Friday, February 24, 2012

Feb 12th-15th

Sunday, February
I have to word this bit very carefully, since one is
allowed to be Christian, and meet as such.
I was picked up today to get together with a few other
foreigners in the area. We met in someone’s living room. She served us little waffles
(like a quarter of a piece of normal size) …in the shape of a heart ^_^. And
tea! (there was no tight time frame, no countdown of the clock or
anything) we sang several songs, mostly
in English, but some songs in Dutch (since that was the main language for most
of 10 people). There was a small message
and quiet time.
Afterwards, we ate Chinese food. Rice with two different
mixes ontop….neither of which could I tell you what it was nor what was in it.
But let it be was good!!!
Then, spoiled rotten! She came out with a plate full of
pancake Crepes!!!! ((I have the recipe and am determined to practice flipping
until I can make them look nice. Until then, anyone who would like to help me
eat them while I practice…just let me know when I get back!)
More tea! Black tea…not green (non Chinese house).
When I left the house, very full I might add… I left with
two of the girls from Holland helping another couple who fosters children. We
took a bus (or two?) to a café type place called Createa.
First time experiencing a bus in China!
It wasn’t bad at all. Crowded of course, and the smell of
people crammed together. I watched the streetside speed past and realized,
without my guides, there would be no hope for me. I could tell you what city I
was in..and that is all. I wouldn’t even
know where to look for a bus schedule…and even with one would not be able to
discern stops, or which bus number to take. Even visual is of little use, since
no word is recognizable to me, and without a picture on an advertisement…visual
recognition of location is of hardly reliable.
This is daunting. And a little frustrating too.
With no sense of direction by bus, I realized most of my
adventuring would occur on foot.

For today, I tried the hot chocolate at Createa (a western type place crowded
with a younger crowd). I don’t usually go for hot chocolate…coffee being the
craving of my heart..but it was recommended. And pretty good! (though Ruth
makes a wonderful cup here with Cadbury’s hot choc. Mix).
In the back corner, we swapped stories and discussed ways
in which culture differs, as well as dissenting points of view. Sort of, our
world versus this world kind of things.

Several buses later, one of which included a double layer
bus (yes, I wanted to ride on the top, though it was enclosed) we eventually
made it to Lannigou. In between buses we need purchase dumplings from the
street. (served very hot, just off the stove….and hopefully the heat killed
anything alive). There was a cabbage type in the center (perhaps leeks and
onions???) and the bread around it was warm and soft and had a unique flavor.
It was rather good. (nearly worth the risk…though I am writing this over a day
later, so I think I am safe).
was a huge traffic jam, so we got off the bus, along with the other half of the
occupants and walked the distance to where the house was. Some rooms heated,
others not. Mostly kids with special needs. I got to meet some of them, the
nicest kids. A little cautious, but before long one was tucked under my arm,
and we played games with our hands,
hummed songs, and got along just fine J
too bad it was almost bedtime.
of bread and cheese…as well as bread and nutella!!!! (yes, even Chinese nutella
is better then what we have in the states) before I was driven back home.
(because as it goes*sings* wherever I put
my sleeping bag is where I call home!) even at 7 in the evening, the rush
hour traffic was just dwindling.
how just 10/15 min. drive from the very developed area I am at. Here most
sidewalks are paved, or have tile and stone grout on them (the stones large
and therefore just as slippery as the
tile!) There, mostly dirt and much more…construction. Not the tall scaffolding
with steel and machinery here, but the cinderblocks with the concrete half
covering most of it to make a wall of a house. Tarp and aluminum altered on
some rooftops. Gutters are full and run down the sides of streets, where a
water drain is built in next to the road for runoff, garbage, as well as who
knows what-else. The roads are more narrow, but traffic still crams the hectic
street. Stores offer more practical services, such as for cars and functional
things. Buildings are in various stages of repair, or the need of.

curled up in a few blankets, next to the heater to fall asleep in the living
room before curling up in my bed.

Monday Feb 13
Ventured out on a run. Yes, it was wonderful. I followed
the river, there’s a concrete path next to it…comparatively level and good
footing. I counted the bridges I went under them, so I wouldn’t forget where I
was. I prefer city running, but with so many crowds slow you down, and traffic
that has few laws that it follows, plus the sidewalks are uneven and comprised
of slick tiles that I struggle just to walk on successfully. The river was what I expected, 2 parts water,
1 part unknown. The river bed is full of long tangles of weeds. (I couldn’t
help but consider in my head those things I learned about pollution and high
waste increasing certain gases or was it decreasing? Inflated growth in the
water decreases oxygen available to fish and other possibly living creatures…)
despite my suspicions…I did see a few white birds stalking the riverside and
diving into the water. So…something must be considered edible.

