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Published: August 22nd 2012
My first dinner at their home
With Junting's parents, cousins and also Junting on the ipad
My last stop on my 7 week journey brought me to Dalian, a beautiful port city in the northeast of China about an hour flight from Beijing. I had originally planned to meet my Chinese friend Junting here in her hometown, but as I mentioned in my other post, she is still stuck in the United States working out her visa issues. Despite this, Junting went above and beyond to see that I had a great stay in Dalian after I told her I still wanted to visit. She put me up with her really nice and funny parents at her gorgeous home, made sure her English speaking cousins and friends would be around so I could communicate (her parents don't speak any English) and planned for great sightseeing adventures and dining experiences that I enjoyed greatly. Most of all, though, I enjoyed being able to spend time in a very hospitable family atmosphere and relax a bit after a crazy week navigating my way through China.
I was greeted at the airport by Junting's dad and her two cousins who had printed out a sign with my name on it. Her dad owns a newspaper ad design
business and her mom owns a beauty salon. Both her parents are very smiley and like to laugh a lot. Her cousins, Grace and Snow, were 23 and 16 and understood English very well and were able to speak it decently as well. They acted as my main translators for her parents. There are two dogs as well, Freddie and Juju, who kept the home lively. I also met Junting's friend from high school, Gayle, who just finished her bachelors in accounting and is now going to get her masters in London. She spoke really good English and she spent all day Saturday with us as we went around seeing the city. I also got to see Junting a lot via the web on the family iPad. We would usually check in in the morning and evenings and she would tell me things her cousins hadn't been able to and just generally chat which was a lot of fun since it had been a while since we had last talked face to face. She would even join us at the dinner table as we ate which I found quite funny.
Dalian was such a nice change from
the craziness of some of the bigger Chinese cities I had been visiting and having my personal tour guides to show me around was awesome as well. What I didn't bargain for was a personal photographer too! Junting's dad really likes photography and everywhere we would go, he would have me pose for pictures and be taking paparazzi style photos as well as we would walk around. It was pretty entertaining for him and for me and I got some great pictures out of it. I attached some of them, some of which he even photoshopped a bit before he gave them to me.
Besides the sights and photos, we also ate a lot! Any weight I may have lost over the past several weeks, I definitely gained back plus some. Every meal was a new traditional Chinese dish or other favorite of Junting and her family and included a ton of food. Because of Dalians location on the ocean, seafood is a staple here and is included in just about every meal. We also ate dumplings, Korean BBQ, Japanese buffet, traditional Chinese breakfasts, and a spicy Chinese dinner. We also drank lots of tea and her
dad showed me how tea is traditionally made and served. And in case I get hungry on the way home, they sent me with pounds (literally) of chinese sweets and candy. All of this was their treat with the typical Chinese hospitality that I mentioned before and experienced in Beijing. It was all delicious and every meal was also a relatively new dining experience for me as well. Such a better alternative to the street food that I have been living on this entire trip.
One thing I also found funny was how quickly they eat. Chinese usually share all their food just grabbing from plates in the middle of the table with their chopsticks. They usually gave me my own plate to eat from which was fine and then would keep loading it with food as I ate. (the one chinese phrase I learned well was "I'm full" or else they would never stop giving me food!) When I would start eating, I would look up after a bit and they would all be done already, and were just watching me eat giving me more food. I guess eating is serious business for them and they
thought it was funny how drastic the differences were between the speeds which we ate our food. I think my dad would fit in well at their meals.
I was really glad that I got to finish my trip in Dalian. Junting has a great family and it made me ready to go home to see my family. For being nearly seven weeks, the time has sure gone by quickly. For me, it was exactly what I wanted to do before I started work and I know I will be thinking / reminiscing about this adventure for a long time to come and also dreaming about my next one. But, first I need to get a new passport... There is no room left in my current one.
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