Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The One About How I Am HUGE in China

I never finished the China posts... So in my quest to organize my life, you will find, from time to time disjointed posts about random stuff that I forgot to finish. Or maybe I didn't forget, maybe I've been meaning to but life got in the way.

Once we landed in Beijing, I was convinced I had entered the 7th circle of Hell. I had been awake for more than 24 hours, sick with the whoopsies for the 12 hours before that, and I had just arrived to 106 degrees with 98% humidity. The only thing that I could think about was a bed and some air-conditioning.... I would get the bed...I would miss the air-conditioning... The one thing that kept running through my head was "death is not an option".

Blessedly, our delayed flight got us into Beijing in the evening, rather than early afternoon, so the whole jet lag thing was solved in pretty short order. We boarded a bus for the trip to our hotel. We arrived at the hotel, checked in, and immediately went to our room. After boiling some water for tooth brushing, and taking our injections, we crawled into the kind of small bed and crashed. We slept fitfully throughout the night, restless to begin with, and the swamp cooler blowing cool but wet air at us didn't least it didn't help me....

A word here about Himself. I seemed to have scored myself the most "durable" fellow around. I call him "Gentle Ben" from time to time...he's the size of a large bear and about as furry. Folks look at him and wonder if size really does matter... it doesn't. He is uneffected by climate, can sleep soundly at the drop of a hat, and will travel miles on foot without so much as a blister. You can load him down with packages, walk him fifteen miles in the blistering sun and he won't issue a single complaint. As a matter of fact, he'll help little old ladies across the street and carry their packages at the same time. I have yet to run across one thing that he won't try, and he's always "up" for the next adventure. It's amazing and humbling at the same time.

And then there's me... the "bitcher". Totally climate sensitive. The planets must align correctly for me to sleep well and I must have the proper equipment to travel miles on foot. I will pass out in the heat and my hands and legs will seize in the cold. And I will tell anyone who'll listen. I will tell them a every five minutes. Oooh yeah, and I'll cry too. Purely out of frustration, but I will cry. And as for that little old lady??? Man up Sally....carry your own shit. I'm up for the next adventure, and I'll enjoy it, but I'll bitch and moan the whole way. Travel with us my friends, and you will discover the meaning of "polar opposites".

The following morning, Himself wandered about, gathering water and cigarettes while I tried to regain a wee bit of my dignity. One of the few things that Himself and I have in common is the fact that we're both early risers. Especially when traveling. By the time most folks get out of bed, we've been up for hours, wandered about, perhaps already had breakfast. I say perhaps because we're usually up before the kitchen is even open...unless we're near a truck stop... or a Denny's. The group was scheduled to do some touring, so I prepared myself accordingly...

A word about me. I am not a conventionally attractive woman. Many people use the term "striking" when describing me and I choose to believe that they mean it in a good way. I stand over six feet tall, and I am not model thin. I have a real body with some junk in the trunk and hands and feet that are proportionate for my size. I'm not obese, but I'll never be mistaken for skinny. That being said, I realized early on in my life that I was never going to look like everyone else, so I don't try. I actually do the opposite. I'm very graphic, choosing to emphasize my differences rather than try to disguise them. As an example, after Momma died, the hair at my temples went totally gray. My solution? I had my stylist bleach out large chunks of my red hair. So, I sport some Lily Munster stripes. Totally white. Totally obvious.... Here at home, people look and occasionally comment and even when we were in Europe, I'd get some "looks" from time to time, but nothing...absolutely nothing... prepared me for China...

Later that morning, the group boarded a tour bus ( I love tour buses...they have real air-conditioning) and headed for the Great Wall. Despite the heat and humidity, Himself and I decided that the once in a lifetime opportunity far outweighed the uncomfortable and we headed off to "walk the wall". I made it to the first battlement. (probably a little over a mile) Between the heat, the pollution, and the general malaise from traveling, I felt somewhat woozy. I chose to stay in the battlement, while Himself continued on to the end of the section (where there was a roller coaster?!?). I settled in, arranging myself and rearranging myself whenever there was a breeze. After a few minutes a little boy ran up to me and grabbed me around the leg. I smiled and patted his head, he darted off and returned a few moments later with his entire family. They wanted to take a picture with me. Ummm... okay... then there was another family, and another, and another... By the time Himself returned I had taken pictures with no less than 25 families. I joked that I should have charged a few yuan per photo, and maybe I could have paid for the trip. I reasoned that the Great Wall is a destination for all Chinese. Many of these folks had probably never seen a Caucasian, much less a Caucasian that looked like me. I figured that they'd be interested in Himself as well, him being a man of size and all....they weren't... nor were they interested in anyone else in our group. I thought it was odd, but I also thought it was important to be gracious. We joked about it with our group (who I really think thought we were lying) and wrote it off.

The next day, we visited Tienemen Square and it happened again. This time it happened in front of everyone and it made it difficult to navigate the Square. It happened at the Summer Palace, in restaurants, on the street, everywhere... Anywhere we went, if people weren't outright asking for photos, they were surreptitiously snapping away with their cell phones. The click and whirrr sound followed us everywhere. It was amusing for the first few days, then it became downright annoying, and after that, it made both Himself and I positively homicidal. The culture in China is such that in their society it's perfectly acceptable to behave this way, it's perfectly acceptable to say things out loud and in front of someone that we in Western culture would never consider.

So should you receive a postcard from a Chinese friend, or open a Chinese book or magazine and they contain pictures of a large white woman with striped hair.... well.... it's me.... and I'm HUGE in China!!

Subscribe in a reader

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found you entry interesting do I' ve add a Trackback to it on our blog