Firstly, thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes via email and Facebook.
Although the day consisted of not too much out of the ordinary, I lucked out with not having any teaching obligations. Therefore, I took the opportunity to sleep in.
The previous afternoon Jason and I enjoyed a pleasant bike ride to Metro. Metro is certainly within walking distance but why walk anywhere when you can take in the sights whilst on a bicycle.
That brings me to another piece of news I should share: an expat couple who used to work at XISU were selling their hardly used bikes and we took the plunge and purchased them. It’s worked out rather well as Jason can come and go more easily to and from work.
We regularly use the bikes to go eat, do the grocery shopping and other mundane tasks that feel especially painful in the excruciating heat of Xi’an’s summer. You can imagine that I still break a sweat and get incredibly red-faced but it beats walking or getting on a sardine-packed bus. Although Xi’an does have quite a number of air conditioned buses, these are especially crowded as everyone has come up with the same bright idea.
I am especially liking biking for several reasons. First, I can now engage in road rage, shout various Chinese phrases (somewhat polite ones I might add as I’m not trying to pick a fight when I know my Chinese is not good enough to do so and win) to those pedestrians who attempt to get in my way. Second, I get to see the city from a different perspective. I might add that there are designated bike lanes although you will see the occasional ballsy motor vehicle driver who decides he’s a VIP. Those bike lanes are shared with electric scooters not so appropriately called motorbikes. Lastly, I am getting some much needed exercise.
So let’s return to talking about birthday festivities. We went to Metro so that I could treat myself to whatever my heart desired. Those treats included three bottles of wine, German candy, canned tuna (I’m planning on making tuna salad), sour cream for my latest rendition of gazpacho amongst a horde of other things. Jason and I filled our backpacks with all of our goodies and pedaled ourselves home.
On the actual day of my birth, I made my first attempt at cupcakes. I wasn’t really interested in having a traditional birthday cake as what passes for cake here isn’t necessarily always my cup of tea. I converted my lazy day brownie recipe into cupcake form and found a coconut cupcake recipe for two. I made whipped cream frosting to compliment the two varieties.
After an afternoon of baking and lounging around, we headed over to Papa Park for dinner. We intended to go to Green Molly as it really is the best place for a steak in Xi’an, but they were closed for the day. At Papa Park we gorged on filet mignon, a penne and tuna salad, smoked salmon pizza, and a on the house chocolate cake. After dinner, we headed to Park Qin for celebratory drinks.
Much to both my own and Jason’s surprise, I drank beer. Just to be clear I drank a Belgian fruit-flavored beer that probably doesn’t necessarily constitute real beer. I also drank a French beer that tastes a lot like Blue Moon. I even added the essential orange slice…it was almost as if I was at home, sipping on a Blue Moon on the deck whilst soaking in the New Jersey summer.
Our night ended on the late side, as we still had to devour my cupcakes. Jason managed to scrounge up a candle, while I whipped up the frosting. He did his own rendition of “Happy Birthday,” and I made my wish. Let’s hope my wish comes true!