It’s funny how a twist of fate sometimes interferes with your plans for the better. My plan was to go to Guangzhou for a day trip today, where my friend has some friends who wanted to meet “the Finnish girl”. However, it turned out the meeting had to be postponed until Sunday, because some of them weren’t available. My friend had to work late as well. Thus, I had lots of free time on my hands. I decided to use it wisely and went to read the children’s bed time story book I bought in the book store in the lobby. The receptionist, a girl in her 20’s, came and sat down next to me, and we started talking in Chinese. She was absolutely thrilled, because she didn’t speak English except for a few sentences, and wanted to take me out for dinner. She then called some of her friends, who live in the adjacent house. They didn’t speak English either. We had a marvellous time and had almost no language troubles at all. The ones we had were solved by Baidu’s translator engine. I’m amazed at how fast one’s brain adapts to the current environment when it has to. It feels like the claim “Chinese is a too difficult language master in one’s lifetime for a Western person” was coined by someone who either a) didn’t believe in themselves or others for that matter or b) hadn’t been educated properly about the brain’s plastic ability (which, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t end abruptly when we turn 25. It never goes away). To lose the ability to learn to speak any language after a certain age is hogwash, except if you have a disability perhaps. Nowadays I can state this to be true professionally speaking, too.
I have gained some experience about the Chinese scheme of things again. Here you are:
- There is a strange discrepancy in the way Chinese people relate to physical affection. I have never seen them hug each other, not even close family members (such as daughter and mother). However, they are capable of showing in some cases extreme physical affection towards almost-complete strangers. You need to be able to handle this without getting seriously embarrassed. When we went out with my new friend’s friends, they unashamedly burrowed their heads in my neck all the time, smelled my hair and stroked my face, hands and sides saying “Róuruǎn de! Róuruǎn de!” (“Soft! Soft!”) in front of about ~100 people who walked past us. What are you supposed to do? Do the same thing back? Ignore it completely? My mind was just going “– system error — does not compute — can’t find registered operation model”. 😀 😀 You just need to keep in mind that they don’t do it maliciously. They are genuinely curious.
- When you are residing in Guangdong province, you will taste some things you’ve never tasted before. This is not a bad thing. My friends asked me if I liked spicy and weird food. I said yes. They started giggling like never before, and told me that we would have dinner in a very special place. On our way there they made me try out all kinds of things, among them lychee lactobacillus juice and fried scorpion. At the dinner table, we had spicy bullfrog. Imagine yourself tucking into a bubbling hot pot of frogs seasoned with chili, something that looked like insect eggs and some grass-looking thing on the side. You just get yourself together and try it out, and realise it actually tastes good. Your lips start to tingle pleasantly after you try out the insect eggs(?). It also makes you sweat a lot afterwards for some reason.
- Chinese people like to take photos of themselves and others from below.
- Chinese people in general walk very, very slowly.
Here we are. That’s the lychee lactobacillus juice, right there.
Since the primary plan of action had to reconstructed, I decided to check out the #2 on my cosiness list: the botanical garden. There is one in the eastern suburbs of Shenzhen, called Xianhu (“Fairy Lake”). Indeed, there was a lake, a temple, an orchid garden, a butterfly garden, and a fossil forest. There was a half-an-hour walk uphill, and there were many people sitting under trees along the way. The area is huge, situated in the mountains, and no other Western people could be seen at all. It seems like this is a place for domestic tourists to go. Nevertheless, it was as amazing as I expected it to be. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
In the evening, we went to a local supermarket (I needed to get some stuff for Guangzhou). This is what caught my eye and camera lens:
It looks like an aquarium, but it’s a guarantee that the seafood will be fresh. How the cosiness points of this city soared upwards when I discovered they’ve got Finnish menstruation pads. 😀 until next time!