Last Night in Our Shenyang, China Apartment

bya Gabrielle at 1:25 AM

We really didn’t stay in Shenyang long enough to get to know the city as well as perhaps we wanted, but we were there just long enough to make our apartment feel a little bit like home.  And that is why it made it even more frustrating to repack everything we had previously shipped as well as all the additional goods we purchased since we arrived.   Some of the stuff we bought seemed like too much trouble to ship, so we left it.  We probably could have found a way if we had more than one day to move down south, but since we were stuck with the fixed schedule, neither me or Phil cared if we lost out on a few 100 yuan.

Our apartment was small, but it was decent.  The bed was soft and the room was bright.  It didn’t have the greatest view in the world – we had a series of train tracks outside to look at – but we  could see the city all around us since we were on the 15th floor – technically 14th.  4 is a bad number in China.  Sounds too much like the word they use for death.  Our bathroom wasn’t too shabby, but when you took a shower you had to make sure you were done by the time the number on the water heater got to 32 or so or else you would be stuck with cold water.  With me having such long hair, 32 always seemed to get there way too quickly.  It was always like a race against a ticking time bomb, and I always seemed to flipping lose!

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Soft Sleeper Train Car to Shenyang to Beijing

bya Gabrielle at 8:00 AM

A long time ago, I posted a picture of what a soft sleeper train car looked like in China, but the picture was a little distorted and it was hard to gauge its actually size.  The video Phil took helps, but not by much.  I highly recommend forking up the money for one if you are traveling more than eight hours.  Even though I had a hard time going to sleep, it was nice to have a place to lay my head and be able to stretch out.

I was terrified that somehow the crazy snow storm that attacked Shenyang was going to freeze us on the tracks in the middle of no where and that we would ultimately starve to death because we didn’t have but a few snacks with us.  Thankfully, that never happened, because if it did, well, you wouldn’t be reading this right now.  :)

If you have plenty of time or you want to save money, trains are the way to go in China.  However, you can’t really plan ahead too much when it comes to buying tickets because they only sell them one or two weeks in advance.  I can’t remember how early you can buy them, but it is something like that.   If you wait too long, depending on the time of year, you may not be able to buy tickets and you’ll have to figure out another way to get where you want to go.

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Trapped in the Beijing Airport

bya Gabrielle at 11:29 AM

I don’t know how I ever forgot to post this particular video.  I mean, it isn’t a ground breaking video or anything, but it did make me laugh when I watched it for the first time in a long time.   As I mentioned in my last post, this was our third attempt trying to get to Shenyang. What was supposed to be an easy hour and a half flight, turned into 14 hours of hell.  It would have been one thing if we had waited in the lobby for 14 hours, but most of our time was spent on the tarmac, cramped in a small plane, filled to the brim with passangers.  I suppose the craziest thing was that we actually took off for Shenyang at one point, got half way there, and when they found out there was no room for the plane to land, we were forced to go back to Beijing.  It was at that point we decided to give up and go home and figure out another way to Shenyang,  but before we could go home, we first had to get our luggage back.  That was another nightmare all together.  Below is the video Phil took as we waited for Richard’s(Yuli Guo) luggage to be found.

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Driving in Snow in Beijing, China

bya Gabrielle at 10:30 PM

Flipping through my Chinese videos, I found a few that I had never shared before and decided to upload them for your viewing pleasure.  The first video is of the freak snow storm that hit us when we were in Beijing waiting to go to Shenyang.  You can read all about that special story here, here, and here if you have no idea what I am talking about.

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Globe Trotting Maple Extract

bya Gabrielle at 9:50 PM

When Phil and I lived in Fuyang, we really wanted some syrup to go with the pancakes we were trying to make.  Our attempts at making the syrup ourselves never produced Butterworth results.  So, we did the next best thing – we asked my mom to send us a bottle of maple extract to help give our concoction some maple flare.  We didn’t ask for a bottle of syrup because it would have made the box weigh too much and a heavy box sent to China isn’t cheap.  Sending just the syrup probably wouldn’t have cost that much, but our wish list always seemed to grow when we found out someone was going to be sending us some western goodies.  :)

The extract did help with the taste of the syrup, but we could never get the consistency we wanted.  Eventually, we gave up and decided we would just have to wait until we returned back home to get the good stuf.  When it came time to move to Shenyang, we packed it up with all of our other stuff.  We weren’t about to scarifice any of our western goods.

