Damn I haven’t posted in a while. Sorry you guys! Every week something fun and/or exciting happened that I planned on blogging about but it simply didn’t get done. So here you go, I’ll write a nice (hopefully long) blog post for all of your enjoyment, seeing that I have little else to do at the moment. Sort of.
Merry Belated Christmas! and Happy Belated Hannukah! and if you had a birthday, then Happy Belated Birthday as well! (just wanted to get that all out of the way)
Let’s see what I can remember.
The night of the tenth was great, definitely one of the highlights of China for me. After school I went to Sangmin’s for dinner, wasn’t in the mood for Chinese food, and we sat around for a bit not really knowing what to do. He kept saying he wanted to go out and do something since it was a Friday night but honestly we both looked pretty crappy. I insisted we should eat spaghetti but he didn’t want to make any so before I really knew what was happening we were in a van (which is what all the black cabs are in Changsha) heading to South Bus Station. Of course after about a minute in the van Sangmin turns to me and says “oh, I’m tired..” with his eyes half-closed but on we go anyways, despite our general feel/look of tiredness.
At South Bus Station we get on the 123 bus which is packed, as always. We’re standing there next to this guy who is spitting very noisily (many, many people do this in China) and complaining about how gross it is when who do we spot getting on the bus? Moritz! He’d stayed after school to hang out with his girlfriend (oooooooh! you have to make preteen girl noises here) and was heading home. Sangmin invited him to dinner with us and he agreed. Apparently we were heading to Golden Han’s, which is a semi-German restaurant. I say semi-German because the meat and beer is German (apparently) but the buffet is an odd mix of what other countries consider Chinese food and what Chinese people consider Chinese food. Also, the deserts have neon colored frosting. But that’s besides the point.
Dinner was good. I hadn’t been to Golden Han’s before but I really enjoyed it..I didn’t drink, of course (I’m one of the only people I know here who doesn’t drink, not exaggerating) but the meat was epic. Well, maybe not quite epic but it was very foreign-tasting, which is a welcome change of pace here in Changsha. The boys enjoy their manly drinks and I enjoyed my apple soda (which I had to drink out of a teacup). Needless to say, cheers was pretty funny looking. At one point this huge group of twenty-somethings came up to us, obviously a little drunk, and this guy said “we are playing a drinking game and I lost so I have to sing to you” and he sang this Chinese kid’s song about tigers that are mutilated. After dinner the boys were really, really entertaining. They don’t drink as much as they’re used to (Sangmin because it makes him sick a lot, Moritz because he’s not allowed to) and so they got tipsy much easier. Sangmin told me about how once he couldn’t pee cause he was on a boat and Moritz started singing when we went outside “it’s raining a little!” and sort of did a mini skip-jump. Before Moritz had to go home (his host mom is super strict) he and Sangmin did the ‘man hug’ equivalents from Korea and Germany and then I taught them the American one. We all laughed, and Sangmin and I headed on our way.
I can’t remember the whole night in chronological order really, highlights just stick out in my mind–going to No Sunset Play Game, this arcade, where I got a bunch of #1 scores on this Wac-A-Mole type game and Sangmin dominated at the basketball-throwing one. Getting over four-hundred tickets from the games in said arcade, but only being able to afford a pen in the ticket-shop. Going into a fancy bar, only to order a Sprite that we shared. Watching people at a rollerskating rink act as if they were at a night club. Eating McDonald’s past midnight. Watching people wash the street. Having a banana split with watermelon in it and only strawberry ice cream. It really was just a perfect night out, and I got to see walking street deserted for the first time ever, which was odd. But yeah, a really great experience.
The day after that we all went shopping for eachother’s Christmas presents on Walking Street. I managed to get almost all the presents I needed (I did a little bit of shopping over the following weeks but got most of it done then) and scored an awesome pair of boxers for myself! They have an elastic band that says “The Amazing Spiderman” on it but then, get this–there are dragons on them! Lots and lots of dragons!
The Seventeenth we didn’t have school, got Moritz’s present from Metro with Sangmin (we bought it together). After that went out to dinner and ate hot-pot, which is something everyone should have when they go to China because as far as I know it’s a Chinese-only thing. Hot-pot is basically when there’s a hole in the center of your table and you’ve got a pot that is hot (hence the name, hurr hurr) with boiling or almost-boiling water. You get a bunch of uncooked meat/veggies and put them into the pot, cooking them at your will, and eat them straight out of it. Our hotpot was divided into two sides, one with peppers in it and one without. We had…mushrooms, beef, tofu, shrimp (Sangmin had been talking about shrimp for over a week) and something else which I cannot remember. Needless to say it was quite delicious. I got sort of emotional over dinner because I realized how little time I have left in China. Sangmin teased me cause he went to go order more food and he came back to find me teary-eyed and staring intently at my tofu.
