As sad as I was to leave America, my time back in Guangzhou so far has been ridiculously active, so much so that within the first week+ back, I have not only checked off long-overdue items on my to-do list, but also checked off some unexpected things:
✓ Get in touch with professors to write my grad school recommendation letters.
✓ Schedule GRE exam.
✓ Book flight home!!! Seriously, I can’t wait.
✓ Download GRE materials and apps. (Sub-✓: Get Chinese GRE math materials from a local).
✓ Start studying for the GRE—which is scheduled to take place in just two months…
✓ Finish editing final “Face Time” episode. (Sub-✓: Finish editing in record time of three days).
✓ Start and finish The Search for Meaning.
✓ Publish a shocking five blog posts!!! Not even including this one.
✓ Try the two Muslim restaurants next to my apartment. (Sub-✓: Realize how much I’ve been missing out. Deliciously cheap food from family-run businesses = Happy Sonia!)
…and all of this:
1 — Meals on Meals on Meals
After suffering 15 hours on the worst airline (China Southern Airlines, why do you exist), the last thing I wanted to do was go out and eat. But of course, my aunt and uncle are suffocatingly accommodating, so while I wanted to go home, take a shower, and pass out from exhaustion, I ended up enduring a meal at the Wedding Restaurant (actual name) across the street. While I am grateful for their never-ending niceties, speaking now in a broader sense, it blows my mind how utterly out of touch adults can be toward those significantly younger than them (remember, I don’t consider myself a real adult). I’ve been thinking about that topic for a while, and I have a draft in the works, so expect more on that soon…
And then since half of my luggage comprised things for other people, I had to give all these wonderful items purchased from America to my relatives. Translation: Exchange of goods with dinner on dinner on dinner.
Luckily, not every meal pictured below was because of such an exchange, but case in point: I’ve been having many yummy meals since coming back, even a lovely business meeting over afternoon tea at the Hilton.
2 — Catching Up with Hazza
The next day, although I didn’t go to work, I ended up spending most of the day with Hazza, from shopping to enjoying a performance of Swan Lake on ice at the Guangzhou Opera House. By the middle of the performance, though, my jet lag was seriously taking over, with me desperately trying not to fall asleep immediately. Of course, I’m still grateful for the free ticket and the chance to see the talented skaters.
3 — Weather Woes
Weather in L.A. and Chicago was especially lovely. So to come back to Guangzhou’s extremely unpleasant heat and then a fucking typhoon barreling toward South China at a level supposedly unseen since the 1980s—I naturally feel as if coming back to China was a complete mistake.
And then when we all tried to stock up on food, I realized some people have literally no clue on what disaster prevention is. While others immediately think of stockpiling water and bread (as I did), the woman in front of me failed on multiple levels, making me unsure of whether to laugh or cry at her failures:
- Her AEON membership card expired, the cashier told her repeatedly as the lady insisted on that not being possible.
- She must have cleared the meat section with the packs and packs of discounted fresh (#OXYMORON) red meat, which made me almost want to pray that electricity doesn’t go out for her sake.
- Her credit card got declined. LOL, I can’t make this shit up.
- She took long enough fidgeting with her wallet after her transaction that the cashier felt the need to tell her to move her things to make room for mine.
How. can. someone. fail. so. hard.
But to the surprise of all of us, the typhoon passed essentially without major damages. Save for strong wind and rain in the middle of the night, the typhoon didn’t do shit. Even I’ve experienced worse weather here.
4 — Watching the China Watchers
My July issue of The World of Chinese arrived via kuaidi 快递 just in time, and I felt as if one article in particular, written by the genius Carlos Ottery, spoke directly to me.
The idea of watching China watchers is something I naïvely thought pertained to me alone, at least never thinking much of such an idea. So in a sense, I’m glad that I can at least identify myself—not without some hilarity—as a China watcher watcher 😛
Even as I prepare to embark on grad school for Chinese studies, I can’t see myself as a legit China watcher for a very long time, if ever.
Anyway, enjoy this short documentary on how to be a Chinese tourist, produced by the place I really want to work at one day! #HIREME