Posted by: 1of10boyz | February 14, 2012

Sam’s Chinese Adventures in Shandong Province – Part 3


We have been all over Eastern Shandong Province with Sam over the last few days. Sam has been in China for 4 days. We have shopped and saw many sites. It is December 24th, Christmas Eve. We are glad not to have anything big planned for the day. We ask Hyrum to come by the apartment at 1:00pm, Sam and I are going to go into town and pick up some things. Since we really don’t have anything that we are specifically looking for we just ask Hyrum to take us to downtown.

We get to the main drag, and tell Hyrum we are going to walk along the street and look at what is there. He says he will find a place to park along the street while we walk. The street is really hopping today. It is always busy on weekends but there is a little more going on today. I think that it has something to do with Christmas, even in this country with very little Christian influence; the consumerism part of Christmas is not lost here.  We wander into and out of shops and sidewalk displays. I find a small Thomas the Train and just have to have it for Logan. We find other neat little items that we purchase. We get to the end of the road and drop off our stuff in the car and tell Hyrum to meet us down the street at the post office. We pass a number of teenage girl “groups”, there are a number of them that have to pick their eyes up off the sidewalk, because they are so shocked to see us. They swoon over Sam, he is not quite sure what to think about the looks that he gets. He wants to be a Rock Star, well this is a good prelude to what that experience might be like. We find the peanuts that I am looking for. I have found a peanut over here that is quite small and is just ever-so-sweet. They are a delight to eat and I buy another kilo (about 2 pounds), for about 20 RMB (about $3 USD). We enjoy just wandering through the town and are soon back at the post office.

I ask Hyrum to take us to the Wholesale Market, it is really a permanent swap meet kind of place. I really enjoy just wandering through the little shops there and Sam hasn’t been yet.  We wander through the stores and shops looking at the things that are for sale. We have to get another present for Jeremiah; we have decided that he needs to have some of the handlebar mittens that are used on the scooters and motorcycles here. I think that these fur lined covers would be a great addition to a snow machine. They are designed to allow the use of the controls but still provide some comfort from the elements. We also find a nice pair of slippers, Hyrum has found a place to park and has caught up with us and is able to tell us that the slippers Chinese means Year of the Dragon. We each get a pair. They slippers cost us $15 RMB each (not even $3 USD). It is getting late and we have to make the final preparations for our movie night with friends, so we head for home.

We get home and set up for our friends. I am trying to keep a tradition alive. In my youth I always went to Grandma and Grandpa Lainhart’s for Christmas Eve. We always had a visit from Santa Claus and we got simple presents from our Grandparents. The one that I most remember was the $2 bill. I have brought a number of $2 bills to China to give away. I am quite certain that this is a bill that they don’t likely ever see even when they are in America, it just really in circulation much. It is unique and it has a story that I can share. We have invited 4 couples over and are going to show them “A Christmas Story”. I explain that it is a very funny Christmas time story that we watch in America, I apologize for some of the stereotypes towards the end of the movie. I explain that in many ways the restaurant scene at the end is how many Americans see Chinese especially in the mid-west where there are not big populations of Chinese. We have had them over to our house and watch movies many times, I have told them that if there is something that confused them that we can stop the movie and talk about it. I know that this movie will have many of those moments as we try to help them understand some very peculiar American things.

We have a great time. The time spent together is wonderful. We eat and drink and enjoy each other’s company. We have made some great friends over here. We clean up and put things away, for tomorrow is another big day for us, the living room is also the location where church happens for the Saints in Haiyang. We have invited many neighbors and could have a full house, even without non-member friends we will have 13 in attendance as the family that normally goes to Qingdao for church will be staying in Haiyang on this Christmas Sabbath.

It is December 25th, Merry Christmas. We in China for our first Christmas it appropriate that it is the Sabbath. We are glad that we have been able to continue to have church services and that they are so convenient. We are part of the BCID branch and are a virtual branch; we call a toll free number and attend church via teleconference. We are hoping for a larger crowd today as we have invited our non-member friends to attend with us. We know that we will have at least 13 with us today, our 3, the Culwell 6, and the Stanfield 4. The only meeting we are having is Sacrament to allow us to spend more time with our families today. Church is nice; we can hear most of it, which is quite a challenge on some Sundays. Unfortunately, the non-members we invited are not able to attend.

We enjoy are small Christmas. We open our gifts and enjoy each other’s company. We are able to call and talk with our family members that are in the US. We wish them a Merry Christmas.

We are still trying to get our things together for the flight tomorrow. I have most of my stuff packed and I am ready but I don’t think that anyone else has really thought about it. We have a suitcase that we are taking with us that has kites that will go home with Sarah and one that she is bringing will come back with us.

It is December 26th; we are flying to Beijing today. We are excited about seeing Sarah and Makaela. I am excited about seeing the sites of Beijing. The Beijing area has 5 World Heritage sites that will go a long way to getting us towards our goal of 10 sites per year.

We know that it is going to be tough to get all of our bags into the car, but we don’t realize that it is going to be almost impossible. When Hyrum arrives we begin loading the car. It takes some crazy packing skills to get everything into the vehicle. We have to have a large bag on our laps in the back seat and LaDawna has a small one on her lap in front. We manage to get to the airport and get our stuff checked in. We have many bags but they are light and we don’t exceed the weight limit for the three of us. I am certain that we will be overweight coming back, we are going to fill up the bags with spoils from the many shopping opportunities we are planning to have.

We make our way through security without a hitch. We are hungry and stop into one of the restaurants and get something to eat. For airport food it isn’t too bad, not great mind you, but not expensive either. We finally get on the plane and our flight is uneventful. I do miss flying, I won’t let LaDawna know but I wish that we were on our way back to Wyoming, even if it is cold and snowy there. We collect our bags and make our way to the taxi lane. We have a large pile of bags. The taxis don’t want to take us and we end up with one of the vans (vans typically aren’t on the meter and have to be negotiated). The rate is proposed to be $500 RMB, since we don’t really have any idea how much the charge should be we take it. One area that I haven’t learned to negotiate on is the whole transportation thing. We just accept the price rather than giving him some lower number. We learn later that the taxi ride would be something closer to about $100 RMB.

We arrive at our hotel. It is actually an apartment that is rented out like a hotel. We have been able to get a reservation through Cindy Li. I gave her some very simple instructions and a couple of Marriott property locations and asked her to see if she could do better. She came back with a couple of choices. This one is a 3 bedroom, two bath, full kitchen for over a $200 RMB less than a corporate rate single room at the Marriott properties we were looking at. I am not quite sure what to expect but we are very pleasantly surprised. This is a steal for a family vacation. It ends up costing us less than $100 USD per night.

We wander across the pedestrian bridge to the other side of the road and wander through the mall and shopping areas that are there. We finally go to the supermarket that is right across the street to get some food to put in the refrigerator. We get milk and other staples that should last us through the week. We are settled and it is time to crash. We are quickly reminded that we are in a Chinese hotel, the beds are freaking hard. The only drawback to our deal that we have found, I am sure that over the next couple of days we won’t notice how hard the beds are as we will be worn out and ready to collapse. There is so much to see and we won’t be getting an early start.

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