I think it was in the early 90s that we combined a tour of Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China and Thailand. Never tour group people, I planned the trip a year in advance, seeking out the family-owned, mid-level hotels that we like and purchasing a pocket sized Mandarin Chinese phrase book that we didn’t use; deciding to go for a hand printed, Mandarin sign that said, “how much is this” on one side and “that’s too much” on the other.
Of course we lined up in Tiananmen Square to see Mao’s embalmed body, had Peking duck with plum sauce and pancakes, and ate our way down Beijing’s Hong Kong street where everything, including fish, corn on the cob and baby chicken is served on a stick.
At this time, my husband’s cousin and his wife were in Beijing, working for, I believe, the World Health Organization. They, of course, spoke Mandarin and we experienced some of the best Chinese cuisine in our lives, and saw the non-tourist parts of Beijing; visiting a park that opened at night and included music, dancing and vendors.
There has always been an elegance about cousins Jimmy and Kathy, whether in Geneva, Beijing or the District of Columbia. Their taste in art, music, antiques and, of course, food would be intimidating if they weren’t so unpretentious, so laid-back, so interesting and just so much fun. One of my fondest memories is about going to the Beijing Hard Rock Cafe with them at about noon and exiting 2 hours after the band came on at about 10:00 p.m.
So why do I have these really ugly pictures of their elegant dinner of chicken with olives in wine sauce and a sumptuous crumble dessert? Well, while there’s no such thing as having too good of a time, it’s just that sometimes the photos don’t convey that.
Gratuitous picture of the Mullally cousins.