I really have nothing too exciting to say in this one.
This week, as I said, I have been in a small city. It has not been overly interesting. I work every day from 9am to 10pm or whenever we get done. It is difficult with the US and Peru having a 12 and 13 hours difference, respectively. That means if we have a Skype meeting it will be at night. If it is important then we are staying up late. I want to work-out, but I am always so tired all day that I really do not feel like I have the energy to do so. I have really enjoyed my time here, but I look forward to relaxing for a few days in the States. I will be back in less than 3 weeks! It is OK because Brian and I will be back October 9th for 2 weeks then I will *likely* be back in January or February to do workshops for my project. It will be sad to leave, but I will be back… guaranteed for at least 1 more time (more likely 2).
It scares me because we have so much work to do here, but I am sure we will get it done… we have to so we will. Long story short, Brian and I misread a time for a tour when we were in Vienna and we told the taxi driver we needed to be somewhere very quickly. He said it may not be possible, but if we must, we will. I now use that for many things. Today I return to Kunming. I miss Kunming because it is a bigger city and I am more familiar with my surroundings. I have stayed in at least 8 hotels since I left Kunming so it will be nice to be in a place that feels familiar even if it isn’t the greatest hotel. Chinese culture has been a little difficult for me to adjust to so I like feeling like I am familiar with my surroundings at the very least.
I have to say what has made the trip the best has been the kindest of the people. The Chinese people are very thoughtful and hospitable. We have been conducting interviews all week and every person has been more than happy to help us. Many even invite us to dinner or to do anything we need when we have only met them once. I wish I could communicate my thankfulness to them, but I guess this gives me motivation to learn more Mandarian before my next visit!
So, I want to talk a little more about food. In case you do not know, usually I am a vegetarian (with a little fish). When I travel I eat meat though. I don’t like being a hassle and the last thing I want to do is to tell a local I will not eat their food. If a local tells you to eat a certain food, you eat it. If you don’t, it is considered very rude in the Chinese culture. Therefore, I eat meat. Plus, I want to experience all the food of a culture so that includes meat.
But…I am not quite sure I am the biggest fan of Chinese food. It is pretty spicy which I am assuming is influenced by the rest of Southeast Asia i.e. Thailand. They drink and eat hot food because they believe it cools them down. I am sure it does, but I like a cold drink. A “cold drink” to the Chinese means a room temperature soda. I have drank so much soda in China because it is the only thing they keep in coolers which are vaguely cold. One of the first things on my to-do list for the US is to have an ice-cold drink. I want it so cold it makes my teeth hurt.
I think the hardest part about the food is breakfast. Basically, they eat vegetables and noodles. I find it difficult because I do not want to have vegetables for breakfast at 7am. As Americans, we normally eat something slightly sweet like cereal or bacon and eggs or a ton of carbs. Noodles do not cut it for my carb intake. I feel like I am eating dinner. So I have started eating rice porridge, which is their version of oatmeal, and steamed buns. I love trying new foods, but I think breakfast is one thing I want to feel is a little closer to home. I mean, we all know breakfast is the greatest food on the planet anyway…
The one thing I have really enjoyed is steamed buns. Basically they wrap meat with some vegetables in dough then steam it. They are the greatest things on the planet. I love carbs and carbs with a surprise in the middle have to be amazing. My favorite are the ones with a little bit of bacon mixed in a slightly sweet sugary syrup with a smidgen of fat. I think I eat around 4 (plus other food) every time I see it is for dinner. When we are in the field, I do not have much choice over my food which has been a little difficult. It is custom that the locals choose the meals, so I kind of have to eat whatever is on the table. Since the Chinese eat family style, where you use your chopsticks to pick off the plates in the center, it has not been a huge deal.
Here is a list of the new and odd things I have tried since being in China.
Things I know have eaten and some that I think I have eaten but who really knows in a pot of soup:
Gelatin animal blood (no clue which kind of animal)
Cow and pig stomach
Intestines (no clue which animal… I stopped asking and just eat)
Chicken kidney? I think?
Chicken knuckles? The part of the foot that connects it to the leg.
There is more… but I cannot remember.
And of course, as I near the end, here are the highlights of my trip:
Potato chip factory- if you know me well enough, there are few things I love more than a salty snack
Travelling through the mountains- I somehow end up in the mountains, but I won’t complain! The mountains are my favorite place to be.
Trying new food- although real Chinese food is not my favorite, I am always interested in a culinary adventure.
Working with an international staff- I love that I can sit in a meeting and have to translate Peruvian English to American English to then Chinese English (this is a joke… since we always made fun of each other’s English). But really, I do love working with people from all over the globe and working together across cultures means really trying to understand how that other culture works. Example: Meet at 5pm. Chinese comes at 4:57. American comes at 5:02. Peruvian comes at 5:07.
I think that is all for now. More updates to come as my work progresses! I probably should be writing more of my thesis here, but I wrote an outline yesterday. That counts, right?
Oh… here is a picture of me in the potato chip processing plant with the variety I am studying!