Things not to do on your day off:
1. Go into a restricted Chinese militarized zone.
Today was quite the event packed day. Woke up early and went down to the school at 7:30 to meet up with our friend and our boss's parents. We were going cherry-picking! Today was the first day of a cherry festival (I think) and a perfect day to go to one of the orchards to pick fruit. The parents spoke Chinese so it made it much easier to make our way there. There were several orchards to chose from, all near the town of Lushun. So we went to Lushun where there would be complimentary mini-buses to take us to the various locations.
We were dropped off at a small square where Ernie's parents spoke to one of the representatives about when the bus would arrive. No more than 10 minutes had passed when a man approached me, showing me his police ID. After a brief conversation with the cop, E's parents explained to us that foreigners aren't allowed in this town because there's a military base nearby. So, we were taken into custody.
We sat at the police station while negotiations were underway. Of course we couldn't understand what was being said so we just sat still like naughty children in the principal's office. At one point we were just talking quietly amongst ourselves, joking around about something and the cop reprimanded us, telling E's parents that we shouldn't laugh because this was a serious matter. We were on our best behaviour after that.
Of course everything was complicated by the fact that none of us had brought our passports, so we couldn't even prove that we had permission to be in China. Luckily, our school came through for us and faxed copies of all the info. Soooooo....after about 2 hours of deliberating over the appropriate punishment, our school was able to bail us out. Originally the cop said it would be 700rmb (over $100) a piece plus a fine for not carrying our passports, but because we were all so well-mannered and co-operative, and clearly we didn't do anything wrong on purpose, there would only be a charge of 300rmb for the group. Seemed like just another way for the government to scam some money - I bet that guys going out for a nice dinner tonight! But we didn't have much choice.
We had to sign a bunch of papers, but first we needed Chinese names. So that's me - Aimida* - common criminal.
To wrap up this loooooooooooooong story, we did eventually make it to the cherry orchard. Picked and ate loads of plump, juicy, perfect cherries. Mm-mmm! I've never gone cherry picking before, but I have a strong background in playing Hi-Ho-Cherry-O!, so I was a natural. What a fun day - run in with the law and all!
Mmm....delicious. A bunch more pictures in my cherry picking album
*Ai - Love
Mi - Beautiful
Da - Achieve
(or any number of other meanings depending on tone - I could be Herb, Rice, Big, but that's not quite as pretty)