A Unique Conversation with a Breath-Taking View

上海 Blog #17


Saturday June 6th, 2015

Local Time: 22:29 Shanghai Time

We’re shaking things up a bit off the beaten path today with our weekend trip to MaoShan.  This is our first location not in the middle of a city, which in my opinion is a nice change of pace.  It took four hours to drive to MaoShan from Shanghai.

Our hotel is ridiculously nice and scenic. After a group lunch, we took a tour bus up the mountain where we encountered an elaborate Daoist temple. On the way back down, we stopped by an enormous statue of LaoZi, the father of Daoism. This statue was HUGE, gold and easily spotable from miles away.

Today I wore my YinYang shirt a friend bought me from Pikes Place Market in Seattle.  YinYang is an important symbol in Daoism seeing as it symbolizes the balance in all things which derive from the essence of qi. Coincidence that I wore the shirt? You’ll never know, but anyway a man speaking mandarin came up to me and said something I didn’t understand. He gestured to my shirt and spoke again and I realized he was saying he liked my shirt and thought it was appropriate given our surroundings. The rest of the conversation continued on more or less like the following:

他:“你会说不说中文?” Can you speak Mandarin?

我:“我说中文不好。” I don’t speak Mandarin well.

他:“你会说!你是美国人吗?” You can speak! Are you American?

我:“对,我是美国学生。”Correct, I’m an American student.

他:“sjflskncj233#iu329h4ld…. 学习。。。ksjlksdnvlksjengbksjjw?” ….study….

我:“对不起,听不懂。”Sorry, I’m listening, but I don’t understand.

他:“你。。skdfjwn*#1..在。。sjskdfj124#1.. 学习。。。sdfljskdjfaljks” You…at….study…

我:“我在上海学习。”I study in Shanghai.

他:(Pointing to one of my classmates) “她也是美国人吗?” Is she also American?

我:“对,她是我的同学。” Correct, she is my classmate.

他: “ksjdflkw#&^*$P&^dshjshdkjfh&#&%U#*…….” (Yeah, I have no idea)

我:(Cue dear in headlights look)

他: “ksjdflkw#&^*$P&^dshjshdkjfh&#&%U#*…….” (He said it slower, but still no idea)

我: “听不懂.” I don’t understand. (One of the man’s friends comes over to join the conversation)

他:(Pointing to his tongue, then pointing to my classmate) “为什么。。。sdlfjsdl# …..” Why….

我:“为什么?”Why? (Now I definitely know they’re asking about her tongue piercings)

他们:“对对对对对。” Yes yes yes yes yes.

我:“因为。。。我不知道。” Because…. I don’t know.

他们:“你不知道!” (Laughing as if I’d told a funny joke)You don’t know!

我:“因为她觉得有意思。我没有意思。” Because she thinks it’s interesting. It doesn’t interest me.

他:“你说中文很好。” You speak Mandarin very well.

我:“谢谢” Thank you

他:“Slkdfjdnblskj#&Q*&%)$YJdhfskjdh….” (What in the world?)

我:“。。。听不懂” ….I don’t understand

他:“Slkdfjdnblsk。。。学习中文。。。” …study Mandarin….

我:“我学习中文四个月。”I’ve studied Mandarin for four months.

他:“你学。..sksjdf。..中文。..sdkjflsd。。..四月…zxkhkf!” You study… Mandarin….four months…!

“jsjljlsdkfjnvlkjwejlrkjslkdfjsldkj……..你今年多大?” …. How old are you?

我:“我十九。。。”I’m 19….

他:“你十九岁。她十九岁!。。。skjfdsnabjslj29387498239sd78(*&(*&#7iu2ihsdhf…..十九…..中文…很好…四月…..!” You are 19 years old! She’s 19 years old! (Beckons over some more Chinese people nearby, including Ma 老师)……19….Mandarin….very good….four months…..

我:“谢谢, 谢谢你”Thank you, thank you

In all, I felt my performance in the conversation did not warrant all the praise and attention. Even so, it was hard to erase the grin on my face as I bid him and the others adieu with “认识你我很高兴。再见!” This, people, is exactly the moment you learn a language for (the conversation written and translated above warrants me this improper preposition). But seriously, pick a language, learn it and go speak it with random people in their country of origin. It creates interesting and unique situations.

Carrying on, our final destination on the mountain side tour was a beautiful hiking trail tucked away in the mountains complete with waterfalls, hidden pavilions, and water so clear I appeared to be looking through glass.

With our bellies full from a group dinner, our final activity to close off our evening in Maoshan was the classic Chinese pastime of karaoke (oh yes, my family history had well prepared me for this particular activity). My classmates sang English songs while Ma老师 and Zhai老师 sang Chinese songs. Both Mark and I switched between English and Chinese.  I managed to sing空白格 by myself and both北京欢迎你 and往事随风 with Zhai老师 (who, by the way, is an AMAZING singer!). 她唱歌唱得真好!

他们明天早上六点半给我们打一个电话。 (Tomorrow morning at 6:30am, they are going to give me a call). We’re going to start the day early like the Daoist monks it seems. 晚安(Goodnight!)

At the top of Mao Shan Mountain
At the top of Mao Shan Mountain
Dragons, turtles and storks...oh my!
Dragons, turtles and storks…oh my!
I wore just the right shirt
I wore just the right shirt
LaoZi and I
LaoZi and I
LaoZi from MaoShan Temple
LaoZi from MaoShan Temple
A serene side stop
A serene side stop
At first I thought he was real
At first I thought he was real