The Last of Chengdu

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December 11th 2010
Published: December 11th 2010
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Prec StevePrec StevePrec Steve

The hostel's new puppy, cost 2 kuai.
Saturday, December 4th:

Maria, Audrey, and I took the bus to Chunxi Lu. When we got there, three little kids in school uniforms with Young Pioneer red scarves hailed us down. They were selling newspapers to raise money for poor children. Audrey and Maria each bought one, and then we took a picture with them. So, of course, everyone else on the street jumped in to take a picture of us as well.

We went to a panda store and the women's market so that Maria could buy the last of her gifts, then we went to the Donut Stop to eat and be merry and study for our Chinese finals on Monday. Maria and I practiced the speaking part of our test. Questions included: What do find the most interesting about China and why? Describe the seasons in your hometown. How do Chinese people celebrate the Spring Festival? These are just a few. I could here the clerks behind the counter repeating some of things we said and laughing. A business woman at the table next to us leaned over to help and to ask whether, in the West, seating a guest as far away from the door

last visit to the bamboo forest
as possible is important. I had never heard of that, but now that I think about it, maybe.

At 3:30 pm we met Show White and Jimmy at the West gate, and we all got back onto the 335 bus, which apparently goes to the hospital. We had not realized that. The bus got steadily more crowded until I was trapped in my seat and could not see my friends across the bus. Maria shouted through the crowd to me when it was time to get off, and I had to get up and let someone else sit down in order to find some standing room. It was worse that the Pio Express on a Friday night.

We went to visit Clare. Snow White and Jimmy brought a big bag of apples, oranges, and bananas. We all shared candy canes and gelt (sp?) that Clare's family brought from America. Adam and Maggie (the nurse/doctor who helped translate when Audrey and Clare were going from hospital to hospital) came to visit too. It was a party! But then Maria, Clare, and I had to leave to meet Mycal for dinner.

We had the best taxi driver on the way back to the dorm. He told us all about his son who goes to Sichuan University and studies computer technology. Then he talked to us about food for a while. It was the longest conversation I have ever had with a taxi driver in China. And he complimented my Chinese. 😊

We met Mycal and caught another taxi to an unknown hotpot restaurant to meet some students who are learning English. They are the same ones who came to our class at the beginning of the semester to introduce themselves. Of course they chose the swankiest, most expensive hotpot restaurant possible. It was called “Happy Hometown.” We ate some normal food: shrimp jiaozi, doufu pi, niu rou… Then we had pig intestine and brain. Not very good at all. Neither was the walnut milk. Too bitter. And we entertained each other, but the students were not the best company. Some of them did not want to talk to us at all, even in Chinese. The final total: 80 yuan each. 太贵了!

Sunday December 5th:

I worked on my essays a lot. Went to a pulled noodle restaurant that Kaia recommended next to Small North Gate. Audrey and I both got beef fried rice, which was delicious. Then we went to a shop next door that just sold Belgian waffles. We ordered a chocolate one to share.

Worked on my essays/ studying for Chinese some more. Then went to Adam’s seminar in the evening. The majority of the class was taken up by him performing a rap about our experience. He tried to get us to lay down a beat, but I think all of us were tired and needed to study, so we weren’t the most enthusiastic, although it was pretty funny. He also said something about counseling once we get home if the transition is difficult.

Practiced speaking with Maria in the evening.

Monday December 6th:

Class in the morning. We began lesson 4 in the new book. After class Maria, Audrey, and I went to Trustmart to stock up on little things. I bought lots of cute little notebooks, chopsticks, spices, pens… We went to KFC so that Audrey and I could get chicken sandwiches, then we walked across the street to McDonald’s so Maria could get a burger.

Maria and I studied for a couple hours, and then we went back to the school building to take our final. The first part was written, and not too difficult. The only thing I think I did poorly on was writing sentences in pinyin, only because I can never recall tones. Then our teacher sent us into the hall and gave us each a spoken test, separately. The hall is open to the air, so it was freezing, and boring, and of course I was last. There were four of us. She asked only four or five of the ten questions, and also asked some questions that weren’t on the list. She told me that I have been learning very quickly, so I think that bodes well for my score.

