Monday, February 28, 2011

Friday, February25th- Embroiderytown

We headed to embroiderytown today. I had Mr. Shen as a driver to take Val and I over to the meeting place then on to the area itself. There were about 15 of us going, so we carpooled with ladies who had drivers. Val and Susanna rode with me. These are the same ladies I had so much fun with in Leathertown...why change it up now? It's about a 40 minute drive, so we caravan together and head out.

Vivid Song Dynasty-style brocades are a Suzhou specialty. The style, known variously as "Su embroidery," "Suzhou embroidery," and "boudoir embroidery"—the latter because it was traditionally practiced by young women awaiting marriage—involves vivid colors, intricate patterns, images of flowers, birds, characters and fine needlework. Developed over some 2,600 years, the contemporary art includes a unique double-sided embroidery style, and can be found adorning everything from petite handkerchiefs to room-spanning screens.

There are many, many shops along both sides of this street. What we were all surprised about was not much bargaining was taking place. This is pretty common, especially in big tourist areas. So, not much buying was being done. This was really shocking because it was a very SLOW day....we didn't see hardly any people in the shops actually shopping. Oh well, I did pick up two little embroidered items that I plan on getting framed. Here they are:

After some shopping, we headed over to one of the local Chinese restaurants for lunch. Here is what was in the lobby:
a wall of fish

and here are FROGS:

We were taken up to the third floor to a HUGE table that accommodated all of us with the biggest lazy susan in the middle of the table that I have ever seen! I had to take a picture of one of the items I was introduced to at my first Chinese lunch and it was ordered again today:
It's corn pie! The hilarious thing's got squiggles of mayo on it and then sprinkled with multi-colored sprinkles! Yes...SPRINKLES! It's actually pretty tasty!

My lunch plate is here:
Some rice noodles, some beef, and that round green thing...I had NO idea what it was...but it was really good! It had sesame seeds around the edge and it had a nice flavor, but it sure looked strange!
We did a bit more browsing and even went down a side street to some little vendors. Anyone for a cloth plaid toilet seat cover?
We headed back around 3:00PM. All in all, it was a fun day with my international friends and I'm looking forward to our next outing.

Friday, February 25, 2011

High Tea Thursday

I had to call C to find out which gate of my apartment complex she and C2 were picking me up at. She had texted me the day before and told me gate 2. Well, there are three gates and I had absolutely no clue which one is which! So, she tells me...SHE has numbered the gates herself and gate 2 is the one nearest my apartment. Alrighty then...I'll be ready for pickup at 12:30. They were there promptly with C2's driver and off we go to pick up P. Oh...we are picking up P? Great...the more the merrier, and I know and like P. Mark and I seem to run into her and her family a lot when we are out and about on the week-ends. It's no surprise really, our apartments are pretty much in the same neighborhood and the Westerners seem to frequent a lot of the same establishments.
So, off we go to have tea at a place in Moon Harbor:

Enjoy English Afternoon Tea at Rose House Located at Moon Harbor: Rose House, a branded tea house originated in Taiwan, has opened a store in Suzhou at Moon Harbor. With the trademark rose-themed interior decoration, the store displays poetry on rose, pictures about roses, as well as the introduction about English tea party, afternoon tea, and tea sets.
It is a beautiful place with flower covered, wing back comfy chairs and looks very much like an English tea room. I couldn't take pictures because the ladies I was with informed me that they really "frown" upon it for fear of replication??? Really??? The land of replication and copy and I can't take a photo of my friends and I enjoying afternoon tea in China?? Okay...I will follow the rules (this time). It was a very enjoyable, leisurely afternoon tea. I had never met C2 and she is an absolute HOOT! We had a great time just chatting about husbands, (how we all met them), traveling (some of these ladies have been all over the world), and getting to know one another better. It's nice to know we all have a bit of dysfunction in our families! :)
We then decided to go do a bit of shopping in old Suzhou. They knew of little shops along the oldest road in Suzhou called the Pingjiang District I took a few photos:
This is a well that was used in the community a very long time ago to obtain water.

