Archive for August, 2007

31st Aug 2007

Photos!

Xiamen in August

Just a few pictures from my first week in China. More to come.

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31st Aug 2007

Lunch at Wonton Sister

Wonton Sister is a tiny restaurant around the corner from the Ramada Hotel. The English name is actually Wonton Sister, though I’m sure it doesn’t translate directly. The menu tops out at about 7 yuan (less than 1 dollar). The “kitchen” is at the front of the restaurant and you must pass through it to get to the tables in the back.

We had lunch at Wonton Sister on our third day in China. Finally ready for an adventure, we pointed our way through the menu offerings that were laid out in front of us. We ended up ordering about twice as much food as we needed for five people. Noodles, wonton soup, rice, pork, and some things that we couldn’t quite identify. Despite some odd appearances, almost all was quite tasty. And the five of us were able to eat lunch for 50 yuan (7 dollars) and could have probably been satisfied for half that.

Sadly, Wonton Sister is not really close to my apartment. Though, we have found a couple possible substitutes. These include “Sold Out” (named for their typical response when we try to order things off the menu) and the place by the Mini Cooper dealership (you can probably guess why we call it that).

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31st Aug 2007

From Houston to Xiamen

My departure from Houston at 6:30 in the morning on a muggy, August day was topped off with an extra helping of Houston unhospitality thanks to the unfriendly workers behind the Continental ticket counter. I like to think that people in Houston are typically quite friendly, but these class acts would make any tourist to Houston never want to return. After, my fun time with them I just had enough time to run to my gate and walk on board, despite arriving an hour and a half early.

Flying from Houston to Newark and then Beijing was long and boring, which I consider a good thing.

As we were landing in Beijing two thoughts occurred to me. 1. Did my 7 bags make it to the plane or were they somewhere in the airport in Houston, like sitting behind the ticket counter while the Continental employees bickered at each other? 2. Why in the world did I give myself only 2 hours in Beijing with 7 suitcases to make a plane change and go through customs? My flight to Xiamen was at 4:00. I made it out of immigration and to baggage claim by 2:20.

At baggage claim I hired two guys to help me carry my bags. Any lessons in Mandarin completely failed me at this point. I couldn’t remember the word for 7, qi, and so had to use my hands and then the claim tickets to convince the guys that i really did have 7 bags, for one person. We waited for about 25 minutes for the bags to show up. During this time I was debating whether or not to just leave and go to a Continental desk to find out if my bags ever made it onto the plane. Luckily they arrived, intact. It took me some time to realize that what the “skycaps’ were saying to me repeatedly was that I am a white woman. So far the cultural exchange is moving along as predicted.

The two skycaps then took my bags from baggage claim up to the ticket counter for Air China. They both (the older one in particular) had an air of determination. When we went through customs they raced my bags through and just waved me towards the counter. As I talked to the customs agent, my bags were already being hurried over to the transfer counter. He told me to go on through. At the transfer counter, they argued with the woman working there because they didn’t want to have to take all my bags up to the main ticket counter on the next floor, but we had to go because of . . . the 5 extra bags.

The population density increased dramatically once we left the protected area of baggage claim. The two guys helping me basically ran people over as we went to the ticket counter. We made it to the elevator where they basically yelled at people until they got off the elevators. I thought this was rude, but considering the circumstances I was really glad to have them around. They raced me over to the ticket counter for late check-ins and shooed a man away who tried to cut in front of me. So, three bags went on at this counter, the rest went on at the oversize luggage counter. I paid the two men who helped me, probably way more than the average, but considering I’d still be in Beijing without them, I figure it was worth it. Then I had to go pay for the extra baggage, then take the receipt back to the ticket counter, get my boarding pass and run to my flight. It was at this time 3:50. I was the last person to get on the plane, which would have been really climactic if we hadn’t then sat on the tarmac for an hour and 15 minutes after I got on board.

I arrived in Xiamen a little later than planned and was whisked off to the Ramada Hotel.

More soon on my new apartment, school, and life.

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08th Aug 2007

The moving summer

I in no way mean to imply by this title that this summer has been particularly “moving”. But rather, that I am moving this summer. From Brazil to China. If you’re reading this website you probably already knew that, but hey, there you go. What have I learned during my moving summer?? I’m sure you’re curious. The list is below (in the order that they came to me):

– I love shopping in a country where clothes fit me.
– Outblush.com is my favorite website.
– My nieces have a supernatural cuteness that can not be fought.
– Moving to a communist Asian country is easier than moving to a Latin American country.
– U.S. microbrews are the greatest things ever.
– Tex-Mex should be a required food group in every country.
– Tortilla chips rock.
– I’m really happy not to have to fly to Brazil again (good luck to all those who have to).
– Brazilian beaches are hard to top.
– Mileage programs are a sham.
– People need etiquette lessons when flying (and I’m not talking about children).
– Boston is an awesome town.
– My ability to recall the actual heat of a Houston summer is not intact.

I leave for China in 2 days. So, I’m sure there will be a new, longer list of things I’ve learned sometime next week. That is of course assuming that the jet lag does not affect me so dramatically that I am unable to blog. However, considering the frequency with which I do write on this website, it’s pretty likely that a 24 hour trip might delay me by a bit.

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