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Understanding The World Through Travel

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Thu
24
Dec '09

The Inspired Life – Day 2


Today I woke up with a big smile on my face to Lemon Jellys – The Staunton Lick… Awesome

A detail I had forgotten when writing yesterdays post is that we found out that today our invitation to go to Shantou with our friend Mr. Zheng was confirmed! The road trip was on!

I was extremely excited to get out of my area of China and see another part of the country. Shantou is about a 6 hour long bus ride to the East of where I am. The length of the ride was really awesome because it was only 9:00 in the morning and Matt and I only had about 3 hours sleep since the night before.

We slept for most of the ride… until our bus was hit by another bus!

We were in a tunnel when we had to put on our brakes fairly quickly. Moments later there was a massive crash from behind as we were all jostled a little bit. Luckily my head was resting against my seat so I didn’t get any whiplash or anything.  We looked back to see our entire back window cracked and the damaged front of the bus that had hit us. I’ve written before about the crazyness of Chinas driving, so the accident wasn’t as much of a surprise as it should have been. Matt said as soon as we had put on our brakes quickly he totally knew we were about to be hit. After what seemed like an hour and a half of waiting around with our bus in the tunnel whatever was going on outside was sorted out and we were on the move again. Things were going smoothly until we heard some yelling from the back. We looked back to see the glass window had fallen into the bus! A few guys held it from crashing to the floor with the back window curtains and managed to push it out onto the road. Thankfully the bus was of a newer model and the glass was tempered or there would have been some cuts!  With the massive back window missing there was a bit of an extra breeze in the bus, we joked it had been turned into a crude convertible.

We arrived in Shantou nicely rested. From there Mr Zheng who is very well connected here in his home town had someone come pick us up in a car. We were really excited to get driving around Shantou, it had a much different feel than Shunde. It felt much more like ‘real’ China. Everything had a fresh look to it, we knew we were in for a couple awesome days.

What the hell? Is that a foreigner taking my picture!?

What the hell? Is that a foreigner taking my picture!?

Things looked fresh and interesting

Things looked fresh and interesting

First Mr. Zheng took us to his new home which was still under construction. For China standards the house was massive. The house wasn’t that large around, but it was about 6 stories high. We even saw 1 floor dedicated completely to being a Karaoke room! Mr. Zheng has apparently been doing very well in his construction business! On the top floor Mr Zheng showed us two rooms which he said would be reserved for us if we ever visited him again. 😀

Next we stopped in at Zheng’s family’s home, a very interesting looking little place with a genuine Chinese feel to it.

A nice shrine area in the back of the home

A nice shrine area in the back of the home

Some of Mr Zhengs nephews and me

Some of Mr Zhengs nephews and me

His family was incredibly welcoming and friendly and seemed really excited to meet us. It’s quite possible we were one of the first foreigners they had ever met! They gave us a cool little snack which Shantou is famous for, a little similar to hickory sticks but with a healthy less baked feel.

After visiting for a little while and sharing some tea it was time to hit the road again. We weren’t exactly sure where we were staying in Shantou but when we arrived we were pretty thrilled. Mr. Zheng put us up in a very nice looking 4 star hotel. Our rooms were really nice and super spacious, equipped with a flat screen TV and any sort of supplies you could ask for (they even came with gas masks in the closet… Weird!) I felt totally blessed and really undeserving to be receiving all this awesomeness for free courtesy Mr. Zheng.

After checking in and cleaning up it was time for dinner. We rode motorbikes to a small shop we soon dubbed our ‘home base’ and met some of Zheng’s friends. Then after some more tea, headed off together to go eat ‘hot-pot’. At hot pot you get plates of raw food then you cook it yourself in the big caldron of boiling water in the center. The hot pot home in Shunde is good…. But the hot pot in Shantou was awesome. The meal consisted of a tiny plate of vegetables then… beef, pork, chicken, lamb, some other kinds of meet I didn’t recognize and meatballs! The amount of meat was insane but it was so delicious. The meatballs in Shantou are known as bouncing meatballs, when you drop them from a height they are so bouncy you can almost play ping pong with them! About halfway into the meal Mr. Zheng pulled out about 18 little bottles of 35% Chinese alcohol to ‘start the night off right’. In Shantou they like to play a lot of guessing games, Zheng’s friends would guess where we were from, or how old we were, and if they got it right we had to take a shot with them. To make matters worse after all the little bottles were finished Zheng surprised us with one final huge bottle to finish off before we left. I made sure to eat a lot to counter the effects!

Delicious meat *drool*

Delicious meat *drool*

Not everyone is as enthusiastic for group pictures :D

Not everyone is as enthusiastic for group pictures :D

During the dinner we really realized how rare foreigners were here as people were even peeking their heads into our room to grab a look at us. I always made sure to give them a big smile so their impression of foreigners would be a good one.

After the awesome dinner we were driving to a little tiny tea joint. There we were served a big cup of some weird tasting tea and told to drink it quickly as it would help us feel good in the morning after all the drinking. We were in and out of the place in about 2 minutes flat and back on the road. Zheng decided at this point that after the tea we should start drinking for real! We went to a nearby bar that seemed to be owned by one of his friends and ate some peanuts and had some beers over some games of dice.

Friendly folks

Friendly folks

Here we met some more of Mr. Zheng’s friends who would come with us to our next destination… the club!

Mr. Zheng is a slightly bossy person and when we arrived at the club he insisted we immediately jump up on stage and start dancing. Matt and I were both pretty toasted at this point and I was still focused on the inspired life challenge so it only took about 0.7 seconds before we were like ‘Hells ya!’ and jumped up there. The locals were totally pumped by our presence and things got pretty wild.

It felt really awesome here to have total 100% confidence. It might have been a combination of the alcohol and the fact that people love foreigners, but everything I did just felt awesome, and I did it all with no hesitation. I danced crazier than I ever danced, lead beautiful girls to the dance floor, did something resembling the tango with one girl, and Matt and I even started a big Congo line and marched around the club! Everything just felt completely perfect and inspired, there wasn’t a moment of negativity the entire time. It was smiles, laughs and fun the entire time. I think back now to the clubs back in Canada and how I was always self conscious of my dancing, hesitant to approach women, and generally stifled all around… and it doesn’t seem real. It’s like that was a different person. This is the real me, and it took travelling to fully bring it out. I wonder if it will last when I go back home?

Haha I also wonder if the people of Shantou had ever seen a Congo line before! 😀

After the club we headed back to the hotel. Matt and I were still feeling totally pumped for life and wanted to see if we could have a little more adventure on our own before calling it a night, but Mr. Zheng would not have it. We realized if anything at all, even something minor happened to us it would be a big loss of ‘Face’ for Mr. Zheng. Since Mr. Zheng had been so generous to us we knew we had to respect his wishes so we decided to call it a night.

We’ll see what kind of adventures tomorrow has in store for us!

This article was featured in the Sharing Travel Experiences travel monthly roundup.

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