I love jelly beans. My fellow arty teacher reminded me of this love, leading to the end of my teaching week being a very delicious and fruity one. Lucky, or unlucky for me, my weekend begins on a wednesday night. Last wednesday the countdown to 8.30pm went much quicker thanks to the jelly beans. Now, after every class, I reward myself with one of each flavour. Individually they taste great. But great isn’t good enough. Together,….together, they taste marvellous!
This week I have been enjoying food alot. Not that I don’t usually enjoy food, but this week I seem to have retrieved some forgotten tastes. Specifically pumpkin cakes. They are so amazing. Little bits of squidgy pumpkin, fried and coated in shredded coconut, or sesame seeds. Wow. Jiaozi. All kinds of jiaozi. Japanese seaweed with pork, pork with sweetcorn, just pork, prawns, to mention a few.
I was terrified the first time someone bought them for me. It happened to be my first night in China, last year. As the waiter guy brought them to the table, I was shaking. What on earth are these slimy, see-through, gooey, wobbly shapes doing on my plate? Well, seriously, don’t EVER judge Chinese food by its look alone. They tasted bloody good. After the first taste I became obsessed. Everynight I would run to the canteen at 10pm, hair dripping wet (we were only given hot water from 7-9.30pm in our dorms….), pyjamas on. I would gobble down 10 jiaozi, sometimes 20, depending on how intense my cravings were.
Then there would be periods of time where I couldn’t look at another jiaozi. This usually happened after eating 20. I would be scarred for about 3days, then I would hop back on the jiaozi train. Oh, for those of you who don’t know, jiaozi are dumplings. I even got the chance to make some of my own. Twice infact. The first time was in my Chinese cooking class last year. They were delicious….because I just watched. Steamed ones, fried ones, other kinds of ones. Yummy. The second time I made them was in Cape Town. Let’s not discuss that one. I decided to boil them. It would work right? NO. It wouldn’t work. They came out of the pot, I put them on our plates, they wobbled around for about 10seconds and then…completely fell apart. Everything fell out and floated in the unknown, water-like substance on my plate. Next time, take note, leave it to the professionals.
So, anyway this post is supposed to be about my week. Not just food. Hmmm…OK so yes, last thursday I was so excited. I’d planned a full afternoon’s schedule of movies. There was an Italian film festival happening in the city, and it was free. Yay! I wrote down the address and off we went. Arriving at the metro station we looked around. Ghetto. Now, this festival was organised by the Italian embassy. I was imagining a classy, old-school cinema vibe. Determined to find it, we marched on, or rather I marched on dragging Dan behind me. Well, we searched and we searched. I asked a few people which way to go, and they all pointed in different directions.
That’s the thing with China. I speak in Chinese to them and they get this look on their face. I can tell they are thinking ‘oh my golly, she is speaking Chinese. But she isn’t Chinese…?! This is funny. I’m going to laugh. Oh no, what did she say? I wasn’t listening…OK well just smile, and point, and say byebye.’
I always walk away knowing that either they had absolutely no idea of what I was saying (my oral Chinese isn’t quite up to scratch) or they just chose to stare at me and laugh, completely oblivious to the fact that I am lost and need help.
After wandering around dusty construction yards, and wandering in and out of weird hotels, we decided to head back to the metro. I was, of course, gutted. What a disappointment. Oh, but I don’t give up that easily. I will just try again tomorrow, I told myself.
That night however, we pushed through the failure that was our day and decided to make another little mission. We whizzed in a taxi to the edge of the city. A big forest awaited. A guard, on call, mistaking us for someone else, directed us with very good English, yay, to our destination. We followed twisty paths and a beautiful, sparkling lake, as well as two giant hands- deliberately placed to welcome us. A giant building awaited. Inside we could hear chattering in anticipation for the second round of some sweet ‘honey’ music.
Like a king and queen, we took to our flowery, fabricated thrones and waited for the German folky entertainment. Bean bags covered the roof. Polka-dot ones, stripy ones, red ones. And umbrellas. Black umbrellas pinned to the roof. I sipped on my gin & tonic, la deee dahhh, and floated along through the melodic honey tunes. Eagerly waiting for the bicycle song that I had played about a gazillion times that day, I was very sad when they finished and hadn’t played it. However, mr. sound engineer man asked if we had any requests, leading to me getting a little private playing of the bicycle song. loveeeely. And some nice chats with the leading band man.
On this very night, we made some new friends. Even a fellow Scot 🙂 The first other Scottish kid I have ever met in my life in China. We decided to depart the enchanting musical forest for a quick game of beer pong. Having no idea how to get there, it was, yet again, another mission. Mr. taxi man also had no clue. But of course we eventually arrived, luck was finally on our side. 13 factories. A little American bar in a back street in the centre of the city. Very welcoming and very American, and very friendly. We won. Of course. Because I was playing. Oh arrogance? Why…yes! I think I’m actually pretty good at beer pong. Is it a real sport? Because it might very well be the first sport I have ever won.
Then the night ended. The rainbow t.v tower, under the watchful eye of the mesmerising full moon, led us home. The sky was especially beautiful that night. The supposed ‘typhoon Megi’ was approaching, and lucky for us, she had blown away the pollution that reverberates around this city daily, leaving us with a clear sky. I even saw one twinkling, lonely star. It’s a good start Guangzhou.