17.07.2013 - 24.07.2013
Never in Seattle do you get invited to dinner by perfect strangers, never would you accept if you did. You don't nod at people on the bus and strike up conversations because they have blonde hair, nor do you give out your phone number like candy. It seems that all these rules fly out with window on the flight to any country where you become the minority. There is an unwritten agenda of all foreigners to find others like them- and this became a truth for Cody and I almost immediately after landing in China. 'Is there a sports bar where foreigners hang out?' 'Have you head of a good place for pizza or where you can buy books in English?' 'Do you speak English??'
So far I have acquired 12 contacts in my phone. One was a touch stone prior to arriving, Linda, she runs the Haikou International Dining Club and I would call her on a moments notice if I needed a hug. One is only in Haikou for 8 weeks doing an intense language course, Maria. She is from Spain and we have met up for dinner and drinks a few times, very lovely girl but only passing through. Another is a fellow English teacher who I have been able to bounce a few ideas and questions off of. And arguably the most important, and no doubt most connected, Yuval. He is from Isreal, and has managed to take Haikou by storm. I am not exactly clear what he does for work- I know he wears fancier clothes than Cody and I, speaks near fluent Chinese and likes to spend money. I like Yuval, he is what I call an Insta-friend.
For example: We met at the HIDC and he invited us out for a drink after, we joined him at two different bars. The first being a wine bar, funny scene really, big murals painted on the walls and over sized furniture fit for a 19th century royal family. Over priced, fake and horrible wine was served, but the bill was taken care of... After wine we made a detour to check on Yuval's newest 'investment' in the form of an empty space gearing up to serve as a bar. Finally we wrapped the night at his friends new club where the drinks were on the house and the music was piercing our ear drums violently. Like I said, I like Yuval, not just for the free drinks... he is a doer. It is always nice to meet doers even if you don't know exactly what they are doing.
Last night Cody and I both received invitations to meet for dinner from Yuval and a few more strangers- of course we accept! Off we went on our newly purchased E-bike to try and find the restaurant. After circling the block for 45 minutes (owning a bike makes us feel like we blend in, getting lost makes us stand out...) Yuval and a car full of Westerners rescued us and brought us to a sexy red light restaurant on the third floor of a complex. Immediately after sitting down he ordered the entire menu, twice. Razor clams and roasted garlic, sliced lotus flower and chilies, pork dumplings, spicy shrimp with red and green onions and a few more dishes that I wish I knew what they contained. After a few beers, 5 plates of food and a dinner fully in English, Cody and I got another new number in our phones. New friends, new food and new experiences. Good things happen when foreigners unite, and unite we must!
Embrace the chaos.