First Impressions - Part 3

Go Back to Part Two - Arrival 

I went to bed early that evening and was ready to go the next day…at 4am. I stayed in bed a while longer, until Sarah’s alarm clock went off.

Breakfast that morning was at a really, real Chinese restaurant. Tables that you would not want to lay your chopsticks on. Floors that I tried not to notice. And…was that something crawling on the wall? Oh, oh my, there are BUGS in here. I’m supposed to eat with bugs! Oh, Lord, please. Oh, help. Okay, Lord. You knew about these bugs before you asked me to come here. That means that you knew I could handle this, right? Are you sure about this?

But breakfast was terrific. A tasty, steamed bun with an unknown filling. A tea egg, I just love tea eggs. (Tea eggs are hard boiled eggs. After they are done, the shells are broken and they are boiled for an hour or so in a mixture of soy sauce, jasmine green tea, cinnamon, allspice and cloves.)  We also had a bowl of spinach and noodle soup. That’s where the chopsticks came in. I’d been practicing, but was not very good. My hand kept getting tired, but I was determined to learn. Now I can pick up peanuts with them!

{For more on the food of China, check out Eating Chinese Food.]

We walked around Tiananmen Square before hiring a taxi to take us to the Great Wall. The Great Wall is truly great. It’s huge! The stone steps up to the towers were uneven and narrow. The view was glorious. The countryside was covered with a low green shrub sporting lilac blossoms. There were also clumps of small, yellow flowers. It was beautiful. It was also very hot with a slight breeze every once in a while.

The next day, Sarah and I left Dr. Goforth to board a plane for our city.  When we landed, we took a taxi to Sarah’s apartment. I was told to wait with the luggage while she went to get her husband John and 12-year-old daughter Julie.

In a few minutes, a little girl with long, black hair and beautiful eyes came dashing out of the door. She came straight to me and threw her arms around me. “Hello, auntie!” I knew I was home.

That afternoon, Sarah received her certificate that would allow her to invite a foreign teacher to teach at her school. So, that evening, she decided to celebrate by giving a banquet.

Most of the teachers from the school were there. I was introduced to everyone and was thrilled when one of them said, “How do you do?” in English. I got to use all of my Chinese—Hello, thank you, and my name is Abigail. I was also given a Chinese name at the banquet. John’s mother named me Liu Xian Jun. Sarah told me it meant modest and polite and was also the name of a flower.

The banquet was my first true introduction to a real Chinese meal. Everyone ate out of the same dishes. People put food in MY rice bowl with THEIR chopsticks (licked clean, of course). But the food was very good and very pretty. A watermelon had been carved into a ship with sails. There were carrot and radish flowers decorating the plates. And there was a fish looking at me. By the way, did you know that fish have lips? They do, big lips and soulful eyes.

Mornings in China quickly became my favorite time of day. I enjoy awaking to the sun shining through my window and the pleasant morning noises. Many mornings, I wake up around 6 AM. I enjoy lying still and listening to the morning before I get up. What does morning sound like in China?  I can hear the trash man pedaling through the streets singing out, “oo-woo-oo, oo-woo-oo” and banging on the bucket attached to the front of his bicycle.

I can also hear carts and wagons on the street as well as the sound of the near-by train. I can hear the music from the tai chi park and the sound of the street sweepers mixed in with the voices of many people. All join in a harmonious cacophony for the morning symphony. I can also hear the sounds of the morning market. The market is one street over from my apartment and I can hear the sellers calling “quai, quai, quai”.  Translated “a buck, a buck, a buck”.  Quai is slang for yuan. One yuan is worth about twelve cents.

Go Forward to Part Four:
Daily Proverb

Proverbs 26:21

As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.