Team Journal for March 21, 2015
Message of the day:
“We live now in a global village and we are in one single family. It’s our responsibility to bring friendship and love from all different places around the world and to live together in peace.” Jackie Chan
The weekend was rather low-key for the members of our team… mostly local things. As expected, early-bird Don was out and about before Montana and LuRue had even stirred. Don was getting a haircut, complete with a relaxing shampoo. The rest of the morning was spent visiting the City Wall; the afternoon doing some preparations for class. The other two spent Saturday taking photos and people-watching within walking distance of the hotel.
Montana and LuRue ate lunch at the Come Here Barbecue restaurant next to Starbucks near the big ship at the shopping mall area. A light lunch of “sweet potato balls” and BBQ chicken raised eyebrows as others had several dishes on their tables, but it was enough food. The chicken, however, turned out to be spicy chicken wings. Our mouths were numb and on fire!
At 6:00pm, two students, Bella and Stephen, were waiting for Montana and LuRue in the hotel lobby as promised. Off we went to the movie theater in the Mall down the street to see “Lost and Love”, a current film made in Hong Kong, starring a well-loved Chinese actor.
The students refused to let us buy the snacks, but came back with two containers of caramel corn for us (refusing even a few kernels for themselves), plus two sodas, a milk tea, and a cup of hot orangeade. Turns out that we had, thanks to the school, reserved seats in the VIP theater. Neither of us had ever heard or seen anything quite like it…a small theater with very comfortable seats. The students were curious why we would want to see a movie all in Mandarin, so we explained that we like movies…the acting, the lighting, the shooting angles, etc. Bella gave us a synopsis of the plot, and then we all got a surprise–the movie had excellent English subtitles! So we were all able to follow the story with even the nuances–a man searching for his abducted son and his growing friendship with a young abducted man searching for his family. In Bella’s words, it was a very “moving” story and it was thoroughly enjoyed by all. If we understood correctly, it was the first time Bella had watched a movie in a theater.
After the movie ended, we expected to go back to the hotel, but Bella and Stephen had other suggestions. They offered eating somewhere, but we convinced them that we weren’t hungry, so they suggested somewhere “very near”. Not quite sure what they meant, but ready for anything, we said “Sure.” Then they mentioned a short bus or taxi ride, and we convinced them that the bus would be fine. Turned out to be a visit to the Drum and Bell Towers along with a stroll through the Muslim Quarters.
The place was buzzing with activity…people everywhere! They had us stop at one vendor where they insisted that Montana choose a figurine. She finally picked a prancing reindeer & began to walk off. She was called back & then we realized that it was only the display model…the man then pulled out a small handful of gooey sugar and “glass-blew” another reindeer, deftly pulling out a neck, head and antlers, four legs, and a tail. It was amazing to watch!
The Bell and Drum Towers were all lit up in spectacular colors. Neither of us had our cameras, but Bella took photos and said that she’d send them to Montana.
We took another stroll until we reached some quiet parks and one of the gates to the wall. Bella tried to call a taxi as we were too far from the bus, but a bus came along first, so we hopped on that. Then we had a 15 or 20-minute walk back to the hotel. Bella and Stephen must have been worn out from having to speak so much English. They left us at 11:00pm and still had to get back to the college. What a fantastic evening!