Rollercoasters and Plastic Wrap

Trip Start Aug 30, 2006
Trip End Feb 03, 2008

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Sunday, December 3, 2006

"I guess it's safe," Dan and I whisper to each other, eating hot dogs.

Our friends are strapping themselves into seats on a giant skateboard. It's going to twirl them from side to side as the skateboard arcs a huge half-pipe.

I don't like to feel like I'm falling, so Dan and I passed up this ride at the Pan Yu Chimelong Amusement Park two weeks ago.

We did try out the other rides though. My high school friend Adam Lutchansky, visiting from Alaska on his solo mission around the world, or at least as far around as his money takes him, was looking for excitement, so we thought a Chinese amusement park in the rain would at least be different.

Within the first hour he'd found fame too, a group of Chinese schoolgirls had him pose with them for a few pictures, and another girl randomly poked his head with her finger as we were waiting in line for anther ride. I guess she thought his hair wasn't real.

The best ride was the 10-inversion roller coaster, which promised an "orgiastic scream," according to the sign out front, and rumored itself to be in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most loops, according to the sign out back.

Next best were the old amusement park staple, bumper cars. Because it was a Monday, and a rainy Monday at that, the park was pretty well deserted by 3 p.m., and by closing time when the rain really began to pour, we seemed to be the only people in the park. So we got extra circuits when we asked for it, and the bumper car staff called us back four times.

Seeing that it was raining anyway, Dan, Adam, Loman and I also went on the water park rides fully clothed and then sat, drenched, all the way back to Foshan in the taxi. We gathered at our local restaurant once back and ordered a steaming pot of dog meat, (yes, you read that right) plates of dumplings and fried noodles, barbecued egg plant and pot after pot of tea.

Winter has begun, it seems.  The rain came with a week or so of colder weather, during which Dan and I have had to start wearing jackets, socks and closed shoes again and I bought a pair of thick tights and tall leather boots as a birthday present to myself. We're holding out on buying a heater though. We think we're tough enough.

For my birthday a large group of us ate and drank at restaurant near home and then went dancing after work. Dan made me a pair of  I ching coin earrings as a present, and bought me a spa treatment to ease the hangover the next day.

The spa treatment was pretty funny. Dan said it should make me feel like a princess, and I guess it did-like a deaf and dumb princess with no power to exert her will.

First they had me shower and put on some disposable underwear, a shower cap, and a modest dressing gown. They ran me a bath in a sanitized tub, sprinkled rose petals in it and left me to marinate for 25 minutes.  Before getting into the shower or the bath, though, they had to communicate with me somehow so I would take off my clothes. Miming is an important skill, but not one these ladies were versed in.

Next, the two women rubbed me down with some blue gel, to exfoliate my skin, I guess. The women there were very good at this part of what they did, but they weren't used to treating foreigners.

Every once in awhile they'd find something interesting-my tattoo, my toe ring, a particular freckle, and exclaim and poke it so the other would look at it.  They giggled a lot while putting gel on my belly, too, which made me suck in a little more than usual.

After I rinsed off the blue gel as best I could-it got stuck in the hairs on my arms-they put me on a massage table and one of them gave me a back massage while the other gave me a leg massage with lots of oil. I was just drifting into sleep from that, when they told me to get up.  This is when I broke down laughing.

One of them came at me with a 2 " paint brush and a bowl of white cream, the other attacked with a roll of plastic kitchen wrap. Before I knew it, they had completely mummified me from the neck down in white cream and plastic, even my palms and the soles of my feet.

Now basted and covered, they baked me for 30 minutes on an electric blanket with a towel over my face. I kept chuckling, but soon started to like it. It was like being in my own, individually wrapped sauna. I was pretty cozy in the plastic, and I had been out late the night before, so I drifted off for a few minutes.

When my time was up, they tore off the plastic and made me shower again. The white cream must have had some bleaching agent in it, as some of my freckles have gone and what little tan I accumulated over the summer has disappeared. I was so exhausted from the heat that the ladies had to help me downstairs.

An interesting experience, but I kind of like my freckles, so I might just stick to back massages and saunas at the gym from now on!

Two more notes for this week: Our house has the cleanest phones in all of China. Adam came home after drinking with us one evening and decided to wash his clothes. Unfortunately, he forgot to take his US mobile phone out of his pocket, and shorted out the battery. We taunted him a bit, but lent him the mobile phone I used in Prague, which we kept as a spare. Coming home from the nightclub after my birthday party, guess what went in the wash! Here is a photo of the great phone massacre. How many people in the world have washed this many phones? This is number 3 for Adam. We are taking an informal poll. To his credit, he replaced my phone with a better one and is letting me make fun of him on the Internet.

Secondly, one of our three remaining turtles, Er (Chinese for Two, we quit giving them names and started with numbers), passed away yesterday. We got a Siamese fighting fish and are pinning our hopes on him.
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vanessab on

Dog stew?
And how does dog stew compare with a big pot of good ol' Irish stew? Minus the spuds, of course.

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