Christmas in Kunming

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Happy New Year!

I spent the Christmas holidays and New Year’s Eve with my parents, my sister Tiffany and her boyfriend Matthias at our apartment in Kunming.  We celebrate Christmas on the Christmas Eve, as do many Europeans because my Mom was born in Nuremberg, Germany.

Our family tradition is not to cook a large Christmas Eve meal but, rather, to enjoy a cold cut platter with smoked salmon, cream cheese, pickles, capers, onions, etc.  Sort of fancy finger food!

To our amazement, we were able to find all of our Christmas fixings in several international supermarkets located around Kunming.  The French retailer Carrefour, for example, have no less than four of their “hyperstores” located around Kunming.

As you can see from the photo below, my mother is quite an artist when it comes to making food look beautiful … not to mention delicious.

Christmas Eve Supper

While my mother and sister Tiffany were decorating our Christmas tree, our two local caregivers looked on in amazement and obvious delight, as they had never seen Christmas celebrated before.

Christmas Eve

Our apartment was decorated such that for an entire week no one would ever have known that we are presently living in China.  We even decorated the garden outside and had numerous Chinese neighbors admire our decorations, albeit they did appear slightly puzzled as they walked by.

Gone China We Have

Tiffany and I decked out in Chinese winter attire …. gifts received from our family’s assistant and now good friend, Wenjun Liao (“Jenny”)

We spent Christmas Day at the nearby Wyndham Grand Hotel, which was more elaborately decorated than I have seen most hotels in the United States. While the Chinese do not celebrate Christmas per se, this international holiday does offer them an extra occasion to go shopping!

We had a superb Thai meal in the Wyndham followed by several lattes at an independent local coffee shop.

Christmas Day Outing

About a month ago I mentioned in a blog post that I had been introduced by Dr. Zhu to Kopi Luwak coffee, also referred to as “Cat Poop Coffee.”  Coffee beans are fed to small catlike animals called Civets, which rather resemble small weasels, and they then proceed to “pass” the coffee beans through their system. The undigested coffee beans then go through a some kind of purification process!

This coffee is considered quite a delicacy and fetches an astonishing $3,000 per kilogram … that over $1,300 per U.S pound!   Indeed, this coffee has become so popular that Chinese entrepreneurs have started to open up dedicated coffee lounges that serve this coffee in any form imaginable.

So after our Christmas Day Thai lunch, we ventured over to one of these cafés and were all set to order a cup of the special coffee, but the asking price was a remarkable RMB 268 ($44.67) per cup, so we decided to stick with regular lattes, which I could see really pleased my Dad.

However, Tiffany and I had visited this café the prior week and purchased a box of less expensive pre-packaged coffee for him and my sister’s friend, Matthias, as a whimsical Christmas present.  So, several days later my Dad could find no excuse not to try the coffee!  I have to say he’s willing to try pretty much anything at least once.

Here’s a link to a funny story + video on the subject:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/16/cat-poop-coffee-taste-test-video_n_3605707.html

All in all I’ve passed a very pleasant Christmas with the family, notwithstanding still persistent high pain levels.

In my next post I will update you on my progress with reprogramming my brain and additional pain management strategies we’ll be exploring.

Here’s to wishing everyone a Happy New Year again!

6 responses »

  1. Dear Ali and Family,
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful Christmas story with us! Brought back memories of home for me. My mom is from Bremmenhaven, Germany and my dad from East Prussia.

    Hoping you have a great new year and I am still praying that you will walk again,.

    Found this video last night by accident – Len Horowitz – DNA: Pirates of the Sacred Spiral [FULL]. In the middle of it he mentions oxygen chamber tanks to help replenish nerves for quadriplegics – that got my attention. I know of chambers to help with wound care but my husband can not lay flat on his back for too long and can not stay on either side to long either. Just long enough for personal care – that’s it. But you have many roads yet to explore and I am positive with your loving devoted team you will pioneer a breakthrough that will ultimately help our paralyzed community.

    Please stay positive, strong and always with a sense of humor. Laughter helps relax muscles, organs and even cells!

    Happy New Year!
    with admiration and respect,
    caroline

  2. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Ali. Thanks for this post. I love seeing the photos. I know it has not been a bed of roses, but I’m glad you had Tiff and Motts there for a diversion from the monotony of the pain rollercoaster. Praying and hoping every day for relief for you. Love you so much. Christmas wasn’t the same without you.

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