Thursday, April 30, 2009

2 Weeks

Today was my last day at HSH. I did a bunch of little things, including giving a group of people a tour and answering questions. It was bitter sweet, I hate saying goodbye and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to teach these people and really be taught by these people. A group of 3 expats were there today helping teach and they offered to have their driver take me home. Before I left Christina, the head of HSH, gave me a letter with a picture of everybody and a signed card from everyone – Definitely something I will keep forever! I hopped in the van and we were off, the ladies were all very nice and we chatted as though we had been friends for years.

I had planned on helping Ms. Evelyn watch her 3 year old niece this afternoon but turned out last minute we didn’t have to. So I spent the afternoon watching movies and taking a nap.
We headed out for a pretty western dinner at Blue Frog. On the way home we picked up Andrew from a friend’s house and stopped off at the movie store. I bought Slumdog Millionaire -16 RMB!!- and just finished watching it, what a movie! I now know why it won so many awards.

Haha so funny story.... Mr. Gary was teaching me to drive the motorcycle tonight… haha A friend was moving back to the States and gave it to them, he had never driven it before and was having difficulties. He almost hit a car and the guard saw and was like watching and was not looking happy that he came about an inch from the car and almost crashed a few other times. haha so I hopped on and was doing great and Andrew and Mr. Gary both said wow your doing great and well… Mr. Gary had told me to try using just the foot brake and I did and I didn’t let off enough on the gas to turn and brake and I crashed through a fence! haha I wasn't going fast and the fence is about 3 feet tall and wooden. We all couldn't stop laughing! Nobody was hurt! Mr. Gary went and told the guard who actually thought that Mr. Gary did it. It was in the compound so it wasn’t a big deal, the guard was actually shocked and speechless that somebody would report themselves rather than running away. What an adventure that was! The guard thought Mr. Gary was blaming me and kept saying to him, ok but YOU be careful! Haha we all laughed until we about cried. Don’t worry mom when I buy my own motorcycle when I get home it will be lighter and have good working brakes, and I will buy a helmet!

Tomorrow Ms. Evelyn and I are going shopping and possibly to the fabric market as well. I am going to get some things made so that should be fun. Miss you all!


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why Not?

This morning I ate a mango muffin on my way to Home Sweet Home. I arrived and taught English and helped out with a couple miscellaneous things. In my group of guys is one that likes me a lot, he is the one who has been taking me to the bus and who bought me the drink the other day. A couple of days ago my guys asked me what my Chinese name was, I told them to give me one because I don’t have one…. Today they told me my Chinese name is Bah guh – or something like that. They told me it meant pretty white flower and Ms. Evelyn confirmed it haha. They are so cute; I love them and am going to miss them!

So I am sitting on the back of the motorcycle sideways again, dreading the drive to the bus stop! I have bruises from the bumpy, speedy, and crazy rides from all the other days! The road forks at one point and to get to the main road you have to turn left and go over a bridge, well he turned right…. Hmmm I was confused and said bu hao zuo (no turn left)! He then sped up and told me detour. I cut my hand trying to stay on! Oh goodness!! Well turns out he wanted to parade me around his neighborhood honking the horn on and waving to everyone!! We then crossed a very narrow bridge and were back on the main road to the bus. Haha. Bus 990 came and I got stuck in the back crammed in a corner and literally had to climb over people to get out! So awkward!

I grabbed a taxi and headed to Thumb Plaza where I was meeting Ms. Evelyn for lunch at Queens. I told her to order and I wanted to be adventurous – I am in China aren’t I?! Out it came…. Chicken feet!! As most of you know I absolutely hate feet in general and they gross me out, even my own haha! Now I lived on a farm for many years as a kid and we had chickens, I know all about them. Well here went nothing, I stared at it a bit, tried not to think about it being a foot, and took a bite. It surprisingly wasn’t bad; you have to spit out the tiny bones inside. Now it’s not something I would eat often, but if I had to I would, you just can’t think about it being a foot. We ate some other things as well but the feet had to be mentioned. We shopped around a bit, had some ice cream, and headed home. I checked a bit of e-mail and am once again behind! I took a power nap and then took my motorbike to Kristen’s house.

