Sunday, August 24, 2014

Set the Wayback Machine to...2012

I was so done by Shanghai by February of 2012, for so many reasons, but I was still thinking about staying on for another year.  Considering I had more "China days" than non-China days, this was not a good idea, but it took my Chinese principal's refusal to let me go to the Evil One's wedding to nail the lid on that coffin.  As always, I ended up missing my friends most of all, but even that was in a state of transition in early 2012, and I was struggling to adjust.  It was a season of change, and I've never been one to embrace it, but I've also never been one to stick my head in the sand and let life pass me by.  So even though I felt like life was kind of shitty around that time, I put on my big girl underpants and went to the "World Chocolate Wonderland" that was taking place just down the street from where I went to church every week.

I envisioned a wealth of chocolate samples, and maybe some incredible demonstrations that I'd be able to use in my teaching somehow (hey, stranger things have happened!)  And actually I only remembered the chocolate fashions (as seen above) as I was going through photos for this post, but I might have to pull them out when we start Junk2Punk next spring as an example of how different materials can be used (so there, ye of little faith).
The demonstrations, however, weren't as cool as I thought they would be.  They used a heat gun to help melt it, and scooped the chocolate into molds.  It was kind of disappointing.
There were a few different samples, but not what I was imagining in my fevered chocolate dreams.  When I saw these, though, I decided I had to buy some.  These figures were directly lifted from the erotic temples at Khajuraho, and Evil (who went there with me) was getting married four months later.  You can imagine my disappointment when I got to the vendors at the end, Pralinor Chocolate informed me they didn't have any for sale there - I'd have to either go to their shop or buy them on Taobao.  As one of the poor unfortunates that never did figure out how to use Taobao, that left visiting the shop, and although I tried on more than one occasion, I never did get them. 

I guess some things are just not meant to be.
One part that did live up to my expectations was the display of chocolate terracotta warriors.  I still hadn't been to Xi'an at that point, and seeing the soldiers lined up in row after delicious row...well, you might say it whetted my appetite for the real thing.
One thing you may count on in the far east (whether you want to or not!) is the presence of dancing costumed characters.  I'm pretty sure these were supposed to be chocolate beans, but they were disturbing as only dancing costumed characters can be!
World Chocolate Wonderland was, actually, supposed to be international, and to this end there were displays representing different countries.  Italy, for example, had a chocolate vespa.  The best part, in my eyes, was this poster about Germany's chocolate - not because it was super awesome, but because of where they located Germany on their world map.

It was an interesting experience, to say the least, and I stuck a handful of cacao beans in my pocket before I left, because that day it had become one of my top 10 favorite smells.  I put them in a ziploc baggie when I got home and pulled them out every once in a while to inhale the smell of concentrated chocolate (usually when the stench of too many people in too small a space overwhelmed me).  But sadly, the World Chocolate Wonderland kind of mirrored much of my second year in China, in that it was disappointing.  But no one ever said living overseas was one big party after the next, and if they do, there's a good chance they are stoned.  Or drunk.  Or mentally incompetent.  Or all three.  Expat life is more like a roller coaster - it has its ups, and its downs, and its moments that make you scream, and occasionally moments that make you puke.  In my opinion, in China it's even more extreme, but still worth experiencing.

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