Maria Holland

The Sun Also Sets in the East

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2009 at 10:10 pm

In class today, we learned how to say “Open Door Reform”.  This is the reform started by Deng Xiaoping in 1978 that opened China to trade with the rest of the world, began the transition from a command to a market economy, etc.  My teacher attempted to describe it by saying “Before the reform, there was no McDonald’s or KFC.  After the reform, we have McDonald’s and KFC.”  Whether or not these were just the easiest results to point out, her choice of examples made me sad.  At the same time, it’s not like she could use “freedom of speech” or “freedom of the press” as examples, so maybe they were an apt choice. 

Yesterday during my imprisonment in hell (also know as 听力 class), I caught a glimpse of an amazing sunset out the classroom window.  This motivated me to visit the beach this evening.  Considering I live on an island, with a beach 5 minutes away on foot, I have not become a beach bum.  In fact, this was my 3rd time walking on sand since I came to Xiamen . . . !

After this evening, though, I think that needs to change.  The weather was beautiful – pleasantly cool with a strong breeze, perfect to enjoy in shorts and a long-sleeved shirt.  I walked along the beach barefoot and even got in the water up to my knees or so. 

I wasn’t the only one who thought the scene was idyllic.  There were quite a few people out there, including at least 7 couples (I counted) getting wedding pictures taken.  I love wedding pictures, so this was quite alright with me.

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In addition to the glowing brides, there was a brilliant sunset to watch. 

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Once the sun had set, the lights of the city came on.  In Xiamen, the highways are smooth white and illuminated by strips of white lights at night, and are perhaps my favorite part of the city.

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I didn’t feel like going back quite yet, so I caught a random bus from the nearby stop.  I rode it past ZhongShan Lu and got off at a place that looked promising in terms of food.  I had beef noodles for dinner, which were almost as good as Taiwan’s.  On the street, I grabbed a 鸡蛋汉堡, or “egg hamburger”.  To those who say eggs aren’t safe to eat in China, I say “A life without eggs is a life not worth living.”  I also had an enormous cup of honey milk tea, which was quite possibly the most delicious thing that I have ever drunk.  Could it really be as easy as adding milk and honey to tea?  If so, I may be able to survive the transition back to America. 

I bought a few DVD’s from a guy on the street (NUMB3RS and a Chinese movie, Founding of a Republic) and then hung around for awhile trying (and failing) to make sense of the card game he was playing with some other men.  While I was standing there, I got a phone call from someone in the environmental club asking me to be their translator.  Flattered, really, but I’m hoping to find someone more qualified than me. 

I had some varied experiences with Chinese today.  The woman who sat next to me at dinner was clearly certain that I didn’t know a single word of Mandarin, as she went out of her way to get chopsticks from another table instead of asking me for a pair.  The employee at the camping supply store nearly had a heart attack when I responded to her in Chinese, saying “什么?” (what?).  And the DVD salesman didn’t bat an eye when I began questioning him about his product, just offered his own opinions on the various options I was considering.  Sometimes I feel invisible, sometimes like a freak, sometimes a genius, and then there are a few people who don’t seem to notice that I’m not Chinese.  All in one day . . .

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  1. I share your sentiment regarding what is one of our more visible exports (McD’s, KFC and others). What I find more disturbing is the proliferation of many of our “reality” TV shows, either captioned or dubbed into the local language of many countries I visit. More commonly I see them in Europe, but have also seen them in some Asian markets. It’s embarrassing to see this side of US culture presented (MTV). You can imagine my horror when I saw an old rerun of “Dukes of Hazard” playing on a layover in Germany:-) Yikes!

    • I haven’t seen any reality TV shows, but the DVD salesmen on the street try to sell me American series all the time. Most of them are ones I don’t watch because I believe they have no value . . . it’s sad.

      Our other main export right now: Obama. For real! You can buy any number of books by him or about him, and even audio resources to help you talk like him.

      • It’s funny you mentioned the Obama phenomenon. In Cologne, Germany I had a guy who claimed to be from some part of Afghanistan, ask me for an Obama t-shirt. He said if I could supply them we could go into business. The guy was practically in tears expressing his love for Obama. He has certainly struck a chord with many from the not so developed world. Maybe I need to buy some of those tapes you mentioned:-)I could be somebody.

  2. BTW, I’ve been enjoying the running Chinese language lessons. I really had no idea how the language was structured. I may not be ready for a practical exam, but I know a lot more than I did. Thanks!

  3. Maria, just want you to know how much I do enjoy your blogs. I send some of them to my friend, Marcia. She doesn’t know how to get ’em herself. Grandpa

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