These are VERY OLD homes located off the main street down this street

A picture of the canal that runs along the street

Anyone for a boat ride in the canal?

A lovely window display of the many silk and embroidery items made and sold in Suzhou

We only spent an hour down there, but have already planned a return trip on March 10th! Not enough time today to see and do all that we wanted to do! Where does the day go?? I am looking forward to our return trip with this incredible threesome of ladies!

Bargaining at Leathertown- Wednesday February 23rd

Wow it was an early start to a very busy day! Met up with Val at the gate of the apartment complex to walk down to Singa Plaza where the bus was picking us up to take us to "Leathertown"

Haining China Leather Town

  Set up in 1994, the Haining China Leather Town has grown into a special leather market with the largest size and greatest influence in China. In 2007, it started to undertake reconstruction in order to cover the China Jeans Town, the Raw and Assisting Materials Market, the Shoes Square, the Business Complex, the Street of Food and Drink, the Electronic Games Town, the Relaxation Square, and large-sized underground parking. By the end of December 2007, the raw materials, jeans and shoes markets went into service. Construction was also completed for the name-brands showroom, business complex and integrated service buildings

It was a two hour bus ride. So, we departed at 8:30 and arrived at about 10:45 (we did stop off at a "rest stop" area for a bathroom break)Wish I would have had my camera handy for that! That's another topic of discussion I will leave for a later date. You just never know what "type" of toilet facilities you will encounter....Oh, the benefits of living and traveling in China!! :)
So, the group of about twenty of us disembarked the bus and hit the ground till you drop!!! I ended up hanging with Susanna(a Finnish gal) and Val(my English neighbor). We had a blast!! The bargaining and haggling with the vendors was soooo much fun! Susanna is one tough haggler, and I must say...I was pretty good too! Val kept saying she was NEVER going shopping again unless she had one of us with her!! :) We got some GREAT deals! I got a couple of nice, big leather handbags, a leather wallet, and a business card holder for all of $75.00! My "booty" I got is here:
****The chocolate brown one converts to a backpack as well! Pretty cool actually. Love my patterned one too. That was a great that for over 1/2 off the original price they were asking! SCORE!!

We had a great time. We ate our "sack lunches" at a food court area, to the many stares of people walking by and scoping out what we were eating. A couple of people even stood by the table and watched for a couple of minutes! It was pretty entertaining, and I'm sure the "interlopers" felt the same way. Glad we could accommodate you. Move along people...nothing to see here!! LOL!
It was fun to go to some of the clothing areas as well. Holding up a shirt marked XXXXL...thinking "hmmmm... this is a size Medium back home in the USA!" Seriously, this culture is so tiny in stature! I feel like an Amazon woman standing by some of these Chinese women (and men for that matter!)
We stayed until 3:00 and boarded the bus back to Suzhou. We were going to catch a taxi back to the apartment complex...but as we were walking back, we realized we were over 1/2 way what's the sense of catching a taxi? I said goodbye to my walking companions and headed to the apartment. Mark is gone on a business trip to Beijing I am on my own for the evening. I decided to ordered Indian food in...another benefit to living in Suzhou. They have a company called "Sherpa's" that delivers food to your door from a selection of over 28 restaurants in the city for a mere 30 RMB ($4.61). So...that's what I did. I was pretty tired from all the walking and shopping. It was an early night for bed by 10:00 and off to "Dreamland" What a fun day!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Monday Moanin' and Mahjong Tuesday

