As much as I would love to impart some new freaky Chinese language knowledge upon you, I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything vaguely humiliating after my Spring Festival (chun jie 春节) experience.
My partner and I decided to visit both his mother and father’s side of the family in Shandong (山东). The fact that they were separated by a 12 hour train ride where the only tickets available were hard seats, did not occur to us at the time.
Now, I am not a stranger to the craziness of Chinese New Year, however I never realized just how maddening those fireworks were until I got a migraine on New Years Eve. Imagine a thousand hangovers (su zui 宿醉) occurring at the same time. Now imagine a searchlight being aimed directly at your retinas and a blow horn being blasted into your eardrums: you’re almost there. Needless to say, I was not interested in my grandmother’s dumplings (lao lao [mother’s side] de jiao zi 姥姥的饺子), nor was I the slightest bit happy (zhen de bu gao xing 真的不高兴) about the nuclear war that seemed to be going on outside my window.
Luckily, my migraine subsided just in time for me to survive the aforementioned 12 hour train trip to the opposite side of Shandong. Upon arrival we were greeted by my partner’s uncle (shu fu 叔父). Lovely man, lovely family, one might say I have nothin’ but love. However my kind thoughts did not extend to our uncle’s non-existent heating（nuan qi 暖气）, hot water (re shui 热水) or mattresses（chuang dian 床垫）.
I was about ready to chalk this Spring Festival up to experience, when my uncle decided we should all go to the old village (lao jia 老家) to visit the grandparents (not to be confused with the aforementioned set of grandparents).
Without wanting to sound gushing, I had never such a beautiful village in my life. It was something out of a National Geographic magazine. They had everything down to the cooked chicken’s feet and little kids playing tag in the winter sunshine. Half the village population came out to witness the tall white girl and her bad Chinese (that’s me by the way). Despite several people telling me my Chinese wasn’t bad (ni de zhong wen ting hao de 你的中文挺好的) I have the sneaking suspicion they were simply being polite. A pair of 6-year-old girls spent a good half an hour repeating every word I said in Chinese and then giggling.
Despite the mental and physical pain dished out to me in the past week, I’m back in the ‘Jing all the wiser for it. And you better believe I’ve never been happier to be in a city where it’s OK to put more r’s (er 儿) on your words than a taxi driver (chu zu che si ji 出租车司机).
Flickr photo published under the Creative Commons licensed content.