Saturday, August 25, 2012

Summer vacation books

I read four books while on vacation...

The Hunger Games (thanks, Nicki!)

The Good Earth (thanks, Jen!)

Don Quixote (fully titled "The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha") (thanks, Amazon!)

Bou Meng, A Survivor From Khmer Rouge Prison S-21 (thanks, Bou Meng!)

And started another book called When The War Was Over, Cambodia And The Khmer Rouge Revolution (thanks, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum!) I'm not even 30 pages into the full 632 and already captivated by the history.

Oh, China. I can't say I missed you much. Please don't be mad.

Well, I'm back in China.

Can you feel the excitement?

Within a half hour of being back in Haikou, I was already told by two different people that I'm too "black" ... I got quite the tan while in Cambodia for a month. And being any darker than a fish belly is considered undesirable here. I am now the epitome of female hideousness by Chinese standards... Tan, size 9 (size 40) feet, curvy hips, and short hair.

And within that same half hour of arrival, I was asked if I had a husband (a pretty standard question within the first few minutes of meeting someone here), to which I replied "no" to which my taxi driver replied "Why not?" to which I replied "I don't want one" to which he replied "You will find a Chinese husband" to which I replied "I really don't want one." But you know, I said it in a nice way. We both awkwardly laughed it off.

I wasn't in the best of moods traveling back to China today.

I arrived at Phnom Penh airport this morning, and the first thing I saw were perfectly neat lines of people queuing up to their respective airline counters for check-in, and then...

I see the "queue" for my flight to Guangzhou. A blob of Chinese travelers. That's the typical Chinese "queue," which I have grown used to since living in China. But after 4 wonderful weeks in Cambodia, full of smiling people, courteous people, people who know how to form a line, well, it was the reality-shocker that I was leaving this beautiful country and its people to head back to ... situations that try your patience at every turn.

The queueing was just the beginning. I won't whine it to death, but after two short-ish flights and three airport maneuverings, I was quite fed up with the shouting, shoving and butting-in-front-of-me-in-line happenings. And no, it's never pleasant to hear loogie-hocking noises on an airplane.

I'm rarely if ever a confrontational person, but I did yell out a couple of EXCUSE ME?!?!'s in Chinese today. The expressions on their faces told me they understood.

I made it back to my apartment building and was immediately greeted by two of my neighbor ladies (who I have written about previously) who greeted me with squeals of delight, hugs and huge smiles and a bunch of Chinese I didn't understand. I instantly felt better, happier, frustration and negativity out the window, and remembered that the majority of my people interactions here in China are pretty positive. And I remembered that I usually shrug and laugh off the more frustrating cultural differences, because they are fascinating learning and mind-expanding experiences. I try to see even the most annoying of things as "different"... and not "bad" or "wrong" just because it's not my culture.

If I've had my coffee.

Four or so more months left of this year's teaching contract. I'm wondering if I can do another year in China. Is the love of the language and deep desire to become fluent enough of a reason to stay? I wish it was easier to be anonymous here, but because there are very few foreigners in the area of the city where I live, I'm still gawked at whenever I venture out of my apartment, and the looks usually aren't very welcoming. It hasn't bothered me too much, more amusing than anything, but long-term? Hmm. I have a feeling my school will soon inquire whether I want to stay another year, which is why this question keeps popping up lately. I'm finding it difficult to think of a reason to stay in Hainan, but I can see moving to another province if I decide to stay in China. In Beijing this Summer I felt completely anonymous since there are so many foreigners there no one gives a hoot about you. And listening to the Mandarin spoken in Beijing reminded me why I fell in love with the language in the first place. It sounds quite different than the Mandarin spoken way down here. Guess we will soon see what happens!

Now, time to upload hundreds of vacation photos and get to blogging about it. So many wonderful experiences had these past 6 weeks. So many interesting people met. So much awesome food eaten. So much sweat sweated.

Cambodia is freaking hot, but still less humid than Haikou!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Battambang My Homestay

I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay here at Battambang My Homestay guest house. Free bike usage all day, everyday. Homemade delicious Khmer breakfast every morning, prepared by the owner's wife. Lovely gazebos to lounge around in while using their superfast wifi. Fresh fruit and ice cold water delivered to your door every evening before bed. And situated on the outskirts of town where it's very peaceful, and you wake up to the beautiful music coming from the nearby pagoda. (And sometimes you wake up to the very rude rooster ... rudester). Tomorrow I leave for Phnom Penh, but kinda wishing I was staying here in Battambang a bit longer.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cambodian Bat Cave

Here are a few short videos of a bat cave near Battambang, Cambodia... so many bats!

Back to the land of speaking (and drinking coffee)

Just finished my first 10-day Vipassana meditation course. It was an unforgettable experience, and one of the most challenging and worthwhile of my life. Here is a snapshot of my room (thank goodness for my beloved mosquito net in the Cambodian countryside!)

I'll write more about the entire experience as I take time to fully process it over the coming weeks.