It’s been a month of wandering so far. I know that because I finally broke into my stash of tampons this morning. I’ve seen Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing, Hangzhou (one word, overrated!!), Yingtan/Longhu Shan and now Changsha. But who’s counting?? Four Chinese provinces so far on this trip, and I just booked my transportation to number five a few minutes ago.
Right now I’m sitting in a cafe on the delightful street of Taiping, one of the oldest streets in Changsha. I can hear guitars strumming from all corners and some of the storefronts on this street are decked out in Rasta flags…very un-Chinese. Even if you have never been to the Middle Country you probably already know this. You probably think that this Republic is filled with ultra-modern shopping malls and airports mixed with lots of backyards back alleys. For the most part, you’re right. Keep reading this blog and I promise when I discover any part of China that doesn’t fit this stereotype, I’ll be sure to post.
So, as much as I love this little block I’m on, every single person who passes this cafe stops for a moment and stares at the foreign girl. All the Rasta flags and guitars in the world can’t protect me from this daily dilemma of mine. Some of these on-lookers go so far as to come into the cafe, only to step out the door 3 seconds later when they realize neither Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, or Obama are nowhere to be seen. There’s no special laowai jamboree going on, it’s just me and my backpack. Sorry for the disappointment Mr. Chinese Dude. Every day as I walk the streets of a new city trying to find food, a free museum, a nice park, an epic statue of some communist, and my sanity, I try NOT to let the 1.2 billion people gazing as I pass them by have an effect on me. But it does. I get really annoyed sometimes. In my world, I’m not in a vulnerable position wandering around a giant country and even bigger continent without much grasp on the language. All by myself. Some stares, however, seem to drag me out of my world and into their reality. You are different, you are only one of you, and what are you doing here?
Don’t get me wrong though, I’ve met some lovely locals so far. They all wish me good travels and some even give me donuts. I’ve got two chocolate donuts, a can of Coke and a lollipop so far. Seriously…who’s counting?!?! Eating the donuts made me break my Lenten fast of no chocolate. But I figure if Jesus were in China today, he’d say thank you and eat the donuts too.