Travel 06/24/2011

Keith reporting:
Dogs and Cats Know More Chinese Than I Do

We miss our pets, really, really badly. For those of you who do not know us well, we have 9 dogs and 3 cats, all rescues. We are blessed to have wonderful friends taking excellent care of them while we are away, but homesickness is starting to kick in, making us really wish we could see them soon. We have seen a few dogs and cats since we have been here. I got up close to a dog in the park next to Lucys Diner a couple of days ago. I knelt down and spoke to it, hoping it would come to me, but it just ignored me. We saw a cat in an art gallery kind of store today, and it barely let me pet it before climbing in amongst the paintings and other pretty things on the shelves, scurrying up too high for me to reach it. Kasen said it looked just like our cat Riley. Again, I spoke to it, but it just ignored me. Later, rather than believing that neither the dog or the cat might not want anything to do with me, I decided the problem was the same that we encounter at every turn here. They did not understand me! Here, kitty, or come here boy had to sound like the same other planet gibberish that the locals think I am speaking. Then another reality hit. They know more Chinese than I do!

We slept in fairly late again today, after getting in bed after midnight yet again. After breakfast we went shopping, ordering some tailor made matching silks for family photo opportunities. We then decided to venture out to the supermarket. Getting a cab at the White Swan was easy, as they stay lined up here waiting for fares. The concierge took a card that had Chinese instructions for cab drivers to bring us back to the hotel on one side, and they write directions for the cab driver for where you want to go on the other. We loaded the stroller in the trunk, family in the car and off we went. As it was approaching Karis’ naptime already, she began fussing immediately. The cab driver was wonderful as he would play peek a boo through the partition in the cab, even while driving, to cheer her up.

The supermarkets here are an adventure in themselves. Multiple levels, and for some reason, EVERYTHING in Chinese. Kasen pushed her little sister around the store while I pushed the odd cart around as mommy shopped. The carts have funny wheels which lock into the escalator belts for moving from floor to floor. This is different from the first supermarket we went to where you left your cart at the escalator on each floor. We went through all the aisles just to see what we could see. We ended up with very few items as we could not figure out what most things we needed or wanted were. I, the engineer, even blew it when buying a big bag of diapers, missing the conversion for kilograms to pounds by a factor of two. So we have a bunch of diapers for a baby half Karis size. We also have a bottle of what might be hair conditioner that mommy and Kasen plan to use on their hair. We will see how that goes.

We were exhausted by the time we left, and should have just headed back to the hotel, but there, right outside the door was Papa Johns Pizza. We went in and stuffed ourselves to the point that there may be no dinner tonight. When we tried to catch a cab back, real problems began. There were many people waiting for cabs outside the market, and no order for catching one. The waitress from PJohns tried to help us, but finally gave up. The folks on the street just kept jockeying further and further up the street, preventing us from catching a cab. Just as I was on the phone with our hotel concierge begging for help, which he was planning to provide, a cab stopped right in front of me to let other passengers out. I grabbed the front door, then ushered my family, several bags of groceries and the stroller into the backseat. Karis started fussing loudly, and did so most of the 15 minute ride back to the hotel. The only reprieve was the cab driver again playing peek a boo with her through the partition as he drove. Must be standard training for cabees here.

Karis is really starting to open up and trust us now. Kasen does the best a getting her to smile, but mommy can now get her to make this funny sort of smile. She has started taking some food from us, but still is not quite sure what to do with it. She plays non stop with Kasen, and has started imitating noises we make. She cracks all three of us up as we lie in bed still and quiet waiting for her to fall asleep, then starts making the popping and clicking noises. We try to hold it in, but then simultaneously burst out laughing, prolonging the time before sleep. Her personality is starting to really blossom as she appears to be accepting mommy and me. Kasen won her over days ago. I am still amazed every minute of the day at what a wonderful big sister she is.

It is around 6:00pm and everyone is waking from their nap. I guess we will see what the plan for the evening is from here.

One more thing. There are things that I want to tell you about, but cannot on this website. As they come to mind, I will leave a note here for you to ask me about when you see me. The first two that come to mind are first, our driver and car in Beijing. Next is the Discovery channel in China. I will get Karen to add to this list as she thinks of things.

Thanks for keeping up with us, and for writing in our guestbook. Talk to you soon.