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The honking of both car and bike horns is a constant as taxis weave in and out between traffic, and bikes chase pedestrians off the sidewalks. There seems to be no rules of the road here, bikes, mopeds, even occasionally cars occupy the side walks, which serve as a walking path, road, and parking lot. I have grown quick to glance over my shoulder and jump out of the way at the sound of a horn. Crossing the road is similar chaos, as the cars go even when the walk sign is flashing green. We generally just try and stick with the crowd, figuring they can't hit us all. Occasionally you'll hear the deep throaty haccck spit of someone depositing their phlegm build up on the pavement. It's not a passive spit ether, it's a big old hack a luggy that gives you plenty of warning on whats about to come.
In the day, during school hours you will pick up the chorus of school children's voices rising to their peak loudness as the children are released into the school yard for gym class. Soon after the sound of basketballs hitting the pavement will rock the ground like thunder. Drifting through the open classroom windows you will also pick up the robotic drone of zombies as they forcefully repeat the answers again and again until it sticks in their brains, too young for the demand that is asked of them.
While the sun is still high in the sky fireworks boom almost every day. Despite the fact that the daylight blocks out these displays, they are fired for almost any occasion. There must be a chapel close to our school because there are firecrackers lit to celebrate weddings always coming form the same direction. Today I saw my first firework display that actually happened at night on my way home from buying buns. Must have been a night wedding for once.
And now as I perch our wide window ledge from our fifth floor apartment and watch the orange sliver of moon fight from being blocked out by the city's light pollution, my ears are filled with the sound of crickets chirping. For even within the tall buildings of Jinan the lucky cricket prevails. Trees grow, vines crawl wild across empty plots, and birds nest. Industrialized as it is Jinan holds onto a wild beauty that is a mix of crumbling walls, garbage, and the prevalence of nature. The ruins and empty plots in Jinan are not quarantined, but are converted to gardens, homes, and small wild pockets where nature is allowed to take over. The mountains close to our house are covered in birds and colourful insects. The other day Nate and I found ourself surrounding by a feeding frenzy of swallows as they dipped and soared after clumsy looking brightly coloured moth-like bugs. We were on the top of "swallow's wing" mountain and these bugs were all over the place. They kept flying into the gazebo, and into us, and then falling onto the ground on their backs, legs wiggling in the air until they managed to flip themselves back over!
Finally I will talk about some of the mysterious noise anomalies we have come across in the city. One day when walking down the road we heard a big bang! We didn't know what had caused it so we looked around in alarm, smoke was billowing off of the street! The locals also seemed to be surprised, but when no one could find anything wrong life resumed as normal. In an unrelated note Katy claims that there is shouting coming from the mountain at 4:30 in the morning.