Day 7: The Pottery and Domestics
Nat, her dad, Julia, and I go to get breakfast and coffee and bring it back to the office so Calvin and family can sleep in silence. There, Nat's dad lectures me about why the DPP candidate is so much better than the KMT candidate. Apparently there was some sort of Watergate-like scandal recently where 4 KMT politicians got caught breaking into a DPP office.
I have a crutch here which is bottled green tea, lightly sweetened. I think it has 16 calories a bottle. I drink at least 2 of these a day. Eventually I will show off pictures of the trip, including what this bottle looks like. But I don't have the USB cable to download to any computers here. Speaking of computers and my comment yesterday about how ubiquitous they are here, Nat said that when she went to see her 70 year-old aunt yesterday she was sitting in front of a laptop. Things have changed a lot in the 6 years since I was last here, where Internet access was difficult at best. Now, my blackberry gets reception everywhere, including inside the 13 km long tunnel.
I went back to 7-11 to get coffee for Calvin and I and once again I was able to order in Mandarin. This time when he asked me a question I was able to answer! Woo hoo! The truth is though, I was able to pick up the meaning of his question by the context of what he was doing. So I knew he wanted to know what size I wanted. A lot of times I can pick out a few choice words and depending on the situation, I can basically guess what's being said.
Big, I answered.
We bummed around the apartment some more while people got ready to take off for the morning. Nat's dad spent some time trying to convince Calvin and I to go to the rally tomorrow. I hemmed and hawed and Calvin said he would go if we went. I punted and avoided the question. I'm sure we'll revisit it at some future time. I'm not against it per se. I just want to make sure it fits into our day and we're not dragging Julia around to her dismay for the sake of Nat's parent's politics.
Nat's dad is big on family stuff, and I'm totally cool with that. But Julia isn't having a great time with all this buzzing around so I don't want to exacerbate that
by dragging her more than she already is. If it's local, and there's nothing better to do, why not? But if it's an hour away while she needs to nap, we need to pass.
I got an email from Nelson. Apparently the fire department didn't get him. Maybe tomorrow.
This morning we're off to Yinkge, which is a pottery village we've been to before. This is a double-sided coin, in that there are a ton of awesome deals to be had here. The contrast to that is that it's ceramic, so you need to lug it around the world and when you get home it might be broken.
At the first shop Julia breaks a bowl, which is no big deal since these are family friends. We buy 3 things there, none of which I can name right now because I was out walking Julia around because she started crying when the bowl exploded. After that we amble around, eat some yam puffs, then make our way to lunch. On the way I spot some fish balls that I eat. Then for lunch we split a bowl of noodle soup because we want to get more food from the street vendors.
Aside from the fish balls we got stinky tofu, which smells worse than you can imagine but is tasty as hell, a dessert burrito-like thing, which is a small ball of ice cream wrapped up with shaved peanut candy and cilantro, a bratwurst being sold by a 350 pound German man who could not speak English, some puffed thing that Nat grabbed, and some rice thing that Calvin wanted. This is the style I like to eat, where you walk down the street, point and shoot, then eat. Calvin and Nat are down with that. But Nat's parents and Grace are not so cool with the street vendor food. So we compromise and point and shoot when they're not looking.
At 12:40 we're on the way back to the apartment and by 12:42 Julia is asleep. Right now it's 1:47 and I'm sitting in the parked but idling and air conditioned van writing this. Everyone else is either napping upstairs, relaxing, watching TV, or shopping. Nat brought me a cup of coffee so here I sit waiting for Julia to wake up as I bang out this entry.
Not sure what this afternoon holds but we should have a good amount of time to do something, as long as it doesn't involve being in the car much, if at all. Calvin wants to go to night market with me and I may try and push for that to get him out of the house. He and I actually get along pretty well and truth be told he's a little bit of a beaten man. He could use the time away from wife, kid, and parents. Too bad Nat can't come out to play as well but night market doesn't really get going until Julia goes to sleep. We'll see.
2:05 she's awake, as she opens here eyes and proclaims, "Uncle Calvin."
I take her upstairs and the kids play for the rest of the afternoon while the women are downstairs shopping. They come back with some drinks, the kids play some more, and some Adam Sandler B-movie is on TV, The Longest Yard. Is there an Adam Sandler movie that isn't a B-movie? I'm pretty sedentary today but my food intake is as high as any other day. I fear that with the lack of movement and the continued heavy eating I'm leaning a little towards the sloth side today. I may need to dial things back in order to keep my girlish figure.
Nat asked me how vacation is so far and it's good. Nothing amazing but not bad. I think we're falling into a little bit of a sluggish pattern with the 6 adults and 2 kids. It's hard to get out of the house in a reasonable amount of time when Calvin and family don't wake up until 8-8:30. By then Julia's morning is 1/3 over. So while we're up here it's a lot of play, food, and sitting around.
After a while we go up on the roof to shoot some baskets for a while. It feels good to have a basketball in my hands again but it shortly becomes apparent that I am toasted. I'm almost jittery at the end, I'm so tired. I go downstairs and drink 2 cups of water and eat a kiwi. Later Grace gives me a fruit I've never seen in the states and then she cuts up a guava. It helps. Fruit feels good.
During the basketball session Calvin tells me he's basically being forced into going to the rally, and it's a political rally to boot. I'm leaning against it due to needing to get a little break from the insanity of everyone together and the fact that I'm not really interested in partaking in local politics. I think Nat's dad is going to put on the full-court press to get us to go. But we'll see. Maybe he lets it go and that's that. But I doubt it. I think Nat wants me to just deal with it and go because her dad is making such a big deal about it.
Later Nat's dad, Nat, Julia, and I go down to the basement to develop some pictures. I waste all my change on parlor games trying to grab various stuffed animals with the mechanical arm machines. I get the animal every time but it drops every time as well. They're impossible to win. So it's a quick lesson in not wasting your money any further. Julia encourages me by saying "more" every time I try to walk away.
Dinner is dumplings from around the corner, then Calvin and I take a walk and get dessert. Overall a pretty domestic day which is better for Julia. I think I'm ready to head back to Lotung, as is Nat's mom. Lydia and Julia aren't playing as well together anymore. Lydia is basically at an age where she does anything to get attention, like running around the apartment screaming at the top of her lungs while Nat is putting Julia to sleep. Her parents both feed into it by rewarding her with attention and thus positively reinforcing it. So that cycle basically repeats itself on and off through the day as she seeks attention. To be fair, she's just a normal kid. I see it as a reflection of the way her parents handle these outbursts.
On top of that, it's really hot in the apartment, in the realm of 5-10 degrees higher than outside, if not more. So I'm constantly sweating while we're here. I'll be happy when the weekend is over and we're on our way back down to Lotung for both of those reasons. Overall, it's a good trip but a lot of it is too much for Julia. I think we did this a year too early to save $1000, which is probably the additional cost in a year from now. She would have been a little more able to handle it then because we
would be able to explain things to her better than we can now, at her age. I hope she gets over a lot of her skittishness before I leave because Nat is going to have a rough time handling her alone when I'm gone. It's tough enough for 2 of us to have to carry her everywhere we go.
OK, that's enough for today. Tomorrow is another day