Monday, June 27, 2011

China: Wednesday

Sadly enough we really don't have pictures from Wednesday. Scott and I were so glad to get off the train that we spent quite a while napping and cleaning up in our hotel. We had a tough time navigating through Beijing so it took quite a while to find lunch and a market where name brand stuff is sold for a pittance. In the afternoon 2 of Scott's co-students came in: Igor and Robert. It took a while to find dinner with them but finally got some delicious dumplings before crashing at the hotel.
This picture is of some Tibetian dumplings that Scott had for lunch. They apparently tasted like play-dough dipped in some sort of sugar. Even he didn't care for them.

Week 26: honey

5 pounds honey

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

We can't believe it's been a year since we got married! We've had a blast and can't wait for many more years to come. Scott talked me into saving part of our cake so it's been using precious freezer space until today.
Here's the necessary smiling picture. (We actually ate most of the cake last year so that it wouldn't take up so much room. Our freezer is pathetically small.)
This is how we really felt about eating year old cake.
And it actually wasn't that bad. We smothered it in raspberry freezer jam and quite enjoyed it.
Happy anniversary Scott. I love you!
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grandma Bain's Funeral

Here's my family: Eric, Rushton (belongs to Melissa), Uncle Charlie, Dad, Mom, me, Laura, Melissa

*I didn't realize this didn't post a few weeks ago. Woops!*
Just before leaving for Atlanta my Grandma Bain passed away. While I was growing up she lived in Sacramento and we loved going to visit and swim. She would make us delicious zambozi (a beef and noddle casserole), always had gum, and sometimes even took us to an afternoon movie. She also made us numerous quilts that still keep us warm at night. During high school she came to Fremont to live with us and stayed there until a few years ago when she moved into a care home. She had Alzheimer's for the last 10 years. On the evening of April 17 my parents got a call that she had labored breathing and might be passing. Scott and I met my parents that evening to give my Grandma a sweet blessing and say goodbye. She stayed until Tuesday evening but passed away peacefully. She is missed.
The following Tuesday we had a nice service in Fremont for her and then went up near Sacramento to bury her near my Grandpa Bain. It was especially nice since my brother Eric from AZ and sister Laura from GA came out for the services. We had a great time being together again.

Rushton trying to see what's inside.

My mom giving a very nice eulogy.

My dad and Uncle Charlie, my grandma's only children.

My mom trying to coax Rushton out of the truck.

Oh wait, she was helping him up there. Silly Grandma!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

China: Tuesday

This was our second, and last, day in Xi'an so we looked for all the other tourist attractions.
Scott was a huge hit with the locals and LOVED it. Numerous times daily he was asked in take pictures with Chinese kids; and if he wasn't asked he decided to jump in anyway. Even though I was always with him they didn't really care for my picture, only Scott. It was super funny and Scott felt like a celebrity. I'm just afraid that now when I tell him to do something he'll remind me of how much Chinese people loved him and that I should treat him with equal respect. Oh brother!

So Monday night we saw the water/music show in front of the Big Goose Pagoda and Tuesday we took a tour.

(I'd love to tell you all about the Pagoda and it's significance but I seriously have no idea what it was for. The sights in China all blended together and we never got a tour guide until Beijing so I'll just leave you as clueless as I was.)
I thought this was a very ornate elephant.

Scott loved all the Buddah's. His favorite was an enormous one in Beijing.

After the Pagoda we packed up and found a taxi to go back to the train station. Quite a few taxis rejected us before we finally got a ride. I guess it was a long trip and I don't think they liked dealing with people who didn't speak Chinese. It was harder than we thought to catch a taxi. At the train station it took us a while to communicate that we wanted to leave our luggage at a storage place so we could look around for the afternoon. The luggage ladies were really confused but we finally pulled out some money and convinced them we'd be back to pick it up. We should have listened to Mandarin for Dummies more closely...
After abandoning our luggage we caught a bus in the direction of the city wall. It turned off just before so we had to walk back quite a ways, We really mastered the art of taking the slowest way possible anywhere. Once at the wall we rented bikes on the top to ride around. It was super fun except the fact that we forgot sunblock.

We got a tandem bike and Scott rode in front. He pedaled hard and I pedaled. We tried to switch places once but his legs were too long to fit in the back so he stayed in front. This ride made me really want a tandem bike, it was so fun.

We got a tandem bike and Scott rode in front. He pedaled hard and I pedaled. We tried to switch places once but his legs were too long to fit in the back so he stayed in front. This ride made me really want a tandem bike, it was so fun.

After returning our bikes we walked to the Bell Tower in the middle of the city. Each city seems to have a Bell and Drum Tower and since I don't know the significance I'll again leave us both wondering about it. (We really should have either done more research about stuff or gone with a tour group...)

Scott's awesome burn about an hour after the wall. As we tried to sleep that night we could feel heat radiating off our bodies.

Scott climbing the wall.

Cecilie climbing the wall.

A delicious spaghetti soup dinner. Scott just wanted some noodles and sauce but it somehow always turned into a soup.

