Monday, September 25, 2006

Shenyang International Horticultural Expo

Rob and I finally made it to the expo. It is here in Shenyang this year, about 25 km outside of the city. It opened in May and is running through October. We had planned on going earlier, but either I was miserable with morning sickness, Rob had to work, it was bad weather, or something. We didn't want to go on a Chinese holiday or the weekend either and be part of a sea of a million people. If we wanted to be around a lot of Chinese people we could just stay in the city.

It was nice to get out of the city and see some color. Living in the city is sometimes like living in grayscale. There were lots of flowers, trees, and some open space. The day was overcast, with rain in the afternoon. The high was only 65 degrees so it was a good day for us to go. I get tired enough without hot weather making things more difficult.

While it was nice to get out in the city, the expo was not all that thrilling. A lot of the countries that had gardens really seemed to have more of a gift shop than a garden. The gardens representing different cities in China were better done. Of course it is kind of strange to be in China looking at fake old Chinese buildings when we could see real ones outside of the expo.

It was good to get out though and if we hadn't gone I would have been disappointed.

We really liked the American Garden, which had a number of large busts representing famous Americans. They were not very well done. Rosa Parks looked like a guy. :( I had Rob pose next to Thomas JCLLERSON. It was spelled correctly on the bottom part of the sign. There were quite a few times that there would be one correct and one incorrect spelling on the same sign. Go figure!

They had some pretty comfy swings. Do I look relaxed? After Rob took the picture I let him sit with me. :)

There were several areas of open grass which were protected from trampling by little snail signs that found polite ways to basically say keep off the grass.

My favorite part of the expo was the bridge area. There were several types of bridges crossing over a small body of water. Some were easy, while others were quite challenging. I didn't see anyone fall in today. If the weather had been warmer I bet people would have "accidently" fallen in. The weather was cool enough today that it would not be pleasant. One woman kept starting on the trapeze type bridge, but then chickening out as she would step from the first rung towards the second. I didn't see anyone else even begin to attempt that one.
It seemed like it would be a really fun thing to have over a swimming pool or lake, but of course in the States there would be too many liability issues to just let anyone who wanted to attempt it have a chance. There were a couple of employees scattered around the area with bullhorns. They didn't seem to do anything though. There were also a few life preservers tossed in every little ways. Sometimes after a group would dare someone to try a bridge they would stand at the end and shake the bridge to make it harder to cross. None of the bridges called out to Rob and I conveniently used my pregnancy as an excuse not to try any out.
Actually, we did cross one, the floating bridge, which was calm, level, and had railings. It was the easiest way to get to where we wanted to go.
Here I am in my 26th week. I am so looking forward to going back to the States and being able to get a haircut. I have so much long, thick hair that wants to do nothing but frizz out into a big ole afro. Of course I suppose I could spend more time trying to do something with it since I don't have a lot of things that I have to do during the day. Since I don't really have anywhere that I have to go looking decent I guess it isn't worth the effort.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

If only I had known earlier...

One of my handy dandy pregnancy tips arrived in my e-mail inbox the other day. It gave me handy fashion tips such as not wearing horizontal stripes because they will make me look bigger. Oh no! Someone might think I am pregnant! Instead it suggests that I wear dark colors, such as black for a slendering effect. As if that would do it! I should also wear tight, clingy clothes to show off my new curves. No one really wants me to wear tight and clingy things when I am not pregnant, now it is is scary thought!
I guess I should also do my hair and make-up so that when I am home all day (STILL puking at almost 6 months along) I am at my best. Instead I consider it an accomplishment to be out of bed and dressed by 10:30 in the morning. Getting fatter and heavier, but still not glowing unless you count the way my face is a bit flushed after vomiting...

