First of all, Happy Labor Day! Enjoy your last unofficial day of summer.
Not really sure whether to start this post with my massage in the privacy of my own apartment Friday morning for an hour and at the cost of $18 or with yak and a dance. Has to be yak and a dance.
Friday night we went back to the Himalaya restaurant with a few friends and one friend (Hi A!) swinging through GZ for work. Our friend A had a hankering for yak, as one often does. Anders made the mistake of letting me sit in the middle which meant that when the staff was passing out white scarves (meaning you will be participating in the entertainment portion) he was snagged. HaHaHa! He had to dance. It was entertaining but not the way he would have wanted. But to Anders credit, he is a good sport. He sang and danced in front of about 400 people at a P&G event, no kidding. A crowd of 50 strangers? No problem. The best part of the evening though was the stringed instrument player. He played what is called a Morin Khur or horse-headed violin and it only has 2 strings. It had the most haunting sound and I was mesmerized, the man playing wasn’t bad-looking either. The sounds that he made with just 2 strings were amazing and at times his fingers were under the strings to play notes. I wish I had a good video to share but I don’t. I apologize, perhaps next time.
Saturday took us to the pearl market with a new friend whose family won’t be joining him for another year. I bought 2 bracelets and 2 necklaces. I can’t tell you what it’s like to walk in a shop that has bags and bags and bags of pearls just waiting to be strung. You name the shade of white, cream, pink, lilac, black and it’s yours. I managed to get a strand of brown, not a natural color but they dye the natural pearls. I was so tempted to buy for Kiersten but part of the fun is the experience and vice versa. 😉 We then walked around the basement only of a 7 story bead market. Like the “crap Market” the less expensive merchandise is on the lower floors and the quality goes up as you go up. There is stall after stall of beads of every color, gemstone, and price. I walked into a store that sold only red coral, my favorite. There is a variety of colors and on top of that every shape bead imaginable. I could only walk in the basement because I was overstimulated once again. Couldn’t have made up my mind if I wanted to.
Next stop was the Wunderbar for a Pub Day. I had to entice the men in some way to suffer through pearl and bead shopping. I think it’s my favorite bar here and the people are getting to know us. It’s hard when you’re different looking from the other patrons but it’s nice to know that they make an effort. J had never been there so we felt it was our duty to introduce him. Anders had a difficult week traveling as he saw “real” China. He was out with a group driving to distributors and storage facilities in the western part of the country and got a taste of what most of China is truly like. He needed a beer and some Western food. So we ordered 3 liters of Hofbrau Haus Dunkel. I committed to drinking 1 liter but he ordered it anyway and the beauty is that Ben was waiting to drive us home so one doesn’t have to worry about going over any limits. Not that Anders gets drunk but he can enjoy a bit more than the norm when not faced with a DWI. We spent about 2 1/2 hours there talking. Anders roped J into a massage at his favorite place, you know the one where I had my navel pushed until it touched my spine?!?! Ben very kindly took me home.
Sunday was nice because we got to talk to and see Kiersten! Steven popped in for a few minutes while discussing when they thought they’d come for a visit. It was the perfect start to our Sunday. Later we walked about 20 minutes across the river to go to a store that caters to ex-pats. I was making homemade pizza for dinner and needed a few things. We gave the Sunday commuters something to look at as we crossed the busy bridge. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it until the day we leave, they stare. Again, part of the experience.
Sunday night we walked 2 blocks to the Xinghai Concert Hall. It was the season-opening performance of the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra. I tried to order the tickets over the phone but ran into a communication issue when I asked how and where to pick up the tickets. So I gave the brochure to Anders, he gave it to D who ordered, picked up, and delivered the tickets to him. Oh yes, we might have a Chinese contingency with us when we return to the US! The concert hall was very nice, modern, and had good acoustics. It was a full house and a young crowd. Our seats were across from each other with about a 12 inch divide between us, it was there to allow for the curvature of the hall I guess. The nice man sitting next to us offered (hand motions only) to trade seats with Anders so we could be right next to each other. I’m telling you all, they are so kind here! The concert was 95 minutes, straight through, no intermission of slightly over-the-top music. The conductor was animated and so much fun to watch and he looked drained at the end of the performance. I think he left it all on the stand! We applauded for about 10 minutes and he came back to the stage 5 times. The crowd was definitely appreciative but there was no standing ovation. We will be going back. Our seats were fantastic and cheap and the orchestra was very good. I had a surreal moment about halfway through when I realized where I was, what I was doing, looked at the sea of black hair, and realized that I was quite comfortable doing it. It was a great way to end a very pleasant weekend in our new city.