I have not posted anything lately. There has not been much happening as for adventures. I realize that the idea of an American living in China and saying that adventurous happenings are far and few between seems odd. Actually, to many of my family and friends, my postings may seem like a daily adventure. For me, normalcy has set in after over four years. I tend to take things for granted now days. That is not to say that I do not recognize how blessed I am and that there is adventure in every day that I go outside my door. I recognize the adventure as soon as I am confronted with having to try to translate something to a Chinese person. Adventure remains as I witness the non-western cultural differences that make me proclaim TIC (This is China). I am often awe inspired by the beauty of the China and the people who live here. Despite all of that, I have gained a sense of normalcy to every day life. My normalcy is the daily adventures that face me when I leave my apartment.
Confused? Me too. Think of it like this. You get your dream job, perhaps at Disney World, and your first couple of months is awesome. Everything is new and you are working in a great location. You enjoy everything about your job. Excitement abounds. You write to your family and friends how great the experience is. Six months to a year later, you find a normalcy to your life. You still love your job, you love the environment, and you couldn’t see yourself doing anything different. The only thing different is that the newness has worn off. The honeymoon ends and real life takes over. That is where I am today. The honeymoon is over and I am living a normal life with no regrets or second thoughts. The normalcy for me is know which side of the bed is mine. The normalcy is doing the daily routine of housework. The normalcy is going to work and achieving the goals I set for myself. The normalcy is even going to a Chinese restaurant where no one speaks English and I am still able to have a fine meal. Understand?
I decided to go out this morning and get some breakfast. I decided to stop at Starbucks for a Frap and read a book. This is part of my downtown region. I took a quick video to showcase a wonderful mural that lines the canal and the park-like setting along the canal.
Yes, I know the water looks like the chocolate river from Willy Wonka’s factory, but it is not chocolate. At least the water does not smell the way it looks. The city does have cleaning boat crews that go up and down the canal filtering the trash and other things from the water.
There are statues throughout the city. Unique and fun. But, these are my favorites. I can imagine, before the significant pollution of the waterways, this was a favorite pastime of children in this town. Skinny dipping in a cool, once clean, waters of the canal had to be so much fun for the kids.
It is quite remarkable to think that Zhangjiagang, just 15-20 years ago, was mostly a rural farming community of a few thousand. Like many places in developed China, the richness of the culture and traditions of a simpler time have made way for the technological advancement of the 21st century. My high school students can remember when this town was just beginning to grow and become developed. That is such a unique and special thing. Often asked why I choose to stay in China, my response is that I like to see history in the making here. I want to see what happens. This city, as well as the country, is in a constant flux of change and growth. I can almost imagine what it must have been like for my ancestors to see such cities in America go through rapid transformation in their lifetime.
Every once in a while, I do get a glimpse into their past. Daily, people come to the canal next to my school to do laundry. They pound the clothes and rinse them in the dirty water, which makes little sense to me. Throughout the day, these people come to the canal and conduct their business as usual.
I am often brought back into the present when I come across any number of commercial marketing to get people to spend their money in this growing capitalistic country. Here are some pictures of a local mall hiring a company to put on a show to drive people into the mall. I can only imagine the cost of such productions, but I see such things all the time during my travels in China. Of course I find these to be entertaining, as to the locals. I just wonder how much bang for their buck that they get for such promotions.
Then there is this monstrosity of a marketing ploy. China Jeep set this up to draw attention to their products in a local parking lot. You see the white vehicle on the right. That is lined up to take potential customers up the ramp to the top where the top is on a swivel. Once the jeep is up there, the swivel deploys through gravity to the other side of the ramp, allowing the vehicle to drive down the other ramp.
I see two problems with this concept. First is that there is no way you would get me into a car and let someone do that to me in the vehicle. Knowing most Chinese, I doubt they would do it either. Secondly, where we live in China is about as flat as Kansas. There are not many opportunities to go off-roading and to climb steep hillsides near us. In the hour I was there, I did not see anyone use the demonstration.
I recognize how blessed I am to be doing what I love to do and to live where I am. If I am bored, it is only because I choose to be bored. I am often saddened by the things I witness on international and American news. I honestly do not have any experiences in my life that others do around the world. Yes, I have the typical Communist power hungry bureaucrats and the red tape to deal with. Aside from that, life is good. Life is normal. Life is every day… at least until summer when vacation comes. Be on the look out for my adventures as usual during my summer holiday.