The final stretch – China Letter IX.

Written in early November 2007.

One fun thing about being a foreigner is when people try to guess where you are from.  For myself, I’ve heard England, Australia, Canada, France….  The presumption that I hear the most, however, is Russia.  Apparently, I look Russian.

Once I begin to speak, most people quickly deduce that I am an American.  Then they try to figure out what region of the US I’m from based on my accent.  The general consensus is that I sound East Coast, which is completely not accurate….

There are a great number of foreigners who stay on the executive club floor, which is where I am currently working.  Many are frequent guests and I’ve developed a friendly rapport with them.  It’s pretty easy to make friends when you remember that someone drinks cappuccinos and likes poached eggs with wheat toast, for instance.

After 10 months here, I have managed to integrate myself into the Shenzhen community a bit.  I am a member of a gym that is very near my apartment building.  The equipment is not state of the art and I have serious doubts that there is a functioning air conditioner, but it’s clean and certainly better than running outside, which is what I was doing.  I’ve even attended a few of the yoga classes that are offered.  Naturally, they are conducted solely in Chinese, so I’m a few beats behind everyone at all times.

Also, desperate for something to read, I obtained a “reader’s card” from the Shenzhen Public Library.  Their foreign book collection is a bit sparse, and you have to put down a 200 yuan (about 25 USD) deposit to check them out.  They have quite a few classics so I figured this is as good a time as any to get caught up on my Bronte, Hemingway, and Austin.

Many of you have asked when I’m coming home and what my plans are for post-China.  The answers are, respectively, I don’t know and I don’t know.  My contract ends in January and I plan to go home (fly out on January 3, local time—home for my birthday on the 4th!!) for a few weeks at that point.  I could possibly stay here in Shenzhen, based on a recent conversation that I had with the Quality and Training director regarding some of the opportunities that she can provide.  I may try to transfer to another IHG property (in the States or another country…who knows?).  I’ve also began pursuing a few career path leads outside of hotels.

I am beyond excited that Dale and Mom have consented to Lisa coming to visit me for about a week in December before I leave.  Someone to help me lug home all the stuff I’ve bought!  And I’m so excited to see her and show her around my Shenzhen life.

Thanksgiving in Shanghai

Shanghai view

Shanghai street food

I love street food. And I think I was much braver then about eating it than I would be today.

Shanghai night


Beach Trip with Friends

Beach boatMe: Do you think that boat is safe?
Anderson: (*long pause*nervous laugh*) Well, I think maybe…

Beach girls

Street Barbeque

Street BBQ

Street BBQ 2

Lisa’s Visit to Hong Kong

Erin's apartment Hong Kong

My friend Erin was nice enough to let us use her apartment in Hong Kong when Lisa came to town. Todd and I had to entertain ourselves with Starbucks and books while Lisa slept off her jet lag.

Lisa Todd Lamma

Trip to Lamma Island

Todd Amy Lisa Hong Kong

Last Week in Shenzhen

Amy Pepsi Lisa Pipette

Going Away Dinner

Lisa Mia

Going Away Party

Last China Picture

This was the last photo I have from my time in China. It was taken outside the hotel where I’d worked. Also pictured are two door girls whose names I can’t recall and two bellhops who had become good friends: Anderson and Steven. I remember feeling so sad to leave the country that had been my world – for better or worse – for twelve months.

I loved my time in China and the memories I have of that year are some of my favorite memories.  After my time in China, I began a temporary job at a company.  Temporary turned into permanent and I was there for six years.  When I left China, I’d had every intention of going back to Asia to live in another country – South Korea was on my mind at the time – but, as it so often does, life happened.  And I’m so glad it did because it got to me where I am today. 


5 thoughts on “The final stretch – China Letter IX.

  1. So first of all… I got a little something in the mail this weekend!! I started giddily jumping up and down when I saw it! You better believe I’m jammin’ out to some Wicked in the car! :) Thanks so much, friend! You are so sweet! :)

    There were fewer foreigners where we lived (in Wuhan) so the locals assumed that all white people who spoke English were Americans (regardless of accent). There was another teacher at our school who was from Australia and everyone thought he was American even though he didn’t sound it at all. So no one ever thought we were from anywhere other than the States. I could see why people might think you are from France. You have that slender frame that is so typically seen as French. I’m not as sure about Russian, though, haha!

  2. yoga classes in chinese? that makes me giggle. my friends and i went to a bingo night while we were visiting barcelona, and – holy cow- we were so lost! we were living in rome and taking italian, and we thought we could pick up on the spanish but ooooh nooo- not when the numbers are shot off rapid fire fast. needless to say, none of us cried out the glorious BINGO!

  3. That Jet Lag was for real. Even after following direct orders to stay up late the night before, not sleep on the plane to LAX then I could sleep the whole 15 hours to Hong Kong… Still had to sleep for 4 hours when I arrived in HK. It was so much fun and such a great experience, I would go back in a heart beat.

  4. Wow–how brave of you to take yoga in Chinese! When we lived in China, Justin took a wushu (martial arts) class in Chinese. He learned the words for numbers and poses quickly! And his classmates and his shifu were thrilled to have him there!

    I get what you mean about going back…Justin and I always said that if we had the chance to live overseas again, we’d want to do South Korea–it’s such a cool place! A couple of our British friends fully intended to move back to China as soon as they could get their paperwork together back home, and so far, neither of them have gone back (we keep up with them on Facebook). In fact, one of them is having a baby soon–so I’m sure her world traveling is going to be put aside for awhile! I guess that’s just what happens….But I would love to go back for a visit sometime (like 1-2 weeks) and take Jake with us when he’s old enough to really remember it!

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