Saturday, January 31, 2015

Merchandising Fail

I hope you like quickies because that's what you're getting tonight. I just took the first shower I've taken in a week where Seoul has NOT woken while I've been mid-shampoo and I am in bliss. Last night, she barfed on me and seemed to have a gassy, unhappy tummy for the duration of the night which meant this mommy slept maybe 2 or 3 hours.

Despite this giant sleep deficit, I was ready to go out shopping with my husband and children, braving the subzero temperatures as we went to a discount Korean shopping mall. It made us feel like we were right back in Seoul, and that makes us both quite happy. We shopped and had a really cheap and extremely delicious lunch.

We needed to go to the supermarket after this so we made our way back to the car. And that, my dears, is when we discovered this epic fail in merchandising.

What's merchandising, you ask? Well, if you've ever worked in retail, as I did after school and between semesters in college, you occasionally had to dress up the windows. Creating a flattering ensemble that makes customers want to come in and buy it is the hallmark of outstanding merchandising. This was always a manager's job but if they really liked your little part-time-after-school-special-ass, you'd get asked the best question ever (right behind "do you want a raise?" and "how would you like to go on break?" of course): "Would you like to help me with the merchandising?"

Oh hells yes! It was my favorite part of working retail. That's why this display completely baffles and amuses me. Even though it's been many years since my mall-job days, I doubt that much has changed where this would be considered a good job on dressing the windows...

Friday, January 30, 2015

One Fine Day

A still from the movie One Fine Day.

I have to say that this vacation hasn't much felt like one. It all started with the children and me getting sick. Because of that, I needed help taking care of the kids. I was really appreciative for MIL's help during that time. But because she's MIL, she can't just take a step back. She thinks if you need her help during one situation, you need her help for EVERY situation. I wish she would just understand that no, I don't.

They came at the crack of dawn to watch us get into a taxi for the airport on our way to Guangzhou. That was fairly irritating. I could understand if we were on our way to America. But we were only going for 6 days. And we'd seen them the night before.

Here's what I think...I think that my in-laws, bless their hearts, think that my husband and I are just too stupid to care for our children. This is my theory anyway. It starts to make more and more sense the more I think about it. Like all the times MIL has come over to feed Raelynn in the past. Remember when she came to feed her an egg?!?

She just pushes and pushes and pushes so she can control EVERYTHING in our lives. FIL too. While we were in Guangzhou, she apparently cleaned our home. I'm not saying it was could it be when the person who "cleans" doesn't use any cleansing agents? But it was a nice touch. I noticed a few other things too. Like that they monkeyed with our power strips and cords. I discovered this when we weren't getting satellite or WiFi. We initially thought the power strip it was connected to was broken, but upon closer inspection, one of them plugged said power strip into itself. Oh yay. That's when I noticed they had cut the curtains in our room so they were no longer floor length. You know, I care not about these curtains...I just want something to keep the bloody sun from bothering me when I'm sleeping. I never chose these fug curtains anyway, but now they have a lopsided trim-job, thanks to one of them. But I can't get too angry - they cleaned our windows and replaced all our wonky screens that had begun getting holes in them. Holes that allowed evil mosquitoes entry. Access denied, bloodsuckers!

While it was helpful of them to tidy up, fix our screens and trim our curtains for unknown reasons (the wheels of my desk chair were always getting the bottoms of the curtains stuck in them), it bothered me that they'd seemingly gone through our things. It took me 30 minutes to find a book that was mine that they'd stacked in a pile on Jeremy's desk. I wish they'd just left those things alone. 

Once we returned from Guangzhou, I knew we'd be obligated to have a meal with them. That was fine, but of course, come Monday, MIL was showing up again. During our trip, I'd calmly talked to my husband about how his mother's constant daily presence is depressing me. I even told him I'd be fine with her coming to cook dinner 3 days a week, but that on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I'd really love it if she'd just left me be. He'd told me he'd tell her to give me more space but now she insisted she was going to come Tuesday and Wednesday too. ENOUGH, I'd declared.

I sincerely don't mind if she comes over in the late afternoon a few days a week. Really. Even if I am stuck eating her mostly vile cooking abominations. But what I do mind is someone TELLING ME what I need and how I should feel. I do not need your help every day. Why can't you come over a few days a week and if I need more help, let me ask you for that help? Instead, she comes on like an 18-wheeler, taking over my kitchen. Putting my dishes and pans where SHE thinks they should go. And putting them back wet. Or dirty. It's extremely irritating, believe me. 