Kristen and I headed to the subway and off to Puxi we went to help Jason with a homeless program he started. Washing clothes and providing new ones, letting them shower, etc. Well haha we got there and got in a taxi and the taxi got us lost. We ended up getting out, walking to a different subway, and getting dinner. Jason’s program is only open for a couple of hours and we would have gotten there too late. So we enjoyed dinner and then headed home exhausted. I got back home and talked with the boys a bit and tried to figure out who Andrew has a crush on – I love being a big sister! Had a cup of milk tea, some chocolate Pocky sticks, and am heading to bed.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

7:30am, IN THE MORNING, I had to leave. For those of you who know me well you know this is a very painful thing for me to do. I will and can, but I would much rather stay in my warm cozy bed listening to the sound of the bamboo swaying in the wind, the cars going by, and the birds outside my window singING. I managed to get up and ready and downstairs with plenty of time to have a croissant and cup of coffee. Mr. Gary, Ms. Evelyn, and I piled in the car and our driver took us each to our destinations. Mine was last and it was in Old Shanghai.

I met my tour guide and the four others in the group. She took us through hidden paths and secret stairwells and we discovered markets and experienced “true China.” Food was being made on the streets, candy, toys, and jewelry! I walked around the secret fabric market and am planning on going back to have a few things made. I don’t know how to describe all these markets! They are packed and absolutely insane. The xiaolongboa lunch was truly an experience of dumplings and other authentic Chinese food. I ate crab dumplings and some bread thing with lime green goo inside…. Big step on the seafood – you all should be VERY proud! One of the oddest things you could buy that I saw was a keychain with a live frog in it, or you could get one with a fish!! Around 2:30 the tour ended and I was going to walk around some more but it was too confusing to do by myself and some of the areas would be better to have two people – although I must say Shanghai is a lot safer than most places in Charlotte!

So I finally located an empty taxi and hopped in handing him a piece of paper with my address to my compound on it. We were off, I noticed the meter was going rather quickly and judging from my experience with taxis I knew this guy was doing something fishy. There was nowhere to get out, he was driving took quickly, and I needed the piece of paper with my address back so he didn’t still have it. Usually a 30 minute taxi ride to HSH is roughly 35 RMB, after about five minutes with this guy it was already 60 RMB! We came up to Carrefour and I told him I changed my mind and wanted to shop at Carrefour instead and needed my address back. He handed it to me and pulled over, the total being 184 RMB – if I had of taken it back to the compound it would have been about 195 RMB. In my wallet I had 100s, a 10, and two 5s. I opened my door pointed to the price, said BU HAO, threw the 20 RMB on hthe chair in front of me and ran. He got out of his car yelling and started to run after me but I had my tennis shoes on and slipped through some bushes and into a large crowd at Carrefour and he had to get back to his car. ***Mom and Grandparents I love you and please DO NOT worry!*** I figured it was bound to happen sometime with taking a taxi multiple times a day, I had been warned and told not to pay them. I bought an orange soda and sat down with some people, a bit shaken. Walked to Dragonfly and had a wonderful relaxing and stress relieving full body massage, I was in heaven!

I started walking home and a street kid ran out and asked for my drink, I shouldn’t encourage risky behavior like this but I was done with it and there was still half left. He was probably three and it made me smile when I saw him gulp it down! I was about to grab a cab and head home when Kristen rode up beside me on her bike and offered to walk with me. We ended up going to her house and watching a movie. Walked home and ate a wonderful curry chicken dinner! Enjoy the pictures, I didn’t eat the stuff on the streets, maybe next time ;) haha.


Monday, April 27, 2009


Jumped in the taxi this morning and he asked if he could go out a gate that was blocked. Still somewhat groggy I said no, no, bu hao. He laughed and for the next five minutes of our 30 minute car ride to HSH he was laughing saying no, no… no, no… I just smiled and did one of those little laughs you do sometimes. I always wonder if people can tell if I am faking it or not, well he seemed happy so oh well.

