Christmas, China-style

Trip Start Jul 18, 2010
Trip End Mar 04, 2011

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Flag of China  , Guangdong,
Saturday, December 11, 2010

On the run up to my departure things are more than a little crazy at work. 3 week away… I must have been crazy! I have to get all my designs signed-off before Christmas break, but the Design manager has just gotten married, and our dates clash!
The weekend saw a real treat from some of the girls I teach. We organised a Christmas party at their dormitory. I brought back some mince pies from M&S in HK for them to try. At $45 HKD for 6 they better like them J I arrive to meet Sandy at the doorway, she’s very dressed up! When she takes me up to the dormitory I am greeted by the most elaborate decorations I’ve ever seen! I made them some cut-out snowflakes, but they totally topped it with an astonishing amount of balloons (or as she said - Bamboo!), ribbons spelling out ‘Merry Xmas’ and a Christmas tree made from tinsel! Such a wonderful effort!
It’s a funny cultural thing, as Christmas isn’t huge here, it’s sort of a novelty. And China-style is always OTT! They made such a wonderful effort it was great though. The other girls, Sweety, Tammy and Cat join us for about 20 million photos in our Santa hats.
I then got them to try their mince pies, they said they were ‘SO sweet’! I suppose so! Cat exclaimed they must be made in China… package-check, nope ‘UK-Made’! Thank you M&S! What a long journey they’d had, must have been additive-crazy to last! The girls put on a great spread of dragon fruit, chocolate, tomatoes (saints fruit as they say), nuts and peanut milk! I think I drank my own body in that stuff. Farewell bikini-body… I had such hopes for you.
I introduced them to a few ‘classic’ Chritsmas songs, Maria Carey, Wham, Wizzard, Slade, Chris Rea… they needed it, only having a dance-version of jingle bells. Urghhhhhh. After a few hours chatting and watching Gossip girl, I headed off home to prepare for the last week in work.
This week my ‘block-buddies’ from HK, Benjamin and Leon, have invited me over to visit in their neighbouring town of Shajing. It’s not far from here, about 40minutes by car, so I start to make enquiries with work to book a taxi. They work in an industrial estate too, so meeting each other in China was always going to be difficult.
I get some quotes for about 200YAUN each way, pretty expensive considering my upcoming holiday. Finally, one of my colleagues says that the receptionists husband has a car that can take me for 250 YAUN both ways, perfect. Or so I think. The one thing that often bugs me about the culture here, is that no one will ever admit that they can’t do something, they’ll just try, and regardless of how much they’re failing, they’ll keep doing it! A good example was the driver, who didn’t actually know where Shajing was, or the factory he said he knew so well! The 40-minute drive was creeping past an hour, and I was frantically texting Leon to keep him up to date. When we got to the 80-minute mark, the driver turned off the sat-nav and sighed… never a good sign. We were on the expressway at the time, he slowed and we made what I can only describe as a very unnatural turn in the road. I soon found out the reason to this feeling… we’d just done a 180 onto the slip road! This was made clear by the arrows pointing in the wrong direction, then the cars, lorries and buses coming straight at us!! Oh my god. If ever there had been a nervous passenger, it was now!
Finally, we reached the factory, amazingly unharmed, but annoyingly at the wrong exit! Ben and Leon finally found us and I gave them the biggest hugs ever, they asked if I was okay - to which I replied “I’ll tell you over dinner!”. The driver took us to the restaurant, a Chinese BBQ. I’ve heard allot about them, but never actually had one. It was amazing. We ordered what I could only think of as a tank of pee-deo, chicken skewers, large chives, aubergine, corn on the cob. It was amazing. After a couple of hours chatting I realised my curfew of 10pm to meet the driver had come. Leon then informed me that he had been waiting outside the whole time! I felt so bad. We dropped the boys back off at the factory, the way home was much smoother, and actually took 45mins! Thank god it’s their turn next time!
On the drive back I was ‘treated’ to more house remixes of jingle bells, what is up with that?? I decided to give the driver 300, as he’d pretty much spent his whole night carting me around, it only seemed fair. I can’t believe he waited for me to have dinner!

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