The streets in between shops were absolutely packed. But I’ve learned not to expect anything different here. China = crowded. Always.
After you make it through all of the shops you end up at a beach area with carnival games and rides. Doesn’t that just look like a blast? It totally was.
Sunday was spent in Shapingba (a 30 minute subway ride) searching for a bar to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day again. The subway ride out to Jiefangbei is a little far and since we just made the trek the night before we opted to stay closer to home. Actual bars are few and far in between here in Chongqing so Brandon and I spent like 3 hours walking around, gave up, and then ate at KFC and went home to grade papers. WOOOO SAINT PATRICK’S DAY. It really was kind of fun to walk around the city for a while. Chongqing University has four campuses and three of them are in urban areas and then one I’m on is more suburban/rural so any chance I get to go downtown or into the city area, I’m always excited.
Soooo…the moment I’ve been looking forward to since I arrived in China happened this week. MY DAD AND SISTER CAME TO VISIT!! We had an absolutely amazing and unforgettable time. I’m glad I’ve been here for a while since I’m familiar with the area and by now I figured out exactly where we should go and what plans I should make for their time here. So they arrived in Chongqing on Thursday night (the 20th) and were here until the following Wednesday. They stayed at a hotel on the East side of campus, I’m on the West side but it was only a 15 minute bike ride away! Of course I met them at the hotel, which was only a Chinese speaking hotel. What a surprise!!! Best part about seeing them: getting a hug. Okay that might sound dumb but it’s just so lonely here! I’m surrounded by people all day but it’s not the same as being around people you are completely comfortable with. I didn’t realize how much I needed a hug until they got here. It was totally a Kodak moment.
On Friday I had to work from 10:30 until 5:00 which was okay because they needed to sleep in and then they came and watched the students in the afternoon class present their final projects. It was perfect actually. I wanted my dad and Shannon to see some of what my co-op consists of and what better way to do that than through presentations?! Plus, they were able to see some of the students’ personalities right away as they spoke in front of the class. I was pretty proud of them all. After class we went to Sunny Block, that shopping and restaurant area near campus. It was fun just being able to catch up with them and show them around my temporary home. Having a face to face conversation that’s not via Skype with terrible internet connection was such an amazing change.
On Saturday it was decided that going back to Ciqikou would be a good plan for the day. Plus Shannon loves to shop and my dad had a million and a half people to buy souvenirs for. Vacations with my family at some point always involve stressing out about what buy for someone back home. China was no exception to the tradition.
Of course we had some traditional squid on a stick. I didn’t like it the first time I tried it so I’m not sure why I ate it again. It’s all about the memories I suppose. I don’t think I’ll forget eating a fresh squid skewer in Chongqing with my dad and sister any time soon. This picture is an accurate description of the experience.
I was told not to post this anywhere but I seriously can’t resist. Sorry dad, this is just too good.
After the squid we headed down to the beach and Shannon and I headed straight for the water bubble hamster wheel things. How could we not? There were only small kids in them when we got there but the guy let both of us get in one and we had the time of our lives. I laughed so hard I cried like 3 different times. My dad said that a crowd gathered and started watching and laughing at us. I’m not surprised since we were screaming and screeching like maniacs in that thing. 15 yuan ($2.50) for 10 minutes of pure joy, not a bad deal at all.
More shopping continued after that fun adventure, then we went and found a tea house. That was one of my favorite experiences in Beijing so I’m glad I was able to experience it again with my family. The one we found was totally hipster and cool. I find that I am always impressed with how we manage to accomplish what we want with another person when we don’t speak the same language at all. It can be frustrating sometimes but eventually everything usually works out.
