Once again, today started out frustrating but ended up being a good day. We had to go to Shijiazhuang for another foreigner medical exam despite the copious number of exams we had to do in the States just to arrive here. Shijiazhuang is about three hours from Baoding by car but is only about a 30-minute ride by high-speed rail. (Today was the first time I’ve ever been on the high-speed rail!) It’s really very cool because it’s like a space-ship and a land airplane rolled into one, it went up to 293 km/hour on our trip, is pretty cheap for us, and is super comfortable. Now that we know where it is, we will be embarking for our many other traveling adventures by high-speed rail if possible.
Once in Shijiazhuang, it turns out the entire block that our hospital was on, plus another hospital, had no electricity and we were basically told to come back tomorrow. Though extremely frustrating, it ended up being a good trip because we learned where and how to use the high-speed rail and the Baoding bus system. We also found a mall-type building right down the street from where we live that we plan to explore tomorrow after we return from a (hopefully successful) trip to Shijiazhuang.
The afternoon was a lot of fun. Because Duncan’s bike’s back tire is bent and flat, we only have my bicycle working. I’m a small person, but this bike is even small for me. So imagine Duncan riding and steering the bicycle with me straddling a wire “seat” above the back wheel, going around downtown Baoding for the afternoon. We went to the coffee shop and the super market and then we found a super friendly local selling really delicious baozi for dinner all while riding tandem on a single bicycle. It actually was a really great time and I was laughing or had a stupid grin plastered across my face the entire time. If Duncan’s bike doesn’t get fixed, I’m not complaining because we have a more entertaining way to get around town. (That, by the way, is the way many people ride their bikes here. Whether it’s a couple or a parent and child, one-person drives and the person on the back sits on a flat metal grid that’s used as a seat.)
And for a final adventure, we were given some “Oreos” in a collection of groceries the other night. Though the cookie part is the same as normal Oreos, the inside is a peach and grape flavored cream filling. We decided to give it a try. It was probably one of the worst things I’ve ever tasted. I opened the bag and was immediately struck by an intense smell of perfume. Duncan and I both tried a cookie, and had to spit it out because it tasted like eating perfume or really intense and disgusting medicine. But, I did try the banana juice that was also in our grocery gift. Even though I was initially more skeptical about the banana juice than I was of the fruit Oreos, the banana juice is good and just tastes like banana pudding with vanilla wafers.
So today had a lot of exciting food experiences and was the first solidly enjoyable day I’ve had here. Everyday we’re learning something new and growing from all of our experiences.
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