Today we began learning, hands-on, about China! Here is what we have learned, so far.
- Everything is lit up! There are lights everywhere. Think New York City at night.
- The amount of cars is even more than you imagine. Cars are everywhere, as are scooters and bikes. We are from Massachusetts and what is the nickname we have earned…”MASSHOLES”? Yeah, we are pretty tame once you watch the roads here. And horns beeping is a permanent sound at all times!
- Use caution when crossing the road! NOONE will stop. EVER. It is like the game FROGGER, for those of you from the right era. The best advice we got from our guide is stop, wait and when you see a local cross, RUN!
- The architecture is impressive. There is lots of greenery and floral interspersed within a major city. The bamboo is gorgeous. We went to Green Lake Park just minutes from our hotel. It was impressive!
- Locals are fascinated by western visitors. We were stared at regularly, which is not considered rude in the Chinese culture. And we were even stopped and asked to pose for pictures. Yep, we are famous. Ha!
- Work regulations may be very different than back in the US. We watched young men (mid-teenagers we’d guess) install city cable or telephone wires using the trees to climb the height. No ladders needed. And it looks a lot different than our cable lines.
- The Chinese working in the hotel use the utmost respect to their visitors. Every time we walk by a club lounge (we don’t even go in), the employees stand up in respect. This level of greeting would not be common practice back home!
- Western style toilets are easy to find at the airports and hotels. But squatty pottys are common practice everywhere else. Toilet paper and soap is not the norm. Ana was shocked at the airport when she unknowingly went into a stall with a squatty potty. I guess I failed to warn her about this. She came out telling me about the “hole she had to pee in”!
- The hotel beds here are full size. No queens, no kings. And they are called twins to confuse you more (doesn’t that make much more sense though!). We have a king at home so….we are intimate here! Ana is happily enjoying her space.
- Ana is doing an amazing job translating for us. She asks for directions, asks about money, asks for coffee for her dad! But we are still English speakers and small language errors will exist. We got a great laugh when Ana asked the hotel lobby for a crib (in prep for tomorrow!!!) in the room. A few minutes later we got a call back upstairs. The employee proceeded to tell us that the crib is only 90cm and won’t fit our child. It only took a moment to realize that they thought Ana was asking for a crib for herself.
- There is food on the streets everywhere! And the outdoors have a constant waft of cooking ethnic food (and smoke, lots and lots of smoking). Baskets full of blueberries and blackberries line the street. Fruit I have never seen in my life fill open markets. People peel pineapples with such ease and swiftness one can’t help but stare. Of course I am not brave enough to purchase the street food but it all looks so fresh.
Being in a city across the world wakes you up. This is such a different culture than our comfortable and luxurious western ways. It is difficult to not stare, wanting to take it all in. Good thing, as I mentioned, staring is not considered rude in this neck of the woods!
Just a few hours of exploring brings us to a place that easily reminds us that our ways are not the only ways. I have never, in the US, seen a park at beautiful and intricate as Green Lake. The architecture here in China is amazing. The respect and formality of hotel workers is awe inspiring. And from what I have heard, using squatty pottys is amazing for your, ummmmm, digestive health!
We are so grateful to be able to take in the culture of our son’s birthplace. And we are not naive to the fact that we will merely touch upon all that there is to see and learn. We hope to use as much time as possible taking in all we can. And continue to learn and expose August to his birth culture always.
But first, sleep!
It is late afternoon here on Sunday. You all back home are still comfy in your warm bed. We are struggling to keep awake and think straight as jet lag on a 12 hour time difference is not for the faint of heart. So I will say goodbye as we finish our evening early topped with a dose of melatonin. We hope for a good nights sleep to rest us for a day tomorrow. It will be a day of beginnings and a day of endings for our sweet boy. It will be a day many can merely imagine. It will be another page in our “story” and a memory of a lifetime.
Keep your eyes peeled, the next time you hear from me, we will be introducing you to our son!