We met up with Sonya and Rose at 8:00am to go to the zoo. Rose had quit her job and had gotten a new one at a pharmacy across town. Apparently the girls were over there and had to travel back to meet us. They were late, but we just poked around our neighbourhood stores until they arrived. They had slippers for sale everywhere to accommodate the changing season. On the way there I watched eagerly out the bus window as we drove past Da Ming Lake. There were crowds of people and large lines of red roofed tents full of goods for sale.
The zoo was fun but also depressing in a lot of ways. There was garbage in the animals cages, which didn’t look the nicest in the first place. When we passed the pigs (called peccaries) there was a baby lying on it’s side out in the hot sun and barely moving. The rabbits in the petting zoo were picked up and carried around by their ears.
The rules were also very lax as children climbed over the fences and went right up to the glass of the enclosures to get a better look. When a bunch of children went up to the chimp exhibit and started banging on the glass (their parents doing nothing to stop them) a chimp dropped right down in front of them and started banging back.
The zoo sold food for people to throw to the bears that sat up on their hind legs and raised their paws to beg, but some people threw garbage to them instead. We saw little hamsters in wheels for sail and guinea-pigs in tiny cages. I wished I could rescue them all.
We met up with Sonya and Rose’s friend who didn’t have an English name and asked us to choose one for her. After some discussion we suggested Alison and she said she liked this a lot. We kept getting stopped for photos and Nate joked that the Chinese tourists wanted him in a cage titled “very rare foreigner” we also joked around with Rose about Traditional Chinese Medicine asking her if every plant we saw was medicine. She thought this was funny and kept saying “no no no!” but occasionally would say yes! There was a bush that was good for colds. You put the leaves in hot water for 15 minutes and then drank it. There was also a grass that was good for coughs. But mostly we learned that things were not medicine and no you did not eat them. Sonya pulled a leaf off one tree and looked at it. For a second we thought she might lick it! But instead she put it back on the tree.
After leaving the zoo we got dumplings for lunch and Sonya disappeared to the next store to return with an egg and seaweed soup with little shrimps in it. It was delicious though slightly fishy. Rose told us she needed to find window cleaner so we followed her through the crowds of people shopping at this massive sidewalk sail. We stopped to look at turtles for sale but Rose was not very happy that the smallest one was 9RMB. I bought a couple stuffed animals for 5RMB each for my class so that the new children would feel more comfortable. Finally Rose found the store to buy the “window cleaners to keep the light out.” She came back with curtains! Slight translation error.
I fell asleep on the bus ride home, and when I woke up I was surrounded by children. They immediately started playing with me as one boy asked me math questions (in Chinese of course). The mother fortunately knew a bit of English. When we got back to our stop we brought the girls to the “hole in the wall” restaurant we had been so impressed with. We ordered beef noodles for everyone, but Sonya and Rose didn’t look as impressed as Nate who urged them “try the broth, try the broth, it’s so good!”
We had been raving about the cheese we’d gotten from RT mart all day, and invited the girls, who had never tried cheese, back to our apartment for samples. We picked up some wine and crackers and set about cutting cheese. We handed them each some wine and encouraged them to try the cheese and sip the wine. Their facial expressions were far from impressed. We also gave them peanut butter, which they liked much more.