Cary asked me to read through her posts and add what is missing and any other comments.
The wedding was a two part process, the events at the home where Jimmy claimed Jiao Jiao and the ceremony at the hotel. The ceremony at the hotel was in three parts. First a blended western/Han wedding, next the real deal, a Mongolian wedding with Mongolian entertainment and lastly some sort of event where Jiao JIao changed into several different dresses.
A videographer filmed everything and hopefully we will have something to share from this in a month or so. They seemed like real pros, but I have no way of knowing that.
The wedding events, started with our entourage driving to Jiao Jiao’s parents home in a line of 10 or so Audis and a big stretch limo. At the home, Jimmy gains entry by giving the brother and friends small cash bribes. Next, as we all enter the house, Jimmy tries to gain entry to Jiao Jiao’s parents room where Jiao Jiao is sequestered with her bridesmaids. The bridesmaids asked questions about Jiao Jiao that he has to answer. All of this was in Mandarian and I don’t have a clue what the questions were. Next we all enter the room (very packed) and there is more dialog between Jimmy and the bridesmaids and then dialog between Jiao Jiao and Jimmy. She has her body turned away from Jimmy this whole time and is stunningly beautiful in her white dress. JImmy missed the queue from the interpreter as to the shoe location so he fumbled a bit, but found the shoe and put in on her foot.
Cary and I then left the bedroom, while Jimmy, JIao JIao and the bridesmaids stayed in the bedroom. Cary and I then sat next to Jiao JIao’s parents in the living room and there was some other part of the ceremony without JImmy or Jiao Jiao that I forget. Then, Jimmy carries Jiao Jiao into the living room. We don’t have a shot on our camera, but hopefully someone else does. They both looked so happy. There is then a ritual in Mandarian where JImmy accepts the Bai’s has his parents and calls them mother and father in Mandarin. Jiao JIao then does the same with us and call me Dad and Cary Mom in English. The Chinese don’t seem to have the concept of in-laws, we are one extended family now. My recollection is that somewhere during the house ceremony, Jiao Jiao and Jimmy are now considered man and wife.
I forgot to add that the wedding is run by an MC/DJ type and he is part of the this apartment event. The MC man is also the wedding planner’s husband.
The ceremony at the hotel begins with the bridesmaids and groomsmen gathered behind an arch of roses and then to the tune of music I forget, marched towards the center of the stage in a traditional western style. Tom Leary led the way with the lead bridesmaid, a/k/a the hot one. All the bridesmaids were Cantonese and spoke little Mandarin and no English. This is the beginning of the Western/Han phase of the ceremony.
A few comments on the western part. JImmy and Jiao Jiao pour rice wine or some other booze in a cup type champagne glass looking set up that cascades down to lower glasses and into a bowl in the bottom. When each glass is half full, a blue light goes on in each glass. There is dry ice or something in the bowl to send of a white fog when the bowl is full.
From here on in most of my recollection is a blur. Our interpreter didn’t realize I was the father of the groom until half way through the event because I looked so young! She was soft spoken as was Antonio our guide who also interpreted in a mike for all to hear. The DJ and music was so loud I couldn’t here any of the conversation or interpreters. In addition, the local food had caught up with me big time and I was simply trying to avoid passing out.
Somewhere in all of this, but I think it was in the first part of the wedding, John, Jimmy’s boss at USITO made a long speech and toast including a reading from the bible. Local tradition is that a wise man make such a speech and since Jimmy’s boss has a PhD (Math from Hopkins) he was chosen and introduced as the Professor.
Next there was a pause in the ceremonies for a while, as Jimmy and Jiao Jiao changed into traditional Mongolian garb. The videographer went around the room taping toasts to Jimmy and Jiao Jiao from people at all the tables.
There were 30 to 40 tables of 10 each. Typical of the Chinese, there was a lazy suzan in the center of the table. At the start of the event it was full of sodas, chinese munchies and a plate of cigarettes. Later the food was added, but because of our sorry states we ate little. At the end, the guests came to our table and carted everything away in goodie bags.
Jimmy and Jiao JIao then dressed in beautiful Mongolian garments they had made for this event and then entered a private room for a blessing of sorts from the Party Chairman. At that point, if memory is correct (50/50 odds) the Mongolian part was then led by a Mongolian guy in Mongolian clothes. Somewhere in this part, Cary and I were welcomed to Mongolia, given rice wine (the local grain alchol that also stabalized my stomach for a few hours) and given traditional white welcoming robes, similar to what happend at the yurts out on the grass lands a day or two earlier.
