Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A walk in Wuhan

Wuhan has a lot of fall flowers.  In fact, there are so many different flowering plants here that it almost looks like springtime.   I snapped some (**horrible**) shots of some flowers as I was out walking the other day.  I would name them all for you, but I don't know anything about flowers other than they are pretty. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

tea ceremony

There is a lot of tea in China.  As far as I can tell people drink tea all day every day, almost wherever they are.  And as I am discovering there are many many different kinds of tea in China.  Ever heard the saying "I would/wouldn't do/not do that for all the tea in China"  Well that's a lot of tea.  In Chengdu I started drinking tea almost every day to combat the effects of the perpetual gloom that hung over the city.  I think the gloom hurt my eyes and gave me an eyestrain headache, as well as dampening my mood with the whole Seasonal Affective Disorder (which I thought was made up until we went to Chengdu), so I had a cup of tea almost every day.  Which got me thinking, I'm in Chengdu the city of tea drinking, I should learn more about Chinese tea.... Well, that didn't happen.
However, I finally attended a Chinese tea ceremony (it's sort of an elaborate demonstration that they will do at most tea shops) with a lady who knows TONS about Chinese tea.  I still don't know that much about the teas here, but I'm learning a little bit all the time... 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Walking in Wuhan

This past weekend we walked through Jiefang park on our way to lunch.  It was still before 1 so the park wasn't as busy as it gets later in the day, but there were still plenty of couples taking their pre/post wedding pictures.  I also think people just like to take pictures too, because there were lots of couples, or even just girls out in the park taking shots.  I only took one picture on the fly as we were going through, but maybe next weekend I'll take the big camera out and get better shots of the people taking pictures.  (on a side note, it's too bad there's not an Ikea that was always great for getting pictures of people taking pictures)

Apparently Jiefang park is also a place to find your potential mate.  As we were passing through we also happened to find a matchmaking market.
 These sheets of paper have the particulars of the people looking for matches and you can come browse through and pick the ones that have the most interest for you.  My Chinese isn't good enough to tell you if I'm right or not, but it sounded like these are the equivalent of SBF ISO fun loving SJM for drinking pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

First day of school, foreign service Xmas, and a mini moving rant

Due to our move, the holidays and a business trip, yesterday was Babes' first day of Kindergarten.  On a whole, it was not as traumatic for any of us as I thought it might be.  She has to wear a uniform, which she initially objected to ("I don't know about this school thing, how am I to go everyday to school all day not wearing pretty dresses or skirts"), but she seems to have accepted her fate.  I have promised to get her a bunch of pretty hair things and crazy socks.  We went with her on the first day, but she really didn't need us, after the first couple of kids arrived she was busy playing and having fun (as I had hoped).  I however, now have all this free time.... I need a job.

Last week we received the our first shipment of our stuff from Chengdu (for those of you in the know it was our airfreight).  While it was just essentials, dishes, clothes, toys it went a long way towards making this big empty place feel more like home.  FS people often say that receiving a shipment is a lot like Christmas.  Especially because by the time your stuff arrives you have already forgotten what you packed in the boxes, so for every box they unpack you think to yourself "HEY it's THAT!"  Exciting times my friends.

Do you want to know one of the things that irks me about moving every two years?  It's a little thing, you probably don't even think about it, but maybe you don't move every two years...  You know how when you cook on the stove, you reach down and turn on the eye you want without even looking, or how when you walk into a room your hand automatically reaches for the right spot on the wall to flip on the switch?  Well when you move every two years, you can't do that.  Right now I'm in the process of learning a new set of switches, flips, dials, and squeaks.  I walk out of the restroom and keep trying to turn off the bathroom lights from the outside.  I have to flip every living room light switch (for some reason there are EIGHT) to get the right lights to come on.  There are all these random sounds in the house that I don't know where they come from, and we don't have Honeydog yet so I don't know if I have to worry about them, so I'm constantly chasing down noises.  *sigh*  moving pains.  I'll get used to them, but for now I'm still fumbling in the dark.   

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Trip to Metro...

Today it finally stopped raining and Babes and I took the *gasp* bus to Metro.  I know what you are thinking, what's the big deal, she took a bus.  But if you knew me, you would know that I don't like buses.  Maybe it's some left over Orange County prejudice against public transportation, but I'm not a fan of buses.  Subways and trains, love em?  Buses... eh not so much.  Maybe it's because there are almost never good bus maps, so I always feel like I could end up just about anywhere.  Especially in China, the buses are usually crowded and the maps are in Chinese (I might speak Chinese, but I don't read it well). Who knows where the bus will leave me. 
BUT!  Today I gathered myself together, searched google maps and came up with a plan.  (Did you know Google maps will give you public transit too?  I discovered this in Taiwan, but just discovered that it works on the mainland now too) 

Metro is in Wuchang which is across the Yangtze river from us.  We actually got on the bus and got there without any problems at all. 

