Monday, April 18, 2011

Folk Art Museum, Traditional Chinese Tea, Christmas in China

Very intricate details at the Folk Art Museum
Today was another adventure starting out first thing in the morning!  Originally, we weren’t going on the FTIA group tour to the Folk Art Museum and Jade Market because we were going to have Hot Pot with Brad at 11:00.  So… we didn’t get up and get moving right away.  But then Brad called and said we would have hot pot at a later time in the day.  So then we decided to go on the tour, but it was already the time that the group was meeting to leave.  Rats.  Wait!  We got a phone call from Ike, our tour guide. "Can you be ready in 10 minutes?"  Not really, but we decided to do it anyway – Ike said the group would wait for us.  We moved quick!  Most of us weren’t even dressed for the day and Carissa's hair as well as mine was still wet.  Ike had said to meet them in the lobby so Kevin ran downstairs with the kids and grabbed some bread, bananas and yogurt while I finished getting ready – and then I soon followed them downstairs. 
I would of loved to look at all the details up close.
When I got downstairs, there was no Ike in the lobby, but we soon got a phone call.  Ike said to have the hotel golf cart driver take us to the White Swan Hotel.  Okay, we're flexible.  We go out to get the cart and find out that it won’t be there for another hour.  Oops!  We will have to walk/run to the White Swan so they don't have to wait for us too long!  We get there, huffing and puffing, and are soon on the bus for the tour to the Folk Art Museum - eating breakfast along the way.

I think many stories were told in the art work.
Wow!  There were a lot of people at the museum!  Really, really, really long lines.  We found out that it was an “everyone gets in free at the museum” day – and people sure were taking advantage of that!  We almost didn’t go in, but then Ike got it worked out and we went to the front of the line and walked right in.  I wonder what all of the people were thinking about us when we walked by them?  We were a bunch of white people with Chinese babies, who didn’t have to wait in line…
Laughing tiger statue.
The coolest thing I saw in the museum was called “bone art”.  It is actually hand carvings made out of ivory.  There was one carving done in the shape of a ship.  It was extremely detailed and very beautiful.  The other thing I liked a lot was the design and architecture of the building.  It had a lot intricate details on it, most of which seemed to tell a story.  I also had a lot of fun going into the shops.  Laurel bought two little items.  I can’t tell what one is b/c she may give it to a friend who is reading this.  The other thing she bought was a necklace with blue on it, and she already gave this one away to McKenna.  Laurel wanted McKenna to have something to remind her of herself and their good times in China.  Very sweet.
I thought we were supposed to go to the Jade Market but we ended up going back to the hotel, which was good.  We were then able to meet Brad for our first experience with the subway system in Guangzhou (pretty easy to use, but I like Beijing’s better) and also for Dim Sum with Jieying and her parents.  Dim Sum is Cantonese food and some of the items were pretty good!  There were many dishes to choose from, including fried rice with pineapple and shrimp in it, a couple different types of bread-like items, con-gee, and many more.  Wasn’t too bad – I’m sure I could find a favorite among the dishes.
Brad getting our sweet potatoes!
OH!  On our way to the subway we passed a street vendor and Brad asked if anyone wanted a hot sweet potato.  The kids and I had read the book Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze awhile back and in the book the main character, Young Fu, often got himself a hot sweet potato from a street vendor.  This was one of the things I wanted to experience while in China.  With only a few days left, I am so glad that Brad saw this and asked if anyone wanted one!  I was really looking forward to eating it, but it was so hot that I had to put it in the side of my backpack until it cooled down. (I never did eat it until just now.  It is about 1:00 in the morning and Kevin just got back from going out with Brad.  I was really hungry and writing about the day reminded me of it.  Call me crazy, but I just thought it was really cool to eat a sweet potato in China from a street vendor!)
At the tea house
After Dim Sum we walked to a little store that served tea in the traditional manner.  It was really neat!  This was also something that I had wanted to experience.  We sat at a table while a lovely Chinese woman prepared and served us tea.  She cleaned our cups with hot water and did not serve us the first bit of tea so that the tea would be free of any dust.  I think we tried about 3 different kinds.  Kevin bought some puh-ar and a flower tea, and I had him get me another type of flower tea, where you add a type of sugar to it while it is steeping.  (Later, Jieying, Brad’s mother-n-law, Carissa, Laurel, Lyric and I bought the sugar at a grocery store so I could take it home.  It is like rock sugar, not like the sugar cubes we have at home).

