Thursday, June 14, 2012

Things I Did That I Never Told You About: April

In this post, I will share a few fun activities from April that never made the blog:
  • Shopping for a qipao (traditional Chinese dress)
  • Visiting the Botanical Garden
  • Making dumplings
  • Getting a visit from my friend Jessie
  • Picking strawberries
Let's hit it.

Shopping for a Qipao

I asked a student to help me find a red qipao as a souvenir of my time in China.  She recruited another friend and we went to a big shopping market called Sun City.  I eventually decided to have a lady make me one.  (Just about $30 -- not bad!)

Then the girls apparently had planned a seaside tour and photo shoot, which turned a simple shopping trip into a 5 or 6 hour multi-location extravaganza.  I had a fun time hanging out with them.

Gabriella, a freshman, drove us around in her dad's car.  Yikes!

I tried on a few (including this one) before deciding just to have one made.

Gabriella and Avril Lavigne pose with the shop owners

Then they took me to a park

Then they took me to the seaside.  Photo shoot!

Lots of hotels by the harbor

These fishermen were unloading their nets.  The girls saw them toss out a few starfish and asked for them.

Starfish inspection.  (Smelly.)

My city has done a great job of developing miles of the seaside into nice beaches and walkways.  This was one I hadn't visited before.

As if they hadn't done enough for me already, the girls insisted on buying me souvenirs at the end of the evening.

Dumpling Party and Jessie's Visit

One weekend I got a visit from a former student who lives a couple hours away.  It was so fun to see Jessie again and hear about her new life as a college graduate and elementary school English teacher.

Our activities included visiting my teacher friend upstairs for a dumpling party and biking to the beach (a must-see for visitors to Rizhao). 

My friend/colleague/neighbor Lynn preparing dumpling dough

Me and Jessie

Mountains of dumplings

My friend Melissa and Jessie kept trying jumping photos, but Melissa could never get off the ground.

Botanical Garden

Another great thing about my city is the new (free!) botanical garden.  This spring they had a tulip exhibition and I went with some friends to check it out.

A couple of the students we went with

There are always wedding parties taking pictures on nice days.  This couple was nice enough to wave to me.  And I've never seen bridesmaids in matching dresses in China!

Tulip+Photo Love

JoJo and a rainbow of tulips

Picking Strawberries

On one of our many three-day weekends this spring, a student friend invited me and Sara to go strawberry picking.  We took a couple buses for a total of 2 hours out of town, picked for about half an hour, and then went home.

I've heard a few other students talking about strawberry picking, so it may be catching on as a fun weekend activity for students.

It was in a typical Shandong-style greenhouse owned by a local family, and the rows of plants were pretty brown.  It didn't quite live up to my memories of picking strawberries in bright green fields under Iowa's hot July sun, but it was still pretty fun.

House (right) attached to greenhouse (left)

Pounds and pounds of strawberries

That's it!  If you made it this far into the post, you have my hearty congratulations.  Now I'm off to go find some lunch.

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