Our friend George was busy working last weekend, but he arranged for his parents to take us to Chang Shu, a town near Suzhou for a relaxed tea party, a walk through temple grounds, a speciality noodle lunch, and a cable car ride up a mountain. Chang Shu is a small town, but it still managed to have a Starbucks so I could assuage my Saturday morning coffee craving on our way to a very traditional Chinese tea garden.
Mrs. Zhu is a formidable hostess, constantly pressing fresh fruit and snacks on us as if we would starve to death without constantly ingesting something- xiang jiao (bananas), ying tao (cherries), yang mei (wax berries? I don’t really know what they are called in English), and xi hong xi (dessert tomatoes) all before the speciality noodles for lunch.
The new yellow cars had doors locked from the outside, no windows that would open and very limited ventilation. They were like riding in an aerial sauna on the way up the mountain. Going down we waited for the older cars, with windows that would open, and they were much more comfortable.
The Zhu family has been so very warm and welcoming to us. And now they are talking about visiting us in Canada after George gets married. Since there’s not even a girl friend in sight, we have no idea when that might be. Hopefully we’ll find our feet and be settled in before they arrive. I’ll really want to pull out the stops on the hospitality, because I’ll never be able to repay the kindness they have shown us in China.
We loaded my inflatable boat and outboard into George’s father’s car when we got home. I’ve given it to George because I’m too lazy to try to sell it and I like the idea of passing it along to a friend. His father likes fishing, so maybe it will see some use. I haven’t had it in the water since last year, and it wasn’t worth the shipping costs to send it to Canada.
As a parting gift, Mrs. Zhu insisted on presenting us with two large xi gua (watermelons).
We were home in time to join a small group of fellow teachers at Tepanyaki Restaurant for all you can eat and drink Japanese grill to celebrate the birthday of Lise, a fellow teacher. I was too preoccupied with the eating and drinking to take any pictures.
Arrival of Big Sister to Fetch the Dog
Catherine arrives the day after tomorrow. She’ll stay until June 10, and then take GouGou home with her to Canada. I’ve already posted about this, but it bears repeating. It turned out to be cheaper to buy my sister a return ticket to Shanghai and have her take our dog home with her than it would have been to just ship GouGou by herself. And this way my sister gets another trip to Shanghai, which she missed on her last visit because she got caught up in teaching, plus our dog gets a much less stressful journey to Canada. Win win all around.
I’ll be going in to Shanghai to meet her plane on Wednesday afternoon right after my morning classes.
Another Impromptu Student Poll
I never know what to expect from my students, but I was very happy to find that they are not quite as superstitious as I’d feared. Four to three saying that ghosts aren’t real is close, but not a consensus.
It’s a small sample size and university students. My suspicion is that most Chinese firmly believe in ghosts and spirits, and most likely demons and angels as well. the country may be officially atheist, but not the people.