Xiamen Stories:The Family

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I have been in Xiamen for about three days and it is paradise. Xiamen is one of the cleanest cities in China. It is so lovely with palm trees and hot tropics. it reminds me of the Taiwan that I see in all those Chinese dramas that I watch online. The people here are friendly and the men here are really good looking. That is another post though.

This post is just to introduce the family that I am living with for this month.  The family name is Lin. It  consists of a dad that is  an architect. He is  also a kind  and  loving husband  and dad. A mom who is  quite beautiful and kind. She listens  to French music and likes wine. She loves being a mother and  she is very good  at it. I enjoy watching her roll on the  floor and playing with her children.  Then there is the grandma and  she is so lovely. She has this air of  poise and  grace.. She  helps care  for the children. I like her alot  too. Then there  is the housekeeper. She doesn’t live there  but stays there  all day and then goes  home. She  is  a good cook and  also takes care  of the  baby. She  has a warm and friendly smile.

The Baby

The Baby

Oh and  baby Lala. OMG so cute and  clever. I so want a baby!! The baby has bells that she  wears on her ankles, so you can hear  her  coming. I like that idea and  she  is always  coming. She  is one  years old.  I gave  her Uni(sorry Lesly) and now  she  is my best friend. I taught her how to say hi and  hello in English. She  already knew bye bye. Now when  she  walks into the  room she  says hello.  I wasn’t  kidding when I said clever!

Last, but not least is Nono; the  10 year  old that I am tutoring. She  is quite outspoken at times. She  is sweet, funny, creative  and clever. I really love  her  personality. She  has  me  laughing all the time.  She loves to pulverize  me in chess. I never  could understand that  game. She  also is  such a doting big sister. I have  already  bonded  with  her. Vivacious  is  the  adjective  that describes  her  best. She  told her  dad that  he  has  to  stop  smoking because the teacher  does not like it!

Nono, the girl I am tutoring

Nono, the girl I am tutoring

I feel  God  has been with me  on his  whole journey  during the  summer. I am learning about myself. In Anhui I rediscovered my heart. In Xiamen I am rediscovering a sense  of  family. I have  not had that sense of  family for over 10 years. After my mom died,  my family became  distant. I truly missed having a family. Their  love and  bond is  so amazing.  I have become very distant in those 10 years. This is  showing me  what love is. The lord is  showing me this maybe  as a means of preparation. Everyday, I am opening up more and  more. Oh and today the  baby only wanted to hold my hand  and not her  daddy’s. That was  too cute.

Loving sisters

Loving sisters

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Night Out in Nanchang :The Remix

photo courtesy of www.verynanchang.com

photo courtesy of http://www.verynanchang.com

If  you read my last post, my big highly anticipated  night in Nanchang was a  washout. Instead of hiding my head in the  sand, collecting cats,and  learning  how  to knit(I do want to  learn though in all actuality) I decided to give nightlife  in Nanchang another  chance.  We had  a holiday in China called Laborer’s Day, so I had  more  free time then  usual. I asked  my brother  from another mother Jason if  we  could  go out again.

He called The Drunken Irishman. Now  here is a rarity. The drunken Irishman  did  not  want to  go out! What did  hell freeze over? When does a party animal want to to stay at home? Apparently  he was  too tired  out  because  he  has  been out every night this week. We were not liking the bar from before. I didn’t feel like it was  an inviting place. Jason got  struck  down. Now  since  his bromance partner  did not  want to come out Jason was ready to say no. Jason and  I  both would  have   ended up getting lost in Nanchang.

Jason then called Cowboy.  My loyal readers may  remember Cowboy  from my  other blog post  about my the  Chinese drinking game. I just adore  Cowboy, he  is a fun, honest and easy  to be  around. Cowboy brought  his  friend, who had  an extremely low English level. His  friend  was  dressed to the T’s, a nice  looking chap. He liked  dancing, so he and  Jason could do a stripper  dance to lure the  ladies in(NOT)

We took the white van into Xin Jiang then hailed a taxi. Ok this  was  my first  true  experience  with racism in China. I know that many Chinese  are  racist but they  never  say it. Well, the  cabbie as he  drove  with us in the  cab  said it Chinese that he  hated Africans. This was translated to me by Cowboy. I  got a bit upset, Cowboy apologized  to me and  explained that some  Chinese  are like that  and  live in a very limited world. Hindsight 20/20 I should have  told Cowboy to inform the driver that I am an American not and African! Just  ugh, I hate racist!

