We spent our first Christmas Eve day in China, Guangzhou style. It was very multi-cultural. Here’s how it went down.
- Gave Ben his Christmas gift even though he doesn’t celebrate Christmas. He is definitely one person that deserves a gift.
- Went to the fabric market and ordered 3 custom-made shirts for Andrew. I surprised myself with how well I was able to communicate with the tailor in Mandarin.
- Stopped at an instrument store to look for a Christmas gift for Andrew. Ben was unable to drop us off at the door and we had to walk 50 yards! Can you believe it? There are no 12-string guitars in Guangzhou. Actually that’s not true because Andrew saw one in the Crap Market yesterday.
- Then we went in search of jade, as in a gift for Andrew and myself. Ben took us to his friend’s shop. We were escorted up the dark, dank, dangerous, dilapidated, and dismal back stairs and when that happens you know you’re going to get the good stuff. After he opened what looked like a safe room he brought out 3 metal boxes all containing JADE! After much sorting through bracelets, Buddhas, fishes, peas, dragons, and circles we made our choices. I now have a beautiful bracelet and Andrew chose a pendant that will guarantee success, wealth, happiness, longevity, and luck. The carving is of a dragon, fish, ancient coins, leopard, and waves (or cloud, we don’t know for sure). Ii is quite beautiful. The best part is that Ben’s friend is the man who carves and creates these incredible pieces of jewelry. It was an experience I will never forget and hope to recreate before we leave China.
- Then we had the traditional Christmas luncheon at Bosphorus, a Turkish restaurant. Kebabs, hummus, and pita bread for all. Did Mary and Joseph have hummus on the original Christmas Eve?
- On the way to our next stop, Ben took us to a Dao Buddhist Temple. It was beautiful and the smell of incense added to the religious feel. We will definitely go back when we have more time to spend and fully appreciate the architecture and murals.
- The bead market area was next in order to purchase a string for Andrew’s pendant so that he could actually wear it as a necklace and not just tote it around in a box. The funny thing is that Anders, Ben, and I all at one point told Andrew to be careful and not lose it. Now that it’s on his neck, no worries.
- In order to get home we continued on a small street that was antique alley. We saw shops full of old furniture and Chinese bric-à-brac. There were also very small shops where we could see men repairing furniture with hand tools. There was a large open area where people had blankets set up on the ground and were selling things, just like a flea market. We stopped. We had to. It was too good to pass up. After wandering around Andrew spotted yet another gift. Nunchucks – what every person wants to see under the Christmas tree. Ben asked how much they were and was told 800RMB. We walked away. We meandered some more and then sent Ben in to act as our agent. He’s a master, he got them for 200RMB ($30) but in retrospect he thinks he paid, “Some high.” He said that when he handed her the money her face lit up and he should have bargained harder. Still it’s better than what we would have paid, way better. I am definitely going back to that street.
- The last thing we did was visit a 7-11. It had come up in conversation that I had never stepped foot in one and had never tasted a Slurpee. Anders made is a mission to “fix me by” the end of the day. We were spoiled for choice as there are hundreds of them in GZ. Anders bought me a Coke Slurpee. I rarely drink soda and when I do it’s NEVER regular Coke. It was gross. When we got back in the car I felt the need to have someone explain to Ben why we had to stop at a 7-11. He was incredulous! He couldn’t believe that someone had never bought something in a 7-11. Now the box is ticked and I never have to do that again. (Anders did not want to waste his 75¢ so when we got home he added bourbon to it and proceeded to finish it.)
To say we had fun would be putting it mildly. My favorite moment of the day was after lunch when Ben presented us with Christmas gifts. He doesn’t celebrate Christmas but knew we did and wanted to make it special for us. It was from the heart and he was so pleased with himself. I also think that he went out of his way to make sure that Andrew had a good experience. Ben drove us through parts of GZ that I’ve never seen. It was not the typical way to spend Christmas Eve day but one that I will always remember.
This was written with the help of Anders and Andrew (who was playing Anders’ guitar) in the glow of the TV tower that has a special Christmas light show.
7PM – 55°