Thursday, September 25, 2014

When In Rome...Uh...China

I feel like in a lot of ways, I haven't had an organic China experience.  I flew into Guangzhou and have stayed here the entire trip (except for a short visit to Shenzhen, more on that later) and to be honest Guangzhou isn't exactly "China".  It's very metropolitan, very cosmopolitan, and, honestly, relatively European.  Almost everyone I've spoken to, even on the streets, speaks at least basic English.  Lots of them are very fluent.  The area we're in is full of restaurants, stores and night clubs.  There's many, many Europeans on the streets here and it's clearly a popular tourist destination for the entire world.  I've eaten Chinese food off and on, but we've mostly eaten versions of popular restaurants the world over.  KFC and McDonald's are popular.  Also frequently seen is Pizza Hut and Subway.  Of course, there's a Starbucks in every neighborhood.  What I have to say I didn't really expect is the overwhelming popularity of 7-11.  In America, 7-11 is definitely out of style and I'd say their numbers are really dwindling.  But there's one on every corner here in Guangzhou, and that's literally not a joke.  If you are on a side street, you'll see a 7-11, go around the corner to the major road, and find another one waiting. 

Here's our view from our hotel window. 

Pretty much sans the Chinese characters, we could easily be in a nice hotel in Manhattan.  Mike had a more "China" experience in Zhengzhou where he picked up Jake.  Many less English speakers, lots of scooters driving on the sidewalks and some seriously crazy traffic (not that the traffic isn't also crazy here.)  Actually, speaking of 7-11, right there in the bottom corner, where the light is always shining there's a 7-11.  If we go out the door and turn left, there's another 7-11 about one block over. 

It is SOOOOOO hot here.  Coming from New Mexico, we just aren't used to the humidity.  It's like 900% humidity every moment of the day.  When I first got here it was still in the mid-90s every day but now it's into the low 90s and sometimes even into the 80s.  Our guide says it never gets very cold here.  I guess winter is setting in for them lol.  It isn't just me either.  People who know me know that I've been inclined towards feeling like just existing is too hot since the moment I was born.  But the other adoptive parents feel the same.  Jake and Finn are runners, so we spent our first couple of tours dripping in sweat and chasing down these crazy boys.  At that point, we decided touring wasn't worth it lol.  We started just staying at the hotel during arranged tours after that.  We have had dinner with a couple of other adoptive families, and we've been up to Shamian Island three times.  We might go a fourth time, depending on our schedule tomorrow. 

There's a family there who runs a shop called Susan's.  It's a really great place, full of just about everything you might want to buy in China.  But the best thing about Susan's is the husband and wife who run it.  They speak English very well and they are experts in local history and Chinese history in general.  They explained so many things to us.  We even recorded him showing us how to properly make tea.  They really wanted us to come for tea, which of course we didn't know how to avoid without being rude.  We said we had to hurry and catch the bus, which was true, but we also didn't want to be rude and refuse the tea, which we'd have to do, since LDS people don't drink tea or coffee.  But the next time we went in, to pick up some name posters we ordered, he really wanted us to have tea with them and he was freaking out excited.  It was clearly really important to them, so we sat at the tea table and just kind of looked at each other while he poured the tea into incredibly tiny glasses.  Like midget shot glasses.  Finally, I just didn't know how to avoid being potentially rude, so I just said, "Do you have any herbal tea instead?"  It was super funny, he looked at both of us and said, "You don't drink tea?  Are you Mormon?" LOL.  We said yes, and he pulled out the herbal tea and poured us some of that instead.  

He's asked us to come for tea again tomorrow before we leave the country, so we're going to call him and see what time they close and we might do that again.  He gave us his email and has asked us to send them periodic emails.  We do plan to return to China, whether we choose to adopt again or not.  It's our hope to be able to return to China at least every two years, every summer if finances permit.  So making a few friends is fun since we'll be able to see them again. 

Jake gets sick and throws up every time we get in the car.  Part of this is because he'd never been in a vehicle before, part of it can definitely be attributed to the insane way people here drive.  There's definitely no turn signals, no car lengths apart, and no safe changing of lanes.  I wish I could explain the way driving is typically done here.  Three and four cars will try to enter the same lane at the same time and just hope for the best.  It's crazy.  Also, the cars don't seem to have shocks.  It's a bouncing adventure every time we drive. 

I could write for days about China, but it's bedtime now.  I think I'll try to do more posts about China when we get home, since the internet is very spotty here and blogging is hard.



  1. You could have just described Rome or Paris or any other crazy-driving city! ;-) Looking forward to hearing more of your adventures.

  2. I wish it was easier to post here! I would love to post things as they come to mind!

  3. I love that you tried to be considerate of your new friend and live your standards by compromising with herbal tea. I thought he may be offended by your asking for "fake" tea. I also love that he knew you were Mormon and didn't skip a beat. :-)

  4. I was pretty tickled that he jumped right to Mormon. We must be the only ones who ask for herbal tea lol. Then he told us if we were Mormon, we didn't have enough kids haha.