Every so often, the school gives all the staff a gift.  Opening week, we received two 10 lb. boxes of grapes, one each.  Since Geoff doesn’t each much fruit, I knew there was no way we could do justice to them, so we kept enough for ourselves, then took the rest down to the Mah Jong players who inhabit our lobby every weekday from 1-4.  They were confused but delighted; the grapes went to good homes.  At the end of the month, for the Moon Festival, staff were again given a gift, this time two packages each of moon cakes; for us, this meant 32 moon cakes (see Moon Cakes).  Needless to say, we gave half to the Mah Jong crowd.  This week, we received a gift of pomelos.  We are not sure why, since there is no event on the calendar to celebrate, but just the same, it was very nice.  Once again, we each got a box of 6.  See the attached picture.  You will note that each pomelo is roughly the size of a child’s Terry’s head.  They are a citrus fruit that is grapefruit-like, but not as juicy or tart.  Citrus is my favorite but even I can only eat a slice a day.  A 1.5″ slice is the equivalent of a single whole grapefruit at home.  We were thinking once again that perhaps we would share with the Mah Jong crowd, but at school the next day, Mr. Zhao, the Vice-Principal said to me, “The Mah Jong players tell me that you have shared your grapes and moon cakes with them.”  How could I have forgotten that we live in the same building?!   I stammered something about there being too much for us and that we were going on holidays when we got the moon cakes, but talk about embarrassing!  So now we have 12 gigantic pomelos to eat.  On Friday, I told Daisy the story and asked her to please tell whomever is in charge of the gifts that we love getting them but please, one box of anything is enough.

The actual boat where the Chinese Communist Manifesto was signed. Quite cool and in immaculate condition.

Daisy took Geoff and I to Nan Hu on Friday afternoon.  Nan Hu is famous in China for being the site of the signing of the Chinese Communist Manifesto.  The story is that the Party members were secretly meeting in Shanghai in an area known as Xintiandi, when they learned that they were under surveillance.  They immediately disbanded and met at a later date , on South Lake in Jiaxing where all 13 of the original founders, including Mao Zedong, boarded a junk, sailed to the middle of the lake where security was guaranteed, and signed the document.  Thus was the CCP born.  We went through the museum dedicated to this event and only realized afterwards that we could have bought headphones to guide us in English.  As it was, only some of the displays were in English.  We will definitely visit it again and learn much more about this historic event and the chronology of modern Chinese history.

Swimming in South Lake

After the museum, we boarded a junk and sailed to various spots on the lake, carefully avoiding the swimmers (see pictures) who Daisy tells us, are “old people” who are very strong and swim for their health.  They are attached to floats, the purpose of which is to avoid being hit by tourists in junks! (Ed. note:  This may be the safest place in Jiaxing for non- vehicular travel since it was clear that the “captain” of the boat made a premeditated, conscious effort to avoid the swimmers – unlike cars, buses etc. versus pedestrians on land.) We stopped on a beautiful island with elegant walkways and pavilions and then farther down the lake where we explored Wu Temple.  Exiting the park from this end, we found ourselves a few blocks from Hexing Road, one we explore regularly. The three of us boarded our bus, dropped Daisy off at her stop and rode the rest of the way to Jiang Nan Mall.

It was early but we were hungry so headed up to Krabi Thai restaurant for the first time.  What a nice place!  Not many customers at 5:00 pm but the food and ambiance was great.  The menu was in both Chinese and English which allowed us to select our meal without pointing at pictures, also a plus.  Somewhere between the fried mussels (delicious!) and curried ribs, a two-piece rhythm band began playing.  On a bit of  cleared area of the floor appeared the wait-staff in their chef hats and aprons, each holding a spatula or wooden spoon upside down as if it were a microphone.  They launched into a passable version of “Moon River” in English, followed by the Carpenters’ “Close to You.”  The staff were all Filipino – very lovely and friendly.  It was a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere and every once in awhile a few kids and adults would  join them in a dance.  We are not sure if this is a regular occurrence or if it only happens when the dining crowd is small,  food is on the table and the staff have a bit of time on their hands, but it was really fun.  We will definitely go back!

(Ed. note: After dinner, I ordered dessert. Baked papaya scooped out and filled with a soupy opaque concoction of some sort. While we both thoroughly enjoyed it,  I erroneously (yeah, right) neglected to tell Terry just what it was until we were home and watching Survivor. Take a look at it with the name from the menu.

Stewed Frog Essence with Papaya

After extensive net research, I have discovered that chicken essence is basically the stew left behind after a whole chicken is boiled using a very high temperature and pressure. As the stew is being formed the proteins and amino acids take on a molecular structure that when taken helps elevate alpha and beta waves of the brain.  These brain waves are indicative of memory and mental alertness, as well as substantially decreasing mental fatigue. So in theory its pretty much like a natural Red Bull, minus the Carcinogens. Chicken, frog – what’s the difference?)

Saturday morning we made a visit to our local pharmacy to buy foot cream (for itchy feet).  The clerk signed that I should put it on my feet but use Q-tips so it didn’t get on our hands!  Hmmm.  Anyway, I have since applied it with no problem, at least not yet.

Headed downtown on the bus but got off along Hongbo Lu, a street with many little shops of all description.  I bought a trenchcoat-like jacket to carry me over to winter for the princely sum of $38.  I am a XXL in China.  Actually, I think I am an XL–it seems to be a bit too big now that I have it home, even though the belt sits about 3″ above my waist.  May try to exchange it later this week.  We made our way on foot to the main drag where after much ado, Geoff bought a cover and screen protector for his phone and we ate some street fries (spicy and delicious) and a type of brittle made with sunflower seeds and nuts, all very good.  (Ed. note: I didn’t even try to get Terry to buy one of these skirts for school…)

But I do think she’d look great in one! They are about 9′ long each.

Home again, relaxing, contemplating going out again for a few groceries as we have to go to work in the morning (Sunday) for Day One of a “Sports Meeting.”  Details to follow once we’ve had the experience.

(Ed note: Terry has been complaining commenting that I sometimes keep her awake at night. Perhaps she should take lessons from these three…)

Sleeping Like Babies (BTW – the guy in the hat is a caucasian guy – Terry thinks perhaps Transgender – don’t know why, perhaps the white nail polish or the hose?)

Finally, for those of you doing home renovations, specifically bathrooms, please be aware that toilet paper rolls here are 4″ wide and toilet roll holders are made to match. Therefore if you buy a holder made in China it may not fit your 4 1/4″ toilet rolls which are the standard in Canada. Hope this helps, Mal.

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