Sunday, June 5, 2011

You wanted squatty stories? Here you go.

Note: I will use the word "then" way too many times in this post. But I just don't know how to avoid it. And there's a lot of pictures. And possibly stories about my trips to the restroom...

On Friday I went to a small city and/or town called Tong Hai. The purpose was to play with some kids in a Muslim village and maybe encourage their English-learning. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go or not, since I'd only know one person and I thought it just might be sort of...miserable. I had never been to a Chinese village but I've heard more than enough stories about them to make me wonder if I really wanted to go. I just thought it might not be very enjoyable. Everyone told me, "Oh that would be such a good experience!" And I knew it would be a good experience and that I'd get to see what real China looks like. Danielle was talking the other day about how no one really knows what China is like until they have been here. Everyone has this picture of China with a bunch of people in factories, people crammed onto streets, and the kids being geniuses. All of these things are true. But she mentioned that for everything that is true about China, the opposite is most likely true too. For China there are huge sky scrapers and cars in a ridiculous amount of traffic and fancy hotels at which it would be fit for the president to stay. But, there are also homes made out of mud and horses pulling people down a bumpy road and hotels hardly fit for a convict. You just can't imagine it. I promise.

But just for the record, I'm sure America would be hard to imagine also. Chinese people like to watch the show "Friends" to see what America is like. I have never seen this show, but I hear it does not accurately picture the States.

Back to Tong Hai. So I knew that I wanted to see what the real deal was like but I wasn't sure it was worth it. My stomach hadn't been feeling well and I knew I didn't want to spend an extended period of time on the squatty. On Facebook I promised that you would hear stories of my squatty experiences, and you will. So keep reading. And if you have a small attention span, just skim this until you come upon the word "squatty." Oh and don't get too excited. I didn't have too awful of an experience.

So after some persuasion from family members and pure need for adventure, I went. And adventure is what I got. Now, this was no adventure compared to things Josh and Danielle have done here in China, or what Ernest Shackleton went through in Antarctica. But for a typical 15 year-old girl like myself, I'd say it was an adventure. So a few minutes past 6 p.m. I jumped out of Josh and Danielle's van, said a nervous goodbye, and walked with Lindsey to the bus stop. After a short bus ride we got off and met up with 3 Chinese girls...Amy, Lucy, and Snow. Yes, Snow. We walked around the corner to get to the traveling bus station and stopped on the way for a snack was watermelon. This was no typical watermelon. It had brown seeds instead of black, in tasted nothing like watermelon, and had the texture of cantaloupe. I'm starting to wonder if what I ate was really watermelon..

Anyways. We bought tickets and got on the bus and soon began the ride. This ride was 2 hours but I feel like we could've made it in a lot less time if we didn't pick up so many people on the way. Apparently here if you just stand on the side of the road and wave, they'll pick you up. No bus stops, you just stand on the side of the road. And one time we picked up an old drunk man who rode on the floor and paid 10% of the price we paid. So for 2 hours we enjoyed our cheetah-print seats and a bumpy road. We got off the bus and went across the street and met Amy's parents. Tong Hai happens to also be Amy's hometown. So, typical Chinese custom, her parents invited us to shao kao. Shao kao is basically grilled food, typically on a stick. Except you can't always be sure what type of food you're eating. So, being the kind people that we are, we accepted the offer. And there we sat, on tiny stools, around a table of noodles, chicken feet, "meatballs" (which really aren't meat...they're just supposed to taste like that..who knows what they are), tofu, and hot tea. At 11:00 p.m. And yes, I tried the chicken feet. Last time I was in China I ate dog, and I realize I'll probably never be able to top that, but chicken feet seemed like the closest I could get without going overboard. It wasn't bad. But the texture was really strange.

Me and Lindsey

Snow and Lucy

Then we went to Amy's house where we had ice cream on a stick. Which was one of the more delicious things I've eaten in a while.
Lindsey, Amy, and Me

Thankfully they didn't force us to stay too long and we were back to the hotel by 12. It was nicer than I expected, but I was expecting a dump. Lindsey told me that last time in their hotel there were bed bugs. So that's what I imagined. But there were none, thankfully. But the bed...was terrible. I'm pretty sure it was just a boxspring. It was bad. But I was exhausted so I slept great.

The next morning we got up, quickly got ready, and left.

