I’ve got a new friend! Okay, maybe if you know me well, you aren’t so surprised, but I’m beyond excited. Sometimes you meet someone, and it just clicks. Erin is that friend. Check out her blog here.
Erin and I met while she was filling out paperwork at the med unit. She overheard me talking to Hiromi who worked there, and who was thanking me for taking care of her son Miles (I didn’t do anything but suggest to Miles, when checking out their tuk tuk to buy, that he and Aidan might like to hang out). I mentioned that we were thrilled they became such good friends. They moved back to the States on Friday, but not before Miles and Aidan had one last day hanging out, going to the pool, and playing video games. As Miles was leaving, we overheard Aidan say, “Turn around and give me a hug.” Miles lifted Aidan up in the air and left singing, “We’ll meet again someday.” It was both sweet and sad.
Erin mentioned that she has four boys and would be living in the same neighborhood. Last week, another neighbor, Stacy, and I decided to just knock on her door and formally introduce ourselves. I suggested to Erin that we go shopping together (on another day) so I could show her new stores that weren’t around when she was last living here seven years ago.
So Erin told me she needed to buy a mop. I thought we would just venture out to Bravo, a nicer, less expensive grocery store, but when she said mop, I said, “I know just the place!”
Several weeks ago, my family and I dined at The Garage, a nice restaurant/bar with an expat flair. There we met the manager who told us about all the different places to explore in the Shunyi neighborhood. He mentioned the wet market as a place to get mops, but it was only in passing.
Last week I asked about where to get a clock radio (you wouldn’t think it would be so difficult to find one in Beijing, but I’ve been hunting for one for a while.) A nice man at Wumart, a grocery/Fred Meyer like store, suggested I look at the wet market. So after shopping, I drove there in the tuk tuk. I had no luck finding the clock radio, but I could see what the market had to offer.
When Erin mentioned the mop, we headed straight away to the wet market. Funny thing about the market. There must be over ten stores with the exact same stuff (kitchen supplies, cleaning supplies, rice cookers, etc.). How do they thrive? The very first store solved all her cleaning supply needs. I bought a rag for my mop (turned out to be the wrong thing) and an over-the-door hook apparatus. We decided to continue to explore the market, mop in hand. Poor Erin. It was a lot to schlep around.
We discovered shops with clothing, fabric for pillows and duvet covers, computer accessories, pet supplies, drinks and finally a fruit market.
I bought a huge bag of dried fruit (kiwis and dates), peaches, mangoes and apples.
While asking about the apples, a Chinese man, whose name we later found out to be Eric asked if we needed help. We chatted with him for a while when he suggested that he could show us around the market and help translate if needed.
Eric is around 35, unmarried, and works for Pearson Books. He sells books to many of the international schools in the area, so his English is VERY good. He is super friendly and full of enthusiasm and information. The three of us checked out the meat market as well as the vegetable and spice area.
Along the way you could get pants hemmed.
We were so excited about meeting him and appreciative of the time he spent with us, that we invited him to lunch at a local place. We ate noodles (I ate rice because of being gluten free) and veggies and two of us had drinks for a whopping 23 RMB ($3.5). We sat for an hour or so just chatting about living in China and his life as a single man here.
You can definitely live in a bubble here in China, opting only to socialize with other expats/ Americans. Or you can branch out and meet the local population, making every day a day of adventure. Meeting Eric reminds me that those are the days that I love the most. I come home with yet another story to tell at dinner.
I’m excited to connect with Eric again. Who knows maybe I can act as a yenta and find him a nice girl!