Friday, August 29, 2008

I know I said that I would stop writing about the whole ABC vs. FOB, Chinese vs. American internal struggle, but it just got interesting again. I've been here at this new site for a couple of days now and people are starting to approach me. There are about 20 of us who eat, sleep, and live in the same dorm. They've been wondering who the new guy is.

It started the other night with my new roommate. I don't think that the guy speaks any English at all. (It's not a big deal though because he's moving out in a few days. Yay for a single room!) Anyway, after I was done introducing myself, he asked, "Are you Japanese or Korean?" WHAAA? That totally threw me for a loop. I went ahead and explained that I'm Chinese but I was born in the US. I even told him that my grandparents were all from Guangdong. (Guangdong is the name of the province in China where I've been located.)

Anyway, I kind of forgot about it. I mean it only happened once right? Wrong. At dinner tonight, I was asked the same question by two other people

"So are you Japanese or Korean?"

"I'm Chinese, but I was born in America."

"Really? It's just that look very Korean and/or Japanese."

It's not a bad thing; I'm not offended by it in any way. I just think it's really funny. Before I was always worried about sticking out as the American guy. Apparently, now I stick out as the Japanese/Korean guy in a factory full of Chinese and Taiwanese workers.

I have two theories as to why. The first is because I'm a third generation Chinese American. Maybe my blood/DNA is "less pure," so I don't look as Chinese. (I know that doesn't make any sense. I'm grasping at straws here.) My other theory is my crazy hair. As I've mentioned before, I'm waiting until I go to Taiwan next month before I cut it. (I been warned about getting my hair cut here in China) It's getting pretty wild though. I kind of like the long hair; I might just grow it out until I get back to the US! I leave you with this picture below:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Regular readers will remember when I was raving about the Spicy McWings at McDonald's. Well these wings just got better...

About a week ago they started a new promotion. For an extra 1 RMB (about $0.15 US) you can buy a packet of hot spices to pour on the Spicy McWings. Check it out:

Now the name of the spice is 麻辣. It's pronounced exactly as it's spelled: "ma la". "Ma" means numbness and "la" means spicy. So basically "ma la" describes that mouth numbing sensation you get from eating really spicy food.

The cool thing is that they serve the Spicy McWings in a small paper bag. You just pour the ma la powder into the bag and shake it up. It's fun and tasty!

I'm definitely going to have to bring a bunch of these packets back with me to the US! It's so good! I don't even care about how much MSG they put in it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Today I had a complete emotional meltdown at work. It happened just after my lunch break. I woke up from my daily nap feeling strangely sad and homesick. Being around two of my coworkers, I tried to fend off the tears. However, it got to the point where I couldn't hold them off anymore. I quickly made my way down the hall to the bathroom. In the "privacy" of a bathroom stall I let out all my frustrations; it was uncontrollable. Without toilet paper, I just let the tears run down my face and onto my shirt.

Being uprooted and having to start over is incredibly difficult. I hadn't cried my eyes out like that since my first week in China. I know that they're not the same, but moving from Shenzhen to Foshan feels a lot like when I moved from the US to China. Again, I'm in a new place where I don't know anyone. I can speak more Mandarin, but I still feel alienated and isolated. I'm afraid to approach people because I can barely even hold a conversation. My training is still all in Mandarin and I can barely understand what is going on.

I'm trying really hard to keep an open mind about this place. Hell, I've only been two days. Having hit rock bottom today, I know things can only get better from here. I just need to settle into a routine. I just need to get to know some of my coworkers. And most importantly, I need to keep studying Mandarin.

And it's not all bad. I actually have the time and facilities for exercise. That ought to get the endorphins running to make me feel better, right?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

奥运加油! 中国加油! (Ao yun jia you! Zhong guo jia you!)

This was the official cheer of the Olympics. "Jia you" is an encouraging cheer. It's like our English phrase, "You can do it!" "Ao yun" means Olympics and "zhong guo" means China. Put it all together and you get something like "Go Olympics! Go China!"

I won't be hearing these cheers anymore though. The closing ceremonies for the Olympics were held the other day. It marked the end of an amazing and unforgettable Summer Olympics. Let's see, we had:

-Michael Phelps amazing record breaking 8 gold medals at a single Olympics
-The US Redeem Team's redemption with a gold medal in men's basketball (Honestly, this was the only I actually cared about the US winning.)
-Usain Bolt's gold medal wins in both the 100m and 200m events
-Liu Xiang's heartbreaking/disappointing injury that kept him from hurdling
-China's dominating gold medal conquest

Reflecting on the last two weeks, I have really mixed feelings about my Olympic experiences. Sadly, it didn't quite live up to what I expected. I expected everything to be so much more intense and emotional. I had this preconceived notion of people cheering in the streets. I wanted to see raw emotion with tears of joy and pride. I mean people were excited, but it always felt kind of lukewarm.

If I were in Beijing, I think I would have seen more of this. Shenzhen is a good 1200 miles away from Beijing. When you're that far away, it's unreasonable expect the same electrifying atmosphere.

Don't get me wrong, the Olympics were an exciting time for China and its people. I think people were really proud of China. I can't tell you how many times coworkers would ask me if I knew the medal count; they just want to remind me again that China was creaming the US in the gold medal count. I mean people would stop in their tracks just to watch Olympic events in public. (In fact, I watched the gold medal men's basketball game in a McDonald's of all places. There were about 30 of us just sitting there in McDonald's for hours.)

