Friday, July 21, 2006
Today after school, Amy and I walked over to "our street" across from the hotel. By day it is a street with ordinary sidewalks; by night it is tranformed into Sir Fry Street. I know I have already mentioned this, but I have to paint the picture again: ten foot long carts come out of nowhere and suddenly plates and plates of chopped vegetables and live creatures line up for you to view. Underneath the carts are buckets of live fish; only when you order does the fish give up its life - freshness counts for everything! I have been tempted by the guy who is always grilling a beautiful whole fish at the end of the street; maybe I will have to eat one of his masterpieces. I have yet to try the long necked clams, but I have had quite a few stir fries with thick noodles and an assortment of veges.
Tonight, Amy and I were determined to try some of the beautifully skewered vegetables; we thought they would be grilled on the open grills manned by the Middle Easterners...but we found that we shouldn't assume anything - ever- here. We were told to put veges and fish in a basket. These contents were dumped into a huge pot of boiling water to par boil, then they were lifted out and put in cold water. Then, into a metal bowl it all went and up came another lid and inside that cauldron was a red broth which was scooped out with a ladle and poured into our metal bowl; we had ordered soup! You just never know. So we said, oh, they don't grill those veges on the stick, too bad...but ten minutes later another vendor was grilling veges.
We have met people from so many countries here, all doing business in textiles. The Middle Easterners stand out, surely; however, we have met plant managers from Norway, Switzerland and the Czech Republic; all during the day, men pedal huge loads of fabric in every direction. I suppose millions are made each minute in our polyester suburb!
Back to my night: Amy and I parted ways and I went to my hair washing place. I felt like singing "these are the people in my neighborhood" because on the way there I saw my noodle maker, my stir fry friend and the guys who gave me my foot massage last week; they all waved and said "Ni Hao" --but it's my hair salon that really appreciates me now! They cheer when I come in! I got my hour and a half massage and my same guy (wearing a pink shirt and holding hands with another hairdresser) loves to dry my hair. I guess he feels comfortable with me now because he asked if his friend could touch my hair. They love it! At one point, I opened my eyes while he was drying my hair to see about fourteen sets of eyes glued to me. I forgot to mention that on the train last weekend, Karis said that some girls sitting next to her were waiting for me to put my head up from a nap and when I did, they looked at each other and ooooooohed over my blue eyes!
OK, three posts is enough for now. Hotmail works today, phew! I must go home and sleep because this weekend, I am seeing a silk factory, a pearl factory, and getting a tour of some special lakes with Amy and her TA tomorrow. Hope all is well at home, and breathe that air!
Posted by Brian Bowker at 2:44 PM