Proud to be an American.

I can’t believe it’s Sunday.  Since acquiring the best roommate I’ve ever had in China, the last few days are truly a blur.  A happy blur.

I can’t tell you how homey it feels to have someone else moving around in the apartment, to say, “Let’s get some food?” to someone other than myself, and to talk out loud to a person who understands me as we walk to the lake.  A breath of fresh Minnesotan air.

The lake was our big event on Friday.  The temperature was cool, but the air was as clear as it’s been so far, so we were able to snag some great photos in the late afternoon. These are by far the best pictures I’ve been able to get of the mountains in the distance.  (Click on the pictures to enlarge them for a better view.)

After a leisurely walk, we headed over to this restaurant near the lake called Barossa.  It has an outdoor patio and visible hookahs (see behind my head), so this seemed like a good decision.  We toasted our first Tiger beers to Trisha’s safe travels and just being together in China.  Our conversation went something like this:
Trisha: “Oh my gosh, we’re in China!”
Me: “I know!  Holy cow.  I can’t believe we’re in China.”
Trisha: “Right!  It is so amazing that we are in China, right now.”
Me: “I could not agree more.  We are totally in CHINA!”
And so on and so forth.
We had a very nice waiter, Luo, who, after it got dark, finally worked up the nerve to have a conversation with us.  He was very humble about his English skills, but he definitely had a command of the basics.  And suddenly, I felt like we were 21 and getting picked up at a campus bar.
Luo: “You are from America?  Yes, you drink beer very well.”
Us: “…Hmm.  Well, thank you!”
Luo: “Do you have boyfriends?  You are very pretty.”
Us: “Haha, thank you, yes, there is a boyfriend.”
Luo: “Do you have a cell phone so we can message?”
Us: “No!  Sorry.  The school gives us cell phones, uh, later.”
Luo: “Do you have emails?”
Us: “Um, nope, we don’t have those either.  We get them from school too.  Much later.”
Luo: “You will come back here then?”
Us: “Of course!”
He was really nice, but neither of us were ready for a texting relationship with him.  And since there are tons of other cool places to check out here, I’m not sure we’ll get back to Barossa.  But anyway.  We learned that we drink beer well, so I’d say the night was a success.
We continued to rep the States yesterday.  First, we had dinner at this soup place very near to our apartment.  You choose the ingredients from this stand, and then the cooks make them into a really delicious soup.

We were definitely noticed by some high school girls here who kept saying “Meiguo!  Meiguoren!” (“America!  American!”).  But then I looked up at the wall and saw the reason they were so excited:

Colonel Sanders’ wife was in our midst!  Mrs. Sanders AND 2 Meiguoren?  What a day!

It was good that we ate a lot at the soup place, because our next mission was to take a walk, then a bus, then another walk to…

I’m almost embarrassed to say that we purposely traveled to Walmart, but in our defense, there were some basic things that we needed and couldn’t find anywhere else.  (Although there IS a place called Wu Mart that we haven’t tried yet…)  The most important of these basics was a new bath mat.  Our shower tends to leak all over the floor, which would be okay except that the drain is really, really, reallllllly slow.      So our current bath mat basically sits in a festering pool of disease all day long, and even if we hang it up, it never really dries out.  The mutant bacteria just keep…breeding.  In the meantime, who knows what diseases we’re contracting through our feet.  We had to end the madness, and Walmart was a key factor.
There are some things about the Chinese Walmart that are very similar to an American Walmart: a huge range of products, completely random and illogical organization, lots of really happy helpful employees. Some things are a little different at the Chinese Walmart: they stock live fish, you can buy dried pig faces and ducks, and the variety of rice cookers is astonishingly wide.  From start to finish, it took us 4 hours to find Walmart, explore its 3 stories, and cross our fingers that the bus home was correct.  Thank goodness we found time to fit in a milk tea.
So after our hard work, we felt we’d earned some dinner and a beer, so we walked down to Fengdu (where I’m sure the serious woman thought, “Thank GOD that girl has a friend!”).  Last night’s dinner menu included 1) not one scrap of English and 2) zero pictures, so ordering was a bit challenging.  We ended up pointing at a few dishes on the table behind us, I said a few of the meat words I know, and our super sweet and super patient waitress brought us these:


We ate very well last night, leaving behind plates of bones so full that Trisha commented, “This looks like I slaughtered an animal right here on the table.”  And after dinner, we headed over to a bar called You To, ordered our second Tiger drafts, and enjoyed the dim lights and cozy corner we’d found.

And today, we’re an hour away from leaving for the Hainan Province, which is really a tropical island just a short(ish) plane-ride from Hangzhou.  We have no idea what to expect, because Liz wants us to be surprised (well…we think, anyway).  We’ll return on Thursday night our time, unless (and this is for you, LOST fans) it turns out that Hainan is actually…The Island.

In that case, look for my new blog, which will be called, “Smoky Ginger & The Others.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!


  1. Hey Jen,

    We're having a heat wave here in WI, and a teacher's union crisis-but that's for another day. Not sure if you have time to read the comments, but I thought of you when I saw this deal. I thought maybe your parents or Matt could benefit-though I'd love to visit you in China-no $$:) Here's the slickdeals thread:

    and here's the link to American Airlines who just announces flights to China and Japan-you can get rates as low as 294-best to fly out of BIG cities, like LAX:

    Hope that helps! Enjoy each day over there! We'll have to meet for dinner again when you get back!


  2. Hi Jenny! I've been following the mess in WI and thinking fervently of you all. Know that you have solidarity in at least one teacher in China! 🙂

    Thanks for the links! Matt already bought his ticket, but Becca hasn't yet (and she's coming here in May for a summer language program), so I'll pass these onto her.

    Definitely we will get together for dinner when I'm home. It'll be great to see you!


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