Another Monday, Mark is off to work...and I have a paper due by Thursday I have to get started. This is the last week of my nursing ethics class. I have one more class before I start my specialization courses (teaching). Wow...I have just 7 classes left before I finish.
I just worked on my paper and went for a walk. In the evening, Mark picked me up and we went to Malone's for dinner for the weekly burger. He brought along a work colleague who is here from the U.S., Alabama to be exact. He is quite the character. Good thing that I went along, Mark spent the better part of dinner on the phone for a conference call! I'll tell you, my husband's job is demanding and he works hard! So, Gary and I talked over dinner and he really had some interesting and hilarious stories of his trips to China over the last 7 years. I ran into C and W with their husbands who decided to try out Malone's after I told them about the delicious burger and the Monday night deal when we got together for lunch the prior week. I think word is getting out about the great food and the Monday night "deal". It was really starting to get busy when we were leaving. We headed back home to the apartment and Mark had more conference calls. I worked on the computer and Skyped my sister to wish her a "Happy Birthday". It was a nice visit until the connection got bad. Off to do some reading and then bedtime.
Tuesday I went to get a manicure. I walked over early (my appointment was for 9:00am). I stopped at Starbucks for a coffee and headed over to the office building to go to my appointment. Oh my!!! There are lines for the elevators! divided for floors 2-12 and 13-25. The lines are long and I am shocked! Then I first appointment with Jennifer was 2 days before Chinese New a lot of people were off on holiday already, so that is why I did not experience this 3 weeks ago! Well, I get on an elevator (it is packed!)but I squeeze my "queen-sized ass" in, because as my husband says " In China..he who hesitates is lost....or misses the elevator!" So, up to the 5th floor I go (thank goodness I am right in front of the door and the first stop!)Success! I get my manicure and make an appointment for March 15th for a mani-pedi. I am wise and make it for 9:15...the crowds should be much lighter at the office building since most people have to be to work at 9:00am. Let's hope that's enough time for the crowds to disburse to their jobs!! This is a prime example to let you know how many people are actually in this city. It is considered a "small" city of 7 million people!!
Val calls to ask if I want to walk over with her to play mahjong this afternoon. I agree to meet her at the gate of the apartment complex. It's a big group this week. 5 tables of four. I sat at the "newbie" table since I only played once before. I met a few new people and played with a lady from Germany and another from Austria. The leader/moderator also played with us to get us familiar with the game. It was a fun afternoon. I looked at my phone after playing and see that I missed 7 calls from my husband! He tried calling that many times...something must be I return his call only to discover he was calling telling me not to prepare dinner he wants to take Gary to dinner to ...La Casa Vostra! (YEAH!) This is the wonderful and delicious Italian place! YUMMY!!! Double SCORE! I don't have to cook and I get to eat at my favorite place!!
Needless to say, we have an outstanding meal, and I of course have to have my dessert. This is a must since the owner changed the cake of the dessert I didn't I feel obligated to partake! :) I am not is scrumptious! To bed early I have an early start in the AM... I'm meeting val at 8:00am to walk over to meet the group of EAS ladies to go to leathertown. It's about a 20 minute the bus is picking us up at 8:30 (it takes two hours to get there). So..I bid adieu for now!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Week-end of February 19-20th

Another week-end has come and gone. Mark and I didn't really do anything exciting. We went for breakfast on Saturday, did some food shopping, then came home. I did some homework, he watched a movie...We reheated leftover Indian food for dinner, then watched Dexter for a couple of episodes.Such a boring married couple we are sometimes...but I like boring on occasion.
Sunday was just a comfortable, lazy kind of day. I worked on a paper for school, Mark did some work... we stayed in all day, made breakfast and dinner in together, just hung out at home the apartment.
This week ahead is I will be posting about my adventures out and about this week. Plus, Mark has to go to Beijing Wed/Thursday, so I will be on my own...that could be interesting... :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Busy Girl!

