We were given this whole past week off to celebrate National Day observing Mao’s founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949. Most of my team and I decided to stay in Taiyuan and explore our city to just feel more at home in our new surroundings. This is China though so plans were held loosely since we never know what tomorrow may hold. Over the weekend the air quality was deemed “hazardous” to our health by the U.S. Embassy so we mostly stayed indoors. I did some deep cleaning (including cleaning out our sun room which probably hasn’t been touched in years), we spent one whole afternoon playing Settlers of Catan and an evening playing Clue by candlelight because we lost power for a whole day. Thankfully, it rained Monday night and we have had blue skies for the next three days! Amazing! We went out an about getting lost in the city and found something new everyday.
Taiyuan has an extensive bus system but we don’t have any map or route guide so we decided we would just hop on random buses and try to map them out ourselves. We have mostly discovered our city is actually pretty small. It just seems big because it takes so long to get anywhere. A trip just 6.5 km away often can take over a hour! There is no hurrying anywhere around here. You get there when you get there.
A week ago it was cold and rainy but this week the weather has been absolutely splendid. Not too hot but still warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt. My bare arms and legs make me stand out even more than usual though and I even get comments on the bus. You see, once the first sight of cooler weather hit, the Chinese people start to wear their warm clothing. The actual temperature outside is not really a factor, but rather the time of year that dictates their clothing. So my bare arms and legs is absurd to them and I “will certainly get sick from the cold”. Oh well. Our Western faces are already a sight to behold and we draw attention everywhere we go, so what’s a little more?