Monday, June 27, 2011

A Sad Goodbye

We had an amazing visit with Granny and from the moment of her arrival to our goodbye waves at the security gate a Beijing Airport, we stayed busy...Joanne and Granny, comment to add more of our fun times!

Dinner party at the neighbor's house
Friday Happy Hour on the Cul-de-sac
Brunch at a friend's home
The Pearl Market
The Toy Market, of course
The River Garden Resident's Appreciation Party
A farewell enchilada dinner for a friend moving on
Two full days exploring ISB and meeting the boy's teachers
Various cab rides to visit Joanne at work
Fuel at Langham Place Hotel
Five Star living at the Grand Hyatt and The Oasis Pool
Tien An Man Square
The Forbidden City
The Night Market
The Great Wall - Huanghuacheng
Softball games at WAB
Great Leap Brewery in DaoJiao Hutong
Poolside at RG
Tuk-Tuk Purchase in ShunYi Urban Area
Gin Rummy Tournament(s)
Ho Hai Park
798 Art district

In the opening Chapter of The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway suggests that as a newly arrived Long Islander it wasn't until someone asked him directions - and he could answer - that he felt like he was truly arrived.  I echo his sentiment and suggest that Granny's visit did more for me than just provide her wonderful company and the much needed hugs from a loved one we had only seen on Skype for the past four months.  It provided the chance to show her our life here, and that's all we did, just show it to her.  We negotiated for beads and pearls, we got her around in crazy cab rides and hired cars, we ordered food in the restaurant,  we walked to the coffee shop.  For the first time since our arrival, we became the one doing the showing instead of the one having everything shown to us, and this marks a significant change in our life here.  We best get used to it.  While I am new to expat life, it is old hat for many people here, and they shake hands and move on to Brussels, or Brasilia or Baghdad (or DC).  Our street is full of moving trucks and many of our new found acquaintances are packing out and leaving, some have gone already.  In just a few weeks, we will no longer be the new arrivals, and just as we did with granny, we will have to show the way to someone more newly arrived than us.

Lakeside Wall - Huanghuacheng

"Daddy, there is a woman with a scythe down there asking us for money, what should we do?"

"A what," I said

"A scythe."

"A what?"

"A scythe, you know a stick with a curved knife on the end."



"Alright, you stay here, I'll check it out."

Yep, she wanted 2 yuan per person to pass through her land.  The scythe as it turned out was just that, a scythe.  I am not sure if I was more interested in the fact that our boys who had wandered on ahead down the mountain path, had actualy encountered a woman holding a scythe, or that they actually knew what a scythe was, identified this tool as such and came back and used the term correctly.

She sat on a stone with a sign,  appearing to be in her 80s, weathered, holding her scythe.  At this point I realized it was not to scare elementary schoolers, but instead to reap the tree fruit which hung all along this mountainside.

We paid her and continued down the path from our journey to Huanghuacheng, or Lakeside Wall as driver Tom had pitched it to us.  We had been to the touristy Mutiyanu as one of our first ventures outside of our compound and into "real" China, but this trip was a totally different experience, and one of my favorite places I've ever been in my life.

The terrain was tough; we had pay various taxes to the landowners around the wall to gain access; moreover, on our climb up, the locals were shooting M80 firecrackers off, and for a few moments, I thought we were being shot at, I think Joanne and Granny did too.  We had to climb an old iron ladder to a window of a guard post to enter the wall, and some of the footing was extremely challenging in places.  But man, when I got on top of that wall, I felt like I was on top of the world!

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Top of the World!

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More from Huanghuacheng

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