June 27, 2014

[friday]: Trip of a lifetime

If I told you where I went on vacation, you wouldn’t believe me.

But I’ll give you a hint — I got extremely good at handling rice, noodles and chicken using my chopsticks.

It was my first time visiting a country whose language I didn’t speak. I know precisely two words of Mandarin Chinese — nee-how and shi-shi. (See, I can’t even spell them.)

Basically, I can smile at the locals and say “Hello! Thank you!” and look stupid while doing so.

Everybody asks how long my flight was. From Toronto to Beijing, it took about 12 hours, 15 minutes – or enough time to watch “The Lego Movie,” take in the film “Angels and Demons,” chuckle silently through an episode of the extremely nerdy TV show “Big Bang Theory,” nap approximately three times and eat three different in-flight meals.

What can I say? The meals were free.

A friend of mine met me at the airport. Good thing, too. I managed to get through Chinese customs without speaking a word. All I’d have been able to say would have been “Hello! Thank you!” and smile my biggest grin.

They’d have packed me off to the funny farm, for sure.

My friend speaks enough Chinese to take public transportation (planes, trains and automobiles – and a rickshaw), order food at a restaurant, and do many other miraculous things with the language – so I didn’t starve, at least. In fact, I felt like I was eating like a queen.

No, I didn’t have any chicken legs or fish eyeballs. Mostly just chicken, green beans, peanuts and spinach. Oh, and rice. Lots of it.

She even got us onto a tour bus to visit the Great Wall of China. THE GREAT WALL. It was like an out-of-body experience. I felt myself appearing magically in the background of National Geographic photos.

I took enough photos of my own, too. In nine days, I think I ended up with about 950 pictures. That’s averaging 105 pictures per day. About nine per hour. Three-twentieths of a photo per minute. (Impressive, right?)

There’s a reason I took so many photos, you know.

I had to have some way to prove my trip.

– Sarah Einselen

[Friday] columnist / Crazy blonde in Beijing

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