Settling into the foreign life – China Letter V.

Written in early March 2007.

The Chinese New Year just ended.  I love the Chinese New Year.  My favorite part was the red envelopes.  They’re pretty.  Oh, and they have money in them.  Most of the managers at the hotel give red envelopes to all the employees.  Generally there is 10 Yuan in each envelope.  Monday I received one with 100 Yuan from a guest.  Very fun….

Most of the people I work with speak at least a bit of English.  Their “Chenglish” is pretty funny sometimes.  The other day one of my colleagues at the reception desk said, “I saw your old country boss, Bill Clinton, at the Crowne Plaza one day.”  I love it…I’m calling the President our country boss from now on.

Another colleague, Lillian, told me that before her English name was Lillian she had chosen No-No to be her name because it’s short, easy to remember, and she thinks “that No-No is a very lovely name.”

Amy & Nono

No-No and I still keep in touch.

I spend a great deal of time proofreading things that my co-workers write in English:  incident reports, emails, résumés, resignation letters, love letters….  I should have minored in English.

Wednesday night I went to Shekou with some friends. They wanted to stay out later than I did so I decided to catch a cab back to the apartment by myself.  It was then that I realized I did not know how to say “Happy Valley” (the amusement park near the apartments) or “Crowne Plaza” (the hotel right next door) in Chinese. And wouldn’t you know it, I had forgot my mobile in my room so I couldn’t call one of my Chinese friends and ask them to translate to the driver.  Finally, I said “Shennan Road, Shenzhen” and the driver (his name was Qu Hai Qian and he was the nicest little man) knew that one.  So he got me to Shennan Blvd and I just kept motioning for him to go straight until I saw the CrownePlaza.

At one point Qu Hai Qian yawned and I asked him, “Nee lai la ma?”  He responded with “Mayo lai,” and I’m sure was very impressed with the fact that I could carry on a conversation about being sleepy.  Why in the world would I need to know my actual address when I can ask someone if they are tired?  That’s practical.

I just got back from a trip to Beijing and I’m going to keep you in suspense on the details of that adventure.  You can look forward to hearing all about the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, Tian’anmen Square, and Beijing in general.  It was wild, I can assure you.

Camel at the Great Wall

Write me and let me know how all of you are doing!  I love hearing about what’s going on in all of your lives.  It’s like I’m completely cut off from pop culture (I didn’t even know that Britney Spears shaved her head for the longest time), which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Also, if these letters or the links to the pictures aren’t opening for you, let me know and I’ll try to get them to you some other way. Like by one of those carrier pigeons or something.


5 thoughts on “Settling into the foreign life – China Letter V.

  1. your stories make me remember back to when i studied & lived in abroad, and it’s always such happy memories. the first night i lived in puerto vallarta, mexico, i went to dinner in the city with some friends, and when we took a taxi home, we had to say ‘left’ and ‘right’ and point here and there because we couldn’t remember the address– big oops! need to keep the address in your shoe or something…

  2. No-No–what a name! I can’t say it without thinking of the hair removal thing that has all the annoying Saturday morning infomercials. I had a disasterous cab ride once when I lived in China, too! Except my Chinese was way worse than yours, so I knew the name of my destination, but the cab driver couldn’t understand what I was saying. And I had the words for “right” and “left” confused, so I was reduced to pointing in the direction that I wanted to go. And I didn’t know the way home as well as I should have so I got lost. I feel like we circled around forever until I finally saw a familiar landmark…the perils of living in a foreign country! :-/

  3. You know what, knowing how to ask someone if they are sleepy is just as important if not more so than knowing your address! You can make friends by asking them questions about themselves! Getting home is just part of the fun. ;) My dad was always concerned that we would somehow forget our address so when either Abby or I went out we had to take a business card from the school (which had the school’s address and phone number on it). Granted, I can’t blame him. We didn’t have cellphones back then so he and my mom were just trusting that we’d make it to our destination safely, haha!

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