The craziness has arrived. Since Mei-mei’s birthday last week we have been out straight with social engagements, school happenings, etc.
Wednesday was the birthday.
Thursday night we went with a friend to dinner at Tai Lai, a really good vegetarian Taiwanese restaurant just off Shangdu, the street bordering the east side of campus. Roasted pumpkin, spicy tofu, mushroom dumplings, soup. It felt so light and healthy compared to the meaty and grease-laced food we usually eat. Even the “rice” was multi-grain.
Saturday morning at 8 am our friends picked up us in their car so we could spend a day out and about. We had a dim sum breakfast the name of which we missed at a traditional Cantonese restaurant in the suburb of Panyu. We had all our old favorites (naihuang bao, a bao we refer to as honey buns, fen) as well as traditional Guangzhou “boat congee” which was a bit lighter than a typical congee with some fish in it. We also had pan-fried taro cakes that were really delicious.
After breakfast we headed over to the nearby Chimelong Safari Park where you drive your own car through the park and the critters come right up you. The more dangerous animals were separated from us by a narrow trench. It was interesting to be so close to the animals – hippos and camels I found to be the most impressive when within spitting distance. All the same, the conditions at the park left me feeling a bit sad. Many of the visitors were feeding the animals and I am fairly certain we were watched a baby camel choking on something it was given by the guests. As we approached I saw the small camel lie on the ground, upright, as its mother stood over it. By the time we arrived it was laying on its side breathing rapidly with the mother still standing anxiously, soon the mother began to emit a deep resonant wailing noise. As we drove past, I looked back to see if the calf rose, other camels approached, or park staff arrived but the situation did not change. I keep thinking about it and hoping that the little one was OK.
After the safari park we had a buffet lunch at the hotel owned by the Chimelong group. Food safety concerns have led us to avoid buffets but we have become a bit less risk adverse the past few weeks – we’re leaving soon so why not live a little? On top of that, we were guests so what could we do? The spread was heavily Chinese but with some international offerings (sushi, pizza, fries, crepes). The kids enjoyed themselves immensely. We visited our friends’ place a bit in the afternoon (I need to write a post describing a typical Chinese home) and returned home just before dinner. The kids had not napped and were quite ornery.
Sunday morning we got started a bit later – 9:30 am departure for the puppet theatre. A local puppet troupe mounted a production of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” The show mixed puppets and actors on the stage – usually to bring depth to scene. Naturally, the place was full of kids waving around battery-operated toys with flashing lights. It was also full of parents talking on their cell phones and, loudly, to one another. Ah… you gotta love China.
After the show we had lunch at Pandan Indonesian Restaurant. So delicious! I cannot believe it took me this long to get to that restaurant which is now my favorite restaurant in Guangzhou (sorry, Vaastu). I do so love liberal seasoning with lemongrass and fresh lime soda. Honestly, there is nothing that taste better than some lemongrass tofu, vegetable curry, mock chicken satay and a blended lime soda.
After lunch we came home for a nap. When we woke up we were off again, this time to Beijing Lu and the Changjiang Musical Instrument Shop. We enjoyed gazing into the Song and Ming dynasty gates and roads excavated at various points on pedestrian only Beijing Lu. We acquired 2 kapok starter violins for the kids. The violins were about $40 each.
Then we came home to Indonesian leftovers and feel, exhausted into bed. This morning was a school day, but that is not all. After school we left Mei-mei with a sitter and Jie-jie, Jason and I joined some friends at La Seine. La Seine is an authentic high end French restaurant. I believe the trip was Jie-jie’s first fine dining experience. She did well. The food was excellent – delicious mushroom soup with truffle oil, dinner salad (only so-so), mushroom pasta and mille feuille de chocolat noir.
The fun does not end here. Tomorrow is International Children’s Day. School is in session for the morning only and parents attend with the children. They will raise the flag, perform dances for the parents and then the parents go to each classroom for games and lunch. The school day ends at 11:45. Tomorrow night we have a law school dinner. The night after is dinner with Hazel’s friend Wang Fei-Fei and family. Thursday night is an ex-pat potluck. At this point our weekend is quite open. Thank goodness!