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.”
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.
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.