I officially have 1 week left in China. It has been one heck of a ride… that is for sure. I cannot think of a trip that could encompass the word “adventure” any better. The first day in China I literally ran off the plane when it landed in Beijing to catch my next flight in 1.5 hours, was pushed around by the security guards at the airport, got super sick on my flight to Kunming, was so tired I felt drugged, and basically fell over into my bed upon arrival. The next day I had a 9:30 am meeting where my jet lag was so bad I was waiting to just fall out of chair and fall asleep comfortably on my floor. I spent two weeks in Kunming. I then went to the field for almost 3 weeks which involved in staying 6+ hotels and driving over 4 hours every day. Due to all the driving, I finished all of the Hunger Games audiobooks. I stayed in Xuanwei City for a week conducting interviews of value chain actors. I returned to Kunming for about 2 weeks and am not back in the field for 3 days. Oooooweee! It has not been easy but it has been a great trip. The people of China are kind and thoughtful. Actually tonight my friend told them I love fried potatoes so they ordered them especially for me. Little do they know my French fry obsession is pretty serious. I will miss the Chinese street food. My favorite is the spicy fried potatoes. They fill a wok with some oil and fry the potatoes in front of you. They are so crispy! They then cover it in red pepper flakes, scallions, and a few other spicy ingredients…. And I think soy sauce. For a big container it is 5 Yuan which is like 90 cents. It is the way to my heart!
The other day my friend decided we should go on an adventure to a specific dumpling restaurant. Apparently the dumpling in north China is better than south China. I would agree if these dumplings were any indication. Any way, we walked like 5 kilometers in about an hour to get there. Kunming weather is nice most of the time but we are in rainy season so it is usually overcast and kind of chilly. Not the kind of summer weather I had hoped for. Let’s just say I am as white as I was when I came to China. Anyway, to get there, we have to walk through downtown Kunming which is a shopping metropolis. I like this area because there are many things to see and to do. Well, anyway, we walked past a Starbucks. I have not had a real coffee since July 10. I love coffee. I have at least 1 a day every day. After lunch, I made us stop by Starbucks. Of course on the way back it began to pour. After some waiting, we made it to Starbucks. Thankfully the baristas spoke enough English that I could order a black coffee. This Starbucks has an atrium in it which means it has floor to ceiling windows and the ceiling has windows too. My friend and I sat and watched the rain fall as I drank my coffee. Even though we were really doing nothing, it is probably one of my favorite memories in China. I think it is the only time I have ever felt fully relaxed in China. Even if I get enough sleep at night, I feel tired because my mind is constantly running. It literally never stops. It makes me so exhausted as I think of all the things that may have gone wrong or may go wrong with the project. It is difficult not to feel this way when there are so many things to do, no time to ever stop working, and the plans are constantly changing. So we sat and watched the rain for about an hour. The sidewalk slanting downhill so a small river had formed down the sidewalk. I watched people jump and skip over the small river but many of them failed to avoid it. I sipped my coffee. I was really happy. The sound of rain is one of my favorite sounds. It drowns out every other noise. Rain is something I have no control over. Mother Nature decides that. I have had to make many decisions while being here regarding our methodology and what to do. I was pretty happy, in this instance, I had to make no decision other than when to sip my coffee. These are the days I enjoy the most. Light conversation while it rains over coffee.
I leave to Beijing on the early morning of September 2. I am really excited for this. My time in Yunnan has been exciting and eye opening, but I am very excited to go sightseeing and to relaxxxxx. I hate pools and swimming, but I have never been more excited to go to the pool in my hotel and read Lord of the Rings (I finished The Help and am now on the Fellowship of the Ring). I am excited to finally decide everything on my own. It is funny how sometimes I say, “ugh, I hate making decisions.” I am so grateful I can make my own decisions. As I have said, the locals decide what goes on most of the time. This entire trip I have been told where to eat and where to go (for the most part but not the entire time). Beijing will be the first time in which I get to decide EVERYTHING on my own! I think we need to remember how incredibly amazing it is to have choice even if it can be hard.
Next week I will be in Beijing. I will be alone, but as I said before, I am so excited to do what I want to do … even if it is just going on a walk. I am also excited because I will likely have access to REAL coffee. I have been living off instant Nescafe coffee and it just doesn’t cut it. I am sad my days in the field are over, but I am so excited to not have to think all the time. I am constantly on my toes waiting for a phone call that says this is wrong or this changed so what do we do? I am usually the one who has the final say. This trip has given me indispensable friendships, wonderful memories, and more. I have so many skills that will (hopefully) improve my chance on the job market at the end of this school year (maybe…). I love the work I do because I get to “solve” mysteries and determine what may have happened. I think this is exciting. I am more excited to write my thesis than ever before. BUT first I need, like, a 1 month break. I basically worked for 2 months straight so… overtime pay? I wish. Oh well.
Other interesting notes:
I have seen many Chinese people eating tomatoes like they are apples. Sometimes they dip tomato slices into sugar.
They eat pizza with plastic gloves.
They do not like cheese.
The Chinese dictionary is separated by parts of a symbol. There is a specific order in which you draw a symbol. The first part you draw is the first part in which you look up in the dictionary.
Until next time mis amigos,