It is hard to believe I have only been in Haikou for three weeks. That first day seems so long ago! Last weekend Jennifer, Jenny, Alexandra, and I headed down to Sanya on the southern coast of the island to spend the night there. It felt like how Haikou might in 10 or 15 years, and while it was still very “China”, I was reminded that there are others who look as foreign as me. Many tourists come from mainland China, but many also were there from Russia and Eastern Europe. Instead of Chinese and English on most of the signs, there was actually Russian written below the Chinese. I think that is one of the things that has taken the most getting used to—that there are only about 5 people I have seen in the past week who speak English as their first language—a good reminder of how big the world is! In Sanya, we got to eat western food—it felt so good to actually eat raw vegetables instead of ones cooked in oil!—as well as rosemary french fries—so good! Because fruit is so abundant, there are many fruit stands on the side of the road. We came across one that was selling “chao bing.” They put a little sweet milk, sugar, and lots of fruit (blended with ice) and mix it all on a cold, metal plate. After about 5 minutes, it becomes ice cream. I had pineapple and mango which was delicious!
Work is good-I am not always very busy, but I feel that I am learning a lot! My boss told me he may take me with him and two of the Malaysians who are working at Mission Hills to the branch in Shenzhen soon, so I am hoping that comes through!
My weeks have settled in to a little more of a routine. I find myself every day saying it is my “favorite day.” Each day is different, but each day is full of blessings!
Monday and Wednesdays, we go to work and then the gym. Jenny and I have started going to yoga on these days at the hotel. We have become friends with the teacher, and she helps us when we don’t understand, because the whole thing is in Chinese! (It’s been good language practice, too!)
After work on Tuesdays, we go into town and have dinner at a northern restaurant called Dong Bei Ren. It has delicious dumplings and fried rice, and we always stop by “The One” to grab bubble tea for dessert!
Thursdays, Jenny and I have begun going to a church here. This week was our second time to go. It was a little bit of an adventure because we weren’t exactly sure how to get there and had to navigate ourselves. After struggling with the elevator and wandering the building for a while, we finally found it!
Fridays are what I like to call my “cultural day.” The past two weeks we have gone out with coworkers after work. Last friday, the HR department took us to have very traditional Haikou food. This included Ox-Tail soup, ox ribs, and some delicious “pancake”, all served outside on a street called “salt street”. While maybe a little of a stretch for my taste buds and my dining comforts, it was cool to see a different part of Haikou and get to know the people I work with better! This Friday was a little more up my alley. We went with Daisy, who works in my office, and a few others to dinner to see Kyle, who is from Canada and used to work at Mission Hills. He also goes to the church Jenny and I go to, and he is marrying a girl from Korea at the end of this month! She doesn’t speak much English, and he doesn’t speak much Korean, so they speak to each other in Chinese—I am so impressed by them!
The dinner was delicious–a man and his wife have opened a “restaurant” inside their home on the coast of Haikou. The man is Swiss and the woman is Chinese. They make wood-fired pizzas as well as many other dishes. It was some of the best pizza I have ever had! I think the coolest thing about the dinner, though, was that although there were only 12 people at dinner, there were 7 countries represented: Canada, China, America, Malaysia, Switzerland, Bulgaria, and Australia. It amazes me how the world can easily become so small!
Saturdays and Sundays we have off, so we use them to relax and explore. Today, after eating breakfast at the Hotel, Jenny and I headed off into the city to meet our friend Emily. We met her at her favorite shopping mall and spent an hour or two looking around. The stores were endless! But it was so nice having someone who is from here taking us around, and so fun to see what sorts of things she liked! We walked by a nail salon, and Emily eagerly looked in. It was only 20元, so we decided it was a necessary purchase! Jenny and I quickly found out Emily had never gotten her nails done before, so it was so fun to get to get them done with her! She was very excited about it, and it is hard to pass up a $3 manicure! After our manicures we got bubble tea with coconut jellies—our favorite thing, and hopped on a bus to 中山南路，a market Jenny, Jennifer, Alexandra, and I had stumbled upon a couple weeks ago, and wandered around. Emily had actually never been there before, so we got to sort of act as tour guides for her! There are so many local street vendors selling different fruits, egg dishes, and BBQ (a Haikou specialty). We can’t wait to go back and try some of it!
We are finally getting the hang of the shuttle schedule and how to get around the city. I am so excited for what is to come in the weeks ahead! (Including HK next weekend!!)