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  • Marilyn Saltzman

REAL Chinese food

Today we visited Tengwang Pavilion, built during the Tang dynasty. It is a six-story, ornate pavilion –filled with wonderful paintings and artifacts — that’s been rebuilt many times since it was first constructed around 650 AD. There are ponds and a huge courtyard with a yin/yang symbol in tile and brass sculptures of elephants, lions and cranes. When the pavilion was originally completed, a group of local artists gathered to compose poetry and prose about it.The most notable work, “The Preface to the Pavilion of Prince Teng” by Wang Bo, assured the pavilion’s position as one of the most famous in southern China. On the sixth floor we saw a musical performance that included dance and playing of bronze bells. Even Selam was enthralled enough to sit still for 15 minutes.I will try to send photos, but I’ve been having a lot of trouble, so I may have to wait until I get home to post those.

After leading us through the pavilion, our wonderful guide, Evelyn, took us to a local restaurant to make sure we experienced REAL Chinese food. It was important to her that we ate like the locals although she said that the dishes she ordered for us weren’t nearly spicy enough for her taste.The highlights of the meal were the best sweet and sour pork I’ve ever tasted and a flat, crisp bread that tasted like bananas.

Wonderful touring aside, by far the most important event of the day was that Dian and Selam became friends. We have adjoining rooms, and the two of them chased each other from room to room all afternoon, screeching with delight, pulling each other’s hands, giggling and acting like carefree toddlers. It was so wonderful to see Dian open up and be joyful. He was talking a blue streak (he’d been silent up until today) though we didn’t understand a word.

We took the two kids for a short walk and stopped at a store that had kiddie rides outside (like the five-cent mechanical ponies at the grocery store). Selam got into a toy Jeep and was quite the attraction, with some young people from the hair salon next door coming out to take photos of/with her. I don’t think they’d ever seen an African child before and wanted to know where we came from and if we spoke Chinese.One girl noted that Dian was a “China man.”

Heidi treated us to a massage in the very elegant spa in our hotel. Each massage room had its own sauna, shower and changing area. It was a great massage, with a highlight being a small dose of foot reflexology.

All in all, another eventful day!

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