December 30, 2012
I'll let the photos do most of the talking, since there are a lot of them! Second day in Guongzhou included exploring their newly opened public library, hitting up the museum, checking out the public plaza around all this new development, eating dim sum (never gets old), combing through a massive multilevel bookstore, and observing street life.
December 29, 2012
After a long flight, Don and I arrived at our Christmas/New Years destination of Hong Kong! Only to have dinner, pass out, and then wake up early the next morning to take a train to Guongzhou in the mainland.
It was fascinating. I've been to the mainland before, on a tour with my dad and siblings in 2007. That time it was Beijing, Shanghai, X'ian... terracotta soldiers and the great wall, etc. Guongzhou was like the other mainland places I had been in terms of the congestion (people and traffic alike) and the public smoking. Though, their new growth in the district we were staying at was impressive in its scale. So many skyscrapers being built so quickly.
And in other areas, old ancestral halls are still preserved for the purposes of serving as a folk arts museum, which is what you see above.
Love the many layers of courtyards these old buildings have. My dad's village is like this too, except less elaborate and not quite so huge.
Outside the museum you have more every day life stuff happening.
Also, the density. And this level of density in apartments was everywhere. About 12 million people in Guongzhou.
And of course - food!
My aunt and uncle's friends who live in Guongzhou went out of their way to arrange our reservations for meals, which made everything super easy.
Speaking of traveling with my aunt and uncle, they made our hotel reservations from HK and Don and I were unaccustomed to traveling in such style. It was a nice getaway from the cacophony of the city.
And a warm drink in the lounge refreshes an incredibly jet lagged Miss Sarah.
Going to Guongzhou was simultaneously impressive and sad. The city is growing at an incredible rate, but the level of finish on some of the new buildings is questionable. From far away they look amazing, but up close you see rushing from the trades. Sloppy welding and lack of attention to detail - that sort of thing. And the people. There are clearly tons of migrants that come to the big city to find work, so it's not uncommon for there to be 3 girls whose job it is to just say hello to you when you get off the elevator. Excessive? Yes. They have so many bodies that can be paid very little to what we're compared to at home.
On the train over, we also saw a lot of abandoned factories or half finished factories that never even got off the ground. These were usually accompanied by their worker residences that were also abandoned. It really made me think twice about buying stuff from the dollar store or equivalent. Where is trashy stuff made that you might not really need and clutters up your house? Well, probably came from some factory that one day will be a hollow cement building with all the windows blown out. Sort of sad, right?
Traveling out to Guongzhou - Lots of fun and food to be had, and skyscrapers to boot. Also, a reminder that China's economy is a whole other ballgame.
December 23, 2012
I am pleased to report that operation winter bonfire was a resounding success! We had plenty of fuel and Don cut up a cheap foamy yoga mat to serve as bum-pads for the chairs and logs. Insulating your bum is one of the keys to outdoor winter warmth. You heard it here!
Friends brought over some beautiful birch from the dead tree that recently came out of their backyard. It smelled like mountain fire!
Don chopped some additional logs that afternoon and spent a significant amount of time splitting wood on a -20C afternoon. He is quite the winter man. In the end times I really hope he is on my team.
He also constructed an ice bar on the other side of his strategically shovelled wind break.
Guests were instructed to bring their own go-cups. Nielsen's was a DIY Miami Vice one!
Outside, even Dexter was cozy with his snow pants and two hats. I made him wear an old set of pyjamas underneath his regular outfit for lots of layers. And two pairs of socks.
Simon and Eve! Sitting right in front of the fire is actually super warm.
Tom looked AMAZING. He had the perfect top layering plaid. The perfect gloves. The perfect boots. And a toque from the 80s. I think he lasted out there longer than anyone else.
Oh, it was dark and cold, but spirits were jolly.
Inside, we documented the Christmas sweaters.
I got our babysitter extreme, Emily, to come and help me with the kids so I would have the flexibility to host my guests (being a mama is all about planning ahead).
Lady friends were enjoying their mulled wine in travel mugs.
Inside, the layers had to come off.
Surrogate mommy Leisha took a shift with baby Alice.
And Tom was photographing with his father's old polaroid! I shook mine and ruined it.
Based on the happy feelings I had at the end of the night, I definitely think we'll be repeating the solstice festivities in the future. Also, more outdoor winter bonfires just because they're warm and cozy!
Hope you guys are all staying warm and enjoying your holidays so far. We're running the gauntlet of seeing the massive hoard of out-of-town friends in the next few days. Busy, but so fun!