Sunday, July 18, 2010

Arriving in Guangzhou - 18 June 2008

**This is a never-before-published journal entry from June 2008.

I apologize for the scattered updates that have been few and far between.  As I predicted, the internet isn't quite as accessible here as in the western world.  Not to mention I've been constantly on the go, so little time to find an internet cafe, although I have been journaling my many interesting experiences daily so I won't forget anything. 
The conference concluded last night and its termination was celebrated with a long night out in the city.  Most everyone caught their international flights this morning.  I realized last-minute that there are 2 airports in Shanghai, and that the one I was flying out of was NOT the one that everyone else was.  Luckily I was able to catch a cab and get there on time....only to have my flight delayed by 2 hours due to weather conditions. 
I arrived in Guangzhou around 9:30pm and met up with my friend.  We had dinner downtown with her dad, who speaks exactly one phrase in English, "I do not speak English."  This is the case with many in the older generation.  
In the short 3 hours that I've been here, I quickly realized the incredible difference between "touring" a country in a group of 300 mostly westerners, while staying in 4- and 5-star hotels, as opposed to being immersed, as a helpless individual, in a culture which I've come to see far exceeds my understanding.  As I sat through my first meal in a Chinese family my table manners were thoroughly scrutinized.  Although I was lovingly corrected with humour and understanding, I couldn't help but feel embarrassed about my less than perfect technique with chopsticks and lack of acknowledgement of seemingly elementary Chinese dining etiquette. 
I swallowed my pride and welcomed their advice, especially after they told me that they had a large family dinner planned for next week, during which I will be introduced to the family and no doubt evaluated by their standards for a well-mannered Chinese woman.  Let's hope I learn fast. 
I have no more time, but so much more to say.
I have taken over 1,600 photos to date on this trip- so be prepared for one big slideshow.
Take Care,
 
Shirah-- aka Yung Wu (a Chinese name given to me by a group of college students-- it means "the sun is high in the sky")

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