After the test, I did laundry. I am so looking forward to having a dryer again! I also started packing. Clare and her parents were in the dorm to work on her packing. When they were done, we took them to jiaozi next to the sports center. Maria, Clare, and her parents took a taxi. Audrey and I took a rickshaw that was conveniently parked next to the east gate. The bike was electric and the seat had a big velvet hood over the back that looked like a baby carriage.

The jiaozi restaurant was very busy, so we had to sit at the table in the very front that they usually use for making the jiaozi. So there was a plate of raw meat on the window ledge in front of us, which freaked out Clare’s parents a little. I had pork and potato dumplings, and egg and chive dumplings. They were both very good, especially with the sauce I mixed.

We walked back to the dorm, stopping for snacks along the way. I had some miniature pork baozi, a banana, a strawberry covered in hardened sugar, and a magnum ice cream bar. I continued to pack.

Tuesday December 7:

Chinese class in the morning, of course. After class Audrey and I walked to the track to meet Lizzy, the girl who ran after me on the track to ask me to edit her personal statement. She insisted on giving me a gift. She spread out paper on the bleachers for us to sit on so we would not get dirty. She gave me two bags of tea and a small painting she bought in Chongqing. I gave her a Seattle postcard… I didn’t have anything else. It was very sweet. She had an appointment with a mail courier (?) to send her application materials, so the meeting was not very long.

Audrey had a presentation in the afternoon, so I worked on my papers in my room and waited for her to finish. In the afternoon we took a taxi to meet Maria, Clare, and Clare’s parents for mian man. Our last time! There was no beef, so we had pork noodles. Still delicious. Mian man was not there at first, so his mother started our meal. But he arrived soon on his bike with groceries. They were very excited that Clare had brought her parents. Mary and Peter stood up to take pictures and look at how the jiaozi and noodles were made. People outside laughed at us.

Mian man insisted on our meal being free. He said that it was his treat, because we are his friends. I didn’t want to let him, but he would not take any money. Clare’s parents said that when he comes to the US, they will take him to dinner. We took a group picture. Then we hugged him and his mother goodbye. Hugging Chinese people is kind of awkward. They don’t hug very often in China, so they all hug very softly. Maria cried a little bit. We crossed the street to the hostel.

At the hostel we played with their new puppy for a long time. It is so cute!!! The security guard bought it for 2 kuai. It looks a little like a lab puppy, but more like a mutt. Clare named him “prec Steve.” The two new kittens were playing on another guest’s lap while he used his computer. We talked for a long time. Clare and her parents left, then we had hot chocolate. And then we said goodbye to Murphy, which was also sad. She is going to quit working at the hostel now that we are leaving and find a different job. I guess she did not like the hostel very much.

We took the subway and walked back to the dorm. Then we watched the new Robin Hood and the Disney version of Robin Hood, which was perfect because they match up time-wise.

December 8 Wednesday:

After class, Audrey and I put her giant red bag on my bike and rolled it to the pharmacy to weigh it. You would think that this would draw a lot of stares, but we received no more than usual. Chinese people often lug strange things around. The bag was pretty well underweight, but she still had things to add to it. I left my bike with the key in the lock at the pharmacy (Be free!) and we carried the bag back, each holding a handle.

When we got back Clare and her parents were there again, packing more stuff. Audrey, Maria, Scott and I walked to South gate to have our hair done. On the way Scott grabbed my bike, from the pharmacy, and we took it and parked it at the south gate. Maria’s hairdresser was not there. His Chinese name is Little Soldier. Her hairdresser told her “Little Soldier is not here.” Someone else says, “But Big Soldier is.” I think she was joking. After they washed my hair, I had it straightened by blow dryer. It was very soft afterward!

We stopped at Anderson’s Bakery to use up our gift cards and pink shirt man, who was not wearing pink, but a very feminine light aqua. He makes crispy crepe-ish raps with egg and crunchy stuff and seasoning. It is difficult to describe, but delicious. While we were sitting eating them an old man came over to say hello. He had only one, very loose tooth left. It looked very long, and dangling, and was distracting. He spoke a wonderful mix of Chinese and English. I loved it. Before every question he said “Qingwen,” which translates to “May I ask.” He knew a lot about America. He knew about Harvard and Duke and that Boeing is based in Washington. He seemed smart. He said “美国人比中国人happier. 因为美国人有。。。“And then he rubbed his fingers together to represent money. But we disagreed. Not all Americans have a lot of money.

