A look back…

I was looking at some of my blog stats and the following was the most popular blog post of our 18 months away. It’s fun to look back to see how comfortable the city was for us when we left.

We knew that Chongqing was still a very Chinese city compared to Beijing or Shanghai before we moved here and that there were not as many Westerners. What I have found very interesting is that I have not seen a single Westerner anywhere except a possible business man in the hotel restaurant. We have been told that there are over 200,000 westerners in Shanghai with about 25,000 Americans. We just found out that there is less than 5000 westerners in Chongqing. With a provincial population of ~ 33 million I guess it is easy to understand why we haven’t seen anyone who looks like us. This is not a bad thing, just an observation.

Yesterday when we went to the mall area we were facinated by the Chinese children. Everyone stares at us! You actually get used to this quickly. I either do not make eye contact, or when I do I either smile or say Ni Hao. The children though not only stare, they react quite excessively. One little girl went nuts when she saw Ella. She was pulling excessively on her mom, pointing and speaking excitedly to her mom. One little boy came running out of a store screaming over his shoulder for his mother to come. He stood in the entry of the store watching excitedly as we walked by. When we were in the grocery store two preteen girls kept pulling each other to walk past Will. That was actually quite cute and something I am sure preteen girls in Londonderry would do as well!

I am so thankful that no one has approached the kids to take a picture with them. We had been warned that this could happen and that we may have to say “no thank you” and walk away. Many people have made comments about the kids, but no one has touched them or tried to take their pictures. I think the kids would be ok if this happened now, I just didn’t want it to happen right off. I actually made them both wear a hat the first day we went out for a walk. Ella has been more emotional about this adventure and I didn’t want to freak her out if I could help it!

The area around the hotel is not the most desirable. There are lovely areas in the city, but I am not sure they are in walking distance. We did take a walk today to get out and get the kids moving and it was facinating. Will didn’t seem to like the walk, he seemed a little freaked out. One of the comments he made when we got back to our room was that a lot of people here smoke. I did smell smoke several times, but taking in the sights left more of an impression. There were several people selling things on the street and on the cat walk areas we needed to use to cross the busy streets. They sell the an array of products. Some people were selling elaboaratly cut fruit, some were selling belts, movies (I am assuming pirated) there were some foods that looked fried and I have no idea what they were. We will probably not take this walk very often, but it directly connects to the reason why we wanted to make this move. Our kiddos whether they like aspects of this adventure or not are seeing how people live in another part of the world. It was funny, the entire time we took this walk Ella was talking non stop like a comedian. She kept saying “this place is too much like Londonderry, why didn’t you move us some place that was more unique.” Everything we past she would say, “Oh come on, I have seen that in Londonderry before, or we have that same thing on Owl Road.” We were actually all amused by her chatter and I am hoping this wasn’t her coping mechanism, but an actual learning experience!

One of the other things that has been interesting to talk to the kids about is the language barrier. I think there is a new fasination for them about language in general. We have spent a lot of time talking about languages, English, Mandarin and others. They keep saying that they wish they knew what we sound like when Chinese people listen to us. They have actually become more intersted in learning Mandarin because they are seeing the reaction of the people as we respectfully try to use their language. As I am typing this Will and Ella are watching a Chinese cartoon. They are usually searching for words that they may actually know. I cannot imagine Westerners coming and not at least trying to learn the language. Chip and I start our language training this week. I am nervous to start formal training, but I am dying to be able to communicate.  I guess the kids start their language training this week too as Mandarin is a class they will take everyday.

I must say overall in the only three full days that we have been here we have already taken in many aspects of the city. Living in the hotel has probably been a good idea because we are not stressing over where (or what)we are going to eat or how to work the washing manchine. We are spoiled with a lot of quality  family time to be able to digest this together!

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