Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Day of Differences

What a day of contrasts. We started with breakfast with B & A, then the guys went off to register us for our stay here. Angelina and I met them at a mall like place, lots of little stores that didn't attract me with their wares. Then we hit the food court. We ate for 4 dollars for all of us, yummy healthy veggies and rice. I never had lotus root before, looked weird but tasted fabulous.

Then we hit the outdoor markets. So fun to wander through, everything needed to set up a house, but all in different stores. We even found this ceramic filter we have been looking for that completes a coffee making device we have. No one else has ever carried it, and here it was in this dimly lit crowded little coffee store. The meat/fish/vegetable market was an assault to the eyes, nose and vegan sensibilities, but I was fascinated and took pictures of the fish heads, chicken feet and meat chunks on hooks. Maybe a better way to buy meat, it is what it is, dead animals, instead of all separated and wrapped in plastic. I loved that place, but was worried about my pant hems getting wet with who knows what.

We had a tea tasting experience that was sublime. Calm, serene and quiet, we tasted how tea should be served. Must have had dozens of little cups of the stuff, and picked up some to bring home. That meant a visit to a public toilet, which I survived. You just don't breathe, do your thing and get out.

After that we went to an upscale mall that is as nice as any Sacramento has. The contrast was strange, and this was just about a 15 minute walk away from the bizarre bazaar. Then we visited a food store that was like a mini Whole Foods, really nicely decorated and fancy. This is a country of great contrasts. We saw upscale boutiques and a man selling something from a donkey a stone's throw from each other. Neither seemed out of place.

We rode a bus, got pushed on and pushed out. I was holding on for dear life, with my other hand holding all the tea purchases. We got back to the apartment and went straight for a massage. They have massage places that have blind therapists. You keep your clothes on, and they cover you with a blanket, plus they can't see you because they are blind. Talk about respecting your privacy. Ernst wanted to take his shirt off, but they said the "evil wind" would not be good for him. This guy was hitting pressure points from my fibromyalgia that were almost scream inducing. I forgot how to say Ouch in Chinese, so I just practiced taking it for if I am ever tortured. I feel so great and relaxed, it was only $10 for a whole hour.

The neighborhood we are in has nice apartments on one side of the street, then little crumbling complexes on the other with alley like entrances. I so want to go explore those alleys. It is true, I don't feel afraid here at all. I want to explore everything. So happy this trip is 2 weeks, we don't feel rushed. It was fun to just wander today and get our bearings. Tomorrow our hosts have something planned, but I forgot. I'm sure it will involve amazing sites, yummy cheap food and smashing of stereotypes.