Merry Christmas and 新年快乐

I’m baaackk!!!

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)

Fish Hot Pot!  We go here at least once a week :)
Fish Hot Pot! We go here at least once a week 🙂
The only this restaurant lacks is proper tables and chairs.  Like many restaurants in Guiyang, you are given tiny chairs and tables to eat on!
The only this restaurant lacks is proper tables and chairs. As is the case in many restaurants in Guiyang…the furniture is designed for children…
This is basically soy sauce with chilis in it.  You dip the fish in when it's done boiling in the hot pot, and it adds such a great flavor to the meat!!
This is basically soy sauce with chilis in it. You dip the fish in when it’s done boiling in the hot pot, and it adds such a great flavor to the meat!!

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!

Maggie, Jumoke and I
Maggie, Jumoke and I
Later on in the evening...you can walk around with open liquor here...it's the funniest thing!!
Later on in the evening…you can walk around with open liquor here…it’s the funniest thing!!
David (left) and Andrew (right).  I don't see it, but these two are mistaken for one another constantly at the school!  David is crazy tall (6'7 I think) so I'm not sure how he can be confused for anyone...ever lol!  Also...Andrew was being a goof.  He usually doesn't look like that :p
David (left) and Andrew (right). I don’t see it, but these two are mistaken for one another constantly at the school! David is crazy tall (6’7 I think) so I’m not sure how he can be confused for anyone…ever lol! Also…Andrew was being a goof. He usually doesn’t look like that :p
Maggie (from the JinYang branch) and I.  She was my sous chef during the cooking event in November and we was so great that she joined us for the evening at the Kempinski!
Maggie (from the JinYang branch) and I. She was my sous chef during the cooking event in November and it was so great that she joined us for the evening at the Kempinski!

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!)

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David and Lexie as Mr. and Mrs. Clause. If you’re wondering what exactly David is using as a beard, it was formerly a rabbit puppet. We realized at the last second that Santa was beardless, so Mauricio…the doer that he is…grabbed his Swiss Army knife, gutted the puppet, beheaded the puppet and tied it to David’s face. Yup…that’s how we roll at Interlingua!!
Steven and I.  This kid is so sweet...
Steven and I. This kid is so sweet…
One of my youngest students, Smile.  I especially love Ouyang's photobomb lol!
One of my youngest students, Smile. I especially love Ouyang’s unintentional photobomb lol!
Me and one of my students at the party.  Barbie is such a sweet girl :)  She's one of the first students I met here and we've been besties every since!
Me and one of my students at the party. Barbie is  one of the first students I met here and we’ve been besties ever since!

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!

Here he is under our table!  Hot pot tables usually have two layers so that you can keep food down there if your table is full.  We leave that level empty so Romeo can chill with us
Here he is under our table! Hot pot tables usually have two layers so that you can keep food down there if your table is full. We leave that level empty so Romeo can chill with us

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!

My deviled eggs 'a la Guiyang'.  I switched the paprika my mom uses for La Jia.  They went over very well!
My deviled eggs ‘a la Guiyang’. I switched the paprika my mom uses for La Jia. They went over very well!
Jumoke made sure nobody else would drink out of his cup.  It was an effective method!
Jumoke made sure nobody else would drink out of his cup. It was an effective method!
Yolanda, playing her loot
Yolanda, playing her lute
Manny in his snuggy-type Christmas gift.  He was thrilled to receive it, because he'd wanted to buy one for himself anyway! haha!
Manny in his snuggy-type Christmas gift. He was thrilled to receive it, because he’d wanted to buy one for himself anyway! haha!
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When dinner was done, most of the guests went off to do their own thing, but a small group of us head down to Trip Smith, a local Brittish-style pub.  Among us were the Jin Yang crew (who I couldn’t get a proper picture of due to lighting) and the four of us from Guiyuang: (from left, Me, my dear friend Lumi, Lexie and Ouyang)

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.

Naveed, Sherry and I at Paullauner Bar.  Nav was pretty stoked to hear some Metal (Enter Sandman....we don't get a lot of rock out here!)
Naveed, Sherry and I at Paullauner Bar. Nav was pretty stoked to hear some Metal (Enter Sandman….we don’t get a lot of rock out here!)
New Year Selfie!!  I love this picture...mostly because it looks like my head is just floating there :P hahaha!
New Year Selfie!! I love this picture…mostly because it looks like my head is just floating there 😛 hahaha!

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.

This picture was taken once we got onto our scooter to go home (don't worry...we'd each only had 1 drink in the hour we were there!).  The man we met in the elevator made our day when he said "You drive a scooter!?  You're basically locals!!"
This picture was taken once we got onto our scooter to go home (don’t worry…we’d each only had 1 drink in the hour we were there!). The man we met in the elevator made our day when he said “You drive a scooter!? You’re basically locals!!”

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 🙂

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