I arrived at HSH and did some beading and taught English to four guys. They were very smart and caught on quite quickly! The man who took me to the bus stop on Friday took be there again today when it was time to go. He drove slower today – maybe he did see my white knuckles haha! We were driving back and he told me he was going to stop and buy me something to drink. I was a little confused and before I knew it he pulled over and some lady was making us drinks of some sort to go. We got them and left, it was interesting, I thanked him and later asked Ms. Evelyn what it was and she said it was some sort of grass-jelly bubble tea drink. It was very thoughtful of him.

I went grocery shopping with Evelyn today and saw things like ducks guzzards, chicken feet, tongue, stomach, lots of seaweed, and some other odd things to eat. I passed a place walking home today that serves turtle, I am eating there on Wednesday, I’m in China I may as well try the stuff! I told Evelyn she has to come try it with me. Her favorites are frog legs and chicken feet. We are going to go some time in the next week or so hopefully that serves all her favorites and I am going to get to try it all. NASTY but so exciting!!

The sky was what we call Shanghai blue today… a kind of gray with a hint of blue. So much pollution here it’s never really blue. The time the sky looks the best is right after it rains, it becomes clearer and for that one night you can spot a couple of stars in the night.

I helped Ms. Evelyn a bit with dinner then watched a movie. This evening the boys and I took Harry for a walk and Andrew and Bryan taught me how to skateboard! It’s not as easy as it looks!! We had so much fun and I was glad to have time to get to know Andrew better.

Tomorrow I am doing a tour of Yuyaun, old town Shanghai. It includes a trip to the secret fabric market, and we are also doing an authentic xiaolongbao Chinese lunch. I will let you know what that means in tomorrow’s blog because I’m not entirely sure.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Quiet Day

Had the chance to sleep in today, and then spent the morning catching up on e-mail and such. I think I have responded to everyone know…? Had some coffee & Pop Tarts and finished the movie I started last night. Mr. Gary and the boys brought back KFC for lunch – yes I ate it despite my dislike towards KFC’s treatment of their chickens before they kill them. I know you probably think this is ridiculous but oh well haha.

Well I took Harry for a walk around the compound, little children were sitting under the trees near the water taking a drawing class. It was so cute; sadly I had left my camera at home! After that we headed to AGIF - a church for exapts. The family I am living with are originally from Taiwan but are US citizens now and so as expats are allowed to go to church and have other freedoms Chinese citizens don't have. A bunch of us went out to Johnny Moos for dinner afterwards - they had excellent burgers and shakes! Am I actually here in China?!!

Ms. Evelyn, Mr. Gary and I all went to Head to Toe and Ms. Evelyn and I got pedicures and Mr. Gary got a haircut. It was lots of fun and my toes look great haha. Then we came home and watched Monsters and Aliens, the boys went out and bought it while we were getting our pedicures.

It was a quiet day, nothing overly exciting, I don’t have any pictures but Ms. Evelyn took some and I will put them up later. I have HSH tomorrow, not sure what I will be doing there. After that I will possibly do some more exploring, we shall see! Off to bed, I feel a sore throat coming on!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I attempted to sleep in today – after being up so late last night! I woke up at 8 something and couldn’t fall back asleep so I stayed in bed writing yesterday’ blog post and uploading photos. Had a shower and headed downstairs to get something to eat. Brewed a fresh pot of Dunkin Donuts coffee and had some Chinese thing Ms. Evelyn had made. I enjoyed them both while sitting and chatting with Ms. Evelyn about being expats and about what people call “home.” What is home? The dictionary has many definitions for it: “Where you live at a particular time,” “where one’s roots are,” or “where the heart is.” By the way, an expat is short for an expatriate – somebody who is temporarily or permanently living in a country other than where they are from. Anyways just something for all of you to think about…

