Steve's China Blog

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another fat holiday

The 22nd of September was the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday here in China, and I was on call, but did not have to work. Even though it was a holiday and I didn't have to work it seemed like nothing was going right. In the morning I was updating my iTunes on my laptop and the operating system on my iPhone, but that failed and it locked my phone.

I had to find a China Unicom sim chip to unlock my phone, but all the places that sold those chips near where I live were closed for the holidays. Also, my water in the apartment went off for awhile, and after it came back a pipe for my sink in the master bathroom started leaking. I was suppose to have lunch with some friends, but with my phone out I was not able to contact them.

There were a whole lot of little things that went wrong all day that day, but luckily nothing major. The next day I fixed the phone, fixed the pipe, etc, etc, etc... In the afternoon my girlfriend came over and we spent the afternoon and evening together, which was really nice. I wished we could have spent more time together, but I had a lot to do the next day.

On Friday I went to the airport and caught a flight to Beijing, and then flew from Beijing to Washington for a two week vacation in the US. I arrived at Dulles airport on Friday evening and met my parents and my brother, who had come out to pick me up. We drove over to Uncle Julio's in Reston where we met up with my friends Greg and Les and had dinner. It was great to see everyone! Jay and I split a Cadillac Platter... a pound of fajitas and a lobster tail. Yum!

Saturday was a nice lazy day. Jay, Mom, and I drove down to Pope's Creek in southern Maryland for lunch and went to Captain Billy's restaurant for crabs and oyster stew. It was very good!

A dozen and half steamed crabs

Jay and I prepare to dig in!

In the afternoon I tried to take a nap, but wasn't that sleepy so I played a little Everquest. In the evening we all went to Charlie's Pizzaria restaurant. Mom and I split a pizza, Jay had a gyro, and Dad had a calzone. A customer at the table next to us got a big surprise when her daughter, who had been in Afghanistan the last 6 months, showed up. She was very very happy!

The rest of the vacation was mostly spent lazing around my parents' house, eating way too much food, watching football, and some shopping. A lot of the time it rained, so there wasn't a lot else to do. One evening I went to dinner in Virginia at a restaurant called Mike's Italian Restaurant with my parents and 14 other friends. It was fun to see everyone, and the veal parmigiana was huge! I'm surprised I was able to finish it all.

We did have some nice weather the second weekend that I was there. On Saturday my friends Les, Lynne,and Geoff came over and we drove out to the Maryland Renaissance Festival. The faire had a pretty good size crowd that day, and it was a lot of fun. Here are a few pictures...

Some performers at the faire

Some faire-goers dressed up

A strange... gay bug

The Pyrates Royale sing

I just had to get my picture taken with this girl

On Sunday my parents were playing golf, so I went over to their country club in the afternoon to meet them for dinner and to watch the Redskins beat the Eagles (yeah!). It was good to watch some NFL football, and it was really good to see the Redskins play well, especially after their disappointing loss to the Rams the weekend before. Not sure they needed all that much pink though... nice gesture, but it seemed over the top to me.

On Tuesday we had a Thanksgiving dinner. Mmm... roast turkey! We also had mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, bread, gravy, cranberries, white chocolate raspberry ice cream, and some oatmeal cookies I had baked a few days before. My mother did a great job of cooking everything, and I did a great job of eating too much. Oof! My ribs hurt after eating all that.

There were a few other wonderful meals I had too. I got to eat American food, Mexican food, Italian food, Greek food, Thai food, Indian food, and yes... even some Chinese food! One night we had a dinner of steamed spice shrimp, fried oysters, and fried scallops that was really wonderful. Fresh seafood is not something I get a lot of back in Chengdu.

After two weeks of eating too much and loafing around it was time for me to go back to Chengdu. It was a great trip and it was great to see the family and a lot of my friends. There were some friends I did not get to see, and I was hoping to see them. Oh well... more incentive for them to come out and visit me! ;)

On Friday I headed to the airport and caught my flight to Beijing. Usually the flight goes up through the middle of Canada, over Alaska, and down through Kamchatka and eastern Mongolia heading into Beijing; but this flight went up through eastern Canada, western Greenland, over the North Pole, down through the middle of Siberia, and then southwest through Mongolia to Beijing. This made the flight only 13.5 hours since we weren't going into the jet stream much.

Flying over the North Pole was nice since I was sitting on the left side of the airplane, so as we were flying north to the pole I could look to the west and see the sunset. After we went over the pole and we were heading south looking out the window was now to the east, so the sunset turned into a sunrise. It was very pretty. Before the sun came back up over the horizon the top of the sky was dark blue which became lighter blue, then a small green line where the blue sky met the yellow in the sky under that, which became orange as that met with the red part of the sky under that, which came down to the black which was the Arctic Ocean. I'm sorry I did not think to take a picture of it.