Monday, September 11, 2006

There’s some lovely filth over here…
In Monty Python and the Holy Grail there is a scene in which King Arthur encounters two peasants digging around in the mud looking for heaven only knows what. Not too different here in Shenyang. No, I haven’t seen anyone dressed up like King Arthur and I don’t think the people are referred to as peasants, but same general idea. As I walk down the streets I can’t help but see people digging through dumpsters looking for treasures. Perhaps it is something that they could use; something cast out that still has some use left in it. Generally people are collecting recyclables that they can turn in for cash. It might be cans, glass, plastic, cardboard, newspaper, or any number of things. Sometimes the people have bicycles with carts on them, allowing them to ride from dumpster to dumpster as they pile the loot on the cart. When our cheap DVD player died I didn’t want to just throw it out in the trash here at the hotel. I wanted someone to get something out of it. Surely a broken DVD player can be repaired or recycled somehow. I made my poor husband put it in a dumpster on his way to pick up some soda at the nearby convenience store. When he came back only minutes later, it was long gone. I have some old shoes I want to get rid of. I wish someone could get use out of them, but let’s face it, what Chinese woman is looking for size 10 ½ shoes? I hesitate to trash them in a nearby dumpster because I am afraid my friend, Sewing Machine Lady’s Mom (I will have to write about her sometime), will find them and pull them out for me because she thinks they might fit me! (Her feet were once bound and are very tiny. We have compared her little deformed feet to my huge clodhoppers.) I don’t want the shoes as they are, let alone dirty and smelly from the dumpster! Now while dumpsters are the likely place to find things, they aren’t the only place. After a building has been demolished people scour the area looking for things that might be left in the rubble. There could be all kinds of good stuff! Of course if it is freezing, a nice fire helps warm up passersby and creates a nice hang out spot.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

How many Chinese people does it take to get a lightbulb changed?

No, it is not exactly a joke. It is the event of the day.

I have had a couple of burnt out fluorescent bulbs in the kitchen for some time now. I have been putting off getting them replaced. Why, you may ask. Am I too lazy to do it? Too cheap to buy the new bulbs? No. The hotel likes to do these things for us because of their "delicate wiring" that impacts so many. In my mind I replace "delicate wiring" with "shoddy workmanship and potentially dangerous wiring" but that's just me.

Today was the day. 5:00 I call down to the front desk and explain my problem. I am told that housekeeping will be right up to fix it. I think things are going too well. Could it possibly be that someone from housekeeping can replace lights? I won't keep you in suspense. The woman, who arrived almost immediately, saw the problem and asked to use the phone. She called someone and said some things in Chinese and then told me someone would be up very soon.

Once again, very promptly, help arrived. This time in the form of an assistant manager and a security guy. They examined my problem and made a call. Someone from engineering would be right up.

As promised, engineering showed up. There was main dude, guy who hands things to main dude, and supervisor(?) dude. Of course assistant manager and security guy are still here as well. The mounts for the lights were unscrewed and removed. New lights were put in and then the lights were remounted. Supervisor(?) dude periodically used his cell phone to update heaven-only-knows-who on the progress.

Shortly after 6:00 pm the project was done. The kitchen is once again much brighter. And it only took seven people to help me with this issue. Just think, if assistant manager guy hadn't spoken English I would have also gotten translator dude!

For those of you wondering why I have not yet had my pictures hung on the walls, well, you can probably know imagine. I need to plan a full day with lots of helpers.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Over Halfway There!

Well, here is a picture of me at about five months. I am 24 weeks pregnant, 60% down, 40% to go. Who's counting though? I am beginning to wonder if vomiting will become so natural to me that I will continue to do it after Baby is born. :(
This is one of my new maternity shirts that Mrs. Wong made. I went to the cloth market today to get more fabric. Maternity clothes are definitely much more comfortable than my pre-maternity clothes. I am wondering if those pre-maternity clothes will ever fit again!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I got the pictures I bought in Xi'an framed. I think they turned out well. I really don't have an eye for figuring out what borders and frames work. I think I lied to my family and said it cost $25 to frame them, but it was really almost $32. I think that is a good deal. I need to come up with more things to frame.

Rob evidently doesn't like them. He hasn't said as much exactly. He just is glad that I like them.