Two weekends ago I took these pictures of people hanging out at to mall to watch:

And last weekend I took these pictures an $15 all you can eat Japanese restaurant. The Olympics were playing at pretty much every restaurant:

My major regret was never being able to see an Olympic event. I mean I'm half way around the world in China at the same time as the Summer Olympics. How often are you in the same country at the same time as the Olympics? I know it was 1200 miles away, but I had hoped that I would be able to steal away a weekend or day to go see just one event. I wanted to see the Bird's Nest Stadium and the Water Cube. I'd even take just a trip to the Olympic Village. It seems like such a waste to be so close yet so far.

So I say a reluctant goodbye to a once in a lifetime experience. There's always London in 2012...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Here's a quick update with some pictures!

Here's a picture of my room. I share it with another guy. I haven't met him though. It's midnight and he never came home. Oh well:

Here's a picture of my desk:

Here's a picture of my bathroom. Now I have a divider between my shower and my toilet! I guess no more crapping while showering :(

Here's a picture of the lounge area located just outside of my room. Every floor of the dormitory has one:

And this is a picture of the view outside of my window. Basketball courts, badminton courts, and running track, oh my! I'm definitely going to have to start playing basketball again. How can I not when it's this close. It'll be good for me. I'm a little starved for exercise after Shenzhen.

Other neato things about this place:
Downstairs is a pool table.
The meals are all served just downstairs.
The meals are AYCE(aka buffet style)
There's a cafe on this site.
There's a market on this site.

Tomorrow is my first day of work here. Wish me luck!

Click here for more pictures!

Amidst light showers, I arrived in Foshan this afternoon. It was a traffic filled 2-3 hour drive but I made it. Because of the move from Shenzhen to Foshan, the company gave me the day off actually. That means I got to sleep in this morning! Well kind of anyway. I was accidentally woken up early this morning. Not expecting anyone to be home, my housekeeper barged into my room at 8:00 A.M. It was fine though; I needed to finish packing anyway. (Of course Alan would wait untill the absolute last minute to pack.)

So how is it? Honestly, I've been feeling really depressed since I got here. The panic of starting over is getting to me. I was just beginning to get comfortable back in Shenzhen; I felt at home. I felt like myself. I was joking around and talking with coworkers. I was even going out with them to hang out on weekends. I had a regular daily routine and I knew what to expect at work everyday. I had stability.

I know that stupid to get so worked up about it; I've been here for less than five hours. I can't help it though. I'm lonely because I don't know anyone. (I'm probably the only American here as well.) I'm scared because I don't know what to expect. Foshan may only be about 70 miles from Shenzhen, but it feels like I've been sent halfway around the world again.

This isn't the first time I've felt this way. This is exactly what I went through when I first landed in China and started working in Shenzhen. It's the sensation of being scared shitless. It's a hollowing fear that leaves you with a sinking feeling in your gut. It's the fear of being chewed up and spit out by the unknown.

But despite my worries, I know that things will be okay. The past six weeks taught me a lot about myself. The homesickness and isolation have pushed my psyche to the limit. I've had to quickly adapt and adjust in a country where I can barely speak the language. I manged to make it though all the frustration, tears, and fears.

I've done it once and I know that I can do it again. It won't be easy though. Not at least in the beginning. The first steps are always the hardest. For these first few days/weeks I just need to be strong. Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

“I’m on a world tour and I’m in command
Goin each and everyplace with a camera in hand
D.C., Paris, Kenya, Rome.”

Anyway, last Sunday I went to Window of the World, a theme park located in Downtown Shenzhen. The “theme” is famous tourist attractions from around the globe … only miniaturized. It’s got this strange, sort of tasteless kitschy style, but it was fun. It’s a one and done type of place though; I can’t imagine it having the same appeal during a second visit. Come visit with me though:

“Let's go to sleep in Paris”

This is a picture of the train station that stops right in front of WW. Yeah that’s right, the train station looks like the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. I didn’t even realize that’s what it was until I looked at the theme park map. Haha.

“And wake up in Tokyo.”

The first stop on my world tour was Japan. This picture is from a replica of the Katsura Imperial Villa. It's a very surreal experience: you're walking around a "Japanese" garden and villa and you almost forget you're in China. Then you look up an see the sprawling Shenzhen skyline.

Anyway they really go all out at this place. Everyday they have “authentic” tea ceremonies and song/dance performances throughout the day. You can even pay to wear costumes and take pictures in them. WOW.

As I worked my way though Asia I ended up in Cambodia. This is the "Southeast Asian Waterside Village" with kids feeding a mass of koi fish:

"And we can land in the mother land"

This is the miniature Kenyan National Park with tiny plastic animals!

“Camelback across the desert sand”

Yeah they actually had camels there. You could pay ride a camel. Madness. But they gave you cool "camel" hat to wear while you rode it.

"Take a train, to Rome," (at the Colosseum)

"or home," (i.e. the US at the Lincoln Memorial in D.C.)

Then to unique New York. Here is Lady Liberty herself. (I just love having random people in these photographs. It really gives you a sense of how absurd this place is!)

They even had “real” Native Americans there! (They just call them Indians here. I wonder how they differentiate them from people from India?) For 10 RMB (~ $1.50), you shoot a “real” bow and arrow:

There’s something very unsetting about just portraying really dark shirtless Chinese people as Native American. Am I the only one who finds this disturbingly funny?

Then I went to Venice, Italy. Here is St. Mark's Square with the Eiffel Tower in the background haha:

Finally, I made my way back to where I started: Paris

Click here for the gallery and more pictures.