This will be my last chance to post before we leave this afternoon for Hong Kong. The girls have gone out to buy DVDs--Chinese movies or shows Ping-Ping wants to take home with her. I do not know how this will go. Nearly everything is closed. Chinese New Year is apparently a number of days long.
I went out to mail my post cards today and failed, due to the post office being shut, among other reasons. I am quite sad about this. I will leave them with Auntie. God willing, she will mail them. I really wish I had gotten them mailed last week...but I could not put across the urgency to my daughter. She kept saying, "Mail them back in America." The fact that my friends receiving them wanted Chinese post cards with Chinese stamps eluded her.
Her friends were worse. They told me to send emails. I should have asked YiYi for help. She would have gotten it done.
The only other thing we don't have yet is the CD with the photos on it. But worst comes to worst, they can mail that.
We also don't seem to have any way to eat today...other than piles of snacks that will soon go off to the school. Sigh. I should have asked Ping-Ping to arrange for us to eat at the school.
One thing was not closed today...apparently across the street is a huge Chinese supermarket...they sell everything groceries, but also clothes and books. This is very good, because they also sell luggage...otherwise, we would not have been able to buy new bags. They did not sell the cute Winny the Pooh carry on I fell in love with early on and nearly bought...though I saw it everywhere. But I did get a nice red bag that matches my big red L.L. Bean Duffle on wheels, that is my travel bag.
There are so many strange things I have not mentioned...weird stuff you see on the back of a bicycle. How all the stores were closed but there was a guy at the bottom of the stairs selling...god knows what. I think it was spotted eggs (duck maybe?) in rock salt, but it could have been black sesame buns in sugar or mushrooms on ice. He was gone later, replaced by a guy selling sets of three live crabs tied together. And on the way back from buying the bags, we passed a guy carrying his newly purchased live chicken by the feet as he walked along.
You don't see that in Virginia.
I don't like the stairs here. They are too low, which makes my legs feel odd...but also too long, so when you try to take them two at a time--to make up for the lowness--it is awkward. But the wonderfulness of the food makes up for a lot!
I know China can be a scary place...but the police in town are very polite. The children are not scared of them, don' t even notice them. I thought this was noteworthy. I passed two today looking extremely handsome in their fur collared black coats. One looked at me with a brightness in his eye, and, for a moment, I felt nervous. Then, he gave me a big smile and cried out in English, "Happy New Year!"
A number of people said that to me today. Very nice of them!
I only ever got gawked at once, by one young woman in her twenties or so. Many people gave me very impassive looks, but if I smiled at them, 95% gave me a big smile in return. I notice that, already, they are not looking Chinese to me, so much as like people. If I stayed longer, I would probably forget that we were any different. I even was puzzled once--for just an instance--when someone knew to speak to me in English. LOL
It has been so strange to spent these days with no clock and no phone. There was a phone at first, but it soon became clear that it woudn't do me much good--no one called me except for John once a day the last few days (after I finally gave him the right dialing instructions.) So it became Ping-Ping's phone. She could call and text and was on it all the time. Some of the time, she was talking to Ling Shan.
Did I mention that Ling Shan's boyfriend proposed? Can't recall if I did.
Do you know what the strangest thing of all about this trip is: we came to China, we stayed here, we ate like kings, we had great fun, God willing, we will make it safely home and...
I have not yet spent a single penny of my own money on this trip.
I will, in the long run. I owe the friend who bought our tickets for one of the two tickets. (He paid for Ping-Ping's and lent me money for mine.) And I should probably pay my mother back some of what she gave me. But...the rest, everything, was paid for by the generosity of friends--both in China and in the US, family, and John's readers...who covered Christmas, or the rest of our tickets and our Visa and our part of Ling Shan's ticket...depending on how you look at it.
I seldom think of going back into the past, but I almost wish that I could have visited myself while I sat on the plane two and a quarter years ago, agonizing over what to say to my daughter about the vow she had taken to return to China and see her friends, and tell myself that not only was saying "yes" the right decision, but that the grace of God, through family and friends, was going to pay for the entire trip.
It makes me cry to think about it.
If you are one of the people who helped us do this...God bless you!!!!
If not, God bless you for reading this and following our journey!