Tuesday, July 2, 2013

It's All About Who You Know

Our friend Liz lent us a book about understanding Chinese culture and in it the author mentions that nepotism is a common occurrence in China. Say what you will, it not only got Jake, myself, one of our students, Louise, and her cousin into Nandaihe Amusement Center for free, we also got to skip all the lines, and use a golf cart for free to get around the expansive park. Evidently Louise's cousins mom was high school friends with the park manager, so instead of paying the normal park entrance - rather a lot - we just walked right in. Let me tell you, amusement parks are significantly more amusing when you don't have to pay for them.

Nandaihe is pretty much your typical amusement park, except that, instead of a water park there's an ocean and instead of a water slide there's a sand slide. Cascading down a steep hill of sand in eighty degree heat may not sound that great, but I assure you: it's damn fun. Just make sure you have your sturdy sand toboggan.

Another first for Jake and myself today was the lovechild of bungee-jumping and parasailing. Dawning gear that looks like it has double usage at potato sack races, Chinese workers tightened strings, hooked caribiners,  and soon we were watching our shadows on the ground get smaller and smaller as a machine hoisted us towards the sky. Jake pulled the cord, doing his best Aladdin impression. "Do you trust me? Do you trust me?" Then woosh! A smooth cut through the air and we were flying.

But it was the ride home that was really the highlight of my day. My clothes soaked with sweat, I piled in the backseat of Louise's cousin's parent's car with Louise, her cousin, and her cousin's mom, who perched her small frame on her son's lap. A teacher herself, she was anxious to practice her English, and eager to insist she show us more of the city. "Beidahe by night," Louise translated, "is very beautiful. We will go someday."

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