Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 15, 2009 - Mom & Dad are Leaving on a Jet Plane....

Just thought I'd write a bit more about mom and dad's stay now that they are on a plane back over the pond and we've had a chance to sort through the rest of our pics. It was a fantastic two weeks, Mike and I were super glad they came and had an awesome time both chilling out in Kunming and hitting the tourist track. Since Mom and Dad aren't much for blogging, I thought I'd post a few more pictures and paraphrase some of their observations from while they were here.

First of all, they definitely seemed to enjoy themselves. Of course our company was stellar, as per usual.... but China didn't disappoint, either :)

So here goes, a "Top 10" and "Bottom 5" with mom & dad's favourites as
well as some of their least favourite parts while they were here in Yunnan, China....

TOP 10...

10) Lijiang and Dali's Scarves
Apparently Mom could just not get enough of these... sorry to spoil the surprise for all those at home who might end up with some of the spoils, but it just had to be mentioned, as I believe she may have very well cleaned the scarf shops out for the season... :)

(Yes, this girl is hand-weaving a scarf on a loom of some kind in traditional dress while texting on her iPhone-like device :)

9) Funny signs
Like us, the funny translations also amused mom & dad quite a bit...

8) KTV
A.k.a. Chinese Karaeoke. A night out at the local KTV was our birthday/christmas present for mom and dad, and it was a neat experience, which they also seemed to like. No crowds like karaeoke at home, but there's tonnes of it and it feels a little like a huge movie theatre with a bunch of rooms to party in... complete with popcorn and beer...

7) No Tipping
This surprised them alot... not only is tipping not really a thing here, but anyone they tried to tip very adamantly refused. Very different from travelling in other more heavily-touristed countries where there are automatic "tips" and charges added just for being tourists, the fact that people would run down the street to give them their 2 kuai of change (about 35 cents) really threw mom and dad for a loop.

6) Tea
Mom's birthday/christmas present was a tea tasting and some of China's best tea to take home. The experience was enlightening for the both of us, and we ended up learning how to brew our tea much more skillfully, and realizing how much better tea here tastes. As a result, mom is bringing home enough tea to last at least three years, including both local specialties like Pu'er and San Qi Hua, as well as about every other kind of tea people drink here in China...

5) Traffic
You'd think this might be a part of the "Bottom 5," but judging by the enjoyment they got from watching and taking pictures of it from the taxi or our balcony, I'm pretty sure it was a source of entertainment more than anything else!

4) Prices
At first it's hard to get used to, but once you realize that it's hard to pay more than $4/meal for food at most restaurants in town, that 2 hrs of massage is $15 at the most expensive spots, etc... well, it's a fun novelty, that's forsure. We're a little worried we got them a little TOO used to it. They actually flew directly from here to Las Vegas and Arizona for the holidays, so we're still worried that the culture shock might overwhelm them and they might end up bartering with the hotel staff for cheaper food, rooms, etc....

3) Lijiang
Normally a very over-crowded tourist trap, turns out that early December is a fantastic time to visit. The weather was sunny and spring-like, there were definitely enough tourists but certainly no crowds, and the city was just beautiful... they were quite impressed.

2) Food
Okay, Mike and I have just loved the food here, we've mentioned it alot. That said, we've been here 3 months and have a month in relatively rural southeast asian territory coming up, so this past week or so we've been craving a little bit of the delicious western food here in Kunming while we can still get it. No such luck... Mom and Dad loved the chinese stir fries, hot pots and noodle soups so much that they wouldn't let us eat practically anywhere else until they left.

1) People
One of the biggest differences between Canada and China is the large number of people - everywhere. With Mom being a tad bit clausterphobic and Dad not a fan of crowds, you'd have thought this would have been a problem. It wasn't. They seemed to get used to it almost immediately - their favorite pastime was soon just wandering the streets people watching.... people in the parks, people in the train stations, people counting us as they saw us coming "1, 2, 3,.... 4 waiguoren!" or people playing mah-jong on the street corners. They found the atmosphere almost festive, and loved how friendly almost everyone was to us. Like us, for them the people definitely made the trip!

Bottom 5...

Okay, so their dislikes weren't many, which is why I couldn't come up with more than 5.

5) Mala
"Mala" is the chinese word for the classic sichuan flavour of numbing spice. They loved the spicy but like us, couldn't get used to the numbing of the tongue that followed in some dishes. I tried asking for "la" (spicy) without the "ma" (numb) to no avail.

4) Lack of heating
Normally, the weather here is great so the lack of insulation in the houses and resulting lack of heating isn't a problem. The first few days were a little chilly here so mornings were a little tough. That said, calling back home to Saskatoon where it was -45C helped us all deal with it a little more easily.

3) Air
Even though Kunming is by far the best city for smog we've seen so far, they still noticed it. I actually hate complaining so much about the smoggy air here, for good reasons that Mike is planning on explaining in an upcoming post... That said, it's hard not to notice and the pinch in the throat did also catch up with mom and dad, too.

2) Spitting
This one particularly bugged Dad. We all found that Chinese people are extremely polite in some ways that seem a little over the top to us.... On the other hand, they spit a lot in public. For them, we've learned it's a matter of health. There was even an article in the paper about a guy who caused a traffic accident while spitting out the window, but the spitting was "necessary, of course, because he had a fever.." I have heard before that it really is a matter of health for them. Anyway, it's just one of those cultural differences that they couldn't really get used to...

1) Flights here and home
The flight here was a tough one - long, crowded and noisy. That said, we'd like to think that one of the worst parts of their trip was having to get back on the plane again. They seemed to really enjoy themselves here, and I am happy to say that the part they seemed to enjoy the least was leaving both us and China.

Thanks for visiting guys, we loved it!!

No comments: