NATIONAL DAY CELEBRATIONS: Day 35, Thursday October 03 2013

Sonya suggested we go to Da Ming lake today, which is where we saw all those tents when we went to the zoo. We met Sonya and Rose at 11:00am to get the bus to the lake. We got off at Quan Chen Square, which is only a short walk away from the lake, to check out a Magic The Gathering Cards shop Nate was interested in. As we walked through the square we saw a rock climbing wall that apparently was free to climb! The massive swarm of people around it however stopped us from rushing over to it. We stopped at a post office to mail my letter, but the power was off so they told us we couldn’t send it today.

Nate didn’t know exactly where the store was located. He seemed to confuse Sonya and Rose a lot. Finally we came to a building we thought it might be in. It was supposed to be on an upper floor so we went to the elevator and got inside. There were five floors but the fifth one didn’t work! We rode up to the forth but there was nothing there but a closed door!

At the building next door Sonya asked the woman in the front lobby if she knew where the store we were looking for was, and she directed us to the seventh floor. When we got in the elevator we realized there were no floor buttons 1-4 listed, though the elevator light showed us passing these areas.

When the doors opened the lights were out and the building looked abandoned. The rooms were empty and stripped down. There were very few lights on in the hall. It was silent and eery, it felt like a scene in a zombie video game. The hall looked as if it had once been part of a school. We hurried looking for the room number of the store. Lights flickered above us and dark holes ripped in the walls and doors made me shy away from them.

We turned the corner and saw a man smoking in the hallway, the left side of the wall was plastered in magic posters and on the right side was a very nice wooden door. We opened the door and sure enough inside was a brightly lit, well decorated Magic shop with groups of Chinese people engaged in games. Nate made a new friend with a guy there who spoke English, and bought a pack of Chinese magic cards.

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We went to the Hutong (traditional old walking street), the last left in Jinan to buy some lunch. The street was narrow and very crowded, Nate and I guarded our bags worried about pickpockets. “Careful Jen-ni” Sonya pushed me on, “There is a man with a knife!” She whispered.

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Rose bought liver and duck blood soup from a soup restaurant, and Sonya disappeared and returned with sushi.Nate and I watched in shock and amazement as she squeezed a massive glob of wasabi on one piece. I had only a very small amount but still the wasabi was extra potent. Sonya’s face wrinkled up as she put her piece and giant glob in her mouth. “Whoa hot,” she said as she swallowed it.

Rose took an even bigger glob then Sonya and ate it, “You’re crazy!” I told her, “What’s crazy in Chinese? Fungla, you’re fungla!” A few seconds later her eyes were tearing up and her face was sweating. We were all laughing.

We ate the rest of the sushi with normalish amounts of wasabi on them, but when there were only four pieces left Sonya squeezed an entire tube across them. She ate one, laughing as we called her crazy, next it was Nate’s turn. “Jen-ni!” Selina laughed.

“Oh no!” I said, but picked up the sushi anyways. I took a deep breath and shoved it in my mouth. It went up my nose, into my throat and made me feel as if my brain was on fire. I fought to swallow it, laughing as my eyes watered and my brain tingled “Oh man!” I said grabbing Nate’s beer, “That’s intense.” I laughed “That cleared my head! I bet that’s as good as electro shock therapy!”

Kate ate the last sushi “Do you want some beer?” I asked laughing at her pain. She shook her head laughing as well.

I asked a girl by the lake where she got her bunny ears, and she gave them to me! Of course I rocked them for the rest of the day.

We followed a small river to get to the lake, checking out the little stores and street artists along the way. There were paintings leaning up against the side of a building, and a cartoonist drawing caricatures of tourists. We saw a black man by the lake wearing a France shirt, and stopped to say bonjour. Turned out he was a French teacher at the university, and had also been in Jinan about a month.

Nate and I found a tapestry printed picture at the tent sail to hang up on our wall. At one tent a woman shouted in Chinese and held a phone card in her hand. The large crowd that was drawn to her seemed very excited about what she had to say. Nate walked over to join the throng. “You can win a free phone.” Sonya told us. We began to grow suspicious when everyone started holding up money and then credit cards. The “free” phone actually costed 1000RMB… though I guess this was a good price.

We stopped at the pregnant building (as everyone calls the technology building) to get a new tablet case for Nate. Sonya came with us though Rose had to leave. When we asked about the case the tablet salesman led us to an elevator and brought us upstairs. He had us sit in a room full of other people. He told us the case would cost 120RMB but if we didn’t want an invoice he would only charge us 99RMB. With Sonya’s bargaining skills she got it knocked down to 80.

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We went to dinner at a place by our house with Sonya. She ordered Chickens feet. When they came out she looked at us expectantly, she wanted us to eat them! Not wanting to seem rude, and realizing we’d forced her to eat cheese just the other day, I picked one up with my chopsticks and studied it. It tasted all right but was bumpy and rubbery. It was odd eating something with toes, though Sonya seemed to savour the parts I thought were strange. “This,” we explained to her “is kind of like you trying cheese yesterday to us.” Luckily we also had a big plate of peanuts and a shrimp dish to fill us up.

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