See a post or two below for the corresponding photos of my birthday!
My birthday in China was so fantastic! The sun was shining and the temperature was actually in the high 40's! Terri, Cyndi, David (birthday twin), Sally, Cortnie, Dana and I decided that we wanted to enjoy the vitamin D and take a walk to the castles beach. It was so nice to be outside! We are literally just around the corner from the beach (I can see the yellow sea from my apartment window) and it's a fifteen minute walk to the beach. We spent an hour there; walking up and down the beach, looking at tide pools, jumping over clumps seaweed and discovering a variety of dead things to poke at. (Fish, crab, frog? Yep. definitely a giant dead frog on the beach. TIC). We had been talking about finding the Pizza Hut for dinner that night, but we weren't sure were it was; we just knew it was close to Happy gate. There is a bus station right by the beach, and we had heard that the 15 stopped there and would take us into downtown and let us off at the McDonald's stop, which is a couple blocks away from the ocean front and Happy Gate. So, we caught the 15, and rode into downtown until we hit the McDonald's, where we decided we would chance fate and risk staying on the bus a couple stops longer to see if it would take us closer to the allusive Pizza Hut. LOW AND BEHOLD! Two stops later and the bus dropped us off right in front of it! We were all so excited to have conquered the bus system here a little bit more. There are SO many bus routes that run in this city, and now we know how to use the 12, 15, 30, 38. Our next goal is to master the 112, because it apparently takes you to the JUSKO (Japenese version of Walmart, apparently it's a big deal?). So, we went into the Pizza Hut and it was the NICEST place I've eaten in so far and so drastically different than the Pizza Huts in America. The waiters and waitresses dress in super fancy outfits; the lighting is all fancy and the pizza is all stuffed crust. Of course, we're in China, so there are weird pizza toppings, like salmon, but there was also a supreme and regular pepperoni, so we ordered that. David speaks a little Chinese, so he ordered for us all. He thought he ordered me a small drink, but two minutes later, the waiter brings this GIANT pitcher of soda. We laughed really hard at that. The pizza was really good and CHEESY! China does not believe in cheese, and when it does, it's really expensive. So, it was wonderful to eat indulge in that. After we ate ourselves full, we walked down to Happy Gate to see it all lit up. There were massive amounts of women standing in front of Happy Gate, doing all these jazzercise dances. It was the funniest, weirdest thing! It was 8:00 at night and all of these women dancing in front of Happy Gate. Obviously, we had to join in. So we danced with them for a little bit, before catching taxi's back to school. Later that night, everyone sang happy birthday to me and gave me a piece of Chinese cake. Chinese cake is not cake. It's more like a thin layer of light spongey like stuff, covered in layers of different fruity cool-whip stuff. It's weird. But it was good!
On Monday, my kids sang happy birthday to me and it was pretty precious. They all know that happy birthday song, but they never say the name; they just keep on saying: "happy birthday to youuuu."
I'm so grateful for the simple fact that I've made it to my 22nd year of life, and even more grateful that I have been given this amazing opportunity to be in China. The more time I spend teaching my kids and getting to know them, the more I realize how incredibly lucky I am to be here and to be taught by them. Realizing that I have this incredible second chance at life and that I am getting to spend it here, with my students, is one of the greatest gifts of all. Super cliche? Sure. But is it the truth? Every bit.
Thank you all for the birthday wishes via email, Facebook and Skype. I am so blessed to have you all in my life.