I was given a free Survival Chinese phrasebook by the bar owner

I was given a free Survival Chinese phrasebook by the bar owner

I got over it because  Jason sat in the front seat and was  using all the Chinese  he knew to talk with the cabbie. The  cabbie was using his very limited English to talk to Jason. It was funny so that it  brought a  smile to my face. I hope the  cabbie  will sometimes  change his  mind  about  black people. He  was  not a bad  person. He  just  needs to learn to  judge  people by their  actions   not  by their  skin  color.

The cabbie  took us to  an area by the Bai Bridge that had  bars. First we were  hungry  so we roamed  around  looking for food. We finally ended up getting hamburgers. Oh in  China anything between a bun is called  hamburgers. In the USA it is  called a chicken sandwich. This  was the  same  area that we  went to before. The bars  were  either dead or too expensive. It was looking like a wash again! At this  point, I  did  not  want  to  throw in the  white flag. I wanted  to  go out. I was ready to say  at  least we can  go  do KTV. We called the Drunken  Irishman. He told us  of another place that was  closer to downtown Nanchang called Bossa Nova. I heard of Bossa Nova it is advertised  on VeryNanchang, It  looked  fun.

We took a taxi to the bar.  Jason was whining because  he  saw  other  foreigners. He wanted to  go  to a bar that was more  locals  because  he  wants  to pick up women. In China white foreign men are like Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. It is way too much competition when vying for a Chinese female. I told  him  sometimes  it  is more fun to relax and  kick back with your  mates.  It is  not always  about  trying to find love, but enjoying the time  with  people  who love you.  It takes the  edge  off.

photo courtesy of www.verynanchang.com

photo courtesy of http://www.verynanchang.com

The place was empty  but  we  were  greeted so warmly by the  owner. He was a foreigner  from Brazil. He hugged  us  all and  since it was  our  first time at his  establishment  he treated  us  to a free shot  of tequila. Then we  were seated. I love  the  ambiance  of  the  place.  It was  very  homey and there  were  flags  from every country. We got a  drink menu and to my delight I saw that they had  sangria.  Jason being  cheap  just wanted  beers. I am  not a  big  beer drinker  beer  bloats  me. I told them I would  pay  for the pitcher of  Sangria it was 120 kuai a pitcher, so I bought  two. None  of the lads  ever  tried Sangria. They  bought it  over  and the guys  were it was  a girl’s  drink and  said it was not stronger enough. Oh little  did these boys know that  hidden secret of  sangria. It may taste  all sweet and girly but it slowly packs a  punch.  So lol they  got  drunk  off of  it! SWEEEEET!!!!

Jason bought the  next  pitcher  but it was  another drink that was  yellow and  creamy that I actually preferred it to the sangria. We were  feeling  giddy. Then our amiable host  came  a serenaded  us!  I  just love this guy! He sang  for  every  table, I knew  many of the  songs. I was singing  along as  were Jason and Cowboy. I requested La Bamba, and  he  sang it. Everyone was  clapping and  cheering. I was having  such a grand time. I was chair dancing!

We then had  to head out as  I was heading out a  Chinese party  was  heading in. One   guy  said  he  was  a colonel so I saluted  him. We  then  were  talking and they ended  up buying me  a beer. The group were speaking to me in English  and  we were saying cheers. One guy  took particular  interest in me, so we  continued  talking. My friends were  waiting  by the  door and Jason was  tired.  The bar  was ready to close. So I ended up  getting  the   guy that I was speaking to mobile number.  He wanted  me to come  back tomorrow night but  it would be  very hard  because , Wanli is very  far away from Downtown Nanchang.

This  I have  to say was  a much better  experience  that before. Any night that I end up  with a guy’s  digits is  a win situation. This was  the  first digits  that I scored  in China! Booyah!!!!!!I was not 100% interested in this  guy but I just want to make friends  and meet  people, so why not? I am definitely  going to come back to Bossa Nova again. I was  also invited to go to a Brazilian Barbecue place  called Obe Obe by another patron of the  bar on Monday. I am going to drag Jason and  Cowboy there  with me  one day 🙂  Wo hen xihuan zheli.

My first digits in China  China? Maybe I should bronze them?

My first digits in China China? Maybe I should bronze them?

