I have arrived to the surface of the sun! I mean Wuhu, China! (Yeah, yeah, get all the jokes out now people, I have two months here and I guarantee there is only so much you can do with that name.)
I left Shanghai around 9:30 and had a pretty peaceful four hour bus ride. To my amusement they played Kung Fu Panda (in English with Chinese subtitles) the first half. As I love this movie (and its sequel even more) I appreciated it. But for the most part I watched Shanghai turn into the Chinese country, which looks as one would think it would.
I did take some pictures, but there was nothing that really screamed "SHARE ME!".
An adorable little Chinese boy who introduced himself as Alex sat behind me and we played a little poking game. He was so cute and in the last hour became really brave and would talk to me. Unfortunately, due to my very, VERY limited Chinese, I was only able to say that I spoke English and that I didn't understand him. From what I COULD understand is that he was going to Wuhu to visit his father and that he was four years old.
He also knew his numbers in Chinese AND in English! I dare anyone to find a four year old child in America (whose parents speak only English) who can do that. (My children will be able to do that.)
And then I arrived in Wuhu. One thing that I was very much aware of on the bus ride over and even more so at the bus station at Wuhu was how much of a minority I was.
I was a minority of 1. People would stare at me (and I would adamantly look everywhere but where people were) because I was not only the only person not of Asian decent, but my blond hair and blue eyes made me stick out like a sore thumb.
In Shanghai, I had two random strangers (a boy and a girl both I would guess in their twenties) come up and ask to take a picture with me. In my very brief experience with Wuhu public, someone like me is ten times more rare.
It's almost humbling. While it's not negative attention, my looks plus the fact that I can barely communicated with these people really help drive the alienation home. It's very intimidating, although some people went out of their way to say "Hello" to me and I try my best to say "Ni hao" (hello) and "xie xie" (thank you) as much as possible.
These little things seem to remove some of the awkwardness that comes with a language and cultural barrier. And if there are any rude Chinese people, they have not attempted to contact me.
Four more of my fellow teachers arrive soon and I am attempting to accomplish some laundry in the very, VERY tiny washer before they arrive (but seeing as how it has this nasty habit of stopping, it's taking longer than I would have liked). I'll probably dedicate an entire entry to my apartment (that I'll be sharing with one person). While it's not living in a dirt hut, it is very humbling for an American who can keep a house at comfortable 77*F. (It's HOT AS HADES in Wuhu! I have never been so appreciative of a fan in my life!)
Luckily I do have internet access so I will keep you updated every step of the way.
So, here's to two months in the middle of China!