Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spring break...

So it appears that the sun is here to stay!! It still needs to warm up a little bit before I'm totally happy, but for now, I'll take the bright days! Spring is here in full force - flowers blooming everywhere, birds chirping at dawn - I'm sure Sunny misses the little baby rabbits from Peoria, though!

Set of Mahjong tiles

We kicked off the Spring break in style - by playing mahjong for a straight 4 hours! Yes, that's right - mahjong!! I've started playing not too long ago, and I must admit, I'm completely hooked! I've even bought my very own mahjong set! With all the winds, dragons, flowers and seasons, it is very, very Chinese - and the tiles are more substantial than playing cards, giving the game a real solid feel! I'm not going to try explaining the game here - it's quite complicated, you really have to play to get a hang of it - besides, wikipedia does a good job of going over the basics! Anyway, on Friday, we started playing at 3pm - very fluid, we had people leave and new people join in - until at the end, it was my good friend BH, me and our husbands - yes, we actually managed to pull in our husbands too!! What an afternoon! I don't know if it was the glass of wine I had, or if it was staring at those tiles for so long - I was distinctly woozy by the time I got home!

Saturday was swimming day for Ajey and Manasi. Usually, we have our driver on Saturday, but this weekend, we decided not to call him - it gets really stressful once he's here and waiting, it's almost like we have to go somewhere right away! So, we were all very relaxed - didn't leave for the pool till almost 2pm! Our compound does have a pool, but it's an outdoor one, and won't be open for another month. Since it was another nice day, we decided to take our e-bike! Ajey and I both have fond memories of zipping around Pune on our bikes, so one of the first things we did here was to buy an e-bike! We haven't really used it as much as we thought - let me correct that - I haven't used it as much as I thought! After being practically glued to the seat of my Kinetic Honda for 4 years of college, I am surprisingly shaky on this one! I haven't yet ventured out for a solo ride - the only times we've been out is all 3 of us together. In September, that worked out fine - but Manasi has since hit a growth spurt, and it looks like we'll be buying another bike before the summer is out!

Of course, the weather changed on the way back - so we decided to stop for coffee at the Pacific Coffee Company. Cue my rant against fancy coffee shops! Almost everyone I know - my husband included - are big fans of Starbucks and the likes! I'm sorry, but I just don't get it! First of all, all this coffee terminology is absolutely beyond me - espresso, cappucino, latte, mocha, frappucino, mochacino - the list is endless, and all I really want is a simple cup of coffee! Since I don't know any of the words, I never know what to order, and I always, always hate what I get! And the sizes - when did 'small', 'medium' and 'large' disappear from our lexicon? Starbucks has tall, grande and venti - well, 'grande' is just French for tall, and Google Translate tells me that 'venti' is Italian for twenty - am I missing something here? No offence, but I'm going to stick to my regular tea - or should I say, steaming cup of chai tea with a hint of spices and a dash of cream? Sounds better that way, doesn't it?

We stayed up late playing cards at a friend's house, so Sunday was obviously a slow-starter! Left to my devices, I would have lazed the day away - but Ajey had plans to go for a bike ride, and he managed to guilt me into going with him. I'm so glad he pushes me into these things - I always have a great time, and end up feeling really good about myself! The plan was to bike around Jinji Lake in Suzhou - this is a huge artificial lake in Suzhou, and it is pretty much the center of Suzhou Industrial Park - our compound is located on the SW corner of this lake. I had my doubts - I wasn't sure if I could make it all the way around - but, in the end, it was really easy - it took us about 70 minutes, with only 1 stop on the way! There's even a walking trail around the lake, I'm sure that's really scenic - so now that is the next thing on our to-do list!

To round off Spring break, we're heading to Xi'an Thursday night. I'm really excited - ever since we came to China, I've wanted to go to Xi'an! Also, we're taking an overnight train there and back - that should be quite the adventure too! I'll be back with that story soon! Happy Spring to all of you!

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