Rob’s Trip to China – Part 8 – New Year’s Day

So I’ve gotten very behind on these, with the immigration frustrations and everything else going on, I haven’t had a lot of time to get to them. Unfortunately  my darling is not feeling well today, and isn’t feeling talkative, so, by her suggestion, going to start with day 2!

I woke up bright and early again, and waited for my sweetie to wake up as well. The weather was nice, really good time of year to be there. Still hearing the occasional fireworks going off. Seemed like I heard fireworks every day I was there, even though you really weren’t supposed to be setting them off inside the city, and the police really didn’t care.

After we got up, we got our outfits on. Rachel had gotten me a thick fuzzy new year’s vest, so I could blend in and look the part, and have the “China Experience . She also had one for herself, so we looked good together.

She told me I would be a “superstar” being a westerner in Chinese new years garb. I saw a lot of these types of outfits at the store the day before, and I was really wondering how different everyone would look outside. The first day, people dressed the same as you typically see in the west, and so for new years day, I was expecting to see a whole new China, the one you hear about and see in the west, with almost everyone in the colorful outfits, the dragon costumes in the street, smell of fireworks in the air. I wanted to be part of it, and experience it!

The plan for the day was to give the new years gifts, go out to the mall, and then go climb the “Mountain” which is a traditional thing to do in Shenzhen.

I gave the gifts I brought for her parents to them,  offering them in very broken Chinese. They seemed to like them alright. I spent a lot of time before I came struggling with what to bring, and Rachel really helped me with that. Her dad needed a decent laptop bag, and I brought her mom some  US cosmetics, which are sought after there. (also some for Rachel as well)

Then we went out to the subway to go to the mall. after getting outside, I noticed that people looked about the same as yesterday. I wasn’t seeing any of the traditional outfits yet. I figured I’d see more when we were out amongst the large groups of people.

We had gotten out at a subway station, and I was expecting to go outside to get to the mall, but it was right there attached to the subway station! and it was this huge, multi-leveled mall. I wasn’t expecting it to be like that, kinda like walking into a TARDIS for the first time, it seemed a lot bigger on the inside that I would have imagined it would look on the outside.

There were a fair number of people in the mall, but I don’t think it could be called “busy” by Chinese standards. It’s typical to go back to your hometown for the holiday there, and most of Shenzhen is made up of people from other places. 30 years ago the place was around a million people, and now it’s around 11 or 12 million.

Most of those people came in from the rural towns, and on the holiday, the town really empties out.  Rachel told me many times, even when it seemed like something was busy or crowded, that no, this is nothing. I guess the closest comparison would be a college town on summer vacation.

It was really surprising to see all the shops open on the holiday. The mall really was like any large American mall, same kind of design and layout. It was so huge, I could have easily spent all day there looking at all the shops. There was an arcade that I really wanted to check out (we went back another day to do that), a movie theater, restaurants, clothing stores, you name it!

Since it was about lunch time, we were going to grab something to eat before heading over to the mountain. We ended up going to McDonald’s  and I was quite excited to see how it would be different or the same from a US one.

But then I had a quandary .. because on one hand, I wanted to try something familiar, to see if it tasted the same as the US, and on the other hand, I could sample something that you can’t get in the US. It was a tough choice, but I decided to go with a china style chicken sandwich rather than a Big Mac. It had cheese, some kind of sauce, and mushrooms  It looked pretty good, and I figured the Fries would be a good enough indicator of the taste difference between the two countries.

I was underwhelmed. It tasted ok, but the chicken was dark meat, perhaps a thigh,  and very fatty. The sauce and such was ok, and the fries were passable.

Rachel had gotten a fried chicken drumstick, something I’d never seen at a McDonald’s before! She let me try a bite of it, and I nearly choked… It was spicy! I really wasn’t expecting that…. You really have to be careful in China for spicy food. You never can tell where it might be hiding…

Now, of course it wasn’t spicy at all to Rachel, and that’s the thing you need to be aware of… If someone in China says something is spicy, you had better believe them!

After lunch, we headed over to the park, and that’s where the story will continue…

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