For a country whose primary eating utensil is a pair of sticks, they sure have a lot of slippery foods
10.07.2010 - 12.07.2010 78 °F
Saturday was a free day with our families, but after dropping Kim and his mom at the trainstation in the early afternoon, we didn't do much. My host dad was at work and my host mom took a nap, so I read, did some homework, journaled, and slept. It was a nice relaxing day.
Then yesterday we were supposed to go to Yancheng adn Wujin, a trip that included a park, a lake, and an amusement park, but since it was pouring rain, plans changed. We went to the Wuxi caves instead. They were pretty cool. We walked through one cave and got explanations of some of the different names of rocks (like the one that looks like an old man, or the one that looks like a left hand). Then we went into another cave and took boats along a type of underground lake. It was really cool. The only problem was that the boats were nothing close to stable and every time anyone shifted their weight they rocked and everyone was terrified, since the seats were on the very edge, so if it tipped too far, we had no chance. There were some places where the ceiling came down really low and everyone had to bend over, which was hard, since the boats were narrow and your knees were touching thsoe of the person across from you. After the lake, we had to walk up 800 steps (the tour guides sounded proud, but we sounded exhausted) in order to get out. Then we had to walk back down to the parking lots. It was still pouring rain, and things were slippery and cold. Needless to say, it was rather eventful. (Quick side note: no one in China wears rain coats. They only carry umbrellas, unless they are riding bikes or motorcycles, in which case htey wear ponchos. They still don't wear helmets, though.) The Korean students were with us yesterday. They seem nice enough so far, but they keep to their group a lot, so I haven't talked to many of them yet.
And my host sister finally came home! Chen Runyin, but it turns out her English name is Cynthia. I spent yesterday evening chatting with her. Her English is better than my Chinese, so most of the conversation was in English, but occasionally we spoke Chinese when I could. She's very bright, and we have some similar interests. We're both a little shy, but she's really easy to talk to. She's very nice. She's really funny. She knows American geography by NBA teams. The only cities she can name are cities with teams that she likes. She was really curious about American pop culture, since all she knows is Lady Gaga, who she thinks is crazy (I assured her that she was an extreme). She's also very well read, even in English. She had to read Hamlet. I was amazed, but she seemed a bit embarassed whne she said that sometimes she doesn't understand what Shakespeare is saying. I assured her that sometimes I don't understand what Shakespeare is saying. Some of her insights were both very astute and beautifully poetic. For example, I told her that one of my favorite American authors is Mark Twain, and she said that she had read Tom Sawyer. I asked her what she thought of it and she said that she thought that Tom is too naughty, but that Mark Twain " has the heart of a child." I couldn't agree more. All in all, it was a really fun evening, and she'll be picking me up after school and we're going to dinner.
Now, I'll take a minute to respond to some questions that people have asked. I keep forgetting to bring my camara's USB cable, but my friend Chloe has posted pictures. If you're interested, her blog is www.cuhloe.travellerspoint.com and you can look at hers. I've checked them out, and they're fun. Among my new favorite foods are frogs legs (don't knock them until you try them, they're delicious!), dumplings, homemade wontons, Chinese rice cakes, and xiao long bao. The beds and toilets were the same in Beijing, so I don't know if they're the same everywhere, but I'm down near Shanghai, so I figure they're pretty common. I've kind of adjusted to the squatters, but I'm really glad that they have Western toilets at my home, because they're still not fun. The beds are still an issue. I'm working on finding someone to give me a back rub because I'm so sore! The showers and baths have been normal, except for the one in my hotel room in Beijing. It was a normal shower, except that the drain was just in the middle of the room. There was a shower curtain, but nothing to block the water on the floor, so it was like the entire room was the shower. That was a bit of a surprise, needless to say! It worked out, though, and I do have pictures, but you may need to wait until I get home for them. Grampy, I'll have to ask about who they know about. That conversation hasn't come up yet As for my home and the views, mine isn't really average because my family's apartment is really big. I have plenty of room, and I don't have to share. I get my own bedroom and, shockingly, my own bathroom, which is wonderful. It makes everything much easier. When I look outside my window, I can see the city. There's a lot of construction in the area, because it's on the outside and there are a lot of new buildings going up, so there are cranes all over, and across the street from my apartment complex is a park, which is really neat. Well, I already described it. There's also a sauna club nearby (which I wasn't expecting) and there are a bunch of Japanese-style clubs a few streets over, which is a little bit odd, although Cynthia says that Japanese and Korean pop is really popular in China, so I guess it makes sense. I can't see too far because the air quality is pretty bad so it's really smoggy. But it's pretty neat. I'm enjoying it here
Well, I think that's all for today. We'll see if I can come up with any more insights for tomorrow. I'll work on that. And go Spain! They won the World Cup! Most of my AFS group was rooting for Spain, so this morning was pretty exciting. I would have been okay with either, since the Netherlands are pretty cool, but the hispanohablante in me was leaning towards Spain