Sunday, September 27, 2009

Best of Changzhou

September 26, 2009

Before I came to China my friend Ryleigh told me that I would have experiences in here that no one would ever understand unless they were there. I wondered what type of experiences would fit this category. Today was the fist day that I decided would be almost impossible to accurately describe to an outsider. But I’m going to give it a go.

It was supposed to start off with “lunch for Mr. Fung’s birthday.” Mr. Fung is the beloved bus driver that carts us around town if we’re on a special errand or something. He was turning 36 and doesn’t speak a lick of English…. But still invited all 11 of us girls to something much more flashy than we would have expected. We were told that there would be cars to pick us up. A random bunch of 3 or 4 cars came and we loaded up into them one by one. It only took about 7 minutes drive to get there. Funny how nice it was to be in a car for once. I noticed how smoother the ride was compared to the bus. We unloaded along with about 10 other teachers from our Tsing Ying school. After going through a couple of buildings we were lead up a marble staircase to the designated party room. After everyone was seated there were maybe 100 people in this room. I knew it would be an interesting meal, just looking at the things they had already pre-dished up for us. Course after course after course came. Everything Chinese you could imagine: noodles, rice porridge, duck, eel, chicken feet, dates, sweet potato, egg rolls, whole fish, shrimp, birthday cake, miso soup, beef tendon, “roast” beef, snake, beans, watermelon, fish eggs, dumplings, and MEAT after MEAT after MEAT. And its not like we just went in a line and picked what we wanted…. They brought us these dishes for each table. Each dish had PLENTY of food for each girl. We started counting the courses after a while. An hour and a half had passed and we assumed that the meal was coming close to an end. The dishes kept coming. It then became a game and we started to count the plates. Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen…. And so on til 30 COURSES. And so it was, the most full I’ve been in 4 weeks. They gave us elaborately wrapped/decorated party favors including candy, individual birthday cakes to take home, cigarettes, lighters, and Great Wall Cabernet. Haha. Too funny. Mr. Fung’s 14 year old son was boozing it up the whole time with the adults.

Next we made our way upstairs to a reserved KTV room. KARIOKE. It’s so big here. This soon gravitated from singing Chinese songs we were unfamiliar with to just a big dance party including a lot of Mr. Fung’s friends. The Chinese boys our age were extremely drunk from lunch and were continuously asking most of us girls if we had a boyfriend or if we wanted a Chinese boyfriend. One that I named Harry would not leave me alone ha. He was really nice but just a little pushy. He put his camera phone two inches in front of my face a few different times to try and get a good shot of me … even though the “lighting was bad.” ☺ We eventually were all on the dance floor when Harry pulled me into the middle of the circle to get groovy with him. Ha- this worried me a little. So I quickly grabbed both of his hands, stretched out our arms to make a distanced circle between us, and did an almost galloping motion from right to right and then left to left ha. It reminded me of the dance move that Jo March does on Little Women with Teddy. And the Asians aren’t too big into it. Ha. Harry kept giving me the up-and-down along with “I like it” and “You are so nice.” So I told him I had a boyfriend.

We left that huge Birthday party and were taken back to the school in cars. Next on the agenda was an ILP family that came from Shanghai to visit us. They had really young kids (one was a baby). The Mom is in her mid thirties and did ILP twice in China. Between the two ILP’s she served a mission in Taiwan. The Husband was a head teacher with her the second time she did ILP in china (both of them speak awesome Chinese). We met the family at the regional conference in Shanghai and they just told us that they wanted to bring us some stuff that we probably couldn’t find here. GEE. They were too nice. For each girl they brought pancake mix, boxed cereal, 3 containers of soy milk, peanut butter, jam, cake mix, syrup, frosting, spaghetti, and a bunch of other stuff. Just dropped it off… all of that food for all of us like it was no big deal. How nice of them. We just couldn’t get over how thoughtful it was of them to drive 90 minutes to basically bring complete strangers a bunch of food and head back home.

Next we had to make it to a performance. This was our 4th time performing our dance routine. It shows a lot of our Chinese teachers from the school and a little bit of us. It has been a big deal thing. At the beginning when we were learning it, our rehearsals would last up to 6 hours or so. Anyway….. So we get to this outdoor stage to perform. There were already a couple thousand people seated- government officials to be exact. We waited a while for the program to start and BAMM. Fireworks! Yep, it has begun. I think I see fireworks every week in China. And I catch myself wondering if they’re ok with the sky being gray every day. So, the fireworks get going, we wait for our turn to perform and we’re on stage. Being the tallest, I’m in the Middle… actually front and center ha. It was fun. I loved hamming it up on stage and keeping a big cheesy grin on my face the whole time. It’s hard to imagine this, but picture a bunch of Chinese teachers in Michael Jackson and flapper girl outfits dancing away on stage, followed by 11 young female Americans in denim capris and bright colored polos dancing to a song that says “Chihuahua” over and over. Bubble machines going off on either side of the stage as well as a fog machine. EVERYTHING in China has to be really glamorous (or in my opinion extremely overdone ha). But nonetheless it is totally part of the culture and its fun to be a part of that. So we finish performing, the crowd goes wild for the Tsing Ying school and we go off stage. About an hour later we do the finale number with all of the performers which includes a lot of froofy/graceful moves with our arms and hands. We stand still in the final pose and AGAIN, fireworks! But this time BIG fireworks. Like the ones in Eagle Wood on the 4th of July. We were blown away by the fact that they were going off directly above us. We were literally cowering our heads to avoid the debris falling from the sky as the show went on for five more minutes. This didn’t seem to be a problem to anyone else ha… and it also seemed completely normal to have this firework show in the middle of the city next to a bunch of 34 story office buildings.

Oh China ☺


erin noelle said...

I am speechless. I can't believe what I just read. 30 courses? Too fresh Harry? You're dancing in Capris with bubbles? You couldn't have made this up. WOW

Karlie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karlie said...

uh Amen. WOW. ha Brookie that sounds absolutely incredible/outrageous. I bet you're rocking it all- especially the dancing/singing (what can I say- Xela has trained us well... ha).

Melanie said...

Oh Shoko, that was fabulous! I was laughing so hard. I could picture you perfectly with Harry and also hamming it up on the stage. You did a great job of painting the picture of your day for us. Love you.

Natalie said...

brooke, I can just imagine you on stage... it's like Ms. Cache Valley, Take 2! Your adventures sound sooooo fun! I was just laughing while reading this in the library, no nig deal. people think I'm crazy!
Keep it real over there in the asian world.