The end of the Mongolian phase were solo performances by a Mongolian string player, a throat singer and a female vocalist. The string man played a cello sort of looking instrument with an approximate frequency range of a viola. The music was raucous, similar in style to the electronic violin riffs in Dave Matthews’ music. The string man got the crowd going (and drinking more) and he was followed by the throat singer. Throat singing can only be heard and not described. But he started with long very low tones, then to higher and higher tones of shorter duration. The throat singer ended by singing all the tones simultaneously. Peter and I have both search google for Mongolian throat singing and this performance simply blew away all such performances that are readily available on the web. The female singer was more quiet in nature than the two prior artists. Hopefully, the video will have all this music, it was miked and taped I think.
Next anyone who wanted to could get up and sing. Lots of local did singing chinese pop songs. Lots of fun.
Phase 3 of the wedding is when Jiao Jiao enters the room several times in different dresses. She was stunning beautiful in all. I have no idea what this last phase was about. The event was capped by 45 minutes to an hour of spontaneous photo taking of just about all permutations of the people and groups in the room.
Cary and I then returned to our rooms and slept for several hours. The younger members of our entourage went to the hotel lobby where they were toasted many times by the local party officials and by members of Jiao Jiao’s family. Jiao Jiao’s Dad, I am told, laid off the toasts, has he had a bottoms up rice wine toast with each of the 35 to 40 tables at the wedding. As a side note, rice wine is always drunk bottoms up and is not something to sip, more or less Mongolian shot drinking. The physically lightest in our entourage was out for the count from the lobby phase of this event and stayed in Tom Leary’s room until about 4:30 AM.
Around 7:30 or so in the evening, our entourage regrouped and Jimmy treated us (less the one) and the Cantonese members of the wedding party to dinner. I picked at the food because of my stomach, but it all looked good. Fortunately, the weather cooled and it poured rain. The room where we dined had windows that opened so we had cool fresh our for the first time that felt good.
We arrived home about an hour ago–SO glad to be home and looking forward to our own beds. Travel was long but uneventful–25 hours door to door. We got hung up in Newark, but what else is new.
Stay tuned for pictures–may be a few days as we have to get caught up around home and deal with a little jet lag!
We are so glad you could all share this event with us–hope you enjoyed reading about our travels!
Our flight leaves around 3:00 today for the long flight home. We are all ready to come back!
We did a little shopping yesterday as the Silk Street market again–can’t believe how Jiao Jiao bargains everything down for us! I have treasures for everyone! We had GREAT American food yesterday for dinner! Burgers, steaks, etc. We went to a really nice area in Beijing where a lot of the foreigners hang out–all the typical big American stores–Nike, Northface, etc.I had fun buying Jiao Jiao some clothing for their trip–bathing suit, etc. We also got to see their apartment–very nice 2 bedroom with lots of space. Back to the hotel early as they had to pack for their honeymoon and we were all exhausted.
We hope everyone has enjoyed reading the blog! It has been a really nice way for us to share it with all our friends and family since it was so far away. I am sure we will remember more about the trip later!
Dave and Eleanor–sorry we couldn’t talk when you called! We will call when we get home.
This is going to be brief and it is late. We get up early to leave Inner Mongolia tomorrow for Beijing.
Today we took a 3 hour drive north to the border town of Man Jhou Li. We stopped at this very large lake along the way and got out to look around. They had dunebuggies to rent on the beach and Adam, Deb, Jimmy, and Peter all took a 10 minute rental. Unfortunately Peter’s lasted only about 3 as he flipped his over! He had a few good scrapes on the knee and the elbow and his hand took a pretty good hit–we think he is OK but may have his hand checked out when we get home. Everyone else was fine.
The town was very cool and we walked around, did some shopping, and had another very large lunch. Heavy influence of Russian architecture and odd to see so many Russians and Mongolians mingling together. The shopping was not great–every stall you went in had the EXACT same stuff as the last and 99 percent of it was really cheap tourist stuff. Adam and Deb found a few fun things. We did load up on a few bottles of Russian vodka however! Don’t worry Andrew–we got one for you!
We then went to the border of Russia and Inner Mongolia. It is a very late gate that we could only go so far. If you had a Russian or Chinese passport, we could have gone right up to the gate. We did get to see trains passing through the gate–old Russian trains. It was very surreal to be there.
