I’ve been doing good with the updates this month, huh? This is three in a month! Go me! Then again, I also do not have a job, youth ministry is winding down for the year, and there have been lots of end-of-year events to take cool pictures at, so that explains it.
So! With friends leaving, some for summer and some for good, there have been a bunch of fun hangout times with whoever’s around. One of those was a Saturday night where a bunch of us headed down to Houhai for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant and a boat ride on the lake. It was a wonderful evening! The weather was perfect (well, the temperature and light breeze were, and once it got dark you could barely see the thick pollution anyway, if you didn’t look at the sky too much). Christina brought sparklers and that was great fun! There was a down side though. The next morning I got up and realised the reason I had a lingering feeling all day I was supposed to do something that night was because a good friend’s big fancy 40th birthday party was on! Still feel awful about missing that. My loss, I suspect…
The next weekend I went to the manicure place for the first time since Carla visited back in February. I used to go at least once a fortnight for my $5 manicure. Amanda sent me a bottle of nail polish (a lovely grey-ish colour she called “black without being black”) and 25 RMB (yes! chinese money!) so I could take myself to the manicure she would shout me to if she was in town. I went with two good friends and it was a lot of fun. Really fun was all the girls faces lighting up and saying how long it had been since I’d come in and how was I and how was my sister and what had I been doing…. Also, one of the girls LOVED the colour of the polish Manda sent over and asked if she could try it – so she painted the nails of her left hand, and it looked lovely on her too :)
After nails we had lunch at a xinjiang restaurant down the street. Xinjiang food used to be one of my staples, but since there isn’t a place near where I live or work (used to work, rather) I don’t eat it much any more — more’s the pity! So good! One of my friends had NEVER had Xinjiang food before so it was really fun for me. I ordered for us all and got to share some of my fav dishes with them. Then we took a bus to the big, slightly chaotic Chinese market up the road from my house. Jay will be housesitting my apartment while I’m gone, and we wanted to show him the market. It was fun! Nanhu is a great place – you can get just about anything. We had fun wandering around the back – and just had to take a photo of… well… you’ll see what I snapped them with… woof!
Last Friday night a bunch of the girls in Christina’s small group came round to sleepover. It was sweet! One made dinner, one made midnight brownies, another made breakfast… they can come round anytime ;) Especially if I get home made bulgogi! And french toast! Anyway, I actually had to go out – another good friend’s last night in town. The girls helped me get ready – choosing my jewellry and helping decide how to do my makeup. It was fun :)
Suddenly it was Sunday – Christina’s last full day in Beijing. A group of us went out to dinner at the Orchard – a restaurant I’d heard lots about but never been to. It was lovely! Expensive, but lovely. We had lots of lovely warm bread brought to the table – probably my favourite part of the meal. I miss good bread! Especially fresh warm bread served at the table when you go out… ohhhh so good!
On Monday Christina was up early to finish packing the bags she was going to have shipped to Cambodia. We left the house not long before midday and headed off to find the shipping company. It took us a while to find number 9 – the numbers we saw were in the order 5, 7, 6, 13, 15, 21, 9… Anyway we got there in the end, only to discover that they thought she was leaving in July, not June, and didn’t think there was enough time to get the bags sent as the original ticket and passport need to be shown to customs when sending the bags. Eventually they photocopied her ticket and passport and took her to customs to fill out the declaration and have someone see the originals and we were on our way just in time! We got to the airport an hour and 45 minutes before her flight was due to depart. Perfect!
We left the airport (two of the guys were with us) and came straight back to my apartment complex so Rich could sign the lease for his new apartment – in the building next door to me! Yay! It’s an awesome place and I figure I’ll be spending a fair bit of time on the window seat (with a view!) in that lounge room in the coming year ;) I’m trying to convince others to move into Fang Zhou Yuan – I’m excited about having a group of people over here in Wangjing.
Since then… well, I’ve been doing a lot of tidying and organising and throwing away of stuff in the apartment. With Christina gone I am ruthlessly throwing away things we don’t need to keep – even if before we would think up reasons we might want them one day… Xiao Pan and I just spent a good 4 hours sorting and cleaning and tidying. It was nice to be working alongside her. My arms are sore, but it’s worth it to see the house in better shape.
I’m leading worship at the bilingual service again this Sunday (bilingual being Mandarin and English – pretty much everything is in translation, and the worship leader usually chooses half English songs and half Chinese songs). It will be my third time – first in May, then again two weeks ago. It’s not been easy, but I think overall I’m enjoying it. It’s a challenge for me on several levels – not least of all struggling with some insecurities. But it’s good :) I’m planning to get more involved once I’m back from Australia.
Speaking of, I got my ticket on Tuesday night – I fly out of Beijing on Monday night, arriving in Thailand around midnight. I’ll get an overnight bus the next night and get to Koh Phangan on Wednesday the 27th where I’ll meet up with Carla and hang out there for a while. We fly out of Thailand on the same flight about midnight July 2nd, and get into Sydney about midday July 3rd. I’ll probably stay in Sydney a night or two and then scam a lift down to Canberra :)
Which all means I’ll be in Canberra in under a fortnight! Wow! I’m still trying to visualise winter several times a day… cold weather, mum’s cooking, warm clothes, boots and coats and turtlenecks, mum’s cooking, snuggling under a doona watching a dvd, mum’s cooking, early sunsets, frosts… oh and did i mention that I’m looking forward to mum’s cooking?? I’m also looking forward to relaxing, taking walks on the Ridge, driving, seeing the kids’ new place, hanging out with Tash&Dante, getting calls from friends wanting to catch up, taking a trip to Melbourne to see lots of friends there (hopefully!), spending a week or so couch surfing and hanging out with friends in Sydney, playing my new songs for friends/family, and of course, missing China – because it has become my home.
Okay, I think that’s a pretty exhaustive update!!! Let me conclude with a massive thankyou for all my birthday mail (including the cards given to me here in Beijing). I know I said so in the last update, but now that it seems to have petered off, I want to thank you all by name. You are amazing!!!!
Nicole L (pre-email request!), Emma W, Narrelle A, Sara W, Keith F, Dante M, Flippy T, Esther W, Amanda M, Ram G, Barb S, Elizabeth F, Jay W, Becky R, Leesha N, Christina V, Peter Z, Esther H, Mary H, Katie B ;), Korske A, Louise C, Dante M (again!), Trina M, Natasha C, Esther H (again!), Natty C, Katie J, Jean J, Yvonne D, Lynn B, Trina M (again!), Amanda M (again!), Nicole L (again!), Eddie L, and last but not least, Mum and Dad. That’s mail from Australia, England, Germany and USA. Wow!