Saturday, January 19, 2008

more travel thoughts

I'm about to go to bed, but wanted to write a quick post. I just got back from a club with Eveline and Chi-Chu. Once again, the others were too tired to join. It's not that I'm not tired, too, but I suppose I have a slightly different travel philosophy than the others. I know Jen is exhausted from her intern year and wants this to be a relaxing and rejuvenating break. Grace wants to make sure she has time to blog and keep in touch with friends back home. I think it's also because I'm just used to going out a lot even when I'm tired from living in NY and having so much going on, so many fun things to do. But anyway, when I'm in a foreign land, I want to do everything possible, take advantage of every opportunity. I don't want to exhaust myself, but I want to try to achieve the right balance of tourism, everyday activities, relaxation, and nightlife. I like to experience what life would be to live like a local--take public transportation, walk around, check out grocery stores, hang out at night, etc. One thing I regret from my whirlwind European tour after college is that we hardly experienced any of the nightlife, preferring to see the sights during the day instead. But anyway, so far I've been pretty happy with the level of balance on this China trip so far. Every day is packed and different, but I'm not exhausted. I think I'll return to the States rejuvenated.

It was a really cool club called Yu Gong Yi Shan--I guess it used to be in another location and was much smaller, but has recently moved. There is a lot of live music there normally, but tonight was a fantastic deejay (Eveline knows him--I'll post a video later), and the laser/smoke machine effect was especially cool. Almost everyone there was a Westerner, which really didn't make the experience that different from going out in NY, although it was a good taste of what my life would be like if I lived in Beijing, and what the friendly and large ex-patriot community is like here. (I must say, not unlike Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And not, by the way, that I'm thinking about living in Beijing.) It was fun hanging out with old friends and dancing--I so rarely go dancing anymore, but I always have fun when I do. It was also a bit like worlds colliding, my Taiwan life with my NY life. My trip companions almost represent my whole life, actually--Grace and Ki-Ki being childhood friends (from 5th to 7th grade), Jen from 8th grade up and college, Chi-Chu from my time living in Taiwan after college, and Eveline from work and NY and the Randoms. There has been something very comforting about it all, actually.


One quick note about my Chinese language speaking ability--I've been pretty pleased with how much of my Chinese has come back, and how naturally it flows out. I feel confident that I could navigate this city on my own. However, my problem hasn't been with speaking and being understood, but rather understanding the answer/reply. But it's exciting to know that people can understand what I'm saying. I've started to get into bargaining, too. It seems silly to fight over the equivalent of one or two US dollars, but it's the experience that's interesting, and the challenge that I gain a sense of accomplishment from.

I also feel accomplished when I get the measure words right--different objects have different measure words. For example, if I want to say "three books" I would say "san ben shu," with "ben" being the measure word. If I want to say three tickets, I'd say "san zhang piao" with "zhang" being the measure word. Three tigers would be "san zhi lao hu," with "zhi" the measure word. There's the default measure word "ge," which you use for many things, and also if you're not sure what the correct measure word is, but I've always felt that using the wrong measure word was a sure sign of a non-native speaker. Native speakers just knows what sounds right and use the right word. I don't think I'll ever be considered a native speaker, but I feel that it's the little details that make a big difference.

Anyway, that all for tonight, time for bed. Wan an!


Anonymous said...

I'm very grateful for "ge"! In Japanese there is no default measure word so I would avoid using numbers in general. In China, I'd always use "ge" except when talking about people - that was the one measure word I knew. ;) Glad you're having fun!

yamster said...

Good to know your language skills are doing their part to contribute to the overall experience! But I want to know what's missing between the first and second paragraphs in your last section of this post. In suspense here...

Rita said...

> a slightly different travel philosophy

Me, too, me, too! I want to do everything; the wider the sampling of local life, the better. Grocery stores are my favorite.

Rita said...

(And I like that your travel companions come from the different times of your life. That is just how I think.)