I am an old Industrial Designer (Product Designer) from Seattle who moved 2 months ago to Zhangjiagang China for work and adventure. Well, that is enough background for now!
Today at the end of the day I asked my coworker Matthew to ask another coworker Bruce if he is overwhelmed on a project and needs help. First, these are not their real names because all my Chinese coworkers have made up American names for themselves, which I now see a quite common practice. Second, I would have asked Bruce myself but he does not speak a lick of Enlish. He was nowhere to be seen and when I asked why he had been gone half the day, Matthew started laughing and said he had to go to the hospital. It turns out that a few of my coworkers biked very far over the weekend, and it was too much for poor Bruce who had to go to the hospital today for what was described as "too much sport". Everyone found that very amusing.
The funny thing is how much you miss by not speaking Mandarin. And what is really funny is that a friend of mine told me a few weeks ago that a woman at his work was sick and went to the hospital. He too didn't know until he finally asked where she was what had happened. It is strange living in a place where you only speak about 300 works and can read about 4 characters, but it keeps things interesting, that is for sure.
After work today at sunset I went for a bike ride to the large lake in town which I have seen on maps but never explored. I rode in the general direction and was quite glad I photographed the street sign in order to find my way home later. Otherwise I would have had to ask "Bo Ching Jia Zhy Nar Ma?", which means "Where is the Walking Street" and find my way home from there. It's worked before and will work again!
I was shocked when I got to the lake and found that there were hundreds of Chinese people swarmed together at a redish brown colored sand beach. You can see it on Google Earth Here. Mostly I was surprised that they seemed to be enjoying the water so much, because most the Chinese people I know don't like to swim. The huge lake was beautiful, with wood walkways and wild lilies. It was cute to witness the Chinese beach scene of mom's chasing naked babies and old people in speedos. Out of the hundreds of people I must have passed I did not see another foreigner outside work today. Everyday is an adventure here and I feel like I am in a strange new world
China keeps me on my toes from the endless supply of delicious and weird foods to the interesting people I meet from all over the world. Living in China is by far the most strange and different place I have ever traveled, let alone lived. Sometimes it is very hard but many times it so amazing!
Thanks for following my first every blog post! I'll keep the stories coming and have no idea what China has in store next!!!