My Theme song for the day – Feel Good Inc. by the Gorillaz the first Gorillaz song I had ever heard causing me to love the group forever!
Matt and I woke up talking about how awesome the previous night had been and how we felt so undeserving of these awesome experiences and Zheng’s generosity. Neither one of us had spent a single RMB so far.
We took the motorbike to a nearby little restaurant for a quick breakfast of noodles and beef soup. The food in Shantou is known as being really good and I had to agree with it. Things just had a different flavor to them.
After that we stopped in at Zheng’s house to see how things were going then drove around town for a bit. I honestly could have rode around on the back of the bike all day and been totally content with the experience. The place just looked so interesting and everything had a really different feel to it. After stopping Matt and I talked about how awesome Shantou was. We both understood why it was awesome but we realized it would be nearly impossible to try to explain it to people back home. It’s very hard to describe the feeling of being somewhere that seems like a completely different world. I could show pictures and talk about the people and the atmosphere but it still wouldn’t do it justice, there’s just no way to experience a place without actually going there yourself. Matt and I decided that “The harder it is to explain, the better and more impactful the experience.” I truly think the best experiences that truly change you are ones you can’t put into words… I think this will be a worthy topic for an article one day.
One thing I forgot to mention about Shantou is that pretty much everywhere we stopped we had tea, but it was served in a way I had never seen before. Every store or shop or house we went to had a little tea set comprising of a small kettle, some tea leaves and 3 cups
There was a very specific way to prepare the tea , clean the cups, pour the tea, and drink it. To the locals it was second nature but to me it was like watching an interesting tea ceremony. I asked if I could try performing the process once but it turned out to be more difficult than it looked!
Next we stopped in a kids clothing store where a friend of Zheng’s worked. It was really nice that he spoke some English so we chatted and of course had more tea with him! Zheng’s friend’s wife was also present in the store, I don’t have a picture of her but I’d have to say she’s one of the most beautiful girls I had ever seen in China.
Zheng’s friend then pulled out a guitar, he had been playing for over 10 years and he had awesome skills. Every note he hit was perfect and he played so smoothly it was just cool to watch. He played a few English songs for us like Hotel California, Better Man and a few others. He definitely inspired me to keep practicing my guitar playing!
We stopped off at homebase then went to another shop for another tea stop. Outside the shop was a group of girls who were by far the most exciting to meet Matt and I then anyone else we had met in China. They were almost at the point of freaking out as if they were meeting their favorite celebrity for the first time. One of them was actually shaking a little bit as I went to shake her hand. I write about this just to try to convey how weird and unbelievable everything was and how nicely the people reacted to us being there. In many other places in the world, people who are foreign to the country can be treated poorly, so I feel really fortunate that the Chinese locals are so friendly and happy to meet us outsiders. I know I don’t deserve to be treated as someone special just because I’m from Canada but it’s really heartwarming to see people so excited just to get a chance to talk to me. Matt is good at reminding me how we can’t let it get to our heads. Just because the locals give us special treatment doesn’t mean we should take advantage of it in any way, we really haven’t done anything to earn it.
Next we stopped at Zheng’s (girlfriends?) house and met her family. Like everyone we had met they were incredibly nice, and the entire family seemed to be incredibly happy with each other. Her mother and father had an incredibly peaceful look to their faces, and their smiles were warm and genuine. We of course had more tea with them, then said our goodbyes. On the way out we noticed a back room though… it was fully with rows of sleeping babies!! The family was running a sort of daycare nursery, but the site of the peaceful babies was really stunning and humbling. I hadn’t seen anything like it before.
My favorite thing about our day in Shantou so far was just throwing on an amazing song and riding through the streets. I’d try to time the songs I was listening to so that they’d hit the energetic part as we pulled onto the main streets. After leaving the familys house when we pulled onto the main road we were amazed to see hundreds and hundreds of middle school students riding bikes on the road. All the car and motorbike traffic had been replaced by an endless supply of uniformed children! This was more like the image of china I had in my mind before coming.
