From the Arch to the Great Wall

3. First Day in China (2)

After the pearl shop we went to Summer Palace. It is the palace that the emperor stayed in during the summer. Trees, mountains, and living quarters surrounded a huge lake that is completely hand-dug. All the dirt removed from making the lake was piled up into a large mountain. Also contained in Summer Palace is the world's longest corridor which runs about half a mile long. It is a covered walkway with ancient carvings and paintings on it. There was not much to actually do inside the Summer Palace so everyone took a few pictures and then we left.

George then told us that after an hour of traveling by bus, we would reach an open-air market called Silk Road. I fell asleep as soon as I got on the bus so that hour felt relatively short to me. The bus parked along the roadside and everyone got an hour or so to shop around. My first bargaining experience was with my parents in Mexico earlier in 2004. Though I have taken 3 years of Spanish in school, I was not fluent enough to bargain so I talked mainly in English. Here, the vendors spoke both Chinese and English so I felt more at ease; I tried my best to use Chinese and only used minimal English for brand names. I did not have a watch so I shopped around with Jason since he was able to check the clock on his phone. He ended up getting 4 purses and I got a pair of shoes. This was the first shopping experience in China and I really enjoyed it - I did not buy much but I was able to practice my bargaining skills and sharpen them up for next time.

Before leaving, I had a weird experience, probably the weirdest throughout the whole trip. I noticed an American speaking impeccable Chinese to a group of Asian girls. I have seen Americans speak good Chinese before but this particular American did not have an accent, rather, he spoke with a slight twang that I usually hear when my parents are talking. I stopped in the middle of the street and watched this American talk when all of a sudden one of the girls asked him a question in English and he replied in English, thus changing the language of the conversation to English. This shocked me and I think he noticed me watching because he asked, "Hey, do you speak English?" Naturally I replied, "Yes, I do." Then he asked, "How long have you been here?" Still thinking naturally, I replied, "16 years". When people call me on the phone and then later meet me in person, they usually say that they could not hear a Chinese accent in my English; it sounds as if I was a natural born English speaker. For this same reason, the American said, "Wow, your English is very good for being here 16 years". I was about to say thank you when I realized that I was in China, not America. I still was not used to the fact that I was actually in China and that "here" meant China, not America. I apologized and quickly told him that I came here on a school trip from America and that I learned English there. He told me that he ran a Mormon church in my hometown of Taichung and he and the girls were here on a mission trip. I thanked him for the conversation and quickly ran to the bus; it seemed as if Jason and I weren't the best about meeting up on time.

Next up was the very first dinner in China. If I had to describe it in a few words, I would say it was "completely awesome". It was prepared in traditional Shanghai style with hot and sour soup, beef wrapped in pancakes, fatty pork, con shing tsai, ma po tofu, orange fish, and fries. The main reason that it was so good was because the quality and preparation of the food was top notch, but another reason is that lunch was really bad and having a great dinner was a huge, positive contrast. During dinner a big windstorm started and everything turned a mess outside. Hats were flying around, sand was blowing everywhere, and it was very hard to walk. It was only a 20- or 30-foot walk to the bus from the restaurant but even then I still got some dirt in my eyes. We were scheduled to see an acrobat show after dinner and everyone was determined to make it, windstorm or not. On the way there I saw a guy riding his bike with one hand while the other covered his face and eyes. It was a funny reminder of just how simply creative Chinese people can be.

The acrobat show was really good. I think this is because everything Chinese is just better in China. Some highlights of the show were the guys climbing and sliding down poles and the girls doing tricks with bowls and unicycles. It was a great way to close the first day in Beijing. I was entirely beat at the end - partly from jet lag, partly from doing so many things in one day. I took a shower and fell asleep right after check-in (Dr. Tai checked each pair students in their respective rooms at night). The hotels usually set out two complimentary bottles of water, one for each student. Jason was smart enough to bring Gatorade powder and he made me some Gatorade using my bottle of water. Little did I know it would come in handy tomorrow.


