"Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen."
I’ve been here for over a month now. I feel like I should write more about the school, and so my next entry will probably be about OECIS (Shenzhen Oriental English College International School) I have taken some pictures, but I might snap a few more shots of campus. I intend on trying to upload some video too. I need a few days to do this, so I’ll upload and write this as soon as I can.
But here’s some of the things I’ve done this weekend. Not chronological, which is on purpose of course. Normally I would list everything chronologically, but that’s just boring. So I’m being totally reckless and not caring about whatever rules that apply for writing whatever that is I'm writing on here. And not only for writing I might add, like today when I decided to stand on the left side of the escalator and not hold on to the rail- when the metallic voice on the speakers repeatedly tells us the opposite. I’m a real badass, I know.
“Where is the bus?” wins the prize for the most used sentence today. Among the nominees were “I don’t know where we are...”, “I’m tired!” and “Where should we go?”.
It pretty much illustrates the experiences we’ve had today in short. We were taking the ‘school bus’ to Tao Yuan Ju and switched bus there to go to Shekou district. We wanted to find this huge mall; Coastal City. The plan seemed easy, but actually getting there proved to be something else. To spare you from painstaking details about our journey to this mall; it took 3 hours. We did a lot of waiting and there was some confusion about directions. But we made it in the end. So it wasn’t for nothing. When we saw the mall through the dirty bus window- the first thing someone said was “It’s ugly”. Which seemed a bit disappointing when you’ve spent hours getting somewhere. And it was true, it wasn’t a beautiful mall from the outside. Luckily it was better inside. But it was enormous! We walked around and got lost a few times, but as a traveler I love getting lost. It’s all a part of the story. I want to see what I see, not just what I came here to see, like a mere tourist! I prefer the term traveler, thank you very much.
Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.
I freeze as I hear a scream of terror shake the room. A terrified face meets me in the door. Her trembling mouth utters one word, that terrible one beginning with “c” and has 9 letters. It belongs in the animal kingdom. I peak my head in the doorway and search the tiled floors for a dark spot. Nothing’s there. “Where is it?” Our neat and tidy German friend sweeps the creature out, while Amanda and I stand as far away as possible, facing the wall, cringing and shivering like autumn leaves. I wish I didn’t have to see it. I imagined them to be much smaller, but in reality you could strap a saddle one of those things and ride it to town.
At Coastal City, we tried to go to the cinema. They had 6 different movies, I think. And most of them were of course in Chinese. Which wouldn’t be a problem if I only understood the language, which I sadly don’t. The two English movies they had seemed very bad, so there was unfortunately no munching popcorn in the dark for us. And talking about popcorn, like everything the Chinese prefer to eat the popcorn is sweet. Everything they stuff their faces with has to be incredibly sweet. A lot of things tastes different here, because they alter things to make them sweeter. I would appreciate if they had a more diverse pallet. But it’s not really a problem.
We walked around the shops until our legs begged for rest. We spent some time looking at cameras, because Aline was replacing her lost camera. Over the past weeks, it’s been a search avoiding the dodgy places where you shouldn’t buy electronics to find the genuine, serious sellers- which we can proudly say that we did today. Looking at the cameras made me want to purchase a new one too, there were plenty of nice ones to replace my 5 year old Nikon, but I still have to think about it and do some searches on the web before I can settle on what I’m going to buy. My camera had ‘lens error’ for awhile today, but when I turned it on after a few hours it worked fine. What happened was that I was taking a picture of this wonderful gate made entirely of plastic fruit (amazing huh?) and the lens wouldn’t work. Trying to turn it off- it wouldn’t retract. So I had to force/push it a little, it made a terrible screeching sound as it retracted. I though "Oh no, I just broke my camera" I thought "I won't be able to take more pictures of this cheesy gate!" "What am I going to do?" But it worked after that. Kinda. Pictures get a little blurry around dusk, because of a funky flash. It works OK now, but I still want a new one
I bought a flashdrive as I didn’t bring mine from home (stupid Cecilie!) I did bring my big, external harddrive, though. And I’ve used (to save PowerPoints) this the past weeks in the classrooms with varying results. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. A portable flashdrive makes it so much easier to manage teaching material. Or so I hope.
We soaked up the sun for at least half and hour, waiting for the bus driver to show up at our school. The three, yellow buses were all there. But no sign of a driver. As time went by, more people came to wait by the buses. Multiple sighs of relief soared through the air when the driver finally decided to start the bus. The bus paves its way trough the dense traffic like a cobra. Avoiding the cars on all sides by mere centimeters. I’m amazed that I have yet to see any accidents, but then again I’ve only been here for a few months. In the beginning this crazy traffic and how the cars just drive past each other randomly, scared me. But now I feel strangely safe in the metal shell of the yellow vehicle that carries us through the jungle of cars. I stare out the window, at people in passing buses or entire families balancing on tiny motorcycles. Helmets are not very common here.
Tired from walking around the big mall. We return to Tao Yuan Ju. But at least we weren’t hungry. I was quite full after our heavenly meal at The Spaghetti House. We probably spent a full hour trying to decide where to eat, this is a challenge with four people. Each has his/hers own preferences. "Sushi!" "I don't like sushi", "Pizza?" "No more pizza!" We agreed upon avoiding fast-food chains, because too often do we drop by one of the numerous fast-food places here. It's dangerously convenient and relatively cheap, but healthy? NO. But this meant that we spent ages on searching for a place. Although restaurants were bountiful in this area. We ended up going back to one of the first restaurants we'd spotted. At the Spaghetti House I had Caesar Salad and Pasta Carbonara, which was very creamy and cheesy- and also very good! A bit too much of a good thing dare I say. But fear not, I go out to eat at Chinese restaurants a lot too. That’s what we normally go for when we eat out. So western food is an anomaly for me here, apart from the occasional burger, or in this case pasta dish. After dinner we went to Smoothie Factory, but we turned to leave almost the minute we entered, the prices were ‘high’ and none of us really wanted smoothies after such a heavy meal. We spotted cereal in the shelves there, and I happily exclaimed “Ooh, All Bran!” Much to the joy of the Smoothie Factory employees. Cereal would be nice, if only there was good milk available and a nice, clean refrigerator in my room.
I had a scoop of ice cream (If you must know: mint chocolate) and we set out on a quest for Dunkin’ Doughnuts which took us almost to every corner of this huge place. We asked a Chinese guy, he pointed in a general direction and we followed. We finally found it and so I added a glazed chocolate doughnut and a coffee to my list of things I’ve consumed today. I felt a bit sick on the way back, mostly because it’s impossible to sit/stand still in the shaky bus. And it took a few hours. But we arrived safely at Tao Yuan Ju and climbed out of the packed bus. We walked to the outdoor stage in Tao Yuan Ju (the place with the big supermarket Ren Ren Le, 30 min. bus ride from our school) Apparently there had been some sort of big performance there, but we just missed it. So people were leaving, but some were still on stage. Performing some kind of martial arts and dance. We walked some more (a lot of walking today) and eventually walked passed the gates to our campus. We sat in Amanda’s room trying to stream some football match online (BBC), but ended up only getting the sound. The eager voice of the commentator was in the background for a few hours. It got late and we went back to our rooms, I a little bit more frightened than before. Peaking my head in the bathroom, before I stepped inside. Nothing’s there, phew. I’ve been lucky so far!