Dumpling Darlings

Dinner prepared by my students

Dinner prepared by my students

On  Friday, my students came  over  to cook me a Chinese meal. They wanted  to thank me for making them a Western meal earlier  in the week.  I wasn’t  feeling well at all all week and  yet I entertained  my students. I went  to the  clinic  and have  been on antibiotics. I worked Thursday  but had  this  Friday off. I was sleeping in and  heard  a banging  on the  door. It was my Chinese tutor Lee. Behind him were a brigade  of my Chinese  students. It was  an Asian  Invasion!! I was groggy and sick but let them in.

Busy bees  making dumplings

Busy bees making dumplings

As the  girls  were bombarding  my  kitchen, Lee began to teach  me  pinyin. It is my deepest  desire  to learn  Chinese. I really  want to  communicate  to the  people living here. Who knows  maybe  I can  attract a Chinese  cutie  if I can at learn to  speak Chinese.  Also I am sick of  pointing at this and  saying that one and  smiling. I am in China so I feel obligated  to learn the  language  out of a mixture  of  respect  and  survival.

When my lesson was over, I invited Lee to  stay but he had to  go back to his  campus. The girls  were  ready  to make dumpling. Dumpling 101 commenced! I was shown the technique, first  you you get the  round  circular  dough, you gather the filling  using chopsticks and  place in on top of the circular  dough. Next you dip your fingers in a bowl of  water  place  water  around the edges and  fold  in  half. Then  you pinch the  dough  using a pleated methods. Sounds  and  look simple  enough. The  girls made it  look easy. My  first  attempt looked  more  like baozi and  less like a dumpling. Yes  it  was  an ugly  dumpling. so the  girls  showed  me  another way to make the  pinches.

It  took me  awhile before I made an acceptable dumpling.  My dumplings were  definitely not  as pretty as my students. Rome  was  not  built  in  a  day  it  will definitely  take  more  time that and day to  learn  who to make   dumplings.  The  hardest  part  was the pinching  part. My  folds  just  aren’t pretty. I can tell when I am  eating the  dumplings  which one I made.

My first  and  fifth dumpling. I am improving

My first and fifth dumpling. I am improving

While there was a crew  of  us making  dumplings  there  were  other girls  making a  variety  of  dishes. there were  about  seven  students in  my kitchen. It was smelling so yummy. I was so  happy. A home  needs  to have  people in it. I haven’t really experienced  a  homey atmosphere since  my  mom  died.  My friend  Lisa opened  her  home  to me  prior  to me  leaving the US and it was  at that moment I realized that I hated  living alone.

It was so nice  chatting  with them as  we  were   folding dumplings, it was  a girl bonding moment. I  don’t  experience  much of that. My childhood  friend  was not a gushy girly girly, so she  had no ides  about female  bonding. When i  got  older  I had  more  gal  pals  and  we  did female bonding rituals. I really  missed that and the dumpling making  really helped  me.

Finally  dinner  was  ready, we had tomato and  egg, cucumber  and  sausage, dumplings  and a dish  of  just sausage. It was very  yummy. Oh  and they  begged me to make  my garlic  bread  again. They  said it was  so delicious  before  that they wanted  to taste it again. The best  part was the fellowship and the  company. Oh I forgot we  left the  door  open and my neighbor  walked in. He wanted to borrow  water to get tea. The water  guy who  delivers  our  water  was MIA, once the Chinese teacher  saw the  girls  he  decided  to stay. I was  feeling very  tired and  my students  are  nursing students  and they  saw my  meds  so they knew that I was a sick teacher. we  talked  for  a  bit and I showed them  my  Facebook and  they talked to  some of  my friends  that were on Facebook on Friday.

All in all  Friday was  a fun night. I can’t wait  until I get  to make  dumplings with them next time.. One  of the  girls even likes  karaoke! Score!!!!

Worm, Chicken,Tiger, Stick and Drunken Dinner Party

Doesn't it look purty?

Doesn’t it look purty?

I had my  first  dinner party in  China and  it was a rousing  success, How pray tell  do I know  it  was successful? Ok  get  readers get  ready  for  a bit of  a spoiler. The  way of  knowing that you have  a successful dinner party : 1) Empty plates 2) Three empty wine bottles 3) Playing Chinese drinking games 4) Singing karaoke to Journey and Frank Sinatra 5) No one  had  food poisoning Those  are all wins  in my book.

