Camera, Coffee, Clarity [Life in GZ, Ed. 3]

GDTV World "Face Time" still

Back with another edition of #GZBuzz—the name of which I had considered changing, specifically to something that includes one of Dictionary.com’s recent Word of the Day: clishmaclaver. Unfortunately, after some deliberation, it’s just too long to add the localization of GZ or China. I’m open to other name suggestions!

After a week of okay WiFi, it’s become useless when I manage to connect 1/10 times. And with that, I will no longer keep complaining about WiFi problems being the reason I don’t update more often than I’d like. *thunderous applause* I’m still aiming to update every Sunday…or Monday. So at risk of pissing you off with how repeatedly pissed off I am, I’ll move on.

As usual, a ton has happened within a week, so I really need to update more often so I don’t find myself writing novels.

1 — China Convenience
I received my first Taobao package via WeChat message—no joke, I got a message from Hive Box, a company I find hard to even describe because it’s so specific to China right now and hasn’t been covered in detail (if at all!) to show up on Google yet. #OPPORTUNITY. Basically, it’s a locker provider set up in residential communities for third-party delivery companies and their customers to send and deliver packages (that’s one original description if I ever saw one, heh). Before receiving this package, I had been worried about how to receive a package when not home, so I asked the deliveryman I saw placing packages in their respective lockers. With my mediocre Chinese, I managed to just scan the company’s QR code and add its account on WeChat, assuming I had failed to set it up and that I would have to pay to have such a convenient service.

Hive Box in Guangzhou
Magic boxes.

Fast forward to maybe a week later, and I go downstairs to these lockers, somehow figure out I should scan the QR code on the screen. Within seconds, a locker pops open and voi-fucking-la! My package was waiting inside one of these magical lockers! Mind you, I didn’t need to do anything but SCAN the code, pick up the package, and walk away from this fascinating #technology. Even though the message I’d received had a password, I’m assuming it was just in case scanning didn’t work out. Since then, I’ve picked up two more packages, one of them from the other locker provider across from this one, something called e栈 that ends its messages with 中集电商. Anyway, each time I do so, I get an insane delight in such unbelievable convenience. Seriously, staying true to my journalistic nature, I must investigate. Can’t promise an exclusive feature story, but how AMAZING would that be?!

As one of my WeChat friends commented as soon as I posted about my amazing experience: “Taobao rocks.” Indeed.

2 — Camera Crazies
Much of last week leading up to Thursday was spent preparing for my third and fourth “Face Time” interviews for GDTV World (yes, two in one day). And what an experience. To sum up the day, I had too much fun. Reviewing the footage, I cringe so hard whenever I hear and see myself laugh uncontrollably. It both pains and excites me that I have to edit my own episodes, but it’s the best way to, say, shock me into professionalism. For now, check out the photos:

GDTV World "Face Time" still

GDTV World "Face Time" still
Died.

3 — Coffee Calm
On Saturday, I spent 59 yuan (about $10) on bitter “Reserve” coffee, only served in five Starbucks locations across China. I decided to return to this branch in Kecun on the other side of the Pearl River, because after my first two times there and seeing cold brew served, I knew this was one of those special branches that gets to try out all the cool shit from HQ. Anyway, I definitely paid more for the experience than the actual coffee. After placing my order, I went to take my front-row seat at the counter reserved for brewing this special Starbucks shit (did I just double-oxymoron that?) and a barista came to begin his brewing performance (really, a stranger came up to take pics and watch). For 10 minutes, the barista explained to me complicated coffee brewing techniques in Cantonese, finally asking me if I usually drink coffee alone or with friends. LOL. I can’t understand where he was getting at, but I guess I looked like either a quiet and reserved (cringe, cringe) coffee expert—or a solitary wannabe coffee drinker. After the show, I waited another 10 minutes for the hot cup to cool off before taking a sip.

Let’s just say…I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.

4 — China Contrasts
To keep it short and sweet: Two photos taken on the same street: unexpectedly beautiful tiles leading up to a shack of a restaurant, and cigarette-ridden cracks on the road.

And more from my explorations on this street in Kecun.

5 — “Can’t Make This Shit Up”
Words I sent to my sister while still in shock after seeing a mother wiping her baby’s ass—after taking a public shit, I suppose. The baby’s legs were WIDE OPEN. She was a girl. Not two seconds pass and I turn to see this old lady selling live eels next to a bucket of blood used to kill said eels.

So that makes what I saw earlier that morning of a man selling raw meat seem like literally nothing.

6 — College Clarity
My parents, specifically my dad, have long wished for me to continue my education and earn a Master’s degree. And clearly now working in China I didn’t agree. But while researching for my interview on ABCs and cultural identity this past week, I realized something. I do want to go to graduate school. Not only do I realize the value in such an education, but I also found my passion: Chinese studies. This is all in the beginning stages—as in it’s still just an idea—but I just wanted to let you guys know. Maybe after a year or so here, I’ll pursue a Master’s and do more meaningful work.

Speaking of my dad, he’s coming to GZ in January!! For the first time in many years, might I add.

So with that, look out for either another edition of #GZBuzz this week OR a post specifically regarding my Christmas in GZ. Lots to catch up on 🙂

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CATCH UP WITH #GZBUZZ
⇒ Wet Markets & Phone Shops
Renter, Love & Care
⇒ The Catch-Up
Encounters
⇒ Holidaze
Passing By