Part of our trip to Jiaxing (see previous post) included a visit with my friend’s college roommate. She lives in an apartment that overlooks a replica of the French Arc-de-Triomphe (oh, China) but her parents live about 20 minutes outside the city and have a small farm. They sell peaches and grapes by the roadside. There is truly nothing better than biting into a slice of juicy peach, warmed by an afternoon displayed in the sun, handed to you by a sweet old Chinese woman. We got a small tour of the garden, and picked a big basket of grapes, which they generously sent us home with. Also, a large bag of peaches! It was one of my best days of the summer, and a good reminder of how different China is outside of Shanghai’s bubble. This was by no means a rural farming village like those that I visited in Yunnan last fall, but I was also one of the few foreigners there. My Chinese friend asked me on the train ride home whether I had become used to the stares I get in China. I said that most of the time I don’t notice them in Shanghai, but that I usually think I am doing something wrong or look funny when it does. She smiled knowingly, used to the phenomenon since she is dating an American guy. I don’t enjoy the attention, feeling it is rather undeserved, but I guess I don’t mind it either. At the farm stand a man put his nikon lens right up into my face as I bit into a juicy peach, only later explaining to my friend that he was a reporter for the local newspaper. He said a picture of a foreigner enjoying the local peaches would be great in the paper. I half joked that next year I would come back and see my face on a billboard outside the town…I really hope it doesn’t come true.
Big hugs to everyone at home! Less than two weeks until I am back on the same continent as you!