We had hotpot with Clare, her parents, and Snow White for dinner. It was delicious, because we ordered all of our favorite things. Snow White gave us all gifts, which was very sweet of her. I wish I had brought something from America to hand out.

We had Adam’s class in the evening. We took two surveys for PLU about our experience studying abroad and the Tibet class. We also turned in our Tibet textbook chapters. No rapping. Ben passed out bread and nutella. Jhanica brought the rest of Kristiana’s maotai, but I did not partake in that.

December 9 Thursday:

I slept in rather than go to class. I needed to catch up! Maria and I went to the bamboo park for one last cup of tea. I had chrysanthemum tea of course. We sat for a while. I studied Chinese and she read fan fictions on her i-pod touch. I also attempted to translate a bit of a comic book she had purchased a few days early. The first couple of pages featured a group of men arguing over boxers vs. briefs.

We went back to Kaia’s noodle restaurant and sat down. For a long time no one came over to ask us what we wanted, so we called them. They did not answer. They looked over, and looked back. So Maria and I left. We did not understand the problem. As we left we heard one of the women yelling. Don’t really know what she said, but I think she was yelling at the waiters for not noticing us… Anyway, we went to Mima’s and ordered sweet and sour chicken, potato slivers, and kungpao chicken fried rice, and it was delicious.

I studied for my Culture and Society exam, then went to take it at four o’clock. It was not difficult at all. It only took about twenty minutes.

Clare, Audrey, Maria and I met Snow White at the East gate and we took a bus to Chunxi Lu to go to the Haagen-Daaz restaurant. We ordered ice cream hotpot. This has a chocolate dipping sauce, fruit, balls of ice cream, and a variety of cookies. I guess that is actually just fondue, but it was sooo good! Perfect way to end our time in Chengdu.

We said goodbye to Snow White outside of the restaurant because she had a meeting to go to. I thought Audrey was going to cry, but she didn’t. We danced and sang carols back to the bus stop. Chunxi Lu is all dressed up for Christmas!

We then went to Hooters with Cara and Scott. Everyone ordered mozzarella sticks but Maria, which was kind of funny. They were good. The Hooters girls danced and all of the creepy old men, Chinese and Westerners, watched them.

We went back to the dorm and Clare, Audrey and I took big bags of stuff we do not need anymore to the trash heap. Not to throw away, but because we know that people will look through them and take the stuff they want. I am not aware of any Chinese Goodwills, so that was our best option.

A group of us went to Mooneys, the bar at the Shangrila, around ten forty. We sat outside and chatted. It was too cold though, so after only an hour Clare said goodbye to Cara, Scott, Mycal, Kaia and Joanna and we walked her back to her hotel. We sat in her room talking for a long time. And then Maria, Audrey, and I all said goodbye. I will see Clare in a little over a month, so I was sad, but not too sad. We got back to the dorm around two am. I finished packing, took a shower, and fell asleep.

Thursday, December 10:

Two hours later my alarm clock rang. Four-fifteen in the morning. Up and at ‘em. Sara(h) was awake. She had not gone to sleep yet. She did not come to Shanghai with us though because the English consulate in Beijing still had her passport.

We met everyone in the lobby with our luggage, and I turned my key in at the counter. A fuwuyuan strip-searched my room. She found a blue ink scribble on my duvet cover, a stain on my pillow, and a missing water pitcher. So I owed the dorm 110 kuai. They fined us to pay for the construction of a new dorm, I suppose. After we leave, of course. The missing water pitcher was Scott’s fault. He broke his so I gave him one of ours. But he paid me back, so I only lost 70 kuai. No big deal.

Around 5:30, when everyone had checked out, we hugged everyone who came down to see us off: Maria, Scott, Sara(h), Ryan… Then we loaded into vans and drove to the airport. We checked in, checked luggage, boarded the plane, and said goodbye to Chengdu.

Goodbye Chengdu! I will miss you!


11th December 2010

I could feel your sadness in leaving, but it's not goodbye, it's see you another time. : ) I am looking forward to seeing you very soon. Love you LOTS!!

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