The day after I got settled in Jen and I went out into the city for most of the day and walked around, not really doing much, just enjoying each other’s company. The initial awkwardness of meeting again after a while apart had faded away quickly and we had a wonderful time. I had forgotten how much I liked China’s public transportation. Buses, taxis, trains, I never had the chance to ride any of that in my small town. It’s so efficient! On the way home some little kid ran up to me shouting “Hello Harry Potter! Harry Potter, hello!” -_- Not sure how I feel about being compared to Harry Potter but whatever. I can think of worse names to be called. When we got home Jen’s dad was cooking some kind of pressed rice cakes. There were three different kinds. One was fried and not that great tasting. It had the texture of dried out grits. Bleh. Another was blackened and had a mild sweet taste to it while the other was dark orange and tasted kind of like pumpkin pie. Now I assumed it was rice but as you’ll learn if you go to China, sometimes it’s just best not to ask too many questions about what it is that you’re eating. After dinner we left early to get a spot along the river to see the fireworks show. There were people EVERYWHERE!!!!! They kind of used me as a battering ram to get through the crowd so we could get right by the water. Me and this guy who apparently worked for the Guangzhou newspaper or something were competing for the best shots of the fireworks. Every time I would lean out over the railing to take a good picture he would shout at me in Chinese, saying I was blocking his shot. When the show was over we compared pictures. He had this thousand dollar camera but had the same quality pictures as me with my $200 model. That was money well spent! Then we fought the crowds to get home and everyone started turning in for the night. For the first few days it was pretty cold, around 50 degrees Fahrenheit after the sun goes down. What is that? Like 10 degrees Celsius? Anyway, it was cold. Especially when you’re trying to use an outdoor shower with ridiculously low water pressure. I thought it was supposed to be hot all the time in the jungle!
The next day we got up late at around 10am and went to breakfast at this classy dim sum restaurant that I had been to last time. Jen’s parents took a sadistic pleasure in sending me to the food bar on my own. I had no idea what I was getting! I purposely grabbed the weirdest looking things I could find for them. So guess what I stumbled across? De-boned chicken feet. I thought regular chicken feet looked gross but this stuff looks like a partially petrified jellyfish that a sick dragon sneezed all over.
It just looks plain terrible. So I got it for Jen’s mom but little did I know that de-boned chicken feet are her favorite food. She scarfed em’ down in the blink of an eye. So my plan didn’t have the effect I was looking for but just as well I suppose. We finished breakfast and went to one of the several public parks in the area. It was really nice. Some guys were playing tennis when the ball went flying over the fence and they asked me in English to toss it back to them. I did and they asked me where I was from. “America,” I said. “Ohhhh. U S A!” and he gave the ol’ thumbs up. See? Chinese people aren’t so bad. We stopped by a small carnival where I bought tokens for everyone. Jen somehow managed to drag me onto a Swinger ride. If you don’t know what that is, it’s the ride where the swings spin really high and fast from a bunch of rusty chains. I already have a fear of heights (And sharks. And bears) and the prospect of riding on a suspiciously rickety attraction in China was not very appealing to me. After I survived that I went to play some of the games where I absolutely stomped these people. There was this one game where you shoot balloons with a bb gun. Now, it wasn’t my intention to live up to the stereotype of the trigger happy American but I massacred those balloons. They never saw it coming. I took my prize and left the small group of young boys wondering why they sucked so bad. Then we went to eat AGAIN at this nice teahouse. Nice environment and as usual a very attentive server/waitress. And I don’t think me being a foreigner had anything to do with it.
The next day on the 6th we took a bus to Zengcheng to visit Jen’s aunt. If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll remember Zengcheng. It’s about an hour outside of Guangzhou. Aside from the trash everywhere it was a nice little city. We arrived before noon and took some motorcycle taxis from the bus stop to the aunt’s house. That was a terrifying experience. I was carrying all these bags of stuff and had to hold on to the guy driving in the least gay way possible I could without falling off the bike. First time I ever rode bitch on a motorcycle. So many first experiences in China! When we got to the house the aunt and her teenage son and daughter (two kids? GASP!) were busy trying to prepare lunch. When word got around that Jen was bringing her laowai boyfriend everyone in town pretty much invited themselves to the cookout. I felt kinda bad about it so I offered to help with preparations a few times and was denied each time. I just wanna help! :-( Lunch was fun and the people were great. Trying to speak in broken Cantonese is a sure fire way to break the ice. When people had gotten their look and everyone started to clear out Jen and I with some other people walked around the neighborhood. It was a rural area and would have been very beautiful if not for the garbage piled up everywhere.
That night we went into town and bought some fireworks. The aunt’s son was a little firebug. He would light a bottle rocket and throw it. No thought into whether it might hit somebody’s car or come shooting back in our direction. I just thought he was clinically insane until everyone else started getting in on the action and I’m pleased to report that I shot something big, a roman candle on steroids, while holding it. You always hear about people blowing their fingers off in the US. I wonder what the injury rate is in China. It has to unbelievably high.
That’s enough for now. Next time we’ll get into the hiking trip from HADES.