Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dad's Visit

I've been very busy- and happy- the past couple of weeks... because my Dad was in town visiting! The fun started the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, when Scott and I traveled to Hong Kong to pick Dad up at the airport. He was pretty tired after the long flight, but we'd managed to reserve rooms at the haven that is the Maryknoll House, and after a restful night we were all ready to hit the town Thursday.

We explored a bit around HK and then headed back to the Maryknoll House and joined 100+ visiting priests for a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. For someone fresh from the United States and my Mom's unrivaled cooking, this was nothing special. For me, it was heaven: mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey, pie, bread rolls... Delicious! I was the only female in the room; needless to say, I was quite popular that evening!

Friday we squeezed in a little more sightseeing and then attended Kevin Clancy's wedding, Part 1/ American-style, in the afternoon. Kevin and his bride, a beautiful Chinese woman named Snow White/ Kaishan whom he met while teaching here in Zhanjiang, are an adorable couple. All the hard work and planning that went into this wedding really paid off, because everything was perfect. Snow White looked just like a fairy princess in a lovely wedding dress and sparkly tiara, and the reception afterwards at the Hong Kong Yacht Club was nothing short of glamorous. Everyone enjoyed a gourmet buffet and breathtaking view of the Harbor lights at night in the outdoor pavilion.

Saturday morning, the three of us joined the wedding party on the train to Guangzhou for Kevin's wedding, Part 2/ Chinese-style. Scott and I took Dad on a boat cruise, out for his first real Chinese food and then returned to our very nice, $25/night hotel. The Chinese banquet began Sunday afternoon in a giant reception hall decked out in red and gold, the traditional wedding colors in China. There were a few hundred people there from all over the world to wish Kevin and Snow White "Double Happiness." It really was a special occasion. We were served a lavish meal, which included many Chinese delicacies, and listened to flowery speeches translated from Chinese to English and vice versa. It was an excellent time: lots of people from Zhanjiang and other Maryknoll volunteers showed up. After the banquet, everyone regrouped to a nearby Irish bar, where there was dancing and drinking until late into the night.

Dad and I returned to Zhanjiang on Monday morning, just in time for my 2:50 class. He came with me and ended up teaching the whole class, which the students loved. "Jim" was a big hit at the Zhanjiang Finance and Trade School! I was worried he'd be bored here, but on the contrary: Dad attended all of my classes, played basketball with the students, gave a dental lecture to three of Ruth's classes, was the guest of honor at two dinner parties, went on a tour of a dental clinic, saw backstage at the Cantonese opera, and took photos with just about every single citizen of Zhanjiang. The four days completely flew by, and before I knew it, we were back on the bus to Hong Kong and saying goodbye at the airport.

I'm so grateful that I got to see my Dad for Thanksgiving, but it's hard to believe that the much-anticipated and much-discussed Visit Of Dad is now over with; it's even harder to believe that now I won't see either of my parents for the next 8 months. It doesn't seem possible that a person can just hop on an airplane for 15 hours and end up here in China- it's on the other side of the world, but it really may as well be another planet!

Thank you Dad for coming all this way to see me!

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