Ever since Jeremy got promoted, he has to attend these stupid sale meetings right after work 3 days a week. So on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, it's very helpful to have MIL around. On Tuesdays and Thursdays though, I really don't need her help. And she doesn't seem to get that I want to eat foods that I like some of the time. I'm not Chinese! I need variety. And even if I didn't, I LIKE COOKING! I feel at peace when I'm creating something in my kitchen. She keeps trying to take that away from me.

So Jeremy put his foot down on Wednesday and told her not to come on Thursday. Oh, ok, well I'll come watch the children while you cook. Um, no. No, you won't. I will be fine. Jeremy interjects that I'm having a friend come. I wasn't. Few of my friends ever venture out here because it is hard to find your way in our neighborhood unless you have great Chinese-speaking skills. I try not to chuckle at the fib he's told his mother. Despite what he's told her, she keeps trying like hell to come on Thursday. Oh, well I'll bring you some vegetables! You need vegetables! NO WE DON'T, both Jeremy and I stated firmly. Really, we didn't. There were potatoes, onions, carrots, leeks, cucumbers and spinach in there. Shouldn't I use the food we've got instead of wasting it?

You see what I mean about her? She's always trying to butt in under the guise of helping. But I don't call that helpful. Helpful is coming to help me care for the children when I'm sick in bed. It's not pushing me out of my life and taking over my life for me. She always seems to think I'm incapable of watching my children, cooking for those of us that can eat more than mush (sorry Seoul) and not killing the children.

And you want to know what? Yesterday was a perfectly blissful day. Seoul napped well. Raelynn was a good girl. We played together. I made hamburgers for lunch. Raelynn ate all her food without fussing, something I think she does in front of my in-laws to get their attention. And I made an epic dinner. And I did it all without MIL getting on my nerves, interrupting, constantly talking and shuffling around my house. It was indeed one fine day. Very fine.

Sure, soon enough we'll be in the US and perhaps I will wish she was around to help us. I'm sure it won't always be easy but that's the chance we'll take. Otherwise we'll wind up spending our lives by having them lived by someone else. Maybe every day won't be fine, but it will be all our own.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Getting There Is Half The Fun

Bright and early, we blearily rose from bed somewhere around 5am on January 18th. Jeremy had spared himself the agony and finished his sleep in Raelynn's room that night. As for me, I endured a fussy baby who kept unwrapping herself from her blanket every hour on the hour. Now of course, she was sound asleep and I used it as an opportunity to ready myself.

As I washed my face and brushed my teeth, I heard our front door open and close. It was MIL. Oh God. WHY is she here? Can't she just let us alone? She had come the night before and I thought that was the end of enduring her for a few days, but no. She HAD TO come now. I try not to scowl openly but it's obvious I'm pissed. I am too tired for this shit. Never mind her, I think. I've got to get ready. So I begin covering my tired face with make-up in hopes that I won't resemble the zombie creature that I actually feel like.

And then the doorbell rings. I hate our doorbell. It is so loud and tinny and unnecessary. It's not like we live in some spacial palace. It's a small 2 bedroom apartment. You know who it is, right? FIL! Of course! But thankfully, MIL shoos him away. She shouts at him for ringing the doorbell which I find counter-productive. If we're all trying to be quiet so as not to disturb the baby while we get ready, then how is shouting at your doltish husband going to help us?

Miraculously, Seoul stays asleep through all this nonsense and doesn't wake until I am completely done shoving my make-up and the rest of our toiletries into the suitcase. Now MIL comes over, arms outstretched to hold the baby so I can eat. Again, I try not to scowl. She just wants to help, right? Sigh.

As we eat, Jeremy's busy on the phone. It seems the taxi he's reserved to take us to the airport is unable to pick us up. No problem...there's plenty of time to call for another. We get another reserved and then that guy has to cancel because his taxi won't start. Third time was the charm...another taxi was able to take us. We all went downstairs where FIL was waiting. They nag me about what I'm wearing. Why no hat? Gah. We're going to Guangzhou, not Harbin. It's MUCH warmer in Guangzhou and I have 2 kids to handle. I've worn my lighter coat on top of a thick sweatshirt. I don't want the annoyance of dragging around a massive winter coat along with our luggage as we travel.