中國的第一天 (2)

作者:岳群
翻譯:時報編譯組

珍珠店後,我們一行到了頤和園,這裡是古代皇帝避暑的地方,一個人工挖掘的大湖旁圍繞著樹林和小山,當初挖湖挖出來的土就堆砌一座大山,即萬壽山。在頤和園內還有一座長達半里,世界最長的迴廊,在迴廊步道上方的頂篷有著古代的雕刻品和繪畫藝術品。

導遊George說,坐遊覽車一小時後就會到達一個叫作「絲路」的露天市場,在車上我睡著了,感覺一下就到了「絲路」,開始買東西吧!我第一次討價還價的經驗是今年初與爸媽到墨西哥旅遊時買東西,雖然我學了三年西班牙文,我還是無法用流利的西班牙文講價,祇得用英文。在中國,店裡的店員講中文,也都會講英文,我感到輕鬆不少,我儘量用中文講,除非是品牌的名稱時再用英文。我買了雙鞋子,奕傑買了四個皮包。這是第一次在中國講價買東西,我蠻喜歡的,雖然買的不多,但我能夠練習我的講價技巧,多多練習,下次一定派得上用場。

在離開市場前有個小小的插曲,在街上我看到一個美國人用很流利的中文和一群東方女生講話,這位美國人中文真好,沒有口音,很像我父母親在家講話時一樣,當這群女生中有人用英文問他問題時,他們又用英文開始講話,不多久他注意到我在看他們,就問我「嗨!你說英文嗎?」自然的我反應「是啊!」

他接著問「你在這多久了?」還沒意識過來,我回答「十六年了」。在美國時,如果我和朋友通電話後再見面時,一般人都會說我的英文沒有中國腔,好像我是天生說英文的,同樣的這位美國人說,「你的英文不錯呦」,直覺的我正要說「謝謝」時,我想到我是在中國,不是在美國,我還沒有完全適應「這裡」是指中國。我很快地向他致個歉,告訴他,我從美國來,和學校的旅遊團來中國玩。他則告訴我,他在我的家鄉台中有一個摩門教會,這些女生是教會的團契,來到中國短宣。結束這次短暫的對話後,時間不多,我趕快跑到遊覽車,好像這回我和奕傑(Jason)又遲到了。

現在來談談我在中國的第一次晚餐。如果用幾個字來形容的話,那就是「太棒了」,晚餐是正宗上海式酸辣湯,牛肉包餅,豬肉,空心菜,麻婆豆腐,魚和炒飯。這個晚餐很棒的主要原因是菜色的品質和料理都是一流的,另一個原因就是和午餐比起來,晚餐顯然豐盛得多了。

晚餐時,窗外刮起了大沙塵暴,外面一場混亂,帽子被吹跑,沙塵到處都是,連走路都困難,從餐廳門口到遊覽車祇有20到30呎距離,這麼短的路上我的眼睛仍然吹進了砂子。晚餐後安排有一場雜技秀。大家決定不管有沒有沙塵暴,我們都要去看。在去戲院的路上,我看到一個奇景,一位男士一手騎腳踏車,一手遮著他的臉和眼睛,什麼也看不見的卻騎車勇往向前,這個景象讓我想起,中國人可是富有創意,什麼也難不倒。

晚上的雜技秀很好看,也許是中國較好的節目都來參加演出了。幾個精彩的節目如桿上昇降,單輪轉球等。很高興能以這個表演結束在北京的第一天,我可是累壞了。一半是因為時差,一半是因為一天裡做太多事了。沖個澡後,戴老師查完房後,立刻倒頭大睡(戴老師每晚都要逐間查房,確定兩位學生都在內),旅館通常會給每個房間免費兩瓶水,一人一瓶,奕傑(Jason)很聰明,由美國帶了運動飲料Gatorade粉到中國來泡,他幫我做了一瓶Gatorade,明天我就知道這瓶水的重要了。

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