Our First Visitors - Part 1

Trip Start Aug 03, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  , Guangxi Zhuangzu Zizhiqu,
Thursday, April 14, 2011

We are so excited to finally have our first visitors here in China, Steve and Patti! We've been waiting all year to show someone from back home how different life is over here. They arrived on a Thursday night after spending two days on their own in Hong Kong. We picked them up from the ferry, brought them home to show them around Hua Fa, and promptly locked ourselves out of the apartment. Not a great start. After a little plotting and a few failed attempts, we figured out how to get in touch with our housekeeper even though we had no cell phone or phone numbers on us. She is the only one besides the owner who has a key, apartments don't really provide great spots for "hidey keys," after all. We didn't let that ruin our night, however, and started their visit off with a kick from our favorite Hunan restaurant - spicy!!

The next day we had to work, but they met us at school at 3:00 so we could race over and catch the bus to Guangzhou for our flight that evening. Thanks to the Qing Ming holiday we had a four-day weekend so we took the opportunity to show Steve and Patti our favorite place so far in China, Xingping and the Li River. If you've been reading the blog all along then you've already heard all about it, and you'll know that last time we were there we spent the whole time being wet and freezing. The weather wasn't perfect this time either, but it was a big improvement over the last, despite the unusual cold spell that hit. Xingping was just as quaint as we remembered, and we surprised Steve and Patti by getting a ride to Yangdi and then taking a 2 hour bamboo raft ride into the village with all of our luggage on board. The scenery is just so amazing that it hardly seems real. We made the treacherous hike up Laozhai Hill again, although it was not so slippery this time, ate beer fish and Gongbao chicken (possibly my most favorite thing ever), and spent our time strolling through the village and haggling with the locals over scarves, jewelery, and artwork.

The next morning we were lucky enough to catch the market that only runs every 3rd day. It is possibly the best local market that we have seen in Asia yet, and it seemed as if every resident of the village was in attendance. We saw people getting dental work and acupuncture done on the side of the street and tried cotton candy, hot off the machine. In the meat section I had my first sad experience with dead dogs being prepared for butchering, not an image I want to hang on to. An entire row of the market was reserved for live poultry sales, and we were entertained by the locals arguing over prices and selecting the best chickens, which were weighed and carried off to their final destinations alive. Of course there were also geese, ducks, rabbits, turtles, and more. Because of the Qing Ming holiday there were also many vendors selling the necessary items needed to celebrate - fake money, plastic cellphones, watches, houses, cars, and jewels (all spray-painted gold, of course), incense, candles, and the most important, fireworks!! Peter bought a very modest roll of firecrackers, about 400, for about $2.50. It was one of the smallest quantities you could purchase! Qing Ming is a day for honoring the dead ancestors whose spirits watch over you, as the Chinese believe. It is also known as tomb sweeping day because families will trek to the burial sites of their loved ones bringing food and other offerings and clean up the area around the grave. If that person valued money then you bring paper money to burn, if they valued a jewels, then you bring the fake jewels. I haven't been able to figure out how the fireworks fit into all that.

The next blog post will hold part 2 of the story of Steve and Patti's visit - mainly because we have waaaay too many photos to put in one. Hope you enjoy them!!

Lots of Love,
M & P

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Aunt Donna on

Great photos! Nice Patti and Steve got to come visit you. Can't wait for part 2!

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