Thursday, July 21, 2011

Blog woes and adventures in Jin Qiao (jean-chee-ow)

Yes. I have been experiencing some blog woes, which is why we have had this blog for months now and have yet to make it public. It took me FOREVER to really get a handle on layouts and templates, and even longer to find one that I actually liked.

So many I looked at were plastered with Hello-Kitty faces and anime-which isn't really my style..and plus, a good layout is important to what you want to communicate to your viewers (which in my case is me, Micah, my mom...and that's about it.)

My last blog entry I talked all about our arrival in China and how we were so excited to be here, and now in less than a week we'll end our China adventure and embark on another. Crazy how time flies! It's been nice for me to have some time in the place I have called home for the last four years, especially now that my family is moving back and I have no idea when I will ever be in China again. Something tells me that we will come back though, I don't feel like this is it.

There will definitely be some things that I won't miss, though. As I have lived here, in general, I feel that many people can often be conniving and money-hungry. The number of times I have been cheated and lied to is impossible to count, and it's times like that when all you want to do is go back to America and kiss the ground.

About a week ago, Micah, Jordan (Micah's older brother who is visiting us right now) and I all went on a what we thought would be a fun-filled bike ride around our stomping ground and foreigner "bubble", Jin Qiao. We wanted to show Jordan all of the places we liked to go, and a bunch of fancy housing complexes in the area. But before we showed him the grand houses in Green Hills, or the beautiful grounds at Dong Jiao, we knew we had to take him to a creepy and eery neighborhood sited right behind our apartment. The last time we road through, it looked like a scene from Jumanji, and it was absolutely deserted. The grass and bushes were overgrown, weeds were overtaking the cobblestone roadways, and the houses and clubhouse looked old and completely abandoned. You probably have to see it yourself, but I'm telling you, it is one of the creepiest places I have ever been.

We rode our bikes in, and from the beginning it was apparent that the guards did not want us there. They were immediately hostile towards us, which we probably should have taken a sign to get the heck out of there. However, we had been through before, and knew all we wanted to do was bike to the opposite exit, which probably would have only taken two minutes or less. We kept going through so we could give Jordan a super-short glimpse of the place and then leave. However, that did not go over well with the guards. About 30-seconds into our tour, a guard approached us on his bike and started shouting at us. He road up close to Jordan and latched himself onto his bike and proceeded to try and shove Jordan off while he was riding. We stopped and the guard then approached Micah and gripped his bike with both hands and held on, making it hard for us to move any further. At this point we knew we just wanted to get out, and since they clearly didn't want us there, we told them many times to let us go and we would leave. The guard angrily shook his head and glared at us as he held on tight to Micah's bike, and radioed for more guards to come and assist him. I still have no idea what they wanted to do to us, or what they even could have done to us for simply coming inside, especially since we were telling them we would go. We sat there for awhile as Micah struggled to get his bike out of the hands of the guard so we could leave. Over and over again we asked him to please let us go, and over and over again the guard refused.

At one point, Micah grabbed his bike and struggled to pry it out the hands of the guard, who apparently in the process hurt his thumb. But at last we were finally free and could get out of that horribly creepy place! We hopped on our bikes and sped to the exit, however, when we got there we found that the guard had radioed in and told the other guards to lock the gates so we couldn't leave. We approached the gate and tried to figure out how to open it, but it was completely locked up, and we were trapped there for the next hour and a half or two, being held against our will.

To make an extremely long story short, other guards (including the one who hurt his thumb) then approached, and called other guys who seemed to be in leadership positions to come over and evaluate the situation. The guard then made it known he had hurt his thumb and claimed it was our fault. When I looked closely I saw a little tiny drop of blood in the corner of his thumbnail-which was hardly an injury at all. However, it was enough for them to not let us go and call the police because his thumb was injured. We knew all he wanted was our money. We even heard another man saying to the guard "what are the police going to do? What do you think, you are going to get money? You aren't going to get a cent." (They had no idea Micah and Jordan speak Chinese and could understand every word that was being said..ha) The police came, laughed at the situation which they declared to be "small" but still filled out a report nonetheless describing what had happened, and then told us we could pay 200 rmb and they would let us go. When we refused, they said.."how about 100 rmb?" If that isn't a sign of a corrupt government for you, then I don't know what is. Eventually the guard began to claim that he couldn't move his thumb, and we knew he was lying. Just like so many people in China, he was about to do anything to get an extra 15 bucks, even lie to everybody and blame us for something we didn't do. Eventually, we got out of there with out having to pay any money, and quickly biked home, laughing in disbelief on the way there.

In the years I have lived in China, nothing like that has ever happened to me, but it is an example that there is definitely a lot of corruption here. People here grow up in a world that very much teaches it's every man for himself. You cannot trust anyone, and you sure cannot trust the government. All you worry about is yourself and your well-being, which might also explain why the Chinese are infamous for cutting in line. Throughout the whole ordeal, there were times when we all looked at each other and said "well, here we are being held against our will in the creepiest neighborhood ever, with a guard claiming we injured him and wanting to take our money....Welcome to China." This being something we have often said to ourselves during our time here. However, although moments like these make it hard to live in China, we have also had our share of moments that have made us appreciate the country and the people more, and appreciate all we can gain and learn from our experiences and interactions with the people every day. I'll save those stories for another time though, this is getting way long.


Sara :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Welcome to "da Chiner"

Before I talk about China...

We are married! And have been for three weeks now :) We are anxiously awaiting our pictures from the wedding day and reception to be done, and once they are, I'll post a few! 

The Sunday after we were married, we hopped on a plane bound for China to start our epic Asia adventure-here we are in the Tokyo airport waiting for our flight to Shanghai!
This is us being stoked.



And this is Micah getting his skateboard confiscated..uh oh..

It feels good to be here in Shanghai with Micah, since this is where we met almost exactly one year ago. I've had multiple times to reflect on how we met since we have been back here, and in particular  was thinking about it a lot this morning.


I remember seeing him my very first Sunday at church in Shanghai. He was cute. But I wasn't looking for a relationship or even someone to like (isn't that what everyone says after the fact?) so I didn't really think much else, until he said hi to me one day.

That was the day, when he turned to me and said "I don't think we've met, my name is Micah" that I walked away with a smile on my face, thinking that he was far from the "bad boy" impression I had of him earlier. He was funny, sweet and genuine, and I thought about him the whole car ride home from church :)



..but more on how we met some other time..


I have pictures to post and stories to tell. First I will say what a great opportunity it is to be back in China again this summer. I was almost sure that I wouldn't be back here again, at least not for a while..and here I am...with a husband. Haha, I never would have imagined. It is a very different experience here, one that requires laughing it off when people cut in front of you, ignoring the old men that spit on the ground right in front of you, and patience as people try and cut you in line. There have been many moments already when Micah and I have witnessed such acts, looked at each other, with sort of a disgusted smile on our face, and said..."welcome to China." 


It's hard not to get frustrated, but we have come to the conclusion that this summer is our opportunity to learn to love China and the people who live here. 


But not the food, we might tackle that some other time. 
Or possibly never. 



-Sara


Saturday, April 2, 2011

20 days and counting...

Until I am Mrs. Phelps :)

We can't wait to get married, and head off to Shanghai, China this summer to have some amazing experiences, and a ton of laughs on the way. We'll also be heading to Thailand around August to visit Micah's family. It's going to be such a wonderful and meaningful time to be back in the two places where we first met, and fell in love. 

STOKED!

You'll probably be seeing that word used a lot in this blog from here on out. It wasn't until I met Micah that I started saying it, but now that I have I've found it's a great way to describe how we feel a lot of times :)

sara