Monday, January 26, 2009

Day Six in Zhuhai - Chinese New Year

To celebrate the new year we got up early to have a traditional meal with Uncle Po and the rest of the Yuans. Uncle Po had reserved a luxurious private dining room in the hotel that was opulently furnished for us to have our morning repast. Instead of running late, like we feared, we were the first to arrive by about fifteen minutes and had an opportunity to peruse Jeffrey's baby albums, much to his chagrin. It's hard to believe that he was born sixteen years ago and that we were all so different back then.

Anywho, we had what was essentially the same meal as we had last night because it is the traditional meal and we're been dining in hotels. It was fun to see them all again and Aunt Helen, Uncle Po's wife, showed us some of the pictures that she's taken as she is an avid photographer. Unfortunately she doesn't speak English and I don't speak Chinese, otherwise we might have had a lot of fun chatting.

Another part of Chinese New Year is the giving of lai see to the young and the old and we benefitted from it as well! Many of the envelopes were fat with cash and, as Jeffrey exclaimed on the way home from breakfast, "I'm rich!" His only concern was that if you bring in more than 8,000 yuan to exchange for Hong Kong dollars they ask for identification and it is a much longer process. What a terrible thing to have to deal with!

Jeffrey with his aunt, Nancy's youngest sister.

Jeffrey with his cousin who apparently is very accomplished at school. She is the daughter of Nancy's youngest sister.

With breakfast complete we returned to Nancy's house to change clothes and go with Jeffrey to the sports club. While that may sound unexciting it is actually a large members-only complex with a gym, a theatre and numerous other modern amenities. We walked through the neighborhood and past the security gates to hail a taxi. Now, you have to understand, there are no real rules of the road in China and the police presence is minimal so the cab drivers are completely insane. They cross multiple lanes of traffic, drive on the wrong side of the road, dart in and out of slower moving vehicles, cut off busses and all sorts of vehicular madness. Plus, they use their horns A LOT, it's is mostly to warn cars, bikes, pedestrians, etc. that they are coming and to move quickly out of their way. There is no anger or annoyance, just lots and lots of honking!

Unfortunately, because of the new year, the sports center was closed but we did get to see a quite remarkable structure. Defeated, we hailed another taxi and too a whirlwind ride to the commercial center for a little window shopping. Again we were thwarted by the holiday and gave up in disgust to return to the house only to be greeted by more bad news, Nancy had the keys to the house and she and David were off having lunch with more friends and family!

Since we were at a loss we took a walk through the neighborhood and Jeffrey pointed out all the abandoned homes, the homes half completed and those undergoing renovations only as time and money allow. Otherwise they stand completely unused and mouldering. At Nancy's insistence (via a phone call) we went to the bowling alley where we played a couple games. Shockingly, I did quite well as I am normally an appalling bowler!

After our little outing and recreation we returned home to rest and relax after a late evening yesterday and an early morning today. That's when I took the time to finish preparing the photos for yesterday's blog post so I hope you'll excuse it's later-than-normal publication. Dinner was scheduled for 6:30 so we had some time to ourselves.

Our dinner companions were to be the Chen family who are David's son's (Patrick) girlfriend Patricia and her family as Patrick is leaving to return to the US tomorrow. They're such great people, even though they don't speak English they tried to include us in their conversations and Laura and I had a few good laughs when we could tell that Patrick was getting a lecture and all the parents were giving advice and poking a little fun at him. I think one of the most enduring memories of Zhuhai is going to be how much people laugh and enjoy themselves. As for the food, it was the same traditional meal as we had this morning with a few added dishes. Just went we thought the meal must be finished they brought out more food and then more food and yet more food!

Completely stuffed, we said our goodbyes to Patrick and the Chens and headed home. With our planned departure to Hong Kong tomorrow we need to pack a bit before we can go to bed so I am off to pack!

Not many pictures today as there was little in the way of sightseeing, maybe tomorrow but I'm not sure because we're dining with a few more people and then, apparently, doing a little shopping, before heading to the big city so who knows?

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