Maria Holland

I Have Come Back, But Have Not Yet Gone Back

In Uncategorized on July 9, 2010 at 10:33 pm

This morning looked brighter, but it was a gray, drizzly brightness.  We returned to West Lake anyway (this time finally getting the buses right!), where we found a nice sheltered tea shop to take pictures from.

We waited for the fountain show to start – it was nice, but would have been beautiful if there had been some blue background to contrast with the white spouts of water.


But again, the pagodas were nice.

Matt - 1951

We got back to the hotel in time to check out, then sat on their comfy couches (way better than our beds were!) and availed ourselves of their wireless internet as we traded pictures.  We got to see the outcome of The Decision only a few hours after it happened – which was good, because I couldn’t handle the suspense anymore.  Just kidding, everyone!  I may have gone bat-crazy over the World Cup but I’m still me!! 

I guess it’s a little strange that I was even aware a person named LeBron James existed, that he played basketball in Cleveland, and that he was deciding which city to go to next, but that’s a testament to China’s (okay, 哲明’s) NBA-fever and my diligent reading of even the sports articles in the Onion.  Back at TU, I have friends who follow professional football and baseball, and college football and basketball – plus even a single soccer fan – so I am often involuntarily updated on the goings-on in these sports.  No one I know in America, though, cares about professional basketball, so I am completely clueless.  They’re crazy about it here, so I’m finally getting involuntarily educated on the NBA.  Did you know that the Lakers used to be in Minnesota?  Or that Oklahoma has a basketball team?  I didn’t, but now I do.  (Although I still can’t remember if the OK team is the Thunder of the Lightning, because I have a tendency to confuse 闪 and 雷.  But still, this is progress!) 

For lunch, we walked over to the Subway shop that we had discovered last night in our desperate wandering.  It seemed like the perfect meal to eat for lunch and carry to the airport for dinner – and mine was.  I had a fabulous Italian BMT and a warm chocolate cookie that tasted just like the subs I remember.

Matt wasn’t so lucky.  He opted for the meatball marinara sandwich, which I ordered for him.  I was a little confused with the worker triple-checked that he didn’t want any sauces on his sub, but thought it was just the Chinese tendency to use mayonnaise in places where mayonnaise has no business being used.  But then he opened his sandwhich to see three tired pieces of white cheese and five lonely meatballs, and we realized something had gone wrong. 

I went back up to the counter with the sandwich, pointed to the picture, and asked what had happened to the marinara.  As luck would have it, they knew every sandwich-related word in English except marinara, even though it was on the menu.  The pointed to sauces randomly, saying their names in Chinese, until I heard something that sounded kind of familiar.  So they squirted the “tomato sauce” on the bread, completely drenching it in plain ketchup.  I wiped that off with a napkin and tried again, this time getting a squiggle of clear jelly-like sauce with flecks of hot pepper in it. 

You should have seen this sandwich; it was pretty much the saddest-looking thing ever.  Finally, one of the employees said, “I know, I know!”.  He went into the back, rummaged around for a few minutes, and brought out a small container of marinara sauce!  They were going to dump it on the sandwich but somehow I managed the impossible and got them to make us a new one.  For free.  (Note: This does not happen in China, where the customer is not always right.  It’s more like the customer is barely tolerated.  Once, a restaurant gave us the wrong dishes and made us pay for both what we ordered and what they brought us!

Apparently the sandwich tasted like curry.  Still, it was probably better than mayonnaise, right?

We took the BRT to the train station, where I tried to put Matt on a train back to Shanghai.  We were there before 3, but somehow there were no tickets available before 9 that night!  A guy approached us offering bus tickets, so we went with him until he handed us a ticket with the price (54 kuai) clearly printed on it and demanded 100 kuai.  I yelled at him and turned him down on principle, and ended up getting Matt on a slightly longer ride for only 65 kuai. 

I was really surprised by all of this.  Except for the Spring Migration around the Chinese New Year, I’ve never seen tickets sold out.  I always get on the next train or bus, so I never worry about buying tickets early.  But the Expo is like a cancer – while the damage is centered in Shanghai, it affects the surrounding area as well.  I purposefully chose to meet Matt in Hangzhou and Suzhou because I didn’t want to go anywhere near Shanghai during this 6-month period – but apparently Hangzhou and Suzhou weren’t far enough. 

I had a long wait for my shuttle to the airport, but had no problems on the flight home.  It was good to be home – getting to sleep in my own hard bed instead of a strange hard bed.  But the warm fuzzy feeling disappeared kind of quickly as the giant kamikaze cicadas starting ramming into my balcony door and screaming as they lay helpless on their backs.  They absolutely terrify me; even in death the dozen or so carcasses make me unable to enter my balcony.  Ah yes, I am home. 

It’s weird, though, because it’s my last time returning to this home, returning to Xiamen.  The next time I return somewhere, it will be the United States.  I’ll return to my parents’ home in Minnesota, and a few weeks later I’ll return to TU.  But for 11 more days, this is home. 

As I wrote on my QQ profile: 回来了,还没回去.  I have come back, but have not yet gone back.

  1. Beautiful – I loved this blog. You are a gifted writer, and a very thoughtful young lady. I am very proud of you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: