Huangzhou, China – Finding my travelling legs again

My room is in the international student’s building at Zhejiang University in Huangzhou. The building is surrounded by trees that are loudly buzzing with the sound of summer cicadas. I’m not a fan of bugs and imagine a cicada dropping into my hair as I pass underneath the trees. I think one made it into my room yesterday because there was a massive bug with antennae in my room that a teaching assistant crushed with her shoe. She is probably a quarter of my size and I was frightened by the bug.

Today was my first day for exploring which means blindly walking in various directions after pointing to the word Restaurant in my phrasebook. Finally I find a small restaurant and everyone stares as I enter. Two women who are sitting down at a table smile and point at my sweat. Yes it seems that I am the only one sweating in the July Huangzhou heat. By this point sweat is dripping down my chest and beginning to stain my shirt. I am totally and utterly lost when she asks me in Chinese to choose a dish to eat. I look at the wall of food photos and finally choose the one that resembles sweet and sour pork. I’ve come all the way to China and I am still ordering what I order at the Food Court at the Manchu Wok.

On the street random people yell hi from their motorbikes as they whizz past me in the city. The road is overwhelmed with motorbikes and I am not quite sure where I should stand while crossing the street to avoid all of the bikes. I finally chose to get into a taxi and pointed to a street on the map that looks to be in the down town area. I only hoped that the taxi driver knew where he was taking me. We did finally reach the right destination which was a road right beside the West Lake, which is a famous travel destination in China. The boats atop the lake are gorgeously lit and have large Chinese dragons adorning their bows. A light show starts on the water with traditional Chinese music playing and water fountain sprays moving in time with the music. The lake is pretty but there is little wind coming off the lake to cool the passerbys.

I wander through the street and finally find the Carrefour after having someone write the store’s name for me in Chinese. The process of finding the Carrefour is arduous as I have to point to the Chinese characters and ask 4 or 5 people to direct me on my way. When I am in the supermarket the staff are not especially helpful as they point in the general direction of where I might find electric converters. I have brought a converter from Canada but it only supports two prong plugs. While I am trying to force the clerk to take me to the exact spot where the converters are, a family with a young girl stop to help. The young girl can speak a little English and I tell her what I need. It seems to create a small incident in the aisles of the Carrefour as 3 or four clerks come by to see what is going on with that crazy English lady. The girl’s father turns out to be a Computer Engineer and after much discussion and hand gestures finds what I need. I am relieved because now I can watch DVDs and use my laptop as the Chinese melodramas on tv are not really something I am in to.

After the Carrefour I walk into the street and accidentally step in something mushy and I discover it is vomit. I am quickly reminded of the drinking culture in Korea and wonder if it is the same here. And then a few minutes later while trying to hail a taxi, one taxi stops ahead of me and a man’s head appears and he vomits out of the open door. Yes maybe it is a drinking culture, and this scene of a man throwing up in the street is a final image to end my chaotic day.

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