River to Bohai Sea
Our host, along with Liang's mom, Liang and I (very cold!)
I decided to sleep in today in an effort to try to shake this cold (if you can call sleeping until 9:15am while on vacation “sleeping in”). We stopped by Liang’s mom’s brother’s house which is across the street from our hotel. It was similar in layout to the house we saw in Benxi, but larger and much newer. Generally, several generations live together in one home or apartment in China. Here, Liang’s uncle lives along with his son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter. Two bedrooms, a shared bathroom, kitchen, dining room and family room.Quite nice and cozy and covered in toys belonging to the two-year-old, Yangyang.
We were then picked up by our host and taken for a tour of the city. We saw a river and the sea it leads to, the Bohai Sea. We also visited the oldest road in Yingkou with shops dating back several hundred years (maybe not that old by Chinese standards). Everything is closed now but the city has purchased the land and buildings in hopes of restoring and repurposing them. The building and growth here in Yingkou is as I have described at each location I have visited in China- shockingly rapid. Huge high-rise buildings lined up like dominoes sit empty while new ones are just beginning to take shape near by. The housing prices here are much too expensive for many people to afford. I foresee a collapse in the housing market here similar to what we have recently seen in the US and it saddens me that they have not learned from our mistakes. Maybe more people will be able to afford decent housing here when that happens.
For lunch, we went to a restaurant owned by our host. He is creating a resort in Yingkou similar to the hot spring resort that we stayed at outside Zhangjiagang. Since I missed breakfast this morning I was really looking forward to lunch. We sat down and were first brought a dish containing the pieces of rice that get burnt to the bottom of the pan during cooking- a favorite of the older generations. It was a little like eating a potato chip but crunchier. Not bad. Then came many dishes I was less enthusiastic about. Drunken crab (crab killed by putting them in liquor and served raw), salty crab (crab killed by putting them in a strong salt water solution and served raw), and fish with so many bones in it that its tough to eat safely. Then they brought what looked like corn muffins (corn is a major staple in this area)- thank goodness! But I was not expecting what I got- it tasted similar to a half raw corn muffin. I am all for sushi but what is up with so much raw food?! Thank heavens they brought us each a dish of rice. I left that meal nearly as hungry as I started.
Speaking of sushi, as some of you know, I have developed a sushi habit this past year. Whenever I get it in my head that “maybe sushi would be good for dinner”, I have to satisfy that craving or it will haunt me through the night. Liang often jokes that I have developed such expensive eating habits but it was seemed to have paid off during this trip. As is only right, I solely use chop sticks when eating sushi. In fact, many vegetable dishes I make at home I now break out my chopsticks instead of my fork. At nearly every meal here in China I have been complemented on my amazing chopsticks skills. I am often brought a fork and knife at the beginning of the meal but have chosen to honor my chopstick skills and stick with them. We were even eating in the lounge one evening where they mainly have forks (Marriott, American hotel) and I had Liang ask for “kuàizi” or chopsticks for me. All that money on sushi was well worth it. Mmmm, sushi…
We spent the next few hours shopping at various markets around the city trying to pick up the remainder of our souvenirs to bring back to the States. A quick dinner at the hotel (finally!) and we headed to our room to pack. Tomorrow we leave the hotel at 5am sharp for the 7-8 hour drive back to Beijing. Liang’s family flies out at 6:30pm and we fly out the next morning at 6:55am. Tomorrow is resting, repacking, maybe a little more shopping and catching up with an old lab mate from the States!
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