The Hans wanted to take us out to eat the night before we left. Professor Han has a friend who owns a Mongolian restaurant. When he suggested it, I had a fleeting thought: Oooooh, maybe it's like the Mongolian barbecue restaurants we have in the U.S.!! But really, I knew better than to indulge in such thoughts.
The restaurant was really cool - little authentic Mongolian tents, with boardwalks in between.
Professor Han's sister wanted to hold Gage, but he would have none of it. He wanted his "Chinese mom," Mrs. Han. It was really cute:
I really need to get some gifts for the Hans and Summer and Maria. I wanted to get them something really Americaney/Idahoey. I need to get on that.
After we had started eating, some musicians came in and sang to us. This one lady did this interesting, ritualistic song. You had to stand up, sit down, chug your drink, stand up, have her drape a shawl around your neck, and then sit down and chug ANOTHER drink. She was most insistent on making everyone do it, including Micah and the baby:
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero:
I pointed to another dish, saying, "Okay, well, what's that??"
I played it safe with fresh spinach leaves and cucumber stalks. Oh, and they had these things that were balls of dough that are fried and then coated with melted-down sugar. You pick one ball of the fried dough up with your chopsticks (something I never quite mastered), dip it in water to separate the sugarey strings that drape from it to the main dish, and then eat it. I gave lots of that to poor Gage. The noodles were really spicy and difficult for him to eat, and I just wasn't in the mood to give the poor child sheep's brains.
In many restaurants we went to, they would give you all your dishes together and sealed with plastic. You get one chopstick and pop the plastic to open up your packet-o-dishes. It's always a very loud, satisfying popping noise:
Oh, and that pitcher you see in the above picture, to the right of Micah, had the most interesting drink in it. It tasted a lot like cream of wheat. From what they told me, it sounds like they boil the wheat in water, add some milk, then use a colander to drain the wheat bits from it. They serve it warm, and it was actually pretty good.
Here is Professor Han before heading outside our tent to have a smoke:
I realized that night that I hadn't seen one woman smoke. Only men. I asked Professor Han about it. He said, "Oh, no, women don't smoke. Just men. It's improper for a woman to smoke." I thought that was so interesting.