A much better place now.

Trip Start Sep 14, 2009
Trip End Aug 31, 2011

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Where I stayed

Flag of United States  , Illinois
Thursday, July 8, 2010

The past few weeks has been very hectic and busy. Part of it was preparing to go home. Part of it was saying good bye to the people I had come close to and part of it was that I have had no internet access at all for the past week while I was in Huairou.

Part of my preperation for leaving was figuring out what to do with my apartment and other things while I was leaving. A friend of mine was on the fence about staying or leaving Qiqihaer and, much to my changing good fortune and surprise, he decided to stay in Qiqihaer and take my apartment for the remainder of my lease. Since he is also a really good teacher I've been giving him all my tutoring work. So far all of the people that I have personally introduced him to have taken him on as their tutor for the summer while I am gone (I only told one chinese person that I was leaving Qiqihaer and not coming back). I also introduced him to the school that I had been working for since January, but since the owner is a piece of crap he didn't want my friend because of the color of his skin

 June 29th and 30th my whiteness was invited to a town nearby to do some promoting. I wasn't paid for it other than getting an all expense paid vacation with my friends in exchange for doing a little bit of advertising work for about an hour a day.

The city we went to, called Tailai, was a 2 hour drive from Qiqihaer. It was basically the equivalent to a mid sized American town, but since there wasn't a lot of money in the town there were no foreigners there. We were an oddity there, yet strangely enough, the people in the town did not treat us rudely like the folk in Qiqihaer. This was a sign of things to come.

The next week went smoothly before leaving. I saw the remaining few friends before leaving, had some good dinners with them and with my host family. My host family was sad that I was leaving, but at least was happy that I would come back to visit at least once and that I was going to a much more suitable place for me. On July 3rd I boarded a train to Beijing and said good bye to some good foreigners and a horrible city.

Arriving in Beijing it was clearly obvious that the people were going to treat me a lot different. No one in the street bothered me. No one obnoxiously asked me where I was from or invaded my space with their own musing. No one touched my arms or legs to feel my muscles without my permission. Although I didn't want to do this, I spent much of my time with my friends venting about how horrible of a time I had in Qiqihaer. Most of my friends in Huairou could not believe the stories that I was telling them. Pretty much they were in complete and total shock that employers would treat employees the way they do. They were in shock that I couldn't even walk around for 2 minutes without getting harrassed. They couldn't believe that there is no personal in the phrase personal property. They couldn't believe that you often did not get what you paid for.

With that said, it was nice being in a place among real friends.

I also met a new person there. He is one of the head directors of a soft drink company. He showed me around a couple places in Huairou, both with his business and friends and other touristy places of my own choosing. The two highlights of my time with him were climbing Hongluo Mountain and playing basketball with his coworkers.

Hongluo mountain is the same mountain I climbed several years ago, but was not ableto get pictures of because it wasn't a clear day. This day, however, was a perfectly clear and blue sky. My friend did not want to climb all the way up the mountain, he wasn't in that great shape, but was more than willing to let me go at it alone. The mountain was overall about a 1.5 mile walk each way with 2200 feet of vertical climbing. Overall my body handled it well.

Later on in the day I ended up playing basketball. My body did not handle that well. The movement was fine, but the people I was playing with had no concept of a personal foul. The Detroit Pistons for the late 80's and the Knicks of the early 90's played a softer game! Basically, any time I drove to the hoop I was hit in the face. Every time I was in a catch and shoot situation the person defending me would run and jump right into me at full speed. The Chinese of course played a game where they didn't get injured, but since I expected a certain level of respect to the game I left myself vulnerable. I was more sore after playing basketball with the Chinese than after playing Rugby with the Aussies and Russians, and we were not playing rugby soft. Later on my friend told me that they hit me because I was so much faster than them and they had to do something to make it even. Keep this in mind, this guy is the director of a large soft drink manufacturing company.

Yesterday was my long day. I said my final good byes to my friends in Huairou, was taken to the airport and had a smooth journey in every way shape and form. On the flight there were a bunch of rowdy American kids. When we got off the plane they were like, "Can you smell that? That's FREEDOM! We can say whatever we want now!"

I arrived at home, saw my family for a moment, then went off and had some deliciously wonderful Taco Bell. Alas, I have returned and am looking forward to my bike touring here in the US.
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