So hopefully we’ll get a handle on this real-people thing we call life and I might actually put on some make up or do something with my hair.
Here are a few pics of the apartment.
|Me, cooking the first meal in our kitchen that was apparently made for elves or something.|
|Handsome Ricky cleaning the windows. He even did the outside. We're 17 storeys up.|
|Not the cleanest living room. But at least there are comfy chairs, even though they are so far apart. And look at our classy dining table!|
So there's that.
But also, our beautiful little lady dog. We adopted her from a local shelter. They guess she was abandoned by her owners when she got pregnant. She's affectionate and house-trained (huzzah!).
We called her Gimley, but no, she is not a red-headed stubborn dwarf. She's got white hair and blue eyes and so much energy. Here are some pics.
|The second time I met li'l Gimley. She immediately jumped into my lab, probably to escape the other 40-something dogs at the shelter.|
|Chilling on our new carpet.|
|Hanging out together after our respective showers.|
|So adorable! Or is it totes adorbs? Something like that.|
|Her new favorite spot, sitting right above my head. She sometimes sneaks me ear kisses when I'm not paying attention.|
See, we spent a lot of our leftover travel money on things to help us settle in and feel like home. I mentioned before that our apartment is oh-so-small, but we're doing our best to fix it up. So far, we've purchased curtains, a carpet, 2 folding chairs, some tupperwares, plates, cups, bowls, some Ikea storage drawers, and a few trashcans.
But we still have a lot on our plates to do. We had hoped to get a little more into the Beijing thing, but we pretty much have to wait til payday to get things started. Here's our to-do/get list:
Electronics to be fixed (camera, e-reader)
A dog (getting closer!)
That's all I can think of at the moment but I know that there's got to be more. I just know it.
But in other news, do you realize how cool Beijing is! There is no shortage of things to do. This week, for example is the Beijing International Film Festival. Unfortunately we just discovered it yesterday, and the closing ceremony will be held the day after tomorrow. But we're planning on going tonight to check out the scene, and find out how we can get to the closing ceremony because wouldn't it be great to hang out with Keanu Reeves, Jackie Chan, and the cast of Iron Man?
And so, we are awaiting the arrival of dear little Wicket:
|Watering cans are the new Gucci handbag.|
See, we've been wanting a pet. Well, I"VE been really wanting a pet. I miss my pets back home, who all died of old age about a year ago, all within a couple months of each other. 2 dogs and a cat. And I want something to take care of, something that will give me some cuddles while I read on my chair. Ricky's fine and all, but just a tad too large to sit on my lap.
So I was looking at pet adoption websites for places in Beijing. Our apartment is quite small, so I figured a cat would be the best option. They don't need a ton of running-around space, and taking care of them is pretty easy. But they are actually quite expensive to adopt (weird, right?). When I talked to Ricky about it, he said he would prefer a dog, but it's even more expensive to get a dog (higher adoption price, required registration, etc).
Yesterday, I was browsing thebeijinger.com, a magazine for foreigners in Beijing. I found a lady trying to get rid of a couple of Yorkshire Terriers, which honestly aren't my favorite breed, but they're small and cute. I contacted her and she's pretty much giving the things away, along with all their crates and toys and AKC/quarantine/vet/passport papers. The catch is that she is in Thailand, so we have to pay for the transportation costs. At $140 it's already cheaper than adopting a dog here in Beijing.
So we hope he arrives soon. It'll be great to have a little animal companion around here. Until then, we'll stock up on carpet cleaner, because even little tiny terrier poops can be a disaster.
It's weird to think about all of this being over. We've been living out of backpacks for so long that it is such a strange thought to actually be able to live out of closets again. But we're ready for it.
It's been a long hard road and an amazing journey. We've learned so much and grown in ways we had never imagined. We have our little tiffs but for the most part, we have grown together and learned so much about each other. I consider myself very lucky to have had these experiences with Ricky.
Tonight we fly back to Beijing. We'll spend a night in our new, mostly-furnished apartment. Then, we'll take a train back to our old city, Jinzhou, to meet up with some friends and pick up the rest of our stuff. Then it's time to rejoin the work force and the world of duty.
We're pretty excited about it. We've already planned out some things, the really important things. Like what size TV we need, and what kind of kitchen gadgets to get. Oh and work...
