This is my diary from 3 years ago, when I first entered China, to present day. I am re-copying most things I have written word-for-word, experience-for-experience. I hope this long, long re-telling entertains my readers, or at least keeps me entertained so that I can continue writing and not get bored. The story starts in Beijing 3 summers ago, continues into my trip to Thailand, then goes back to Shanghai, China, where I studied Chinese for a semester.
This is me 3 summers ago, when I turned 21.
Entry One: I Bought This Notebook at a Huge Market in Beijing
Today, my third day in China, I went shopping with classmates. My prized buy would be this very notebook that I bought from a street vendor at a huge flea-market style shopping district. Beijing is very big and full of neat buys. I like how the notebook looks traditional Chinese style with its seemingly-ancient copper medallion sewn onto its cover. The notebook cost 15 yuan, which seemed like a fair deal at the time. But then I think about all the other money I have spent today. The deals have been great, but I truthfully don’t know if I need to continue buying useless junk. I want to live my life junkless.
Walking through the Chinese outdoor shopping mall was like walking through thrift-store heaven. I wanted most everything I saw. The bracelets, the paintings, the notebooks, the mirrors. What was most exciting was haggling with the workers, who were ever-gracious and ever-interested in what you, the foreigner, had to say. It gave me a good opportunity to practice my Mandarin. I now can say, “make it cheaper,” and “I am only looking.” I can say, “How much does this cost,” and I can say a few other phrases. I feel like it will take me a long, long time before I am able to fully communicate with the natives. And yes, at first, I did only want to look. Standing in front of a spread of green gems, fold-out silken fans, Mao Ze Dong playing cards and Ma Jiang, I was bombarded with questions from the vendors.
“You like? Lady, you buy? Yes. I give you good price. You my foreign friend.”
“Uh, Bu yao. Wo kan yi kan. Xie xie.”
“Oh you Chinese so so good! Come on I give you good price!”
Then, to further practice my language, I proceeded to tell the this one lady long- haired smiling lady, “Wo xi huan! I like your products!” SHe would then name her price, which I would automatically deem as tai gui le, or too expensive. Her smile told me that she was not only impressed with my Chinese but that she knew I was down to business.
So I spent maybe 100 kuai there, followed by 50 for a cab ride and then 259 for a few books.
My dorm room is small and bare. The two twin sized mattresses on wooden platforms sit beside each other, facing an open window with dirty black and brown curtains. I can’t complain because I don’t know how to speak the language worth a damn. So I drudge into my dorm room every day, through the city’s dirty streets and onto my white comforter with matching white, rice pillow. The hardness of the mattress and stiffness of the pillow don’t bother my sleeping, as I still suffer from the abominable jet-lag. The showers, however, do bother me, but that is beyond nothing compared to my intense desire to learn the language.
For the remainder of the day, I will find a buddy who wants to learn English and that’s just what I’ll teach him.