Sunday, August 19, 2007

We are back from HeYuan - just before the Monsoon

The past two days have been traveling north of Guangzhou to HeYuan in the same province to visit my friend Lisa. She came here on Friday night with her driver. We then went out for dinner, Scott wanted a more adventuresome meal - so went to a Chinese restaurant near the White Swan hotel that had tanks galore of live sealife that most of the time was very interesting. (Photo's to follow later)
Scott wanted to experiment and tried some things. He had one souffle dish with bugs in it.
We did not get back to our room until about 9PM. It was interesting on our walk back to the hotel to see many local families hanging out playing badminton.
The next morning woke up at 6 AM,we met with Lisa at 8AM for breakfast and then headed to HeYuan. It was a 4 hour car drive in a Buick company car - I tell you, each time we come the country is just exploding with growth. All the small villages are becoming more and more like cities and cars are now everywhere.
We got to HeYuan around 2 PM and quickly went to Lisa's home with her in-laws. There they had a meal waiting for us. Again Kaitlyn and I played it safe, while Reagan fell in love with chicken feet - a true chinese boy :-)
Kaitlyn seemed to be ok with one, then went back to the rice like her mommy.
Then we headed to the local high school. Because of the pending monsoon, they had allowed students to head home, so our group was 1/3rd of the past group. We still had about 100+ students that we talked with for about 2 hours.
They had never met a foreigner before, let alone traveled far from the village area.
We talked about all kinds of subjects and answered all kinds of questions.
We remembered many of the faces of the staff there. We definately were given the royal treatment and put up in a nice new hotel. I was relieved since the last time we were there in 2005 I had been sick and the place was really bad. Again a sign of the growth in CHina. The last hotel I would not walk barefoot on the carpet - it had a bar below that was going into the wee hours of the morning.
THis hotel, the only bad sign was we were pretty sure we saw a madame enter the hotel with one of her girls and the girl left with a gentleman. I saw the madame with her dyed red hair - take a hard look at Scott (potential customer?) and then looked at me and walked on.
We as all the times I have been there were the only white folks and with 2 chinese kids definately got the looks.
It then was starting to rain. SO people started to get a bit nervous. We headed out quickly after 'many' photo shoots with the students and also signing our autographs... it does feel strange being considered famous.
We then headed to Lisa's parents home. It was new since we had been there - a 5 story place with Lisa's brother and sister-in-law and her daughter, son, and 3 other grandchildren with her 65 and 63 year old parents. Lisa helped pay for 1/2 of the house which overlooks a pond and is definately in a nicer neighborhood. Her parents use to live near the school she worked at.
Her father who once was chef cooked for us, I enjoyed a dumpling item and again lots of rice. They insisted on Scott drinking beer and some sweet rice wine - they don't know one glass makes him giddy :-)
Reagan sat with the kids and had a blast. This being his 4th time seeing Lisa, it was interesting like there was some connection. He really wanted to be with her, and was sad to say goodbye to her this morning.
Her daughter is very tall, same age within wks of Kaitlyn, but looks more like she is 7 and poor Kaitlyn looks so tiny next to her. They are alot alike.
Lisa's husband is the president of the local Chinese telephone company and will be transfered next March to another region. It is interesting they move every 6 years. So they are in the beginning stages of building a new home an hour south of HeYuan.
Lisa and I had limited time to talk together - so not sure how she will manage her job. in 1993, when I was last there, it was night and day from this visit - they are becoming so westernized esp. with the Olympics. Was interesting when we arrived at the airport - one whole section of the airport had signs everywhere with GE promoting the Olympics - strange since GE just sold the plastics group I was a part of just to take that money to China and dump it there for new growth over the next few years.
Lisa's son and cousins were playing video games on the computer - just as you would see here today. They are sleeping on beds now instead of mats....
We were pretty tired by the end of the day. They took us back to the hotel and we crashed.
At 2 AM we however were all wide awake - but finally all of us went down again and woke up at 6 AM.
Lisa took us to a noodle place for breakfast - we had been there before, but had move locations and remembered the place before. The owner remembered us...we'll probably since we have been her only foreign customers ever LOL.
We had noodles, rice and dumplings for breakfast (photo's to come) I was a bit nervous but the food was pretty good. Esp. the onion dipping sauce.
In the middle of breakfast Kaitlyn finally announced to our delight (bad timing) that she finally had to poop! (3 days was making me a bit nervous). I wondered about the facilities??? There was none! so Lisa's husband was going to take Kaitlyn... I just had a visual on this and said I would go... so we jumped into the car - drove a block to his office and headed up to the second floor.
I knowing what to expect (kaitlyn not) told "Lemon Tea"- Lisa's husband to wait.
We had a chinese squater - so creatively made a seat with my legs so that Kaitlyn could do her wonders and deliver the package! (What is this with Kaitlyn and surprises?)
Then we headed back to finish breakfast and then said our goodbye's. Reagan was very sad and I so wished we could have visited then just be rushed around. But I know this helps Lisa look good to her peers, bringing us to her school and all. She considers me her sister and this is a big thing. We were definately treated well.
Lisa made sure we were well taken care of for the ride back.
We drove back to beat the storm, which we now hear has hit the mainland, and will be here tonight - we should get lots of rain the next two days.
We got back to Guangzhou and the driver took us to a noodle restaurant.
One of the first dishes was a chicken with the head on the dish... Reagan wanted to eat the head and a typical boy, played with it ...
We got fish soup and a bunch of other stuff. The weather was nice and now we are back at the room.
We will head out for a walk soon, get some laundry done and just get some exercise.
We are suppose to get Taylor tomorrow afternoon. It is finally here.
Well this was a long journal - hope to download and post photo's later.

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