So around 1 Kristen, Ms. Evelyn and I headed on the subway to People’s Park to get a taxi and go to the French side and visit the back alleyways filled with art and little shops. First of all the metro is packed to begin with during the week…. Today let me remind you is Saturday! It was CRAZY; we were packed in so tightly nobody had to hold on as it jerked forward or to a stop! Ms. Evelyn laughs and jokes that I must be half Chinese because I know how to make my way through the crazy roads, the people and everything without getting hit or knocked down. I was making my way down the stairs and a young man looked at me and started talking. He followed us to line 2 where we got on and he grabbed my hand and told me I looked like Cinderella! Then he told me he had a girlfriend who is from America and he washes her feet everyday…. Haha! I was trying to be polite and Kristen is laughing with Ms. Evelyn, he then tells me I have nice feet – ok now I am self conscious about my feet… thanks dude hahaha. We got smooshed together on the subway and he just kept staring, which made me laugh and I kept trying to ignore him then he turns to Kristen and tells her she looks like Snow White! Kristen’s hair is blonde, SW ‘s is black…. Haha this guy was nuts, so after prying my hand out of his I slipped off at the next station. We met a couple from the States who were in Shanghai for a couple of days, they work for an airline and had time off or something, they were very nice.

We grabbed a cab and headed for the French side. We started making our way through the tight alleys and walking into the little shops and enjoying the beautiful artwork. I have never been somewhere quite like that, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! There was laundry hanging in the alleys above our heads, the tiny elderly lady sitting in a chair in front of a shop smoking a cigarette, the sound of children laughing floating in the air, the birds for sale in cages, something sweet smelling filled the air, and people trying to snap pictures of us! It was such a fun experience, I might have to go back and explore some more before I come home.

We decided to get an early dinner and Ms. Evelyn took us to this restaurant known for its dumplings. We were all hungry and Kristen and I told her to order and we would eat whatever. The food that came out…. Oh my goodness! First green beans and sliced pork, then some sort of noodles, rice and meat pocket things, more meet, and delicious dumplings! Let me tell you right now that some of these foods are difficult to eat with chopsticks. I must say though that I think every meal tastes better if you eat it with chopsticks, it’s an adventure in itself and it’s so much more fun than a fork and knife! After eating way more than I should have we all headed back to the taxi and back to the metro.

We got back to our compound and Kristen and I decided we wanted to get the ginger back, foot, and leg massage. I can’t even describe this other than its 70 minutes of heaven for only 11 US dollars! Ginger mixed with something else is put on your knees and it helps with circulation, movement, pain, and helps relax you. These people give the best massages; Massage Envy has nothing on them!! I about fell asleep! While enjoying your massage you are given barley tea and a bag of hot uncooked beans or something that you can put on your back or neck. Soft music plays in the background and the lights are dimmed. So good! Afterwards we hopped back on our bikes and headed home.

I’m going to watch 7 Pounds the movie then head to bed!


Friday, April 24, 2009

New Friends & Adventures!

It was raining this morning and I watched from inside the taxi a sea of umbrellas and people with ponchos on their scooters and bikes. I got to HSH and Christina told me I was to teach English today. Let me just say that I was excited and a bit nervous. I was given a back room and a white board and was to start with one girl who was struggling, Josephine and she is 17 years old. My first thoughts were oh my goodness my Chinese is defiantly not good enough to teach somebody who is already struggling!! I asked God for clear understanding and “jumped in” so to speak. I was able to speak and understand words I never thought I could! We spent a couple hours working and practicing; she is so smart and has such a want to learn. I know realize the importance of my work with the people in the factory the first couple of days, I was building relationships and trust. It was pouring by the time I was supposed to be heading home, they were very nice and took me in the van – I was a bit nervous that I would have to be on the back of some guy’s bike in the pouring rain with crazy driving!

So after getting off at my bus stop I grabbed a bite to eat at Carrefour. I went safe and had a salad, tea, and a friend’s twitter message said to eat your favorite desert so…. I had Crème Brule. It was so good, practically melts in your mouth! I walked around a bit and tried to find postcards. Ms. Evelyn didn’t know where to buy them either! I went and walked around upstairs Carrefour, there is a giant Walmart like store up there. No luck! Hopped in a taxi and headed home. I attempted to take a nap but that was shot down as soon as I got on facebook and started chatting with people. I then attempted to get caught up on e-mail… thank you so much all of you! Your e-mails are so sweet and thoughtful and I promise I will eventually write you back!!