Jason and Cowboy

Jason and Cowboy

The party  started on 7pm and on the  menu was sausage, onions and peppers  served over linguini.  Anyone  that knows  me  knows that I am not a natural cook. I need  a recipe to follow. I found this  amazing recipe online http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/sausage_peppers_and_onions/  I substituted the Marsala wine  for  beer. I cannot  find Italian sausage  in China  so I used whatever  sausage that they had here. It taste  sorta like kielbasa. Beer  makes everything  better, so it  really didn’t matter much. I like  to slice  my sausage into bite  sized pieces  though so my end  result looks nothing like  the  picture.

Sausage, onions  and Peppers

Sausage, onions and Peppers

One thing about me is I am terrible  at synchronizing time. Some  cooks have  everything ready at the  perfect time. The food is  ready the house is  filled  with the aroma of soon to be  eaten dinner. The hostess looks perfect, with impeccable make up, heels, pearls and  wearing an adorable apron. Myself  I am a sweaty mess with a  catastrophe  in the  kitchen! First I started  cooking too early, The guest  were   not due until 7pm, I started cooking  at 5pm. Then It  only  took 45 minuted  including prep for the sausage  and  peppers so I called  and  told  them to come  earlier, I started on my garlic bread.  Oh and  my guest came over. I was  still cooking. I had the  guys  make  the  salad. I started  to set the  table. We had the salad  ready. Oh then I had  a blond moment, I forgot to boil the pasta.

Pwned: Real Men make salad

Pwned: Real Men make salad

The boys  started munching on the  garlic bread that was  so crispy but next time  I am  going to  use  real garlic instead  of  garlic powder. Finally dinner was served. I placed the  biggest helping on Cowboy’s plate(Cowboy is Jason’s student) we  need to fatten up these  Chinese boys! Then once  I  land  a  Chinese  man  he  will have  more meat on his  bones. I gave  Jason a  big serving too, I took a smaller serving size(I need to lose weight) I told them it was  man versus  food  and  not to  punk out. Thus the eating competition began . Jason lost! Cowboy  cleaned  his  plate  first.   Jason took sloppy second.

I only purchased  one  bottle of  wine. Luckily, Jason brought over another bottle.  Cowboy  taught us about traditional toasting in China. He  said  since Jason and I are  his  senior when he  toasted  us  his  glass will always  remain lower. He  also gave  each of  us  individualized toasts wish us health, happiness and vitality. I thought that was  sweet!

worm chicken tiger stick

Where the hell is the worm??? Maybe the Chicken ate it?

Once we cracked opened the second Cowboys face  was flushed. He asked if  we would like to play a Chinese drinking game. I was tipsy, Jason was drunk and  Cowboy was drunk after the  first bottle. I said  sure, why not. The game  was called “Worm, Chicken,  Tiger, Stick”  Cowboy  explained the rules  two  people  would face off and  say either, worm, chicken, tiger or  stick.  Rules of the  game  are sticks beats chicken and  tiger, worm beats  stick but tiger and  and chicken beat worm. I asked  Cowboy  why  we  can’t just  play rock, paper, scissor. He was like well because it is  chicken, tiger, worm and  stick. I  think   saying stick is the  most  effective. My  reasoning is  that sticks can be  used to beat the crap out of tigers  and  chickens. I was  confused  why  worm beat sticks. The rather  drunk Cowboy  told  me that it was because a worm is  real and  a stick is  not. I was drunk  by then so it made perfect  sense  to me.

So we  played  and  of  course Jason was losing at every  round. I told  him to say stick all the time. so we kept on saying worm, LOL. After  we  played, I told  Cowboy that I knew  of  a song that  should  be  his theme  song. It was Bon Jovi’s ” Wanted  Dead  or  Alive.” This  is  when drunken karaoke  began.  I also  created  a new  Bon Jovi fan. Representin’ Jersey in China! Hehehehehe!

Cowboy cleaned  his plate

Cowboy cleaned his plate

We used  youtube  and youku to sing a  variety  of  songs. Jason and  I sang a duet of “Don’t Stop Believing” I sang Joan Jett, “I Hate Myself for Loving You.”  Oh and  we  ended the  night  with me  singing ” New York, New York.”  I am a true  New Yorker  because I knew  the  whole  entire song without lyrics. I rock!!!! So my  first  dinner  party  was  a success. Oh and  Cowboy is  obsessive  compulsive  and  he cleaned up everything. I asked  Jason if I could have him! LOL