Sunday, August 30, 2009

Island Picnic

Island Picnic: 8/30/09

Hengyang has a small island that spans at least half a mile. Formerly, this island was more developed and even had a school. The school buildings are still in existence although quite run down. On one end of the island is also a Buddhist temple where a handful of monks still live and where locals go to burn red candles, incense, and ask for blessings from a big, gold statue of Buddah. On the other end of the island, is a place where people go swimming.

Last week, our team went on a picnic on the island. We visited the temple just to see what it was like, and then we hunted for a place to have our picnic. After having no luck finding picnic tables, we asked some of the local people who appeared to live in the former school where we could have our picnic. They told us that we could have a picnic in one of the school rooms for only 30 kuai. We told them that it was too much money when we could have our picnic outside for free. So, they compromised and moved a table and chairs outside in the shade for us and only charged us 10 kuai. We felt happy. The man who helped us with the negotiations was wearing what looked like either underwear or a speedo. Judging from the relative ease with how he conversed with us, I’m guessing it was a speedo.

As we started to take out our lunch, speedo man squatted down on the ground near us, and watched us very carefully. He asked us the usual questions about where we taught, how much money we made, and how long we had lived in China. I could also tell that he was a little perplexed by our picnic lunch: we had packed pb and jelly sandwiches, banana bread, fruit, chips, and cookies. People don’t really have this kind of picnic in China. Usually, they will have a fire pit and barbeque food on sticks or they will have a wok and a firepit and make normal Chinese dishes as though they were still in their kitchen. I think the man thought our lunch or rather we were quite interesting because he continued to squat and watch us for at least the first 5 or 10 minutes of the lunch.

My team-mate, Sarah, laid her 5 month old Devon on some blankets on the ground. Speedo man said that the baby was uncomfortable on the ground. We said that she was fine. However, Devon did start to whine a little bit. I told the man she was crying because he was smoking his cigarette too close to her. He embarrassedly put out his cigarette. Then he mumbled that he had to get back to work and left. We were wondering what kind of job he had that involved him wearing underwear/speedo. We later found out that he drove one of the boats to and from the island.

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