(Added 25 Jan - Alright, weddings over, the nails can come off, hopefully I can get these overdue entries finished with much less difiiculy typing. Also, with the arriva of more foreigners I have had more conversation and not feeling so unco when I go to speak English after listening to Mandarin for a few days.)
Today was of course my birthday, so thank you to those that sent me messages on facebook/here and mobile. If (like Dad) you got confused about which phone I am carrying, I will get your message in March and thank you then.
On the agenda for today was some pampering - my birthday present from Nikki and Tony (and things they could enjoy as well). We headed into the city to the "Ladies walking street" (I think in the tradition of CHinglish things are very literally named here, but quite simple really - its a shopping street). Here we got some false nails, which as you would know is a big change from my normally coal filled, ripped/bitten and rarely long stubby nails... Might look prety on some people but I'm still not convinced I realy need to draw any more attention to my hands. The nail girl found the state of my nails quite amusing (I'm used to it now though, thy normally do as do regular people especially my fat thumbs - thanks Mum :P)
Mine were painted a simple red with red glitter which would have looked quite pretty except they did them too rounded and I didnt really want to get them to start again, although I am finding that what we find simple manners and courtesy dont always translate to Chinese culture and apparently I should have insisted they be done better. But I'm too nice. Nikkis were a simple french tip with a glitter line and a few diamante jewels on the fourth finger of each hand.
From here, we decided not to have lunch yet so as not to damage Nikkis new nails (mine were dry by this time and I had promptly returned them to my gloves. So we got a taxi to a foot massage place Tonys cousin (our "go to man" in Dezhou) had recommended. Along the way there were some classy outdoor butchers, not sure I could knowingly buy meat from them, but who knows where the stuff I've eaten has come from (if you don't know it won't hurt) They couldn't do anything until one so we walked on to another place Tony knew of. By this point I had definitly recalled any criticism of my big jacket and regretting my decision not to wear thermal pants under my jeans and wearing little sneakers instead of hiking boots (lesson learned for the following night and days to come - don't worry about being hot, its not going to happen up north).
When we got to the foot massage place we headed up stairs and waited for our masseurs (while Tony didn't want to get his nails done, he was happy to accept a foot massage). We had to start the exercise by putting our feet into buckets of BOILING HOT water (not just comfortably warm, but very hot). Although it may have semed a lot hotter in comparison to the outdoor temperature. During this time Tony had let his cousin know where we were and it turned out he knew the business here too and within minutes of Tony hanging up the manager came up (his cousin must have rung) and was telling Tony off for not recognising him - apparently he had met him before.
Following the foot massage the manager was back and had ushered us into his office where he wanted to talk to us (the foreigners - me and Nikki) about a whiz brang product he wanted to export to Australia. i was expecting foot creams, makeup or something similar and when we driven to the office and a young girl starting explaining her prouct we were quite surprised. They wanted us to export a new type of Pad. Thats right, womens products. Men who get squeamish by these types of conversation may want to skip the next paragraph or two :P
(STOP reading here)...
We got the full demonstration of how these things can absorb 50mL of liquid and still be touch dry, then they did a comparison with two other brands and ripped it apart showing how it could suck up even more water. I suggested they may be useful for Nikki on her wedding day as she has a bladder the size of a peanut and her chinese dress wasn't very suitable for going to he toilet (chinese stye - squating).
These pad also some sort of "minus ion" thing going on that Tony couldnt really translate and came with a tester card to see f you have a vaginal infection. One would think if you did have one you would know... plus the english description of the purpose of this card was pretty bad.
... START reading again
Apparently these guys also make a nappy type product but despite these amazing characteristics we decided to take a pass, and I wont be making my first million importing pads from China. Apparently this type of proposal is quite common and veryone is trying to export products and get there foot in the door so they have a go whenever they find foreigners.
While we were walking around we also saw food vendors everywhere, selling everything from sweet potato roasted in 44 g drums to bread with meat (not bad but not sure how much actual meat was in there) to some kebabby type things and sausagey things.
We were also supposed to buy some stickers with characters for happiness on them to go at Tonys house in the countryside (their "wedding room), the hotel gates (didn;t know this until we saw it today) but Nikki was a bit impatient and confusing Tony about what they needed so he went back the next day while we went to the nail shop again and got the job done much quicker on his own.