If you're walking around China today, you'll see red flags on taxis, storefronts, outside apartments, etc. National week has begun. Starting on Friday, everyone in China will be on vacation, which means that most people will be traveling to some hot spot destination. Imagine the entire US moving, then double that number, and then put yourself in the mix. That is what my vacation is going to be like. Hopefully some adventure stories come out of it.
Before that happens, here's a quick update on what I've been doing...
Things have been super busy between booking hotels, purchasing bus & train tickets, socializing with my host family and trying to get some work done. My host sister and I have been getting along really well. Last Thursday she took me and her 19-year-old cousin to a trendy, inexpensive mall (where I bought the dress in the picture below). We've gotten into a routine of helping each other with language homework -- which usually brings us to interesting conversations about why American girls wear short outfits on Halloween, what it means to be "tolerant" of others, and why you won't often see Americans walk arm in arm with their best friends like you do in China.
So on Friday, I went and saw a Greek play in Chinese. The play was very well done - not a lot of scene changes because their basic set worked well with the darkness of the play -- they utilized the line of perspective and contrasted between light and dark to really capture the good & bad dichotomy of the play. I could understand about 50% of the play because they talked really clearly, so from what I could gather, it was about a wife who killed her husband (who just got back from war) so she could run off with her lover, her daughter already hated her before this fiasco but then convinced her brother to hate her too, they kill the lover, the mom commits suicide, and then the daughter becomes just as bad as the mom...until she drives her brother insane (I think they had a thing going on together a for a while there too...) and then he kills himself too. Quite uplifting. Can anyone name the play? I couldn't translate the title...
On Saturday we took a day trip to Suzhou, the "Venice of China." I've never been to Venice, but I doubt Suzhou comes close, despite it being beautiful. Suzhou is also the silk capital so before taking a quick boat cruise around the town, we stopped in the museum and learned how silkworms produce then. After lunch, we visited one of many gardens in the area before heading back to the city.
Sunday was a relaxing day - I did work in the Euro cafe where I spent 32 kuai on an americano. That wouldn't be too bad, but when you compare it to the 2 kuai it costs me to take the bus, 8 kuai to eat lunch at my "favorite" restaurant, and 32 kuai for my bus to XiTang (the first place I'll be heading to on Saturday). But I guess the $5 americano paid for the experience. The staff was really friendly, the restaurant was really comfortable, and I felt like I stepped into a foreign European world. The fact that you can do that in Shanghai is amazing - there are traces of it's history as a foreign port everywhere you go, allowing you to engage in the cultural experience of China or the foreign travel experience your study abroad friends in Europe are having (not quite the same, but you get the point...)
As for the rest of this week - after one of my friends saw a biker get hit by a car, and my other friend got his bike stolen (and then bought another...), I've decided against becoming a part of the biking culture. I'll watch from the sidelines for now.
Two days until vacation --