Wednesday, December 17, 2014

life and a visit to Kevin's hometown -- Elephant Mountain

Why does all the crazy stuff happen when Dave is out of town?  

Or do I just feel like it's more crazy when he's not by my side to share it?  

Today I ran to pick up the girls from school, bracing myself against the icy cold wind.  We huddled together walking as quickly as we could toward home, and stopped at a little shop to try to find a book for Lucy's book exchange on Friday since the book we ordered didn't come in the mail in time.  Lucy had a breakdown when we realized we didn't have any cash to buy the book we lucked out finding.  So we were on the hunt for an ATM with Lucy wailing (she was very worried about that book exchange) when we ran into Grace and her friend who told us all the details about one of their teachers who apparently isn't too happy with them because they spoke English in their Chinese class (which quieted Lu right down since she can relate to that little topic).  We started home to change and get ready to get back to the school for Max's game, and on the way Lucy got hit by a scooter.  She darted right out in front of us to cross the street without looking and plunged right into the side of a speeding scooter (so maybe I should say the scooter got hit by her).  Lucy was fine but it was a pretty scary sight to see her all laid out in the middle of the street, glasses strewn off to the side looking up at us in shock while Grace about had a heart-attack for reals, hyperventilating like someone's head just got chopped off and Claire was mad as a hornet that the scooter lady just shrugged and drove away and people were stopped gawking because we made quite a little scene.  All of which led us to a good conversation about street safety and to look more carefully in the future.  And also a little (big) prayer of gratitude that it was a scooter and not a car and that Lucy was ok.  Oh man I'm so grateful.

We had the best time watching Max's basketball game (I'm not sure if I mentioned he's playing on the varsity team here and it's been such a fun thing for him...and us).  He made 32 points this game which made it even that much more fun and he had the crowd in his hand as he did some kind of funny/fun plays.  Their team is really quite good and they played against a team half their size so we all felt kind of bad about all the points but kind of happy about all the smiles on the court.  

We had an impromptu dinner with some friends we love and are going to miss so much...leftovers with funny conversation and then it was into the homework freak-out session where Max lost his thumb drive, Elle is dying over her crazy math class, Grace about hyper-ventilated again because she couldn't find her assignment (which we later found in the trash and spent a while picking off all the dried rice that was stuck to it), and the internet wouldn't work to turn in an AP Literature assignment.  
But oh how I want to remember these days!  I know they are going to fade so quickly when we wrap up this adventure next week, so I'm trying to keep a record of all we've been doing over here that has changed our hearts in so many ways.

One weekend last month we headed up to Kevin's hometown (Dave's business partner) with he and his family.  We loved seeing a part of China so removed from the hustle and bustle of the big cities.  
Love those guys so much!

There was something so calming about driving through such open countryside after so much congestion in the city.  (It took almost two hours to get out of the city...Shanghai is so darn huge.)
The roads wound around through so many of these tunnels through the mountains.  
...and then finally we arrived, to a home-made meal Kevin's mom prepared for us.  As she set more and more dishes in front of us, the table went from this:


 ...to this pretty darn quick:
 Oh man she just kept piling new dishes in...SO very nice of her to feed us so well!
She fed us three meals like that...all different dishes, mostly seafood which is super fresh there where they live.

Kevin took us to a Kung-Fu master to learn a few moves.

 This guy comes once a month to teach all the people who gather to learn.
 He taught Max some moves and had him try to push him over.
 He couldn't do it, and that's saying something because that kid is pretty darn strong.

All the kung-fu guys:
They have these things everywhere so all the adults can get their exercise in.  Every time the kids saw the "equipment" they ran and got a little exercise in.

We went to check out the work of a local "root artist."  It was quite amazing I have to say.  
 This guy takes roots of all shapes and sizes and tries to determine from their shape what to carve them into...he envisions what will flow out of them and then starts to carve away.  Reminded me a little of Michelangelo who is said to have felt he was "freeing the human form trapped inside marble."
There were hundreds of these sculptures of all shapes and sizes.

We were quite mesmerized by them and then found out the artist himself was working in the back of the museum.  We were so excited we got to meet him and see what he was working on.

We visited one of the factories Dave and Kevin work with.

Here are some of the molds they use to make huge plastic parts:

Growing up we had a garden in the summers.  

It stretched out past my Grandma's back yard for what seemed like a football field to a kid like me.

