Wednesday, January 7, 2009
OUR NEIGHBORS NEXT DOOR
We are in Yangshuo, a "touristy" town in China due to the inescapable and beautiful karst formations that surround us here. Coming with that tourism is a "western-ness" that is near to us. Avocet has posted a blog on West Street and Xian Qian Street where you can see your own kind: White westerners. But we didn't plan this trip to be sightseers of our own culture. We came to experience other cultures.
We have headed out several days to ride bikes, walk, and to just meander around the area. So we have been able to detect the "Chinaness" of Yangshuo. So here are some of my musings abut this place.
CHINESE PEOPLE PLAY GAMES. On street corners and in the park, you will always see a card game going on. Mostly older people huddled up in their coats. The cards are skinny and have Chinese letters on them. They seem to draw cards one after another with little pondering of their next move. Another game I noticed is a form of dominoes played with match sticks (I'm guessing for betting). These guys looked serious and a group of spectators gathered around. I counted at least twenty games going on in the Yangshuo City Park alone. Several "games" of badminton were going on as well. Without a net. Young teens would hit the birdie back and forth and laugh and giggle. I wonder though, where are all of those ping-pong tables that I expected??
CHINESE PEOPLE RIDE BIKES The streets around are filled with bikes. None are recreational except for the ones we foreigners use. Some look kinda new but most look old and broken in. Bikes with carts behind them are used for transporting things from one place to another. It's not uncommon to see furniture being carried on these vehicles. A brand that is popular at home dominates here: GIANT. Giant Manufacturing, Ltd. is based in Taiwan and is the largest bike maker in the world. People ride slow here and do not try to compete for speed. The cars and scooters also move slower, weaving a dance of "in and out" on the road.
CHINESE PEOPLE ARE FASHIONABLE Are knee high boots back in style? You see a lot of them here matched with leggings (that could be due to the weather) and short skirts. You see nice matching shirts and pants on both men and women. Men sometimes wear sport coats as outerwear (probably like they were intended many years ago). When I was in college I saw quite a few Chinese students in stripes and plaids. I guess they took fashion lessons, huh. Not to be critical, I must remember that MY fashions are usually about ten years behind (as are most of my clothes).
CHINESE PEOPLE EAT AT STREET STALLS You see lines at street kitchens selling food weird to me: green squares of unknown origin, some type of tuber that looks like a brown yam, large yellow "cakes" made out of "kkghdlk", and fruits of all kinds. They seem to eat fruit here. I heard that they "fruit-out" when it starts to get cold. Incidentally, I've been wanting to eat in one of these crowded stalls with five-six tables serving unknown substances but my "nose tells me no". Too bad, especially since lisa and I could eat a whole meal for about one US dollar each.
and finally...CHINESE PEOPLE SMILE Cynical as I can be, they are doing it for my fine "high priced currency". WRONG!!! People without any motive will say "Nee-ha" (hello) when eye contact is made and a smile will follow. They joke with each other and cut up, especially the young people. If you were to blot out the faces in a playground, you would say these people are Americans, or Dutch, or Slovene, or Thai....it doesn't matter. Lesson learned every month of this trip. PEOPLE ARE WONDERFUL (THROUGHOUT CHINA AND THROUGHOUT THE WORLD)