I can't believe I've been here almost 10 weeks now! I know when I left I was telling people that I was going to the "middle of nowhere China." While it IS 1.5hours from the nearest airport, I've heard that there are something like 2 million people living here! And it definitely does have a city feel about it sometimes... The other big thing about Qinzhou is that it is HOT here!! When I first got here I wanted to walk around, but as soon as I stepped outside I was drenched in sweat! I would walk to the hotel next door to go to the gym, and when I got there I looked like I had already worked out. And this was literally less than a 5 minute walk. I remember looking at accuweather.com and the real feel was almost always over 110. The actual temperature was high 80s or 90s but with a humidity of over 90%, it felt TERRIBLE! I've noticed in the past week or 2 that it has either cooled down or I'm finally getting used to the heat... Just in time to go home!
I've been spending a lot of my time cooking. I tend to go to the grocery store 3 times a week. I always get annoyed on my way in because instead of having stairs or elevators, they have moving ramps to get into the store. If you are buying any non-food items you have to go up 2 of them, and I timed it one time, it takes 1min 50sec to get up one flight. Or if you walk it takes literally 15 seconds. So I get so annoyed because NO ONE walks! You have to go both up and down these things so that is actually a lot of time. I try walking whenever possible, but sometimes they are loaded up with people and there is no where to walk to. The store itself isn't that great, but its not bad either. You can get plenty of bulk rice, oil, or Italian Red Meat flavored potato chips! I always get confused at the rice though, there are 3 different kinds but they all taste and look the same to me. Then you get people sifting through it and inspecting it, then they reject it! I mean, this IS Southern China, where they grow rice, so they know what they are looking for, but I can not differentiate white rice. Now if they had some brown rice, or wild rice, then maybe I'd become picky... But it is all the same to me!
The other thing that has really gotten on my nerves is how nosy people are, and how close they get to me. I'll be standing in line to check out and more than once someone will pick up everything I've put on the check out area and look at what I am buying. And then they get so close that their bags or whatever else they are holding keep bumping against me. For some reason, that really bugs me, so I started doing experiments to see if anyone else cares. I was purposely knocking my purse or basket into peoples' legs to see if they reacted, and no one did! Whenever it happens to me, I back away a bit. I need my space! Cultural differences, I guess.
Also, I need to clarify something. Two years ago when I was in China, I was writing about how amazing I though the driving and flying was here. I'm going to take that back now. I took a video of me crossing the street and it shows the mentality: if I'm bigger than you, get out of my way. And, well, pedestrians are the smallest on the streets! It's not always efficient, and there are still plenty of traffic jams. AND almost every flight I've taken has been delayed. I think when I was excited about planes leaving early it was less than a month before the Olympics, so things were running especially smooth. Transportation has taken a downturn in my eyes!
So that was a lot of negativity that could be misconstrued as complaining. I'd like to think they are just observations because I still realllly like China!!! This has been a great summer and I don't want to leave. I've been happier here than I've been in a long time, but that doesn't mean I can't think some stuff is crazy! Some good stuff is that I've really been keeping up with my Rosetta Stone. I've done about 40 minutes every day, and I've had lots of people tell me I speak really well, and I have been told by multiple people that I have no accent! I don't think I could say that about Spanish and I've taken 5 years of Spanish in school! So I'd say Rosetta Stone works. Unfortunately though, people here speak Cantonese! So I can't understand them. I'll understand a few words here or there and know what they are talking about, but it's hard to have conversations. One of the other girlfriends here is from Northern China, and when she went to the hospital she even needed a translator. So it's not just me!
One of the coolest things, and sometimes annoying things, is how interested people are in the foreigners walking around. The other day I was getting a manicure and this 6-ish year old girl was so intrigued by me. She kept staring at me, and then pulled out a music player and gave me one ear bud so I could listen. I could understand the manicurist telling her that I only speak English and that she should play English songs. But she didn't have any. She was also staring at my eyes, (which are not brown), fascinated. It's a weird double standard I have. I had no problem with this little girl, I really found her quite charming. But when it's adults, I just get annoyed.
Overall, though, I love China, and hate that I have to leave!