Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What's That? Wednesday: Random Adventures

If you happen to be a friend of mine on Facebook, then you saw this post over the weekend...

Really, that is the fun & frustrating part of expat living.  Simple things can turn into a great adventure, but it also means that running errands and tracking down things can turn into a full-day experience.

The goal of our adventure was to find this mythical craft emporium in Old Town.  I miss crafting...I miss running to Michael's, Hobby Lobby and JoAnn's clutching my coupons and looking for a new project to complete.  And now there are so many tempting projects on Pinterest to look at.  I know that all of those supplies (except for grosgrain ribbon which comes from Taiwan) are manufactured in China, but I don't know where to buy them!  (Don't talk to me about TaoBao, which is like a Chinese Ebay, I have not mastered the site.)  

All the good stuff is found at these flea markets that I hear about from friends.  Need rubber bands?  Try the Suzhou flea market outside of the Fabric Market.  How about balloons or gift bags?  The other Suzhou flea market near the old train station.  Luggage?  Wuxi flea market has a great selection.

I wanted to see this place with my own eyes and we needed supplies to make  LBean's "World Maths Day" hat.  Thankfully our friends were also up for an adventure and we piled into our van.

I forgot my good camera, so I did the best I could with my iPhone.  As I looked at the pictures after I uploaded them, I was a tad bit disappointed.  It looks like I walked into a Staples or Office Max and snapped a few pictures.  The visuals do not convey the awesomeness, and randomness, that we discovered.

Seriously lanyards and name tag holders, where were you at the beginning of this year's Girl Scout meetings?

Ahh, card stock, craft foam and colored paper!

Spray paint, yes, there is spray paint!

Pencil sharpeners

First aid kit/emergency boxes, top shelf please.

The skull is what I really came for!

Yeah, I bought this...I'll use it some time.

You'd better buy this...or else!

Oh, the possibilities are endless with these gems!

That elevator looks safe.  What buzzing?!  I'm sure we're fine.

Oh, you poor pregnant woman.  I have been there.  I did not own the matching quilted pj's that this woman is wearing, but I did go into labor with LBean wearing red bandana patterned crop pants, so I think we're equal.

After all that hard shopping, it's time for a snack, roasted sweet potatoes.

LBean found her supplies for her hat project and a bonus, the lovely ear muffs.  She insisted on wearing them for the next two days, inside and outside.

Never would have guessed this building would have so many treasures inside.

After we toured the flea market, we ate lunch in Old Town and then headed to Ancient Street.  I hadn't been to Ancient Street since last fall and imagine my surprise when we walked past this Dairy Queen.  The photo has an ethereal look to it, but it's just because one of my kiddos was playing with my iPhone and got her greasy fingers on the camera.  I'm a sucker for a nice Dairy Queen, in part because of the memories I have from working at one my senior year of high school.  The people I worked with made it really fun even though one guy stole my jacket, dunked it in the dirty dish water and hung it up in the freezer...ahhh, high school!

It was impossible to lose our friends because if they stopped for a nanosecond, a crowd would form to look at their (and sometimes our) fair-haired kiddos and try and take a peak at the foreigner's baby in the stroller.  

Look at the picture below, can you see them lifting up the blanket to look at the baby?

I love this picture too, because I am pretty sure that they are explaining that no, not all the girls are their own (EBean was riding in the stroller too), just 3 of the girls belong to them.  And, they're also giving all of the girls' ages.

We ended our time on Ancient Street with a canal ride.  This was the first time I had taken the boat during the winter, which gave me a chance to see everyone's laundry hanging outside beside their meat.  My parents tell stories about meat staying chilled/frozen by hanging in the attic or in the stairs to the second floor of their childhood farm houses, so I guess it's really not that different.

The day ended at our apartment and we were exhausted, but rallied for some tasty Indian food before our friends left.  After the girls were in bed I looked at Jamie and said, "I'm tired, but it's a good tired."  Hooray for random adventures!

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