Hello again, intrepid readers! So I’ve been here in China since Thursday and, today being Sunday, I’ve survived my first weekend. I must be honest, there were times when I was not sure I would…and all these times took place in taxi cabs.
Friday afternoon, I rode in my first Chengdu taxi with the director of my school and a fifth grade teacher. We were heading to The Beer Nest to meet up with some other soon-to-be coworkers. Nice, expat sounding place with happy hour deals. Really, how can anyone say no? Taxis here are quite easy to find. They are all green. And if you can see Chinese characters scrolling across the top, the cab is ready for you to flag it down and bumble your way through some directions. (Actually, I don’t really need to do that; the school gave us these nice Taxi Books that have the location of many attractions written in Chinese. But that is not a part of this story.) So, a cab was hailed, I hopped in the back seat, and immediately started praying.
An Aside: Taxi drivers–better yet–Traffic in Chengdu is unlike anything I have seen in the states. There are lines on the road designating lanes, but for the life of me, I don’t know why. Drivers regularly straddle the lanes or swerve from one to another without warning. Oh, you’re a kind individual who puts his blinker on and waits? You won’t get very far doing that. But you will have a lot of cars flying by you, honking, and not letting you over. There are also many individuals on bike and motorbikes here. With how insane the drivers are, I’m amazed I have only seen one biker wearing a helmet. In all this chaos, though, no one seems to really have road rage. The honking just means “I’m coming through” and “watch out” and even after being here a few days, you learn not to take it personally. It’s also not the loud, long horn of someone who is angry at you. It’s just another car announcing its presence.
Despite the traffic and the…driving, we did make it safely to the Beer Nest where we drank, encountered the nearby squatty potties (they don’t smell great, but otherwise, really are not a big deal), and had delicious dumplings for dinner. A small highlight for me was when the song Papaoutai came on over the speakers. All in all, a great first happy hour with coworkers!
These dumplings were delicious. And there were plenty to go around. —>
This weekend, I’ve just been settling in, hailing cabs to dash off to IKEA, Carrefour, and Galleria. I was at Galleria today when a young Chinese man approached me and asked me if I was British. I told him that I was from the USA and immediately got a broad smile. He started rambling on about how much he loved the NBA, Michael Jordan, and Barack Obama. Then came his questions: How do you feel about the president? Do you know any black people? (Okay, that one gave me pause…) Have you ever heard of (insert famous Chinese basketball player here)? I tried to be as diplomatic as possible with my answers. He just seemed very interested in America and it was a rather fun conversation.
Okay, I’m turning in now, hoping I won’t wake up at 2am like I have been doing every night thus far. Tomorrow I’m meeting up with Queenie (who works in the office at our school) and another teacher to go and have our medical tests done to apply for resident status.
Also, tomorrow, back in the USA, my little sister goes off to college! I can’t believe how time flies by! Good luck moving in, Meghan!
I leave you tonight with the great song Papaoutai: