Impressions of China (a newcomer perspective of my first day)
It has come to my attention that some people have recounted their tales of first arriving in China, some positive, some not so positive on this site. I thought I could give my own account and opinions on my first day in China, read it if you'd like.
Part 1: The Flight (Or the time I forgot my luggage)
Everyone has their own horror stories of transatlantic flights, however, I seemed to luck out and suprisingly had an excellent experience. I was flying from Tampa, Florida to Guangzhou,China. Being the thrify traveler I am I chose the cheap route, meaning many stops. So I flew from Tampa to Detroit, which was a short flight. From Detroit I had my transatlantic flight to Shanghai. As if my prayers were heard by some cosmic entity, the person who was supposed to sit next to me (I had a window seat) did not show up. I got to share the whole row with a very petite, nice Taiwanese woman. It was a pleasant surprise, and I avoided one of my worst fears in travel (being stuck next to someone for 15 hours in a cramped flight). Being 1.92m tall and with very wide shoulders I am not exactly the ideal travel buddy. I made it to Shanghai very quickly, enterntaining myself with random on flight movies and stuff I bought using www.4SaleUSA.com codes, at which point I made it to my flight to Baiyun airport which was also pleasant. Except for the fact that I forgot to grab my luggage in Shanghai to transfer to Baiyun. Opps. Luckily my luggage was rushed to the airport in a few days, but it was interesting spending my first few days in the very, very humid Guangzhou in one set of clothes. (I could not buy any because nothing fit, could even find flip flops even close to my size).
Part 2: We're eating what? (Too drunk to care)
I was lucky enough to have a family friend who offered for me to stay at his house for several months while I got used to China and found my own place, he has lived in the area for a little over 5 years and has a business here. The very first night we were invited to his business partners daughters 2nd birthday. It was a very intimate, small celebration, something that apparently is not very common for a stranger to be invited to, but they were gracious enough to invite me. The hosts father, a older gentleman of about 80 years of age, brought some homemade mijiu, which was amazing, and also deceptively strong. As I was fed the alcohol and course after course of Chinese meals, I never bothered to ask what I was eating. At some point I decided to ask, which ended up being jellyfish, and some form of crustacean which I can only describe as the face parasites from Half Life 2. At that point I was too tired and drunk to care, and just enjoyed the exotic food.
Part 3: Final thoughts (Enjoying my own personal sauna)
Despite living in Florida, the humidity in Guangzhou hit me like a ton of bricks. Within minutes of leaving the building I looked like I just ran half a marathon. It is something I am not getting quite used to, but the first few days I felt like I was constantly in a sauna. Another thing that is completely different is the shopping style. Being used to the western "go to a store, make no eye contact, get your stuff and get out" type of shopping, it was an interesting change of pace to actually have to talk to people to get what you wants. Knowing no Chinese beyond how to introduce myself, it was quite difficult to actually buy anything, but the locals are friendly in helpful, helping me along to get what I needed. Overall I was quite surprised with how friendly and helpful the locals are. Maybe the fact that I refuse to use English and instead rather point or just look up how to say things makes them a little more helpful. Another fun thing, especially on the metro, is the fact that it's easy to tower over everyone. On my first ride on the metro Line 5 I was in the final wagon, and managed to see the very front one unobstucted. The only thing that is hard to get used to, which seems to be just a reality of living here, is the staring. However, i understand it. I grew up in Poland, and the first time I saw Africans it was the only thing I could do is to stare.
Overall, while it was quite hectic, my first day was excellent and exciting, and I am looking foreward to living in this wonderful country.
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