Maria Holland

Memory Lane Is As Hazy As Any Other Street In China

In Uncategorized on April 7, 2010 at 10:41 pm

I should have had class this morning and this afternoon, but instead woke up leisurely in my incredibly plush bed.  There’s not even much guilt about missing classes; our teachers have this concept of 请假, or asking for vacation, where basically there seems to be no penalties as long as you let them know beforehand.  I texted my teachers to tell them that I had some friends visiting Guangzhou and I wanted to go see them, and their response was literally “Go without any worries!  I know it about it now, have a safe trip!”  Sweet; I plan to.

I met Pat and Eva downstairs for 西式早餐 (Western breakfast), which included some amazing croissants, the first sliced deli meat I’d seen in China, and the best bacon I’d had in over 7 months.  The rest of the guests at our hotel seem to be other families adopting Chinese kids, and we talked to another family over breakfast who happened to be from Minnesota, and adopting from Xiamen!  It’s interesting hanging out with the adopting crowd, which leaves one major species of ex-pat mostly unknown to me.  I’m familiar with the NGOs, the students, the backpackers, and the adoptive parents, but still haven’t had much contact with people who come to China to work.

There were no big plans for the day and the boys were still asleep, so we went up to my room and I let Eva use my computer.  We Skyped with Sheryl (my aunt and Eva’s friend) and Garret and she checked email while I read.  Pat had given me a book about volunteering in China and I skimmed that, reading stories about heroes of the earthquake relief effort in ‘08.  I do agree that it seems like China is finally developing a sense of volunteerism, but the presentation of the stories was quite ridiculous.  It made me think of an article I just read on the most commonly-used sentences in Chinese children’s essays; I guess after hearing so much propaganda it’s easy to come up with your own.  Wonderful examples include:

  • Today I picked up a dime on the ground, gave it to police uncle . . . I was indescribably happy . . . the police uncle praised me, I was so happy that I jumped three feet high
  • At that moment, uncle Lei Feng’s image appeared in my mind . . . I lifted up my favorite piggy bank, smashed it and donated all the coins to the children in disaster areas
  • All this made Chen Guangbiao a most endearing hero in the eyes of many people.
  • As food and potable water were in short supply, he was reluctant to even take a sip of water or a small share of bun for himself.

Not as bad as North Korean propaganda, but still a little sickening sweet after a few pages. 

Pat and Eva took Shan to the US Consulate this afternoon to take an oath, leaving Carson and I to our own devices.  I took him to get a haircut and a delightfully seedy barbershop, and it turned out better than I dared to hope.


We had lunch in a Chinese place near the hotel; it felt so good to use chopsticks again.  We had crazy delicious breaded garlic eggplant and 盐水鸭, which is unappetizingly translated as cold salty duck. 

When the others got back from the consulate, though, they were ready to eat dinner, so we headed out again.  I wanted to take them to the site of my parents’ favorite Guangzhou meal, so I had the driver take us to the church that it was near.  In my memory, the restaurant was dead ahead upon stepping out of the church, but in reality it was about a block down the street to the left.  Funny . . . I wonder how much my memories of Hunchun actually bear any resemblance to reality.

The exact directions might be a bit hazy, but the food was just as good as I remembered it.  They were out of duck but we got a full serving of the goose that disappeared from the plate pretty quickly.  Pat loved the spicy shrimp I ordered, Eva really liked the 红烧茄子 (broiled eggplant), and Shan declared the pork ribs in sauce his favorite – so I’d say the meal was generally a hit.


  1. Absolutely LOVE this title. I think it could be the title of my life …. especially my orienteering, hiking, driving around life! Glad you all are having a good time.

  2. Alex Burch was in that earthquake while he was on his study abroad.

    We’re getting scholarship news-Sally Meyers for Truman, Zach Winkler and Rachel Hoffmann for Goldwater, Erin Stranford and Kyle Klavetter for NSF (as well as Clara Seaman now at Notre Dame).

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