A couple of you had asked me questions about the bathrooms…. Well most of you who know me know I don’t like using public American restrooms let alone a hole in the ground in China!! I would rather not drink very much or hold it then go haha, sorry that was probably TMI for a lot of you! I did however make the exciting adventure TO the bathroom. This was a nice one, but the picture does not do justice for the lovely mess that was really there. I will try and find other ones, but to be honest it’s a nasty adventure I’m not sure how often I will be able to bring myself to walk in there. A lot of bathrooms here don’t have doors, sometimes don’t have stalls, some have windows on the stalls, and a lot have ashtrays sitting next to the toilet paper-that is if there is toilet paper!! Now I have not experienced those yet but so far I have pretty much managed to stick with just going at home.

So after a relaxing afternoon I headed out to Lee and Kristen’s house. Kristen and I headed out to meet up with bunch of expats and I met a lot of people. It was a lot of fun and afterwards 6 of us went out and ended up running into some of their other friends. Around 11:30 we decided to go to KTV…. Karaoke baby! Hahahhaaha ok this is not like American karaoke…. Well it is and isn’t. We got there and it’s a nice place, you’re taken to a room with nice seats and you basically karaoke with your friends. But it isn’t like getting on a stage, everybody sings, and it’s all songs we choose, and there are mics but everyone is singing so it’s not like it’s JUST you. It was so much fun; we stayed until close to 3am! Shiloh’s driver amazing driver picked us up and we headed home. I had told Ms. Evelyn via text I would be home late and not to stay up, she was fun with this, and said she would leave a light on. I dragged myself up the 3 flights of stairs to our house and quietly came in and turned off the light. I made my way up another set of stairs to my room. Talked to dad for a few minutes then went to bed – so sorry yesterdays post is today! Anyways the sky is the bluest I’ve seen since being here so I am going to go enjoy it.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Celebrity News

Had planned on going to Home Sweet Home early today but decided last minute not to, I will go tomorrow. Met an American who now lives in Shanghai, he comes on Thursdays to volunteer at HSH. We talked for a bit and put tiny bead on little wires to make dragonfly magnets. One of the workers tried to teach me to do the fabric on the wings but I just couldn’t do it right! It was so difficult! After about 15 minutes it was just me and the “wing” guy working at our small table. I suddenly felt like I was being watch and was soon closely surrounded by 3 men staring at me and watching what I was doing. I looked up and smiled and said a few Chinese words to them. They seemed very pleased and watched for a couple more minutes, almost on top of me trying to watch. It was the oddest thing! One of them looked to be a victim of a terrible fire. I don’t think I will ever be able to get the image of his poor body out of my mind – I know my smile made him happy though and for him to know I wasn’t judging him probably meant a lot.

Soon it was time to leave and two of the people I have been working with argued over who was going to drive me to the bus stop! Haha the one in the wheelchair won. He pulled himself onto a motorcycle and I carefully climbed onto the back sitting sideways –woman passengers usually do this in China, anyways I wanted an easy way to bail if we had to stop and he couldn’t put his feet on the ground!! He drove like there was no tomorrow, I held onto the side of the bike and hoped he didn’t notice my white knuckles! We went a different way and he took me to a different stop – one that my bus still came to. I jumped off, thanked him, and was relieved to be on my two feet. I got off the bus and walked the 4 or 5 blocks home. Grabbed a bite to eat and attempted to catch up on e-mail.

I decided to take my motorbike for her first run and go to Carefour.I rode my motorbike through the crazy streets of Pudong, no helmets, no rules; I was constantly on the lookout for the crazy drivers! I made it there no problem; I rode on the sidewalk a lot and thoroughly enjoyed my ride. Locked my bike and headed inside where I got a snack and walked around. Two security guards came running past with huge guns, I was going to take a picture but thought better of it! I then decided to go get Starbucks and pick up a cold Chinese mango dumpling to take home and eat. I hopped on my motorbike and headed back to the compound. I got back and slowly unwrapped my dumpling, curious about how it would taste. Took one bite and could barely hold it down. I saved the rest of it and got Ms. Evelyn to try it when she got home – she agreed it was nasty. Ms. Evelyn got home and we sat and had Dunkin Donuts coffee –kudos Heather!! It was so good! We sat and chatted about our day and talked about what was on our mind. I took Harry for a long walk, took some pictures of the compound, and when I got back Bryan was walking in the door from school.

