Wednesday we flew to Kunming where we were met by Benson’s parents. They treated us to traditional Yunnan rice noodle soup and rose petal cakes. Benson’s parents were so sweet. Mr Cheng fed Zea her noodle soup like a daddy bird because Zea couldn’t use her chopsticks. Then they toured us around two pedestrian streets: one modern with western name brand stores and one ancient with wooden buildings and tea shops. It was so fun to meet Benson’s parents and see where Benson gets his kind demeanor and cute sense of humor.
Tuesday evening was spent with an extravagant hot pot meal. We watched the noodle maker dance as he swung and stretched our noodles. We had the normal hot pot fair with meat, mushrooms, tofu, cabbage, shrimp, bamboo hearts and Lizy ordered us some interesting hot pot additions to try: pig throat, duck intestines, and pig brain. Our brave students gobbled it all up. We also enjoyed some extra laughs as Wesley came out of the shower dripping in his towel as everyone was standing ready to go. Wesley finally got his Chinese name: 大白鲨 (da bai sha = great white shark).
Here you can see us at the Temple of Heaven. The boys are relaxing in massage chairs after a hard afternoon of bargaining in the fake name brand market. Quinn is in his new shark sweatshirt playing on some public exercise equipment. In the evening we saw an amazing Chinese acrobatic show. Nia was most impressed by the 12 women balancing on one bike. Zea was stunned by the man balancing on 8 chairs while doing a one armed handstand (the picture here is during cleanup after the show. Coulson was so inspired that he went to talk to one of the acrobats after the show and then performed some acrobatics for us afterward.
Tuesday morning we spent taking a tai chi class in the park beside the temple of heaven. Our excellent teacher taught us the connection between tai chi and fighting in martial arts. He showed us some defensive moves and impressed us with his quick, strong moves that pulled Cyrus off his feet.
After the Wall, we relaxed our aching bones with a traditional Chinese foot massage: burning herbal foot bath, shoulder massage, foot massage with acupressure points, and then cupping (see Lizy’s feet) to draw the qi energy to the feet for healing. Wesley surprised us all by shouting, “Oh God, oh God!” as he thought they were going to burn his feet with the flames used to heat the cups— a moment we all have enjoyed teasing him about.
While we weren’t blessed with sunny weather and sweeping vistas, the Great Wall was still able to impress. We started with a steep forested hike on a trail for an hour up to the Wall. Then, 3 more hours up and down crumbling guard towers, collapsed walls grown in by trees, and lastly a paved renovated section. The fog left an eerie feeling of desolation.
In the afternoon we went to Lizy’s mom’s silk clothing store where the designer is one of the most famous in China. She makes clothing for the president and made all the coats for the apex conference in China. We got to see the actual size and color coat that Obama and Xi xiping. We got to try on all the clothes and play dress up while drinking tea and listening to traditional music played on the guqin.
We visited Lizy’s beautiful home. The complex had gorgeous gardens equipped with roaming spotted deer, alpacas, peacocks, and storks. Then we had a calligraphy class with a professional Chinese poet who wrote a poem on the spot for our group. Later, we had a tea ceremony and learned about 4 different types of Chinese teas. Lastly, we helped make dumplings with Lizy’s family and were treated to a royal feast.