the sounds of the streets

Posted by anya on May 21st, 2007 filed in Uncategorized

Weifang is nothing like I expected it to be. It’s hard to descibe, really. When I am downtown, I don’t really get the impression that I am in a ’small’ city. And although 8 million isn’t small, you don’t get the sense that you are living in a city of 8 million when you are here. 8 Million makes me think of Moscow, and Moscow this is not. I feel like the core of the city is small-ish and easy to navigate, but as soon as I go outside of the familiar bus routes, I would probably be lost.  And it doesn’t feel like there are many cars in proportion to the number of people. Many of the main streets, such as Dong Feng Jie, are very wide, but there are never enough cars to actually occupy their width. For some reason, it is this sort of weird city planning that makes me think of planning and communism and lack of efficiency. But I don’t want to sound negative – the lack of efficiency, perhaps, leaves room for things like beautiful parks and various statues, which are put randomly all over the city. There is a beautiful path which you can walk along and reach downtown, which seems to be a hideaway in the middle of the city. Last Saturday, I went capering around by myself, and my walk ended up taking me down this path all the way to the center of the city.  When you walk down the streets, the sounds are that of chatting street vendors, music blasting from store windows (usually one of a happy hardcore-esque nature), and perpetual honking. If any of you thought I could jaywalk in Vancouver, you were wrong. In China, my jaywalking has had to increase in both quality and quantity. Cars never, ever stop for pedestrians, and people cross the street randomly. It’s even scarier traversing the wide streets by bike! The downtown core has main streets, but also many smaller alleyways with tiny shops and restaurants. On Sunday, Kathy and I went exploring around, and found many great shops, like the Extra Virgin Olive Oil Store! In China, all the cooking is done in this corn oil which isn’t really suitable for salads, so the only alternative is to buy extra virgin olive oil, which is ridiculously expensive here. Other things that are very expensive (by Chinese standards; they are usually the same price as in Canada otherwise): coffee (instant; i have never seen whole beans), deodorant, chocolate, cheese (processed!), butter, most make-up (especially something like Maybelline or Shiseido.) Most food is quite cheap, and groceries are generally affordable. The above items, however, I have not splurged on yet. I have been trying to see whether I can live off a little over a third of my paycheck for the first month of being here, and so far I think it is doable, even though I can’t say I’m particularly thrifty. The only major purchase I’ve made so far is a Motorola cell phone (it was around $45, without any cotract crap). I am glad I didn’t bring my own because another guy brought his Razr, but couldn’t get it unlocked. We do eat out quite a bit, though, and we do drink a lot of beer! I think Beijing will be quite a bit more expensive, though. And I’m not saving up money to bring back home. I just want to be able to travel and see as much of this beautiful country as I can! In August, I hope to go to the north of China (hopefully with Asia!), stopping in Harbin and a few other smaller places. In October, I want to go to the South of China (hopefully with Zach!) towards Shanghai and Guangzhou. There is a lot more to say about this city. I think I like it here :) and it makes me a little sad to be leaving for Beijing on Friday.

p.s. now that I read over this description, I don’t think I’m capturing Weifang as well as I could be. Maybe I will have a more fitting picture to paint towards the end of my stay…

One Response to “the sounds of the streets”

  1. andrei Says:

    hmm. happy hardcore eh?
    processed cheese … random statues?
    sounds like my friday night.

    how could you get a new cell?
    you were known as the girl with the hotpink/dirrrrty brick
    i guess china does that to people.

    i was eating a sandwich with russian mustard today and it reminded me of you. i didnt wanna finish it to prolong my memory of that moment – when i fed you bread on my couch. or was that a dream?

    god. i hope noone reads my comments.

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