Back in Shenyang with only a few days to spare, we rested more than anything else. Everyone was pretty much spent by this point. I rousted Dad early one morning and we headed out of town to the east to do some birdwatching along the river. There were quite a few groups of cyclists going by – looking sharp with all the gear one would expect, but goddamn did they ever ride slowly. These were all retirees, and they were apparently more concerned with looking speedy than being it. Exercise is exercise, though, so good for them…
After the wedding ceremony things took on a much more bucolic character as we headed SSE out of Shenyang to the diminutive city of Benxi to visit Ma Li’s family, and my new In-Laws, in situ. This picture was taken in the guest room of Ma Li’s paternal grandparents. Their dilapidated apartment was remodeled over the summer and is leagues better now. From left to right: Ma Li, Shadow (first cousin), Grandpa, Grandma, Steven, Myself, Dad, Erin, Mom, Shenshen (3rd Uncle’s wife, Shadow’s mother), and 3rd Uncle (son of Grandpa).
This is it. Two years to the day from our first date – a cozy dinner at Four Clover (“Fo-ah Ku-ro-ba”) restaurant in good ol’ Beppu – Ma Li & I celebrated our marriage. Mind you, we had already been legally married for 2 weeks, but now it was time to party. We held our ceremony & reception at the Shenyang Trader’s Hotel – a posh place even by Western standards located in the center of one of Shenyang’s biggest shopping districts. All of my visiting family were able to stay in the hotel at a discount rate negotiated as part of the deal – convenient & economical!
Back from our whirlwind tour of Inner Mongolia, our party of 6 grew to a party of 8 with the trumpeted arrival of The Mullaneys – maternal grandparents of the bridegroom. We visited Ma Li’s mother’s university for a dinner that spared no expense. The university dining hall has 3 floors – the first two are for the riffraff (students) and serve the expected budget fare. The third floor, however, woah mama! Faculty & Administrators only please, and if you can dream it, we can cook it! The large wooden tray on the table is sashimi!
And this is how it begins… Mongolia, Inner… a road to… somewhere? The first 3 hours off the plane were spent like this, driving endlessly, bumpily through the Steppes. I must confess: lawnmower jokes were made. But who among us could restrain themselves in such an environment?
The angle of this photo gives the appearance that your brave narrator is strapped to the roof. Sadly, this was not so. I just have freakishly long arms.
The July 26th ceremony was only the mid-point of a two week long wedding extravaganza. Parents, siblings, and maternal grandparents all made the long trip over the North Pole to China. Aspects of the odyssey worth retelling have been broken down chronologically into six journal entries for your viewing pleasure. Breathtaking photographs narrated by gripping captions will carry you along our journey.
Part 1 – The Arrival
~16 hours trapped in a steel tube zooming over the North Pole… my parents had been there before when they visited me in Japan, but this was the longest flight Steven & Erin had ever taken in their lives by more than 10 hours. Nevertheless, they arrived in fine shape and Erin looked positively well-rested when she embraced Ma Li at the airport after not seeing her in nearly a year.