Each summer we picked which plants we would "grow."  I always picked the peas or beans.  My brother Josh always picked potatoes.  I can't remember what everyone else picked, but I remember lots of hoeing and weeding and harvesting.  And I remember sitting in a circle in my Grandma's family room podding those peas or snapping the beans for what seemed like hours.  
And then we would eat them up.  Nothing so good as vegetables right out of the garden.  

My kids know nothing of gardens.  So I loved that we got to take them to this great shared garden right close to Kevin's home:


 His Dad helped the kids harvest some of the vegetables.
(and fruits)

 ...and carry them home.

It was rice harvest time as well, and many of the streets were lined with drying rice. 

We loved Kevin's little neighborhood.

Right in the middle of the neighborhood was a sock factory.

At first it looked kind of like a jumble but it was pretty amazing to watch these old machines putting socks together.

 They turn out like this.

There is a place where a lot of the famous Chinese movies are filmed close to where Kevin is from.

So of course we had to go there :)

We snuck onto one of the movie sets for a few minutes, which didn't last long.  Ha!


 Random archery practice place:

We went to this really beautiful ancient town that night.

And there, in the middle of it all, we found our much sought after "fish foot massages."  Hooray!  (I had been sad we missed these in Cambodia.)
I really wish my internet worked well enough to upload the videos of them freaking out when they first dipped their toes in.  I thought there was no way Lucy would go for it but she loved just chilling with those suckers cleaning her feet.
Poor Elle was sick as a dog and wasn't up for sharing her feet with fish, poor girl.

A little "grocery store" on the way back to Kevin's for our last dinner:

 Saying goodbye to the most kind people who took such good care of us:

16 comments:

  1. What a fun adventure! Very cool town and experiences that your kids will remember forever.

    And I'm so glad you found the fish foot massages- I hope to have that experiences at least once in my lifetime.

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  2. THAT is the China I've always wanted to see! I was so disappointed when we went to Shanghai and Beijing the first time because even though they are beautiful cities, they looked more like NYC than what you have posted here which was what I expected. I'd give anything to have been there by your side. Congrats to those great kids who used to be known as just a titch picky about what they eat! That meal looked fabulously strange (and delicious) and I'm sure they ate it without a whimper, even though it must have been hard for some of them. What a grand adventure. Having said that, I'm so sorry about the scooter hitting Lucy! I can't believe that woman just drove off with Lucy splattered on the ground! SO glad that she was okay! Wow, you never know what's around the corner. I can't imagine you squeezing in any more adventures, but we look forward to seeing your last big one if you ever get a minute between now and the chaos of finals and moving home! Good luck. Love to all!

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  3. So glad Lucy is okay! I imagine that was super scary to watch! And what wonderful life-changing experiences you're providing for your kids! Something they'll always treasure. :)

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  4. Poor Lucy! I'm glad she was fine!

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  5. Glad to hear Lucy is okay! and yay! for the fish massages. I was sad for you when you missed it in Cambodia.

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  6. Oh my! Poor Lucy!!! I can't believe that woman didn't at least check on poor sweet Lucy. Geez...so glad she's alright. Your kids rock for trying all that food. I couldn't do it! I have issues with textures. Yikes.

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  7. There's nothing better than local friends to make you discover the best things of a foreign country!! :)
    And I'm relieved Lucy's accident wasn't to grave! :( You all must have been very scared!

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  8. Looks like a nice trip you have there ..
    Come to my place :)
    And i'll show you around :D

    kisses from east java

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  9. Shawni, thank you so much for sharing all this day after day. I've loved it!! Merry Christmas and safe travels!

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  10. What a special treat! Merry Christmas!

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  11. I LOVE reading all of your posts! What a wild and amazing adventure you guys are having. Trying no to be so insanely jealous. There is no better gift you could give your family than this experience. Merry Christmas to you all!!!

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  12. I can't believe the adventure is almost over. 4 months is just a blip on the radar. Wow!

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  13. This was my favorite China post yet! Except for poor Lucy! That was one fast adventure. Four months is so short in the scheme of things. Merry Christmas, safe travels home, and thank you again for sharing.

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  14. I'm green with envy at the cultural experience you are giving your kids. I've got 4.5 years til my oldest graduates, and it's my goal to live out of the country for a few months!

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  15. I've loved reading your posts while in China! I lived in China for four months teaching English back in 2005 and your posts have taken me back there. I'm curious what the name of the town is that you went to in this post? It sounds very similar to where I lived and taught....a couple hours from Shanghai, near water with lots of seafood and near that place where they film movies!

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    Replies
    1. Oh I see in the title you call is Elephant Mt....is that really the name?

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