Hold up. I missed the squatty part. Disclaimer. If you are sensitive to gross things, overly descriptive story-telling, or crude humor...I advise you to skip the next paragraph. And if you for some reason are offended that I would talk about my trips to the bathroom on this blog, you have nothing to say because I warned you. After all, what would a blog about my experience in China be if I didn't include the most disgusting parts?

So uh...let's just say...while at the hotel I never went to the bathroom just because I had to pee. Ok,'d prefer for me to use the word urinate. I just urinated when I went to the bathroom to use the squatty for uh..other things. So let's just stomach doesn't handle spicy food well. To say the least.

Ok. Back to the not-so nasty stuff. So then we walked through a market that had literally 100 truck-loads full of cauliflower. No joke. No exaggeration. 100. At least. You see this truck-ish thing? Yeah. the top. 100.

Then we got on a bus and rode it (while being tossed into the air because of the bumps) to a Chinese-Muslim village.

And walked to Ma Lao Shi's house. Ma Lao Shi is a teacher in this village to 3rd-graders. So we got there, introduced ourselves, and attempted to teach them the song "Make New Friends." It didn't go over so well so we moved on to the hokey pokey. Which they all loved. After a few more songs and games we did a scavenger hunt...which my team won. Unfortunately, though, there was no prize.

Me and Lucy

Then (I's only the hundredth time I've said that) we took them all out to lunch where they enjoyed Jao Zi and noodles...and I enjoyed watching. No noodles for this kid.

But I did eat ice cream. Of course. We took our ice cream to the park and soaked up some sun. And I learned those games kids play using their Miss Mary Mack. Except they were Chinese. And weird versions of rock-paper-scissors.

We went back to Ma Lao Shi's house and Amy read The Three Trees to them in Chinese.

Then we walked for far too long and arrived at the "ancient village" or something. It really wasn't as great as I was expecting. But I just sat in the shade while the kids threw water balloons on the ground and talked to me. In Chinese. Most times they said something I just didn't reply. Somehow they didn't get the picture that I do not, in fact, speak Chinese.

We walked to the road and waved down some sort of vehicle that I have no idea how to even begin describing. Then we said goodbye to the kids and hopped on. After that we got on another bus which took us back to Tong Hai and we "explored." I guess Amy thought this would be a good experience but Lindsey and I didn't feel the same way. We were exhausted, sweaty, and carrying heavy back packs. But we begrudgingly followed along. And I think we finally got the point across that the only thing we were really interested in was heading home.

But before that happened, another bad squatty experience happened. So review the disclaimer if you missed it.

We stopped to use the bathroom and I thought, "Oh I should go so I don't have to go later." And boy, was I wrong. So I strolled up to the bathroom and then almost died when I walked into it. These squatties only had a small, 2-foot tall wall between each one. Nothing on the front to conceal you, just a little wall in between. But there was another odd thing about these squatties. They didn't flush. And I don't think you or I would want to know the last time they had been flushed. But it had clearly been way too long. Because there was..solid all of them. Alot of solid waste. And I don't think I've ever smelled anything so awful in my life. Most of my time in there was spent trying not to gag. It was bad. Really bad. And I got out of there as fast as possible. Evidently the Chinese people in there didn't think too much of it. They just sat there (or squatted there) playing games on their phones. Last night I was telling Mom and Dad about it and it made me feel sick just to talk about it.

So we headed back to the bus, got on it, rode for a little bit, got off, sat at the bus station for a long time, and then got on the travelling bus. On the first bus I was sitting straight up and couldn't keep myself from falling asleep. Which made me assume I'd sleep a ton on the long bus. And I didn't. Figures.

After this bus, a man and his knock-off-taxi took us home. And that was the end of my trip to Tong Hai. And I just realized it doesn't sound as exciting as I made it out to be...or as it really was. But it was exciting...I promise.

Oh and just for those of you who decided to read the paragraphs after the disclaimer:
Thankfully I am home with a toilet two steps from my room. Because the bathroom problems are only getting worse. Think "fire"...and there you have my trips to the bathroom. Such is life in a third-world country.


  1. I miss you!!! Loved the blog and the pictures. Hope the fire is out when you wake up! I love you!!! :)

  2. Anna,
    I die from laughter each time I read your blog. You really must put it all in a book or something when you get home! I am so glad that you are having such a great adventure.

    Love ya!
    Mrs. Ginger