Our First Chinese Wedding

Location: Jian’ou, Fujian Province, Chinaedit00

We visited China recently to attend the  wedding of one of our closest friends (formerly translator and life-saver). Davi and his blushing bride Cherry graciously invited us back to spend a week with their family and friends to celebrate with them. Naturally, we accepted their invitation!

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We packed our bags with our finest dress clothes and stuffed our suitcases with gifts for the happy couple. We weren’t sure precisely which day the wedding would be on, but we booked our trip for a few weeks. We quickly realized that we knew absolutely nothing about attending a Chinese wedding. We didn’t know if there was a ceremony, what activities to expect or what to wear. As a result, we ended up embarrassing ourselves quite frequently.

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Thus we bring you this post about one of the most fascinating weeks of our lives. Here are some things we learned and some things that happened to us. Perhaps they will help you out if you ever find yourself in the unlikely position we were in.

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Back to China

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Location: Jian’ou, Fujian Province, China

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China is a country where everything changes and nothing ever really changes. Where the old meets the new and the future mingles intimately with the past. It’s been more than 2 years since we left China, but the country welcomed us back with open arms.

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William Gibson once said something to the effect of: the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed. As a corollary to that, China is where the future is happening in real time. You can go there and watch a government and its people leapfrog over half a century of entrenched infrastructural decisions and come up with something that addresses their needs in a more innovative way.

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With a quick overnight stay in Fuzhou, we took the newly constructed fast train back to Jian’ou for the wedding of our dear friend and translator (more on the Chinese wedding experience in our next post). Now Davi is an English teacher himself with an apartment, car, and a beautiful new wife who we were meeting for the very first time.

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From the Recipe Book: Chai Sugar and Spice Buns

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I realized that I hadn’t made anything for you guys in a while, so I thought I would share one of my favorite holiday recipes. I firmly believe it’s going to be your new breakfast tradition.
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For five fateful months after we returned from living in Asia, I worked at a bread bakery.I want to start off by saying that have an enormous amount of respect for bread bakers! They literally work 24 hours a day and are some of the most dedicated individuals I have ever known. I made some amazing friends at that bakery. If you see a bread baker today, you should thank them for the deliciousness they bring into the world. No, I did not bake bread. I was in charge of mise-en-place and small pastries. Sadly, I couldn’t really hack it as a professional (too stressful). I’ll stick to home baking, thanks!
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Anyways, rolling out those huge batches of cinnamon rolls was the one task that I especially couldn’t stand. We had a standard for our cinnamon rolls. Many people believe, they are the best in town- enormous doughy messes oozing with butter and caramelized cinnamon sugar. My boss and I had extremely different icing philosophies (I heard the phrase “this isn’t Cinnabon!” shouted a lot). They were the bane of my existence. I had nightmares about those cinnamon rolls, okay? Honestly, I haven’t been able to make a cinnamon roll since I stopped working there.

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But V, you might be asking yourself, what do we do about festive mornings when we are all hungover and require a sweet treat?
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A Roman Holiday

Location: Rome, Lazio, Italy

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I won’t attempt to characterize Rome- its history or its grandeur- or how the ancient capital intertwines with the modern in such peculiar and unexpected ways. It’s a giant, frozen in time. You’ve undoubtedly heard the legends and the stories of emperors, conquerors and kings. I won’t tell you about those.

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I will, however, tell you about some contemporary Roman surprises.

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I will also inform you of the proper way to select gelato.

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Pisgah National Forest- Linville Falls

Location: Linville Falls and Gorge, Jonas Ridge, North Carolina

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Can we have some real talk for a second? Maybe it’s the Rio Olympics going on now, but I am having all kinds of feelings about how much of an average human being I am.

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When it comes to survival skills and outdoors-y-ness, let’s just say I would be screwed if the zombie apocalypse happened. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I even rank in the top 25% of my friends- many of whom have hiked the PCT or biked in the Pelatonia or built energy efficient homes in the wilderness. I’m just getting to the stage of getting a fire started without motor oil. Points for effort?

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From the Recipe Book: Traditional Red Bean Mooncakes

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Mid-autumn Festival (中秋節) or Moon Festival is the harvest festival. It comes once a year on the night of the full moon from September to early October- the 15th day of the 8th month on the Lunar calendar. It has been celebrated in China and Vietnam for centuries and is one of the four most important Chinese festivals. Everyone has the day off to spend with friends and family, eat mooncakes, and sit outside to enjoy the beauty and splendor of the full moon. The holiday has a spiritual quality that comes from the ancient love story a beautiful woman named Lady Chang’e who ascended to the moon and became a celestial being representing fortune and peace.

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But, mooncakes, though.

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It’s Business Time!

Location: Alexandria, Virginia

Last week, I returned home from my first business trip: Alexandria, VA.

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One of my biggest problems for this trip was that I simultaneously over- and under-packed. As you can see by my suitcase, I brought a suit and some dress shoes. I brought a bunch of dress shirts. And, of course, the attire after the first day reverted to business casual. When it warmed up, people wore shorts and t-shirts. I felt like the lawyer for a startup.

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Outside of that, there was little to complain about. The weather was moderate, maybe even nice. The hotel staff were obsequious and went out of their way to make us comfortable. The rooms were excellent, and I didn’t have to share with anyone else (a first!). Almost every meal was free, and fine cuisine abounded. I should have devoted some of these photos to food photography. Alas.

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