Chengdu was pretty awesome. I went along for the ride as the school sent a teacher up for some Visa business. The nice part was that I only paid for my train ticket, I got free meals and a free hotel room since my boss was feeling generous. The bad part was I definitely was not in charge of the intinierary and the were on a photo taking mission since the school wants all of Nanchong to know there is a blond haired American female teaching English there.
It was a 90 minute train ride, we got there at 11:30 at night and just crashed. I woke up and since I was sharing a room with two Chinese teachers they were quite amused that I showered in the morning (Chinese shower at night) and I made coffee about two seconds after opening my eyes (well instant coffee, if you count that). They all went off to do visa things and I got stuffed in a cab to visit a temple, which was lovely and I quite enjoyed.
After a bit they texted and asked if I could take the subway to meet them at Tianfu square, at first I was annoyed because of course I couldn’t just get on a subway- this is China afterall- but then I saw the subway station in which EVERYTHING had English signs and it was very easy to get over there for 2 yuan. There were even other white people on the subway, hell, there was even a black girl. I see other foreigners in Nanchong…. like maybe once a month?
Anyways I got my starbucks and happily sucked down a lot of sugar, coffee, cream, and chocolate… the Chinese girls sipped it and then spit it out. Again, there were other white people in the starbucks! It was nuts. It was so American that I really just sat there soaking it up and feeling at home until the girls dragged me off to a “famous shopping street” which was mostly full of tacky cheap Chinese clothes.I saw a lot of western restraunts and campaigned for a western dinner but was given a resounding NO! because they “could not be sure it would be good food” (Most of the Chinese I’ve met are not adventurous with trying new foods) So anyways we had porks blood for dinner and I was slightly bitter about it.
After that we got foot massages, which is big Chinese thing to do and it was basically amazing. I’ve always HATED pedicures but Chinese foot massages are pretty amazing. The next morning we continued out leisure streak by getting our hair washed, again a popular Chinese thing which included a neck massage which was amazing -then they styled my hair, basically frying it to death. Guessing they don’t do a lot of curls. The rest of the day was spent in some famous tourist alleys which were pretty and sold lots of craft things. I bought a ton of earrings. There were many tea-shops and I got my ears cleaned… again a traditional Chinese thing. I would not say this felt good… It wasn’t painful exactly but they shoved things deep in my ear and at points he clanged chimes which felt like I was inside a bell tower… I’m glad I did it but it was probably a one time thing to do.
We got more Starbucks and headed on home to Nanchong. I’ve honestly had some mixed feelings since seeing the city. It was huge, there were SO many foreigners, I didn’t see babies pooping outside or hear much spitting. There was pizza hut and Starbucks…. there were English signs… no one stared at me, I could get myself around on the subway. I kept wondering if I should have lived in a big Chinese city. Nanchong (Which is bigger then Boston FYI) has few foreigners, no English anywhere, and is not the easiest place to live. People follow me around the grocery store and take pictures of me on the bus. However it is China, unfiltered, its a city where everyone is really from a village and if they lose their jobs they’re back to planting rice for a living. Nanchong is starting to feel like home, and regardless of all the “what if’s” I would have been better of in Chengdu, or Beijing, or South Korea or staying in Portland… Nanchong is where I am. Whether I do well here or am miserable is entirely my decision.
Besides, I rather enjoy slurping my noodles and spitting bones on the floor.