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Weekend in Longgang


Weekend in Longgang


This past week being back in Shenzhen has been good- filled with lots of the things that have now become part of our normal China life routine-- cooking dinner, watching movies, chatting with students in the evenings who come to our office for help, eating lunch in the cafeteria with our contact teachers. One difference has been the COLD, cold weather! I know, I know, we're from the Pacific Northwest, we should be used to the 40-50 degree weather. Maybe it's a sign we've adjusted to warmer weather, maybe our weight loss also caused any insulation we had to disappear, or maybe it's simply the fact that nowhere has central heating. Nowhere. Our dorm room is a concrete bunker that has been consistently freezing for the past week. We were sure glad we'd already bought coats at Decathalon, as we watched everyone else scramble to find warm coats in their non-Chinese body size, and quickly purchased gloves & a space heater for ourselves. I still need to get a few warmer items, ie SLIPPERS, but we survived the week teaching in jeans & our jackets. I taught my students the word 'shiver' and they all had a good laugh watching their foreign teacher act out 'shivering' and 'teeth chattering' for a few minutes at the beginning of each class. The change in temperature was pretty drastic- one week we were wearing short sleeves and sandals and the next everyone busted out their parkas and gloves. Apparently it doesn't usually get THIS cold THIS early in the season here, so everyone was pretty surprised.


After making it through another week of teaching (which we have both come to thoroughly enjoy), we headed out to our friends' apartment for the weekend. Pete and Elyse are a couple from San Diego (he's originally from PDX and she from Illinois) that lives in the other district outside of the SEZ (special economic zone) of Shenzhen. Unlike us though, they have a spacious three-bedroom apartment and plenty to do/see around them, despite it being more of a suburb than the urban downtown. We rode with them in their school-provided transportation back to Longgang after Chinese class on Friday afternoon and spent the evening chatting, laughing and eating. They'd recently gone shopping at one of the Western grocery stores and stocked up on goodies that they so generously shared with us! Chips and salsa as an appetizer before dinner at a nearby Chinese restaurant was simply amazing. We ended the evening playing card games and drinking the typical Tsingtao beer we've all come to love so much. :) 


On Saturday morning, we were treated to an American breakfast feast. They made us blueberry pancakes and scrambled eggs with peppers, onions & tomatoes. The three omnivores also enjoyed ham in their eggs and bacon on the side, something that is harder to come by here. All of us stuffed and satisfied, we got ready for the day and headed out to walk around Longgang. We quickly found their local movie theatre and decided to see 2012, as it was playing in English with Chinese subtitles and all of us had yet to see a movie at the theatre since being in China. Seeing that we had about an hour until the next showing, we walked around some more, finding a bookstore (where I magically found hand sanitizer, something we haven't been able to find anywhere!) and walking around the city center sort of town square with fountains and statues. At one point, we looked across the street and were shocked to see two CAMELS being led down the main busy street. Um, what?! Yeah, naturally, there's some camels walking down the China street. All the locals didn't know what to do-- do we stare at the camels, or the foreigners?! Ahh, so many things that are out of place! After that excitement, it was time to buy our tickets for the movie, which included choosing your specific seats! Weird. We were excited to see that they even sold popcorn, even if it was kettle corn, as it always is in China. Hey China, don't you want to try a good bucket of really good BUTTERY popcorn for once?


The movie was cheesy but definitely entertaining, and cool to see all the crazy special effects on the big screen. We hadn't taken into consideration the fact that they don't have the same movie theatre etiquette in China, especially in a movie where most of the viewers are reading the subtitles rather than listening to the speakers. Many people chatted and answered their cellphones, once prompting us to actually turn around and say "shh" so that we could hear the dialogue. I know, rude foreigners. We also hadn't thought about there being a few scenes where they were speaking French, or Chinese, or Italian...yeah, no English subtitles for that! Oh well. It was all an exciting adventure regardless of those little details.


By the time the movie ended, it was nearing 5pm and we were all getting pretty hungry again, having only eaten breakfast. Pete and Elyse had found a pizza place the week before, so we went there to continue our 'American' weekend. It was delicious. Most pizza in China tastes a little off (especially the cheese), but this tasted legit and we found ourselves each devouring our pizzas very quickly. We then headed back to the apartment, as Martin and I had planned to leave that evening- but by then had decided it seemed too exhausting to deal with the hour bus ride home and walking. So, Martin, Elyse and I headed out to a nearby salon for hairwashes/massages and for Martin to FINALLY get his hair cut. The first time since we left in JULY! It was much needed...his students had been telling him lately that he looked like a rockstar and was 'so cool!', which really means it was out of control. :) As usual, the people in the salon got some entertainment out of us not understanding more than a few words. I think I mentioned this before, but I love hairwashes in China. They wash your hair 3 times, use some amazing conditioner in it, massage your back, neck, face, scalp, arms, etc...and then end by blow-drying your hair completely straight. The whole process takes a little over an hour and costs 20 kuai, which is a little under 3 USD. AMAZING.


Pete met up with us after the hairwash/cut experience on his bike and we spent an hour playing pool at a snooker bar. I suck, but it was fun. We ended the night yet again by just chatting and drinking some Tsingtao in their living room and went to bed around midnight.


Today, the four of us got pastries at a bakery before Martin and I got on our Airport Express Bus #3 back to Bao'an. It was a great weekend with friends, and it's also nice to be 'home'. :)


We have another regular week of teaching and Chinese classes ahead. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone this coming Thursday! We plan to make Annie's Mac N Cheese for our dinner that night and will probably do some kind of celebration with friends this coming weekend. Mashed potatoes will definitely be consumed.


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