Tuesday August 05 2014

I woke up to some sort of crazy chanting coming from the next room. Sounded like a whole bunch of people in there speaking at once. At first I thought it must be some sort of recording but it wasn’t, it was Sonya’s friend.

“My cousin (as she calls him) is buddhist, he likes to do this every morning. Talk so fast.” Sonya explained.

It was 5:00 am, and we were off to see a spring before visiting the dress maker. There was free entry in the park before 5:30 am, only problem was the free entry was just for locals. Sonya and her friends dressed me up with a face mask, big sun glasses, and an umbrella to try and hide the fact that I was white. I was sceptical of the disguise, but somehow it worked! Or it was just too early in the morning for the guards to care.

I wasn’t feeling well, but I tried to appreciate the park regardless.

The springs were pretty muddy as it hadn’t rained in a while, but the park was still beautiful.

There were tall bridges and a big statue of a woman.

We came upon a healthy crop of waterlilies, and Sonya wanted to harvest waterlily seed pods to eat. They were a little far from the bank so we had to make a chain so I could pull Sonya back out of the mud!

We got a couple, and Sonya decided to go in one more time. The ridiculous platform sandals she was wearing were not made for this type of activity and just as one of her shoes sunk into the muck it started to rain.

Jinan rain falls cause buses to get hours behind schedule, and cause cancellations all across the city. Jinan rain is no ordinary rain. I had to yank Sonya out of the mud as the sky opened up above us! We raced for shelter, hiding below a skinny little roof and hoping the rain would let up.

I watched the frogs as we pealed open the waterlily seed pods. A whole bunch of them had come out on the path, and were all hopping from left to right, except for a few going against the flow. There wasn’t much space under the little overhang that was acting as our shelter, so we had to press our backs right up against the wall.

A woman, who was using a lilly leaf as an umbrella, came rushing over to shelter with us. Sonya chatted with her, and then translated to me “She didn’t bring her umbrella today because they kept saying it would rain, but it hadn’t rained.”

When the rain let up we made our move, only to get caught in another downpour. This time we were invited to shelter in a guard tower. The guard was really cool. He asked Sonya what a foreigner was doing in the park so early, and laughed when Sonya told him about sneaking me in.

The third time we got caught in the downpour there was no where to shelter, and we just had to trudge through the knee deep puddles that had formed in the streets working our way towards the bus stop.

It took a long time or the bus to show up, but we still made it to the dress store with lots of time to spare. I had been expecting some sort of tiny booth, but the dress store took up a massive space on an upper floor of a shopping centre, where everything was abandoned except for the dress store and a silk curtain place.

If I got my own material, the dress maker could make my dress for only 200 RMB! Sonya told me the store with the material was only 30 minutes away, so I agreed to go. It was a 30 minute wait for the bus, and it didn’t stop for us where we were told it would, so we had to chase it down! Fortunately the driver let us on at a red light. From there the drive took closer to a three hour journey then 30 minutes! After a walk that seemed to take forever we found the place. The first store was the jackpot with piles and piles of soft silk in every colour. I picked out my materials, and 700 RMB later, with what was to be my wedding dress tucked into a plastic bag, we got back on the bus to journey back to the dress maker. It was a long day, but I will be picking my dress up in two weeks to a month.

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