My final two weeks in Beijing were full of special moments and goodbyes. I continued to work in the restaurants and on different projects, but took off extra time to meet with friends and attend special events.
The day I arrived back in Beijing from Shanghai was Thanksgiving Day! I went over to Alan’s house for his annual Thanksgiving dinner, prepared by his best friend Asher, who is assisted by other friends. Having been to a “fake thanksgiving” in the summer of 2008 I knew I was in for a treat. This meal includes everything you can think of, from green bean casserole to honey baked ham. And, of course, too much turkey with stuffing, gravy, and cranberry to go around. What a delicious meal and reminder of home. The company was also wonderful!
And, as if I did not have enough, I got to experience the same kind of great meal again, this time at Rodney and Cindy Young’s house! They invited me over for a special Thanksgiving meal on Saturday night with their close friends, who had all assembled from throughout the city. What a wonderful experience. Cindy had dated my father in high school, and other than that fact, I knew little of the Youngs. What a blessing to meet them and really become good friends. I later invited them to Hatsune and we shared another great meal and conversation.
One great thing about the staff in Beijing is the time they spend together outside of work. They hang out with each other, take care of each other, and are like family to each other. I was able to attend several unofficial staff parties and restaurants and karaoke bars. Also, I would go with staff occasionally to have char (barbecued meats skewered on stick and cooked over coal) and beer. We had one place in particular that we frequented called si mao, or four hairs.
I enjoyed going to the karaoke bar as well. These places were very upscale and usually had many private rooms. The rooms, usually lined up hall style, were composed of leather couches, TVs, sound systems, and came with your own personal attendant, who would take care of drink and food orders and help to clean up after you. Some of these karaoke experiences would go into the wee hours of the morning. An especially memorable one was held during Wendy’s birthday. She is a manager at Hatsune, and has become a very close friend. As she has been a long time employee, many other long time employees attended the party, which is always a neat experience. I envision them all starting out together and then branching out as the restaurants grew. These small reunions, at karaoke and weddings, are a lot of fun.
These last few weeks were full of goodbyes for me. Another group of friends I have really enjoyed hanging out with was Vita and Ana. These two lovely ladies are from Indonesia and I met them one night in the restaurant. I ended hanging out with them a lot and look forward to meeting up again, whether it is in Jakarta, Beijing, or Fayetteville!
I was also able to say my goodbyes to William and Gary, over two separate farewell dinners. I was not able to say goodbye to Wade at the end, but enjoyed all the time I spent with him, including staying the night at his dorm and going to church. Can’t wait to see him again and I always know that technology bridges today’s gaps.
A few final things I must include are the grand time I had with some staff playing basketball and pool and the wonderful last supper I shared with Alan, Hannah, and Kristen. We met at Kagen Teppanyaki and had the best wine and food during my time in China. Afterward we went out for a drink at Xiu, the Park Hyatt’s new bar in Beijing. What an excellent ending to the beginning of many more adventures to come.