When the taxi arrives, the woman driving it frowns. It's because of my in-laws. She thinks they are coming too and starts yipping about how we can't all fit in the taxi. Oh no, honey. Just us. Please take us away from here. And then we're off.

I think this is one of the first times we've traveled that our flight was completely on time. We flew with China Southern on the way there. As we sat in our seats, we noticed something quite odd. Something was missing. My window! I have never before seen anything like this!
You can see that the seat behind mine has a window but mine clearly does not. On the other end of the row, they had a window but the guy in the row behind that did not. Very weird!
The children were mostly good on the plane though Seoul had a fit because she was hot and tired. I tried to calm her by walking up and down the aisle but eventually had to stop because we were preparing for landing. We were sitting next to some other foreigners and I was really surprised by how kind everyone was. They kept smiling at Seoul, despite the howling cries she was emitting.

Once we arrived, we decided to take the subway to our hotel. Thankfully, no one mistook me for a chair. Jeremy had reserved us an apartment-hotel with a small kitchen so we could cook some of our meals. He said we could easily get there by taking the subway to the end of the line and then taking a taxi the short distance that remained. I was expecting much worse. It was a small room but it had 2 beds, a TV with way more cable channels than our Chinese cable company provides us (and normally, I care not about Chinese channels since we have a satellite as well but Chinese was all we were getting on this trip...and one English channel), a refrigerator, a washing machine on the balcony with drying racks for the laundry (this was incredibly useful after Seoul spit up milk on her blanket and Raelynn made a mess of some of her clothing), a microwave, a single burner cooktop and cookware. Be it ever so humble! The building itself wasn't bad either. The only problem was that each tower only had one elevator. And each tower had 32 floors. The wait time for the elevator was rather annoying.

By this point, the afternoon was wearing on and we were all very hungry. We decided to eat something first and then hit up a market for items to cook for dinner later. A small restaurant across from where we were staying was where we wound up. The food was rather plain but it hit the spot much more than the snack on the plane did.

Later, Jeremy would run out and buy us a bunch of items from a nearby market. We'd tried to go to a large supermarket that was underground in the subway entrance right by the embassy. But everything there was so expensive, we couldn't even believe it. As I passed the embassy, I teared up when I saw our flag waving in the wind. God, how I want to go home and take my husband and children with me.

Jeremy did all the cooking for the meals we ate in our room. That was because I had to handle Seoul. And Raelynn. Somehow each night, I managed to get Seoul to sleep. But because the room was small and Raelynn is noisy, I had to put her to sleep multiple times. Seoul's new favorite thing seems to be to fall into a deep sleep until I tiptoe away for a shower. As soon as I put shampoo in my hair, she's wailing.

The next morning, bright and early, Jeremy was off for his medical exam. He was 5th in line until he realized he needed to bring the email the embassy had sent to me. I had it printed out but thought he only needed it for his visa interview. So he grumpily came back for it and promptly ran back down the street to where the medical exams were administered. Around 11am, he finally returned with some amusing stories about his exam. He was surprised when they checked way up in his nose. And ears. And what caught him completely off guard was how they checked his manly junk by shaking it around. I had to laugh as he gestured wildly in the air, making noises to accompany this visual. Poor Jeremy.

He wasn't supposed to eat before the exam and we were also hungry. We decided to find a restaurant with Guangzhou-style cuisine. We walked around until we found one that we wanted to try. We got to see a bit of the tea culture of Guangzhou in this place. Up here in Qingdao and the northern parts, when people want to build guanxi (relationships, more or less) they will invite you to lunch or dinner. It's always a meal. If you want something from someone, better take them out for something to eat. But in Guangzhou, the people there are big on meeting for a nice pot of tea and perhaps a small snack. Many tables were filled with people just enjoying tea together as the morning turned into noon.

Our table had a teapot waiting for us as well. Here, they kept a flame burning under the teapot to always keep our water hot. It was really a nice touch, I thought. We had some very delicious things to eat during this lunch. Check it out!
 Raelynn is clearly ready for food!

