Saturday, August 27, 2011

Beer, beer, beer

Well it ain't exactly Oktoberfest, but we're having a pretty swell time up here in Qindao. Jess has actually been to Oktoberfest, where she says there's non-stop music in the beer tents and everyone gets up every five minutes to raise their glasses for a drinking song. We were in one beer tent where the entertainment was auctioning off Chinese paintings...

At the beach Saturday morning I bargained my way into proud ownership of a 60-kuai giant sombrero. The shop owner started the price at double that, which means it's probably worth about 12 kuai, but it's rare that I feel like I don't get totally hosed in a bargaining situation. For another 20 kuai she threw in a pointy rice hat for James. Our hats won us lots of new friends and free beer once we got to the beer festival.

For awhile we sat at the table with the festival organizer, took lots of pictures, ate lots of meat skewers and tiny clams.

Jess has designs on swimming in the ocean at some point, I'm not so sure. The beach is so so so crowded. Just a month ago I was back in Oregon, with Oregon beaches fresh in my mind, walking along the pier yesterday morning was a little bit ... yuck. They have jet skis in the harbor, but a dude drives it for you, you just get to ride.

Also yesterday morning, we walked up to this grand old Catholic church, built when Qingdao was under German control. We counted no less than 15 different couples taking their wedding pictures, in front of the main gate there was a different woman every 10 feet, posed with her legs folded under her and her dress all spread out.

Time for breakfast!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

News you can use

It's deadline week, I'm swamped with proofing and Chinese homework and all that, but since I got a naggy email from a certain someone here it is:

1. I made pesto this week and it was delicious
2. The Marriott treated me to a steak Monday evening and it was probably more delicious than my pesto.
3. On Friday afternoon my roommates and I are flying to Qingdao (coastal city up north) for a beer festival. 
4. In two weeks I'm going on a tour to North Korea for 5 days. If you want a postcard, better pony up yer address.

How ya like that?!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Packing Fail

I accidentally brought my car keys and one of my brother's undershirts to China (I blame the latter on deceptively piled laundry). I forgot all the awesome sand dollars I collected on one of our beach runs. At the last minute I had to unload a pair of heels, my AP Style Guide and 4 pounds of quinoa to get my suitcase under 50 pounds. My bottle of Robert Mondavi cabernet ($8 at Fred Meyers, $30 in Shanghai) made it in tact though. Priorities. We'll be cracking that open on my birthday next month.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Back in China

It's 730 am and balmy and the horizon is hazy. Sorry no posts during my vacation, I couldn't bring myself to sit in front of a computer for long while at home. It seems like just a few days ago I was rushing around trying to get ready to go, having goodbye drinks with my now-departed chief editor and packing. Now I'm back - argh!

This was my first time visiting the States during summer since 2008 (!!!). I swam, I took my dog to the beach, I went tubing and bridge jumping with my brothers and lit off ground fireworks, I cooked a lot, I read. There were a lot of things I didn't do. I didn't talk to many of my friends on the phone. I only met up with one person outside my family. I didn't drive anywhere farther than half an hour away. It just seemed more important to either be outside or hanging out with my family. But since most of my days were pretty much the same the time all blends together and it's hard to believe two weeks slipped by so quickly. 

On my last day I went to Dunefest - an Oregon Coast atv rally where my brothers' band was opening the Friday night entertainment. I ate a pulled pork sandwich and a funnel cake. It all seemed like a very aMERican way to end my trip.

Another highlight was getting to see my brothers compete at an open track meet. Billy almost beat his personal best pole vault and Ricky ran a relay (and won) with a bunch of college runners. 

It doesn't get any easier to leave. I had a little cry on the airplane between Coos Bay and San Francisco, but I was also laughing because my brother had been miming aiming a bazooka at me from the waiting room window that looked down on the boarding area. I probably looked like a crazy lady. The crying made me congested, so I got a screaming headache as we descended. It felt like my brain was about to explode out of my left eye socket. 

I think one thing that makes it harder is China has become so familiar. It's not so exotic anymore, just very far away. Short grocery lines, the brand of milk I like to drink, being able to easily find the things I like to cook and fresh air all seem more attractive and important than they used to. 

Thankfully James was there to pick me up at the airport and I got to come home to my little American tribe and my lovely apartment. Now I'm off to work. It's going to be a busy week.