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China, July 17, 2000

Sweating in Xi'an With Ma

Two thousand years after Qin Shi Huang a kite calmed the Chinese

No chicken testicles this time
Ma and I hotpot
Still ready to grab a bow and arrow your ass
An archer, still at attention
The General will make sure your head is on a stick
A general in full splendor
The last time I saw my folks was the last time I was in the USA; Christmas 1998. I'm a good son though, for I email every day and phone several times a month so they don't worry. Still, there is a difference between a phone call and a hug.

When my folks found out I would be spending the summer in China, they immediately started to make plans to see me here. Unfortunately, with business commitments and such, only my Mom attempted the 20-hour flight and 12-hour time change from Florida to Hong Kong.

Even before she took off, I was a bit busy managing the delicate relations that would arise with an American Mom meeting Chinese parents. Jingmei and I had several strategy sessions trying to figure out how to make the meetings smooth and yet somehow mix Western and Asian values.

traditionally, my family would treat Jingmei's folks to dinner without the kids present. There, aspects of the families' histories and futures would be discussed, sans the kids. Of course, with the language barrier and such, it wasn't gonna happen like that.

Not to worry, for everything went well. I do believe that the look of pure joy when Jingmei's Dad saw the funky high-tech kite Mom brought all the way from the USA, was worth all of the effort it took to get the three to meet. This is what Mom had to say about it:

Last night was the 'meet Jingmei's parents night'. Wet dressed up and drove to a magnificent Chinese restaurant in a converted mansion on embassy row.

Wayan and I bore gifts brought from the USA for Jingmei's parents according to her suggestions. Jingmei Mama and Jingmei Baba (literally Jingmei Mom and Jingmei Dad, what she told us that we should call them) loved the book about Florida, the dragon kite with two controls, the perfume, and the fountain pen for calligraphy.

All of us had a good time and JM was translating so well that we were all comfortable with each other. Her parents are so kind and gracious with pleasure radiating from their eyes because we are visiting their historic and natural wonders.

Before I had a chance to digitize the experience, Ma and I hit the road. Our first stop was Xi'an, home of the famous Terracotta Army, and we were in awe of Qin Shi Huang's efforts to fight on even after death.

With 1,000 visible warriors (and an estimated 8000 still unearthed), his ceramic army is impressive, even after 2,500 years underground bleached off all the paint and a few cave-in's smashed many into bits.

Ma and I were fighting our own battles aboveground, against the 40+ C heat (that's 100+ F for you Americans), muggy humidity, and endless dust. Mom kept doing rain dances to try and induce a street-cleaning, dust-reducing tropical thunderstorm. I applauded her efforts from the comfort of a beer kiosk in the shade.

Next we are off to Chengdu, home of spicy food and endless tea gardens.

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