I’ve got to say that I am continuously impressed by how friendly everyone is here. It’s almost embarrassing how people seem to go out of their way to help out. For example, I ate at a restaurant the other night and the hostess sat down with me and showed me all sorts of different things on the menu, told me what was good, what she recommended to try, and all that. She really didn’t have to do that, but it was probably obvious to her that I was clueless and didn’t know where to begin (one thing she recommended was beef tongue, which turned out to be tender and succulent). It goes beyond restaurants, though. The people here at work are uncommonly kind, not only to me but to each other as well.

Last night, a co-worker named Jack (that of course is his English name) invited me to his home to eat dinner in celebration of the Duanwu Festival, which is also known as the Dragon Boat Festival. This holiday is celebrated in remembrance of a man named Chu Yuan, a royal court official who lived over 2000 years ago. In one particular way of celebrating, people eat tzungtzu, which are pyramid-shaped rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. Jack’s wife Hui Tan made a lot of these for us and they were fantastic! She and her mother also made us a whole spread of delights such as fish, pork, tofu, soup, watermelon and apple salad, various types of vegetables, and more. Needless to say, the meal was excellent!

After eating, we watched a little Chinese TV, and I was only mildly surprised when I found out that here they have their own equivalent of American Idol and that it is just as popular. Before leaving, Jack and his wife presented me with the gift of a very fancy set of wooden chopsticks that are hand painted with an historical scene. I was eternally grateful for all of their kindness and hospitality, and I certainly mean to return the favor if they ever happen to venture state-side.

I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do this weekend. Today it is raining so I think for now I will focus on hoping it stops.