The sound of soft bells first woke me at 6 this morning, but I went back to sleep and got up around 7:30. I am most definitely not a morning person, but being in China makes me want to get up early and experience everything I can. The day is expected to be super cold, so I’m glad for the tights I got yesterday. Everyone here wears tights under their clothes during winter; it’s weird not to.
I went to breakfast on my own, and I saw two kids who got very excited to see me. One was even brave enough to come sit at my table and then laughed when I said “nhi hao,” or hello, to him and ran away. They both liked watching me spread butter on my bread with my chopsticks, as it’s the Chinese way to do it.
On my way back to my room, a man who had been sitting outside the breakfast area jumped and followed me before calling to me. I gestured that I didn’t understand and then he made a the international gesture of ‘let’s do it’ and pointed into his room, asking me to come in. I know that Chinese men have low opinions of American women, but I still find it strange that he would proposition me. I very firmly said no, shook my head, and walked away. He followed me after a bit, calling out for me, but I did not turn my head or look back, and as soon as I went around a corner, I went quickly to my room so he wouldn’t know which room I was staying in. I doubt he would try anything, but I just don’t want him to know my room. I feel like he was honestly confused about my refusing, haha. Hope he never gets to fulfill that American girl fantasy, the perv. But seriously, who propositions a woman wearing a hijab? Crazy. (editor’s note: I told Shuyan and Hanshin about it, and they were shocked! They said it’s completely atypical for something of the sort to happen in China, so that’s good to know.)
After this harrowing experience (not really, I found it a bit hilarious), I decided to take a nap. It was around 9 in the morning, and Shuyan and Hanshin were planning to come around 10. I got in bed to sleep and woke up to knocking on the door and was surprised to find it was nearly 12! They had apparently called my room several times, but the phone line was always busy (we fixed that at the front desk). We went to Hanshin’s grandmother’s house for lunch, and it was delicious; I wish I remembered to take a picture! She was very nice and took care to inform me that the food that did not have pork was also not cooked with pork oil. There was a young cousin of Hanshin’s that was learning English, and they tried very hard to get him to talk to me but he was way too shy. He eventually ended up sitting next to me, but just wouldn’t talk. He was surprised to see me eat with chopsticks, as were the other family members. Hanshin got a call from a friend asking for an invite to the wedding (as weddings are blessed events) and in the same request asked him to help solve the matter of the friend’s boss’s affair. Apparently the boss has been having an affair with a younger woman and the name in the phone was the same as Hanshin’s family name, so he had to go and help them out. He later said that it did not go very well, but he thinks he might have saved a bad marriage for now.
We then went back to the hotel to meet with Hanshin’s out-of-town friends and check them into the hotel. After a bit, lots of aunts and uncles came with all of the items for the gift bags to give to the bride and groom’s guests. It took a bit of time, but we finished! Every bag contained 2 packs of Chinese cigarettes (they smelled like American cigars), a bag of peanuts, a bag of dates, and a small box with two sweet cakes. The bags were really nice, and I got a kick out of seeing “Made in China” on the bottom.
When we finished, we got a chance to go check out the wedding hall as it was almost ready for tomorrow. We looked around and it’s so pretty, but there was still a lot of work to do and apparently the agency did not completely fill the order correctly. Shuyan’s mom was a bit upset as she thought the flowers were not enough, and they promised to bring more before tomorrow. There was also a problem with the hotel not letting them use the projector, so now the agency has to rent one from another company. After walking around and wishing I had my camera (I’d left it back in the room) we went to dinner in the same hotel as last night (the Egret Hotel) with Hanshin and his friends.
At the restaurant, many of his friends are businessmen that deal with Indian people. They at first thought I was Hindu (apparently a Hindu man told him that Hindus and Muslims are the same… no) and commented that I’m not allowed to have eggs or milk. I told him that Muslims and Hindus are very different, and he was miffed that the Hindu told him incorrect information. They watched to see if I would eat any meat and were very surprised when I did. I don’t think they truly believed me, and I’m still not sure if they really do or just think I’m a bad Muslim/Hindu. They were a little sad that I would not try the Chinese wine, but I made up for it by drinking plenty of green tea.
After dinner, we dropped the group back at the hotel and Hanshin drove us to the supermarket to get a few more gifts/prizes for some games that will be played at the wedding. They bought several bottles of beer and some special candy with dispensers for others who win. We then went to the new apartment to pick up the dresses for the wedding, and left the car there so that it could be decorated for tomorrow. When we got up to the apartment, most of his family was there decorating and there were a couple of nice balloon arches in the doorway and around the house. We picked up the dresses and took them out to the car of a friend of the groom who had followed with his wife to bring us back to the hotel.
We stayed in the common room for just a minute or two before heading to the hall for a rehearsal. Here I met Shuyan’s cousin from America, Wei. Her English is perfect, so it was great having someone different to talk to. She goes to Emory and is studying neurobiology and plans to do an MD PhD. Super smart girl, and she loves what she’s doing. At the rehearsal, I met some of Hanshin’s local friends. They were a rowdy bunch and definitely enjoying themselves. They were all smoking like crazy. They really liked seeing me and my name as the only English name on the list of guests, and asked how to say my name and then said it repeatedly. The rehearsal was over pretty quickly and all of us younger people started walking out. The guys kept saying my name, particularly a guy wearing a hat. Shuyan’s dad cautioned them against being silly, and her mom really spoke to Hanshin to say that he shouldn’t do anything too crazy tonight because the day tomorrow starts early. From what I was told, they just ended up hanging out and playing poker. Sounds mostly kosher 🙂
After this, Shuyan and I went back to my hotel room. Even though it was only 10:30 or so, she showered and went to sleep while I quickly checked my email and then slept. The wedding is tomorrow and makeup starts at 6:30! I have already set aside everything I need in a small bag to take with me, and I’m going to get dressed before I leave with Shuyan for makeup. I can’t believe I’m sleeping before 11 PM, lol.
So excited! Tomorrow is the wedding 🙂