Getting here has been the more stressful part of my journey. Nothing went wrong, in fact I’m surprised none of my travels have gone terribly wrong so far. It’s just no one speaks English and everyone are locals with a northern dialect that is much harder for me to understand. I could get by in Jiujiang and Shanghai because I could get bits and pieces but the northern dialect is much harder to discern.
The stressful parts were the bus. I’ve gotten by most of my trip with airplanes and subways where directions are in English. But the bus, I had to rely on others to tell the driver my stop and to tell them my own stop. The bus assistant from Beijing to Miyun was really nice and helped me a lot. He has been the only one thus far who seems to get that it’s hard for me to hear Mandarin but I can read it pretty well, so he typed on his phone and showed it to me and that helped a lot.
I also had to transfer buses in Miyun and with a bus system all in Mandarin and with no one on the bus able to speak English, it was nerve wracking.
At the bus stop in Miyun, this lady came up to me. She seemed maybe in her 50s or 60s. She started speaking to me and with the dialect and my already lack of Mandarin knowledge, I very badly explained I couldn’t speak Chinese.
She asked if I was Chinese and why can’t I speak it if I am Chinese? I said I’m American.
She then asked about my parents (this took a while to understand). I showed her my adoption paper that said I was abandoned and blah blah.
She asked if it was my first time in China and why I was going to Gubeikou and I said yes and to see the Great Wall.
I have to say, she was very grandmotherly. She seemed curious as to why I was alone, which is why I think she came up to me since it was a pretty obscure bus stop. And she seemed, as others on this trip have done, seemed understanding after reading the document.
I show the document because it’s just the easiest way to explain it all without trying to translate it myself. After all, “abandon” and “adopted” are not really English vocabulary words most English speaking Chinese people learn.
I told her she was very nice and she touched my backpack and said me too.
And then my bus arrived.
But I arrived. It’s cold, the water is frozen here but I don’t mind it… yet.
The place I’m staying at is a quaint house in a small rural illage.
You can see ruins from the Great Wall from my window.
I hung out with the cats and with the family for a tea ceremony after dinner. It was nice, chill conversation.
For dinner, we had sheep stew. Just sheep in a broth and then mushroom, bok choy, and broccoli. Along with seasonings and some rice and it was delicious. First time having sheep and it was great.
Song is the owner and is really nice. There was this mom and her son here as well and they joined at dinner.
Then I joined the tea ceremony and we just sat around, drank tea, and chatted. This was with a guy named Jimm.
Here’s one of the cats on the roof.
There’s five cats actually. One is Tutu, one is princess, another is called Angry Bird and then there’s Stupid 1 and Stupid 2. Not their actual names but more personality tailored names.
My first day here I climbed part of the Great Wall called Crouching Tiger.
I ran across some other people hiking this trail and they asked me if wanted a picture. I said sure and it turned into a photoshoot. They were directing me how to sit and took multiple pictures in multiple spots.
I asked if they wanted a picture together, offering for me to take the picture of them. But they misunderstood me and thought I wanted a picture with them. So it turned into a funny misunderstanding and now I have a picture of myself with two strangers on the great wall.
I’m not a big fan of pictures of myself, this probably why I look a bit awkward in these photos. But I do like the occasional selfie if I’m at a place that is really cool.
The mom and son left yesterday morning so dinner yesterday was just me. I had these dumplings, a vegetable bread, and kimchi. I wish the kimchi was a bit spicier (I will probably have super spicy kimchi in Korea so I’m not too sad) and the dumplings weren’t fantastic but not bad. The vegetable bread, which was more like a vegetable filled crepe was amazing. So tasty, one of my favorite things I’ve had so far.
No pictures of the family dinners yet, I usually keep my phone away for those.
This night, these new travelers from Oregon and Canada came in. They are nice but they also asked pretty stereotypical questions. Not like they aren’t well intentioned. However, it seems like China was more a bucket list than something they actually cared to visit. Meaning, it seems like their only image of China and Chinese people are the stereotypes and they really only care to see the sites, they don’t have much knowledge or interest in knowing the people and culture. But as I said they are nice and certainly not the most offensive of travelers I’ve come across in China.
The dinner I had tonight I partially cooked! Song asked if I wanted to cook dinner with him tonight and I said of course. It was amazing. Fried potatoes with spices, szechuan rabbit, Chinese bacon, mushrooms in soy sauce and wasabi, and of course rice and baiju. Baiju because it’s the last night of spring festival.
He said it was the first time he’s cooked with a foreigner and said if he does it next time, he should prepare for the English translations of the foods. He would show them to me and I’d say what it was in English or take a sniff and try to guess what it probably was.
He drove me to Jinshanling this morning and we talked about his family and how he got into hostel business, some politics, traveling, and myself and my background. He said that China did not do families right back then. He wanted me to tell my parents thank you for him.
Here’s a bit from the wall hike this morning.
Here’s a cat that was sitting on my lap earlier today.
The white cat wanted to sit on my lap but the brown cat wouldn’t let them.
Here’s the late sunset from the living room window.
It’s been very relaxing here thus far. There’s lots of fireworks and firecrackers going off because of the New Year. And it’s a really great break from all the cities.