We literally had a ball at the ball. And the lead up to the ball was just as much fun (for me). I spent the week participating in the many preparations for the Sportsman’s Gala held on Friday night. Between my social outings, this made for a very busy week. Lunches, shopping, nail appointments, sewing bee, more shopping and an afternoon tea filled my week (along with a few walks in the park and many workouts).
The preparations for the ball began Tuesday afternoon with a shopping trip to the Western Clothes Market for shoes. It was such a fun excursion and super successful. Because the majority of people here are petite, feet are also petite and sizes do not run much larger than 36/37 (6 or 7). A size such as mine, 39 (or 40 when in heels), is not always on teh shelf so if they do carry them, they are in a warehouse nearby (wait 20 minutes to an hour) or just get them delivered, which is what I did. So much easier than I thought it would be. The variety of items is astounding. Shoes, clothes (trendy, not cheap), accessories, bags… anything you want to buy and pretty good quality. I cannot wait to take visitors here. I doubt Joel has this place high on his “places in GZ to visit” list but it may have to happen someday (sooner than he would like I think). Wednesday included a spouses lunch followed by my first afternoon tea with the Guangzhou International Women’s Club. It is exactly what it sounds like. They have a coffee morning and an afternoon tea once a month each and lots of other clubs within the larger club, such as a book club, walking club, tai chi, mah-jong, etc. etc. etc. Any club someone wants to start, they can and usually others will join up. I definitely feel like an expat wife now. Thursday I was asked to help out with a “crafting bee” for the Gala. I thought it would be writing up name cards or organising tickets. Nope, this was sewing. If you know me, you know I do not sew. Never have and probably never will. Luckily my job amongst the 5 of us there was folding a square of satin (we were making pocket squares from 3 squares of satin, filed into triangles and sewed together). I did help and they turned out great. After the sewing bee a new friend, Tash, took me to the leather market with her to find a clutch for the ball. Now Tash is a super-shopper. She is distracted by things and wants to buy a lot. I ended up spending more hours there than I intended but I also saw a lot more than I had previously. Just like the last trip here, we were being followed asking if “you want copy?” watch, bag, belt… whatever you want. And the most interesting part was walking to get our taxi, suddenly a large group of boys jump over a railing and run past us. Tash informed me the police were around it’s illegal to sell these “copies”. I also learned the curtains in the shops cover the true copies-the high end designer bags with their labels-highly illegal so they cover them until you ask to see. I learned a lot on that long day of shopping. Friday Tash and I got our nails done together. There are a lot of nail places here. A lot. Luckily the girls here know the clean and reputable ones so I joined Tash at their regular place, and although I was not totally impressed, the bill of $20 for a gel manicure and “opi” pedicure (barbi and opi is how you request the type of polish) made it easy to be happy for the evening. Again, lady (and gentlemen) visitors, these are activities we will be partaking in. After the nails I had a bit of a rest and then went to get my hair done. And done it was. As the pictures show, it was BIG and even though I was not totally happy, all of the compliments made up for it.
So once ALL of these preparations were completed, it was time to get the taxi to the event. A spouse here was a TV presenter/newsreader/host/some type of job that required interviews on the red carpet in London so the organiser of the Gala asked her to fake a red carpet experience and interview the guests coming in. She cornered me and I bragged about my “Wedding Dress Street” gown and how great it is to have everyone together celebrating Western sports in GZ. Everyone I have met so far (I had to introduce Joel to most of my new friends since he’s been working while I play socialise) was there and looked amazing. The men all looked sharp and the ladies were all glammed up. Because it was a Sportsman’s Ball, there were speeches and awards. These took ages and luckily the bottles of wine were left on the tables so we were kept entertained. A great cover band played and everyone danced and danced and danced (my feet were killing me). Then at midnight, the lights came on and everyone dispersed. The night was a success. And now my $58 dress is shoved into a corner to be worn as dress up clothes in the future I suspect. My nieces would love it I know that! And Joel’s bow-tie and suspenders (which didn’t actually fit as they were either child size or Chinese man sized) are put into his sock drawer waiting until we have another event.
The rest off our weekend was not as exciting so not much to tell about. We took another stroll around the park Sunday morning and caught up on housekeeping stuff (not literally since we have a housekeeper). Then we enjoyed the pool after a hard gym session and went to a brewery’s official opening (which included free beer and food). I met some Americans from Seattle/Boeing and even saw some other familiar faces which is making this place feel a bit more like a place to call home, if only for 3 years.
The weather was beautiful last week which made going out so enjoyable-every day. Already this week it has taken a turn. Bad pollution, high humidity and temperatures are slowly changing my attitude but fortunately I have outings and activities planned every day so I will get through it. Something to look forward to next week, Joel has his first holiday and time off so we will be making the most of it and braving the crowds around the city to enjoy even more that GZ has to offer.