Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Green Tea and Teriyaki

Sky scrapers flash by at an almost dizzying speed as the bullet train races down the tracks.

We’re traveling from Hong Kong to Guangzhou and after an hour and 20 minutes we’re quickly approaching our destination. With Shelley to talk to, this final leg of our journey has flown by.

Now we’re almost there! Guangzhou,China, it sounds so foreign and exotic!

Ten minutes later the train comes to a halt and we disembark and proceed to customs. So far Chinese customs has been a breeze and this time around is no exception to what is quickly becoming the rule. With the correct visa and paperwork, gaining entry is not difficult.

Once Shelley and I have both cleared customs we head to the information desk to contact our translator. At the desk we make a quick phone call and are then directed downstairs where Helen and her boyfriend, Mark, are waiting.

Helen, we quickly learn, is a 24 year old Chinese college student who has studied English in school. Not only does she translate for us, she swiftly becomes an invaluable source of information; she knows everything about which bus to take, how to get subway tickets, what the costs are for taxis and how to find and check into the hotel she reserved for us.

An hour later, after depositing our suitcases in our hotel room we walk through the streets of Guangzhou.

The scent of green tea and teriyaki swirls through the air as buses and taxis zip through traffic. Exhaust fumes, although not overwhelming, add a familiar tinge to the city’s air.

At a hole-in-the-wall restaurant we stop for some traditional Chinese food, and I impress myself with my ability to eat with chop sticks.

A duck missing only its feathers and feet hangs from a thread over the kitchen area where the food is being prepared. Drying beside it looks like what might be an armadillo. I check the brown pieces of meat on my plate to make sure it really is chicken before I resume eating.

When all four of us have finished lunch we make our way back out onto the busy street and head down to the metro station. At the station we place the correct coins into a machine which then spits out tokens that allows us to access the metro via a bar code reader. A few minutes later we’re boarded and on our way. Easy. Quick. China is the epitome of efficiency.

At the fair, it takes no time at all for professional looking buyer badges displaying our full names, photos and a scan-able barcode to be printed. Coming from Haiti this is just unreal.

Walking through the entrance way I can’t help but marvel. China’s Import and Export Fair is indescribably huge.

Beautifully displayed vendors fill exhibition buildings, each easily the size of Canada place. Walking through them, it doesn’t take me long to realize that EVERYTHING is ‘Made in China.’ It really is incredible to see.

At a loss of where to start to looking we approach a trade matcher info desk which includes a computer and type ‘beads’ into the search engine. Within seconds a list with company names and area location numbers appears. We jot them down and then locate them on our vendor map.

We spend the next two hours literally walking our legs off as we head from one booth to the next!

From China

By 5:30 we’re all exhausted so we head up to the McDonald's inside one of the exhibition buildings for a quick dinner.

Dog-tired we drag our bodies back to the metro station and then walk the final ten minutes to our hotel.

Hardly functioning anymore with the few hours of sleep I’ve had over the last few days, I force myself to shower.

Before I fall asleep I silently thank God for his Fatherly care and protection over Shelley and I and pray that Jason and Jayden, on the other side of the world, may experience a special measure of His presence and love.


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