I was a little late leaving for Mass today, so I ended up taking the subway halfway there and a taxi the rest of the way. But seriously, taxi driver conversations are some of the best conversations. I hailed the cab using the 快的 app, and meeting up with him took a few extended phone conversations. He was patient, though, and when I got in the cab he said he could tell I was a foreigner so he spoke slower and more standard. Good man, there. In further conversations about China and California, he told me that Beijing people are more easily satisfied and so less likely to go abroad in search of a fortune; this is why most of the Chinese people outside of China are southerners.
I got to church in plenty of time. It was over 90 degrees, humid, and AQI over 200, so I just didn’t feel well. Had a hard time staying alert/awake/upright during Mass.
I was supposed to meet some Stanford people for lunch, but those plans fell through. I was not sad at all to return immediately to my air conditioned hotel room!
On the way back, I had a funny experience. I bought some food on the street and as I waited for it, a woman standing there kept staring at me. Eventually she got up the courage to speak to me, and told me that I was beautiful.
It was very sweet; I used to get told I was beautiful in Xiamen a lot but not so much in Beijing (or in the US, haha). I just thought it was odd because I was wearing a face mask. My dress was pretty, yes, but all she could see of my face was my eyes. It reminded me of the time my dad told my mom that she would look good in a burqa.
It was also funny because a little girl ran up to this woman, took one look at me, and hid behind her. Later on in the subway, a little girl saw me, pointed, and looked scared. I certainly don’t feel beautiful in a mask – I feel scary.
I took a nap, and was woken up by a phone call in Chinese. This is the best test of one’s language skills . . . and I failed. It was my best friend XuLei, and I had to ask her who it was.
She was calling to talk about my travel plans after Beijing. We had made plans for me to visit her home in Wuhan, then go back to Xiamen before flying back to the US, via Beijing. But things had changed on both of our ends – I wasn’t going to have a chance to get to Jilin during the 8 weeks, so I have to go during my travel time at the end, and her family is busy during the days I’d originally planned to be in Wuhan.
Basically, I have 12.5 days to visit Wuhan, Xiamen, and Jilin. Taking America as an analogy, I’m in Washington DC and I have to visit Nashville, Miami, and Maine. We went through about every permutation before setting on an itinerary of Beijing-Xiamen-Wuhan-Changchun-Hunchun-Changchun-Beijing-San Francisco. XuLei’s getting us tickets from Xiamen to Wuhan together, but I have to get the other flight and several train tickets myself. Every time I go to Jilin, I realize how far in the middle of nowhere I lived. (To be more accurate, it’s really on the edge of nowhere – right on the Russian and North Korean borders.) Even on the new fast train, Changchun is over 6 hours from Beijing, which gets me within 6 hours of Hunchun. Some combination of trains and buses and taxis has to get me the rest of the way. Yay logistics? I am really excited about the destinations, though, so it’s worth it.
For dinner, I joined my Romanian coteacher and some friends of his for dinner. There’s a Pakistani place with an all-you-can-eat special to break the fast during Ramadan. The food was so good!
I ate way too much and do not regret it at all. This was also my first time using a fork this time in China!