 Here's the tea pot. The black one is filled with water and is kept over a flame while the smaller more decorative pot contains the tea leaves. This makes each cup of tea you have taste as fresh as the first cup. Lovely!

 Raelynn likes tea.

 Ah, some delicious xiaolong bao. That's a soup dumpling and yes, it shares the first name of my husband. The best way to eat them is to put them into your spoon so that when you bite into it, the soup portion doesn't spill all over the place. Also, you'd be wise to wait a few minutes before trying them. The insides tend to be scalding hot!

 This is a Guangzhou-style soup. I'm usually not a fan of this kind of soup, which is a sort of rice porridge, but this one was really nice.

 Jeremy ordered this chicken dish. I like to call it "Nice Try, Honey" because clearly, you can see that it's chicken feet. I just can't get into those. I have tried. I gag. I can't do it. He tried to give me a piece and got the "hell no" face from me. To be nice, I did eat some of the peanuts that were cooked with the dish but blech. No chicken feet for me, please!

Some of the most fabulous egg tarts I've ever had. These were just oh so good.

These buns had a honey glaze on the outside and a savory beef stuffing inside. We were really surprised by them.

We also had a noodle dish and some pork with vegetables but I somehow forgot to photograph them. Oh well. Not like you guys come read my blog for the amazing photos. If you do,you must be even worse a photographer than me!

The next day we spent walking around Beijing Road, a famous shopping area. Raelynn was in a bratty mood but we at least got her to try on a qipao. She finally started behaving and we treated her to ice cream. She was an angel after that too, thankfully.

On Wednesday the 21st, we went to the Chimelong Safari Park, which I wrote about separately. You can read that here.

Thursday the 22nd was the day of Jeremy's visa interview. Another insanely early morning, we somehow dressed ourselves and 2 kids and headed off to the embassy. We were about 30 minutes early but there were already gobs of people there. When we got up to the front though, the guard turned me and the children away. We had a plan for that in case they wouldn't allow us entry with Jeremy. There was a nearby Starbucks so I took Raelynn and Seoul with me to wait there. I would have gone back to the hotel but our door was equipped with a digital keypad that sometimes worked and sometimes didn't. We figured the Starbucks would keep us all entertained while we waited for Jeremy and sure beat me having to try to get the door to unlock with one whiny toddler and a crying baby.

Of all the times I've ever felt lonely in my life, and there have been many, I never at once felt so alone sitting in that Starbucks in the bustling upscale downtown area of Guangzhou. Even with my 2 children. I stared out the window and checked my phone every few minutes. Time stood still for me while I waited anxiously for him to come meet us. I started thinking about how I met my husband and how we built this life together. I started thinking about how I never wanted to be without him. I felt tears stinging my eyes despite Raelynn's cutest attempts at keeping me distracted.

So many times, I saw someone across the street dressed in similar attire only to realize it wasn't my man. And then suddenly, there he was! He strode into the Starbucks and I felt like I couldn't breathe at all. Did we get our visa???

Before I answer that, I'd like to tell you all how much I appreciate your kind thoughts, prayers and support during this time. I thank you all for thinking of us. That is why I hope you will continue to think of us and understand that at this time, I will only tell you that we are almost finished with this process, having been preliminarily approved. However, we must submit some additional papers before we can finally close this visa process chapter and move forward. So until this is all done and behind us, I'll be holding off on saying anything more.

As we walked back to the hotel, we discussed what to do next. Our flight back to Qingdao would leave very early the next morning. If we stayed at our current location, we'd need to get up at 3am to get to the airport on time. The subway system would not be open as early as we'd need it so that left taking a taxi as our only option. And that's a huge cab fare right there. Jeremy suggested we move to a hotel that was closer to the airport. We found one that was just 3 minutes away. They had free pick-up and drop-off too which was nice. But I instantly regretted this decision the minute we rolled up to the place. It looked even worse than our neighborhood. It seriously looked like a ghost town. The few people around stared openly at us. The one store we saw was rundown and ramshackle. Our room didn't even have a toilet in the bathroom - it had a squatter! Ugh! I felt like we were camping. Even more so when I discovered some mosquitoes in our room. But the room was tidy at least. And it was just for one night.

We went to get some lunch and now I felt totally depressed. We were in the boonies. We should be celebrating that we are almost done with this trying process, yet here we were, walking to the only nearby restaurant. The woman who ran it was incredibly nice though. She had Budweiser for beer, which was totally random, and she quickly had her mom begin cooking. My husband said that they grew their own food and it was natural and chemical-free. I regret not taking photos of the food. It looked like slop on a plate, the way MIL serves most things. Only MIL's cooking was much better. Raelynn liked the chicken we ordered but they'd hacked it up into such tiny pieces with bits of bone in them that I couldn't find a piece that had meat on it. I gave up. We also had fish, but the fish had so many bones that I felt like I was spitting everything out. The only thing I could eat was some sauteed watercress, which was fairly tasty. We were enjoying it until we found a long hair in it. Then our appetites ceased.
Seoul's happy wherever but I was a bit bummed to be in a place that was more country than my in-laws' mountain apartment.

 It's just us in this quiet place. There are so many tables and chairs but I can't picture the place is ever filled to capacity.

Another case where beer makes things better. It was nice to have a taste of home, even if Budweiser was never high on my list back in the US. It tasted better to me now but maybe that's because I've been over here so long.

The restaurant owner had a small boy and there was some other relative there with a little girl. Raelynn was playing nicely with them for a little while as we finished our beers. Then back to the hotel we went, stopping at the dumpy store first. The store was missing 2 walls and inside, a game of cards was being played by chain-smoking old men. They were friendly though, yelling, "Hello!" at us. The store owner put down his hand and came behind the smoke-stained counter to assist us. We bought some very stale bags of chips, a bag of spicy peanuts that were rather good actually and some instant noodles for our journey back to Qingdao. Airports in China tend to overcharge for things in the most excessive of ways. For example, last time we went to leave Guangzhou, our flight was delayed for hours. We needed to eat and our only option was a noodle place that charged 60 rmb for a bowl of noodles. Yes, really. We split a bowl between the 3 of us. For 60 rmb, we should be able to get several dishes of food, not one bowl of noodles. But to their credit, it was a very tasty bowl of noodles.

I had hoped our hotel would have better food than the country restaurant, but when we went to get something to eat, we were told they had to order something for us and they would pick it up. Or they could take us to the airport and we could eat there. They handed us a menu of items all in Chinese. I found it amusing that a sign pointed to a room past the counter touting a Western restaurant when no such thing existed. Jeremy told me what our options were on the menu. We chose a few dishes and then went to our room to wait for them. At least it was tastier than the country cooking we had endured for lunch.

Jeremy held my hands and kissed me. He said we would celebrate our preliminary approval at our favorite restaurant at the Shangri-La once we returned. He truly felt awful that our last bit of time in Guangzhou would be spent in this boring hotel surrounded by dusty buildings and people.

But it was a smart move in the end. The lines at the airport were very long. We checked in and then waited in massive security check lines. When we went through security, the woman behind the counter asked Jeremy to step back a bit. We explained we were a family of 4 and she said that she would check us in 2 at a time. Some man behind Jeremy thought he was just pushing his way up so he began to push my husband. We told him we were together and to chill out. Then a bunch of people behind this man tried to push and I could not even believe how many security people burst out of nowhere. They pushed all those people back. They were shouting that they were late for their planes but if they'd simply arrived early as we did, they wouldn't be having this problem. I found it hard to have sympathy for them after the way they behaved. Airlines worldwide have been telling their passengers to arrive at least 2 hours prior to departure.

It was a long walk to our gate. We each took a turn using the bathroom and as I came out, our flight announced it was boarding. This time, we had the first row of our class so we had more legroom. And this time, I got a window.
 And you know something else? China is just beautiful from above...

That must be what heaven looks like...or maybe it's this place - Shangri-La!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Our Adventure At The Chimelong Safari Park

As I dive into the pile of writing I need to do for this blog, I thought I'd start with our trip to the zoo. Let me be clear - there is a stop called "Zoo" on one of the subway lines in Guangzhou. That is NOT this zoo. Jeremy says that that zoo is as horrid as the one here in Qingdao. We'd heard good things about the Chimelong Safari Park. We love animals and the last time we went to the zoo in Shanghai (which is also a pretty decent zoo), Raelynn was way too small to remember it. When we told her we were thinking about going to the zoo on this trip, she got so excited about seeing the animals that we knew we had to do this.