Later, after the kids went to bed. It was so nice outside!
(even my room warmed a little with actual sunlight!) I went for a walk.
Sticking to main roads, the basic square type pattern. Getting lost here is not
like getting lost most other places.
So, here is what I gathered….
There are in fact street signs!!
Shop signs are generally unknown, unless there
are windows showing me what they sell. Then …I guess!
I will get stared at..either because I’m white
or because I keep looking dorky and struggling to not wipe out on that wet, slick tile. Could be
the combination.
Construction is everywhere. Watch where you
step. Watch what you walk under.
When crossing the street. Look all directions.
Simultaneously. If able, cross with others.
Every now and then, a girl (usually younger)
will give a shy smile and say “hello”
They sell these little hotcakes, look like they
are made out of potatoes off of little carts on wheels. Sometimes stationary,
sometimes going down a street (either with or against the traffic).

Tuesday, February
14th- Happy Valentine’s Day <3
A pretty fantastic
day of love. Though all I did to celebrate was bake cookies for the kids and
everyone else. However, the drool of little children provides love for the
heart in way nothing else can.
It did, for the first time in the week, make me miss
home. Except it’s not home I miss…A big bear hug would suffice.

Wednesday, Feb 15th
It does not feel
like a week. It is going by too fast!
Went for another short run this morning by the river,
passing several Chinese women and men who were doing Tai Chi. I watched their
slow, controlled movements. It was like they were moving through water.
I joined Ruth and a friend of hers for coffee and was
invited along to get my hair done with them. Not my usual scene…and I said I
did not need a haircut or anything..
I was led to a side room, where there were several
comfortable reclined chairs (reclined to the point of laying down) and a sink
at the head of each. I sat there waiting until one of the many Chinese men who
work there came and tucked a towel around my neck. My head was guided gently to
the sink (that was nearly flat, so no uncomfortable digging into the neck. I was asked a few
questions…none of which I could answer. But Ruth had said they would ask if the
water was to hot…so that one I nodded to. But the others I could only smile
sheepishly. The man shampooing my hair had on a surgical mask covering half his
face, but he smiled humorously at my incomprehension.
The shampoo was worked thoroughly through my hair and
around my scalp, similarly with the conditioner. My head was then spectacularly
messaged! Never had that done…but it was inarguably great..
the Chinese man had strongly removed every fiber of tension from the surface of
my cranium, he gently sat me up and tucked a towel around my head (somehow
securing the towel and all my hair as well).
It was surprising how delicately the previously granite grasp on my
skull became. I was led to a chair in front of a mirror and he began combing
out my wet locks. I was handed a small glass of hot water, the top was covered
with saran wrap, and a straw poked through.
I am told they do that everywhere.
of the employees were male, all wore black dress pants and a black suit jacket.
Most had the stylish hair-do of short sides, longer hair on-top, and product in
order to volumize. Often orange tinted.
The ones whom dry, cut and such had a type of tool belt around their
slim waists, only instead of any useful tools, it was full of brushes, combs,
and scissors.
my hair was thoroughly dried and fluffed, I was released. All for the cost of
15 yuan, called Kuai (the currency here… which is equivalent to $2.38)

On a
walk before dinner, I managed to get slightly turned around. Luckily I
accidentally created a loop that brought me back to where I intended. While on
an unintended side street, I passed the glass fronts of shops. Well, they may
have been shops. Many looked like people’s living rooms (table, food, small
stove, tv, heater, couch). Others looked more like small businesses with a
desk, and a couple people on chairs around a table, sipping tea of course, or a
woman working on a sewing machine. Some
were clean and soft. Others, were dirty and crammed full of miscellaneous junk. Several had people crowded around
tables where chips or similar type pieces, were being shuffled across the
surface. Perhaps a kind of gambling??
passed several open garage types, open and overflowing with cardboard, scrap
metal, or junk…any mass amount of material was being sorted through by a few
men and women. These are jobs one normally does
not see people doing. Yet, if the job pays, does the “ends justify the
means”? is it justified for people to work in dirt, and garbage…if it’s a way
to survive?

I will try and send pictures. Difficult to do with the
internet over here.

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