Today is a busy day. Fortunately I now have breakfast in the form of some orange juice so I’m well prepared. First thing’s first, I get the Chinese kids in their English class to teach me the Chinese for “dumplings”. I’m pumped, and so is the cook in the restaurant I’ve been going to all week, to finally get what I want that lunch. The day ends and I’m off to ‘Lotte Mart’ – the mother of all supermarkets in Yanzhou.
I sort out my phone first. None of the 4 people in the shop speak English but it appears they have a friend who does! So, I’m constantly handing a phone back and forth to solve an apparent problem: apparently I used up almost £30 of internet on my old sim card so they tell me to buy a new one and throw the old one away. Now this is an example of how genuine and friendly the Chinese are. That was £30 they could have had off me - fair play.
There’s a KFC in the shopping centre so I thought I’d treat myself and sit down to finally text this girl! Text sent, I begin to tuck into my chicken burger. Now, it occurs to me that a man to my left has very hurriedly pick up his 6 year-old son and rushed him to the bathroom. I look back to where they were sitting around 15ft away and struggle to take another bite.
A couple of days earlier, Rich points out to me that some parents here don’t go for nappies and instead it is quite common for kids’ trousers to be split around the bottom. Now this conversation is running through my mind as I sit there and try to confirm if there is in fact something on that seat. Meanwhile, the mother returns with the food.
She’s moving coats around and sitting on the other side of the booth, seemingly unaware of anything across the way. I have to say this lasted about 5 minutes as I get my head around the situation. Eventually, and thankfully, the pair return and sit back down, sliding across the seat without any caution - my eyes apparently playing a horrible trick on me.
Into the supermarket. I won’t bore you with any details here but I did find some ‘Flash’ wipes and I did see live terrapins and toads in the fresh fish section – all live fish. (I have since found out the terrapins are used for herbal remedies and only eaten on special occasions). I intend to buy a terrapin or two and keep them as pets.
So on my way home and I give the taxi driver my address written in Chinese on a piece of card. I literally do not know my own address right now apart from flat 706. I still haven’t heard from this bird so I check the number she gave me – the number I text is one digit short so I try the other number she gave me – immediate response. Bingo.
I’m trying to arrange a date for tomorrow night but she seems pretty keen to meet tonight. Bearing in mind it’s getting on a bit and the other town is 30 minutes away, I really couldn’t be bothered. I try to express my wishes to meet another day but this doesn’t go too well! So, I sack up and tell her I’ll see her in the bar she’s going to soon.
I get downstairs and it’s raining, and when it’s raining here, it’s raining. So now I’m really contemplating my decision. Again I sack up and try to find a taxi. A taxi pulls up and I say “Feeling bar”, “Feeeling”, “Yangzhou”, “Yang-show”, “Yang-shoo”. This guy’s having none of it. (It’s pronounced Yang-Joe). So now I’ve really got the ump and finally I realise I’ve left my address card up in the flat.
I text the girl: “The taxi driver does not understand me. I hope I can see you Saturday? I was not prepared for tonight : “
Response: “r u kidding me? I’m going home now”.
I haven’t seen her since. Luckily for me I had my Flash wipes and a bottle of wine to do some more cleaning!