Sunday was Hiking and Hot Springs: Part 2. Desiree and Brandon came with us too. I thought my dad was going to have a heart attack hiking up the mountain but everyone made it safe and sound. I was thinking it would be easier the second time around since I knew what to expect. It wasn’t. When we went to the hot springs I think my dad stayed in the fish pool for 75% of the time we were there. The rest of us didn’t last 10 minutes. Shannon was freaking out of course. It was quite a spectacle. She also found the locker room to be just as frightening as I did. We don’t need to go into that again. After the hot springs we headed to Jiefangbei. I wanted my dad and sister to see that area and Shannon was dyyyyyyying for some normal food (she’d never last 82 days in China, such a pansy). I’d say our Sunday was jam packed.
So my birthday was the following day and even though I begged Dr. Cheng not to do it…he shows up with a cake. God bless him. Then Jack forced me to wear this Happy Birthday crown. My options were, wear the hat or get cake smashed in my face. The crown seemed like a better option...... until I saw the pictures afterwards. Wow, I look like an idiot. Regrets. Definitely should've chosen the cake smashing. Dang it, Jack. I don’t think my face has ever been redder than when they started singing to me. I’m cringing thinking about how totally awkward I was. Ugh.
After that, out of nowhere the students whip out presents. LIKE WHAT?!?! I’m still trying to figure out how they even knew it was my birthday. Jack, Janet, and Lotus are SO SWEET. I was so surprised that I almost started crying. Like, how thoughtful are they?! I cannot wait until they come to Cincinnati in 3 years. I’ll be their chauffeur, tour guide, and personal shopper. Anything they need, I’ll be ready to help them with. Lord knows we would never survive here without their help.
I can’t remember if I’ve ever written about the sketchy rides that are in Sunny Block. But there are a few rusty, creaky, ominous, and old, carnival rides there. I’ve never ridden them but there’s no better time to risk your life than while you’re by your family’s side, right? So we did it.
The midget man working the rides was so cool. When we were on the Viking ship he would put his arms up in the air and pump his fists every time we swung passed the platform. It was hilarious to watch him dance with his sunglasses, fedora, and cigarette hanging from his mouth. So of course my dad took a picture with him.
After dinner we met Brandon at the local karaoke bar. I really think it is a requirement that if you enter China, you cannot leave until you have karaoked. Everyone keeps telling me that karaoke and China don’t even go together but I’m standing firm in my beliefs that they do. I don’t even know where I came up with that idea but it’s totally a thing. Brandon and I are definitely regulars by now. On Wednesdays we don’t have work besides office hours late in the day, so Tuesday nights are perfect. And what do ya know?! It just so happened to be a Tuesday!!!! We were there for a while just chatting and listening to the other people sing songs that are always unrecognizable but eventually we wrote a list of songs and handed it to our waiter to see if they could look up any of the songs. They’ll usually only be able to find 1 out of every 5 of the songs we give them so I was thrilled when Sweet Caroline started playing and my dad made his way up to the stage. I think everyone was a little confused when Shannon, Brandon, and I started screaming, BA BA BAAAAA….. SO GOOD, SO GOOD, SO GOOD but by the end they all loved it. One dude went up on stage with my dad and handed him a drink in the middle of the song. When it ended, everyone in the bar was cheering. By far the loudest applause anyone had gotten all night. I couldn’t stop laughing. Oh man, I wish I could post videos on this blog! I recorded the whole thing, I wish you could all see it! Shannon and I sang Bust a Move and Ice Ice Baby, Brandon sang some Red Hot Chili Peppers and when the lyrics didn’t come up on the screen like expected, he resorted to saying, “meow” in replace of all the words he didn’t know. I’m not going to confirm or deny whether or not I was on stage right next to him also meowing my way through the song. Not good. Very funny, but not good. Shannon also jumped on stage with a stranger when the girl started singing an Avril Lavigne song. The girl loooooved Shannon. I was dying the entire time. Such a funny night. I loved every embarrassing minute of it.
In summary, I could not have asked for a better or more memorable 20th birthday. I know I’ll never forget this past week, it was perfect! I wish it didn’t have to end but I’m so thankful my family was able to come and visit me over here for a few days. I’m counting down the days until I get to come home and see the rest of my family and friends. I’m getting butterflies just thinking about it. Only 33 more to go but I’m going to make every single one of them count.