Tonight marks one week of our arrival in Guangzhou. In this week: we’ve settled into our apartment, which now feels like home; explored our neighbourhood; and ventured outside its comfort zone twice. It’s been a week of enlightenment.
Our first lesson occurred at home. Doing laundry on a machine with only Chinese instructions and labels was quite the ludicrous experience. A frustrating five hours of washing one load of laundry (and then still having to hand wring every item) brought us close to violence. I’m convinced the happy jingles it plays for various errors and functions didn’t help. I am happy to report that we now rule the machine and it now takes a mere 29 minutes to wash a load and no hand wringing necessary. The completion of a load which is marked by the merry tune of Jingle Bells. Yep, Jingle Bells.
Our experience has been surprising in other ways and thankfully less frustrating than the washing machine. I think China in general has a reputation for being dirty but so far Guangzhou has been clean wherever we’ve gone. One would be hard pressed to find a piece of garbage or even a stray leaf on the sidewalk. There are multiple forms of cleaning happening from dawn until dusk: garbage pickers, street sweepers, river garbage boats, etc.
I also expected Guangzhou to be a sea of people (city population of 11 million!) and concrete but there is a sense of neighbourhood here and in reality there is a great deal of green space. There are trees and lush foliage offering shade everywhere we walk and parks and gardens can be found on every block.
Along with all this green space is the enjoyment of the space by the city’s inhabitants. The active lifestyle of the ordinary Guangzhou resident should put most Canadians to shame. The kids have commented their feet hurt because they are not use to all this walking:)
And the most surprising experience for our family has been the reaction of the locals to us. Our family definitely stands out in our neighbourhood. They especially take an interest to our hybrid children. I think they are not quite sure what to make of them. I had not anticipated this. Everywhere we go, people stare and sometimes I hear them say “wai guo ren” (meaning foreigner) but they are more curious than malicious. We have been tempted to say “zhong guo ren” (meaning Chinese person) in response and see how they will respond. I’ll let you know how that goes when we try it out;)
I love it when my expectations are challenged. It is these types of experiences that learning and growth happen.