Yiga, Erga, Sanga!
A few days after we climbed Mt. Tai'Shan we visited The Great Street in Zhoucun. It was an ancient street in Zibo City that was preserved.
For good reason too, this place was really cool!
It seems it's become a huge tourist attraction now. They've even filmed movies and television shows there. If making it a tourist attraction has preserved the quality of the street though, then so be it.
Our guide led us through and allowed us to stop in many of the shops along the way. There were some really cool things to see. I really enjoy seeing the ancient Chinese style.
As we walked a man from a store that sells the famous Zhoucun Sesame Seed Cakes came into the street. He was very excited to see us and wanted to take pictures of us with his seed cakes. He got a bunch of pictures with many members of the group with seed cakes in our mouth.
Jim (Pomfret) joked we'd be on an advertisement somewhere now. Aside from the guy’s obvious self-promotion, the seed cakes were really good!
We kept waking and a man who drove a rickshaw wanted us to hop in for a ride. I got in, and we got some pictures with me in the seat of the rickshaw. It was pretty funny, but I was sure the guy's motivation behind it was the almighty yuan, so I gave him a few for being a good sport.
There were some areas with trick rooms you could take pictures in. For example, there was one with all the decor glued to the ceiling to make it look like you were actually standing on the ceiling. There were many variations of this and we got plenty of pictures in there.
We continued on until we got to one area where an older Chinese man claimed he could show us ancient Chinese magic. He had three foam balls, three brass cups, and a stick that he just hit things with.
He would move the cup and the balls around and confuse us all until we really couldn't guess which cup contained the balls. Of course we knew there was some sort of trick to it, but the guy was so fast and skilled at what he did that there was no way any of us could guess it.
I'll never forget the guy's chants of "yiga, erga, sanga, sanga, erga, yiga!!" (1,2,3,3,2,1) as he moved the balls and cups around in a furious attempt to trick our minds. The guy was pretty good at what he did.
There was a lot to do and see in Zhoucun. We shot arrows, saw a man dressed as a statue, bought all sorts of gifts for friends and snacks, and took in the sights. It was a really cool day that I won't soon forget!
Reuniting with the English Corner
The afternoon of the day we went to Zhoucun, we had our second English Corner meeting at Remnin Park. The first one was really enjoyable, so I was excited for it.
Of all the things I've done here some of the best stuff is simply communicating with the Chinese people. We walked there and some students came up to talk to us as we walked. The struggle of communicating with the students who knew very little English really made me wish I knew more Chinese.
I've been trying to learn, but it's very difficult. It's the sort of thing that’s very difficult to remember no matter how many times you repeat it to yourself. I think the best way to learn it is to actually use the words in conversation.
They tend to stick better after being used to communicate.
Language is a funny thing. The Chinese language has always seemed very beautiful to me. To my ears, it often sounds like music. It has rhythm and it even sounds like pitches at times. I'd be lost if I didn't make some Chinese friends that translate for me!
We walked to a different section in Renmin Park than where we met for the first English Corner. It seems like it's a rather large park. It's very beautiful there though. I can imagine coming there often if I lived in the area. I'd bring my guitar there and relax for hours.
Our meeting place this time was under a shaded area next to a playground. There were a lot of kids there, which was exciting to me. I love kids. They always have such energy and curiosity. I think more adults should hang on to some of those traits.
Anyway, I started talking to a few kids, one named Bill. I actually ended up getting his e-mail. We took a picture together with him and his friend, so I wanted to be able to send it to him. I sent him the picture just the other day so I hope he enjoys it!
I spoke to a few little girls too, and it was just amazing to me how good their English was. I've spoken to college students who couldn't even come close to how well some of these kids could speak. It was really amazing!
I thought the little girls were adorable, and it warmed my heart to see how happy and excited they were to meet all of us weird foreign people. I also met a boy named Simon, who was rather outgoing.
I quickly learned he loved to talk about music, especially Michael Jackson. This kid seriously knew more of Michael's songs than I do. We sang a little Billy Jean together, which really cracked me up.
I met a few women who had traveled from New Zealand with their husbands to teach in China. Some of the kids at the park were actually their students, and they encouraged many of them to talk to us and helped them out when they were shy. It was really interesting to talk to them about their opinions and experiences in China.
I also met a college student named Ca, who knew how to break dance. I asked him to perform a bit of dance moves for me. He did a small demonstration for me then taught me a few moves. I think the kids watching enjoyed seeing me pathetically try to learn break dance moves in the middle of the crowd.
It was another amazing day that won't soon be forgotten. Till next time!
— Dan Copes, a junior health sciences major