Saturday morning I was able to sleep in a little bit longer than usual, waking up around 6:30am or so… After straightening some things in the apartment, I began to desperately crave some coffee which, I realized then, that I hadn’t consumed for a couple of days! So I went out to walk down to the “Ha Ha” Mart to try and find some.
One of the things that I’ve found to be most different so far here compared to my time spent as DanInJapan, is the level of possible communication between myself and the average inhabitant of Dalian. Being at least somewhat fluent in Japanese made my life so much easier because I was at least able to form basic, meaningful sentences that could be understood by the recipient. Here however, I am not so lucky. Despite having purchased an incredibly helpful Mandarin pocket guide to help me in a pinch (like asking the store clerk where the coffee is), most of the time I have to point at the phrase I’m trying to say because my pronunciation is so far off the mark! For example, when I’m trying to ask, “How much is it?” the book says “Duōshǎo qián?” So I say “duo show (like “ow!”) quian” but apparently it’s supposed to be more like “Dwarshow (still like “ow!”) chien?” There are dozens of crazy pronunciations just like that which, I fear, I’ll only learn through failure. In the end, I just show them the Mandarin phrase if they continue to look at me with blank stares – 多少钱？
Most of the time, I’m able to successfully ask single- or two-word questions like, “Where coffee?” or “Have?” while holding up an object you need more of. Another tough bit is numbers… I can muddle through getting my point across well enough, but then when they tell me how much it is, I still need the cashier to either write it down or have it shown on the register (if there is one). A friend told me that a good way to circumnavigate that problem is to carry a calculator around with you, which now that I’m remembering that, I’ll put one in my pack right now!
So, now that I’ve asked the “Where coffee?” or “Nǎr kāfēi?” and have been shown where it is in the store, I go up to pay and the store owner’s young daughter is sitting there ready to ring me up. Nothing made me smile more in the last few days than at that moment when she simply said the words “Forty-seven yuan please!” and smiled up at her mom standing next to her! It was so small and yet, I was so glad to not have to struggle to communicate for just the shortest of moments. So I smiled at her and said in English and nice big “Thank you!” instead of my normal, poorly pronounced “Xìexie” (“x” pronounced as “sh”).
Anyway, now that I had my coffee and a couple nectarines, I walked back to the apartment and went up to Rachel’s instead to share some coffee with her while we waited for our guide to wake himself up. He really likes his sleep… Once awake though, he takes Rachel to the airport to get her bag which (spoiler alert), still hadn’t arrived yet! Thanks again Delta for saying it was there, and it not yet actually being there… In the meantime, I began cleaning some things in the apartment, waiting for noon to arrive.
Thanks to a former colleague and good friend of my mother, Matt, I was introduced via e-mail to some nice Chinese folks who work in the Oracle branch of Dalian! One of whom, Wang, gave me a call on Friday to ask if I was doing anything at noon on Saturday. I was very happy to accept his offer to go out to lunch and have him show me around Dalian! He invited Rachel along too. Altogether, it was Wang and Tony (Wang’s Chinese colleague who chose Tony as his easier-to-pronounce American name), Rachel and myself. They took us to this awesome lunch spot where we had a massive meal. After which however, still dealing with the jet lag, Rachel and I were quite tired. But we then went for a car ride to a place called Xinghai Square, one of the largest “squares” in China – complete with an amusement park, waterfront view, hotels, concert venue, 4-person rental bikes, food, museums, and much more!
These are a couple shots I took while we were driving through what I believe to be part of downtown Dalian.
This is a new hotel – and it is massive! Shown in the sign below, it’s called The Castle Hotel, and I was told that you can get a room there for about ¥1200 or $200 – which, for a hotel as nice as this that has an ocean view?! That’s cheap! I may have to treat myself sometime… 🙂
We were then taken on a nice drive along the coast – our destination being a cool coffee shop! But the drive and views along the way were really nice!
Unfortunately, I was a bit too tired to remember to take a picture at the coffee shop, but it was surprisingly similar to some of our more hipsterish coffee shops that we may have in California or some other similar place. What I mean to say is that it was pretty chill with a nice sitting environment and cool vibe. At our window seat we could see a bay complete with a few sailboats!
Afterward, we were driven home, all the while continuing with similarly great conversation that we’d been having from the start of our outing. Wang and Tony are great people and I’m really happy to have had the good fortune of being introduced to them before even setting foot in China!
Being super tired – both of us – we parted ways and went to our respective apartments to chill out for a bit. However, later that night, determined to defeat our jet lag once and for all, we decided to take a walk to Wal-mart if for no other reason than to have something to do. Despite that though, we ended up leaving there with our new laundry baskets full of stuff. Mine contained a new set of sheets, a pillow, some beer glasses, beer, bottles of green tea, a jump rope for indoor cardio workouts, some 2-pound sand weights for my shoulder’s physical therapy exercises, and a packet of sponges!
After I got home, I got seriously into my apartment cleaning and setting up! I was on a serious mission! I cleaned the bathroom to try and get rid of a mystery odor, swept the floor, washed a bunch or dishes that were in the cabinet, did some laundry and tried to hang my towels up afterward using the curtain rod and a cabinet handle… That didn’t go so well, considering my curtain rod hangers broke and my curtain came crashing down! I ended up with a setup kinda like this –
This picture is actually pretty telling. You can see my shopping spoils, the downed curtain, my less-than-ideal laundry line placement (I have a better setup now), as well as a decent idea of my apartment layout! It’s a studio style apartment, and there’s quite a bit more room behind me. When I’ve finished setting it all up, I’ll be sure to post a thorough set of pictures.
I managed to stay up until about 1:30am before finally resigning myself to my fatigue. The next day was equally eventful, so I’ll save that for a later post.
Until then… bye for now!