A week after we got to Shenyang, we were told we would be moving again.  Phil and I weren’t particularly pleased that we would be uprooting ourselves again, but we repacked all of our goods up anyway, including our maple extract, and headed to the beautiful city of Xiamen.

In Xiamen, we unpacked everything and refused to pack again unless we were traveling or moving back home.  And for the next three months our maple extract sat quietly on our shelf, unused.  When it came time for us to go back to the States, we offered up all of our western goods to our dear friends, Patty, Eddie, and their daughter Elisa.  We knew they could get some good use out it. Elisa swore it was Christmas when we brought all of our stuff over to them.  :)

Well, up until a few days ago, I would have thought that our maple extract had finally run out of gas and found a permanent home in a landfill in China or some other needy westerner’s cabinet.  Interestingly enough though, neither happened.

Instead, our maple extract jumped on a plane back to the States stashed away in a suitcase – destination Miami – when Patty and her family decided to leave China.  After a short stay there, it decided that it wanted to do some more traveling, and hopped on the next flight to Colombia – the country, not the city where I live.  For the next four weeks our maple extract took in the sights and then decided it wanted to settle down for a spell – somewhere else.  So, off it trotted to the airport and booked passage to Argentina, where for  at this moment in time, it still resides.  At least until Phil and I travel to Argentina next November, pick it up, and bring it back to the States with us.  :)

I don’t know how many miles our little maple extract has traveled, I just know it’s a lot.  Perhaps, there is a section in the Guinness World Records that it would qualify for.

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Once Upon a Time in China Part 4: The Story of a Dog

bya Gabrielle at 7:00 AM

If you know me just a little bit, you should know how I feel about man’s best friend and why. I never really wrote about it on this blog, and I sorta wish that I had. It would have made this blog a bit more interesting, I think. For those of you who have no idea how I feel about dogs and why – here is a one sentence explanation why.

I worked at Bermex for 8 months as a meter reader, and every day a dog tried to eat/kill me.

Meter Reader

When I tell people I willingly ate dog in China, people tend to think I am crazy, sick, or both, but it never stops them from asking how dogs tastes. When dog was placed on my dinner plate in China, all I could think was, “Revenge! It is mine!!”

I’m not exaggerating. And if for some reason you think I am, stop what you are doing, find out who handles gas and/or electric meter reading in your area, apply, get hired, and if you last one month – I’ll applaud you. What? Did you think I was going to give you a prize or something.

Anyway, I digress. This post is supposed to be about China and a dog. This story is short, but sweet.

One night, in Shenyang, Phil and I were walking back to our apartment from a restaurant where we had just had dinner. It was still very cold at this time. A lot of the snow and ice from the worst winter storm in 50 years was still piled in places. It made walking a bit hazardous. On several occasions, I nearly busted my white American ass.

While we were walking, we noticed a little dog was following not to far behind us. This is not a to uncommon occurrence in China. Dogs walk around like they are people all the time – even looking both ways before they cross the street. Sounds strange, but I’ve seen them do it. It wasn’t any special kind of breed. It looked like a mutt to me.

The little dog followed us several blocks down the street until we got to the entrance to our apartment. Of all the places we lived in China, this place had the fanciest entrance – a revolving door. Such luxury, huh? Hehe. When we got to this door, I looked back at the little dog, and told him goodbye. I often talk to animals, even though they can’t understand me. Phil thinks I am nuts. He stopped behind us and watched as we stepped in and pushed the door.

I kid you not, as soon as the next available space got back to him, he stepped in and followed us into the lobby. I looked down at him and said, “Your not supposed to be in here. Get back outside.”

