Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Beijing, Seoul, and my elbow

Hi folks
I am so sorry it's taken so long to do another blog entry.  So much has happened since I last wrote.  
Aunt Sue came to visit over our Easter break.  And the first thing Quint wanted to do was have her meet his girlfriend (that's right, girlfriend).  Now mind you, I've seen her 2 times and Scott has never met her at all.  So you can see where we are in the list of his priorities.  Her name is Anna.  She is in the same grade as Q in his school.  Her mom is from South Carolina and her dad is from China.  She was born in the US, but has lived here for about 10 yrs.  So she calls herself expatrianese.  Her mom works at Lauren's school, so I see her from time to time. Really, the relationship is all about texting. Which Q knows that I'm allowed to read since I pay for the phone.  But Anna is great.  If all of his relationships are this good and healthy, I'll be very happy.  

While Aunt Sue was in town, we went on a trip to Beijing.  We took the high speed train up and flew back, because the plane was much cheaper.  Now most Americans I talk to are surprised to know that China is bigger than the US.  So Shanghai to Beijing is like DC to New York (I think).  5 hrs up in train.  2.5 hrs back in plane.  The trip was amazing, but I'm so glad I don't live there.  The city looks just like you would expect a communist country to look.  Most of the buildings look the same and very square looking.  Not a lot of interesting architecture and new buildings.   Getting a taxi is almost impossible too.  After we checked in to the hotel, we took a taxi to the zoo to see the Giant Pandas.  That was wonderful, but getting back to the hotel was not easy.  Aunt Sue, Scott and Lauren got in a taxi after waiting about 15 min.  Quint and I couldn't get one after that.  So we started to walk to more populated areas.  Because we were not Chinese,  or look like we were doing business, none of them stopped.  I got so impatient that I would step out off the sidewalk to flag one down and they would swerve and wave me back.  Finally we walked to a mall and waited for Scott to send a taxi from the hotel.  2.5hrs later from when we left the zoo, we were back at the hotel.  A little grumpy and hungry, but now it's  a great story for my blog, so all worth it (don't tell Q I said that.  He wouldn't agree).  

The next day we went to the Ming tombs and the Great Wall with a tour.  Our tour guide was named Sunny and we booked her for two days.  The tombs were interesting, but a little disappointing since a lot of the artifacts were replicas since the originals were replaced during the cultural revolution.  The wall was very impressive and massive.  The part that is available for tourists has been refurbished in the last 100 yrs and is full of graffiti, but still really cool.  The part we went to had a ski lift up and a toboggan slide to go down.  Of course, stairs were an option, but even Sunny didn't want to do that.  

The next day we went to Tiananmen Square, the Palace Museum, the temple of Heaven and The Summer Palace.  Holy cow were we exhausted by the end of the day.  But we learned so much and it was very beautiful.  Most of what we saw was from the Ming and Ching dynasties.  The last two, for those of you who need to brush up on your Chinese history.  One of the things we discussed was the history of the "dragon lady".  She was the empress dowager for the last two emperors.  There are all these stories that Sunny told us about how she was mean, nasty, controlling and a waster of money.  So scandalous that I went out and bought a book about her.  Only to read that the stories that Chinese kids were taught were made up by two englishmen 15 yrs after her death and were extremely exaggerated.  How terribly disappointing. But I'm still reading it.  

After we got back from Beijing, we did some Shanghai exploring and one of the best things was the Shanghai Museum.  It's absolutely wonderful.  I'm taking all of you when you come and visit.  The visit with Aunt Sue was wonderful.  I can't wait for her to come and visit again.  There are so many adventures to go on that All of you could come and I'd see something new.  

This last weekend we went to Seoul for a couple of days.  It's like China with really good manners.  No horn honking.  Everyone stays in their lane.  No one peeing on the side of the road.  No one spitting or pushing.  And they know how to form a line.  Ok, I'm not selling China now am I.  Example, when going on the subway in China, you don't wait for the people to get off first, or you will miss the train.  It's everyone for themselves and you just have to push thru.  The kids and I did that in Korea and Scott was so embarrassed.  He should have given us the heads up.  I also went to buy some earrings at a street market.  When I tried to bargain he said "have you lived in China?"  Ooops.  It was also incredibly expensive.  I loved the visit, but it's good to be back.  

I get my elbow worked on today.  Apparently I have a small tear in my tendon.  I've been nursing this problem for about 1.5 yrs.  My doc in Louisville said at my last appt back home that we probably needed to think about surgery.  Great I said,, I'm moving to China next week.  I did find someone here who is an american orthopedic doc and it's a pretty simple procedure.  I could've waited to do it back in the US, but I don't have a driver or an Ayi there.  Wish me luck.  Oh and if anyone is placing bets for the Oaks and derby and would be willing to place one for me, let me know.  I'm going to be up next sun morning really early so I can watch it.  Go ponies go!!!
Love to you all