In the home stretch now, last full day in Hangzhou and 2nd last full day in China. I awoke to a grey and wet day, the temperature had finally dropped. I think I timed my bike ride to perfection. I had a lazy morning on the computer and making plans for Shanghai the next day.
Maggie was sleeping in and Maggie’s mother had gone out, so Maggie’s father put on a lunch spread for me prior to him heading off to catch the train to Hong Kong. Maggie and family have been so wonderful to me, it is amazing. I think I have been paid back in full and more for hosting Maggie, Danielle, and friend for a week back in May this year.
After lunch I went for a wander around Hangzhou and had a chance to check out the gate and drum tower in full. You can get your photo taken in old clothes if you pose in the certain way as demonstrated.
The young child I am photographed with was smiling at me and trying to take my photo, I smiled back, said hello and indicated it is OK to have a shared photo. She was very happy, but the significant thing for me was that I had my first and maybe only fluent conversation with her and family. Most people ask me where I come from, but in a slight variation that causes me to pause, but this time they asked and I understood immediately and was able to reply without a pause. I felt very pleased with myself. I think I must be the slowest person to learn Mandarin, but by persisting I can see progress.
Maggie walked me to the train station that afternoon to pick up our tickets to Shanghai and so I would know where to go the next morning. I am glad we did this, because although Maggie had already bought the tickets online and was was able to pick hers up at a machine, mine were not as I had to show my passport and it took a while to track down the office. I would not have wanted to be doing this in a rush the next morning.
We then headed off on the bus to a dinner with Maggie’s friend Danielle who had just arrived back from Australia and Maggie’s mother was also meeting us for dinner as well. By this time is was raining quite hard and I had no idea which bus to catch or where we were going. As we walked into the restaurant I commented to Maggie I was glad she was navigating as I had no chance to get there.
Strangely Maggie also was not able to navigate to the correct restaurant either. All three parties had gone to different restaurants! So after many phone calls, we started trying to catch a taxi in the rain with everyone else having the same idea, it was a bit of a nightmare. After 15 minutes we walked to where Maggie’s mother was waiting at the bus stop and tried to flag a taxi again.
I spotted a taxi stopping down the road with a green light and ran off waving, I almost pushed away a another group who spotted the taxi after me but were closer. So it was the westerner to the rescue teaching the locals a thing or two. 🙂
When we arrived, Danielle had ordered all the food and it was already on the table, which I was very happy about as I was el si la (hungry to die for). I again fought to pay for the bill and again was trumped by the waiter who knew who the host was. Thanks you Danielle it was a lovely meal. We caught a taxi home after a walking for a while in the rain.
After getting home that night, I went out for a short walk to buy my tai tai (wife) a present. Maggie’s mother offered to accompany me as she indicated she was good at bargaining, I think she would be as well based on her short demonstration, but I felt I had dragged her out in the rain enough. I found a beautiful double silk scarf, mostly green that I managed to buy for about half of what the initial price was. They pulled out a lighter and tried to burn the scarf to demonstrate it was silk and even burnt one tassel, rubbed the ash with their finger and offered it to me to smell/feel. I was not aware this was the way to prove it is silk, so I learnt a bit.
I showed the scarf to Maggie’s mother and she showed great appreciation, for a second I had a sinking feeling she thought I was giving it to her. I reviewed what I had said to her “You like”, whereas each time I had given a gift in the past I said ” I give to you” and held the present out with two hands. She quickly said tai tai and all was good.