It was a wonderf time in China, but I’ve been back in the USA for three weeks now, and not to sound dramatic but man it feels good to:
- flush the toilet paper
- shower without shoes on
- use a dryer when doing laundry
- be able to read the menu
- communicate with the people around me
- drive my car on streets with other drivers who don’t have an incessant need to honk at everything
- seriously I love not hearing the honking
- play my guitar again
- oh, and have my own room!! Many happy tears were shed.
anyway I love the USA and I think I’ll be sticking around from now on. Not to get too real, but I just turned 25 a few weeks back which means I’m getting pretty old. And old people don’t do well living in foreign places. Well, this old person doesn’t.
So I can honestly say that some of the highest and lowest times of my life happened while in China. For example, a high: stargazing on the Great Wall. A low: diarrhea in a squatter. Let’s just say, crap happened (hah punny) but also non-literal crap.
But as for the last-week-in-China update: I selfied with a lot of children
I withdrew 10,000 rmb (Chinese currency) in CASH to pay for my hospital bill because they didn’t accept my VISA CARD (still bitter)
and discovered a super awesome street market that was extremely close to our house the whole time but that we had never visited before (maybe it was for the best because I may have spent a lot more money if I had known).
The conclusion that I have come to is this: China is a fantastic country. I give it five stars, even though I saw the stars like two times the entire four months I lived there. I highly recommend that everybody visit it, and that they bring a lot of money, because everything is cheap and even the frugal (me) make exceptions for non-necessities (hello useless terracotta warrior themed pocket watch that I don’t even know who to gift to. And if you’re reading this like “man, a terracotta warrior themed pocket watch is just what I’ve been missing,” then hmu, I have a surprise for you (hint: it’s a terracotta warrior themed pocketwatch.))
Honestly, we met locals here in such odd ways who came to play such big roles in my experience. First there was Kevin. We were getting dumplings at this restaurant on the fourth floor of the Walmart plaza when we went to pay, and there Kevin was, at the register, and he just started talking to us about how he worked for an American company and had been to Chicago. I don’t really know what happened next but we swapped WeChats (the sole form of Chinese messaging and social media) and said he could show us around the area sometime (it wasn’t like, creepy. He was a normal guy with a wife and two kids who, like several other Chinese people, had an interest in Americans).
So the next weekend he offered to take us on a sunrise hike on this one cool mountain. He said he’d pick us up at four in the morning. I didn’t know how to tell him that four in the morning doesn’t exist to me, so I just went with it. Maybe it was unwise to meet a man we barely knew at four in the morning when it’s dark and nobody’s awake, but he was kinda shrimpy and I figured three American girls could take him. Also, I never for a second felt unsafe in China, so I didn’t worry too much about it. He took us hiking, with his friend Peter and Peter’s daughter, Mia (her Chinese name is Yi Mi, which directly translates to “one grain of rice”). We hiked for an hour and the view of the sunrise was… fog. That was the theme of my China hikes, I feel like. Anyway, then he bought us breakfast and he bought us each our own personal coconut (super cool? they put a straw in it so you can just drink the water out of it which was freakin neat-o until it didn’t taste very great.)
A few weeks later, Peter took us to a Buddhist temple in Zhuhai. It was so beautiful and I learned so much about Buddha, or the Buddhas? Because there are literally thousands? And I just Googled that to fact check it and there’s a lot of information there, but Peter’s friend, Patience, told me there were thousands of Buddhas, so if you’re going to come after someone for misinformation, it’s not me. It’s Patience.
The other man we met was also named Peter, but we met him on the train from Shanghai to Guangzhou. He lived up around Shanghai but he traveled often for work and came down to our city a couple times to visit. He just really ~~loves~~~ English. He invited the whole crew out for a pizza party at Pizza Hut and the guy probably would have ordered the whole menu for us if we wanted it.
After we blew through 5 pizzas, a rice dish, an appetizer platter, a green salad, a fruit salad, and fancy drinks (the juice kind), we were just hanging out and chatting when I asked “hey Peter, do you like KTV?” (KTV is super popular in China, we saw KTV places everywhere. It’s basically karaoke, but you get a group together and rent a room for it, and the rooms are way fancy with disco balls and couches and a giant screen TV) and he said “yes! Do you?” and we admitted we hadn’t done it yet and he said “let’s do it now!” and we went over to the KTV place and Jammed. Out. It was really awesome, but I think I prefer karaoke, because KTV tracks don’t omit the vocals, so you’re just singing with the artist instead of soloing. And the music video plays on the giant screen, which gets real awkward when you’re trying to sing Brittany, Beyonce, or Miley with a middle-aged man in the room.
Yeah. China had some good moments. Including, but not limited to:
That time we were discussing different clothing throughout the dynasties and one of us asked Wendy, our teacher, what she thought of an American wearing a modern Chinese dress to a prom and Wendy said it was offensive. And then we asked if there was ever a time non-Chinese people could wear traditional Chinese clothing and have it not be offensive. She said yes, and listed several examples. So we asked what an inappropriate occasion would be. She said porn. Yeah… she didn’t know what prom was.
That time we were hiking in Zhangjiajie National Park and this woman said “my boyfriend thinks you are beautiful, can he take a picture with you?” and I, mildly horrified, agreed, and then was introduced to her “boyfriend,” a maybe three-year-old boy.
That time we had the typhoon and the river behind our house overflowed into our driveway and there were fish swimming in our driveway but then they were all put in a bucket and then they all died but they were still in that bucket in our driveway and it smelled so bad walking by them.
That time a mouse lived on our balcony.
All the times Nina came into my room to have me do recordings for her and wouldn’t sit on my bed because she “hadn’t showered that day” like I cared
That time it was Teacher Appreciation Day and we got served some goose blood. Because nothing makes you feel appreciated like congealed goose blood.
That time Adaline saw a mother hold her baby over the Walmart trashcan as the kid just pooped right into it. And all the other times kiddos just dropped their pants and peed on the streets or playground or wherever.
That time we were told that the government didn’t actually give the school authorization for more than one English teacher, so the day the inspection happened, they gave us the signal and everyone had to stop their lesson immediately and follow the principal to the storage closet on the roof where we just sat for a little over a half hour…
Oh yeah and that time I was in a hospital for four days. I stole a pair of hospital pajamas or whatever the heck you call that outfit, but then I felt bad, so I gave it back when I went to get my stitches out. And my surgeon said we will be friends forever, so that’s cool.
I think I experienced all the classic China moments. I wouldn’t even trade them for a working dryer and normal toilet. But boy am I glad to be back where the garlic bread is. (I’ll miss those dumplings, tho.)
Now for our last round of Engrish:
You’ve heard of fire hydrants, now get ready for the fully equipped
Me @ everyone I interacted with on my birthday
Hm things sure have changed since the last time I was in Europe
I was almost inspired
went all the way to China and didn’t even find my Mr. Rice
not same, life definitely frightens me