Saturday, June 9, 2012

Happy Birthday, Emily!

Otherwise known as, Hibachi in China

Adam and I were pretty excited about going out to celebrate our friend, Emily's, birthday. Emily is a super friend. I come to love her a lot and I am so grateful for her friendship. The bittersweet part about getting together for her birthday is that it is one of the last times I will see her in China! She is moving back to America in a few days. Her husband is one of Adam's best friends here, and their two daughters are Willow's play mates. They were our mentors when we first arrived in China, and it will be hard to imagine living in Shenyang without them. Emily is a great hostess and so much fun, so it was great to be a part of her birthday party. 

She had chosen to go out to a nice hibachi restaurant at a fairly new mall that is near our home. It's the kind of mall we can afford zero of the retail merchandise. If you want to forget that you are in China, you can go to this mall. It's called the MixC, and is several stories tall. It has many designer labels, a Starbucks, and full-sized ice skating rink! There's also lots of baby stores, a Subway, and even a Pizza Hut (which is completely different than the Pizza Huts in America--it's really swanky here). Inside the mall, it's super quiet, and eerily 'empty' by China standards. The floors are so clean you can see your reflection in them, and if I try to walk at Adam's walking speed, I fall on my face. Slippery! 

No one yells over loud speakers to tell you about their great deal. There's no loud bargaining. People are generally a bit more sophisticated at this mall--and I often wonder "WHO" can afford to shop here! There is a growing first class in China though, and I see wealthy families walking around with their child dressed in designer clothes. They park their BMW in the attached parking garage. They drink Starbucks. 

Anyway, because we are not first class denizens, we took the bus. 

Bus fare is only 1 kuai per person. Which is about 15 cents. So cheap compared to US public transit! One more reason to love China. 

When we boarded the bus, it was relatively 'full'. This means that all the seats were occupied, and several people aboard were standing up. By the end of the bus ride, we were definitely 'full'. This means that we were crammed in so tightly, that I didn't even need to hold onto the bar because falling down was an impossibility. We were stuck in traffic, so it took three times as long to get there. It was most likely over 100F inside the bus, because the previously 'hot' temperature outside felt mercifully cool when we were finally regurgitated back onto the street. Willow and I were both wilting in the sweltering bus. She was fussing and whimpering because of the heat, the pressing crowd, the sweaty smells. She kept kicking strangers, and to my embarrassment, reached the short distance behind me to unbutton some lady's shirt! Ah! 

Finally, finally, we made it to the luxurious mall. I prayed that all of Willow's good mood hadn't been wasted on the transportation--and wished that I had spent 6 extra kuai to take a taxi. Oh China!
Adam, with his manly-man diaper bag. Only  those secure enough in their masculinity, or role as father, should carry this awesomely cute diaper bag from Petunia Picklebottom 

Finally, finally, finally, off the bus.

I mainly took these pictures, because of the windows that are stacked up on the side walk. They are constructing some tall high-rises and are in the process of installing windows. They look so small once they are in place, but up close, these windows are ginormous! 

My camera lens couldn't take in the whole view, but this was the weird arch thing that was over the entrance. I thought it was so strange looking and that my dad would like it. 

Stepping into this luxurious mall, you can almost forget that you are in China. It's seriously a  outrageously fancy shopping center. All designer and completely expensive. 

Don't know what's going on with this interior, but thought my architect-family would like it. 

Baby girls in the elevator. Willow is giving herself kisses in the mirror (the walls in the elevator are mirrors). It's only cute if babies kiss themselves in mirrors. Narcissism quickly loses its charm.  

Funny caption in the menu, which is why I took the picture, but now I can't read what it says. Fail. 

What is 'Black Wool Chili Beef"?  I love Chenglish!

Waiting for the chefs to bring out their ingredients and start cooking! 

Willow was a bit antsy, so we went window shopping while we waited for the food to be prepared. Of course, the retail workers loved her! It's not often that a baby goes shopping at this mall, I guess. We went into one really cute store, and all the ladies working there surrounded us for about twenty minutes. They had their camera phones out, and desperately wanted to hold her. But she was unwilling. Instead, she gave herself more kisses. There were columns in the store that were very reflective, like mirrors. 

Willow liked playing with the kuazi (chopsticks) but she kept poking us in the eyes. 

Adam was VERY excited when he saw this. A whole plate of minced garlic 

Maddy (Emily's daughter), was playing with Arthur while waiting for her meal. She was 'painting' with the water, the chopsticks, and the different hibachi dipping sauces. I love her imagination! 

The birthday girl 

Theatrically frying up some yummy chao fan (fried rice) 

Grilling bananas 

Afterwards, Adam and I headed for the Starbucks on the ground  floor level. This meant riding in the elevator again--Willow loves her reflection in the elevator mirror 

For all my Starbucks Barista friends....What a Chinese Starbucks looks like.

Don't know what holiday/festival these are for, but some sort of dragon dessert being sold. 

Chinese people are so skinny 

I like the Chinese characters and English on these measuring cups 

Not a very good picture, but here we are exiting the mall on the basement level. On the first floor level, right above, is a Cartier store. Amazingly expensive, I'm sure!

Civilization! Or is it? Commercialism at it's finest in China.  

Waterfall stairs 

Happy Birthday, Emily! 

You deserved a great night, and I hope you had fun! We will miss you so much! 


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