Day 2 or day 3?
So from a technical view I have been here for three days. Since I was a semi conscious zombie whenI arrived, I will count it as day 2.
I guess a sign of getting older is my adversion to long flights. Boise to Minniaplolis, three hours. Minniapolis to Narita, Japan….xx hours. Narita to Hong Kong…. Four hours. Then there was the three hours on the ground in Japan, an hour awaiting my baggage in Hong Kong, the drive and border crossing into China, and processing immigration in Shenzen. A lifetime later and after a wonderful rest I woke this morning to a great breakfast.
Side note…the first night was not without its trials. I was in bed around 1pm as soon As I got in like a good boy. I was awaken just after collapsing to a knocking on my door. A young Asian girl in a mini skirt stood at the door. Without opening it I asked if I could help her. She asked if I would like a massage. I have missed my last few physical therapy appointments for a torn AC joint in my shoulder. I am pretty sure she didn’t have my medical records.
This was not the first approach, the next night after an evening dinner, I was approached in the lounge area outside the hotel and even quoted a prices when I rebuffed the proposition. I later found out that this is an expanding trade in Shenzen and there is a whole industry tied to it. More reasons to stick to geocaching and the other geeky things I do.
I managed to pull off a full eight hours of sleep and was in the gym at 8am and the pool an hour later. I met my contact for breakfast at 9 am and made our way to the office. After an even more interesting taxi drive to the office we set up shop and made preparations for the workshop I will lead. Belinda, my contact is from Singnapore and speaks Cantonese and Mandarin. She is also helping me understand the customs and will provide interpretation of the various “Rob-isms” if needed. She will be tremendous help.
I also met Simon who will be in the class. He was kind enough to invite us for lunch. I asked Belinda to explain to him that I was not like many of the Americans that only wanted KFC and Pizza Hut…I wanted to eat Chinese.
Simon was a generous host and had what seemed like every item from the menu brought out. Pork in geletin, tofu (actually pretty good) pork dumplings that reflect a tradition of a poet who jumped into a river (very interesting story), bean curd, chicken, more pork, and spinach….yes I not only had seconds, but fourths. At the end, Simon gave me the container of left over tea powder from the crisanthamine tea we drank.
I love the levels of flavors here in food. I had what was probably the best hamburger ever…in China… Imagine that.
I have been thinking the past few days about culture. Sometimes I feel we don’t have a distinctive culture. We seem to be bland. In Scotland I had the opportunity to experience Robbie Burns birthday with kilts and pipes. In China I witnessed Tai-Chi in the park. Full expressions of culture. I think we are bland because we don’twant to offend. We are like a hamburger without flavor. Sure we might add a bit of mustard to it, but even our mustard is non-offensive. To get real flavor we have to order or buy special spicey mustard. In my experience here, the meat on my burger was expressive and didn’t require adding anything.
The loss of identity is the loss of culture. I love my country and would not want for any other identity, but in the last few years we have been so afraid of offending and being so inclusive, and making sure everyone is a winner, that we have created a blandness. No risk, no reward, and no spice. Spice, yes, that is what we have lost. We have lost that zeal, that momentary feeling of “wow- that was hot” feeling not only in our food but in our lives as well.
At the same time I love the fact I live in an un-censored country. From where I sit I cannot access much of my email, cannot post to facebook, and not ablr to upload videos to youtube. In fact, this blog entry won’t make it to press until I hit Korea or Japan next week.
So back to making preparations for the workshop and then off to do some shopping for my ladies back home….and of course find something to eat that will remind me of why I am alive!