Tuesday, May 17, 2011

马拉松 Marathon!

      This past weekend I went with a group from the Chinese language college to Dongying a few hours away in Shandong to participate in the biggest marathon in China. We left on Saturday morning almost two hours after we were supposed to because they had to get us another bus. The first bus's airconditioning didn't work. We had two full buses of students and teachers (and some of their spouses and children) from the university.  The bus ride was long and uneventful aside from the hour or so that I spent making faces at the adorable daughter of one of the teachers.
Then we went to a tire factory owned by the Chinese company Wanda which was sponsoring the Marathon. When we walked into the factory there were lines of people on either side of the entrance with cameras. It was as close to a red carpet as I think I'll ever get. Then, as we walked through the factory there were people with video cameras following us. Look! Foreigners in the factory! Then, they had us sign a big banner and then we left.

From there we drove a while and arrived at one of the stranger restaurants I have ever been to. The sign outside said "Western BBQ." The only thing remotely Western about this place was that some of the waiters wore cowboy hats and bandannas.  It was an all you could eat buffet with some Western food as well as Chinese food. The food wasn't bad and I was so excited to be off of the bus that I ate more than my fill. The restaurant also had weird entertainment including a random Chinese guy singing on a stage. I was too busy eating to pay attention to him, though.

Then, we got back on the bus to go to the Yellow River. Instead of taking us to the mouth of the river where it meets the ocean and you can see the two different colors of water meet, they took us to a rather ugly stretch of the river in an industrial wasteland. All we did was walk across a bridge, which we were pretty sure was because the bus would have been too heavy with us on it.

And to walk across a bridge, of course we need our college flag.

We were really impressed by the amount of stuff that was strapped to the top of this tiny three-wheeled truck.

This bridge was a bit sketchy. Whenever anything heavy drove across it, it swayed up and down.
After our exciting trip to the river, which we had driven about an hour to get to, we drove back to the same restaurant for dinner. It was only about three hours between the too meals and all of the food options were exactly the same, so I wasn't quite so enthusiastic.

After dinner, we finally got to our hotel. While our rooms were being sorted out, I ran around the lobby with my little friend from the bus as well as the son of the dean. They are both around six years old and absolutely adorable. The little boy's father is Chinese and his mother is German. He speaks perfect German and Chinese, and also some English, but he was pretty quiet so I didn't get to hear him talk much. At one point he stole my hat and thought it was hilarious to have me chase him around the lobby trying to get it back. Before we all went to our rooms, the dean told us that we would be leaving the hotel at 5:30 the following morning and that we wouldn't have time for breakfast until after the marathon. I was not too happy upon hearing this. It was already after nine, so I rushed to shower and get to bed as soon as possible.

The next morning we set off a bit after 5:30 and drove to the marathon location. While the main event was a big marathon, there was also a 5k, 10k, and half marathon. We ran the 5k. We waited around for over an hour for the race to start. The school had brought a ton of country flags and distributed them among the students to carry during the race. At first I was given Great Britain, but I swapped it with an Indian girl for the Canadian flag. As we were waiting around, we had countless Chinese people come over asking to take pictures us.

When the race started, I ran for a while, but then my friends and I got tired and started walking/jogging. People continued to come up and ask to take pictures with us. At some points this would happen every 30 seconds or so. People would nervously approach me and say in poor English, "May I take photo with you?" I would nod and pose with them and then when they walked away and said 谢谢 or thank you, I would respond 不客气 (An equivalent of you're welcome in Chinese that actually means, don't be polite). Then, they would look back to me in shock and exclaim to their friends 她会说汉语!(She can speak Chinese). It was like this for the entirety of the 5k, which really didn't feel like it was all that long.

After the run, we went back to the hotel where we ate a lovely buffet breakfast. I ate three plates worth of food and then chased the kids around the room when they stole my stuff. It was really fun to get to play with little kids so much.

Then, we got on the bus again and went to the largest man made lake in Asia. Actually, I've just researched this a bit and it turns out its not even the largest man made lake in China, but that's what they told us. In the middle of the lake was a park including a zoo. We walked around for a while and the little girl kept coming over to me to hold my hand. She also started calling me 姐姐 which means older sister. In China, it's customary to refer to people by familial terms, but it still felt like an accomplishment that I got her to start calling me that of her own accord.

She loved posing for the camera.    

There were some random tanks and airplanes on the island thingy.

One of the teachers asked my to take a picture with her husband and adorable little daughter. You can tell by my hair just how windy it was.

That is atop a giant stone turtle.

This is the turtles head in which people have placed dead fish.

Cute kids chasing pigeons.

There were ostriches and emus in the zoo.

I'm not quite sure what that animal is.


It was so windy that this bird was staying airborne without moving at all.


Adorable 妹妹 (little sister)

Adorable little 德龙/Jonathan feeding pigeons. He was extremely patient and gentle. He found an injured little bird that had been blown around roughly by the wind and held it tenderly until it had the strength to fly away. 

That was my exciting weekend. When I got back to the dorm around seven thirty Sunday night, I went and got take out from the delicious Muslim noodle place, got a bag of cherries from the street fruit vendor, and had a quiet night alone eating, watching Doctor Who, and drinking a glass of (really bad) Chinese wine.

PS. This long post comes to you after three days of periodic writing. The writing has been interspersed with lots of studying for midterms. Therefore, I apologize for any lack of continuity and/or misuses of English grammar and spelling. I really have been forgetting how to speak/write English lately.

No comments:

Post a Comment