This has been a great trip and so wonderful to immerse ourselves in a different culture. Here are some random thoughts about our time here and China.
- I read a couple of weeks ago that “Snacking is a food group in Beijing” and it’s true! Everywhere you turn practically you see snacks. In stores and on the side of the road. From candied fruit to sweet potatoes baked in drums on the back of a bike. They have all kinds of filled crackers, cookies, and chips. We embraced the snacking culture while here and tried all kinds of items.
- Corn is popular here. Very popular. It comes on pizza, you can get a cup of it instead of fries at McDonald’s and they have little juice boxes of corn juice that you can buy.
- Many people here have expected Nadia to be potty trained because of her age. Of course we don’t have split pants or a culture that would accept children squatting to potty in public places at home, so what can you do? 😉
- Staring is accepted in China. Everywhere we have gone, we stick out because we are a white couple with a Chinese daughter. People openly stare, gawk and grab their friends and point so they can look at us too. The Chinese love to come up to Nadia and say hi, make clucking noises and in general just smile at her. The most common questions we got were: How old is she? Can she speak Chinese? and Is she cold?
- Pushing and shoving is also accepted on buses and subways. It’s not a mean thing, it’s a necessary thing because of the major crush of people. If you don’t force your way in, you will never get anywhere. And the Chinese are not mean about it, so there is no reason to get upset.
- I would never, never drive here. No way, no how. But I will tell you that the Chinese don’t talk on their cell phones, eat, read, etc. while driving, from what I have seen. They concentrate on driving. I only saw one wreck the entire time we were here and it was close to the orphanage and involved a motorcycle. The very strange auto ballet works here because everyone drives that way.
- Lots of the horn honking comes from taxi and bus drivers warning pedestrians and bicyclists that they are coming.
- When we first got here I was scared I would get run over because it seems like no one follows the rules. Now I start crossing with or slightly before some of the Chinese because I know the patterns of traffic and lights near our house. I am totally confident to just cross all the streets that are near the apartment.
- We are ready for a weird sort of culture shock when we get home. We had some last time because of traveling with a group of 30 or so for 2 weeks and doing so many things together. This time I think it’s going to be even more pronounced because we have been living here. Grocery shopping, cooking and doing the day to day things. Everywhere we go, we only understand each other. It’s going to be odd to come home and be able to read and understand everything. Seeing different races of people will be odd too. We have grown so accustomed to being the minority here.
- I’m going to miss the cheap pastry shops. And the orange Ritz.
- The Chinese people have been wonderful and treated us with such respect. It’s really wonderful to have been welcomed in by the school. And to have been able to go to dinner at Kiki and Jing’s was an awesome treat that we didn’t expect in advance. It was a great honor and lots of fun.
- The sales of Coke Light are going to drop drastically at the Lotus. The first week they kept running out and now they have it on the shelf and in 2 coolers. Coke and tea are just more popular here than Coke Light.
- I think in some ways the Chinese are a happier culture than America. Even when they seem busy and rushing to get somewhere, they are more apt to smile at you or at least project a friendlier attitude. Young girls walk around arm and arm almost everywhere…..way past the age that happens in America. The Chinese just love to wave and smile at children. But I also get this feeling more in Fort Worth than anywhere else I have lived.
- Snoopy and Mickey Mouse are hugely popular here. Within walking distance there is a Snoopy store and a Mickey store. They are filled with all kinds of things that you can’t get in America. We have also seen lots of Hello Kitty.
- Nadia will no longer have to look like she’s departing for an Arctic expedition every time we go out.
That’s all for now. I am going to pack up the computer and we will head for the airport soon. Thanks for following our journey. Our next post will be from Texas!