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arhyalon

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06:39 pm: China Post Eight -- More China Joy
First, I love my new boots.

Turned out I paid $4.75 for them.Or I would have if I had changed my money at the bank. Foolishly, Ping-Ping and I changed our money at the trainstation and lost half a yuan per dollar. This came to a lot of money foolishly thrown away due to ignorance. But if you consider that we've been given almost $250 just in Chinese New Year money since we got here, not to mention other gifts and meals that have been showered upon us, I shall not worry about it.

Second, we had lunch at MacDonald's today with about 20 other orphans, and the Chairman of the Board and his family, as well as Aunty and one or two others. We all had a good time. I communed with a young man who wanted to work on his English, but probably ended up teaching me more Chinese than he gained English. He was very charming, though. His shirt, like all Chinese shirts, looked like it had been translated by our awkward translation box. 

Then we had another wonderful Chinese meal with the Chairman and his family and employees. 

I LOVE the food here. It is so good. Some is strange, but most is just wonderful. Ping-Ping can make some of these meals. Ling Shan made some, too. I bet I could cook things sort of like this, too. I should try more often. The younger boys won't like it, but...hey...

Yesterday, when I was chatting with the other Americans, they were talking about the places to get American food...and I realized that I had forgotten that not everyone thinks this is the best food ever. So, that evening as we were eating noodle soup and steamed lettus (four of us eat at this place for $5.50) I was thinking that Ping-Ping has no idea how lucky she is that her mother happens to LOVE the food she likes. To me, every meal...except the one at MacDonald's...is a treat. Not everyone would feel that way.

We had one meal, though, that was more of a treat than any other before or since. I took four of the children with me to meet another American family who was here adopting. They treated us to the revolving restaurant at the top of the Garden Hotel. It was a buffet of the likes you could not possibly imagine, had you not been there...lobster, mackrel, oyster, cavier, Chinese dishes, steak, salads, cakes, a fountain of chocolate for fondue, a raspberry mousse thing that was beyond imagination. It was utterly fantastic. 

I knew it would be pricy, so I took our $5 meal and raised it by a factor of 10 and took along more money than that for each of us. It was a good thing that we were treated, as the  price turned out to be a factor of 30 not 10. It would have taken all my available cash. It is unlikely I will ever eat such an expensive meal again. But it was just wonderful. We stayed there a long long time, the children eating plates full of fresh fruit and desserts. We had such a good time and are so tremendously grateful for the unexpected gift!

Today, I saw another side of the local food. After our second lunch (I feel like a hobbit), I took a walk and visited the market across the street. Like everything else in China it was quite different from our markets, even from a Chinese grocery store. It was like an open air market, only inside a building that was open on some sides. There was a great deal of vegetables and meat of all cuts. You knew the meat was fresh, the back was filled with live animals in crates waiting their turn to be butchered. (A lot of restaurants here have the ducks, chicken, and fish around in cages or tanks. It is impossible to tell what is actually waiting to be eaten and what is on display to show you the possibilities.) There were also little side stalls selling baked goods or cigarettes or the same chocolate that my daughter lugged from America (It is so prevelent that I suspect it is connected to the New Year. A lot of other things on display, such as tiny orange trees (tiny trees with tiny oranges) are related to Chinese New Year, which Ping-Ping calls Happy New Year.)

I was very happy that I am now oriented enough here that I can go out on my own and take a walk and I know where a few things are. ;-)

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