By the way, if you are traveling to Guangzhou and you plan to visit the Chimelong Safari Park, please heed this warning: watch out for the scammers at the subway exit! To get there, you take subway line 3 to the Hangxi-Chinglong station and get out at exit A. They will swarm at you like the locusts they are, promising you discounted tickets to the park and they will tell you that it takes 1 hour from that subway entrance to get to the park. My bullshit alarm went right off as Jeremy translated this. "Honey, remember, I'm from Miami. You can take the girl out of Miami but you can't take the Miami out of the girl." I knew something was up. Why in the world would they put a subway exit for this place and then make it an hour from the subway exit to the entrance of the park? Just go over the pedestrian overpass and you'll find a free shuttle bus that will take you to all the Chimelong things - the safari, the circus and all that jazz. We only had time for the safari so that's what we did. Also, those scammers want you to ride on one of their motorcycles (um, we have 2!) or let them drive you in one of their rundown vans. I should also tell you this - it took perhaps 10 minutes from the subway entrance (once we pushed those lowlifes out of our way) to get to the safari entrance. A free shuttle bus had been right there, ready to roll. So if you get approached by those maggots, tell them to shove off and get a real job. I shudder to think how many tourists they rip off each day. Losers!

The tickets for adults on a weekday are 250 rmb each. That's not cheap, but I'll tell you, we felt it was truly worth the cost. There were very few people there, but perhaps that was because it was a weekday. We only encountered clusters of people in random places, like near the pandas. But that was it. I've always hated crowds. Imagine how much I hate them now that I'm in China where there are WAY more people than you can possibly comprehend. So when we find ourselves in a serene setting like this and there aren't hoards of people, I am absolutely thrilled.
With the exception of a few of the exhibits, it felt like we had the zoo to ourselves the whole day. What a super feeling!

Another great thing is this - there is no charge for children under 1.2 meters. That meant that we paid 500 rmb total for the 4 of us to get in. Nice! Food was expensive though. We paid 15 rmb for a container of popcorn (which Raelynn spilled much of because she was being bratty and wanted to carry it herself) and 12 rmb for a sausage on a stick (we bought 2). 8 rmb for water. 60 rmb for a sub-par meal of chicken with vegetables and rice. You get the idea. But since they inspect your bags at the entrance for outside food, no one at this park can throw random food to the animals. And that is wonderful!

At the Qingdao zoo, people will throw candy and cigarette butts and all kinds of crap at the poor caged animals. At Chimelong Safari Park, they've smartly figured out that Chinese people in particular really enjoy trying to give food to the creatures they encounter so they have set up stations near just about every habitat where you can purchase the appropriate food to feed to the animals. Like the giraffes, for example.

When I saw the giraffes, I ran to them. My dad loves giraffes and they make me think of him. I wanted to get good pictures for him too. I couldn't believe they were leaning over the fence. They're so gentle though. We noticed that the other people by the giraffes were waving big, long leafy branches at the giraffes and the giraffes in turn were leaning over the fence and eating the leaves. Many young children trying to feed the giraffes became freaked out by their anvil-sized heads bowing down to their level, slurping the leaves off with their long, gray tongues.

Jeremy became very childlike in his excitement and snagged a leafy branch off a nearby tree, not realizing that there were branches for sale. He held the offering up to a giraffe who gracefully bowed down to eat it. The giraffe slurped up the whole branch and then suddenly, made a disgusted face and threw up Jeremy's branch. It was so hilarious of a sight that neither one of us can stop laughing about it! Still! It's been a week! Anyway, right then, Jeremy realized that the leaves the giraffes were eating came from a kiosk right in front of the habitat. We lucked out when a small girl was too terrified to feed the giraffes and ran off, leaving a perfectly nice giraffe snack for us to hand out. Jeremy and Raelynn fed it to a different giraffe and this one didn't vomit, thankfully.
This is NOT the poor giraffe that barfed.

