Originally written Thursday 14th November:
I was so happy to sleep last night that I thought I would be lucky to wake for breakfast. Yeah right. Slept about 1am. Wide awake at 4am! Listened to two podcasts all about 'humour in china' and the 'Egyptian revolution and it's effects in china', read to the end of book 'the Beijing office' and then it was at last time for breakfast, my social research at least complete before the day starts even if the sleep is sorely lacking!
Breakfast was steamed sweet Chinese buns which are far too yummy, pork sausage, cabbage leaves, egg fried rice, a dumpling thing with meat inside, and a yoghurt. All of which I am my proud to say I ate with chopsticks, except for the yoghurt of course! I left the sweet corn because I wasn't sure how to eat that with the chopsticks, but on my way out a spied a local eating that, so I now know how to go about that for breakfast tomorrow!
Heading out I discovered that despite what all the guide books had said, my hotel couldn't in fact change money, but 'no problem there is a bank downstairs'. The bank however told me to go to a different bank because if I was to change my dollars there they would have to change me an exchange fee, but the bank of china doesn't. Seemingly. Was amazed at this advice and thanked the man in the bank who gave it. Later on, I found another bank, still not the right one, and the man there could not tell me the exchange rate at all, so I suspect that maybe only the bank of china is allowed to change dollars, rather than just doing it without an exchange fee!
So I wandered round my local shaping mall (which is bigger than city stars, for those in Egypt who know that!) without knowing how much money I actually had in my pocket! To get to the supermarket, carrefoure, I had to go through H&M. It's a hard life!
Wow what a supermarket!
Duck and chicken skinned and flattened hanging from hooks, numerous types of seaweed, live crabs, not to mention all the fruit and vegetables that I hadn't even ever seen before! I spent easily an hour in there gauping at it all. Was tempted to lift my camera out my bag to photograph the weird stuff... But couldn't bring myself to, will try that tomorrow! I know I stand out. I was the only foreigner I saw all morning, but I wasn't quite prepared to single myself out as the tourist too, not quite yet anyway.
I feel like I have had a cultural and senses overload already and I was only out and about for 2 hours! This afternoon Leon is taking me around town, but that may need a 2nd blog entry !!
Oh, and the pollution, and traffic and tooting horns is easily rival to Cairo. Nice it should try to make me feel at home, well, until I got rained on anyway!
What I have learned so far today;
- that Chinese don't tend to use irony in humour
- that democracy isn't what the Chinese crave (why would they, they are a successful country in the world for now!) and that freedom of speech is still an issue, but that there isn't a country anywhere that has freedom of speech in a dictatorship, and that many Chinese believe that they already love in a democracy.
- that China has the highest suicide rating in the world, down to high pressure to 'succeed' and also the idea that if you talk about your problems you lose 'face' so people bottle things up until, well, until they don't. Train jumping is the most common method.
- that jet lag is not what I expected.
- that I can only change money at the Bank of China, but that the mall across the road has a working ATM (not to mention H&M and carrefoure)
- that despite being the foreigner, and people looked, they did so cautiously , not wanting to offend. Unlike in Egypt where you are lucky if all they do is stare! Often in shops they would approach me assuming I spoke Chinese. I wish I did.
- that I won't starve just because I have to use chopsticks
- that there is a large group of Australian nurses staying at the same hotel... So may have to befriend them at some point
- that salted peach slices actually are super spicy (and rather nice!)
Now off to explore some more....