Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin
cswallow

Week 2: Hunchun, Pt. 1

Us interns have recently been playing a game called "Build up your immune system." Sometimes this involves eating an entire plate of freshly sliced tomatoes, covered in a heap of sugar. Other times, we let the barnyard cat in the household we are interviewing rub against us. And sometimes, it means we eat at a restaurant where we know the cook just used the last guy's leftover beer to sautee the vegetables. It turns out, all this stuff is relative.

Almost every new house in Hunchun has a solar water heater. On sunny days, it's completely fantastic - the barrel heats up to over 80 degrees. But on abnormal June days, like today (feels like 38 F), it's a chilly 40 degrees. So, we're back to boiling water for our baths.

Last week I go for an adventure to find YiKeLong - the largest supermarket in Hunchun. I'm startled to find that the city is much later and, in some sections, much ritzier than I thought. I discover the central shopping district by following the Russians (higher density = closer), and finally stumble onto a street lined with designer clothing and shoe stores. YiKeLong itself is enormous, as is the hulking "mall" across the street. It's warm, the women are fashionable, and I saunter for long blocks just taking it all in.

I love hanging on the edge of  confusion, and so YiKeLong is a time-consuming experience. I found my mind first trying to make sense of the words, the shapes of boxes, and then slowly turn to rely on the photographs alone. Thank goodness for overeager marketing and packaging designers, I tell myself. I spend twenty minutes alone examining the drink aisle. Even then the "orange juice" I buy turns out to be some strange orangeade concoction. Good thing I only bought 2.5 L..

Later that day I help Tony in the garden and he lets me plant the seedlings he bought at the morning market. Fresh faced from my adventure, hands gently cradling each plant into the ground, I think how idyllic this all feels. Remember this, I tell myself fiercely. These are the days you will remember as perfect, these are the still and gentle moments of your life. Remember this blessing, this fortune.  And then I try not to think about it anymore, so I can get back to living.
Tags: about cs, travel - asia
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