There is only one flight a day from Weifang to Shanghai and it is a little baby plane that flies into a regional airport. (first and last time I fly regional airlines in China - enough said).
I needed to visit my friend Song Zi Jia. I had promised him that I would visit over the Spring Festival, then decided that because of weird Chin.ese mentalities and traditions it would be best if I was not a visitor during this time of the year. I planned a trip to SE Asia and then avoided telling him I wasn't coming because I was scared of his reaction. Well, when it came up after I got back from Ame.rica that I would not be visiting he was upset. So, I found that regional flight and zipped up north for 40 hours of Chin.ese family time, not really knowing what to expect or what the expectations were of me as a foreign female guest. (and the first foreign friend of his to be introduced to his fam).
I took the train to the Shanghai domestic airport and had my flight delayed like 890 million years. Finally around 9pm I arrived in the teeeeeny tiny Weifang airport. He was waiting patiently in the snow, all people waiting had to wait outside. He explained to me that I would be staying in a hotel so that the neighbors would not see me and talk (ha) and we took a taxi to an amazing 5 star hotel. It was glorious. I felt so spoiled. We ate a late dinner and then he left me to my 5 star accommodations. I took an hour long hot bath and walked around in a bath robe until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore. I wish I hadn't had that comfort so close to when I was in Amer.ica, because in a few months I could really use a hot bath.
Anyways, he met me for the breakfast buffet early yesterday morning and we drank amazing coffee and ate fruit and eggs. Yum. He had a whole day planned of going to sights around the city, complete with a car and driver supplied by his dad's work. (his dad works for the government).
First we drove about an hour to the town where his dad works and we visited a dinosaur digging site. There was a small museum complete with the "first magical bone in Chi.na". Supposedly if you touch it and rub your hands up and down it three times and make a wish it will come true. The sad thing is, these people believe that crap. (was that harsh?). He kept telling me to make a wish so I exaggeratedly put my hands on it and asked for perfect scores in Zhejiang University. Our personal tour guide must not have been happy with my exaggerations because I heard him whisper to her in Chinese, "she's a Christi.an, she doesn't believe in that stuff".
We walked around a dinosaur park and then saw a digging site for some bones. It was funny because the tour guide said that the last generations of villagers living on that site were finding the bones and grinding them up to make Chin.ese medicine. After the area became more developed, scientists tested the bones and found that they were dinosaur bones. I also learned that in Chin.a the young men call ugly girls "kong long" or "dinosaurs". I will be using this eventually on myself to make someone laugh.
We then went to a beautiful hotel and had lunch with his dad. I was a little embarrassed because his dad and his dad's boss were wearing suits and I was in my Target skinny jeans and boots. Oh well. Life goes on. There was the formality of toasting and asking me random questions until his dad started going off about the Pacific War and Ameri.cans helping the Chinese, and I had nothing to say. Zi Jia later told me that my conversation skills in Chin.ese are awkward, to which I replied that I have nothing to say about the Pacific War and I'm not the awkward one. :) I spent the lunch hour trying to hide the fact that I was completely unaware of protocol and Chin.ese manners in that sort of situation. I felt like I had just been drug in from the pasture and stuck at a fancy lunch with people who talk like aliens. haha. But I survived, thanks to grace and laughter.
We ate amazing food and had over 8 dishes left over after we had been eating for 2 hours. Yum.
We then went to a kite making factory/tourist site. It was so beautiful. Ladies were lined up painting paper kites in a assembly line fashion. Purple ink was splattered first like a fan and then the final product resembled an eagle with yellow claws extending to the earth. The last lady in line was creating the body of the kite out of bamboo with her bare hands. It was wonderful, I could have watched them all day. I kept wondering if they are proud of their kites and how they must feel to see them flying in the Spring time. (the international kite festival is held in Weifang every spring).
We then went back to the hotel and took a nap after all that running around town (me still fighting jet lag) before meeting his mom for dinner. She is a precious 4 foot something CHinese woman who rocks a fur coat like none other.
Dinner was still very nice, but more relaxed than lunch with the dad. I was still not hungry when we sat down to eat and she kept asking if I was upset why I wasn't eating a lot. So to not insult her, and not end up barfing, I proceeded to eat almost the entire plate of white carrot slices placed right in front of me by the waitress. They were the only non-meat, non-heavy dish on the table. I never want to look at another white carrot again. ha. I ate them for about 30 minutes straight. haha.
We then went to the room and watched tv and hung out until I passed out while Zi Jia was watching Forrest Gump. He'd never seen it before. I woke up around midnight with him excitedly wanting to tell me all about the movie because he loved it. I told him that I had seen it a thousand times, and yes I know that Jenny loves Forrest, and please let me go back to sleep.
This morning's breakfast was just as wonderful as yesterday's, except the part when Zi Jia raised his voice at me while we were watching CNN and a segment came on about Prez. O's upcoming visit with the DL, and Ameri.ca's recent sale of some special items to Tywan. I just shooshed him and told him I didn't want to fight about our countries' politics because we do not directly influence that. (of course I told him this after saying, "well you're the one who lives in a censored reality"...that didn't score any points :/). Gotta work on using my filter...
We wanted to go see Avatar today before my flight home but when we got to the theater we found that the movie had been dubbed in Chin.ese. I said I didn't care watching it in Chin.ese but he really wanted to see it in English so we left and wandered to a park commemorating kites. I was secretly so happy the movie didn't work out, because we had so much fun at the park. It was a beautiful day, not snowing and not too cold - amen. Then we went to lunch where I ordered a "waldorf salad" and was given watermelon and honeydew covered in yogurt, sprinkes, and raisins. hahaha. After a wonderful lunch in the restaurant where there are curtains around each table, we headed back to the hotel to pack and meet his mom who would drive us to the baby, scary airport.
The whole trip was wonderful. I sat with my gifts from the family (a box of chocolates from his mom, a gold-plated statue from his father, and a hand-painted kite from Zi Jia) and I started to tear up. This family was so good to me and I didn't do anything to deserve their kindness. It occurred to me on the bus home from Shanghai to Hangzhou that as much as I hate it here, I love it here. The extent of my disgust for so many things here is matched by my absolute joy in the relationships that I have. I am sure this experience and knowing this family will influence my decision to stay longer or not in this ridiculous country.
[the plane ride back had its own entertainment - besides turbulence. I was obviously frightened when the cabin lights kept flickering on and off and the gentleman next to me leaned over and said softly, "nothing the worry". I was so thankful for that small sentiment and we began talking in english. He asked me right away where I was from and when I replied, "Amer.ica" and said quickly while nodding his head at my legs extended into the aisle, "big girl."
Surprisingly enough, I didn't begin to hate him for that comment, and we had a nice chat all the way back to Shanghai. He is going to Las Vegas next week for a business trip, which I thought was really awesome. It will be his first time out of the country and I was excited to tell him to have a great trip and welcome to my country.]
I feel like there is so much more to say. But instead of boring you further with the details of my random life, I will go eat some more Dove truffles from Mama Song and wish you well.
Have a wonderful day.
ps- here is some photographic evidence that there is at least one Chin.ese man taller than me...