Revolving Door

Our fancy revolving door looked a little like this, except that it wasn’t all swirly like that.

The dog looked at me, barked once or twice, and sat down. I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I felt partially responsible that he was sitting in the lobby. I did speak to him, after all. The “security guard” didn’t seem to mind that a dog was chilling in his lobby. Thinking about it now, he may have been taking a nap.

I tried coaxing the dog outside, but he wasn’t budging. If the market right next to the apartment hadn’t been closed, I would have tempted him with something tasty. Nothing I did worked. The dog just continued to look up at me. If possible, I would say he had a confused look on his face.

A few minutes later, a man pushed his way through the revolving door. The man looked over at us and said something in Chinese, probably, “Come along little doggy.” The immediately perked and started following through the lobby. The guy opened the door to the security office and the dog followed in right after him.

I guess the dog knew where he was going after all. He was just waiting for his owner to show up.

Phil and I laughed all the way up to our unlucky 14th floor. You really had to be there to see it.

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Once Upon A Time in China Part 2 – The Story of the Secret Passage

bya Gabrielle at 12:02 PM

If you’ve read at least ten of my posts concerning my experiences in China, you should know that 1) crazy things happened and 2) nothing was, well, easy. My first trip to a Chinese hospital was no exception. It is probably the most insane, embarrassing experience I had during my year and three days in China and quite possibly my life. With that said, I want to let you know that what you are about to read is extremely personal. If you don’t want learn about my experience in the gynecology section of the Shenyang hospital that I visited one fair day in March, I suggest you exit your browser now and come back in a few days when I have written about another memorable experience. However, if you decide to read on, and some part of your soul wants to learn what it is like to be a woman in China when her womanhood goes wack, I promise I’ve tried to take as much of the graphic grossness out as possible. One last warning, if you are still reading this – this story is personal, it’s a tad bit icky, and it will probably make you go EWWWW.

If you are still with me, thanks. Now on with the story.

I actually thought I had written about this long before, but when I searched through all of my old posts, the only thing I came across was the mention of my visit, but none of the details. Knowing I had written my experience down somewhere, I finally found it in my email. I had written home about it, but I had never made it public. Thankfully, the day that I sent the email was the same as the day I went to the hospital. Therefore, everything you are about to read is very accurate. I’ve gone through it though and added or taken somethings out because it was written during the time that my English had gone to super crap, but not too much.

Before we jump into the email I sent my parents though, I should go a little into the back story. It’s half of the reason I had to go to the hospital in Shenyang in the first place. Grr.

While we were being held against our will in Beijing, I somehow managed to get a yeast infection. I wasn’t all that worried at the time. I had had one in Fuyang, too, but with the help of one of my fellow teachers, I was able to get some cheap medicine down at the local OTC(Over The Counter – Pharmacy). Within a few days, I was back to normal and all was well with the world again. I meant to save the package just in case I had ever had another one, but when we moved, I lost it somewhere. Well, anyway, in Beijing, I discovered that I had another yeast infection. I went to the school there and asked Mandy, one of the school aides, if she could help me get some medicine. I showed her the word in my dictionary, but she didn’t quiet understand what was wrong with me. Finally, after some research on the internet, she thought she figured out what to tell the pharmacists and off we went. I would have just used the medicine that my mother had sent me some months back, but I had sent it on to Shenyang with all the rest of our stuff.

We walked into the OTC and Mandy started talking to the pharmacist for me. The pharmacists asked Mandy some questions and then Mandy translated for me. I tried to answer them for her the best that I could so she could correctly tell the pharmacists what my symptoms were. I think the pharmacists got the gist of what was wrong with me. She ended up giving me these strange blackish herbal things that had a horrible smell. I was instructed to put them where they hurt. I was sad that they didn’t give me the same medicine I had gotten in Fuyang, and a little scared that these smelly round things were going somewhere I’d rather not send them. I didn’t have much of a choice though, so I took them and prayed for the best.

