Maria Holland

玩得很累 (Tired from Having Fun)

In Uncategorized on May 4, 2010 at 1:51 am

Three-day weekends in China are not for sleeping in apparently.  (They’re not even definitely for fun; XuLei had class all day yesterday!)  I met up with her and three of her friends at 8; we grabbed breakfast and then took a succession of three buses to get out to HongYang’s home.  He lives in Chuangdong, a small (population 2,000) farming village in the ‘suburbs’ of Xiamen.  Interesting Chuangdong fact: everyone there has the last name Hong.  Interesting Chinese fact: There is a verb for “to have the last name of” or “to be surnamed”, and when I write things like the previous sentence in English, I find the lack of a similar verb extremely awkward. 

The village is nice, and probably more like your image of China than any other place I’ve been in this country.  There are narrow, mostly-dirt roads, chickens and geese wandering around, carrots out to dry on the paths, women gathered to clean and sort green onions, water buffalo being led around, etc. 

In true Minnan hospitality, our first task upon arriving was to drink tea.  The other three girls are from different parts of China – Hubei, Jilin, and Gansu – and none of them had ever seen a traditional Fujian tea set or drank tea served that way!  I find this hard to believe because I find myself being served tea this way approximately every 14 minutes – even though I hate tea.  XuLei attempted to serve the tea but kept getting corrected – so then I tried it and, based on my vast experience watching hosts serve the tea, basically did it perfectly. 

I was pleased with myself for doing it better than her (an actual Chinese!) but she got back at me throughout the day by twice using me as an example of a fat person.  “My dad had to carry my uncle – who is even fatter than Maria!”  “Xiao Han, look at Maria!  She’s fat too, but she doesn’t care about dieting!” 

After tea, the food began to arrive.  HongYang’s mother made 8 dishes, a ridiculous amount for the 5 of us, so we settled in for a marathon of eating.  There was a mysterious fish with pointy things coming out of its side (good with ginger), boiled shrimp (a classic), squid (best I’ve ever eaten), fried chicken legs (like KFC but so much better!), and ribs with cucumbers and tomato sauce (delicious).  The mysterious sweet-potato-noodle/oyster dish was only mediocre and I didn’t try the radish-and-pig-organ soup, but the rest was absolutely amazing. 

Lunchtime was quite interesting.  A wedding procession passed by outside at one point, proceeded by the insane sound of firecrackers.  Apparently traditional Minnan weddings involve the groom carrying the bride (her face covered in a red cloth) down the street from her home to the ceremony.  Poor guy was tired, but he made it!

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This inspired HongYang to find the DVD of another neighbor’s recent wedding, which we watched in entirety – from the making of pink and white tangyuan to the carrying of the bride to the ceremonial feeding-fried-chicken-to-the-bride to the part where friends painted a fu manchu on the groom’s face to the bobbing for money activity to the painfully awkward kissing on the bed while friends looked on.  What a riot.  One item on my Bucket List for this year is “go to a Chinese wedding” but I’m starting to wonder if I can give myself credit for the two wedding DVDs I’ve sat through?

Also, a neighbor woman brought over her one-year-old son.  We girls had fun fussing over him, and he had fun peeing on the floor.  I was actually surprisingly okay with that, but felt physically unwell when they didn’t clean it up afterwards and I saw him walk through the puddle.  Nonetheless, I accepted the opportunity to hold him and get a picture taken with a baby wearing split-bottom-pants. 

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Once we were stuffed, we went on a tour of the village.  Some of the most interesting things was the temples.  At first glance, they reminded me of South America’s churches because, even in a small village without much money, they were elaborately decorated. 

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But then a second glance revealed the old men lounging around watching the TV set prominently on the altar, and the banners on the wall listing names and amounts of money (possibly donations?), and I remembered that I was in China.

At the end of our walk, we ran into an uncle of HongYang, who offered to take us to see the new underwater tunnel that just opened up.  We girls squeezed into the back of his car and went to check it out.

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It’s a tunnel under the sea – not much to see, obviously.  It has cut down travel time from Xiamen to Xiangan significantly, though, meaning that after about 15 minutes we were on the other side of the tunnel and almost home.  But . . . we had left our bags at home before starting the tour, so we returned to get them and then began the two-hour journey home via public transit. 

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While waiting for one of our buses, I French-braided XuLei’s hair, which immediately piqued the interest of the others – none of whom know how to braid at all!  Doing hair is like the international language of girls (one I speak fluently), so after I did Xiao Han’s hair on the BRT, we’re basically besties. 

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I got home at nearly 8, absolutely exhausted from my extended weekend of fun.  I watched Back to the Future while eating mangos and painting two sets of Catan pieces with nail polish, which was most definitely a good use of my time.  I also did real stuff, like laundry and getting new sheets, so whatever. 

Class starts tomorrow, which means I can finally sleep in.  That sounds funny!

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  1. RE: baby in split bottom pants….now, that’s a picture for the scrap book! Do his parents put that on the picture table at high school graduation to embarass him? Seriously, as an experienced mother…I wonder if its easier to clean pee off the floor or to change a diaper???

    • It’s really really common over here; I see baby butts several times a day (even in the winter!!). Peeing on the floor of a house was a something I’d never seen before, but in China it’s acceptable for children to relieve themselves on the street – ANY street – up to age 6 or 7 (based on what I’ve seen). They don’t bother with diapers which may or may not be easier, but sure must save a lot of money!

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