Emeryville Amy

This blog will be a combination of my favorite places in the Bay Area and abroad, memoirs, recipes, restaurant reviews and travel experiences.

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Location: Emeryville, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, United States

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Flying Chicken (or Machine) Flat Place!

ANSHUN

We arrived in Anshun where Thomas and Gretchen live late last night. It is really fun to see where they have been living for the past year and a half. Today I went to one of Gretchen's classes. They were very excited to meet me and had lots of questions for me ranging from questions about Silicon Valley to Disneyland to the first time I fell in love. I eventually turned that last question back on the girl who asked it. They are eager to know some French words so I taught them how to say a bunch of phrases and tried to explain the masculine/feminine issue with nouns in French. That was a strange and amusing concept to them. They were eager and engaged and they giggled a lot.

I also went to a class with Thomas. I stood up front again and answered questions and thenA sang Hotel California to a recording with them since Thomas was teaching on California and they love that song here. They sang Ole Lang Sine to me. That too is a popular song here. I talked about how we sing it on New Year's Eve but that most people don't really know all the words.

One of the students called Gretchen while I was out and invited me over for some snacks of local delicacies. By this they probably meant a special stinky tofu, "swamp muck grass" and fresh goose blood. Maybe some pickled fruits or veggies or cold noodles too which can be dangerous on a foreigner's digestive track. And of course there is nothing like having people stare at you while you try to force something down that tastes really awful. It was very sweet of them to offer, but I had to decline this time.

Gretchen and I walked through campus and down a walkway where they have food stalls and a little store. Just walking past the food made my throat itch from the peppers they use in their cooking. Just outside of the school gates we saw a lady with 12 little piglets and a momma pig. We caught a taxi to the train station where Gretchen booked tickets for an overnight train tomorrow night to Kunming and from there to Li Jiang and Tiger Leaping Gorge. So we will be off on more adventures tomorrow and it might be hard to write for awhile.

From the train station we walked down one of the main streets to the bus station. On the way we saw beautifully cut pineapples sold on chopsticks, hot dogs elegantly slit and then deep fried so that they curled open like a flower and then coated in spicy chili pepper seasoning, a man with a wheelbarrow-size cart filled with homemade potato chips coated in chili powder, women with bamboo baskets balanced on a pole carried over their shoulders filled with green vegetables, free range "sidewalk" chicken, a man demonstrating how sharp his cleavers were by hacking at a stick, men and women playing different games and so much more. There are a lot of minority groups in this area and they are often dressed in their native "costumes". It was interesting to see the variety in their outfits. Most of the young women and girls here wear very tight fitting jeans and lots of them wear heels or pointy toed shoes.

I bought a few little purses and a scroll and some fabric that are special to this region. I even did one transaction without Gretchen's help. The women did have a calculator so she could show me the price, but still I felt pretty good about it. I also used the one word Tim taught me the other day to tell the taxi driver where we wanted to go, the word being airport (fei ji chang) or as Tim translates it "flying chicken flat place" since "ji" can sound like the word for "chicken" or "machine". And she understood me!

Traffic here is definitely more crazy than in Beijing. There aren't crosswalks and traffic is pretty wild. I have barely made it across the street a few times. In Anshun the city buses have to check in on a certain schedule. They get penalized if they are late. But they get rewarded for picking up a lot of passengers. So what happens is that they go slow in the first part of their route trying to get as many people on board and then speed up as they go along. We boarded at the end of the route and the bus barely slowed to a stop and the man collecting money yelled at us to hurry up and to not trip. We scooted to open seats as fast as we could as the bus lurched forward into traffic. Crazy but fun in a death-defying sort of way. The drivers feel free to careen as close as possible to other vehicles and pedestrians do NOT have the right away!

There's plenty more to tell but I will save some for later.

Amy

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