Beijing and our second Chinese wedding


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Asia » China » Beijing
July 8th 2011
Published: July 11th 2011
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bachelorette dinner
I have been a terrible reporter this trip. I am fully aware. However, in my defense, this trip is so short and our pace has been so fast, that we’ve been on the go non-stop. I have taken lots of pictures and even a few notes so I remember to tell you the highlights. That being said, I am going to fast forward to the end of our time in China and cover the 3 days we spent in Beijing, before finishing my Shanghai tales. They are worth telling, but the Beijing days were by far the highlight of the trip to date. The wedding events were so much fun and so interesting, I have to get to that part and then back track later.

As I write this we are on our trip from Beijing to Osaka. We are tired, having stayed up too late our last night in BJ, the night of the wedding.

Quick recap for those not familiar (Ray and Ting are friends from Shanghai but we've known Ray longer and Mark went to High School with him even longer ago). When we left Shanghai a year ago, T&R asked us to be in their
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dinner
wedding and we said we'd try to come back if at all possible. So here we are, coming back and making a bit of a 15th anniversary trip of it by adding on a week in Japan.

We arrived in BJ on Friday, July 8. We checked in at the Regent Hotel, a few steps from the Park Plaza Hotel we visited 3 years earlier with Dad and Eileen. We realized this when we saw the Starbucks and the nearby restaurant where we enjoyed hot pot hold the chicken beak with 2 very weary kids. Everywhere we have been so far, we have been reminded of our previous time in China with the kids. It’s been hard not having them with us. We know they miss us too and that makes it extra hard to be apart. Don’t worry—even through all the guilt and the extra guilt with guilt on top, we have managed to have a good trip.

Back to the pre-wedding. We had planned to have a bachelorette night out and a bachelor night out on Friday. The wedding was on Sunday. One of Ray’s sisters was also in the wedding party and she and I
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the girls
went to meet the rest of Ting’s gal pals at a very hip place called The Opposite House Village. It’s a very trendy, popular with foreigners area. Even though Mark and I had vowed to eat only Asian food on the trip, that streak ended Friday. The place had an entirely western menu and we ordered a set menu of BBQ (steak, potatoes, chicken) to share among the group. Ting knew the manager, Leo, who also came to the wedding, and it was fun to get to know the other girls in the wedding. Not surprisingly, I was the only 41 year old American with crazy curly hair! Each time I’m in this type of situation, I feel I must sing “which one’s different from all the rest” in my head (and sometimes out loud, depending on my mood). I was sitting with a group of Asian girls, all lovely and all quite a bit younger than myself and Ray’s sister. I had a great time being the wise, older married woman. It was fun meeting Ting’s friends from childhood, college, and her working years in Shanghai.

After dinner, we went to Karaoke which was hysterical and very loud.
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90th anniversary symbol (communist party)
Again, my age must have been a factor because nobody else said it was too loud so I kept that to myself. But for the record, LOUD. This was my first Karaoke bar experience. I have done karaoke before—and we have a machine at home—but this was the real deal. You’ve all seen Lost in Translation. It was kinda like that. The machine lets you “order” songs and the English songs were not the most modern. I sang a Britney Spears duet with Ting and then some other song I can’t remember but in the same genre of I sorta know the words and I know the melody, so I will play along.

After Karaoke, we went to a club—another place I really had no business being—but along I went! I was the cool, older lady at this point. I had a reputation to uphold with all the young kids I was hanging with. Did I mention, Ray’s sister left shortly after dinner, before the Karaoke antics and the final stop?

In order to protect the veil of silence that covers all bachelorette events, I can’t over-share on the club but I have to share that it was
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try to find me!
a scene. We stood in a line and I had a flash of fear that they would let everyone BUT me in. We’ve all seen those movies. But thank goodness I was able to scurry past the gatekeepers and stay with my group. We paid a cover and were given tickets for a “free” glass of champagne. It was not super good. There was a good band, a tiny dance floor and we danced, yadda, yadda, and then it was time to get the bride home. I know, not very good story, but I took an oath! My main point in sharing any of the above is to show that I can still be a very cool and happening bridesmaid, despite my years.