It's been a pretty busy and hectic week. More so because of school and having to do a lot of reading. I did manage to squeeze in some time to spend with my new international friends though. I went and checked out the western "library" they have established for EAS members. It is located in one of the members homes. There is 3 bookshelves full of books. All kinds, fiction, non-fiction, history, and humor. I was quite surprised by the selection. I picked up a Michael Creighton book dealing with some medical mystery. I haven't started it yet, so I figure it will be good for when I have a bit of free time...which isn't very often lately! :)
I also met my friend C for lunch before we headed to the library. She brought along a lady I had not met. She was very interesting. W is American, but raised in Taiwan. She spoke fluent Chinese as well as English. She works here, as does her husband. She is another lady that is full of information and a good contact to have. We enjoyed our lunch at a place called J&J (an Italian place) and located right in the apartment complex and just one building over from me.
At the library/coffee gathering, I met more ladies I hadn't met. A couple of them from Germany, and another from Sweden. I am so impressed with how well these ladies speak English (as a second language!) It borders on embarrassing that I only speak English...I guess this may encourage me to really step up learning Chinese! Mark and I will be starting formal Chinese language classes next month. I will also continue with my Rossetta ain't easy folks...but I'm no quitter!
On Friday, needlecraft/knitting is held at one of the ladies apartments...and then usually lunch. I was unable to go to the needlecraft get together, but I texted one of the ladies to ask if they were going to lunch after. I got a text back to come meet them...they would wait at the entrance of the apartment complex where they were. It's only about a 15 minute walk from I told them I would meet them at the designated place and time. So, I ventured out at about 11:45 to meet them at 12 noon. I decided to take a different way then what I knew...thinking I could go this particular way....WRONG! Where I thought I could cut through was a totally different apartment complex! Nice move idiot!!! So, I ended up walking about 1.5 miles out of my way...and was late (by about 10 minutes). The ladies were kindly waiting for me. Lesson learned....take the way you know!!!
We ended up at a Chinese restaurant. I've made a decision....I always thought I didn't like Chinese food, I've discovered I don't like WESTERN CHINESE FOOD!! I really like the Chinese food in China!! So, there you have it. The Chinese I've had in America the few times I had it...was fried, greasy, and just plain yucky! The Chinese food I've had in China..has been fresh, flavorful, and delicious! Oh...and the price is unbeatable. There was 8 of us and our bill was 165 RMB = $25.38 US dollars!! Yep...lunch cost me a whole three dollars and that included tea! Gotta love that! The best part of lunch? Having it with 4 Finnish, 1 German, 1 Swede, and 2 English women! How cool is that?? I was the only American in the bunch! I have to ask my lucky am I to experience this in my lifetime? Pretty darn lucky that's for sure!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Machines, buttons, and switches..oh my!

Things are definitely different here when it comes to buttons on washing machines:

Yes...those are the buttons on my washing machine. What do they say? Heck if I know...but I do know the clothes are clean when I take them out to place in the dryer (which takes FOREVER to dry clothes!). The squares all light up with numbers...and I have no clue what they all mean. Maybe one of these days I'll learn what they mean when I can get someone here to read Chinese and interpret it!
Take a look at the light switches:

These switches/buttons are in all rooms and it allows you to turn lights off in all the other rooms from the one you are using...pretty convenient huh? Well, I still consistently turn on/off the wrong one. Ask poor Mark, on more than one occasion he has been enveloped in total darkness ....thanks to yours truly. If you see, they have pics next to them to show you which rooms..I still have problems. Oh, and they are on the outside of the door. Heading into the bathroom, you better put the light on OUTSIDE the door where this lovely panel is located. I have been known to forget that too. What is wrong with ONE switch for that room on the INSIDE of the room you using? I'm just asking......

Monday, February 14, 2011

Vegetable madness!

I've talked to my Mom and sister on Skype about this and showed them via webcam...carrots are huge! I cannot believe just how really big they are! Here is a pic:
One carrot was plenty to feed mark and I as a side for dinner.

I don't know what it is with the produce here...but I'll tell you one is "THE BOMB" The freshness and flavorfulness (is that even a word??) is aweswome! I am betting that it has to do with the lack of pesticides and other things used by other countries. Whatever it is, I am enjoying the fruits and vegetables here. It's a good thing I listened to Mom growing up when she said..."eat'em they're good for you!" Thanks Mom!

The week-end of February 11-12th

I made plans to meet C at Starbucks for coffee on Friday afternoon. She is such a nice gal, and I really like spending time with her. She is the one who has been here for 4 years and is a wealth of info. We had a nice visit and walked back. We talked about getting our spouses together and all of us going out to dinner,so hopefully, next week-end we can make that happen. Week days are difficult because the guys who come over here to work put in insane hours. They work all day come home, eat dinner...then the USA is waking up's more work..conference calls, emails and more phone calls. Mark puts in 16 hour days. It's crazy!

