Pictures from Daniel's birthday party

The people that came over for Daniel's party cooked up a storm!
 This is the cake the they brought for him. My favorite part was the chocolate curls. The cook with a sweet flour over here that is too much for me. I can't eat stuff baked with it.
 Making "Jiaozi" - Chinese dumplings.
 Everyone helped.
 There are 8 Chinese girls in our kitchen cooking and preparing!
Cooking the jiaozi - you boil them. They were pretty tasty.
 Enjoying the first part of the meal.
 This is a cucumber salad that Daniel just loves.
 This is sweet and sour pork. Selena said she ruined it, but it tasted pretty good to me.
 I can't tall you what seasoning was on this meat, but it was really yummy. I think it may have been Chinese 5 spice.
 This is pork, tomatoes and potatoes that were soaked in Balsamic vinegar. It was really yummy.
 Shrimp - here in China they cook it with the head and skin on. They say it tastes better cooked that way. I can't taste a difference.
 This was spicy chicken.
 Enjoying the yummy food. Bella, on the far left, has the same birthday as Daniel. So that party was for her too.
 So much food.
 The whole party - minus Ray who was taking the picture and Mike who had to leave earlier to help a friend.
Playing snorta. All in all it was a good time.


Daniel's 30th Birthday

Although his birthday is really today, Happy Birthday Daniel!, we did most of our celebrating on Saturday. His day began with presents his parents and siblings sent over. He got an Xbox headset (that works marvelously) and a bunch of food stuffs that are hard or impossible to find over here. We'll be savoring those puppies! Thanks guys!

He played games with his buddies at home on Xbox live for a few hours. I gave him a set of small carved dragons for his desk. Then we headed out to get his big surprise. We went over to Gulangyu where I had gotten something for him at Yogi's. I had Yogi add Happy Birthday to it and stretch it. He really likes it and was very surprised.

It's of Guilin, a place we hope to see while we live here.

On our way home I told Daniel that I had one more little surprise for him at home. When we got home he heard giggling and thought the neighbors were being loud. He tried to open the door and couldn't. So he tried a second time and as he opened it he saw someone rush into our office where they locked the door. Daniel's friends from work had come (I left my keys in the mail box) to give him a surprise party. I didn't have my phone so it kind of got muddled. But the best part was that they couldn't get the lock undone! We were laughing. The keys were in the office with them so they had to push the keys under the door one at a time until we got the one that would open it. Then they had cake and the stayed and cooked a bunch of traditional Chinese food. It was a great party. Then we played Snorta with them. If you have never played Snorta, then you are missing out. It's a hilarious game.


My favorite place...

is the fabric market in Xiamen. Oh. My. Gosh. Wow.

 Upholstery fabric.
 Velour and stretchy lace.
 Vibrant colors.



 Brocade ribbon.
 Bolts and bolts.
 Tailor shops that will custom make clothes, for cheap.
 Beautiful fabrics.
 Meters upon meters.
 Silk brocades.
 Tempting patterns.
 Costume fabric.
 Vibrant blue temptations.
And softness that calls to you. 

Wanna come to China yet? I see as my Achilles heal, a proverbial personal Pandora's box of Xiamen. 
I could live here. Wait, I do.


My new little friend

After the death  march and mystery lunch we caught taxis (that took forever) and went over to Gulangyu. Our taxi got there first by about 10 minutes. While we waited I noticed this little girl who was playing around and sitting on the steps. She was so cute. But she worried me.

 I couldn't see her family anywhere. She wandered off around the staircase, then came back. Then had some drink and wandered off again. Then her grandma came.
 She called for her, but couldn't find her. I told her that the little girl went around the staircase and she went off to find her. They both came back shortly after and the grandmother gave us 2 wax apples. They are pretty good, but no, I did not eat them. I did not have a way to wash them.
  She was such a little cutie. Her little hair just sticks straight out in every direction. I caught this last photo of her as we left. She was there playing around on Wednesday when I went back.

Her parents must work all day and so grandma takes care of her while collecting plastic bottles for recycling. Many of the old people do this for subsistence. They must get a fair amount for it to be worth it. I now call her "Little Orphan Annie." When I saw her Wednesday afternoon she was sound asleep on her grandma's shoulder. I wish there was something I could do for her. She just breaks my heart!


A lunch, a temple and a death march

Brent had gone for a morning hike and found a vegetarian restaurant next door to a Buddhist Temple that sounded good. So we went. None of us read Chinese and the menu had no English, so Daniel ordered from the pictures. It was fabulous.

 Corn and mushrooms

 This was large mushrooms.
 Fried rice with cashews, peas, corn and carrots. It was really yummy.
This was a panko covered roll with some sort of creamy filling and mangoes.
We had a good time.

Then we went to this temple. It was nice because it was for the more devout people and not the tourists.

They put paper money in these large ovens and burn it for their ancestors.

Then we walked down a path - that was over a mile long. Brent severely downplayed it's length. Add the heat and you had four miserable people. But it was pretty.

This is a new Temple they are building. There is a whole complex taking up almost an  acre of land. It will be amazing when it opens. I hope we are in town for it as I hear that Temple openings are amazing.

 There were these tables set up all along the path. There we many people playing cards, eating lunch, gambling, smoking, you know, the usual Sunday afternoon activities.

 Green is never lacking in a humid environment like Xiamen.

The weary travelers and the energetic leader.

The pagoda and Temple at the bottom.

It was a sweat filled day with good food and good company.