Next day (Saturday) we went on a city tour, complements of our hosts. Our guide was a friend of Ting's. His English name is Snow which he said was so he could bring cool weather to us for our visit. Sad to say, it didn't work. No cool weather, but Snow was a great guide nonetheless.

It was fun to see Ray’s family—mom and dad, 2 of his sisters and their families. Mark grew
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waiting for tickets
up with Ray's family. His parents were so glad to see we made the journey. We also spent time with Ray’s daughter and it was wonderful to see her. We met a few new friends of Ray and Ting’s as well as saw some other friends we’d seen before in Shanghai. Quite a few people traveled from other countries for the wedding.

We toured Tienanmen Square and The Forbidden City—both of which we’d visited before. The weather was very hot and the sun was bright (blue skies!) so we were all very hot and tired during the tour. The kids were all such troopers. We enjoyed an ice cream cone toward the end of the time in Forbidden City. Those artificial soft-serve cones are like heaven when you are hot and hungry.

It is the 90th anniversary of the communist party and there were symbols and commemorative happenings all over China.

Mark and I had to duck out of the tour early (quack) because he had to get fitted for his tuxedo. Ray had custom tuxes made for all the groomsmen. When in China…Mark’s needed a few alterations but the process was quick and we were able
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we had to keep track of that yellow panda. our guide.
to make it back to the hotel in time to get ready for the rehearsal. Fun fact: this was Mark's first and only custom clothing experience in China. When in China, he was just not that into the whole custom made shirt scene that so many expat men love. Trust me, I tried to get him to the fabric market with me a few times. But now, after living in China for 2 years, I got him to experience it, thanks to Ray's wedding.

The ceremony was outside in the hotel garden. A very lovely garden with rocks and grass and flowers. We all took turns sneaking inside for an a/c fix. H-O-T. Ting even had the string quartet come to the rehearsal—such a good idea—and we practiced our entrances and the ceremony a few times to music. The ceremony was western and they played the wedding march, did the father delivers the bride to the groom ritual. I teared up during the rehearsal of course, so all the right wedding notes were hit.

We had a short break between rehearsing and the Appreciation Dinner. Unfortunately it was shorter than I realized and Mark and I received a
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at T-Square
call asking us where we were—15 minutes late for the bus pickup in the lobby. Everyone was waiting for us. Oops. We were taken by giant bus to a very famous duck restaurant, Quan Jude. This is the restaurant where the chef from Da Dong got his start (in case you are a Beijing duck restaurant aficionado). In fact, you can find our duck details here: www.quanjude.com.com, Duck # 381770. We received postcards after the meal and we can go to the website and I guess learn more about the duck we enjoyed greatly.

I am not a duck person. I may have said this before. But this was SOME DUCK. Really, really good. They served other dishes too, many involving the duck parts. There were duck feet (eek!) . No I didn’t. There was duck liver (yes, I did), duck kidneys (nuh uh) and many dishes with duck meat. The best was the in-room carved duck and the yummy pancakes with scallions and plum sauce. My favorite dish of the night were these really tasty shrimp with a sweet and spicy chili sauce. It was a family style set up and you had to spin the Lazy Suzanne
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rehearsing
to get the food back to you. Such good food. I was way too stuffed. Fortunately, I had not eaten lunch that day and more importantly, I had tried on my bridesmaid’s dress that morning and it was all good. I had a few millimeters of space in a rather fitted dress. There was enough walking and sweating in the trip thus far that I may have shrunk a bit. Phew.

After dinner, I had a date with the bride for manicures and pedicures. How lucky was I? The night before the wedding I got quality time with Ting! Of course I was sleepy and lame and was about to pass out but we had a nice time hanging out and getting painted. I chose a lovely purple to go with my dress. Not the most practical choice I am now realizing as it is already chipping off during our flight to Japan. But I got lots of compliments at the wedding, so it was worth it.

Next up...the pre-wedding events and the wedding.


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the great duck carving


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