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???!!!