The inside of Metro is very similar to the one in Chengdu, except that they have a HUGE dairy department (I didn't take any pictures of the inside, I always feel silly taking pictures inside stores, I know I should do it, but.....) Unlike any of the rest of the stores here I was actually able to find Cheese in Metro! 
In Hankou so far I've only been able to find the plastic wrapped cheese food slices (far left), which are fine-sometimes, but I prefer actual cheese, and while this cheese isn't super it's better than nothing (2 years without cheese would have been hardship indeed). 
After the bus ride home, Babes and I stopped for bing (think Chinese burrito) at this place around the corner from us. 
I also didn't get any pictures of the bing being made, mostly because my hands were full and I was too hungry.  I will stop by there again and I promise I will get pictures. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

rainy day plot failure

So today I had epic plans to take a BUS to the Metro (think Costco or Sam's club--sort of).  Babes and I got all dressed up to go out (we took off our yoga pants and put on jeans), but while we were at lunch, IT STARTED RAINING!  So instead of going out for some Wuhan Bing (think Chinese burrito) and a bus ride, we had KFC and watched a movie.  What that means for you, dear reader, is that you get pictures of knitting instead.  OH and a picture of some creative yarn balling from the airport. 

This was my travel solution to turning a bunch of loops of yarn into a ball.  I got some pretty weird looks from people at the airport McDonalds... I mean what, you've never seen a black woman ball yarn, using a carry on suitcase, and a Madame Alexander doll? 
But once the yarn was balled, I started working on a shawl for me.  I'm using the Unique Sheep pima petite that was part of my Xmas gift last year.  I didn't like the pattern that came with it, so I cobbled together a pattern of my own using two different patterns.  I'm only about halfway, so here's some work in progress pics. 
I love the lace leaf edge. Which I got from Janine Le Cras' Lace leaf wrap (you have to be on ravelry to see the link). 

Friday, October 12, 2012

A walk in Wuhan

Some of the things that Babes and I saw while we were walking in Wuhan. 

 These are the new bike share bikes that are all over the city.  I think this is awesome for use in conjunction with the bus lines.  You just pick up a bike when you get somewhere and then turn it back in when your done and hop back on the bus. 
 City chickens!
 I know this last picture is kind of boring, but they have these tents on the corners of most major intersections.  I wonder if they are permanent, or if they are only for the summer?  They definitely did not have these in Chengdu.  

Monday, October 08, 2012

Scenes from Jianghan during the October Holidays

Aside from spending our time looking for cheese (I don't know about you, but my diet is not complete without cheese), we have also looked around in Wuhan for places to hang out and stroll about.  One of the many places to go here is the Jianghan pedestrian street.  It was pretty crowded since we didn't get out until after lunch time AND it is a holiday, but it provided for pretty cool people watching. 

Friday, October 05, 2012

The October Holidays

Our first week in Wuhan has coincided with the October holidays in China.  The holidays are officially considered to be the National Holiday, and this year they also happened to coincide with the Mid-Autumn festival.  The upshot being that right after our arrival all official functions have been shut down for the past week.  But it has given us an excellent opportunity to explore our new city as a family, instead of just me, or me and Babes trying to figure things out on our own.  Normally we arrive in country and the Mister is whisked off to work at 8 am the following morning. 
I digress,  the Mid Autumn festival is actually a pretty fun one, businesses give out mooncakes to all of their contacts, and I think families and friends give them out too.

 (I wonder if they will eventually go the way of the fruit cake and those Hickory farms gift boxes that we used to get around Christmastime when I was a kid? )  Mooncakes can be savory or sweet, elaborate, or simple.  I have seen them filled with fruit, eggs, some sort of fish paste, nuts, chocolate, meat, etc...

The ones we got from Starbucks last year were the best ones that I've ever had, but probably the least traditional.  I also find that the boxes that mooncakes come in are pretty useful.  They usually involve drawers, and lids, and make excellent storage for doll clothes and other tiny doll accessories.

Aside from eating mooncakes, you are also supposed to view the moon, light lanterns, and eat pomelos.  It is also a traditional time for matchmaking, and we have seen tons of wedding processions to mark the occasion.