Three days later, we arrived in Shenyang. The medicine the woman had given had done absolutely nothing except possibly make me worse. I could barely walk. There are just not words to describe how it felt . . . down there. After I got all of my suitcases and boxes unpacked, I was able to use the medicine my mother had sent me, but I was so far gone at that point that it didn’t much matter. It was time to ask for some professional help. And that is how I ended up at the Shenyang hospital.

March 12th, 2007 – An email to my parents.

Well, I just got back from the hospital. My yeast infection was driving me mad, and even though I took the medicine mom sent me, I thought that it was a good idea to go and get checked out. I feel better than I did this morning, but I think that I will take the new medicine I got to make sure that it goes away. This has been the worst yeast infection I’ve ever had. I mean, it’s painful just walking around. I’ve never had a yeast infection make me feel like I’ve gone horseback riding for eight days straight.

Hrm . . . where do I start? Well, I guess the first thing is that Chinese hospitals are very unlike western hospitals. I wouldn’t say it was clean, at least in comparison to the hospitals I’ve been to back home. All the paint on the walls was peeling and the floor was discolored and brown. It didn’t even have the typical hospital disinfected smell. I’m sure you know what I mean. I think that it had something to do with the bathrooms, but who knows. There was just so much to take in as we walked around. You’d really have to visit one yourself to know what I mean, although, I wouldn’t recommend it. I had to go though and I’m glad I did, but man, it was an experience for sure. Since there was no way I’d be able to get there and explain to a doctor what was wrong with me, I had Alice, one of the two teacher aides, take me. Phil tagged along for support.

It took Alice a while to find the gynecology section of the hospital, but after asking a few people she got it all worked out. Once we got to the right department, she registered me, but since she didn’t know all of my information, she wrote down a made up birthday, a name and her phone number. I don’t know why she just didn’t ask me. I would have told her. We then went into an office where they asked me what was wrong. The doctor asked Alice questions in Chinese and then Alice asked me the same questions in English. I gave her answers in English and then she gave my answers to the doctor in Chinese. This went back and forth for a while until they knew all of my symptoms. They wrote them all down in a little blue booklet and handed it back to me. (I’ve still got it somewhere. If I find it, I’ll take pictures and post them for you). It was hard for Alice to translate everything, but she did a good job with the limited English that she knew. I understood most of what she was saying. Then we had to wait for a bit. We got called back to the room for more questions, and then we had to wait again. Alice kept disappearing as we waited, apparently paying for services as we went or before we had them done. I’m not sure which, I just know she kept coming back with receipts. The only thing I figured out was that I wasn’t going to be able to leave the hospital until my debt was paid. China in general is very disorganized, so I wasn’t all too surprised to find the hospital acting in the same fashion. It was all sorta frustrating. I just wanted someone to make me better, and quick. Some time later we were called back into the room. And this is where it gets strange.

The room that we had been going in this entire time didn’t have a door. All it had was a door frame and a sheet to act as a door. On the other side of the drape, there was a desk where two doctor-looking people sat. They were constantly taking forms from people, filling them out and typing something into the computers before them. To the left of them was a half wall with an opening into what appeared to be an examining room, but it didn’t have a door or a sheet.

When it was my turn to be inspected, Alice motioned for me to enter the room. Before me was the ever wonderful examining table that I’ve learned to file under the adjectives invasive and uncomfortable. I heard the doctor say something to Alice, but didn’t understand. I looked to Alice for guidance, even though I was pretty sure what was about to happen.

“She wants you to take off your pants and underwear,” Alice said handing me a blue paper-like blanket. “And put this over you.” Hey, at least they gave me a blanket.

I was pretty familiar with this part of the act. I’d done it before, but usually there was no one else in the room. I looked at the doctor and Alice for a second, thinking that they would disappear so that I could disrobe in private, but the two of them stood there staring at me, waiting. I took it as a clue, and off came my clothes. Neither one looked the other way. Eh, I thought, I’m never going to see these people again, well, except for Alice, that is. I just met this woman yesterday, so you can imagine the embarrassing moment I was going through. I seriously doubt this was in her job description. I jumped up onto the table and assumed the position.

