I didn’t, actually, not at the same time, so that advice is misplaced.
I spent yesterday with my amazing co-worker Sosena: she was born and grew up in Ethiopia, went to university in St Petersburg and Odessa (BSc in Statistics!), visits her family in France regularly, and came here from living in Queens, New York. Sosena’s in her second year of teaching, so she knows of sights my other friends don’t yet.
Zhongshan is called China’s “Garden City”, and it really is. The parks are gorgeous — plants, architecture, and art! — and well-maintained. And as people earn more and open up to “the West”, more expensive, fusion shops are opening.
Sosena took me took me up Zhongshan’s “most beautiful street” to a mall called Holiday Plaza, where the subtle Christmas decorations are up, and there are lots of beautiful, very expensive shops to look at. I got presents from an incredible bookstore to send home, and scented sachets to keep the mustiness (and maybe insects) out of my wardrobe.
And then, in the evening, my much younger co-workers asked me out for a drink, which turned into drinks plural, which turned into a cab ride, which turned into meat sweats at the “night market,” where one can eat lamb which has been slaughtered and butchered minutes before eating it, while losing at poker. (That all happened the night before last, to a friend.) Viewers of my Fringe play Allergy will remember that my endo has resulted in me not being able to have alcohol — I simply can’t have any without feeling immediately ill. It had been about four years since my last drink, and last night among my friends, I decided to throw caution to the wind. I had one glass of excellent Shiraz, was instantly drunk, and — despite drinking water between sips and eating all the meat — had the nausea and headache within an hour. Time to admit there’s just some things I can’t have anymore.
I’ve been wanting to visit this park almost since the day I got here. It surrounds a fairly tall peak, atop which is a pagoda that’s lit up at night. All of my fellow teachers have told me the park is huge and beautiful…except for the zoo. Apparently there’s a horribly sad zoo where they keep lions in a concrete enclosure the size of our kitchen. I managed to avoid it, lest I burst out crying.
I also experienced a first today — I’ve been told it’ll happen again. A complete stranger asked to take a photo with me.
AND. You’ll see one very bad photo I managed to snap of a butterfly. Huge, magnificent butterflies like you have never SEEN. They were such divas — none would stop and pose.