Friday, May 02, 2008

Thoughts from China

Visiting China is always a barrage of old and new, surprising and not so surprising. Here are some of the things I've noticed/experienced/enjoyed/sighed about:

1. Words keep coming back to me. At the store I was buying Ethan a watch, and I wanted an instruction manual. Poof - the words popped into my mind. Thankfully, they were the right ones. Last night at my great massage, I remembered "pressure" and "relax." I should really learn more massage vocabulary. Very important.
2. China is cheap! Yeah, I know prices keep going up and the dollar is dropping, but I bought watercolor paper, sketch paper, drawing pencils, Chinese paint brushes, and notebooks for my kids today. I spent $10 total.
3. I love Chinese street popcorn! Last night I brought home two bags after standing on a breezy walking bridge watching a man make it. It's worth the wait, especially for 3 kuai.
4. China smells. Not just bad smells - good ones too. But there are always smells. I like steamed sweet potato and pineapple, but could do without stinky tofu and suspicious bathroom odor.
5. No Chinese food equals the Chinese food in China. Cashew chicken, spicy beans, broccoli, tofu, sweet and sour pork - it's all good.
6. Only being here a week, I can tolerate these things, but this is what I want to say out loud in my more carnal moments, "Stop staring at me, stop talking about me, don't push me, don't steal my cab, don't tell me what to do with my kids, wait until I get out of the subway before you try to get in, and whatever you do, don't honk at me." There, that's out of my system.
7. I miss having a water dispenser! I know we can get them in Singapore, but they're just so darn cheap here it seems criminal to pay that much for water I can get out of the tap. Tap is not an option here.
8. I had forgotten what pollution looks like. It's strange when the building 50 meters away is a bit hazy.
9. I love the fashion freedom here. If you're just running out to the store, why not wear your flannel teddy bear pajamas?
10. There are probably a lot of products that can be purchased in China, but when you go to the store and stare at the characters on the package, you really can't tell the difference between powdered sugar and corn starch. Note to self- study more characters.

We are enjoying ourselves immensely here, despite and maybe sometimes because of the cultural quirks. Our kids are soaking in time with old friends (as am I!) and asking questions that betray their tropical upbringing, "Why does the sun come up so early? Why is it so cold?" (it's 75 degrees).

Check out our flickr account for pictures of our Great Wall adventure.

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