We always seem to miss the ISQ Christmas Fair, which has taken place annually for a number of years, in Qingdao. Last year we were working, and this momma-to-be was battling morning sickness, but this year we decided to take the morning off to see what all the fuss was about. The fair is held at the International School of Qingdao, which isn’t too far away, but since traffic was horrendous, we were thankful when a friend of ours offered to give us a ride. This friend, Josie, is actually a student of ours. She comes over to hang out and learn English once a week.
We were really hoping to get some Christmas shopping done, but unfortunately, we didn’t find anything that we liked. On the plus side, we managed to get our picture taken with Santa (another first for Elijah), browsed the stalls, bought some cake, muffins, and cookies, and also socialised with friends. There was a ton of food to sample, but we had a lunch date with Josie afterwards so we didn’t want to eat too much at the fair. Josie brought her daughter along, and they had a great time shopping for hair accessories and playing games. [We don’t yet have copies of the pictures that we had taken with Santa, but as soon as we receive those we will post them for you to see.]
|Hmmm… Pumpkin Buttersctoch Muffin|
It was amazing to see so many friends in one place. In fact, Justin and I realised on this day that we have never know – and lived nearby – this many friends since we both moved to Asia in 2009. The community that we have here in Qingdao has turned our life in China into something that will be very difficult to say goodbye to. This family, for example, we really love them…
We ran into some of our students from last year. They were fascinated by little Elijah because we had taught them when I was still pregnant. As you can see on their faces, they are trying to calculate where this child came from. They looked both confused and intrigued as Justin proudly introduced his son to them.
After some time spent relaxing with our friends, we left the Christmas Fair with Josie and headed downtown. Life without a car has always been relatively easy on China. We can jump on a bus for less than $0.20, and for a bit more money a cab will take us wherever we want. It is, however, even more convenient to have your own car! Having our friend drive us around was so nice, especially because it is cold now and we have Elijah to think about too. Josie took us to a hotel that her family owns and there we enjoyed lunch together.
As with most bigger Chinese restaurants and hotels, all the of the available dishes are on display as you enter the building. The seafood is alive and in big glass tans so that one may pick the fish or shellfish that they want to eat. We made some suggestions, but allowed Josie to do the ordering. In true Chinese fashion, she ordered a ton of food even though there were only four of us.
|Joazi (Chinese Dumplings)|
Once we were finished eating, Josie had the staff pack up all the remaining food for us to take home. Shea also very kindly also had them pack a huge pumpkin bread-type bun and a fish paste that the hotel is famous for. We had enough food for the next day and a half!
We said our goodbyes and then went for a walk along the coast. Feeling adventurous, we also took a bus downtown to check out another annual event – an International Christmas Market. Sadly we were quite disappointed by that one. Last year we really enjoyed the market, but this year it was quite dismal. After a late afternoon stroll around town, we made our way home.
|Waiting for a bus|