Shantou is so far east in China that its actually connected to the ocean. Zheng was nice enough to take us to it. As we walked up onto the beach I was hit with an amazing feeling. I instantly remembered how much I loved the ocean. This was the first time I had visited an ocean since my trip to Thailand and I think all my amazing Thailand memories were so strongly associated to the sounds and smells of the ocean that I couldn’t help but feel how I felt on that amazing trip. It was also amazing that there were absolutely no people on the beach, I’ve seen pictures of Chinese beaches with millions and millions of people packed onto them.
There was also a pretty strange thing walking along the beach… a massive camel!
We hung out at the beach for a while, explored the rocks on the side, and relaxed for a bit. After we went to a photo stand in the middle and took a nice group shot. We each got a nice lamented printout for future memories.
Next we went to another hot-pot with the friends from last night. This one had a good variety of food rather than just meat. At this dinner though, I had a new experience that I had been avoiding my entire time in China so far… I had to use a Eastern toilet! It was long overdue considering how much time I had spent in Thailand and China and how lucky I had been at avoiding them. I had heard a few nightmare stories of people crapping on their shoes or something the first time they used them so I was a little nervous. I definitely didn’t want any accidents while at dinner in another city with a bunch of people I didn’t know! Thankfully it wasn’t as difficult as I had feared and my poop mission was a big success 😀
So before going to the washroom Matt had mentioned that Zheng had said we weren’t going to drink tonight… I didn’t exactly believe it, and after I had returned from the washroom there was a nice shot of Baijiu waiting for me. Baijiu is my absolute worst nightmare as it’s the grosses drink in the history of time, and unfortunately this night we were drinking the especially rancid strong type. It was 52% alcohol (104 proof .) Drinking Baijiu is an absolute struggle and there were many rounds of it.
Here’s what Wikipedia says about the taste of Baijiu:
There are a number of accounts in English which comment unfavorably on the taste of baijiu, comparing it with, for example paint thinner, rubbing alcohol or diesel fuel.
After dinner we went back to the bar from the night before. Here I got a new Chinese name. Zheng Xiao Long. The first part is Zheng’s family name and the second is Little Dragon, the same name Bruce Lee had. I was pretty excited by this name as Bruce Lee is my idol but I’m still not sure if this is the final name I’ll keep or not.
We then had a snack of cooked snails… They were my far the hardest thing to eat in the entire universe… at least for me. Everyone else seemed to be doing it no problem. The technique is to put the shell up to your lips and then suck the snail out… I tried about 15 different techniques and struggled more than anything but only managed to eat about 10 of them in an hour. I was frustrated to say the least! Oh and snails by the way are quite tasty. After giving up on the snails I noticed a really cute girl working at the bar, since I’m in my inspired life challenge I had to go talk to her without hesitation. She turned out to be really fun and we took some nice pictures together.
Next it was off to the club again! After about 30 minutes of dancing however we decided to move to one of the back karaoke rooms. Here we met a man, who now I’m my mind is more of a living legend than a mere man. This guy could put back an entire extra large bottle of beer in about 3 seconds… I’ve never seen anyone drink so fast in my life. He’d then go YEEEAAA!!! and get everyone totally pumped.
Matt and I tried to chug a few with him but we were no match!! Not even close! At one point after chugging he ripped off his shirt to show his (lack of) muscles. We were all pumped so we did the same. They gave me a cigarette to make me look cooler for the photo.
To end the night of drinking off Matt and I busted out the microphones to sing Michael Jacksons ‘Doesn’t matter if your Black or White’
It was a bit of a disaster.
First there was about a 10 minute long intro to the video showing all these images from the new and Oprah and stuff about the controversy the song caused with statements from Michael Jackson and fan reactions and a bunch of stuff. The Chinese people in the room had no idea what was going on and were pretty confused by it all. Eventually the song started but apparently English songs don’t come with the lyrics and we weren’t sure what they were!
We decided the show must go on, so the song sounded more like “naah naaha nah naaaaah naaah It don’t matter if your black or white!…….. Naaah naaah naaah naaaah”
Overall another amazing day and night in Shantou, unfortunately we go home tomorrow so I’ll have to find another way to keep the inspired days going!