The next day was our AFS Christmas party, which was composed of three parts. The first was climbing a mountain. Now, when advertised, this does not sound like a party, let alone a Christmas one. We all reluctantly agreed to go, despite our general negative outlook on the proposed day. We’d gotten a text from one of the AFS ‘volunteers’ reading (in caps) “HELLO,GUYS! THIS IS MACEY FROM HUNAN ASSOCIATION. WE’RE PLANNING TO CLIMB YUELU MOUNT AT 1:30PM THEN HAVE A BUFFET DINNER AND CHRISTMAS PARTY AT 7PM ON 18TH THIS MONTH. WE INVITE YOU AND YOUR HOST FAMILY TO TAKE PART IN OUR ACTIVITY. PLEASE REPLY ME BEFORE 11TH SO WE COULD PREPARE IN ADVANCE. THANKS :)”
So yes, we climbed ‘Yuelu Mount’, which was more fun than we expected. Near the top there was a Buddhist temple we went to, where Moritz’s mom (who was leading our tour for some unknown reason) told us that one of the trees was one-thousand seven-hundred and fifty years old. Now my friends I’ve stood on one of the largest tree stumps in the world and I can tell you right now this little tiny tree she pointed out was not that old at all. There’s a smaller tree next to it, and they’re both in front of a temple. When asked how old the smaller tree is, she says it’s only seventy-five because “during the second world war it was hit with a bomb and they had to plant a new one”. So… this bomb hit one tree. And didn’t damage the temple or neighboring tree, eight feet away, at all. Yup.
The party part itself was thrown by the government and wasn’t about us at all, it was mostly foreign teachers we’d never met before. It was sort of fun, I don’t know.
On Christmas Eve Eve we had the Art Festival. I spent four hours getting makeup put on my face, two hours commuting and eating, an hour and a half waiting, five minutes preforming, three minutes changing out of my clothes, twenty minutes at an after party, a half hour ride back home and then forty-five minutes taking all that lovely makeup off my face. The performance itself was okay I guess, my backup singer’s mics didn’t work though which was really a shame. I got some people to record it so hopefully I can put it up on Youku in the near-ish future.
Christmas itself was great. We took school off Christmas eve and congregated at Karina’s house. It was raining. We then went back to walking street (we’re all really sick of going there but there’s nowhere else to go!) ate at Golden Han’s for lunch and then got food to cook for Christmas dinner. Giulia ended up making pasta which was delicious of course. I had met this German guy at KFC the week before and he’d told me he was opening up a German bakery on the twenty-third so we went and checked it out, the food was great! We had a small gathering on Christmas eve, then stayed up until midnight because Moritz’s birthday is on Christmas. We sang him Happy Birthday and he opened all his presents, then we all exchanged our gifts. We all gave/recieved small items, and it was a lot of fun… the funniest thing was Sangmin getting a different colored shirt from everyone, though (Moritz’s idea). With the first shirt he was just “oh haha very funny…” but then as they went on he was like “wow did you guys all get me a different color? Wow.” A lot of the shirts were small on him, but I’m proud to say mine fit! We’re basically the same size (I borrow his clothes sometimes… as weird as that is) and so yeah, I was proud I didn’t get him an extremely tight shirt like everyone else. I got him a red South Korean soccer jersey which he says he’ll wear to work out in, cool. Sangmin and I gave Moritz a pack of his favorite German beer. May and I gave Pauline this incense-holding elephant that’s really pretty and three different incense scents. I got Giulia a heating pack, Midori pictures of her favorite singer as well as a stuffed..animal? Corn. Karina got a ton of stuff from me because she’s simply too easy to shop for!
Christmas day we were all exhausted because no one slept very well. Pauline, Giulia and I lounged around Karina’s house until like one. I got to use the ‘Magic Jac’ that Karina’s mom has to attempt to call people in the US. Didn’t get ahold of too many people, but the people I did get to talk to made me happy. Took a taxi home, lounged around, was on Subeta a lot, then went out to Karaoke. Which was, like a lot of things in this blog post, really surprisingly fun.
I had invited everyone to come (my host mom had reserved a room) but only Karina and Moritz were willing, so it ended up being my host family, a few of my aunts, uncles and cousins, some of my parents’ friends, Karina and her mom Grisell, Moritz, me, Vala and her boyfriend. Karina was an hour and a half late which made me and Moritz really worried because there’s a murderer on the loose in Changsha (no joke, he’s killed.. five? people?) but then finally she and her mom showed up. I used this as proof that she needs to get a cell phone, or Grisell at least, so that I don’t think they’re dead or kidnapped! Karaoke itself was really entertaining, watching a bunch of Chinese people get drunk off of their self-fermented-wine that I was told barely had alcohol in it. I’m not going to disclose the full details of this evening, but…well… Grisell got some really really funny pictures. Vala’s boyfriend passed out after two drinks. Vala was…well. She was out of character. Very amusing. My host family was cute and, well, overall it was an extremely strange but great Christmas.