We all got ready and went to downtown Pudong. We went up the World’s tallest building, the Shanghai World Finance Center. We took a ton of pictures and were laughing and talking when I realized people were taking pictures of me and trying not to be obvious. I’ve seen people doing this before and it doesn’t bother me, I think it is comical that somebody wants a picture of me. Then one man came up and asked for a picture with me and I said yes and soon a line formed! I was laughing so hard and started posing for fun hahaha. People were pushing and shoving to get a photo with me and finally I said I had to go. I was laughing so hard and so was Ms. Evelyn – What can I say I am white and have dirty blonde hair, I’m a celebrity! Anyways some of them followed us and kept trying to take pictures until we were out of the building. We then walked down to the river and watched the boats and had some ice cream.

Our driver picked us up and we headed to Puxi to pick up Mr. Gary at Microsoft and head to dinner. I let them order for me, said I was willing to try something new. I had noodles with chicken and thin fish slices in a bowl of hot soup, Ms. Evelyn ate the fish but it made the whole meal taste fishy. After dinner we went to get bubble tea and other drinks, I had a fruit drink with jelly like chunks in it. I came home and had a quick shower, got to talk to Heather and Dad, and now am off to bed.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Introvert, Extrovert

I have always been more of an introvert, I’m not usually one to be gregarious. Before coming to China I decided I needed to expand my horizons, push myself out of my comfort zone, and become more of an outgoing person. Through doing this I am slowly starting to become the woman I have wanted to become. I secretly hoped before I came that this trip would help me discover who I was, and it is starting to. There are times when I wonder if I can hold down the food, or try to explain something, or understand, or find my way home but it’s pushing me in a good way. – ok enough of the sentimental stuff here is what my day consisted of.

Headed to HSH after a breakfast of coffee and freshly baked scones! I arrived and was told I was going somewhere in a van with three people. I figured this out after a couple of minutes of understanding a few of the words and hand motions. I kept a smile on my face and nodded, telling her I understood and that it sounded good…?! Haha I had no clue where I was going or what I was doing but I hoped in the van with two big boxes and we were on our way. Right before we pulled away Christina, one of the head leaders ran to the van opened the door looked at me and said something to me very quickly and in Chinese then closed the door. I had no clue what she said other than I understood the words van, drive, home, no, thank you, and noon. As I went to answer I somehow managed to swallow my gum in the process and my answer was more like “sh-gum going down throat-ir.” Yeah… haha only me! We were off and heading in the direction of my compound. The one girl with us was yelling directions and laugh because the driver kept missing turns and laughing. They all were joking back and forth and I sat there trying to figure out what they were saying. They figured out I could understand parts if they spoke slowly and could figure out what they were saying… they spoke quickly and laughed a lot. Hmm haha. I just smiled and was still confused at where we were going and what I was doing. Soon we were 2 blocks from my compound and then pulling into Lee’s compound. We pulled up to the community center which is Pudong’s community center- it’s confusing. Anyways we got out and took the boxes upstairs to a big room with other tables. Turns out it was a fundraiser for different programs and there was a speaker and everything. We sold some stuff and I learned a lot more Chinese!! Lee was there selling books and so I talked to her for a bit then Ms. Evelyn came by to drop off some of the scones she made for the bake sale. A little after noon I walked home and had lunch and Chinese tea with Ms. Evelyn.

The tea was great, the company better! We talked for about an hour telling about our day and talking about the different things going on in our lives. We then got a rags and a bucket of water and headed downstairs to clean the electric bike off. Ms. Evelyn told me while helping me clean it, “Chelsea you have dirt on your face. You are too white… the dirt shows so much!” haha. After cleaning it we turned it on, I figured out how to work it and man that thing can go fast! Ms. Evelyn said it’s mine while I’m here, I already took it around the block. Now mom especially, I know you are probably freaking out right now because you have experienced the craziness of Chinese drivers, but I will be careful!! As long as I always look in every direction and expect the worst from other drivers I will be fine. I’ll experiment on it more tomorrow and maybe get some pictures of me on it! I had a relaxing rest of the afternoon and helped Bryan with his math homework – I wish I was in 5th grade again!

