Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Memories of Toronto Banquet, Jersey Ceremony and Xinjiang Wedding!

Matt's Dad's Retirement Party!

It's July 16th, I'm meeting my father-in-law for the first time, and i'm dressed as a PLA officer with braided pigtails and all.

The theme was 60's night and it was Matt's Dad's surprise retirement party with the entire school staff, friends and family members (old, new, and yet-to-be).

Matt and I were the 'big surprise' and surprise it was! However, i knew from the moment we were welcomed at the airport by Matt's aunts and mum and then how happy his dad was to meet me, this family was the kind I've always dreamed of joining.

The rest of the weekend, we went sailing twice, had a gorgeous bbq outside, went cycling around the island, swam in the sea, and just basically enjoyed each other's company.

Ottawa Party
Then we flew to Ottawa for a few days where we had an intimate gathering at Mom and Dad's place on July 20th with many of my old friends from Ottawa and Cornwall.

Thanks for all who came out - it was lovely to see you again!

Toronto Chinese Banquet
A quickee stop in Toronto where we tried to see as many friends and relatives as we could.

July 23rd was a busy day for us; we started off by performing the traditional Tea Pouring Ceremony for my grandparents. But since they don't drink tea, it ended up being a Hot Water Pouring Ceremony!

After an afternoon social of mah-jong, the evening banquet included lots of good traditional Chinese food (minus the shark's fin soup!), silly games which involved flour, raw eggs, and chicken's feet, entertainment from various sorts (including Dad with his infamous "My Way" rendition), and of course, sappy sentimental speeches.

An unforgettable day with 120 of our closest family and friends from across Canada.

Some more photos from Uncle Shak Hai, sister Anice, friend Michael Russell and cousin Fiona Wu.

Jersey Ceremony

Back to Jersey again! Swarmed with family and friends and chauffered in the decorated Moggy by Claire, we officially got married on sunny July 29th at the beautiful Jersey registrar's office.

Followed by a gorgeous champagne and strawberries gathering at a local hotel, we continued the festivities later that evening at l'Etable where we had decorated the house and marquee with Xinjiang cloth earlier.

Delicious food, a beautifully home-made wedding cake decorated with a marsipan camel and yurt!, more toasts and speeches, the evening wasn't complete until Dad sung "My Way"... or at least what he could remember of it!

Here are some more photos from Mom and Dad Wong and Mum and Dad Thornington.

London Party
On our last night of our whirlwind tour, July 30th, we had a lovely dinner aboard a lightship restaurant in London, meeting old friends of Matt's and my host sister when i was in Beijing for the first time, Xumeng, who is currently studying at Oxford now.

Fast forward to September...

Alas, the wedding we had been planning for months in Xinjiang!

With 31 overseas gusts and about a 100 local friends, we had the most amazing week playing an assortment of roles: tour guide, chauffeur, host, translator, laundromat service, internet cafe, and finally... bride and groom!

Here are some pictures from Anice and Andy Alexander starting from the wedding day following their Silk Road travels to Xi'an by plane, train and automobile.

Anice also took some black and white pictures of the day trip to Tuyugou in Turpan. Thanks lil' sis, you've done a great job capturing the daily life and local people through your lens.

As for Andy-Pandy, an old highschool friend, put his Master's project on hold to visit us. He really got into the sights and 'weirdness' of China, playing bumper cars at Hong Shan Park, wearing this ridiculous cowboy hat at Tian Chi, dressing up as a cute Uyghur lad...

Samantha's Pictures of Xinjiang Wedding

Sam is Anice's friend from Uni who is currently living and teaching in Japan. She came out to join in the entourage of our overseas guests - it was great to have her here and to have finally met!

Jenny Ma's Pictures of Xinjiang Wedding
Jenny, my cousin, made the trip from Toronto to Xinjiang with her cousin Peony (from HK) to attend our wedding. If the number of pictures she took say anything about her week here, it looks like she had a marvellous time!

Allison Grimsey's Pictures of Xinjiang Wedding
Allison, one of my best and oldest friends, from Cornwall/Ottawa sacrificed time away from her Master's program to be my bridesmaid. I can't begin to say how happy i was to have her here and to know she enjoyed herself immensely.

Basia and Thomas' Pictures of Xinjiang Wedding
Joining us from Beijing, these are the pictures Basia and Thomas took on our special day.

Aunt Judy's Pictures of Xinjiang Wedding
My dear Aunt Judy, despite getting gravely ill on the wedding day, was determined to come along to the campsite, even if it meant lying down the whole time in the yurt and listening to all the dancing and music going on outside.

What a trooper, and i'm totally grateful for her coming all the way out here!

Uncle Hong's Pictures of Wedding and his Xinjiang off-roading adventures.

My Uncle Hong had planned for months before coming to Xinjiang, his first time in China and what an eye-opening experience it was for him! Equipped with the latest cameras, a stomach of steel, and an adventurous mind, he writes:

"Good Bye Xinjiang and Hello Canada! After a 6600 km journey of Silk Road in southern Xinjiang, for a duration of almost four weeks, I have returned HOME - in one piece.

Now that I have fully recovered and caught up with my work, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bonnie and Matt for their hospitality in Xinjiang. On behalf of Ivy and Calvin, we are wishing this couple love, luck and happiness to last them today ....... tomorrow and ever after!!!

Xinjiang is a beautiful place and has given me an unforgettable memory, including the good, the bad and the ugly. However, to sum it up, there is nothing better in this world than returning HOME, standing by the sides of Ivy and Calvin, and shooting breeze with relatives and friends, again, here in Canada.

Our Land Cruiser has done it all in - cruising on highways, bumping along on rocky sideways, treading water of streams and rivers, zig-zagging up and down snowy roads in mountains, dune-buggying in deserts, negotiating with cliff-hangers”, cutting through the meshland, getting stuck in the mud ....... a flat tire ........ and slipping off a little bridge into the stream.

While the Land Cruiser has done it all, I have got totally “done in”. You name it, anti-biotic, ant-diarrhea medication, Advil, Contact-C, Neo-citron, Polysporin, Hung-King-Tien, After-Bite, Visine, bandages for cuts and bruises ........ twisted glasses......., and I have tasted them all in this trip, with the exception of Reactine and Gravol. Lucky me, I have lost only six pounds.

Just like everybody else, I have taken some pictures here and there. Looking at photographs alone is inadequate, and more than often, photos give you a false sense in terms of understanding the reality.

Having said that, I do have some photographs arranged in the album format below for you, to commemorate with if you have been there, and to fantasize in if you have not (and you can view them in full screen on your monitor if you wish).

If you are serious in getting to know about Xinjiang (or any other places for that matter), you have to be there yourself in order to “experience” it. Wishing you all the best."

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