Sorry for no photos (for now). I will upload them as soon as I get home to Seattle. My iPod was out of space to take photos (I had Sharon and Mom take some) and I realized that VPN in Beijing is more stubborn to access compared to the in the other cities. Thus, pictures take forever to load, or not load at all.
So, we have arrived to where we have started last night around 11 pm.
Saying goodbye yesterday to our Grandparents was especially hard… I could not stop my tears even though I told them that we will be back next summer. I will remember and put into action some life lessons that Grandpa told Sharon and me. I hope the next time we come back, we will have improved in our strengths as well as worked on our weaknesses.
Our friend and his mom also stopped by today to say goodbye. I am so grateful to have such a considerate and kind friend in Tongren. (“Hai” is our friend’s English name– he prepared lamented photos with a short note on the back that we took only the day before on our climb on Wenbifeng, secured in a cute little card. So thoughtful of him and his mom! We wrote a letter in English and gave him a pack of strawberry Trident)
Since yesterday was Beijing’s “small-car only” day (for the sake of the quality of the air) where driving large cars would get you a fine, we had to stuff all our luggage in my Aunt’s blue-gray Mercedes. I am so thankful we have our Aunt to be here for us and letting us stay at her amazing place. Taking in our aunt’s familiar perfume and the smell of the city, I felt as if we have just arrived to China and that no time has passed since the beginning of July. Now I realize how glad I am to have captured everything in between on this blog!
Some of the things we ordered from Tongren on Taobao have already arrived for us here. We ordered some sandals and cozy sweaters and they arrived with cute little packaging such as a strawberry-scented air freshener sack. Thank you Aijie and Eryima for helping us order it!
By the time we got into bed, it was already midnight.
The next morning, we woke up pretty late, around 9 AM with a pleasant surprise: deep blue sky, small fluffy white clouds, and birds chirping! I guess the ongoing effort to combat air pollution by the car-size allowance rule work pretty well. All through the morning and after lunch, I was restless to go outside and enjoy the sun.
At about 3PM, Mom, Sharon, and I finally went out to the nearest grocery store, about a 10-minute walk. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we got to section of the mall selling clothes on an insane sale, ¥10-40 for fall clothes! They were of decent quality too, and looked very comfortable and casual, perfect for school. The clothes in Tongren were all of alright quality and appeal, and were priced starting at ¥60. What a find today. Then, we went to the baked, steamed, and fresh goods area. It was literally a glutton’s dream (I’m probably exaggerating this a little, but this was my first thought when we stepped off the escalator). I wanted to try a little of every single food there was because they included foods I cannot find in America. We ended up buying some moon cakes (pumpkin, pineapple, and red bean), pulled pork bun, and a dried date bun. On our way home, we bought fresh dates from a farmer on the street.
Next, Aunt drove us to her company called Orient Landscape to give us a tour. It is not exactly her company but she was one of the few people to start the company decades ago in an apartment with her best friend. Inside is massive and modernly designed with lots and lots of plants everywhere– not a surprise since the company designs landscapes and horticulture and is the #1 sought after landscaping company in Beijing. I was so surprised to see my young and beautiful Mom in the first video gallery wall in the left wing because I did not know she actually worked for them when the crew just got started!
After the tour, we went to the art district called “798”– I thought it meant “Seven Bar” because 98 in Chinese sounds like Bar. It used to be a factory ground a decade ago, but is now completely converted to a hipsters-meet-artists-and-imagination district with graffiti all over the walls, small shops with weird, crazy, and beautiful handmade crafts (crazily priced though). Somehow, this place reminded me of Seattle… Because the goods are all originally created, they did not allow photography of any kind. I am bummed out because I absolutely loved, loved, loved everything. If I get to escape the societal norm of going to college in order to get a 9 to 5 job, I would totally live in this place and create weird art for the rest of my life. Really, I would. Not that many tourists know about this place but they really should. Aunt told me that the whole ground of this district spreads very far and it will take us a whole day or two to completely explore every nook.
We bought crazy big watches because we decided to be crazy for a while. It really is no fun being “normal”.
We got a little hungry so we ate at this resteraunt called _______. Although the food was good but not the best, the inside again, captivated me the whole time. From antique radios hung all the way to the top of the brick columns to the large 1900s movie player right behind where I sat to a pair of rubber boobs on the women’s restroom door. I really liked the fish (plus I found at least 10 wish-bones).
If I come back next summer, I am definitely going to finish exploring this sick place.
I have to sleep now, because tomorrow will be The Last Day in China and must squeeze in all the time and energy I have to see and buy what I must. How insane is that?!