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!