OBGYN Examining Table

My table didn’t look anything like this one,but it served its purpose just the same.

The doctor snapped on her gloves and didn’t waste a minute. She tapped the stirrups(the foot rests – see picture above) and I obliged. Alice is still standing there, staring at me, taking in all their is to see. I guess after an experience like this, I can say that we have bonded in the strangest of ways. Down below the blue paper-like blanket the doctors face went and almost immediately her face popped back up. The face of total disgust she gave me almost made me laugh and also made me worry – dear God, what is wrong with me?!!

The doctor started speaking to Alice, probably telling her that this was the nastiest white woman she’s ever seen, but I guess I’ll never know. After a short conversation, Alice looked to me and started translating, probably leaving out all the dirty things the doctor just told her about me. Although, if she did, he face never showed it. All of the questions she asked me were pretty normal. Does it hurt? How long have it been hurting? And a few other rather embarrassing questions I am sure you’d rather not read about. But it wasn’t until she started referring to the “land down under” as the “Secret Passage” that I just about lost it. By lost it, I mean laugh. Eternally, I was rolling, but it was really hard to keep a straight face. I don’t know if she was trying to be polite or if she just didn’t know the real English word for it. For those curious, vagina in Chinese is ??, or yi-n bù, just in case you ever need to know.

Who knows, it could be on Jeopardy one day when I am rich and famous. Answer: During her year and three day stint in China, author Gabrielle Cook went to a Chinese hospital to make sure this certain part or her body wasn’t about to die. Question: What is a yi-n bù?

Anyway . . . all the while, there are 2 or 3 Chinese woman peering around the wall at me. Maybe they had never seen a white woman before or perhaps they were just very concerned. I probably should have been mortified, but I think I took it all very well, considering.

Chinese Hospital

This is pretty much exactly what it looked like, including the nosy peeps staring around the corner as though I was the first magical unicorn they had ever set eyes on. Yes, I just referred to myself as a magical unicorn. I’m that special!

The doctor took a sample and then I got up and put my pants on. The 2 or 3 nosy peeps’ eyes had not wavered from the corner of the wall. They wanted to catch the thrilling finale of this five star movie. We had to wait on the results for like an hour and a half. Finally, we got the medicine I had been dying to get all day – all 4 different types of them – diflucan(which was a shock – I never thought I would have found that medicine in China of all places), some more monistat like things, some other monistat like things, and then some wash. If this doesn’t cure me, I don’t know what will. And that was my experience of a Chinese hospital. Not as bad as I thought, but then again, this was the best one in Shenyang. All in all everything cost me 267 RMB – about 34 bucks. That includes exam, test, and medicine. If only it was that cheap in America.

End of Email

And now that I have written a freaking novel . . .

I will try and ransack my memory banks for some more interesting stories, but I’m not sure any of them will be as crazy as the one you just read. Hopefully, I didn’t gross you out too much. Just remember, I did try to warn you! :)

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Ghetto Earth

bya Gabrielle at 4:23 AM

Very slowly, I have been reading Contact by Carl Sagan.  I started it way back in the days of Shenyang and wasn’t able to finish before I left China for a multitude of reasons.  I’ve only now managed to get past the midway point.  I know, I’m pathetic.  : )  I’ve been enjoying it, it’s just that I have had a lot of things on my to-do-list lately – being social, searching for jobs, managing my family tree, and studying for the Praxis subject test to name a few.  Anyway, while reading it, I’ve come across several quotes that I’ve liked. The most recent one is a bit dark and pessimistic, but it made a lot of sense to me when I read it at two something in the morning and I thought I would share it. 

If you don’t have time to read the book, you should check out the movie.  For the most part, so far, they aren’t that different.  The only thing you’d miss in the movie is the depth of emotion, a few dozen characters, including a female president(I think) and huge discussion of whether or not they should build the Machine.  The quote below is part of that huge discussion.  I don’t know why, but to me it seems more like an eloquent "Life sucks and then you die" speech than anything else.  Perhaps that is why I liked it so much.

