If we were having coffee, I would start off by telling you I had a pleasant week. Weather had been nice and warm – so warm that my feet no longer felt freezing when I’m at home.
The week started out mild with days spent at home while my aunt went to move her stuff out of her old apartment into the one we are currently living in. She finally sold her old apartment to a nice couple expecting their second child. On Wednesday afternoon, my aunt finally had time to take me on a stroll through the park which was wonderful because one – I really needed the walk and second – the flowers were already blooming.
Spring was in the air or shall I say, “False Spring” was in the air?
If you’re wondering, these lovely flowers are called Ericales or in Chinese “杜娟花”. This was one of my favorite pictures. It was taken at the highest point of the park and it offered a gorgeous view of the buildings even on this cloudy day. Here is a closer look at the flowers:
If we were having coffee, I would also tell you that I was woken early the next morning by an itchy and swollen right pinkie. Apparently, during my outing on the previous day, as I was in the process of taking the above picture, a bee flew by, I shooed it with my right hand, and angry, the bee stung my pinkie. I was forced to walk around the next day with an itchy pinkie swollen twice its normal size. It sucked especially it was the day of my family feast.
The feast was a special one. It was to celebrate a baby’s one-month birthday which is a big deal in China. This feast was also special because it wasn’t held at a restaurant but it was held in the village. This kind of feast is super rare these days not to mention is invite-only and almost every guest was related in a way, meaning the guests, including me, were the product of my grandma’s parents’ seven children.
We arrived around noon, got the first peek at the special birthday boy and in time for a special country lunch.
Then we spent the afternoon wandering around the village. This village has changed quite dramatically since I left for the U.S. Nobody lived in dark old houses anymore. Those houses had been transformed into two-story stand-alone mansions and there were no more muddy dirt paths. The paths had been paved with concrete to make the roads more accessible to cars.
It was incredible to see the differences sixteen years has made. I told my grandma the only thing I could remember about this village was a giant star-fruit tree that was three stories high. She laughed, “It’s long been chopped to make way to re-build the old houses.”
After wandering the afternoon, we returned just as the sun began to set. Guests had already begun to take their seat around the tables. “There are 22 tables!” My aunt returned gasping.
“So?” I said coolly but inside, I was freaking out. I didn’t know my extended family was this large (approximately 240 people attended the feast).
“That’s a large turn-out.”
As we settle at the same table as my cousin (finally someone I knew), the feast kicked off with a soup and then the entrees kept coming and coming and coming. It was as though it would never stop. There were pigeon, chicken, oysters, prawns, sweet rice with egg yolk, eels, hands of goose, scallops, and turtle. Of course there were vegetable too but this feast would be breaking anyone’s vegetarian diet.
By the end of the feast, I was so full I couldn’t take another bite. Everyone kept urging but I politely refused. In one of the few times since I’ve arrived in China, I felt proud of myself to be able to control my urge to eat. Whoever urged me to eat more, I just told them, “I need a moment to rest,” and after a few minutes of laughing and talking, people stopped urging me to eat.
Finally, if we were having coffee, I would tell you my week ended with a trip to Sky Ladder Mountain in Nanlang, a city about 20 km from my hometown. We first heard about this place in the news a week ago. The report talked about these yellow flowers blooming at the foot of the mountain. So we decided we should go see for ourselves.
It turned out these were planted, not wild. Still, these Golden Trumpet Trees were sure beautiful. Here is a closer look:
I enjoyed sharing my weekly adventure. I hope you enjoyed our conversation as well. Hope to converse with you again next week.