On the Sat/Sun post I alluded to an awful ride back and this was it. We bought tickets down to Xi'an before leaving for China but we couldn't buy tickets back until 10 days before departure. A lady from Scott's Dad's work was helping us and didn't know if the tickets would arrive in time so we decided to wait. After getting to the hotel in Xi'an we asked if they could help us get train tickets. Their English was spotty but we finally communicated our request and they had a bell hop help us. He looked like the bell hop manager so I was expecting quality help. At the ticket counter he said there were no sleeper spaces available, proceeded to buy his own ticket for the weekend and then got out of line. I think he thought we'd just stay in Xi'an longer but we wanted to leave Tuesday night. We convinced him to buy us seats, thinking they'd be sort of like what Amtrak has, and we got back in line. They were NOT like Amtrak, it was basically a dining car with over 120 people. Luckily we got the 2-seater bench, I would not have wanted a 3-seater and shared it. Leading up to this Scott and I both anticipated semi-desirable conditions but we had no clue it would be so bad. Before the train pulled out Scott suggested we should get off a buy plane tickets back. No, no I was going to be a good trooper so we stayed. It was miserable. They played Chinese sitcoms until very late, had Chinese music also playing, and people talked so loud. To top it off, this train stopped along the way so we had an additional hour. I feel like my description is mild compared to the misery of that night. We tried to sleep but the seats were at a 90 degree angle and so uncomfortable and cramped. It was rough.

This is the little boy across the dining table, he wouldn't talk to us but liked watching us.
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Friday, June 17, 2011

China: Monday

After arriving in Xi'an and showering at the hotel we were ready to see the Terra-cotta Warriors! They were discovered about 40 years ago when some men were digging a well. A piece of a warrior came up with some dirt and the well was forgotten. Since then 3 'pits' have been discovered. Each pit has a different set up. I'd love to explain more but we didn't have a tour guide and most explanations were either in Chinese or it was too crowded to stand and read. A roof and walls have been built around each pit to preserve them and so tourists can come while they're still being excavated. It was interesting.

This is Pit 1 and the most famous one. You can see all the warriors lined up in rows. You can also see some of the building. This one looked like the Superdome.

Since we went on a Monday there were excavators there. You can see the planks they walk on and lights they use. It looks like tedious work to piece the soldiers back together. In the back of the building there were quite a few statues lined up that were still missing pieces. I can't believe how well preserved they were in general though.

Here we are standing with some of the warriors. (We're such tourists!)

Xi'an was hosting the world horticulture expo and this was the mascot. (You should have seen all the Chinese people watching Scott take this silly picture. He loved it!) Scott really wanted to go but we couldn't figure out how to get there, and no one understood what we wanted, until we took the wrong bus to the train station on our way back to Beijing. The bus dropped us off nearby but we had to hustle to the train. Bummer deal.

We already forgot what this place was but it was a tomb where it is hypothesized that some guy built an entire city to be buried in. The Chinese seem very worried about life after death. They're not quite sure what to do with is so they build huge tombs and have everyone buried with them. Luckily sometimes their concubines are allowed a forced suicide instead of being buried alive...

That night we went to a water show in front of the Big Goose Pagoda. It was pretty cool. They had the water and lights set to music and it lasted about 30 minutes. You could stand in the middle of the walkways and not get wet. Scott was in heaven.
By the end of the night we were so tired and beat. I'm not sure that we ever ate breakfast or lunch and dinner was hard to comeby. We went into a few resturants for dinner but they all smelled disgusting so that wasn't fun. Scott got a sandwich from a street vendor that was supposed to be beef but he thought it was liver. I'd never seen him throw away food until that night. After the water show we stopped by a fast food looking place but the meat was so spicy I gave up. We also tried the vanilla ice cream but whatever flavor it was wasn't vanilla!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

China: Saturday/Sunday

I'd love to call this day 1 but since it only took 16 hours to leave San Francisco at 7am Saturday and land in Beijing at 2pm Sunday I'm not sure how to really define this day.

We had a layover in Vancouver, BC and it was so fun to see so many stores from my mission. I loved serving in Edmonton and Olds, AB and seeing Tim Horton's reminded me of so many fond memories. I just had to buy some TimBits. (I'm sure there are more Tim Horton's in Canada then Starbuck's in the US.)

I also got to introduce Scott to poutin: French fries covered in gravy and cheese. It is a delicious heart attack.

Once we got to Beijing it took us a few tries to find the right bus to the train station. Apparently there are multiple train stations in Beijing and you also have to buy a ticket to board the bus. We finally made it on...
The bus ride was nail-biting. They drive like maniacs! I wrote down all the things I saw on that hour bus ride in my little notebook (aka spy book according to Scott):
- a car backing up on the on-ramp
- multiple cars parked along the freeway side
- a lady driving on the wrong side of the road
- people walking along the freeway and even dodging traffic
- rediculous merging and continuous honking
- multiple taxis stopping in the middle of traffic to let out passengers
- hundreds of mopeds and bikes
OK, so it doesn't sound that bad but I'm telling you, it was crazy! I was on edge the entire ride.

We were the last people off the bus and Scott was having a hard time managing both suitcases. There were a bunch of people at the door trying to grab a piece but he kept refusing. At first I thought he was being a bit rude since they just wanted to help but once I got outside I realized they were trying to give us a 'ride' to the station. They followed us for a ways and kept yelling in Chinese. I still laugh at my naivety of that moment.
Our first job at the train station was to buy tickets back from Xi'an, you could only buy tickets 10 days in advance so we weren't sure we could get them to the States before we left. It took us a lot of walking and many confused pauses to finally find the English line. We waited for almost an hour in the hot humidity to finally learn that the teller didn't really speak English and you had to buy your tickets in Xi'an. What a start...

We had an awesome overnight ride to Xi'an. We shared this comfy abode with a nice Russian couple; they didn't speak English and we didn't know Russian. The poor conductor came by with an announcement but neither of us could understand. I hope it wasn't important! We had an awesome night's sleep on the ride to Xi'an. (Remember how awesome this was and contrast it to our ride back.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

We totally went to China!

Yes, it's true: we actually went to China. I was there for a week and Scott for two. It was quite the experience! Although I still don't know any Chinese Scott can at least recognize these characters as meaning Beijing. Thank goodness he was there to be the tour guide.

Stay tuned because I'll be posting about each day individually and then Scott will wrap it up with his additional week!