But don't despair, dear readers. No, we will continue to blog to our hearts' content. Expect to hear about the sometimes frustrating life in China, weekend trips, the upcoming visit to Ireland where I meet Ricky's family and friends (wish me luck!), my adventures in grad school, and general observations on life and every aspect of it.
We look forward to our future adventures and what they will help us accomplish. We hope you continue to join us on our journey!
Then this happened:
And then I had a tasty treat:
And we got ready for a drink:
After all the excitement of that, we sat down and waited for our meal: a spicy salad with vermicelli and snake organs, and hot pot with the rest of the snake meat, noodles, and veggies.
|Snake innards salad|
|I got the tail!|
|Ricky prepares for a glass of blood. He doesn't look thrilled.|
|Snake tastes good, but look at all those tiny ribs!|
|Our new buddy, the champ that cut the heart out.|
It was a great meal, and the family that run the place are so kind and friendly. If anyone wants to be adventurous and go there, we can help you find it. And if you're lucky, you might get a nice souvenir...
|Not shown is the photograph of a ditch filled with hundreds of bodies of men, women, and children.|
|An American GI holds up the remains of a Vietnamese soldier killed by a grenade.|
|The plaque at the top left states: The the people of a united Vietnam, I was wrong..I am sorry.|
But the more exciting thing is that we finally made it to warmth! Remember how we were in the north of Vietnam so long, freezing our butts off on the motorbikes? Well a few days ago we reached Hoi An and we couldn't be happier. It has been sunshiney and warm, something we desperately needed. The other day we rented bicycles and went to the beach. The water was a bit cold, but lying there on the sand in the warm sun was heavenly. Also, this happened.
|I was relaxing and Ricky gets bored easily.|
Also, Hoi An is known for a couple things: food, and tailored clothes/shoes. Let me address the former.
Ah the food! It's been so long since I've eaten pho, and I couldn't be happier! Now, I quite enjoy a good bowl of pho, but after eating it twice a day for over a month...well, it gets tiresome. Instead, we've feasted on a few of the local specialties like fried won-tons covered with sauteed veggies (definitely not like won-tons you're used to, but incredibly delicious!), rice paper pancakes, and especially cao lau. I'm going to take a cooking class in a couple of days to learn how to make a couple of these dishes.
Aside from the local food, there are quite a few Western options. However, as we've seen in other towns, the portions are pitiful and expensive. We've all but given up trying to get a hamburger or pasta to satisfy cravings, because by the time we've finished, we're still hungry, and broke. So now, we eat a couple bowls of cheap cao lau (as low as a dollar a bowl) and then treat ourselves to a nice ice cream.
Now, the other thing Hoi An is famous for--custom tailored clothes. It seems as if every other shop on every street in town is a tailor shop. But not only do they do clothes, they also make custom shoes. On our first night here, Ricky decided to take full advantage of the opportunity. He has a hard time finding shoes that fit, especially in Asia, so we sat in a shop, looking at different shoes and materials, finding just the right combination.
Behold the glory!
|Sunglasses not included.|
A perfect fit, and a splash of personality!
I'm looking at having a dress and maybe a pair of shorts made here, but it's Tet time (Vietnamese New Year) so prices have gone up. In a couple of days when things settle down, I'll give it another go. $20 for a dress is pretty good, but no way am I paying $30 for a pair of shorts! I'm sure once the holidays are over, prices will go back down, and haggling will be easier.
So that's what we've been up to lately, and I promise we'll try to make future posts a little more philosophical and/or interesting. Until then, take another look at how great Ricky's shoes are.
Cambodia, we took a tour to see a floating village. It was $12 per person, which was a bit pricy, but included seeing a crocodile farm and sunset over the lake. We didn’t know if we could get there and just organize our own boat, and since we didn’t have our bikes, we’d have to take a tuk-tuk anyway.
|Setting off for the village, hoping we make it there before the sun sinks.|
|Except for this floating church.|
|So the tour wasn't responsible for the cloud...but still.|
|But we did get to see these kids with snakes.|
As for the Halong Bay cruise, it mostly went ok. Lunch and dinner were tasty, if a little meager (good thing we brought Pringles and Oreos to fill in the gap!), and the sights were nice. We even had a nice room and bathroom with hot water. Breakfast was a disappointment with 4 slices of white bread, a quarter of a 1-egg omelet and a slice of pear.
|The most important meal of the day.|
|Our beautiful cruise ship.|
|That rock there in front, that's the national emblem. It's on the 200,000 dong note.|
|And we're so happy!|
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