Kristen, one of the girls I met the other night, called me and asked if I wanted to go to dinner and a play with her and Lee, and of course how could I say no! I had sweet and sour chicken, which by the way is so much better here than it is in America, spring rolls, and rice. We saw The Sound of Music at one of the American schools, it was phenomenal, the youngest was 4 and absolutely ADORABLE, she could sing and she could dance and she was the cutest thing ever. The talent was amazing; some of the high school kids had extraordinary voices! We walked home and now I am heading off to bed. Sorry for the lack of pictures, I didn’t have my camera with me most of the day.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Trying New Things

What a day! I took a taxi to Home Sweet Home today, he tried to get a little extra cash by driving around, must have thought I was a stupid American. I started telling him to turn around and go back and he would go to turn where he wasn’t supposed to a little arguing and I finally got to my destination. Not a big deal. I was greeted with friendly smiles and people calling my name and we soon got started with work again. I worked in the factory again today – what happened to teaching English?! Anyways I am going to talk to the person in charge tomorrow. I worked with some of the guys today on their English and they helped me with my Chinese. By mid morning I had them all singing Chinese songs, they sounded so good! One of the guys next to me wasn’t there yesterday and had a lump on his left collarbone. One of the head people came in and pulled him aside and appeared to be looking at it and said something I couldn’t understand. The man came back and told me that he fell two days ago and his collarbone broke and came through his skin and that he was leaving to go get it fixed. Chills ran up and down my spine, especially after I was told he could only take one day off of work because he had to come back to pay for things. WOW! Aren’t we spoiled?!? Soon it was time to leave and a little person (sorry if that is not the right terminology) was taking me to the bus stop on a 3 wheeled scooter. Well if a white girl wasn’t enough of a sight!!! Not only were people staring they were stopping and staring, or walking with their heads turned back watching!

I got to my bus stop and decided to walk for a bit, I knew there were more stops ahead for my bus and I would just walk and experience the town a bit. I wonder sometimes if my curiosity and cravings for adventure are sometimes pushed to lack of common sense…? I can’t help it I want to take it all in- so I do! I never once felt unsafe I must say, but I thought as I crossed six lanes of traffic and had people staring and walked over bridges and down sidewalks, that maybe a white girl with a camera and a purse probably should not walk alone. I felt content as I walked down the streets, listening to children laugh, people talk, and cars zoom by. People don’t question you if you walk with your head high and shoulders back, in China this tells a lot about a person, and if you engage somebody in a bit of Chinese they seem to not question your being as much. I have to say for the record…. I am white, I know I’m white, it’s nothing special! Hahaha so many looks, you would think I was walking around purple or something!! Anyways I eventually got on the bus and headed for Carrefour where I ate lunch. Lunch consisted of rice, seaweed, seaweed/egg/broth soup, something I have no clue what it was and chicken. So your goal for the day is to be adventurous -try something new I did!! I tried it all, then filled up on rice haha.

I decided after lunch that I wanted to grab a cab and head to the subway. I flagged down a cab and told the driver I wanted to go to jin ditie chezhan – nearest subway station. He took me and I hopped on and headed for Century Avenue, where I switched to the green line (2). While on the subway Ms. Evelyn sent me a text saying "if you want to get to the subway station show him this: (chinese characters)." I laughed and sent her a text thanking her but informing her I was already on the subway and had gotten a cab. I think she was pleasantly surprised haha. Spent some time walking through the shopping down there… miss miss! Coach! Gucci! You need shoe? Purse? Suitcase? Miss miss!... haha it was an experience, and I’m proud to say I didn’t buy a thing haha. After that I grabbed a drink and some blueberry thing at KFC and walked to a park across the street. I figured I would start walking home and grab a taxi if I got tired. I walked through the park and got side tracked and ended up somewhere, still not quite sure! Walked a couple of miles and then grabbed a taxi that took me home. I sat on the couch for a bit with Ms. Evelyn and told her about my day. Grabbed a quick shower and attempted a nap but couldn’t sleep.

