Monday, November 23, 2015

China, China, China!

China - #1

We left our beautiful home…

our wonderful pup, Benton…

fall in the garden…

and, travels in Thistle…

at the end of October, to travel to Xiamen, China for Brad and Yessi's Chinese wedding!

You might be wondering why there were no blog postings the entire month we were there about such a momentous occasion, with interesting adventures, all shared with wonderful friends.  Let me count the ways…not enough time, internet too slow or non-existent, and no way to upload my photographs onto the blog.    Now that we're home again,  I'll begin catching up and filling you in on our adventures.  This posting, China - #1, is the first of several China posts.

Yessi and our interpreter, Gina, settled us in nicely with planned sightseeing, shopping trips, family dinners and navigation in Xiamen, a city of about 4 million people.  We were pretty much awestruck.  Yessi's family showered us with attention.  What we have been experiencing is a mutual admiration fest played out with food and smiles and gifts and gratitude.  We've been fed and fed and coddled and shown around with the greatest generosity imaginable, and we were a handful of 11 non-Chinese speaking Americans.   We smiled and smiled and smiled in gratitude, as we participated in the gift-giving, tea, dining and toasting rituals.

Very generously Auntie and Uncle take us out to lunch, where we all
 experienced our first taste of seaworms in gelatin.

In their home, Uncle serves tea,  Mr. Ed sniffs the aroma, and Auntie looks on.
Cousin (far left), with Uncle (front and center) hosting us with
grace and style and kindness.
Our meal, prepared by Kevin, Cousin's son.

Lunch at Cousin's on the mountain top.

Dinner at Uncle's.  Uncle had served on the Xiamen Council, is a large land owner
 and was clearly the patriarch of the family.  Uncle is far right, red shirt.

Restaurant dining.
We could not pay when we went out or help when we
dined at home, but this time it was our treat.

An early sightseeing adventure was to Gulangyu Island, very close to Xiamen, but quite the trick to get to with many rules for foreigners and huge crowds everywhere.  With gentle herding by Yessi and Gina, we enjoyed a wonderful visit.

Wherever we went people stared and requested photographs with us, especially Mr. Ed who looked particularly dignified in hat-less China in his hat.   We were 12 strong on these trips, 13 with our interpreter Gina. 

The island is a popular location for wedding photographs.  The sight of brides, scooting from location to location, long wedding dresses bundled into bustles to keep them off the ground, was amusing.  In close pursuit of the bride were husbands-to-be, personal stylists, photographers burdened with equipment, and a friend or two, all chasing the perfect wedding photograph. 

A bride in red, although most of the brides being
photographed on the island were in white.

Gulangyu Island, China

On another day we visited the Toulou Round Houses, transportation provided by tour bus.  The tour bus driver informed us we would stop on the way to Toulou at the Coffee Factory giving us our first introduction to "forced shopping" in China.  Compliant, we piled off the bus and almost immediately discovered we were trapped inside a huge warehouse where we were routed onto a zigzag pathway designed to force us to pass dozens and dozens of vendors.  The route was jammed, shoulder to shoulder, with hundreds of shoppers, all arriving via tour buses.  Many of the vendors had microphones into which they were yelling, in Chinese of course, the wonders of their products.  The noise was deafening; the air stifling.  The only exit was at the end of the prescribed route.  I exited dazed and wondering what in the world had just happened.

The round houses were interesting, and, according to our guide, had unintended consequence when foreign war planes thought they were silos. 

Round House exterior

Round House interior

Beautiful stone buildings in the village

Handsome stone bridge

Another stone bridge,

Water Wheel, with beautiful stone work

Sacred trees of stunning beauty

And, naturally, the round house village had  tourist shops.

But, real shops too.

We also group-shopped in Xiamen, seeing the sights along the way.

And Cousin took us shopping too.

A path around this reservoir, close to Yessi's home, became Ed's
race walking route.


"The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water; but to walk on the earth."

Chinese Proverb


  1. Great photos once again. Thanks for sharing!

  2. What an adventure! Loved your blog today, Fran. You all saw a part of China that I never did in my eleven years of growing up there -- both the old and the new. Who were the other members of your traveling party?


  3. Diane, t's so good to be home. Our party was made up of Greg and Deb from Seattle, long time friends; Joe and Nancy from Lopez, also long time friends and Joe and Brad have been hiking buddies for years; Paul and Stef from Langley; and Lisa and daughter from Freeland, clients of Brad's.