I got a bit of a surprise when Mark came home from work on Friday. We had planned to go to the Blue Marlin for dinner, but oh that husband of mine...he had other plans and took me to that wonderful Italian restaurant (La Cosa Vostra). It is sooo yummy. I tried a different pasta dish that was delicious. While there, the owner came over and said that he remembered I didn't care for the dessert I had gotten on a previous visit (it was chocolate cake...too dry and too bitter!)So, he told me he changed the cake and wanted me to try it and let him know how it was. Really? I didn't like a dessert and he changed the cake? Wow! Talk about customer service! Well, this was so much better! It was moist and decadent (being the chocoholic I am...remember this is a gal who has a magnet on her locker at work that states "Chocolate Slut")So, I guess now, every time we go there I'll have to have "my" dessert. Poor me! LOL!
We then headed over to the Blue Marlin for a night cap and listen to the band for a bit. I ran into one of the ladies I know who just got back from a trip to Malaysia. She looked like the sun and warmth did her good! I am very blessed to have met so many nice women here!
We headed home...because Mark had to work in the AM. It was a very nice "date night".

Mark is off to work, and I did homework and just hung around the apartment. It's a chilly day and cloudy...when is this weather going to warm up? I was hoping to go out on my Ebike, but it's just too darn cold!
We decided to try the pizza place that others have told me is good. So, we went to the pizza place, and I must was pretty good. It will do when you have a craving for pizza. They also have a special deal on Tuesdays with a buy one get one free. Sounds like a good idea to do this occasionally and freeze the other one and pop it in the oven on a different night. We then headed back home to the apartment and continued with watching the Showtime series Dexter. Oh...this is a great show! We are on season 4 and it's something we both like to watch. That is saying a lot, since we rarely show an interest in the same TV shows. Off to sleepy land and tomorrow is Sunday. Mark is off (yea!)and I am sure he'll want to walk over to Casa Zoe for breakfast (did I tell you what a creature of habit my wonderful husband is?) Till next time....

Friday, February 11, 2011

TGIF...well, it really doesn't matter...I am unemployed!

As I sit here pondering what I am going to write, out the window I see the hustle and bustle of the city waking up and people heading off to work. I miss working. I never really thought of it before, but it really does give you a purpose and kind of defines who you are. I am a nurse, but I haven't "been a nurse" for over a month now...and I miss it.
It feels quite strange...being in a foreign country and trying to adapt to this new way of life. Don't get me wrong...I'm not complaining, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity that I am very glad I could take advantage of. It's just another chapter in my life.
On other news...well I went to the EAS meet and greet coffee yesterday and visited with the ladies. It was nice to hear about some of the vacations in sunny and warm places. I also was told...I am no longer "a rookie", as there were a couple of new members that joined the group yesterday. One of the ladies even said..."nope she is no longer a rookie...she stepped right up and even wrote the article for the last outing that we took to the Silk Factory" When the leader asked for a volunteer to write up an article for the newsletter, no one appeared to want to do I said I would. I write so much for school...I figured "what the heck" was a pretty easy thing to do. Come to find out...I have done my "due diligence" for the year now! Sometimes it pays off to step up! :)
After the coffee get together, Val and I headed over to a vegetable and fruit market I learned of that is near the apartment complex where we live. Mr. Shen drove us over there, because he had also taken us over to the hotel for the coffee social, as it was pouring rain. Thank goodness for the benefits of having a driver! It was quite amusing...lots of "Ni Hao" (hello) and waving us over to their different produce stands. I was eying the cherries...until I was told the price 115.00 RMB (roughly $17.00) Really? See, sometimes the bigger problem of being a Westerner in China is; they assume we our all rich and moronic! Then, they want to play the "haggle" game...I didn't have time for I just said "buyao" (sounds like "boo yow")meaning: don't want it. We looked around a bit more and I bought some pears (have I mentioned the INSANELY wonderful pears I've become addicted to? I swear they are so good I eat one or two a day!) Hey, I can think of way worse things to become addicted to while here! :p
So, off we go back hometo the apartment, and I have some reading and homework to do. Mark and I had the leftover Indian food for dinner (Yummy as usual!) and watched American Idol.
I think tonight we will head over to the Blue Marlin for dinner and listen to the band for a bit. It will be an early night, since Mark has to work in the AM. Time to jump in the shower..I bid adieu till next time...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Monday, Firecracker wake -up call! February 7th.

