East Meets West – Day 6

Today we had planned to get some souvenirs for my relatives. So we went to Shangxiajiu Street to find some. It was one of the most frenetic, crowded places I have been to in China. Hordes of people were walking along the road as workers carted goods on handtrucks or hauled them on their backs along narrow sidewalks.

桂兰 told me this place was one huge wholesale market. On the positive side, you could find practically anything you wanted to here. But on the other hand, you had to push your way through masses of people to get where you wanted to.

At any rate, we did find a little painting shop and later on, a series of toy shops. I found some good souvenirs for my relatives and their children.

After shopping for souvenirs, we headed to Shamian Island, a former British trading center. We walked along the road together and then sat down on a bench to rest. I must be getting old, because I fell asleep for half and hour after hardly doing any exercise that day.

After our siesta, we found a music shop where there was a beautiful, white baby grand piano. I couldn’t resist such beauty. So I decided it was time to perform for 桂兰. Unfortunately, I didn’t know many Chinese songs, but I did have a few piano books such as Les Miserables, which she seemed to enjoy. Next time I’ll have to buy a piano book with famous Chinese songs.

Tonight was going to be movie night. And not just any movie night. We were going all out with an IKEA theatre performance.

You may be wondering, are there movie theaters in IKEA? No, there aren’t. But we may have improvised. We found a living room set with a plush black leather couch. I plopped my computer on my lap, and we watched a movie together in IKEA. Not sure if anyone else has ever tried that. Maybe we should patent the idea. Honestly, I was surprised none of the workers told us to leave. But I’m not complaining.

Later that night, we walked on a rooftop plaza near the train station. There were several couples scattered throughout the plaza sitting on benches. Thankfully it wasn’t too crowded. We found a quiet spot and chatted for a while. I realized our childhoods were quite different. I grew up in a small, suburban town where you could shop for anything you needed within a 15 mile radius. She grew up in the countryside on a farm where she worked as hard as her parents when the harvest season came.

I think she had a much harder childhood than me.


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