Archive | February 2014

Shopping in Ala’er

I loved going shopping in China. Everything was an adventure because it was so very different from shopping in Missoula. I was watching all the people who were watching me. It was crazy! Morielle and Tim are the only two foreigners in the city. There are Han Chinese people and there are Uyghur Chinese people and when we came we made it 5 `Waiguorens’ in the city. Everyone was watching us. My mom said that is because I am so cute. I don’t know but I do know that everyone was looking at me and I was looking at everyone and smiling at them. I made lots of friends even though I do not speak Chinese or Uyghur.

One time I got lost when we went shopping with Morielle. We were in the market having fun taking pictures. I was taking pictures of the very cool Naan Bread bakery right on the street. My Mom and Dad were taking pictures and following Morielle while she did the shopping. Then suddenly I was alone, looking around but seeing only Han and Uyghur people.

I stopped and waited and waited and waited. Pretty soon, I saw my mom: she was waving at me from inside a big quilt door. I was not worried but I was very glad to see her waving at me.  I walked up the steps and in through the quilt doors into the grocery store, not as big as Costco but it was the biggest Chinese store I had ever seen.

Another time I went shopping with ZayNur and that went a lot better! She walked slowly and she walked with me so that I did not get lost. I wanted to get a haircut because my hair was in my eyes. So ZayNur took us to a very chic hairdresser. He was very friendly. I was excited to get my haircut because my hair was in my eyes. And he was excited because he had never cut a foreigner’s hair before. ZayNur was our translator. Everyone agreed that it was very cute haircut.

After that ZayNur went shopping for supper: she wanted to make `lagman’ before we said `goodbye’ the next day. We had to get some mutton which is when we saw the dead sheep and the butcher taking off the skin and cutting the meat. ZayNur did the shopping; my Mom did the paying; and my dad and I were taking the photos!

Walking home we took lots more pictures. ZayNur was much more cooperative with the picture taking than Morielle was so we asked her to take us to the English Department building because we had not seen it yet. We also stopped by the on campus market. My mom was interested in a shop for yarn and ZayNur helped with translating—Morielle never liked to do that very much but ZayNur was great. She even helped me buy a very cute Uyghur hat!

Hanging out in Morielle’s Apartment

We stayed one week in Morielle’s city, Ala’er.  My parents stayed in an extra foreign-teacher apartment so I got to stay with Morielle all by myself! Our nighttime routine was singing songs, praying and sleeping with her cats.

Gideon and Fessik usually woke me up with their meows and playing. ZayNur usually made us breakfast. A Uyghur breakfast is a lot like a Uyghur supper and always very delicious. My mom was worried that I might forget about not using the water in the faucet so she always helped me brush my teeth while we were in China. In the mornings I worked on my feelings pages: my bedtime and wake-up time; my foods, my activities and my feelings.

After that we would hang out. I liked to work with my Dad when he was on the computer sending pictures and writing updates. I also liked to hang out with Morielle and my Mom when they were listening to lectures or watching movies. It was very fun when Fessik or Gideon would jump up on my lap and hang out with me! In the afternoons my Dad and I went for a walk around campus and took lots of pictures.


One day we all went for a very long walk. First we went to Tarim University (塔里木大学). zoo which was like the Ag. Center.  The donkeys came over to the fence so that Morielle and I could pet them. They liked talking to us and they liked the pictures that we took. Then we heard very loud barking: very big dogs which were quite scary with their barking. They were Tibetan Mastiffs (藏獒) My mom was glad that they were chained up because she did not think that the fence would protect us. We also saw some Tarim red deer (塔里木马鹿) they are like our mule deer.

Around the corner, we heard chickens! Ohh! My mom got so excited, silly mom! She wanted to see the chickens so she peeked inside the door and asked. Well, she did not use words, she pointed. They were surprised to see us! They wanted to watch us watch the chickens! It was fun to see a Chinese chicken coop but it was also sad. I suppose they were making Chinese Chicken noises because they did not sound like American Chicken noises but I could tell they were not making happy chicken noises. They could not walk around in their cage. And they could not move their necks because of the wires: their neck feathers were all worn out from rubbing. I wish they could have a nice big coop like my Grandpa had made for my chickens. 

Then we walked all the way to the river: a cold and frozen January beauty. At first my Dad helped me keep up; on the way home Morielle and my dad made sure that I did not slow down or get lost. My Mom was taking pictures so she would not have noticed. Dad’s research about the river:  Tarim River: 塔里木河;  تارىم دەرياسى  is the longest inland river in China  2000 kilometers/1250 miles.