Dinner was very interesting to say the least! It was in one of the Russian hotels and there was a show as we were eating. It felt like we were in Las Vegas!! There were mostly Russian women dancers dancing away in very cheap outfits. One of the songs they danced to was right out of the 70’s–“Venus” by Three Dog Night!! It was all very bizarre!!!! There was also a big movie screen behind the dancers the whole time projecting all sorts of different images from around the area. Our guide, Antonio, had them put a “Welcome VIP family, the Goodrich’s” on the screen at one point!!! Honestly, it was all something out of a very strange movie–we kept wondering what was going to be next!
THANK YOU Andrew for getting some pictures on the blog!!! This is only a FRACTION of what we all have!! Stay tuned for more photos, especially after we arrive home Friday evening.
We are in Beijing tomorrow and then home to Lexington the day after. It will feel good to be home in our own beds. It has been quite the trip–a lot of memories, laughs and amazing experiences! I am coming away with a very good feeling about all of Jimmy’s new family.
Jimmy and Jiao Jiao also leave Friday morning for their honeymoon to Bali!! They are both pretty tired after a big last couple of weeks and all the planning they did for all of us. Jimmy and Jiao Jiao–THANK YOU for everything.
I am leaving China today, and I have a few hours so I will post some pictures here so you all can see what my parents have been describing
Today is going to be another tough one to explain–Amazing!
The day started out with the Leary’s and Andrew leaving. So sad to see them all go. Poor Tom was not feeling that great this morning–not the best condition to be in when you have to travel all day! Jiao Jiao’s parents went to the airport to say goodbye to all of them and to give Anne the necklace!
Today was an important lunch at Jiao Jiao’s home. In Chinese tradition, the bride travels back to her home on the third day after the wedding. She has to bring four gifts to her family. Jiao Jiao brought tea, cigarettes, bei jao (rice wine), and ???. According to Jiao Jiao, for many brides, this is the last time she will ever see her family as she is now part of her husbands family. Jiao Jiao says this actually still happens in China. Apparently her Mother was very emotional about all of today.We had snacks at the home ( Jiao’s Jiao’s Mom’s dumplings–which are amazing!) and then we went to a local restaurant with all her aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins. The table where you dine in her home is very small. Jiao Jiao’s Mom and all her aunts were in the kitchen the whole time serving us all the dishes–they never sat down and ate with us.
We exchanged more gifts with the grandparents and then Jiao Jiao’s Mom gave me HER necklace that was very similar to Anne’s!!! Could not believe it! She thought I would not want it as it had been worn before but I told her that it made it even more special! It is going to be hard to top all of this if they ever come to Boston! She also made me a wallet that she cross stitched! I cannot get over their generosity!
Lunch was more huge plates of food and lots more toasts. Their were so many of us that we were in two rooms. Dining in China seems to be in a lot of these private rooms–especially if you have something special to celebrate. We mentioned at the lunch how much we all liked the blueberry juice over here (especially Peter) and ten minutes later one of the uncles came in with a whole case of it for Peter!! He had actually left the restaurant and gone out and bought it for him!! Two of Jiao Jiao’s cousins performed for us during lunch. They were going to do it at the wedding but I guess they ran out of time. One of them sang and the other played this beautiful string instrument. The music was about a horse and he actually made sounds that sounded exactly like a horse! Jimmy told me he has been practicing for 6 months just for this! I would guess he was about 12 or 13.
After lunch, we all went to a local Mongolian Grassland festival that only comes every 3 years. It featured bare back horse relay races and Mongolian wrestling. There were also many yurts set up with people selling all sorts of local wares. Jimmy said it is their version of the county fair. The difference is that people just walked home and went into the horizon off into the grasslands. They were REAL native Mongolians at this event. We were stopped many times to have our picture taken with families. It was very obvious that they had never seen anyone like us before. Jack, we got you a present here!!! The only thing I am going to tell you is that it cost $1.00!!! Charlie and I had a really special picture taken! We dressed up in the Mongolian costumes and rode around on horses!!! I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard!! It was so much fun.
