I just got back from my first trip to China and decided to share my experiences with everyone at CPod. This will be kind of long so bear with me.
I spent 5 days in Shanghai, but most of it was spent working and did not have time to visit the CPod office. I made it a point to tell my boss that next time I am there I get at least one day vacation to do just that. I did have time to visit Nanjing Road and the Bund in the evening and must admit that it was very impressive to see everything lit up, and I got some really good pictures.
I spent 3 and a half weeks in Wuxi. The area that I was in was more of a residential/commercial area. Even though I was staying in an "International" hotel, the locals were not used to having many tourists walking the streets, through the local park, and into their shops and restaurants. The most common word I heard was "Hello". The next two most common words, more or less behind my back were laowai and waiguoren. One kind of funny experience I had was when I was walking through the nearby park on a Saturday morning. I saw two young boys roller blading in the park. One of them saw me and started shouting "waiguoren". They skated up to me and handed me a breath freshener sample. One of the boys said "Hello" in almost perfect English, I couldn't resist and replied "xiaopengyou, nihao". As soon as I said that they both started skating towards their mothers and one of them shouted "waiguoren shuo zhongwen, waiguoren shuo zhongwen". Anyway I thought it was cute.
I must have had at least a couple dozen people come up to me to ask me where I was from, some in English and some in Chinese, but I always responded in Chinese.
One night I was sitting outside the hotel and had a lovely young lady introduce herself to me. She said she wanted to practice her English and she was kind enough to correct some of my Chinglish mistakes. The next night while I was waiting for her, a young man introduced himself to me. He was kind enough to offer to take us both to dinner the following night and then invited me to his home for dinner a couple of nights. His mother and inlaws were very nice and were very curious about life in America. I tried to be as respectful as possible and at the end of the evening I told his mother that the meal was delicious and that I was very full. She told me that my Chinese was very good. Whether she was being honest or just being polite I don't know, but it was an experience that I will remember always.
I did get a chance to visit Tai Hu for a few hours and got some really good pictures on the Fairy Islands.
All in all, the people of Wuxi were very courteous and made me feel very welcome. I felt safe walking the streets at night by myself in a town of over 3 million. I certainly would not say that about most other towns in the world of the same size. I can't wait for my next trip, which should be sometime in the next couple months.
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