What the heck is going's 0600 AM and I get awakened by extremely LOUD firecrackers going off. There was a lot of fireworks again last what is this about? What's a girl to do?? ^Google^ it of course!! So here is why I was awakened so darn early:
The 5th lunar day of Chinese New Year is the Welcome Day for the God of Wealth. Many families worship the God of Wealth in the early morning. After the ceremony, people explode firecrackers to invite the God of Wealth to enter the house. That's why we can keep continuously hearing the sparsely sound of firecrackers in the morning.

Many stores open on this day after Chinese New Year holiday. Some religious store owners put a table in the front of company's main entry. They prepare fruit, flower, candy, tea, candles and animal sacrifices on the table to worship the God of Wealth. Some even invite the lion dance team to celebrate the opening ceremony. The mascot of the God of Wealth will appear and enter the store. The store owner will give the mascot a Red Envelope with money reward inside.

Who is the God of Wealth? The answer is more than one Gods of Wealth in the Chinese society. Some selected gods are from the novel of Feng-Shen Bang (The Bulletin Board of Delegated Gods), which is written in Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644 AD). The story of the Feng-Shen Bang is talking about the rise of Chou Dynasty (1045 BC to 256 BC). The characters are the historical figures mixing with religious gods, goddesses, devils, demons, immortals, fairy person and spirits from Chinese mythology.

The main character in the Feng-Shen Bang is Chiang Tze-Ya who was a student of Original Supreme God. Mr. Chiang studied to become immortal at age 32 and failed after 40 years later. He went back to his home town and had trouble to make a living as a restaurant owner, businessman, fortuneteller until the founder of Chou Dynasty asked him as the premier when he was 83. He was rewarded the state of Chi after Chou dynasty conquered the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC to. 1046 BC). He lived up to 139 year old, severed for four emperors of Chou Dynasties and had 13 children.
(Thanks to
Well, thank you God of Wealth...can up send over God of Sleep? This started at 0600 and continued throughout the day. Loud and surprising at given times throughout the day. It's Monday, so after watching a bit of TV, homework, and some housekeeping chores; we headed to Malone's for dinner. Had our weekly burger and Tiger beer. Oh..and for dessert...COLD STONE CREAMERY! Yes...they have not 1 but 2 stores in Suzhou. Same set up and everything...they even sing when you throw money in the tip jar! Very cute!
A very typical American evening in a Chinese province. GO figure! We really are a "Global" society!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lazy Sunday, February 6th

I've pretty much been a slug all day except for a trip to the market earlier in the day for some milk and a few other items for dinner. We made chicken, baked potato and fresh green beans. I must say, it was pretty tasty! (Thanks Mom and Ben for including the spices in the suitcase that was brought over by one of Mark's work colleagues!) After figuring out the temperature on the oven (from Fahrenheit to Celsius)it wasn't to difficult to figure out how to work the oven.
We watched the series "Dexter" on DVD. We've gotten through season I and I got to say, my friend Karen is right, this series is REALLY good! It's about a serial killer...but it's an extremely good show. We have 4 more seasons to watch and it's a good thing...because Chinese television is soooo not good! We have a satellite dish, but it's slim pickins' unless you want to watch reruns of American shows from 1-5 years ago, or Philippine TV. I so miss my mindless, garbage reality shows! No Housewives, bachelor, or cooking competition shows! :( Oh well, small sacrifice to make to be able to be with my husband daily! We do get American Idol the day after it airs in the States. At least that's new!
The maid is off till the 10th due to the Chinese New Year I will clean tomorrow and do "household chores". I know...poor me having to clean and not be a "princess" this week. I will survive and put the tiara back on at the end of the week! :P

