Day 124 - Dragonboat Semi-Explained

Friday, June 10th, 2016
Smog Level: 2/3

Late at Night

I’m not sure what I was thinking about when I wrote the following, but I knew it was while lying awake, unable to sleep when I did it. So here it goes:
If you read this blog and think "man, this guy's full of doubt!” You're right! Hell, who isn't? I'd say lacking doubt would probably make you a fool, maybe dangerous, and likely have no idea what you're talking about. Possibly all three! We're all doubtful about the things that matter to us. In a strange way, that makes those things all the better and more exciting. I’ve said this before: if everything always worked out exactly as we planned and we always got what we wanted, life would be sterile, predictable, and boring. Oh look, I won.  Again. Hooray. 

These sort of small, round-ish, fiberglass mascots are common.
Dragonboat Background

I didn’t explain dragon boat. Back when China was all split up into kingdoms, there was this guy who was so loyal to his king that he refused to serve any other. When that king died or otherwise defeated, he refused to serve the new head of state and decided to kill himself by tying something to his feet and jumping off a bridge. 

Because people so admired his dedication to their former king, they threw in rice to.. uh.. stop the fish from eating his body. The fish, of course, would eventually get around to it, but busied themselves temporarily with these strange white morsels. 

What does this have to do with Dragons and boats? I have absolutely no idea, but that’s the reason they eat these rise things called zongzi, which are really sticky rice filled with various things, the most common being dates, all wrapped up in seaweed and boiled. The south of China likes salty, meat/egg filled ones, while the north likes sweeter ones. If you get the chance, actively avoid what the south likes, and stick to what the north likes. Overall, worth a try, but not something I would ever seek out.

Lagging Leg Day

Shimou and I hit the gym together. It’s leg day, gotta get them squats on. I really neglect legs. The AC is not turned up enough, so I’m drenched and people stare at me. Stare at me, and all of my sticky, dripping glory, you FOOLS! There’s a chick working out while wearing a corset who is also sharing the attention. It’s beyond me why you would work out while wearing a corset. Limited range while lifting weights? Oh boy! Maybe if wearing the body armor you’re going into combat with…

Beijing Pizza Hut
Nothing says class like jars of dry pasta on dark wood shelving!
Public Panic

We’re walking back from the gym. It’s overcast. Suddenly, everyone in the immediate vicinity starts running like a hurricane is coming. 

“What’s going on? Why is everyone running?” I ask Shimou. 
Obviously, because they don’t want to get wet.” Shimou responds. It's a light drizzle, what you might describe as 'spitting'. Bit dramatic. Then again, this is desert climate, so rain is somewhat uncommon. Like the Perth folk - made of sugar!

Paid Games

Tutor Lola, the 6 year old. She thinks it's just a game time, wants to play hide and seek. I play one round to teach her “hotter” and “colder,” but leave it at that. She also refers to Shimou as Ayi, which is pretty much what you call any woman doing some sort of service for you - cleaning, babysitting, cooking. Whatever sexist things that were deigned “women’s work” is still commonly “women’s work” here, and thus they are all called Ayi - Aunt. 

Like I’ve said - time warp.

Damn Girl, look at those legz
Too Much Pizza

After a 2 hour nap, we Uber over to pizza hut to meet Shimou’s brother and step-mother. He always wants pizza, so pizza it is. Too much pizza. Three times in two weeks. The driver says “zài zhè” as in “it’s here” and points to the other side of the street. Shimou translates, forgetting that I’m at least partially a sinophone.* But it's probably better that she helps me by translating.

Gotta say, Pizza Hut really ups their game here. They really pretend to be higher dining than back home. If you order 4 drinks, you get a free large pizza. That’s a damn good deal. We eat our fill, and I’m stuck, mostly mute, because my Chinese is pure function, no socializing. Well, except teasing and bickering, but it’s best to keep that put away. I find myself stuck in the middle of a family affair that I can only guess at. The body language and emotional tenor say it’s bad, and seems like they’re figuring out what to do. I also can catch general social phrases, but no details. Either way, it’s not my business, so I don't' actively listen.

Hotels and Human Parrots

Shimou and I decided to rent a hotel room as something to do for the long weekend, since we didn’t go anywhere. There happened to be a relatively cheap one near the Pizza hut we went to, which just so-happened to work out like that. We said goodbye and walked there.

Headboard and Walls. It was too cramped
to take decent photos.
While walking, I hear Chinese phrases I know and I parrot them. This is a bad habit, and have almost been caught a couple times. The worst one is when I’m almost caught saying “Méiyǒuuuuu” in a mocking, irritated tone. This, by the way, means "I am not," "did not," or "I don't have!" They’re legitimately irritated. And here I am, some random foreigner, mockingly echoing them.. Then again, I’m a giant, so… they'll probably let it slide. While we walk, Shimou says how she grew up here and likes the area. We pass by a couple girls who openly stare at me. Shimou’s attitude shifts: “This place is dangerous, you shouldn’t come here!” she semi-jokes.

The Hotel

In the hotel room, it smells like water damage and mildew, as indicated by the hallways covered in cloths. The hotel has themed rooms, ours is “pink.” I don’t really mind. One thing I’ll point out is that there’s nothing less sexy than complete, unfiltered knowledge of another person. Some may argue with me, but try that argument when your partner has to drop a deuce and the only toilet is encased in clear glass, visible from everywhere in the small room.

On a lighter note, we enjoyed eating our cherries that we bought from a street vendor while watching a movie. “This is paradise” Shimou sighed as she fell asleep.

*Had to google the word. It's like Anglophone or francophone. Sinophone is someone who speaks some variation of Chinese.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
(Bear in mind that this can also be used for a restaurant, depending where you are. Still not 100% clear on that)

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