Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Superlative Day

Today was better than an excellent day. It was another free day. We had a choice of going to see a buddhist temple and some mountain with the group and we opted out. My opinion is: see one temple, see them all. It's more about spirituality then the temple itself. I already offered up prayers at the first temple so I was done. And mountain? Hmmm. Probably not.

First Joseph went for a run early - around 6. Then we went to breakfast. And after relaxing for a while back at the room, Joseph and JJ went swimming and I went to run on the treadmill at the fitness center. They swam in the pool by the fitness center so I could see them. We waved to each other. It was so wonderful.

After I was done running, I went down to sit by the pool while JJ finished his swim. He showed me all his tricks. Too bad he would kick and float in the same place. What a riot!

Then we went to lunch at the local Subway - on Shamian Island - the land of Idyllic Ambiance. We had a nice picnic on a couple of benches in one of the Idyllic Gardens before the rains started and watched more wedding dress models get their picture taken. My favorite dress today was white with black worn by a chubbier female model who was also very beautiful in the face.

This is the second day we've had Subway and my stomach loved me! I was giving it food that it recognized. I don't go to Subways at home but I now have newfound respect for the quality of chain restaurants when traveling to foreign lands!

Speaking of Chain restaurants, we went to the local Starbucks around the corner. YUMMY!! It rained, so JJ and I sat under one umbrella sharing our lemon cake while Joseph, his Mom and H shared another umbrella.

Afterwards, we went to another store, Andy's Place, where we bought so much stuff and Joseph masterfully bargained them down. So much so that it took 6 people from the store to gather around collaborate and agree! LOL. I told JJ to sit back and be quiet. All I know is we will need two more piece of luggage.

Then we went into another store where a teacher from one of the Orphanages were selling scrolls and teas and all manner of unique items that are created by the students at the orphanage. All proceeds go to help the orphanage under the organization of Rise Up. We bought some things but didn't bargain too much since it was benefiting the orphanage.

We found out some things. There are two sides to the orphanage. One side is State and one side is Adoption. You do not cross over once you are assigned. Adoption side can go to state it they age out without being adopted. On the State side, the kids age out at 16 when they must leave the Orphanage and make their own way. I saw a photo albums of beautiful order children who have little future. And the scrolls and artwork I saw made by these kids were amazing. It's unfortunate that we can't save the world. I causes pain in my heart. And when the teacher mentioned how fortunate JJ was, I KNEW what he was saying. It hit home.

We came back to the hotel and rested. Joseph's sister sent us an email with a song attached and we played it. JJ and I danced to the music. It was our first Mother / Son dance!

And then we went to dinner at the Silk Road Grill room. It is on the top 3 restaurants I've ever been too in all my travels. They started us off with a chef's first course of seared tuna slice on top of a frisee salad - just a mouthful to whet the appetite. Then we started off with Escargot followed by a lobster bisque that was thin and had chunks of lobster. Superb! Joseph also ordered caviar - my favorite!! Then onto a chef's choice palate cleanser of lichee sherbert.

And then the main course was served on plates with stainless steel covers served by waiters in tuxedos and white gloves. They brought the main course over, set it down in front of each person and then lifted the lids in unison. I've never seen this executed this well. I had beef tenderloin with pepper gravy, small veggies, and a square of gratineed potato. We then finished with a crepe suzette which was made tableside. H and I shared. JJ got a frothy egg meringue floating on truffle vanilla custard. Terrific. Then the chef brought cookies and cinnamon cookies - indescribable.

Before we left they presented the women with real red roses. Beautiful. It sits in a glass now on our night stand. This restaurant is definitely one of the top 3 I've been too. Amazing. Service, quality, everything.

Before we went to dinner, JJ and I had had a chat. I told him that this dinner was special. It was a special restaurant, very grown up and very expensive. And when he went in there he had to be quiet, stay sitting up straight in his chair and not move around too much. He said he understood and I said if he did this for me, Mama would be so proud.

We went in and he did great. He slouched only a couple of times and when I reminded him, he sat up straight. When we got there we were the only ones with the attention of 4 or 5 wait staff. So I leaned over and said to him, they are all watching us. He can turn and see them. And then he turned around and saw the wait staff's attentiveness. So I leaned over and said, they are all watching so he must be good to show them how wonderful he is and he nodded and agreed. I told him how proud I was of him.

I have never seen an eight year old sit through a formal 3 hour dinner the way that JJ did. And by formal, I mean one of the most formal that Joseph and I have been to! JJ didn't just sit, he enjoyed and fully participated. I am grateful for his character and thankful for the teaching from the orphanage that he received.

We came back to the room and while Joseph and Nai Nai were on Skype talking to America, JJ put himself to bed and to sleep.

It was a superlative day.

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