"[D]on’t you understand?" A vein in Lunacharsky’s neck throbbed.  "I’m amazed you don’t see it.  The Earth is a  . . . ghetto.  Yes, a ghetto.  All human beings are trapped here.  We have heard vaguely  that there are big cities out there beyond the ghetto, with broad boulevards filled with droshkys and beautiful perfumed women in furs.  But the cities are too far away, and we are too poor ever to go there, even the richest of us.  Anyway, we know they don’t want us.  That’s why they’ve left us in this pathetic little village in the first place."

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啤酒 (pi jiu) the Wonder Fish

bya Gabrielle at 11:00 AM

Once upon a time, we lived in 沈阳(Shenyang), and there we adopted a certain fish that we quickly named 啤酒(Pi Jiu). 啤酒 means beer in Chinese, by the way, and as long as the new Google Pinyin thing is working, those are the correct symbols. Yes, we named our gold fish, Beer. We’d been in our apartment for a few days before the other teacher sent to Shenyang with us, Christine, was given a temporary apartment of her own in the same building as ours. When she saw it though, she was very disappointed and refused to stay there. When she came to our apartment to complain about it, in tears, we asked if we could see it. It wasn’t that bad, it was clean, but it didn’t have a suitable bed as well as a few other essential things. The bed was just a bunch of sheets piled on top of each other on the floor. Phil and I probably could have stayed the few days there that they were asking her to, but Christine is much older than us, and getting in and out of the bed everyday would have been hard. I’m not quiet sure who, but by this point, one of us perked up and said, “Is someone living here?” Apparently, who ever had been living in the apartment had gone on vacation(perhaps permanently), and while they were gone, they(or perhaps the land lord) were allowing Christine to stay there until they could get the other apartment ready for her. When we asked Chris about the whole ordeal, he said that the hosts of the apartment had left very quickly and he had no idea where they had gone or if they would be returning. I’m still a little confused about the whole thing. Everything, including their bike, photograph albums, cookware and other personal things were still there. It was as if they had just vanished in the middle of the night and everything that they owned had been left behind. I don’t think I will ever really know what happened or if they came back to collect their stuff. Of all the valuable things still remaining in the room though, only one thing peeked my interest – the big glass bowl sitting next to the window overlooking the city of Shenyang. By the look of the bowl, he had already been there for several days without food or clean water. He kept swimming up to the top to get some air, and when I let my index finger barely touch the film on the water, he tried to eat my finger. Thankfully, gold fish really don’t have teeth, so it didn’t hurt. Me, being the animal lover that I am, I immediately turned to Chris and said, “Can I have the fish?” “You want the fish?” Chris asked with a look of bewilderment on his face. “Yeah, do you think the hosts will mind?” Chris kinda shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t think so.” It was quiet simple logic, really. It was either I take the fish, or he would undoubtedly die a slow, painful, suffocating death. I picked up the bowl, found it too heavy to carry myself, and handed it to Phil. As soon as we had him in our own apartment, we poured him in a temporary holding cell until we were able to clean out his bowl and refill it with clean water. I wasn’t sure if throwing him into new water without letting his body get used to the water temperature first would kill him, but we didn’t have anything we could put him in that could be placed in the water, so we threw him in and hoped for the best. Several hours later he was still swimming and breathing. I figured it was time to name him since it looked like he was going to make it after all. As I mentioned above, we ended up calling our new little gold fish 啤酒(Pi Jiu). I can’t really come up with a good reason why I picked that particular name out, except for the fact that my Chinese vocabulary is rather limited, and it seemed at the time to be both suitable and cute. How he became known as 啤酒 the Wonder Fish is another story. Keep reading. Just after we had gotten ourselves settled and used to our new surroundings, as you’ve read in previous posts, we got the call that we had to go back to Beijing to get a new health check in order for the government to issue us resident permits. We had been told that it would just be a day or so, we didn’t worry so much about our new found pet’s well being. I threw in a handful of bread, wished Pi Jiu