A few weeks ago I put on my hosting hat for a few days while we had a guest staying with us. Even though I wouldn’t consider myself to be gifted at hosting, I enjoy playing host when people come to visit. Hosting in China is definitely not for the faint of heart. Whenever guests come, I usually spend the week prior planning what we will eat, buying food, and preparing any food that can be frozen ahead of time. During their stay, I have to make sure that everything I need for the upcoming meal is ready to go. That usually means transferring things like bacon or dairy products from the deep freeze to the refridgerator and preparing those time-consuming, from-scratch ingredients like bread crumbs, sausage, bread, etc. Even though a lot of time is put into meals, planning ahead can alleviate some of the stress and work. It sounds like having guests would not be worth the trouble, but it is nice to have people in our home who love us and care for us. It is definitely rewarding in the end!
The reason our guest was in town was to help Cameron meet with some new friends. This isn’t the forum to tell this story, so you will have to read between the lines, but it is too cool not to share. We weren’t sure who was going to show up, but we were very touched by the people who came. Some of them had never left their village in their entire life. Some traveled many hours by bus and train to get here. Some had almost no money and spent what little they had to attend. There were three people in particular who came with a small sack of personal items, no extra clothes besides the ones they were wearing, and a rice cooker. Of the people who came to visit, there were eight different ethnic minority groups represented. Thankfully, they all understood standard Chinese, but a lot of them couldn’t read. Despite the obvious challenges, it ended up being an amazing time. We were blessed by them being here!
After this week-long activity ended and our guests had left, the famous Water Splashing festival began in our town. This festival is a traditional festival of the local Dai minority; however, it has now become a well-loved celebration among all the people who live in Yunnan as well as many tourists who arrive to participate in the holiday. Every year our town gets extremely crowded during Water Splashing Festival and this year was no exception. On Wednesday of that week, there were a few events at the Mekong River (the large river that runs through the center of town) which we sadly missed out on mainly because of the crowds. They had boat races, swimming races, and dancing. In the evening, thousands of people gathered by the riverside to light large lanterns that float into the sky. You can imagine how beautiful it is to see thousands of floating lights in the sky. Many of our friends went to the lantern-lighting, and based on their reports I am glad we didn’t attempt to go with little kids. Our friends said they got stuck in a large crowd of people who were shoulder-to-shoulder and didn’t move for quite some time. During the time they were stuck, two of my friends had stuff stolen – one had his wallet stolen from his back pocket and another had her phone stolen from her purse. Hearing this, I think we have a few more years until we can make the lantern lighting a regular tradition!
On Thursday, we went to a market called the “Border Festival.” The fair had many products and foods that came from neighboring countries like Burma, Laos, and Thailand. It was interesting to see what was there, but we forgot that Chinese tourists love taking pictures of foreign kids. If we paused to fix a shoe or wipe a nose, it only took a matter of seconds before a crowd of people would gather around us to take pictures of the kids and ask a million questions. Needless to say, we didn’t stay long!
Friday was the big water splashing day when the whole town turns into one big water fight. In fact, Cameron went to the market early that morning and was twice squirted by adults carrying water guns. In town, there is a large open area with a huge fountain where thousands of people go to all throw water at each other. Again, I would love to see it someday, but we have heard that if you are a foreigner, then everyone wants to throw water at you. It sounds like fun, but it can get scary if you can’t catch a breath in between douses. Therefore, we chose to stick around our quiet neighborhood on the edge of town and have a water fight with our friends. It is supposed to be more for the kids than anything, but I think the adults were having the most fun. In fact, the younger kids including our two little ones ended up sitting on the side because the adults and older kids got a little rowdy blasting each other with water guns and throwing buckets of water at each other.