Chinese Conversations, Banks, and Bars

Trip Start Aug 13, 2010
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Flag of China  , Hunan,
Saturday, August 28, 2010

August 28, 2010

    Another exciting day in Changsha! I began my day with the first run that I had done in two weeks. I walked out to the track, which took only 28 seconds really, and decided I would run two miles. It was very enjoyable and I ended up running three miles instead. I felt really good after I had completed the run, although it was rather warm. I showered, washed my sheets, and then went out for lunch. As I was walking around, looking for a place to eat, I noticed a lot of students walking around and tried to find a place to eat where I wouldn't embarrass myself in front of too many people in my attempts to order food in Chinese. I found myself in the market, buying bananas and apples, before I was able to find a place to eat. Finally, I found a place that was both empty and had pictures and prices very visible to those passing by. In very poor Mandarin, I muttered a couple of words and pointed to the picture that looked the most appealing to me-- a plate of noodles with some vegetables or something mixed in. I got my meal pretty quickly-- only 5 yuan-- and sat down alone to eat. The noodles were a little bit too soft and it was kind of spicy but for less than $1, it was an okay meal. I think it was some kind of curry sauce on top. At the end of the meal, I started to leave and I got into this conversation with a woman who worked/owned the place. I basically spewed out all of the sentences I knew-- all the same ones I've been using. I need to learn some new ones! It's just that I can never understand anything so that it could get me further into a conversation. Maybe later. I guess it's good to practice the ones that I know for a while.
    After my solitary lunch, I walked back to my apartment with my fruit in hand and sat for a few minutes before I got a call from Andrew. He wanted to know if I wanted to go with him to lunch-- I said I would, even though I had just eaten. So, I met with him and we found Noah and Rodger eating at the same place I had gone to earlier. We sat down and basically,  there wasn't much point in me coming. It was over pretty soon and we returned to our apartments briefly before going to the bank to open up banking accounts. After waiting for a long time, we eventually got our forms filled out and received our cards.
    When I returned from the bank, it wasn't long after that Donna came by and asked if I wanted to go to dinner. As we were leaving, we saw the water delivery man knocking at Jon's door. After some awkwardly terrible attempts at communicating, he delivered water into Jon's apartment, mine, and Donna's. No one else seemed to be home and so I said, in poor Chinese, "My friends are not here," and tried to say "Water-- Donna's place," so that he could leave the rest there. He seemed to understand and gestured to an empty bottle, as if to say that he had to remove the old bottles too. So, he left on his motorbike, which I don't understand how can sustain all those bottles of water, and Donna and I left to dinner. I was quite pleased that I had used a new phrase in Chinese, and Donna seemed quite impressed as well.
    We ate the usual dinner in the teacher's lounge in the school canteen and afterwards, tried to figure out what to do for the evening. Lon was with her mother still and the rest of the group all wanted to go out to drink. Donna didn't want to do that so it was just me and the guys for the night. Rodger also came with us. We went out to this "hot pot" place in the middle of Walking Street (a large pedestrian area with lots of shops and restaurants) and ate some pretty yummy food. They had this "hot pot" in the middle of the table with two sides-- a spicy side and a non-spicy side of broth. They brought out various uncooked meats, dumplings, vegetables, and we were to dump them in the broths for a bit and cook them. It was pretty good-- for the 6 of us, and including beers, it cost 97 yuan or about $16. Not bad. Because I was the only girl who was also having a beer (which is said to be unusual in China) it felt a little bit uncomfortable at times, but for the most part, I really enjoyed everyone's company.
    After dinner (my second dinner), Rodger had to leave and the rest of us went down "Bar street," a pretty self-explanatory street, I'd say. We were just standing in the middle when these guys started talking to us and basically ushered us into their bar. This one guy, like others before him, talked to me in Chinese and I said everything that I could and didn't understand what he was saying. Luckily we had Danny with us, who was just visiting for the day. He is teaching in another school and has studied Chinese and is quite good (He also got a perfect score on the GRE....). He was pretty useful to have around. We ordered some drinks which were pretty expensive-- one beer cost about 40 yuan, which is about how much it would cost in the U.S. In convenience stores here though, one can buy one for under 10 yuan I think. It was a nice atmosphere though-- we sat on the rooftop and the guys who worked in the bar talked a lot to Danny, who translated some stuff for us. At one point, I went down to go to the bathroom and met one of the guys who worked in the bar and he asked me for my cell phone number. Since I've been in China, I seem to be unconcerned about talking to strangers, so I gave him my number, wondering how he was going to call me, as he didn't speak English and I didn't speak Chinese. I didn't worry about it too much.
    Soon after, Noah, Jon, and I left the bar, wandered around Bar Street a little while and then found a cab. As the driver was driving us back, he kept asking us questions and making some educated guesses, I answered his questions with my limited Chinese. I explained that we were English teachers from America and that I was also American, even though I do look Chinese. Basically, it was the same conversation that I've had with every person that I've met. I really need to learn to say some more stuff. According to Jon and Noah, I pretty much repeated the same sentences several times during the ride. I was still rather proud of myself for attempting this conversation. When we got back, we sat around and talked for a while and finally parted rather late, but had good conversation. If only my Chinese were good enough for a real conversation.


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