Tuesday, January 28, 2014

meeting the family: day one.

I woke up Sunday morning at 5:30 and I'd only slept for a little bit less than 4 hours because of course, we hadn't started packing until 11pm or so. And so... we left around 7ish. 7:15 maybe? And we got a cab and drove to the train station and the train station really wasn't that bad, although, woah, you have not seen a lot of people until you've been in a train station in China during Chinese New Year (aka Spring Festival).

This does not do the amount of people justice, AT ALL. Inside was SO crowded, standing squished room only.

The only thing that kind of sucked was the bathroom, but I'm gonna consider it a win, because there was a toilet. It was dirty. There was poop on the floor and what may have been poop on the seat, but maybe that was only dirt from people squatting on the toilet, because that happens sometimes. But hey! there was a toilet, so, WIN!

Ignore the bags under my eyes. Remember, less than 4 hours of sleep.

And then we got on the train. Our seats were pretty good; there was lots of room. And then Tony said three words that are the best words ever to hear: "There's a toilet." So that was good; I didn't have to worry about holding my bladder for more than four hours.

When we got to the train station in Henan, we were supposed to take a cab to the bus station, but all of these private cab owners came over and were talking to Tony (In Chinese, of course. I was the only white person. From that day, that morning when we left at 7:15, since then, I have not seen another white person. I just realized that. No big deal, though, I'm used to it, being the minority. Maybe not this much, but it's okay). So, all of these private cab owners were coming over and usually Tony is like, No! No! No! and he was saying that this time (once again, all in Chinese), but then all of a sudden he starts haggling with a guy, trying to settle on a price. And the guy says, 400! And Tony says, No! No! 200. And I'm like, Woah! Because I think we're just trying to get a cab to the city center, to take a bus another three hours to his home town, Gushi (pronounced "goose"), so I'm like, 200?! Tai gui le! (Too expensive!) But Tony tells me, No, no. He will take us to Gushi. Okay then. Agreed. We go. But this driver is still trying to find other people to go. And I think, Oh my God. I thought it was just us; how many other people is he going to get? Finally, he finds an older woman, maybe 40, who's also going to Gushi. The three of us follow him to his cab and get in with all our luggage. And then he's still trying to find ANOTHER PERSON. So we're all yelling at him, No! We won't all fit! Come on, buddy! We all agree to pay him another 30RMB each and we're on our way.

Driving from the train station to Tony's hometown... oh my word! I thought driving in Beijing was bad! Now the traffic, as in number of vehicles, wasn't as bad as Beijng, but people were driving EVERYWHERE! Even though there was a double yellow line, cars were criss-crossing the lanes. 100km an hour, we're in the opposite lane, literally driving straight into oncoming traffic. This bus is coming right at us, we're headed right for it, we're in their lane, and then at the last second, we'd swerve back into our own lane. Nobody seemed nervous. Nobody batted an eye, not even me. It's so funny, the things you get used to so quickly.

Two and a half hours later, we get to his hometown. And I'm all, Oh my word, this is definitely not Beijing anymore. Tony points and says, there's where I live. But I don't see a home. We walked down a little alley and I have to admit, we had to pause for a minute so I could have a brief freakout because there was so much dust and dirt everywhere. Tony was saying, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. And I was saying, No, I'M sorry! It was okay, though. The dust and dirt everywhere is because the buildings are still under construction. They didn't look that nice, but then we walked into his apartment and I was like, Holy moly! Tony was worried I'd be disappointed, but it's beautiful! The chandelier in the living room! The beautiful wood coffee table! Obviously, things are "Chinese-y" as I would say, like pink and red bedding, pink curtains, and "Best wishes to you!" are written on the closet doors in English and Chinese. So yes, it's "Chinese-y," but it's really beautiful.

Tony had told me his apartment would be cold, that I'd have to wear my coat indoors, but I didn't believe him. So far, I haven't worn my coat, but I have been wearing two sweaters, and those of you know me, know that means it's cold. I'm used to it now, and actually feel pretty cozy.

His family is super nice (as I imagined they would be). His mom grabbed my feet and put socks and slippers on them because she was worried that I must be too cold. I tried to explain that I hate socks, but... I'm wearing socks even as I write this.

We went out to dinner with his father, mother, brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew, and his cousin and her husband came. It was one of the best meals I've ever had in China. Definitely in the top 5. My two favourite dishes were a hard crispy rice dish with mushrooms and chicken, and fish coated with egg. I should have taken pictures but I didn't.

His niece is the only one who can understand me most of the time, so she repeats what I said to whoever I was trying to talk to and then they say, "Ohhhh!" and respond, at which point Tony translates for me, haha.

1 comment:

  1. I can so relate to a few things... the loud "shouty" talking, the only having a person or two that you can understand and that translates for you... but for me it's the Greek gatherings not Chinese :)


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