"Tell your children of Him, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation." Joel 1:3

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day One....Culture Shock

Wow, just the little bit of time we've been here and you can sure tell when you're not in America anymore. Nothing bad, just different. First thing we've noticed is that people here do not wait for anyone.....they all pile into the subway, elevator, or street without a care for who was there first. Kinda funny cuz Jay and I tend to have that 'Minnesota nice' thing going on and it just does not work here. If you let one person go....20 will go. I don't get the impression that it's rude though, it's just how it is. I think when you have a population of over 1 billion people, you go when you can go. The driving is another story....they honk at each other endlessly and cut everyone off and ignore the red lights. And if you are crossing the street, you have to be careful because there is no such thing as the pedestrian getting the right of way. Again though, it's not a rude thing or mad with the honking....more of a 'hey I'm right behind you' or 'I'm turning there so move it'. Haha....

So today we got up at about 6:30 am after sleeping really hard. We went down to breakfast and ran into the other couple that is from Crossroads also. They have been here a few days already so it's been good to have them with us and show us the ropes a bit. The hotel has a free buffet breakfast for all the guests. It was big, but very different, of course. We were able to have an omelet made to order and some potatoes, but there were some odd things there too. Preserved eggs that looked like a shelled egg in some brown liquid was not something either of us were willing to try, but the unique fruits were good. There is one called a dragon fruit, I think, and it was white with black seeds throughout....little ones, like poppy seeds...and that was really good. My goal is to try something new every day. We'll see. :)

After breakfast we went with the other couple, Barb and Mark, and their 4 yr. old daughter, Megan (who they adopted here 2 yrs. ago) for a walk down the streets of the city to find a local Walmart we looked up. We found it, but when we went inside it wasn't quite what we expected.

It was on the 7th floor of a building full of other department stores and it was very small. We had hoped to buy some groceries like pop, water, and snacks so that wasn't going to work. Luckily, Barb and Mark knew where there was a small grocery store, so we went there. That was even an experience...just seeing the different foods and seeing some similar ones but with Chinese writing on them.

I looked like a total dork/tourist when I pulled out my camera to take pictures. They were probably talking in Chinese about the crazy American woman taking pictures of fruit. Oh well, I didn't come all this way to leave my camera at home. :) In one of the pictures, you can see the dragon fruit I was telling you about.....the white one with black seeds....it's the cool looking pink one above the bananas. By the way, the bananas cost about $8 for one bunch. Needless to say, we didn't get any.

After bringing our food and Coke Light (their version of Diet Coke that isn't bad, but tastes more lemony) we went down the road to a McDonalds. Ah, the comfort of knowing you can order french fries on the other side of the world and they taste just the same as home.

After parting ways with the others for the afternoon, Jay and I went to the Silk Market. It was completely insane. We knew they would be trying to sell us stuff, but holy cow, it was quite the experience. Every few feet when you get to the next person standing in front of their small area and you hear...."lady, you buy...Lady....dress for you...." "We have your size"....not sure if I should be offended by that. haha..... And oh my goodness, if you gave them even a hint of any interest, that was it. They literally would hold my arm, give me the calculator and ask what you want to pay for it. Wow.... So, as a general rule, they are going to jack up the price a ton and you have to negotiate it down. We made 4 purchases and I think we actually did pretty good. We got something for the boys and a couple things for us. We really didn't want to buy much because we have heard that we'll get better pricing in Guangzhou so we'll wait til we get there for most things. But I love what we got so far.

One man was sitting at a table doing paintings with his hands. Not finger painting....but with all parts of his hands. It was really amazing and we watched him for a while. We ended up getting a simple one and talked him down to less than half the price.

There was a guy writing American names in Chinese. They were just small and simple, but I wanted to get all the boys' names done so they could see it. Just to give you an idea of how they do the pricing......the girl first told me it would be 48 Yuan per name. That's about $8 a piece. I said no, too much.... she lowered it to 30 (about $5). I said no thank you. She said 20, and I said maybe we'll come back. I really at this point wasn't planning on doing them so I was trying to get away....but then...."Lady, Lady, you look at my number" She gives me the calculator and has 15 on it. That's about $2 per name.....one FOURTH her original quote. I said okay. I wonder if people actually pay the first price ever. Maybe they think you will cuz you don't know any better.

For myself, there was a scarf that totally caught my eye. I was walking along saying no thank you over and over until I saw it....I turned around to get a better look and that was it. She had us. I didn't mind though, It is really beautiful and I love it. It's a large pure silk scarf that can even be worn like a shawl. It's white with some Chinese characters on it that represent the year.

The girl working it was so cute and got me to pick out 5 that I liked. She was determined to have me buy 5. I told her only 1 and she quoted me 650 Yuan. That's about $100. It took some time, but I ended up paying 200 for it....which is about $30. Who knows, I might get somewhere else and see that I could have gotten it for less, but I'm actually not worried about that cuz I really love it and I'm so glad I got it. It's beautiful.

Tonight we're going to Beijing Hard Rock Cafe with the other couple. That should be fun! I'll report back later.

Thank you for all the continued prayers and well wishes.