A jewish person? OOOOOOH!

Trip Start Dec 24, 2008
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Trip End Jan 11, 2009


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Where I stayed
Beth's house, some hotel with a Chinese name I couldn't read

Flag of China  , Guizhou,
Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ah, the balminess of Hong Kong. Short sleeves! Sunshine! So wonderful. And so short lived!
On Christmas day, after our morning Dim sum, we hopped a quick flight from Hong Kong to the capital city of the province where Beth and Dan live, Guiyang. A nice man on the plane told me, in English, as we were disembarking, "You need coat. Colder here." he was right! it was so cold in Guiyang, like Brussels cold! everyone said it was unusually cold. Lucky me! We ventured out nonetheless and got some great street food for dinner. I made all the grill boys really happy by giving them each one of my British cigarettes (they had never seen one before, not to mention never meeting a British person before!) (OK Americans, I'm living here on my British passport so I sometimes call myself British now. Technically, it's true and the 'where are you from?' question is getting more and more complicated... though with the recent change in administration in the USA I will be more inclined to tell people I"m American again. Anyway, I digress...)

In china when you get out a cigarette, it's polite to offer one. Used to living in USA and post-smoking ban western europe, I feel guilty when I get one out and would never think of offering one up... but after a little prompting  i did and boy did it go over storm. Look at those smiles! Then after our meal, which included a fresh hot fried banana for dessert, yum - we ventured out to find a bar. The first one wanted to charge us a minimum table fee, even though the place was half empty. On principle, we left. We started walking down the block and saw a place suitably divey looking. It was so divey looking we thought it might be a strip joint so we sent dan up the stairs first. But it turned out to be a dive bar indeed! Sad xmas decorations, stale beer smell, dim lighting and dirty tables abounded! just my kind of place. We started playing liars dice and pretty soon, the manager had come over to to chat to us. Then the people from the rowdy table in the corner started coming over to us. Then the pictures started! So funny that I only have one photo from that night because I posed for at least 20! We were such celebrities. This province is the poorest and least visited in China. Hence, a complete dearth of white people. Not only the only ones in the bar, we were the only ones in town! Most of the young folks could only say hello or a few words, but one young man spoke English really well. more beer drinking continued until one of the women at our table started hitting the men that were with her and throwing things and glasses started breaking, so we decided it was time to leave. but all in all, the best Jewish xmas ever!
The next day we took the bus to Zunyi where beth and dan live. Unlike Guiyang, which had an abundance of western food and clothing shops, Zunyi is the "real China" - if you take that to mean post free market but preMcdonalds china. Lots of shops, people working in shops, cars, etc. but few western shops. Avon being one of the exceptions - a strange stragglet, I thought). I checked out where Beth and Dan teach English and the next day, when they went to work, I poked around town, generally getting stared at and yelled "Hello!" every few minutes. I met up with Beth at the school and she had her high school class there and i gave a two hour lecture on being Jewish! it was pretty funny. When Beth told them that like China, America had its own ethnic minorities and that I was a minority in america- a Jewish person! They all went, "OOOOOOOOh!" It was somehow gratifying. She asked if they knew any famous Jewish people and they said, Spielberg! and Einstein! we tried naming a few more but the Daily show, Friends and Seinfeld haven't made it to China yet so we kind of ran out of ideas. (the next day i remembered Karl Marx. Doh!) Then Beth asked what they knew about Jewish people. They said, they're the most clever people in the world! and very good at business! Oh, kids, you have so much to learn... I had fun telling them about Chasidim, 10 plagues and Chanukah. Then we played dreydl! new converts? i doubt it. But so impressed was one of the students that he offered to be my tour guide the next day while Beth and dan were working. So I took him up on it. But that's the next story...
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