Xiao Wu (Yes, "Little Wu") as our boss is reverently addressed... decided to take his offices out for a bonding trip to pick the most famous "Yang Mei" (bay berries). Our adventure included much more than just driving out to the farm to pick some fruit..... It began with an early morning KTV session on the bus.... and as the only "Lao Wei" (foreign teacher) in attendance I was prevailed upon to sing an English song (never mind that I'm shy or tone-deaf!) We went to an even smaller town about 2 hours from Wen Ling.
First on the docket was an invigorating hike through the rain up the mountain. Along the way we climbed next to waterfalls, took shelter in damp caves and scrambled up wet stairs. The views were nice and it was fun to get wet and silly with Chinese co-workers! I'm sure there are some crazy photos of me floating around!
The hike was a good way to work up an appetite, because our next stop was lunch. The restaurant was pretty standard rest-stop style, but they did serve the local specialty of a soup with freshly-caught river fish. It was DELICIOUS! (yep, I'm back to eating fish... and enjoying it, again....)
The mayor of the town and their chief of police happened to be eating in the same restaurant and one of the restaurant's staff tipped them off to the appearance of a foreigner. Of course, I had to go through the obligatory toasting (although by "playing the girl card" I only have to sip my beer) and introductions.
After lunch, it was back on the bus for the drive to the Yang Mei farm. Apparently this town has the best Yang Mei in all of ZheJiang Province.
"What exactly are Yang Mei?", you may be wondering... well, the Chinese-English dictionary translates them as "bay berries" (which I've never encountered in the states). They look like giant raspberries and are round and about the size of golf balls. They taste the best when they are dark purple or deep red--- otherwise they're very sour. The taste is definitely it's own (don't think raspberry!) but they are very good! They grow on giant bushes, similar to blueberry bushes, but sturdier. (Note that Kathy is climbing up the middle of the bush to get to the best berries.) The rain hadn't stopped, so we got absolutely soaked while picking, but it was a lot of fun!
(at left) Myself and two of my TA's (teacher's assistants') Justine and Kathy, with some Yang Mei, of course!
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