I'm sitting here wasting away hours by looking through old pictures, as I'm inclined to do after a big trip.
sidenote: A really exciting thing I've noticed is that uploading pictures is so much easier in Amer.ica (no VPN necessary)!
As I look through the pictures I keep giggling about the people we met along the way. So, in the spirit of documentation...here is a random assortment of the people we interacted with and were lucky (or creepy?) enough to take pictures of.
Maybe I'm just abusing the fact that I can upload so many pictures here in the US, but nonetheless, these people are worth remembering. Giving faces to Chi.na is what makes it real for family and friends back home - well then, here's Chin.a.
1. My nail girl, Xiao Hua (across from me). I love her. I have been going to see her every Monday since October. My co-worker Rebecca and I would spend half of our 2 hour lunch break getting our nails re-painted and practicing Chin.ese. She's from Sichuan, has 2 older brothers, and came to the outskirts of Hang.zhou with dreams of hitting it big. I consider her a friend. Sometimes we would sit outside the store together and watch the store owner's pet turtles walk around. I give her my old magazines when I'm done with them (can't read them, anyways. haha). She's cool and mom and Jen got to meet her and her co-workers. Fun times.
This man was the most jolly food seller on the Wangfujing Food Street in Beijing. I'm not sure how he conjurs up such joy - considering he was peddaling bugs on a stick.
This lady was one of many people who thought that me and my family eating lunch in a cafe by the window was a kodak moment. Unlike the rest of them, however, she also decided to walk up to the window for a closer look - caged animal style gawking. Of course, we had to take some photos of her too to remember the moment - Look! A Chin.ese person! Get out the camera!
We met this little dude while on a boat ride on the West Lake. He and his cousin were causing a ruckus - perfect examples of the Chin.ese "little emporer" syndrome that has stemmed from the one child po.licy. Both kids spoke some English and were obviously enrolled in one of the uber expensive english learning centers for rich brats - I mean, kids. He was so cute, though. We went over colors and numbers and he asked me how to say, "boat." When I asked him how old he was he answered, "wo shi six!" (I am six). It was a fun boat ride.
This is Annie Peng. I called her Penny for half the trip up the Great Wall. Oops. Her and her sister are native to Beijing and run a tourism company. The hostel we stayed at hires her out to take groups of travelers to the Wall. (It's much easier, efficient, and cost-effective to go to the Great Wall as part of a tour because it is so far out of town with no public transportation to get there). She was super precious, chatting with my mom in the front seat the whole way to the Wall. If you ever find yourself in Beijing check out her company: www.youseechina.com .
These siblings sold us pearls in the Beijing Pearl Market! They gave us dirt cheap prices after chatting a bit. (less than $3 for pearl necklaces - $1.25 for pearl earrings). If you ever make your way to Beij for some pearls check out stall 50 in the market. They are so fun and reasonable. We enjoyed watching their handiwork as they individually strung and knotted each pearl. As a side note, my mom and I were in JCPenny's and saw pearls from Chin.a in their jewlery case for hundreds of dollars! Don't do it! Go to the source.
I met this man inside the Summer Palace in Beijing. He was writing with water (common art for old people) and I just wanted to snap a photo and go back to my dumpling lunch. No such luck, homeboy spoke English. Turns out, this man was a government worker during the Cultu.ral Revo.lution. (dun dun dun). He was sent with 11 others to London to learn English from 1972-1973. (cue: he was a spy or other official). He refused to say exactly what his work was saying, "it was in the past." He was so much fun to talk to. His English is pitch perfect and his humor is uncanny. He was very interested in me as a PhD student in Chin.a, and I was very interested in him, what an amazing (though ambiguous) life story he has. He taught me some poetry on the sidewalk and we attracted quite a crowd. He left me with this saying his English teacher in London gave him and told me to figure it out: "Time flies? But I can't, they're too fast." Can you figure it out? :)
This is the bread man's family. I have been a loyal customer for two years and mom, Jen and I ate breakfast here each morning we were in Hang.zhou. Their onion bread is to dieee for.
This is Mei Nu. I could never remember her name (darn Chin.ese) so I just call her "mei nu" (beautiful lady). She is the cleaner in the hall where my classroom was. Every morning we would chat and she would bring me sweets from time to time. She's mimick my English when I was talking to my students and would laaaaaugh about it. ha. She would show up to work in a little flirty outfit with high heels and prance the hall before changing into her blue work jumper. Her children (a daughter and son) live in her home province (Jiangxi, next to Zhejiang where we live). Her greatest concern is that her college age daughter is not married yet. Her greatest pride is her son. One time I gave her some home-made cake I had baked for my students. She asked me to teach her how to make it so I had a student translate the recipe for her from English. The problem is - not all of the ingredients can be found in Chin.a and she has no oven. booo. She has one of the coolest personalities of middle-age Chin.ese people that I have encountered. She's just so cool.
This guy was my sister's foot massager two days in a row. He was so embarrassed to have her again because she, "is so pretty." He was so nervous it was precious/hilarious. His hands shook. I wonder why the girls didn't trade with him? I think they just wanted to tease him.
This dude was also visiting Tiann.enmen Square in Beijing. He followed us until I asked him what he needed. He wanted to take a picture of my mom taking a picture (she took this). She was wearing the awesome flower hat (see previous post) and he had this idea I guess of the picture he wanted to capture. haha. He never showed us the picture, he just scampered off. I wonder what it looks like. hahaha. No matter - we got this gem of a random photo.
This man was just chillin' at the Summer Palace. Wearing an Ameri.can flag outfit and a rice hat accessorized by a Canon Rebel camera and a Jes.us beard. What the crap? Of course, I had to talk to him. Jennifer and I hesistated a bit and he noticed me looking at him - ha - so I just waved and marched over. The tables were turned as I asked this dude to take a photo with me and Jen - pay back for the million photos we had posed for with random Asians. His voice was so deep and he resonated gentleness. He was just so kind. We chatted for awhile after taking the group shot (at which point my mom took this pic). I did't get to learn much about him though, he really just wanted to know how I speak Chin.ese. I told him in Chi.nese, "Your clothes are Amer.ican." To which he replied, "Really? No." (not sarcastic). hahahaha. I really wonder what he was doing there. He never moved from that spot and lots of people kept wanting to take pictures with him. He had a camera - so he was just another tourist? Who knows. OIC (only in Chi.na).
It's the people who make a place. And each of these people made our trip oh-so-interesting.