well, and left hoping he wouldn’t be floating at the top of his bowl when we returned. Somehow, what was supposed to be a few days, turned into a week and three days. After the first three or so days, I gave up on the idea that we would return to Shenyang to find Pi Jiu swimming happily in his bowl. I had enough gold fish as a little girl to know what happened to fish that didn’t eat. I just didn’t want to have open the door and smell his death. It was bound to happen. We’d been gone too long. After we landed in Shenyang, there was no point rushing home in my eyes. I had even told Phil that he was going to be in charge of taking care of poor, dead Pi Jiu. I felt too guilty. Here I was thinking that I had saved him, just to kill him a few days later. When we finally got back to the apartment, I hesitated putting the key in the door. I didn’t want to have to see what was on the other side. (Yes, I was being a bit dramatic, but things like this really bother me. I can be such a girl sometimes.) When I finally summoned enough courage, I turned the handle and looked in the direction of the bowl which I had placed on my bedside table. To my surprise, I didn’t see a gold colored fish floating at the top. My first thought was that perhaps he had sunk to the bottom, but none of my previous pet fish had ever done that. In the center of the bowl, I could see a bit of gold reflecting off the curvature of the glass, but it wasn’t moving. I dropped my book bag next to the front door and started the awful 2.4 second walk to the table. The water was dirty, cloudy, and without a spec of food anywhere, but low and behold, it was Pi Jiu – and he was ALIVE. Barely, but alive. “Holy crap!” I screamed. “He’s alive. He’s really alive!” “Really?” Phil asked. “Yeah, he doesn’t look so good, but he’s very much alive.” Chris just sorta stood there looking curious as to why I was so happy that a stupid gold fish was still alive. As fast as I could, I returned Pi Jiu to a nice clean environment. I still didn’t have any fish flakes, so I threw in what bread and pieces of crackers I had. At first he didn’t seem very interested, but soon he started eating. The entire time that I was trying to make his home livable again, I knew that Phil and I would be leaving for Xiamen in less than a day, and this time we wouldn’t be coming back. I had no idea what to do with him or who to give him to. I asked Chris repeatedly if he wanted a pet fish. His answer was always no. He said that his home was too small and that he didn’t know what to do with a fish. I knew he had a girlfriend, so I tried convincing him to give it to her, but his excuse for her was the same as his. It seemed that I had reached a dead end. When it was time to leave the next day, I fed Pi Jiu one last time, and asked Chris again if he wanted him or knew someone who did. Chris assured me that the host of the apartment would come back and perhaps he/she would adopt it. It was my only real option, so I had to take it. With our luggage in hand, we closed our Shenyang apartment door for the last time and said goodbye to Pi Jiu the Wonder Fish for the last time. Just yesterday, Phil and I were walking along the streets of Xiamen when we saw a pet store full of colorful fish. It made me think of Pi Jiu and I wondered if perhaps he was still alive. I like to believe that the host of the apartment did come back and took a liking to the little fish sitting on the bedside table. Perhaps even now he is swimming in a nice big glass bowl staring at his seemingly never ending reflection. That is what I hope.

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This Little Piggy Was Dinner!

bya Gabrielle at 2:31 PM

You’ve probably heard the nursery rhyme This Little Piggy, but just in case you haven’t, it goes like this:

This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed at home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy went…
“Wee wee wee” all the way home…

That is what I thought of when I saw this picture in a window of Chinese restaurant:

Chris, our friend in Shenyang, told me that it translated into something like this:

“For you I will sit in the pot.”

I of course found it hysterical and had to take a picture. This little piggy may be willing to be dinner, but he sure as heck doesn’t look very happy about jumping into the pot of boiling water. I don’t think I would be very happy either.

So, maybe the nursery rhyme should go something more like this:

This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed at home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy went…
“Weep weep weep” til the meat fell off his bones …

Whoa, I was just trying to be creative, I didn’t mean to get all Grimm on everybody. Heh, but it was a little funny . . . if just a little bit.

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