apparently, our hotel is sitting on a giant mirage...because only a few blocks away, we found real china again. in fact, we found an epicenter of movement and life and color. there is so much chatter and noise and people moving in every direction, you feel awake and alive. i'm not sure what it is about neon signs and shirts for 3rmb (50cents) but it makes me feel like walking the streets. staying out late and bargaining for some little chachkies.
spark plug wanted nothing to do with sleeping on my shoulder. oh no. this girl loves the nightlife. the action. we called it a night at around 9pm, and although it's later than i would ever want to keep a newly adopted child out on the town, it's hard to up and leave when you are the guests. our friends took us to one of those restaurants that you have to know about to find. you know the kind that doesn't really have a sign, and it's on a main street but the entry isn't especially noticeable? yea, it was one of those. it was mostly a seafood joint. i ate something that had leathery spines, a shrimp with its head and legs and feelers still attached, spicy beef that nearly knocked my socks off, several varieties of tofu and some sort of meat/fish on the bone that didn't really look edible. but i ate it. and i smiled. and we clanked glasses. jack and shirley invited their cousin, his wife, his 3 best friends, and shirley's best friend as well as her daughter. our friend jones came as well with his uncle. it was quite a table-full, and there was SOOO much food. i took this photo towards the beginning of the meal. by the end, all of this food was finished and there was an entirely new spread of food that had replaced it.
all of these people came to greet and celebrate with us. they don't know us at all, but they took care of us as family. really and truly, the people of china are some of the sweetest and most generous people i've ever met.
if you come to china to visit, or adopt, or on business, find a way to make friends with someone from the city you are staying in. ask them for suggestions of places to go that aren't made for tourists. see the real china. outside of the hotel, outside of the souvenir shops. the china that makes you stand out like a sore thumb because you are the only foreigner. but then again, you might just make some real and true friends. true friends that make you feel like family so far from home.