A Tronkie Travellogue
Day 7: Beijing, China
08:15-09:15: I find that my uncle's ADSL connection has gone on the fritz. For the next hour, I move around the house, checking wireless reception and the wired connections. I realize that Hirilonde (my Dell Inspiron 6000 notebook) is connecting to the TPLink wireless access point just fine; it's the WAN that's inaccessible.
09:15 - 11:15: I work on photos and wait for the ISP repair folks to get here. My uncle's neighbor spots me taking pictures of the neighborhood and asks me what I'm doing. I introduce myself as a family member and he becomes a bit more friendly and relaxed. He invites me across the street to look at his unfinished house and take pictures from his balcony.
He asks my age; I tell him that I'm 32 and he seems a bit surprised that I'm a faculty member. (Given the family that I'm visiting, it really shouldn't come as any surprise at all.) He asks a few more questions: How long does it take to fly from Chicago to Beijing? How many siblings does my uncle have and how many are here for this reunion?
He reveals that his house cost 15 million RMB (just under $2M USD), but I tell him I do not know the exact cost of my uncle's house. By the time he moves on to specific questions about my uncle's work at Google China, my Chinese has undergone a bit of "sudden deterioration". You never know.
I learned from my uncle that there are a couple of movie stars in the community and this gentleman confirms that some of the residents are actors and others are businesspeople. All in all, it's a very interesting visit.
11:20 - 13:05: Here are two CNC repairmen in the garage.
Broadband repair people are a bunch of putzes on either side of the Pacific: "deny everything" is the order of the day, you need your ISP password, and of course your cable modem, or router, or NIC, or all of the above, are broken.
14:45: Let me tell you, nothing beats watching BSG on a 120" screen.
17:30: My Fourth Aunt and her husband arrive, bringing the total to eleven: my grandmother, my folks and myself, my Fourth Aunt and her husband, my Fifth Aunt, and the four people of my uncle's household.
17:00 - 21:00 BST: Dinner at the Jade Garden.
Marinated jellyfish with cucumbers
Tofu skin with mushrooms
Diced pork intestines with jalapeno peppers
Tofu sponge (kaofu)
Candied ham with lotus seeds and yams
Filet mignon cubes
Red dates filled with glutinous rice
Chicken feather cress
Roast duck with sweet and sour sauce
Whole 16" shad with bacon, ginger, and mushroom
Scallop, shark fin, and abalone soup with cured quail eggs
Green tea pastries
Steamed open dumplings (shao mai)
Deep fried pork buns