Even early in the morning the street below our hotel is hustling and bustling, and the honking starts way before the sun rises.  There are 14 or so lanes of traffic moving in all sorts of crazy directions.  When I just went to the window to count the lanes, I witnessed someone purposefully driving in the wrong direction for about a block in order to not have to turn around and go out of their way--no wonder there's so much honking going on down there!

Today we had a bit of free time in the morning.  We woke up with the delightful sounds of our honking "alarm clock" and headed out to the park in the plaza outside our hotel.  Every morning there is a variety of locals in the park who are practicing Tai Chi, sword, fan, Kung Fu, and probably some other art forms I don't know how to name.  There was also a man playing a cool bamboo flute, and it seemed like all of the martial arts were being done to the music he was providing.

It's chilly here, but not as freezing as we had girded ourselves for before we left.  My guess is that it was in the low 50's--very tolerable.  Of course, every time we go out in public, we have to make sure Orli is totally bundled up, with no skin showing.  Otherwise, we expose ourselves to harsh words and actions of all the local Chinese grandmothers.  They will not hesitate to come up and tug and pull on clothing to make sure the baby is well-protected from the elements.  Of course, their idea of well-protected is with baby looking like the Michelin Man, with 20 layers, so we have received a few nasty looks of disapproval.  But mostly we've done OK.

We spent time this morning walking all around the area that surrounds our hotel.  Because of the many lanes of traffic in all directions, in order to get from one side of the street to another we have to walk through these crazy tunnels, pathways and overhead walkways.  It's confusing to say the least.  What is absolutely amazing to us is how Western the area appears.  Pizza Hut…McDonald's…Starbucks…  Although there are very (very) few non-Chinese here, it still feels like we could be in any big city in the US.  There's a fancy mall under one of the underneath walkways, where we can buy any type of high-fashion clothes, shoes, cosmetics or anything else we can imagine.  We continue to be amazed by how fashionable the locals are in their everyday wear.  Everyone is dressed like they're going out clubbing, even at 8 a.m.  It's like a fashion mecca here. 

In the afternoon we went on a tour of Ci Qi Kou, Old Chongqing, which is the original part of this now humongous city.  It has old and winding walkways, traditional architecture, overlooks the Jialing river, and is a fantastic place for people-watching.  But then, I think we were often the main attraction.  We were six families walking around with Chinese babies.  Typically, one woman would stop us, and then a crowd would form, sometimes 15 or so people deep!  We would let them read our badges, and they again gave us huge thumbs-ups, lots of clapping, and even a few tears.  They seem so happy to see that the children will be provided for and loved, and that makes us very happy.

Chongqing, once the capital of China, was originally a part of the Sichuan province, although about 10 years ago the Central Government decided it should be its own municipality.  But culturally, it is definitely Sichuanese.  For dinner, we celebrated Thanksgiving with a traditional Sichuanese dinner--Hot Pot.  We sat at three tables, and in the center of each table was a large 2-section pot of boiling liquid.  The inner pot had a stock base.  We were at the vegetarian table with our new friends Dennis, Ann and their son Matthew, and so that meant that our inner pot only had the guts of chicken and fish floating about.  J  The outer pot was a dark and spicy liquid with tons of floating peppers of varying spiciness.  We were warned to make sure we stayed clear of one of the peppercorns in particular.  (This would have been the moment where Jesse and Ross would have dared everyone at the table to eat one. J  ) One in our group accidentally did eat one, and it wasn't pretty.  They brought our table all sorts of items--including lotus fruit, bean curd, potato noodles, and other vegetables, and ladled them into the two sections of the boiling and bubbling pot.  (Incidentally, Hot Pot Restaurant is not where we'd normally take a bunch of infants out for dinner!)  After allowing the food to cook for a bit in the pot, we pulled it all out and put it into our individual bowls of sesame oil mixed with garlic to cool down the temperature.  Then we ate it!  We ordered the mild-spicy hot pot mixture, and it was plenty hot, for sure!  It was really delicious, and made for a very interesting and fun Thanksgiving Dinner experience.

We hope that everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration.   We certainly have plenty to be thankful for: You our family and friends who have supported us for so many years, and Miss Orli Jia-Mei who is bringing new light to our lives.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful Thanksgiving. Orli is absolutely gorgeous and her smile says it all. And the smile on your faces is precious. Enjoy each moment and keep sending the stories. I shed tears of joy with each entry. We are so happy for all of you and look forward to meeting Orli when you all return.
    With lots of love!


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