My Dad’s Birthday Present

We left Missoula on my Dad’s Birthday, January 7th.  I was very organized and was the first one to have all my stuff packed and ready to go. After about 2 hours sitting in the cold car, my mom suggested that I wait for her and my dad in the house!  She gave me a blanket because I was so cold. Later, along the way driving toward Seattle, we had birthday dinner at McDonald’s. I ate french fries, snack wrap, ice-cream and some coconut cake from our friend Gingy. My dad’s present was a little tripod for his camera.

He was not so sure that he liked this present until my mom started using it with the timer so that everyone could be in the picture. After that he liked it very much! The tripod helped us take photo of all the friends at all parties we had with Morielle and her students.  My mom always wanted a picture.

And we took the little tripod on our week-long trip.  Our trip started with a big surprise in the Ala’er bus station: it was a sleeper bus! We had just been to the bathroom but the driver suggested we pay another 2 Yuan and go again because we would not stop for 5 hours and no bathroom in the bus. Yikes! After that we were ready to go.

But how do you ride in a sleeper bus? I didn’t know! Well, my mom wanted to look out the window at the desert so she tried to `sit’ with me in my bed but that did not work at all! She was too big and the bed was too little. I was glad when she went to her own bed in the middle of the bus. Then I could settle down, buckle my seat belt, watch the desert go by. I wanted to get it right because it was my first time in a sleeper bus. I wanted to enjoy the ride. And I did!

We had a bathroom stop after 5 hours but we still had 3 more hours in the desert before we arrived in Hotan. Morielle’s student Christy helped us find our hotel and something to eat. We used the tripod on a little excursion we took in Hotan. We went back to the desert to look at some ruins and we were the only people there! The tripod held the camera so everyone could be in the picture: Mom and Dad, Morielle, her student Christy, Christy’s boyfriend, our two drivers, and me. I think it was a great birthday present for my Dad!

I think the little tripod was a perfect present for my Dad on his birthday. It traveled with us to visit Morielle in China and it came home with us to Missoula. We can use it for the next trip!


Morielle’s English Department friends invited us to a restaurant for lunch. I was so excited! It was XinJiang food which means Uyghur food just like ZayNur cooked for us. Morielle asked Jong to order lots of Kabobs. `Hurry up, Mathalia’ Dad was saying on our way to the restaurant. My mom was more interested in taking pictures along the way so it fell to my dad to help me keep up with Morielle and not get lost.

Mr. Fish and Mr. Lake were already there but we were not the last ones. Mr. Ma came last which was lucky for him: Mr. Fish and Mr. Lake insisted that he get the seat of honor next to my Dad. This was a big Chinese discussion but finally we could start eating. Well, first we had to drink a toast to us. This was little problem for me because I like to drink my tea cold. I don’t think anyone noticed.

The food kept coming and we kept eating until we were too full. I like the kabobs too but the pieces were too big. Morielle asked the waiters for a knife. My mom and I cut them into bite-sized pieces. Delicious! My favorite dish was something with lots of vegetables and short-little noodles. The noodles were the perfect size for me since I was still learning how to slurp the long ones. I did not need any help eating this dish. I ate noodles, beef, rice and gluten because gluten was in the noodles.

After lunch they talked and talked. It was funny to ear Morielle talk Chinese! Sometimes they talked to us and when they did they suggested that we all come to Tarim University to work!  Hah! I wonder if they have a job for me?! Mostly they talked business. Later Morielle explained that they were discussing the English Department students who were not very eager to come to class or very motivated to work on their English.

When the food stopped coming, the waiters started taking pictures of us with their iPhones. Hah! My mom thought okay if you take pictures of us, we are going to take pictures of you!  And we did.  It was fun! We took pictures of the kitchen and all cooks doing their work. I also got a picture with the owner of the restaurant. I said `ranchmand’ which means `thank you’ in Uyghur.

After that we walked to the museum. Dad pulled me along while mom chatted with Mr. Fish and Jong. For the first part of the museum we had a guide. He spoke Chinese and Mr. Lake translated. Dad was very interested and he listened to everything and asked questions. Sometimes they talked Chinese and had little discussions. Morielle said they were discussing about how much detail was really necessary for us. I did not care. I was having fun taking pictures and hanging out with Morielle and her friends. Morielle was a little bored but she liked hanging out with me.