At the tea house, the girls all got to take turns playing a Chinese Harp.  Where our harps stand up, this one lays down.  It was very pretty and all of the girls, even Lyric, were very excited to play it. 
We had a picture taken of all of us at the tea shop and then the workers wanted pictures also.  They took ones with just Tyler this time (it was all girls, well, young ladies as the workers.  One thing about the Chinese is that I can never tell how old they are!  They could be 30 years old and still look like they were 18!)  Ty was a bit embarrassed but he did well.  Then they took pics with Laurel.   Brad and Kevin stood together in a hug and asked why no one ever wanted to take pictures of them!  After it was translated everyone burst out laughing.  It was really funny!
Look at the tiny tea cups!  (It's good they were tiny - we sampled a lot of tea that day!)
Out of the tea shop, the guys went and got our train tickets while we girls went and got the rock sugar, visited a more traditional Chinese grocery store, and went to the in-laws apartment.
I have to say, the traditional Chinese grocery store was very interesting.  There were live chickens in cages and you could have them butchered right there on the spot!  It was stinky inside the store and there were chicken parts on the counter.  Quite a difference from our grocery stores with our prepackaged meat!  My greatest surprise was to see a black-skinned chicken!  I was amazed and pointed them out to the girls.  Even the head was black!  I thought for sure they had somehow just blackened the chicken but Jieying assured me that it really was a black skinned chicken!  I was shocked.  Really!  I took pics also so if I can ever figure out how to get the pics uploaded I’ll post one of them.  (I did finally figure it out...) The other items we saw included big fat frogs, turtles, eels, a variety of fish, clams and many other items.  I’m glad we got to see these things!
Lyric getting a few lessons.
We soon found ourselves on the 15th floor of the in-laws apartment building, where we had plans to celebrate Christmas with them.  It was so sweet of them - Mr. Wu (Jieying's father) - went and found a small pretend Christmas tree from somewhere, along with garland, and he hung them up in their apartment.  One of the gifts that we brought the Wu's was a Christmas music cd so we gave that to them early in the evening so we could have music.  We brought snacks to share and the Wu's set out snacks as well.  Our meal for the evening was... pizza!  It's so funny.  We wanted to have Chinese food and they wanted to have American food - pizza!  The Wu's were so generous.  They bought our family, children included, many beautiful gifts.  Each of the children received beautiful pen and pencil holders that in all of our souvenir shopping I didn't see anywhere.  They also gave us a beautiful tea set along with many other items.  One day the Wu's may travel to America, and I can only pray that we will be as hospitable to them as they were to us. 
Laurel getting a lesson.

Aside from all of the gift giving, one of the highlights of the evening was when Brad shared the story of our Savior with the Wu's.  Brad would talk in English for our benefit and then Jieying would translate in Mandarin to her parents.  Each of us then took a turn telling what Christmas meant to us.  We pray that any seeds that were planted continue to grow in each of their hearts.

All of us at the tea house.
Early on in the evening Tyler found himself with an earache.  It hurt so bad that we had him lay down in a bedroom for awhile.  He must have felt pretty bad.  In some of the pictures I have of him he looks quite miserable.
Chicken for dinner anyone?

Some lovely memories I have of the evening include Laurel drawing pictures and giving them as gifts, Lyric successfully fitting in a tiny box and looking like she was a perfect Christmas gift (which she really was), and the pure delight on Lyric's face when she received gifts for herself. 
See the black-skinned chicken?  See the eggs in the chicken?
What type of fish would you like?
How would you like your fish prepared?

Brad better watch his fingers!
Lyric was our precious gift this year!
Lyric was so happy to call these gifts her own.

1 comment:

  1. She certainly looks happy to have them (her own things). I, too, would love to look at that frieze up close.