Birthday Lost in Translation

It all started at 8:30pm, when Sepia pulled out the Birthday party invitation from her backpack.  It was only the second day of school and she was invited to a Birthday party. She did not know the boy’s name, but we were happy that she was invited.  As we had a closer look at the invite details we were unable to read anything but a couple things.

The Birthday invite

Birthday invite details in Chinese.

Date: 9/ 3

Time: 9am – 6pm   (we were surprised by how long the party was….?)

Location: a map showed “CBD” with a star on it. (The Central Business District is about 15 minutes from our apartment). We thought that would be fine, being so close to home.

Driving directions to Birthday party in Chinese.

So with hopes of Sepia making new friends we agreed to take her to the party, the next morning.

Because of a previous appointment commitment, we arranged to take her to the party an hour and half later, and tried to contact the parents to let them know, but were unable to speak with them because they only spoke Chinese….so I then, contacted another parent and left her a message about arriving a little late.

At 10:30am, we all jumped in a taxi to take Sepia to her party.  We quickly handed the taxi driver the Birthday party invitation and Map with instructions on it.  He looked at it and was confused.  We pointed to the map and gave hand signals to please take us there.  The taxi driver was more confused….  We said, “”Wo bu dong”(I don’t understand). We called the parents hosting the party because they only spoke Chinese and immediately gave the phone to the taxi driver.  He communicated various points with the host, which of course we had no idea what was being discussed.  The driver hung up with the host and had an expression that he knew where he was going now, and said something in Chinese.  We, of course responded with “Dui, dui, dui” (yes, yes, yes) in Chinese and nodded our heads in approval.

So off we went to the party.

Driving, and driving and driving and many panic attacks like where in the world is he taking us, plus Sepia feeling car sick.  Looking at the taxi meter ticking over was maddening.  The most we had paid was 45 RMB for taxi fares so far.  Finally, after one and half hours, 4 phone calls to the hosts, because the driver was totally lost out in the country, and one call to Shane’s assistant who translates most information for us, and only half demolished buildings around us along the roads…We arrived at the party destination!

We finally made it to the resort.

A little resort in the mountains with river running beside it.  We paid the taxi driver the fee:  300 RMB.(Equivalent to $50 USD).

In the foothills of the mountains.

The hosts, the other party guests, and lots of kids who spoke Russian, Chinese and only a tiny bit of English, greeted us with open arms.  We were so happy to be there.  The host pointed to the luxury coach bus which he hired for all the party guests to travel in.  We laughed and shook our heads!

The pagoda where we had lunch.

Birthday Lunch at the resort.

They showed us to the pagoda where they had a beautiful lunch prepared.  Poached cod, sautéed tofu, haw fruit mold, sautéed bok choy, baked chicken, blanched peanut salad, seaweed salad, roasted chili peppers, and steamed rice.  They served Shane and I wine and the kids iced tea.

“GAMBAI” (Cheers!) We all toasted.

We were excited to try everything.  The kids too were so hungry.  After eating for 20minutes, they motioned to Sepia and Max to hurry up so they could go play with the kids.

We finished eating then walked for about 15 minutes to another part of the resort, only to find a war zone of trenches and adults in full camo gear.  Yes, the birthday boy age 9 along with 15 kids (age 8 -11)were getting dressed in full camouflage gear, to do PAINTBALL!

Sepia getting the gear on.

The Paintball owner was giving the kids tons of instructions.  Of course, all in Chinese!

There were two teams preparing for battle.

Everyone Ready!

This was serious PAINTBALL!

Max ready for Paintball combat.

The compressor paint guns were heavy and the balls had a powerful punch.  Two seven year old girls came to the safety zone crying because they were so terrified after playing for 15 minutes.  Max played great, but was totally wounded in battle.  Accidently, his own team mate hit him only 5 feet away 4 times on the back on the head.  Ouch!

I'm Hit!

Sepia's battle wound.

Sepia was wounded as well with a red welt on her arm that split the skin.  In the United States, you must be age 18 or older to do paintball, we now know why.  Once they played for 1 1/2 hours.

Delicious cheesecake for birthday cake.

The kids got out of their red paint stained gear, we then had birthday cake.

We boarded the bus for Beijing.

The Birthday Bus.

We had some dinner when we got back to the city, then arrived home at 8pm.

It was a day to remember.