The solo adventure!
Today I went on a solo adventure! That’s right my friends, John let me wander the streets of Yueyang by myself! Ok… so I didn’t really wander the streets… but I did go out all by myself!
Step 1 – the bus. This was the least daunting since John and I ride the bus frequently. However, a police officer did sit next to me on the way there, which was unnerving since the police called our employers yesterday to ask us to turn in copies of our passports and visas to register with them. Nothing happened, and the bus ride was enjoyable. Chinese people even sat next to me instead of staring at me because I’m a foreigner!
Step 2 – buying food at Wal-mart. After a phone call to my concerned husband to assure him I was safe, I stepped into Wal-mart to buy food to last us through the weekend. I decided to be a bit adventurous and bring home some of the pre-made Chinese food they offered. This required interacting with non-English speakers, but pointing and gesturing along with Chinese thank-yous (one of the few words I do know!) worked just fine and I was able to bring some noodles home to John. I also wound up having to try to communicate with one of the employees who was stocking bananas, but this too was easily done through body language.
Step 3 – buying milk tea from a local vendor. Feeling emboldened by my success in Wal-mart, I decided to try some milk tea (also known as bubble tea) to from a little shop on the street corner near Wal-mart that I’ve been eyeing for a few days. I scouted out the picture ads while walking up so that I could point to what I wanted. Surprisingly though, the girl behind the counter spoke English quite well! I ordered something strawberry and cold. It was delicious! And surprisingly easy. The Chinese are typically quite friendly if you try to interact and engage with them!
Step 4 – buying pastries from the local bakery. John and I have wanted to buy food from the many shops near our “ghetto fabulous” (seriously, it’s a fabulously nice apartment in the ghetto… I can’t think of a better use for the term!) apartment, but we have been nervous because we don’t speak Chinese. I decided that it was time to brave attempting to buy pastries/bread at the bakery though. Enough is enough, and I don’t want to seem like I’m intentionally ignoring the local businesses or like I’m too good for them. (The local people do talk a lot! I know everyone around here knows that we moved in. And when we leave and come back.) So I went to the bakery and pointed to what I wanted and how many of them I wanted. The man behind the counter gave me my food then held up 5 fingers to tell me that it was 5 yuan (two sweet corn muffins and two butter croissants for less than $1USD!). All in all, a pleasant experience! And I know I made his day because he ran off to another vendor as soon as I left. I hope the people know that I want to try… I just don’t speak Chinese. I think they do know… I talked to some of them on the walk home from the bakery. After saying hello, I told them “I don’t understand” in Chinese. They corrected my pronunciation, but at least they understood what I meant! It’s progress!