We then went back to Jiao Jiao’s home for dinner. The aunts had stayed there all afternoon while we were gone cooking the meal. How about it sisters??? I kind of like this arrangement!! They did get one item take out item from a local restaurant however–grilled lamb and beef on a stick–it was REALLY good. Again, all the aunt’s and her Mom were in the kitchen while all of us sat there and ate. About the time we were done, they sat down in the living room (right across from us and ate themselves). Jimmy, Charlie, Peter, Adam, and Jiao Jiao’s Dad were having a REALLY good time drinking beer! First of all, the beer was served in a cordial glass ( this is important to know). Every time a toast was made, they had to drink the whole glass. If they didn’t finish every last drop, they had to drink another one. By this time, all the women in the room are sitting there watching the men drink! (and drink, and drink…..) Jimmy says all of this is very common. There was tons of laughter and it was a really nice evening. By the end of this, her Dad had pulled out this hugh bottle of rice wine and they started in on that when we actually had to end the evening there and go on to our next event. Her Dad ended up giving
We left there to go to a performance out in the middle of the grasslands. I will not even be able to come close to being able to describe this one!!! We were going to go last night, but it was cancelled because of rain. Andrew, I know this is going to make you sad that you had to miss this–sorry! You will just have to come back! We got the VIP treatment again because of Jiao Jiao’s Dad. This was a performance out in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (the grasslands) about Gingas Kahn’s life. The stage was the grasslands (green rolling hills). The performance took place on a piece of land that was at least the size of SIX football fields!!! You sat in bleachers to watch. It was an amazing show of lights, hundreds of men on horseback, singing, dancing, Mongolian THROAT singing (more on that later!) and battles. All of this started about 9:00 at night, so it was completely dark and they had all sorts of different lights throughout the show. We are going to see if there is a DVD of this because you just would not believe how cool it was.
All in all it was a really great day.
We are up early to go to the Russian border town–looking forward to that! Do you think we will be eating Borscht tomorrow???!!!
I keep waking up early so it gives me lots of time to ramble on in these posts. Wish we could add pictures but that will have to wait. Charlie did attempt to send one email last night with 6 photos from the wedding. He made several attempts but he is not sure it went out.
The performance on the grassland got cancelled last night because of rain but we will see it another night minus those that are leaving this morning. The Leary’s and Andrew leave at 9:00 AM this morning–we will miss having them all here. The Leary’s will continue straight home and Andrew will spend one night on his own in Beijing and fly out the next day.
We had the BEST dinner last night–Jimmy took us to the local grocery store last night and we bought all the fixings for peanut butter (Skippy!) and honey sandwiches, ham sandwiches, and Pringles! We sat in the hotel lobby, made our sandwiches and had a feast! I think everyone was ready for a break from Chinese food and it helped those whose stomachs were still a bit off. Actually, everyone seems to be feeling better. It was lots of fun seeing a Chinese grocery store!
Since Kareoke seems to be the only other night time activity in Hailar, (which requires a lot of drinking!) we just hung out in our hotel rooms for the rest of the evening. It was really nice just sitting and recounting all the events of the wedding and trip.
On our first day in Hailar, Anne admired one of Jiao Jiao’s Aunts necklaces. It is a beautiful pearl necklace with 2 rings of jade and diamonds? in the middle. She asked Jimmy and Jiao Jiao if they could please get one for her when they get back to Beijing as they are much cheaper in Beijing. Apparently Jiao Jiao’s brother has gone to retrieve the necklace and it is going to be given to Anne before she leaves this morning!!!! Amazing!! I wish I had admired it a little more! It is really beautiful. Jimmy says this is very common in China.
I have not bought anything for myself on the trip so far–am hoping to pick up something fun when we go to the Russian border town. Apparently there is a fun market with lots of Russian stuff. I may have a little time also the day we have in Beijing before we go back. I found the silk market in Beijing so crazy that it was hard to think. It is a large 6 story building CRAMMED FULL with stalls of everything you can imagine. All the merchants are shouting as you walk by to try and get you to buy. Not the best shopping experience in my opinion!
Anne had a beautiful silk jacket made for her in Beijing and one for Marty in the same fabric–Marty, wait until you see it–it is really beautiful!
The kids have bought all sorts of fun things including wolf furs from Mongolia, jade bracelets and lots of other assorted things.
Today we have the lunch at Jiao Jiao’s house and there is also a celebration in her town commemorating the town’s 99 year history–I think. Parades, fireworks, etc. Sounds like a lot of fun. Tomorrow we go to the Russian border town which I guess is only a couple hours away.
I still can’t believe we are all here–I keep pinching myself. I cannot describe how friendly the Mongolian people are. Big smiles all the time and everyone bends over backwards to make everyone comfortable. The focus seems to be on making everyone around you happy, not yourself. There is a lot to be said for that. Very rich traditions going back thousands of years. The juxtaposition of old and new here is seen everywhere. Modern technology versus scenes that make you think you have stepped back in time 200 hundred years–Carts peddled by bicycles carrying big loads, animals roaming free everywhere, poverty, very simple lifestyle. Everyone seems incredibly happy.
Time to get going…….I hope everyone is enjoying our thoughts on the trip! We look forward to comments!