Last Night in Nanchang

It’s Thursday night, which represents my last night in Nanchang. Tomorrow afternoon I will fly to Beijing to spend Saturday and half day Sunday sightseeing before making the long journey home. The oppressive heat has returned to Nanchang. I now know that clear skies mean scorching heat. Somehow, though, I have become used to it - or maybe I have been fortunate enough to be spending time in a place where the air conditioning unit is fairly new, so it works consistently.

The management team at work has been nice enough to take me out to dinner most nights this week, and as a contrast to last week’s more drawn out, formal dinners, these have been more informal and more importantly, shorter. My appetite has come back and I am enjoying most of the Chinese food. I did break down on Sunday and went to the Pizza Hut, but since then, it has been Chinese food. I ventured into a bakery store Tuesday night and tonight and actually felt comfortable buying some bakery treats – egg tarts (DanTa) and buns with dried BBQ beef (I know, that last one sounds kind of yucky, but they are really yummy).

I continue to be amazed at how cheap food is – for example, tonight’s dinner cost $2.50 per person in US dollars. Heck, I am drinking Diet Coke out of the mini-bar in the room that costs $2.00 per can. And speaking of Diet Coke, I cannot find it in any of the little stores around the hotel - plenty of regular Coke, Sprite and Pepsi, but no Diet. So I will continue to drink the extremely expensive stuff out of the mini-bar.

After dinner tonight, I went out to buy Erica a Chinese-style silk dress. The small laundry and dress shop across the street from the hotel has been closed for over a week, so I had to go with plan B – head back out to the dress shop where I had purchased my Chinese-style, “cheong sam” the first day we were here. This store is in one of the main shopping areas – this area is open only to pedestrian traffic, with various stores lining the street. The ladies at the store remember me - the Chinese woman who couldn’t speak much Chinese! They also remember the dress that I bought (they probably charged me too much). But my Chinese has improved over the past two weeks and I am able to tell them that I needed a dress for my daughter, that she was nine years old and not too skinny (but not too fat, either!), and that the dress had to be blue. Ten minutes later, I am walking down the street with a beautiful turquoise silk dress.

So, my suitcase is all packed and ready to go. I can say that this week hasn’t been all that bad – I have gotten used to the cultural differences between the Chinese and Western cultures and haven’t suffered too terribly. However, I am ready to head back to the comforts of my home and family.

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