12/25/2001 - Leave Shenyang
As we insisted, we had Christmas dinner at home. Sue’s parents do not cook much themselves any more. In the super market, almost as big as the Meijers in Holland, you can buy anything you want. There are nearly 50 different types of frozen dumplings you can buy. They are less than $1 per kilogram!! Toby ate dumplings every meal. As a German, Berthold is excited about the large varieties of sausages. We had hot pot for dinner on that evening along with various cold dishes (sea weed salad, squid with Kim Chi, jelly fish salad etc.) along with dumplings, of course. For the hot pot we had different kind of vegetables, fish, lamb and beef, cow intestines, and more. Oh, we forgot to mention there was a plate with cold sausage that turned out to be donkey sausage, it was delicious. To avoid all kind of speculations, we have to say that many of foods are not necessarily common for people in Manchura and therefore Sue’s relatives. The variety of foods is available due to the presence of more than 55 different minorities all over China; which in turn all contribute different kind of customs and foods to this environment. Sue’s relatives are Han Chinese (major Chinese population) and there usual dietary ingredients are more like ours in America. However, with an improved distribution system like that of supermarket everybody has access to much different kind of foods. Berthold likes squid and seaweed dishes in particular, and as a German he really enjoyed a good sausage. He didn’t care that is was made from donkey. His comment was, “Who said donkeys are not good for sausage?” Also Berth old keeps wondering if sending a Chinese cook to the US is not considered a punishment or exile. All the good cooks seem to stay here in China. Again, some of the food may be strange to our tongues but nevertheless it is delicious. We had a very small Christmas tree and lot of presents for kids. We did not label any of the presents and let the kids have the pleasure of opening them all. We were punished the next day as we packed our luggage. It is just impossible to get so much back to America! Much to the kids delight we had a party with family members and no Karaoke singing. We had it at all the other gatherings. It looks like every party has Karaoke. Berthold enjoyed the beer very much we had Tsingtao beer and the local Snow Flake brand, both of which he considers premium grade beers. As a German he should have some knowledge about this subject.
We left Shenyang on
Christmas day (12/25) for Beijing. Berthold insisted taking a train. He
enjoyed the train ride last time we were here as you could see the
country that way. Unfortunately, the tickets my brother in law bought
for us are for a night train. It has sleeping bunks, 6 in one apartment.
We learned after getting on the train that these were hard sleeping
bunks. It was not comfortable at all. We left Shenyang at 9:25 pm with
Sue’s whole family joining us on the way to the train station to say
good-bye to us. It was a noise scene; just imagine 7 of Sue’s relatives
– all talking at the same time. The amount of good advises we got with
us on the way was just incredible. This was one of the very few times
Berthold did not mind having no knowledge of the Chinese language. And
again, everybody was very worried about us taking the long ride to
Beijing and getting around to the hotel. Incredible enough, we were only
worried to get on the way.