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sunny Saturday, February 5th

Wow, it's beautiful outside! Just got back from walking to Casa Zoe for breakfast (Closed again!) This really did not sit well with my husband because they advertised in the local city calendar that they would be open during the Chinese New Year, needless to say he was NOT happy! We ended up at the Renaissance Hotel for our breakfast which is quite a lovely buffet spread. We also know the executive chef there because he is our neighbor in the apartment building. He and his wife live right below us and we met them at the EAS newcomers coffee last month at the hotel. He and his wife had just arrived at the beginning of January also. They are a delightful couple.
We then headed to old Suzhou to find a headset with a microphone so I can practice my Chinese with my computer software. I am trying...but it sure is difficult!
We spent yesterday with a couple of Mark's work colleagues and their spouses. It was a nice day and then we went and had dinner at a "hot pot" restaurant. This is a type of place that has a pot on the table with boiling stock and vegetables and you add meat and vegetables to it and then eat things out of it after it's cooked (and it doesn't take long). We had been to this type of restaurant before when I came to visit Mark in Suzhou in 2009, but at that particular place, each diner had their own individual smaller "hot pot". It was different, and pretty tasty. At the particular area , they had a laser show...the "Peanuts Gang" talking Chinese??? Why yes they were! I attempted to upload the video...I can't! :( I'll try to upload it to Facebook later.
We are going to check out one of the local pizza places for dinner. We have heard good things about it from other Westerners and pizza sounds pretty tasty! They do have Papa Johns and Pizza Hut here, but they are mediocre at best. Let's hope this place is good.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Happy New's the year of the Rabbit!

Greetings all! Let me just say, after spending Chinese New Year here in Suzhou, We as a nation in the USA are WIMPY with our fireworks displays! Firecrackers and a few fireworks at night were going off all week here in celebration of the new year. After dark on the eve of the new year, it started with HUGE displays of fireworks....everywhere! I must preface this by saying you can buy professional grade fireworks here...they sell them to anyone! So, when midnight struck....OH MY GOODNESS!!! The sky lit up like I have never seen and the noise level was deafening! It was THE MOST INCREDIBLE site I have ever seen! For all you with "bucket lists", I highly recommend putting Going to China for Chinese New Year celebration on that list! You have to see it to appreciate it. These folks know how to celebrate in a BOOMING way! :)
Oh, in other big news...this biker chick ventured out into the streets of Suzhou on her Ebike! Okay, so the wonderful husband did have to prod me a little. The streets were not busy at all due to the holiday, so he encouraged me by letting this fact be known that it was a perfect time to get out on the streets and GO!! Oh, and go I did! I rode down to the Renaissance Hotel which is a bit over a mile from our apartment. I also had to cross the street and cross over a six lane, fairly busy street, and I survived to tell about it! I must say, it is a blast to be on it. The sun was shining and it was a balmy 51 degrees out..."Glorious" as my dear husband says! Then I rode to Starbucks where Mark walked over and bought me a coffee. So, I think I may just attend the next EAS coffee gathering at the Renaissance Hotel on my Ebike! The best thing was the looks and stares I got! Let's face it...I kind of stand out here, so seeing a plus size blonde woman on a shiny, nice, new Ebike riding on the streets of Suzhou is an oddity for sure...but then I've been known to be an oddity and that's okay by me!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mahjong Tuesday, February 1

