Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another train ride

My room-mate Ani and I recently took a sleeper train from Changsha to Shenzhen. The final destination was Hong Kong, but from Shenzhen, you can walk across the border into Hong Kong.

Ani and I both had tickets for the bottom bunk of the car (there are three levels to these bunk beds.) One of the other people in our car had a 7 month old baby. She had a bunk at the top. My room-mate is a compassionate person and offered to give her bunk to the mother with the 7 month old baby. To show her gratitude, this mother started to offer us "snacks." The first snack was spicy chicken feet. I tried to refuse her offer by saying I had brushed my teeth already (which was true.) The lady pointed out that there was a sink right on the train where I could brush my teeth again. I tried to refuse again; she insisted. So--I slowly masticated the spicy chicken foot and reconsidered becoming a vegetarian this coming school year.

Then, the lady gave us 2 jars of mandarin slices in a sweet, tangy juice. Now--this snack was quite a bit more palatable, and I took a big gulp of the juice trying to wash away the spicy chicken foot flavor.

But--the most expensive gift was yet to come. The lady started to rummage through her back-pack. She pulled out a big can of baby powder before finding what she was looking for. . . Chinese perfume. Perfume in China is still quite a novelty, and I think that most of it is quite expensive. So, when she handed us two small spray bottles of this perfume, we both felt quite uncomfortable and unsure of how to refuse or accept this gift.

But, Ani explained to me in English that this lady was trying to show us her appreciation for Ani's switching bunks with her, and that to accept her gifts would help the mother feel better about the inconvenience. So, we graciously accepted the perfume, the chicken feet, and the canned fruit. Another exchange on our part was that we let the mother take pictures of us holding her little baby, although it was our pleasure as this little baby was so good-natured and smiled a lot at us.

Never a dull train ride.


Drew and Rachel said...

wow, sounds like fun. that was really nice of you guys to switch beds. i'd be very nervous sleeping with a baby on those narrow top bunks with flimsy rails. i'm proud of you for eating those chicken feet, too! you are strong. we miss you.

Norman & Joyce said...

Quite a variety of experiences.

Anonymous said...

What fun! We just learned that a Chinese restaurant near us serves chicken feet, and other authentic cuisine. We'll have to take you for a visit sometime!


Ruth said...

Another unforgetable experience! Thinking of you every day.