Sunday, September 03, 2006

The rest of the story.

I'm back. Sorry it took so long. I kept getting distracted. After getting dropped off here last Monday evening, our waiban (in charge of helping us get anything we need) didn't come back for two days or so. That made for some good times since we needed some things fixed in our apartments and we needed money to buy things. Like food, for instance. And cleaning supplies. Well Tuesday I took the four of us to the bank in the middle of town to exchange money. I figure I've been here before, no problem. Well, we get to the bank and no one will help us or even make eye contact with us. There's a lady at one window who is free, but when Derek tried to go to her window she left and hid in the back. When he walked away from her window she came back. Are foreigners that scary? Finally a lady sitting at a desk got off the phone and I hurried over. I told her in my poor Chinese that we work in town and we need some Chinese money. So she told me to go to window number two. I turn around to go to window #2... it's the same window we just stood at for 5 minutes while the lady hid behind a table. Only this time the lady from the desk took us over to the window and said something to the lady, so she didn't run and hide. Fun times.

After getting our money in order we made our way to a supermarket near our school. I had been there before, so I knew we'd be able to find what we needed to clean our apartments and get them suitable for living in. As we're shopping in this store for floor mats, towels, soap, shampoo, bathroom cleaner, brooms, and things of this sort, I was reminded of something which I had forgotten about China. When you go to a store or a restaurant, there are almost as many workers as there are customers. So here we are perusing the bug spray aisle while 10 or more workers (all female, mind you) form a group to watch us shop and offer advice on the best bug spray to buy. Derek was apparently quite the spectacle because they were all trying to sell him shampoo for his mop top. Of course, the funniest thing is that they just talk and talk to us in Chinese, extolling the virtues of each different brand of shampoo, even after we tell them (in Chinese) that we can't understand them. While we greatly enjoyed all the help and attention, the manager wasn't too amused. She strolled through and barked some orders that sent every single one of those ladies running back to her respective post. The moral of the story (or ironic thing) that I came away with was that in the bank, when we actually needed help, no one would look at us. In the store where we could just walk through and grab what we needed, we each had 10 girls trying to help us out. Such is life at times.

The days since have been spent doing various things. I waited a day or two for our waiban to come back so I could get the a/c fixed in my new 4th floor apartment. Then I started moving my stuff from the 3rd to the 4th floor. I haven't really done much moving or unpacking since. I managed to dust and sweep my apartmet, so I think tonight I'll finish unpacking and try to get some pictures that I can post. Friday afternoon we got our teaching schedules. I teach from 6:45-9:10 three nights each week. Stink. At least I'll have lots of free time during the day! It just stinks to have most of your nights automatically taken up like that. Friday night all of us foreigners got together and had a nice meal together. Then we hung out and got to know each other since we didn't really know each other before getting here. Mandy, one of my Chinese friends, got hold of me and invited the four of us from the Automobile School to eat dinner with her. We actually went to a cool restaurant on the 5th floor of a building downtown. It has a great view of the People's Square in the middle of town, I'll have to get a picture next time I'm there. The owner of the restaurant recognized me from my previous year in town and invited all of us foreigners back next Friday. He's planning a Western meal in our honor with BBQ and pizza, which should be stinkin' AWESOME. I had pizza at another restaurant he used to own before opening this one. I'm hoping it's as good as that. So good, mmmmmmmm. Then today some of us got together as Friends and had a good time. We spent a lot of time just getting to know each other and about 16 of us went to eat lunch together. It's hard to find room for 16 in one of these small restaurants, let me tell ya. But we had a grrrreat time.

I'm so glad to be back!


Grams said...

Looking forward to some pictures of the scenery.

Neal 24/7 said...

i am so glad you are having fun and not homesick for us. it was good to hear your stuffy voice tonight. we miss you here. colby is at the door whining for you. lub lub.


Starbucks Jen said...

Brian, I laughed so hard. I could totally imagine you telling these stories. I have something for you, how can I mail it to you? Cant wait for pictures! Hope all is well.
PS I totally understand the hot water thing! Went all summer with no hot water, but that first hot shower was amazing! Take care.