Turkey Day in Jeopardy

Last time I was here in the fall we went to the Crowne Plaza for Thanksgiving Dinner. I went there this morning to find out when and how much it would be and no one in the lobby or restaurant floor knew what Thanksgiving was! Did everyone quit? I know that in other years the teachers also had Thanksgiving dinner at Crowne Plaza.

I tried the Sofitel, but they aren’t doing anything special, which makes sense since they aren’t an American owned company.

We’ll check with the Sheraton, way across town, and the new Hyatt. Fingers crossed.

It may be an Italian Thanksgiving.

On another note, I read a post on a Chinese Yahoo group about a linguist who’s amazed at the comments she’s seen on hotel reviews for Beijing. She will come to China for a conference and just cannot believe that the guests are right when they post that the hotel personnel’s English is poor. Clearly, she’s A) never been to China, B) not objective as a scientist and C) jumps to conclusions very easily. She’s pondering doing a study on how people overestimate poor language skill.

A big reason I stay in hostels is that the staff’s English tends to be far better than in hotels. I wonder how she’ll fare when she gets here.


Easter in China

Yesterday Kristyn and I went to the Crowne Plaza to see if they were offering an Easter brunch. Our hopes were raised when we saw a poster with beautiful Easter eggs advertising a “Classic Easter Brunch.” Okay, I’m not new to China so I figured we should ask about the menu before gathering the teachers to splurge. I told the hostess what we wanted and she went back to the kitchen to ask the chef about the Easter offerings.

It took awhile, but when she returned with another hostess, she told us there would be kids’ food: popcorn and French fries. Kristyn and I just smiled. I asked what country was the chef from? (A couple years ago we went there for Thanksgiving dinner and we got turkey and the works.) The teacher in me informed the hostess that Easter isn’t mainly a children’s hospital and that there was special holiday food involved. She asked me what we wanted and promised they’d have it. Well, we thanked her and said no.  They can’t get baked ham or leg of lamb that easily. On as Saturday? They’d probably get some awful substitutes.

Then we went on to the cathedral to find out what time mass would be.  I’d asked our support person to call two churches I’d seen on the internet. One seemed Protestant and I asked T. to ask about the denomination. I also told her to call the Catholic cathedral. T told me that the first church isn’t Protestant and they weren’t doing anything special for Easter. Huh? Are they Jehovah’s Witness? In China? What denomination doesn’t commemorate Easter with zeal? She couldn’t find out about Catholic mass. Later she told me it was at 9 am, which was hard to believe as in the past it was much earlier and in the evening.

So we ventured over to the cathedral where we saw lots of boards and heard the buzz of construction.  A woman who spoke English told us mass was at 6am (out), 8:30 am and 5:30pm.

Four of us wound up going to the 8:30 mass. I’d hoped that the construction was in its late stages and that there’d be mass in the cathedral, but we weren’t that lucky.  Instead it was held in a small side chapel, which was packed. Intrepid or pushy, we made our way inside. Bev, who’s got a broken arm, and Helene got seats as did Kristyn. I wasn’t too bad off as I was in the way back and could lean on the wall or perch myself on a nearby table.  Though the proceedings were all in Chinese, if you know the ritual, you know what’s happening when pretty much.

They had a lovely choir and during the long homily, which might have been great, if I knew Chinese, a woman passed out. She was near the back and it seemed like she actually had a stroke rather than fainted.

After communion, I went outside where hordes of people were listening and praying. When mass let out, in went back in to get some photos and a wizened man exclaimed “Happy Easter!” in his best English. People were very hospitable and Bev and Helene met two young Chinese women who’re studying French. So we spoke with them (I could understand most of what they said.)

They live at Jenny's

Not thrilled with the expensive pop corn and French fries, we went to Jenny’s Cafe for breakfast. Good French toast and coffee drinks in a cozy atmosphere.