Friday, August 27, 2010

This Is A Real Headline

I guess if your country has over five thousand years of history, there has to be an occasional revision...

~Steve

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Weirdest Jet Lag Ever

Normally, we Ballas are very smooth travelers. After arriving in China or the United States, we have one day where we get up really early and our time is slightly thrown off. But, for some reason, this time our first few days in the US were totally crazy.

On the flight from China to the US, we all had different plans. My goal was to see if I could stay up for twenty-four hours straight (which might be related to the fact that we recently finished watching season one of 24). Z alternated between sleeping, doodling in his notebook, and watching movies. And I hardly heard from Mommy and Daddy, except when the movie "Old Dogs" was on and during the two meals served. So, from the start, we were all on different sleeping patterns.

After landing, Mommy went straight to Grandma and Grandpa's house, while the rest of us were at Grammy and Grampy's house. The three of us stayed up until 10:00 pm (which means I was up twenty-seven hours), and then went to bed. Then we didn't wake up until 5:00 pm the next day!

Well, Z and I didn't. Apparently, Mommy came to Grammy and Grampy's house at about 1:00 am and went to bed until noon. Mommy's arrival woke Daddy up, and he then stayed up until 4:00 am and then fell asleep until Z and I got up thirteen hours later.

So, off to a strange start, I figured we would be able to fix our sleeping habits by the next day. But, of course, that night none of us could fall asleep until around 3:00 am. We got up early anyway, and took Grammy and Grampy to the Jersey shore. That night, finally, we fell asleep at a normal time.

However, Mommy and Daddy then woke up at around midnight, and their talking woke Z and I up at 2:30 am. We were all starving because it was just past lunch time in Beijing! We ate all of the leftover pizza from dinner and finished a liter bottle of Pepsi.

All of this felt funny, but it was fun to be jet lagged together!

~Julie

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On Jet Blue And Steven Slater

The other day, when our Air China flight touched down at JFK Airport, most passengers, including the four of us, were out of our seats well before the plane reached the gate. In fact, we have been on domestic Chinese flights where pretty much the second the wheels hit the pavement, everyone gets up, the baggage compartments are opened, and the queue for the door has begun.

~Steve

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Fish Saga Continues

So it was probably a bit irresponsible of me to let Z get pet fish given the abbreviated length of our stay in Beijing. But they were so cute and so unique, and I figured they would make a nice parting gift for one of Z's friends when we were ready to head back to the States.

But with grandparents 7000 miles away, who would watch these guys while we left on our Chinese mini-adventures? "Hey, Z, why don't you ask the man who sold you the fish to fish-sit for a couple of days?" After all, the shop is just downstairs...

So Z did what I asked and the man agreed. The funny part of the story, though, wasn't my request to Z, or even the vision of Z carrying the fishbowl back to the man. What happened on our return was the part worthy of a chuckle.

You see, when Z picked up the fish, there were two additional fish in the bowl. The man told him, "Uh, those fish [a kind of guppy] are for the big ones to eat." I was skeptical given the size of these new additions in comparison to the ones already in there...Not to mention that there was a new sticker on the outside of the bowl which read 26 yuan! Hmm...four fish in a bowl with rocks and a fake plant for 26 yuan? Z had paid 40 for the same set-up, minus the two guppies. Oh yeah, there was no spoon though.

Honest businessman here...not so sure. But the story gets even better...

So now it's the day before we're heading back to the US. We've decided that giving the fish to a friend might not be the best option, so I convince Z and Julie to take the fish back to the store and tell the man that we are returning home and that we would like him to take the fish back. At this point our numbers are down to two (the guppies, I might add, are the lone survivors) and this is definitely the most convenient option. So Z and Julie head back downstairs for yet another exchange with laoban.

Expecting a quick return, we were surprised when it took them a while to get back. It seems that the man had a conscience. He was unwilling to accept the fish back unless the kids accepted a gift from him...seeds.

Seeds? "We can't take them on the plane with us," said Z and Julie. "You are not allowed to transport plants or animals from China to the US!" His reply, "Don't worry about it...Just put them in a different container and if anyone questions you, tell them they are Chinese medicine."

Politely, the kids accepted the "gift" which we, of course, left behind. The true gift, though, was all the great "fish stories" that laoban left us with. All entirely true, I assure you!

~Desi