Friday, December 10, 2010

The First Seven: 5

Day Five
This was the day that I began to feel like I had some sort of routine. I continued getting up rather early and taking a walk by the sea. Climbing up on the outcropping of rocks to the east, I sat and watched the waves shine in the light of the newly risen sun. I love having a nice place to go and find solitude among nature. It was one of things I missed most in Kissimmee, being surrounded by cars and sprawl all the time, always hearing the clamor of civilization. Sitting on the rocks with only the ocean and God for company lets me think and read and pray.

It was a good thing that I had time to clear my head in the early morning, because from 9:00-12:00 I had my first language training session--and I needed all the room I could get! The method they use for learning is simply fantastic, and by the end of that one session I could comprehend and speak a host of different sentences. Flight is a natural teacher, and we had fun laughing at my mistakes.

The rest of the day’s activity involved running errands with Flight. I still needed my own sheets and blankets and towels, in addition to my own key for the apartment (the Joneses and Whitneys were nice enough to lend me some upon arrival). Flight wanted to take me somewhere we could get sheets made for cheap (she is always very concerned about saving money), so we went off across town to an area called Tai Dong. I wished I had my camera! Tai Dong is a large section of the city devoted to all different kinds of shopping. Think along the lines of a Chinese Citywalk or Downtown Disney, but full of a greater variety of shops with a greater disparity in pricing. Broad footpaths criss-cross each other and people stream from everywhere to everywhere. We got fabric cut for sheets, went to Walmart, and tried to get a key copied. I say tried because we found a man to do it, but when he saw that I was foreign he wanted to charge me more: 10 kuai instead of 5. So a little over a dollar, rather than a little under a dollar. I personally didn’t care, since I expect that to happen when I go to street shops and because it was only about 70 cents difference, but Flight wouldn’t stand for it. She decided she would just go and get a key copied on her own, and save the 5 kuai.

On our way out of Tai Dong Flight wanted me to try Chu Tofu, or Dofu Tofu-- Stinky Tofu. I had heard stories about this particular tofu back in the States, with everyone bemoaning how horrible it is and how awful it smells. But my policy in China has been “I will try anything once.” So I agreed and we got a cup of small tofu squares sprinkled with pepper. It didn't smell nearly as bad as I thought it would, nor taste as bad! After a bite Flight asked me if I liked it. I said, “Eh, it is ok.” Her eyes widened and she said “You are Chinese!” I don't think she knows how much of a compliment that was.

~J.L. Smith

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