Don’t worry friends, Allyson and I are alive! Sorry we have been absent this weekend. We took a trip to Nanjing to visit our good friend Elie. Great, great fun!
Well, we couldn’t leave Ma’anshan without fixing our Thursday’s “China Fail.” That’s right, Allyson (or Tangerine as I like to call her) refused to spend another day as a ginger (no offense Maddie-cakes) so I called up Erin and she took us to her salon to return Allyson’s head to its natural state…or so we thought. That’s right, China Fail #2 for the week: Allyson goes from China Orange to China Black! Fail, fail, fail! Ha ha I don’t think we will be visiting anyone hair salons for a while. Erin thought Ally’s hair looked lovely both before and after and I got a kick out of people asking me if Allyson was my translator all weekend. Everyone was dumbfounded that the black-haired Chinese girl could barely speak a lick of her mother-tongue. Poor Ally! But in spite of her initial shock, Allyson has now decided to embrace her new look so we need to go get her some black-rimmed glasses to go with her Hello Kitty headband. Beijing Fashion Week, here we come!
There was a cute orphan puppy at the salon that I played with while Allyson underwent her asian transformation. Apparently he was a stray and the salon hairstylists took him in and named him “King.” On his forehead, they shaved the chinese character into his fur. Erin and I talked for the entire hour. She asked me a lot of questions about America and talked about what she wanted to do in the future with her English degree. Her dream is to teach English aboard just as Allyson and I are doing but I think it is a lot tougher for teachers whose first language is not English. I told her I knew some foreign esl teachers and would find out more for her so if anyone (Mary, Marilyn, Cielito, etc.) has some helpful advice, please let me know. I laughed when Erin asked me if all girls in America attend a debutante ball when they come of age. Someone has been watching too much Gossip Girl! It’s so crazy to think that people stereotype all Americans to be like the people in TV shows like GG. I guess we do the same for people from other countries, too, but it’s so bad! I tried to explain to Erin that Serena and Blair represent about .0001 percent of the American population but unfortunately I think the rest of China still believes that we ride around in limos and drink champagne at “fundraisers” every night. Oh, American media…
That night, we took the bus to Nanjing. The ride took about 45 minutes and only cost 18 kuai. Once we arrived in the city, we weaved our way through the Nanjing South Railway Station to the subway and took line 1 then line 2 to Elie’s campus. Nanjing is a fairly big city and used to be the capitol in ancient China so it’s a good depiction of Old China meeting New China. There are a lot of great historical sites here that we plan to visit in future weekends. Nanjing is still fairly small compared to Shanghai, however. Just to give you an idea, Nanjing has 2 metro lines and Shanghai has 11 or so. We went out to dinner once we made it to campus and Allyson got some more birthday cake from some students celebrating a birthday next to us. Another guy came up to our table and gave Elie some baijiu but refused to give us a taste since we are “women.” Not a very PC comment if you ask me but whatever. After dinner we went back to Elie’s apartment and hung out. After an hour of ipad games (so fun) we toured around his campus and found some delicious Shao qao. Allyson and I made a decision that if all else fails in life, we are going to move to a college city and set up a restaurant serving only shao qao, Uigyer noodles, and bao (american style with bacon and eggs) and make a killing. I can’t believe no one has thought of this idea before! I’m copyrighting this idea right now so don’t even think about stealing it!
The next day we wandered around downtown Nanjing. In the evening, we ate PIZZA, my absolutely favorite food, and I just died of happiness. Blue cheese on top, mmmmm I can still taste the deliciousness in my mouth. Pisa Pizza, the restaurant, is located in the ex-pat (ex-patriot or foreigner) section of town. Ruston, an old teacher sent Elie a great guide to the city with all of his favorite restaurants, bars, and tourist sites. We ended the night at an ex-pat bar called “Ellen’s” and enjoyed a good people-watching session. The place had a great mix of people – Chinese, Americans, Europeans, Indians, Arabs, Africans, etc. I chatted with a young guy from Kenyan who started a web design company here in Nanjing and we also met some boys from the Air Force Academy who are studying Mandarin at a Nanjing university for the year. Small world, huh? This is definitely an atmosphere we have missed since being in China. Another teacher explained that a lot Chinese really don’t care for the bar scene and prefer to drink at restaurants or KTVs so it’s a little difficult to find good bars (especially with decently priced drinks). The menu at Ellen’s looked really good and is pretty cheap so I’m sure we will hang out here quite often when we feel home-sick for Westerners or need some American grub.
Overall the weekend was really great and it was nice seeing our friend Elie again. Allyson and I talked a little bit about living in Ma’anshan as opposed to Nanjing. Although it would be nice to be in a bigger city with friends like Elie, lots of foreigners, and many things to do, we are very happy being in our “little” town. Ma’anshan is a lot more laid-back than big cities and the pace of life is nice and calm. I think that living in this city will give us a great chance to get to know Chinese friends and figure out this crazy, lovely country on our own.
Missing you all. Here are some pictures from the week: