Oct 17, 2013

Awesome August!


(written on August 2013)

Yup! You heard that right. AWESOME August…having a good time here in the Land of the Shaolin kids…hehe! That’s what I call this place now, instead of its original nickname “Land of the Sleeping Giant”.

            It’s been more than two months since I landed here. So far so good. I’m getting the hang of the job and I’m not being a drama queen anymore, ‘coz my roommate says THERE’S NO TALENT FEE no matter how much I cry and regret the good life that I was living back in my country. I’m here~ no turning back…that’s what I keep in mind…and eventually it led me to acceptance. I know I’m here for a reason…I dunno what it is, but there must be a reason. This could also be a lesson; a huge one I should say. I told one of my friends that maybe ONE of the lessons is never to make a decision when you’re sleep deprived, ‘coz you might end up in China – like I did! Hehe!

            So, instead of feeling like a total loser, and agonizing ‘bout the fact that I’m doing a job which I think I suck (but turns out not so much!), I decided to go out from time to time, or whenever we have time, and get some Tieling air and learn as much as I can~ in the streets. I’m not a huge fan of books, though books are a great source of knowledge. I just believe more in experience. So, here I am, experiencing life in this foreign country.
           
DINING:

            My family warned me not to eat street foods and basically to be very careful about anything that I eat. Yeah, as much as I wanna do that, this girl just can’t resist street food! I’m so sorry! I just want to try their street version of hotpot…and know what? Damn good man! Hahaha…They call it “malatang”. They got a LOT of food on sticks (meat, veggies, fungus etc) and these are soaked in simmering flavored water, and you got few options of sauce – basically a peanut sauce. There’s spicy and not so spicy one. Here’s the drill: First, you smile and say “ni hao!” to the kind lady or anyone who is at the other side of this rolling eatery. Then, you get a plate with plastic (sometimes they hand you one immediately) then start picking up the food on sticks, put them on your plate, and then put on the sauce. There’s another option that I don’t normally do, you can add noodles to your plate and that will be your source of carbohydrates for that meal. Next, find a spot where you can eat and chat and get a good view of the place and then you eat as much as you can – at least that’s what I normally do, which is NOT good ‘coz it led me to gaining 2 kilos in 2 months! Damn!  You shouldn’t throw the sticks ‘coz they’re gonna need those to know how much your bill is. The price is 1 yuan every two sticks. If you get 10 sticks, that’s 5 yuan.
            Okay, I don’t always do that – anymore! If the weather isn’t that good you won’t find the night market or any of these street foods in the streets. The street becomes a little bit boring…and we’re just enjoying it now because people who have been here for a long time said that during winter season, the night market won’t be there anymore - at all!
            We also eat decent food, okay! Once we went to this Italian resto, just because we’re seriously craving for pizza and pasta. The food is quite good, except for the ham (or was that sausage?) from the pizza, it tastes funny. It tastes sweet. Kinda like Hawaiian style, while I’m not very fond of.

            They have KFC here, and the size of their chicken is a little bit questionable ~ maybe the chicken is still a teenager that’s why it’s not too small and not big at all. I dunno. Ordering food is hilarious. There’s no other word but, hilarious. Of course we’re not conversant AT ALL in Chinese, so we just point to whatever we want, say how much we want (or how many servings) and hope it all goes well. It’s more like playing charade actually, especially if we have some special request, like if we want more chili, or if we want something hot~~ yeah…it’s like a freaking charade! Or Taboo!? “The game of unspeakable fun” – as it says in the box.
           
            Sometimes, we go out with our bosses and other colleagues. We eat in Chinese restaurants (I mean restaurants!) and our Chinese boss would order the food and we just wait for the food to be served. I’m very grateful for that, really, but where’s the fun in that? I find it a little, awkward actually. I dunno if I should be formal, or is it okay to crack one of my lame jokes. It’s weird. So, I’d rather eat alone or with just one or two colleagues. I prefer to play charade first before eating. It makes you appreciate the food!