This zoo is also home to some very famous creatures - the only triplet giant pandas. There are baby pictures of these guys EVERYWHERE in the park. Adorable! But they aren't tiny little things anymore. Sure, they're small and cute, but they're getting bigger by the day. The park made a big deal about visiting the triplets, saying you needed a special ticket (which is free with your entrance ticket) to see the triplet pandas. You can also scan a bar code with your WeChat app to make an appointment. We got ours for 2pm. But when we got there, the employee guarding the entrance didn't even care to see our WeChat confirmation - she just waved us on through. We figure they probably keep tabs on how many people are back in the exhibit and keep a limited number of people going through at a time so the area isn't swarmed. In addition to the rare triplet pandas, they have a lot of other pandas. I love pandas so this was such a treat. Remember, Jeremy took us on a mini-honeymoon to Shanghai when I was pregnant with Raelynn and one of the reasons he took me there was so he could take me to see pandas.
 Mommy panda and one of the triplets.

The other 2 triplets. The 2nd one is near impossible to see in this photo.

 Another giant panda.

They also have quite a few koalas. I remember back when Miami Zoo was the Metro Zoo and they'd gotten a koala. My dad and I couldn't wait to see it. We drove all the way there to see it and all it did was sleep. That's when I learned koalas sleep about 21 hours a day. And many of these koalas were fast asleep. But there were several that were awake, happily munching their eucalyptus leaves. Jeremy kept yelling, "Lazy bones!" at the sleeping ones. They blissfully ignored him.

One really neat thing we saw was an elephant taking a swim and enjoying the water. I thought that was pretty cool.

Jeremy was fascinated with the meerkats. He'd never even heard of them before. Look closely and see if you can spot them!

We all enjoyed the tigers too. Tigers are such beautiful creatures!

 A great way to see some more animals here is to take a trip on the Safari on Wheels. By the time we'd walked all the way over there, my feet felt like they were going to come off. I was so happy to sit on that tram for the better part of an hour and watch the animals around us.
 Like this animal for example. Ha!

 Jeremy snaps some photos of these lazy animals with his phone.

This antelope was just loping about. Is that why they are called antelopes? Hmmm...

 Zebras! As a child of the 80s, I will forever think of Fruit Stripes gum when I see these things though.

What was supremely cool was being THIS close to the zebras. This is not zoomed. I could have pet these guys from my seat. Could have. Holding Seoul was my #1 priority though.

 A boy in the row in front of us checks out the water buffalo.

All in all, an exhausting but absolutely worthwhile adventure. Check it out if you find yourself in Guangzhou. And now, I'll leave you with a few more family photos...

 Seoul and Jeremy being cute.

Raelynn with the infamous 15 rmb container of popcorn that she'd spilled half of. This is after she stopped crying. Oh the joys of creating memories with your kids!

 A tired mommy and her girls.

And lastly, Jeremy poses with a cracked-out koala painting, only to be photobombed by Raelynn.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Traveling Engrish

There's so much I've got to write about Guangzhou and I'm thinking I'll have to do it in segments. So for now, you can enjoy this little post about the Engrish we saw during our trip until I get around to writing about vomiting giraffes, Guangzhou cuisine (yummy!), the embassy and more.

This first photo was taken as we waited to board our flight to Guangzhou in the Qingdao airport. If you are at the Qingdao airport and are hungry, please come eat at the "restauran." Or maybe someone was so hungry, they ate that second "t." They got it right in Korean at least.

Also spotted in the Qingdao airport on a TV in one of the waiting areas. Avoid collision. Yes, because everyone I know has a lifelong dream of intentionally smashing into TVs that are so large they are hard to miss.

 We found "Plant Viagra" in the menu of a nice Guangzhou-style cuisine restaurant we went to. It was on the up and up. Ha! Ok, lame puns aside, the food there was awesome. I'll write about it in another post.

 This came to us from our airplane snack package. It makes me think of one of my favorite people ever - my friend Kary Drake - because the Spice Girls will always be her favorite. This is an additional seasoning packet should you wish for your in-flight noodles to make you cry.

 There is nothing Engrish about this subway sign but I just loved the photos. These kill me. I love the stick figure person laying down on the seats. Even more so, I love the people swinging from the bars and hand grips. I love that people are so primitive in our world that subway cars need to put things like this up so people know how to behave.

 There's nothing too Engrish about this one either except that the holy panda triplets at the zoo recommend this dish. I laughed so hard at this. Brilliant marketing.

And finally, the best for last. I heart this. We saw this at the zoo on the way to the Safari on Wheels portion. Which I will most definitely tell you about in another post. I want this on a t-shirt. You know you do too.