Saturday, June 27, 2009

FengYing's Wedding

FengYing, one of our locally-employed staff members, got married last Sunday in Shenyang. Of course, what better way to start a wedding than placing cigarettes, Sprite, Coke, and boxes of Chinese grain alcohol on every table?? Also, this wedding took place at 10am...

FengYing arrives!

(most) of the Americans --
There were better pictures in which everyone was more prepared, but I kind of like this one.
(L-R): Jamie (our temporary consular section chief), Natacha (consular section staff), Phyllis (our Consul General's wife), Jim (Natacha's husband who works for the Agriculture Office), FengYing, FengYing's husband, Erika (Phyllis' daughter who is interning this summer), me

Brandon, our newest consular officer, and PangWei, another locally-employed staff member in our section:

As FengYing arrives, the lights dim and the spotlight is on her. She sits on a swing and waits for her fiance to walk her down the aisle, as Liu Chang (another staff member, apparently in jeans?) tosses rose petals at her. (Apparently, weddings are much more casual in China. The Americans, in suits and dresses, were the most formal guests there.)

The fiance arrives with the bouquet:

They prepare to walk to the stage as the relatives look on.

I should mention here that they walked down the aisle to the Star Wars theme.

Jamie reads (in Chinese!) a tribute to the couple, while FengYing probably whispers to her parents who the strange foreigner is and what he's doing at their wedding --

FengYing sweats it out onstage, as the eyes of 200+ people, a spotlight, and a camera are all trained her:
(seriously nervewracking! also, these pictures are kind of blurry, since I was really zooming in from far away.)

PangWei, chainsmoking in a corner, predictably. oh PangWei.

So much food! There were so many dishes, they had to start piling them on top of each other in a giant heap of deliciousness -

After the ceremony and the costume change, FengYing and her husband went around to each table, thanking everyone for coming. The guests gave them money in red envelopes, and the couple gave the guests little party favors in red bags. The girls also got a piece of candy, and the men got cigarettes.

FengYing, carrying the red bags, with her husband (second from right):

Thanking PangWei for his red envelope:

Striking a match, as DongMei looks a little scared:

PangWei, attempting to smoke two cigarettes:

and giving a candy to DongMei -

The consular section ladies with their red bags:
Ms. Chong, Liu Jing, and Liu Chang:

DongMei, PangWei, and YangYang:

Brandon and I at the swing:

After the ceremony, FengYing posed with her glamor shots of herself and her husband, which were in the lobby, before flying off to Bali for the honeymoon!

Jamie also took a lot of great pictures of the ceremony, and you can see his pictures at

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Harbin VPP Launch

Last Sunday I flew to Harbin again for the launch of our Harbin virtual presence post (it's a website that kind of serves as an online consulate). The launch coincided with a giant trade show, so we did a presentation at the show and, of course, walked the red carpet:

A few consulate representatives gave talks on their various portfolios, and I spoke about visas. Of course, the entire Q&A was devoted to questions about visas.
This is me and Brandon, our newest consular officer:

The next day we drove 3 hours to Yichun to visit an American citizen in detention, and then I gave another talk to student at the Harbin Institute of Technology.
Every time I go to Yichun, the local government officials give long explanations of how they're saving the environment by preserving their natural forests.


The road to and from Yichun is pretty dangerous, because of course the car has no seatbelts and the driver has to dodge donkey-driven carts while driving 50-60 mph.
Pic of said carts is kind of fuzzy, because, again, we're driving 50+ mph -

Proof that even hours from the Russian-Chinese border, you can still grow rice:

On Wednesday I attended the trial of another American citizen in Daqing, but of course couldn't take any pictures. Finally got back to Shenyang on Thursday morning.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hong Kong...again :)

On May 27th I went to Hong Kong with two of my friends from the Guangzhou consulate. May 28th was Dragon Boat Festival, which is a national holiday, but is mainly celebrated in southern China and Taiwan. We ended up being too lazy to go watch the dragon boat races, but we had a great time anyway.

Brooke, me and Shawntae, at Stanley Beach:

I was also way too lazy to take pictures for most of the trip, but I did take a bunch when we visited the Man Po temple, which is on Hong Kong Island:

Selling incense at the temple:

Fortune teller -

More temple:

Burning incense at the temple:

Sunday evening flight home:

Monday, June 1, 2009

My New Bike

Two weekends ago (May 23-24) Sung helped me pick out a new bike, and then we rode around town and visited the local Beiling Park. Sung is our new consular officer who just arrived a few weeks ago.

The owners of the bike shop loved us and joked that I could take their baby who was playing in the least I think they were joking.

With our bikes:

Graffiti in an underpass:

We rode through a park in which a bunch of older local women were performing a choreographed dance with fans:

Sung buying some pork buns at the park:

Painting a new temple at the park:

This is the front entrance to Beiling Park. It has a forbidden city that was actually the inspiration behind the forbidden city in Beijing.

My fabulous bike :)

We didn't feel like paying the entrance fee to get into the forbidden city part of the park, so we just walked around and took some pictures of the cool walls.

Up close: