I had hoped to write more often during the month of December, but I also knew it would be difficult. Between Holiday parties, the school Christmas event and New Years, life has been pretty hectic in Guiyang city!! But I’m back here now and that’s what matters most, I think! Also, it is my goal for 2015 to write 50 blog posts, which means I need to be very dedicated all year long…or I’ll end up having 35 posts to write next December!!!
Dave and I are currently sitting in a small cafe on You Yi Lu, because the internet is down at our apartment again. It happens a lot but it’s been pretty frustrating lately, because it’s been happening at such inconvenient times. On Boxing day, the internet went down just as Ellie was opening her Christmas gifts from us. I’ve never been so upset to have a Skype call drop!! But tonight we refused to let the lack of internet change our plans, so after enjoying some fantastic Fish Hot Pot for supper, we headed on down to Meet Cafe where the wifi works and where I can enjoy some delicious Nai Cha (milk tea…my favorite drink here)
Our holiday festivities began the Monday before Christmas, at the Kempinkski Hotel in downtown Guiyang. They have a huge western food (and wine!) buffet there, so we got dressed up and met our friends from the school for a night of wining and dining. I am fairly certain I ate my own weight in Sushi while we were there (omg…I missed Sashimi!!!!!!) and our wine glasses were probably refilled more often than was necessary (or wise), but I think we all had a magnificent time!
After a day off to recuperate, the Interlingua staff were back into the Holiday Spirit at our school Christmas party. Of course this time, the party was more ‘fun focused’ and less ‘wine focused’, which was probably for the best! Dave and I were in charge of face painting, which turned out to be a total blast! We were also told that our face painting skills were the best the school had seen in several years, which was pretty awesome 🙂 After the activities and games, Santa and Mrs Clause (David and Lexie) handed gifts out to all the students, which was very exciting for them! I was really stoked that so many of my students were there. Watching each of their faces light up as they saw me was so awesome! Teaching HAS to be the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done!! (Aside from being an Aunty, of course!)
Our Christmas day was a little uneventful, other than some Skype calls to family back home. We did treat ourselves to some Starbucks though, and spent the day walking around downtown, which always interesting! For supper, we went to Romeo’s (we’ve now named our favorite hot pot place after the cat who lives there) and enjoyed Doache. Sweet little Romeo came and hung out in our table, which was a wonderful Christmas gift in of itself! It’s so nice being around an animal that loves me as much as I love him! Most pets here are afraid of people so having him jump up into my lap for pets puts me through the moon mood-wise!
Our next Holiday adventure took place in our very own apartment. After a lot of hard work, Dave and I managed to clean the grease and dust out of our kitchen to a point where we could actually cook in there. We scoured Tao Bao and Carrefour for all the necessary ingredients (cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy etc…) and put together a Christmas feast for all of my colleagues and friends at Interlingua. Nearly the entire Guiyang staff were there and a good portion of Jinyang’s staff, and I think everyone enjoyed the food. David’s girlfriend, Yolanda, even entertained us with her lute. She had an exam the following day so it was a good opportunity for her to practice, and we all enjoyed the live entertainment (she’s REALLY good!!!). It was great eating western food, and introducing mashed potatoes to our Chinese friends. I was thrilled when Ouyang went back for seconds as soon as he was done his first plate! My boss, Huang, even came and loved my honey dill carrots 🙂 She even said she was going to have the cook make them at work she liked them so much! The dinner was a lot of work but I’m so glad we held it for everyone. It was a lot of fun to prepare and even more fun to eat it all!
Once Christmas was over, and our classes were back in full swing, it was easy to forget that there was another day to celebrate on its way. New Year’s Eve arrived before we knew it and it was time to plan another evening out in Guiyang. Other than Naveed and his wife, Sherry, I don’t quite fit in with the Interlingua staff. I’m quite a bit older than the rest of them (I’m 28 while my coworkers are mostly 22 or 23). They are all single and living up life in Guiyang city, so we weren’t really involved in their New Year’s Eve plans. But when Naveed sent me a We Chat message at 11 oclock, asking why we weren’t at the Paullaner bar yet, I was pretty excited to go out. We hopped on the scooter and arrived about a half hour before midnight. I got to spend my last moments of 2014 with good people and listening to good music.
On our way out of the bar, we shared an elevator with a European man who had lived in Guiyang for 8 years. The number of Lao Wai we saw New Year’s Eve was probably the highlight of the evening. As much as I love being here, I miss striking up random conversations in elevators that aren’t just about ‘where I’m from’. Also, the people you meet while traveling are like minded. They are adventurers and they are interested in culture and new experiences. It was great meeting so many people that night.
So that’s what the holidays are like in China. Both Christmas and New Years are celebrated here, but only in a superficial way. Still, there are things you can do to make yourself feel less ‘far away’ from everything normal during the holiday season. The biggest thing for me was cooking that dinner for my coworkers. I know that not everyone may have enjoyed it like I did, and I know that not everyone appreciated the work it takes to put something like that together, but I do know that Christmas can’t be Christmas without mashed potatoes.
I’ll be writing again in the next few days about our little Chinese apartment and all the ways we’ve turned it from a cockroach infested dump, to the cute little place we now call home 🙂