Saturday, March 29, 2008


Today's beautiful spring weather is a very welcome change from the bleak, overcast chill of the past few weeks. I like to call Zhanjiang's winter "Communist weather," because the dirty block Soviet-style buildings look so dismal without a few rays of cheerful sunshine to brighten them up. On days like today, when the sky is blue and a refreshing breeze dissapates lurking pockets of foul smells, Zhanjiang is quite a pleasant place to be.

Scott and I took advantage of the weather and the empty weekend campus by heading down to the basketball courts for a little while this afternoon. On the way, we noticed a large group of visiting younger students who seemed to be touring our campus for some mysterious reason. As the basketball courts are secluded, we escaped their notice for a while.

After about 30 minutes, however, we were spotted. A group of ten girls came running at full speed down the hill towards us, shouting and pointing! Feeling like a couple of wildebeasts being hunted by a pack of lions, we quickly packed up and headed the other direction. Did this discourage the predators? Far from it! The girls veered right, hot on the path of their foreign prey. As they closed the gap between us, the eager youngsters breathlessly waved and shouted, "CAN I TAKE PHOTO WITH YOU?" We continued to ignore them and walked even faster, but they chased us almost all the way back to our apartment building before finally giving up and turning back.

Being pursued by a pack of aggressive young girls is something that would normally happen to a glamorous movie star or other celebrity. Here in China, it didn't matter that I was sweaty and wearing gym clothes; at the sight of my blond hair, Chinese will discard all dignity and shame to procure a "photo" with me... even if it means chasing me halfway across campus!

Next week, I'm traveling to Hainan Island to spend a few days on the beach. I'm hoping that all the rain we've been having will dissuade most Chinese from vacationing at Hainan at the same time I'll be there. The sight of Scott, Lindsay, Jamie and I sunbathing together might be too much for eager Chinese tourists!

I often swim at the beaches in Hong Kong, which despite the nearby city are quite beautiful and clean. Even in this modern metropolis where supposedly "East meets West," I've seen Chinese taking my picture as I emerge from the water or lay on the sand reading. One older man was even so bold as to approach my towel and snap a photo from just a few feet away! It's nice to know that so many Chinese will remember their vacation to HK with a prized photo of a disgruntled blond in a pink bathing suit. :)

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