SHOPPING:

            Of course! I HEART shopping, who doesn’t? And c’mon, if you see the prices of the stuff here, even if you hate shopping, you still won’t go home empty handed.
            I always do what I call “thrift shopping”. I start by saying “I won’t buy too much, only the ones I need!” and then end up with 3 shirts, 3 pairs of socks and a couple of underwear on my way home. But yeah, I NEED those! I came here with only 15 kilos of luggage. FIFTEEN KILOS man! That’s ALL of my stuff! Including shoes, jackets, and everything, really! I only have my laptop, my documents, a teddy bear and some toiletries in my hand carry.
            They got a lot of crap in here my friends! Haha…bags, shoes, hats, clothes, fishes, fishes with legs, hand fans, mats, roller skates, jewelry, shades, key chains, I mean c’mon! Everything is made here! :P
            We do shop in the malls too, but the prices there are insane! Unless they’re on sale, or extremely low price I wouldn’t buy anything from department stores. BUT! I broke that rule just recently. I needed to reward myself with something pretty and comfy, so I looked for a huge pillow. I was aiming for a body pillow so I can really rest my body at night, but no luck. I got a normal pillow, it was 68 yuan. It’s the most expensive purchase I had so far, for a single item. When I do my grocery shopping, it’s almost always around 50-100 yuan. This pillow is already quite expensive for me, but I NEED it…to get proper rest.

SERVICE:

            Aside from the good pillow, of course I have been craving for a massage here. Two months man! Two months that I haven’t had a massage. Can you imagine how stiff my ligaments are by now? Anyway, so I asked one of the Chinese staff here to take me to a massage place. It’s just that the place she brought me too isn’t exactly a spa or the typical massage place that I normally go to. It’s more like a treatment place like if you got scoliosis or really dislocated bones in your body. The people there were like physical therapists, not just random masseuse or masseur. No oils, I keep my clothes on as they do the treatment. It’s not your typical relaxing massage, but it was good man! One touch and the lady knew that my lower left back part of my head isn’t good. I have always been complaining about that chronic neck pain. What she did was like a traditional Chinese treatment, my Chinese friend was there with us the whole time, as she was translating everything that the therapist is saying and asking. I was lying face down and my face was in the face hole, and they’ve got this brilliant idea of putting something under the massage table instead of just seeing the floor. The thing is I can’t understand the damn thing ‘coz everything is in Chinese. Anyway, so I left the place with a smile on my face, ‘coz finally, after such a loooooong time, I was able to ‘pamper’ myself even just for half an hour. Yup, it was only half an hour. So, after that, my Chinese friend and I parted ways. For the first time ever, I took a cab in CHINA, ALONE. Yup! And, that’s not the greatest part. The cab driver is a lady! What a day, right? Even in my country, I have never been on a taxi cab with a female driver, although I wish they would do that eventually.
            Every time I go out I learn something new. Like earlier that day, after my Chinese friend and I had lunch, I asked her where I can find the WC. WC stands is their ‘restroom’ and the letters, in case you are wondering, stands for WASH CLOSET. Yup! WASH CLOSET. Being a chinovela fan since ever, I know about the set up of these WC. They’re normally the ‘squat style’ toilets which I’m fine with. I don’t love it, but I’m fine with it. But, the kicker is that…I didn’t know that the area where you wash your hands, yeah the area with the mirrors, hand dryers and everything, is a common area for both men and women. That bothered me a little because I’m not used to facing the mirror and seeing guys’ reflections. Weird man! It was so awkward doing your hair and redoing your make up with guys around. It’s like invasion of privacy. But I will get used to it, I guess.

LEISURE TIME:



Last Sunday, August 18, we went to what they call New Tieling City. It’s the place where we teach for two hours every Tuesdays and Thursdays in a kindergarten. But this time we didn’t go there to teach. We just went there to see the Lotus Lake and to check out our boss’ new house near the said lake. The lotuses are in full bloom around this season. Thing is, we got there at around 7 PM, there were fewer people and the place was about to close. We just had a quick walk, took some pictures and then that’s it. It was good, but not so captivating. I would prefer to walk in a lavender or sunflower farm. We took lots of pictures from our boss’ place, which I think was the highlight of the mini trip. Hehe! I enjoyed posing at the mini pier by the lake. I saw this rusty boat and whoah I tried hard to control myself not to jump to it and paddle away. The park benches, aaarrggghhhhh, I would love to spend an entire afternoon just sitting at one of them and writing or just breathing. I just want to look at the skies, forget about the things I need to do even just for a moment, and simply breathe. I hope we can have more time to go to places like that. Oh well, I heard we’ve got a long holiday soon, so, we’ll see where the wind will take me. 

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