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Last Night in China

pudong airportThunderstorms and a high of 97 are predicted for tomorrow. We fly out of Pudong International Airport, Shanghai, at 9am, so hopefully the storms will hold off until we’re gone. In the past few days, we’ve hotel-hopped from Blue Mountain Hostel Bund to Pacific Hotel near People’s Park and now we’re at Shanghai Southern Airlines Pearl Hotel near the airport for one last night in China. The shuttle leaves at 6am tomorrow morning, and then we begin our long odyssey homeward: Shanghai to Seoul to Dallas/Fort Worth to Champaign, Illinois. Yay! I wanna go home!

For my final China post, I’m going to end with some lists. Enjoy!

1. Foods eaten in restaurants: frog, crawfish, fish balls, beef balls (no, not testicles), beef stomach, crispy shrimp, flounder, Wuchang fish, pork, pig skin, bok choi, cabbage, roast duckroast duck, green beans, fried tofu, green noodles, seaweed, tomato soup, clear soup, edamame, cooked cucumber, naan, paratha, samosas, masala, butter chicken, congee, tea eggs, scrambled eggs with tomatoes, milk bread, chocolate pillow, chocolate scone, egg custard tarts, watermelon, lotus seeds, papples (Asian pears), fresh yogurt, rice, hot dry noodles, Japanese chicken kabob, hot pot, boazi, gyoza, and jiaozi.

2. Foods eaten on the street: crepe-like pancakes with savory veggies & egg, tofu pudding, tea eggs, bananas, hang dou boazi (red bean steamed bun), rice, cooked celery, green beans, chocolate-filled pancake fish, egg custard tarts, lotus seeds, mangosteen, peach popsicles, melon, and unidentifiable fruit popsicle.

3. Strange sightings that have become familiar: scooter familysmall children riding on the front and back of scooters with their parents, young men walking arm in arm, tall, colorful platform shoes, dogs (with no collar) lazing about on the sidewalk, men spitting, lots of nose picking, barbershop trimmings on the front sidewalk, trash on the sidewalk, construction, people sleeping on the sidewalk on cardboard, malformed beggars, cars and scooters parked on the sidewalk, and taxis that make a U-turn in any kind of traffic.

4. Pleasant surprises: children who say hello and want to talk to me, adults who say hello and aren’t trying to sell me anything, locals who step in and help me buy something when they hear me struggle in Chinese, cheap massages, fresh yogurt with raisins and honey.

5. Number of massages: 5 full body, 1 foot, and 2 foot/neck

6. Public transportation taken: planes, hi-speed trains (Wuhan-Nanjing and Shanghai-Suzhou), MagLev train (Shanghai Pudong Int’l Airport), taxis, and many, many metro trains in Shanghai (especially line 2). Highest speed achieved on the ground: 302 km/hr.

7. Favorite opportunities to communicate exclusively in Chinese: purchasing Xiangqi (Chinese chess) for my nephews, buying one banana (instead of the entire bunch), explaining to the massage therapists while Jeff and I received our foot massages that we are teachers from the US, figuring out my exit on the hi-speed train to Nanjing, and buying red paste-filled steam buns from a street vendor.

8. Drinks in China: lots of bottled water, plum juice, watermelon juice, honey/lemon tea, happy lemonhoney/lemon/kumquat tea and smoothies, cafe latte, cappuccino, red tea, orange tea, orange drink, Tsingtao beer, baijiu, red wine, a blue “Hurricane,” and my favorite… warm homemade soymilk.

9. Weird/Funny moments: Children peeing through split pants on the sidewalk, attending a conference on Marxism in Chinese, the Shanghai Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, watching a fish trying to swim away down the curb on Shanxi Road in Shanghai, strange translations into English (like Caution,nip hand on escalator), and encountering parents speed-dating for their grown up children at People’s Park in Shanghai.

10. Favorite moments: finding what I was looking for or being happy with what I got instead, such as lemonade varieties, pork-filled buns, and witnessing the many, many times Chinese people were kind to me and curious about who I am.

Thank you, China!

5 thoughts on “Last Night in China”

  1. Lania:

    I feel like so much to say after I read your essay. You are indeed a good writer. By the way,this is Tim. I hope you still remember who I am. :)
    We met in front of the lobby of the hotel in wuhan with andy and some other teachers at night for the first time.

    Well, I have to say, what you saw about China is defenitely real,just like those documentaries about China made by CNN or BBC. I come from Xinjiang Province, which is also the biggest province of China. It’s in Southwestern part of the country. This is a huge country, which means our culture and food are much much more diversified than what’s known to most people in the world. In my home town, there are a lot of uighur people, they are minority. Their life style is very similar to that in Turkey and Kazakhstan. You wouldnt even believe that you are actually in China if you come to some certain places in Xinjiang, but most people tend to ignore what we have here, like those traditional food and clothes in xinjiang, as part of China. It’s not easy to see the scenery in my hometown in those western-made documentaries. I feel very sorry for that, because from my perspective, that’s not an entire China.

    It’s probably what we called “stereotype”. Speaking of China, Jiaozi, spring festival,spitting on the street, xiangqi(chinese chess) etc are what come into people’s mind first, while the real China is far more diversified and interesting that that. It’s the same case in Tibet and many other places in China as well apart from Xinjiang.

    I truly hope you guys can have a chance to visit some other places in China except Hubei Province. My hometown is 1000 milse away from Wuhan and I dont really feel like home here to be honest, because the food and culture is far too different.

    At last, it is really nice to meet you, Lania. The conversation the other night indeed helped me build up my confidence of learning English again. Thanks a lot, Mrs Sunshine! Since I am still learning English, I would really appreciate it if you could let me knoe the mistakes in my englsih writing,haha.


  2. Lania! This brought tears to my eyes! It is such a representative sample of what you’ve said you’ve experienced, and it incorporates such joy and acceptance of the whole experience, when I know moments of it were so very difficult. Good on ya for such an amazing and embracing attitude! And the lists of food are making me VERY hungry, and the amount os massages are making me very jealous! :-)

    I’m soooooo glad you’ll be heading home tomorrow morning (which is tonight to us!); I’ll be thiinking of you and praying for you. If you get a chance to skype while in the airport or waiting around, send an email to say so and if I’m free, I’ll hop on! We should be around tonight (Saturday) during the beginning of your travel.

    Love, love, love,
    Jeanne (& Brett, too)

    1. Jeanne,
      Thanks so much for this note. Add a 1/2-hour upper body massage to that list :) Just had a sweet one in the Seoul, South Korea, airport. Wow, I feel so much better about the 13-hour flight Jeff and I will board in 25 minutes to DFW. Love you!

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