Had dinner then headed out to meet a group of American girls. One was here for 2 ½ months as a nanny, another was helping out with a program a friend started and the other lives here with her family now. She actually used to go to Calvary when they lived in Charlotte 10 years ago! Small world we live in!! They knew/know some of the families I know. We hung out for a couple of hours and now I am off to bed. Tomorrow is Home Sweet Home, a possible massage, and Puxi with one of the girls I met!



Monday, April 20, 2009


What a day, I think I am still out of breath!

The past few days I have been surrounded by upscale Pudong; pretty much everyone speaks a little English and I have felt like I was still in America. Well today I saw the side of Pudong that I had pictured most of China to be; more authentic, busier, people packed into buses, basically what you see in the movies. Ms. Evelyn and I left around 8:30 to go to Home Sweet Home; she offered to drive me there the first day. After a cup of coffee and granola bar and we were on our way. Driving here is nuts as I previously mentioned, I swear we almost got hit or almost hit a car well over 2 dozen times! Traffic was bad as usual so it took about an hour to get there but it gave Ms. Evelyn and I time to chat so it was all good.

I got there and the people there spoke little to no English. Between being incredibly self conscious about my pronunciation and Chinese knowledge and the fact I really can only catch bits of what they say because they talk to fast and I don’t know enough words to answer all of the questions asked I was well a tad nervous to say the least. The idea of being left alone in the middle of nowhere in a hole in the wall place was scary. Forcing myself to be as outgoing as you can be without saying much proved to be a good thing. I was told they were behind in the factory and needed to catch up and I said I was available to do whatever they needed me even if it wasn’t teaching English… So there I found myself being handed a pair of scissors and told cut, cut, cut and then abandoned! 8 people on sewing machines, a man without an arm running around giving directions and inspecting. I was sitting with 6 others at a table with a pile of Range Rover fabric car pieces. I smiled big and did what they did, cutting and folding and passing down the line. One of the men started singing and he sounded so good, I told him in Chinese to keep singing and gave him the thumbs up. He laughed sheepishly and gave me a grin. They turned on the radio and I started doing a little dance in my seat, laughing and they all joined, imitating my moves haahaa. Though we couldn’t carry on in long conversations we had a grand time through smiles, laughter and hand motions. One of the guys gave me a piece of chocolate which was so sweet of him! When I left I gave them all high fives – or as they call it here, fives high!

I was told some man was going to take me back to the city so I could take the bus or a taxi home. The man walked out of one of the factories and he and I exchanged some words and I hopped onto the back of his electric bike. I thought I was going to DIE! Those things go so quickly and the drivers! I had a 15 minute ride with him and cars and other vehicles were zooming by brushing up against my leg, one car almost hit us, then I had to close my eyes as we got closer when he zoomed across four lanes of traffic! I was so relieved when I my feet hit the ground. I told him thank you and goodbye and he drove off leaving me standing there waiting for the bus. While waiting for my bus I was looking around and a little boy across the way pulled down his pants and started peeing in the road! I took a picture from a distance, horrible I know, but I thought it was the funniest thing! I got on the bus and got many stares – being the only white girl. I had no clue which stop to get off at so I just sat there and looked for something familiar. After about half an hour I got off at Carrefour, a couple of blocks from our compound. Cautiously crossed a few lanes of traffic, and made a quick stop at Starbucks. Started walking in the direction I thought was towards the compound but stopped and asked somebody just to make sure. After a 10 or 15 minute walk I arrived home and none the less felt like I had conquered the world! Hahaa. Ms. Evelyn had given me her phone since I didn’t get my cell phone till this afternoon, so I could have called her had I needed to.

We had a late lunch and tea and then headed to the subway. Ms. Evelyn did an amazing parallel park job! I figured out how to turn the electronic kiosks into English and then figured out where we would go. People’s Park it was – line 2, its green, my line, line to get home, I have to remember that! I bought a subway card and am planning on going to as many stops as possible over the next few weeks and walking around, shopping and visiting museums and parks. Anyways Ms. Evelyn and I got off at the People’s Park and walked a couple of blocks then headed back so we could meet Bryan after school.We had a wonderful dinner of chicken legs, rice, and veggies. I am lounging on the couch with Harry; Bryan is practicing piano in the same room and Ms. Evelyn is helping Andrew with homework.

I’m excited to see what tomorrow brings!