Tuesday...head over to the nail place and Jennifer is there. She is extremely apologetic for the mishap yesterday. I tell her it's not a problem, mix ups happen. This woman speaks great English and she's a pretty savvy gal too! It is not easy to open a business as a woman in China. This culture has come a long way, but women are still looked upon as inferior to men. She is young and a new Mom of a 10 month old daughter. She has got a great reputation among the Western women here and has quite a big Western clientele. That is quite an accomplishment for her. She used to work at another place, and many customers followed her to her new place. While I was there, I met another woman who is here with her husband as a trailing spouse. She has been in Suzhou for 4 years and loves it. She was quite chatty and she was heading to Thailand for the New Year holiday. She and her husband have traveled all over the world for his job, but she said Suzhou is her favorite place so far.
While I was here, Val called to ask if I might like to walkover to where the EAS ladies (Expatriates Association of Suzhou)...(my sister asked what the heck is EAS!! so there it is... :)play majong every Tuesday. I said, sure why not? I've never played but I am willing to give it a try. We made plans to meet at the gate of the apartment complex at 1:15 because they play from 1:30 till 4:00. Oh my!! What a crazy game! The scoring is absolutely mind-boggling! I would try to explain the game and scoring...but heck, I think I still.... no ...I KNOW I still don't get it and it will be a while before I do.The watered down version's like Gin Rummy, but played with tiles...and there are many crazy rules!! Okay..that's my explanation. It was fun, and I'd play again.
Mark ended up working a bit late...I made a chicken and vegetable stirfry for dinner, that turned out pretty good. I have to say...I do LOVE the vegetables here. Very fresh and very flavorful. I had a bit of a meltdown too. Mark had told me he spoke to the shipping company and they plan on shipping our stuff over after they get his residency permit and after the Chinese holiday....WHAT??? That's right...the shipment I had to have packed by January still in the USA...I am super annoyed because I heard it can sit in customs for weeks sometimes.You just never know...I know one thing, knowing my luck...all my spring/summer clothes will be sitting in customs on a dock, while I swelter in the clothes I packed! I am not at all happy about this news...but what can I do? Tomorrow is another day in China and mark is off for the next six days...I'm going to be grateful for that!

Sunday/Monday Jan.30 & 31

Boy oh boy...I am a bit behind on this blogging thing! I can't believe how fast the days go by...and with school work and my busy social calendar...I am slacking. I try to jot down a couple of notes from the day, with a very good intention of writing it the very next day...but alas, it goes "pear-shaped" (as my husband says!).
Sunday did not start out as a typical Sunday. Mark had to work, so actually it did feel like a week day. He finished a bit early,and he made a delicious dinner of pork chops, potatoes, and vegetables. It was quite tasty and just makes me realize what a "GEM" of a husband I do have I am truly blessed. I worked on my paper that was due for school, and turned it in and did a bit of reading for the following week. I am doing well in my class, and I do want to keep that "A."

Monday I had to get to my nail appointment by 9:00am, so I was ready and out the door by 8:45 for my walk over to the nail salon. I got there with a couple of minutes to spare, and the girl there was a bit surprised to see me. I explained that I had an appointment with Jennifer for 9:00 she then called Jennifer (the owner) and after speaking with her, she came over to me and said "you come please", and then handed me the phone! It seems Jennifer made my appointment for Tuesday at 9:00am NOT Monday....even though I know I specifically requested Monday, as I went there in person on Saturday to make said appointment and spoke directly with her. Oh well, no worries...I'll come back tomorrow. So, I went back hometo the apartment after stopping off at the market to pick up some milk. It is really convenient to have a market right in your apartment complex, in the same building! :) No cooking for me tonite, because as I've stated before, we have settled into a bit of a routine and tonite is dinner at Malone's. It is a chain burger place (I am told there are some in the USA in the south) that have awesome burgers and they run a special on Mondays. You get ANY burger on the menu plus a pint of Tiger beer for 50 RMB (that's about 7.60 in US dollars). Mr Shen the driver loves this place! First of all, he loves the double patty hamburger (it's huge) and he agrees to let Mark buy him dinner. He usually just waits. I know that sounds strange, but it's the Chinese way. We stopped at Metro (like a Sam's Club) for a roasting pan (no luck...the Chinese don't use or even have ovens in their homes)and a few other things like laundry detergent (they have Tide!!! SCORE!!)To bed early, mark is working and I am off to the nail salon again...hmmmm Groundhog day??