Sunday, December 5, 2010

The First Seven: 3

Day Three

This day started off great. Despite the fact that I used my extra days stateside to begin switching timezones, the little cuckoo clock in my head definitely still thought I lived in North America. I gave up trying to sleep anymore around 6:30, and went for a walk instead. Living right next to a beautiful ocean, I naturally decided to walk along the seaside toward a park with some spectacular rocks. A busier seaside you have never seen! Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but it is certainly not an exaggeration to say that you would NEVER see that many people out and about and exercising at 6:30 in the morning back in the States. The only people up that early are people that have to be. It is funny how Carrefour and the morning of day3 stand in contrast in my mind. If Carrefour was China shocking and imposing, this morning was China glowing and glittering, alive and beautiful. The sun was already well risen by 6:30, breaking through the clouds and haze to make the sea abreast of Qingdao a fair lady crowned with sparkling jewels. Men and women, old and young, were walking forwards or walking backwards or running quickly or doggedly running, or stretching or pacing or talking or waving or clapping or rubbing their hands. Multiple groups were doing Tai Chi as I came into the park on the hill, moving gently with the music that matched them. On the sudden rocks that lift sharply from the sea by the park, one man was stretching and performing forms―like something out of a movie. And last but not least, a man I shall not forget: the Laughing Man. This man was down on the big rocks by the water, pacing back in forth with arms clasped behind his back. Every once in a while he would stop and face the sea, start into a loud aaaaaAAAAAAAAHHHHHH---- and then just let loose the most cathartic guffaw I have ever heard in my life. It was, to say the least, fantastic.

I didn't do much else that morning. Mostly I took the time to read a combination of Lord of the Rings and the Bible. Later that morning I did a little bit of language with JD and learned about their specialized program and the theory behind it. Basically micMac has distilled some interesting language research into a practical program that approaches language learning the same way you learn language as a kid. Since I am something of a nerd, I found the lesson very interesting, and it whetted my appetite for really digging into the language later.

I spent the rest of the day with Jerry. He had an informal business meeting that morning so I tagged along with him to a small coffee shop in May Fourth Square (which some of you may know is the place with the giant red swirling thing that Qingdao is famous for). He was meeting with Preeti, an Indian expat who knows pretty much everyone in the expat community by virtue of her sociality and her position as Communications Executive for Qingdao Ex-Pat online magazine. I was pretty much just a fly on the wall, but it was good to observe and watch and listen.

Then we went for some random strolling in the city. We hopped on a random bus, rode it till we got kicked off, and then just walked around. I love the sights and sounds of China. Really there was nothing spectacular to report from that walk, but that is kinda the point isn’t it? Men and women walking to and fro, shopkeepers selling their wares, taxis swerving and honking and dashing about as buses meander to their destinations, men play cards while others stand smoking and watching the game-- all the mundane everyday things are what really make up China. China isn’t a fantastical land, nor some movie set or landscape. It is a real place with real people with real jobs and real lives. After a while we came to an underground market, which we explored. When I say underground I mean it felt like it was underground, since it was down some steps in the dim and wet basement floor of some building. I couldn't have felt much more out of place walking through an open fish market, what with my white skin and fancy clothes. Maybe that is what Jerry was going for?

Well, we got back from our random excursion, and I met Lotus who is the owner of the small vegetable market at the entrance to Jin Hai. She has pretty good and English, and like most any chinese person I have met so far, seems very nice when you make the effort to talk to them. Then went with him to pick-up Rachel from the bus stop. We ended up going down to the rocks, and Rachel and I invented MOOQC (Moo-qwa) as we play. MOOQC is of course and imaginary land that we own, and which only shows up when the tide is low. And what does any newly formed land need? An altar to Jesus! At least Rachel thought so. So we made one out of rocks and then skipped stones on the ocean. She is a chatty little girl, but I just love her. Then I went over to the Joneses for dinner: pasta! And broccoli! Yum!


  1. The Laughing Man made my day. I could totally picture it. And the great this is, when I imagine a Chinese man I usually picture something very similar to what you described. Yay for the reinforcement of stereotypical images!

    Glad to hear that it is amazing so far!

  2. Lol, ya I guess I can't help but confirm some stereotypes. Maybe I should do a picture tour of Qingdao (some of it anyways) so that I can show all the "stereotypical" bits of China in juxtaposition with "wow thats just like here" parts.