Pixie Dust

And Thus It Begins
December 23, 2004, 5:01 pm
Filed under: travel | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Here we are at the end of the year…Christmas just around the corner and another year of laugh lines on their way. I’ve noticed that my brain has finally begun the rapid destruction of memories, so maybe this will help me keep track of what’s going on in my own life.

I’ve just returned from a quickie trip to China for work, where we accomplished a lot but saw very little and returned before the jet lag ever hit us. It did finally catch up with me, however, and now I get to suffer Cedar Fever while my body tries to remember which time zone we’re in.

So China…It was actually warmer there than it was at home in Austin on the first day that we arrived. Gotta love that. But the snow came the next morning, stopping just in time for me to take an afternoon walk through Tian’AnMen Square and the outer courtyard of Forbidden City. It seems a shame to go all that way and not get to see the Great Wall, which is on my list of things to see. Maybe next time.

Some interesting experiences in Beijing:

  • Haggling at the marketplace for cashmere scarves… The first price I told the girl was too high. She gave me another price, and I started to walk away. She grabbed me by the arm, “Lady, I give you a good price.” The girls always called me “lady” when they were trying to sell me something. Ten minutes into the negotiation, she still had a tight grip on my right arm and had no intention of letting me go until I started reaching for my wallet. Still, the price was no good. At this point, the sales girl who was working my co-worker, “Red”, left her side to grab my left arm. There was no way that my companions could even attempt a rescue – I was the hostage of two shop girls intent on taking my money. In the end, I got four items at 14% of their original asking price, and even then, my co-workers from China thought it was only a “reasonable” deal. Geez.
  • Walking through Tian’AnMen Square… Visitors from other regions of China were fascinated by our group: a tall, blonde, blue-eyed man with three short women – a red-head (which is why I nickname her “Red”), an African-American, and a brunette who might be Asian but no one could be sure (this, of course, is me). They would have a friend from their group walk directly in front of us while another would try to take a picture without our knowledge…it would have been so much easier if they would have asked us to stop and pose. They finally did ask our blonde to pose for a picture (why ask the man? why not the beautiful women?). It’s so interesting to think of how diverse Americans look from each other – there really isn’t much that could surprise us anymore because we’re so mixed – and then go to a country where most individuals look very similar. I still think they should have posed with the girls instead.
  • Massage… So very different from what I expected, but still so relaxing. The massage hours at the hotel were from 2pm to 2am, which I thought was odd. But I suppose it makes sense if you have a lot of visitors from opposite time zones (such as myself) who would have difficulty sleeping at night (this wasn’t actually a problem for me). Red and I scheduled our massages at the same time, and when we arrived we were escorted by two Chinese men dressed like doctors (white lab coat, tie and all) into one room with side-by-side massage tables. Now I like Red, but I really wasn’t prepared to strip down and get a massage next to her. Then, I realized that the doctors had no intention of letting us strip down at all – we were to plunge face down onto our massage tables fully dressed. I certainly wasn’t prepared for this – I would have changed into much more comfortable clothes had I known it was going to work this way. The doctor got started on me, working pressure points all over my back and head, rocking me back and forth as I drifted in and out of sleep. It was a wonderful 45 minutes, and then he asked if I wanted a 45 minute foot massage. I *love* foot rubs, so I was definitely ready for a 45 minute one! I have no idea how long I was asleep, but I startled myself with my own snoring at the end of the session. I wish I knew how great the foot massage felt…but I’m even more curious about how I made such strange snoring sounds.

Now I’m back in the States preparing for the long trek up I-35 to Dallas for Christmas…

Next up: Christmas with the family…mine, his, and my sister’s in-laws.


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