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China: By Journalists Eyes X: Qing Hai Province - The First Night In Xi Ning

Published: 21.7.2012
After four days in Beijing we packed suitcases and with our guide got on the plane. Before us is a big unknown - we are moving into one of the poorest provinces of China to west to the Tibetan border. It won´t be surprise just for us, but also our girls will visit Beijing - Ai Qing the first time in their life.

We are 6 hour of flight from our destination. In the capital of Xi Ning we landed about 8pm, dark and completely new types of faces welcomes us. At the airport is to know that here live totally different nationality than on the east. They have darker skin bigger cheekbones, narrower and bevel eyes, women with woven braids somewhere up to their waist. I am excited and look forward to what's next.

We are in the bustle of the city, which has noting more common with the Beijing than a few tall buildings and some neon lights here and there. Otherwise it looks quietly, quietly, sleepily, the streets are half empty. Hotel, where we will stay, but again does not disappoint us - a modern, luxury, glass, marble, detailed trim. Definitely not worth the time and probably is also the only of its kind.

Right at the reception we dealt drugs against mountain sickness - we is at an altitude of about 2500 meters a.s.l. and the risk that we might have a health problem. We wonestly swallow pills, later we have organized dinner but we are look forward for nothing more than to wander the night Xi Ning.

We go down Main Street toward the river, which crosses the city. It was after 10pm, but the streets relatively live. We pass various businesswoman who are on the sidewalk spread their goods (beads, trinkets, toys, etc.), stop at the painter cartoons and Hungarian colleague is allowed to perpetuate. Figure it is the equivalent of about 40 crowns.

We're the only "white" and it's a lot to know. People stare at us intently, stopping us, shout, show each other the finger and brave and is trying to touch us. A group of men, we took a lot, even sticks to us and scans our every move. It's high time to stop somewhere and shake them down - after all we don’t know the local conditions and culture and I´m afraid.

After a while we come to the street, surrounded by a kind of snack bars with adjacent outdoor gardens. Sit at the first free, of course, plastic table and waiting for service. It comes with a tight woman faces and colourful scarves on their heads, trying to hide the excitement of such a visit. We order a beer - we can say it in Chinese - so “pi-ďo” and we are looking for refreshment. Waitress but frowned moves the head and also her forefinger, and we understand that here it is waste to wait for beer.

Thanks and we are going to the next one, actually to the neighbours in the belief that we succeed with our demand. This time man we will come to serve, the rest of the family watches from the shadows of our buffet. We will try it again "pi - do". Tall Chinese with a turban on his head gestures that it is not in his offer, but he is more enterprising than the neighbour and keeps repeating "cha" "cha" ... wants to give us tea. Not that just hit our taste and mood, so we try to find out what else we could get to drink. Communicate but is impossible - absolutely does not work in English and Chinese and even the basics of one of our colleagues is not enough - in the Qing Hai harsh dialect is spoken. Efforts to reach an agreement to attract more people to our table, he looks here are two women and a boy. Attempts keep continue - Fanta? Cola? Chinese smile after a while, whispers something the young boy and he as a rocket fired into the unknown where xi-Nin night. Gestures indicate to us whether we sit and wait. Those less resistant of us swivel for tea in the end.

Women disappears for a showcase of their shop, we can see them casting a kettle and prepare the glass. The man remains firmly stand by our table. He doesn´t need to speak with us, but he looked at us as to animals in the zoo. When viewing images in the camera, calmly shoves his head between us and he made part of the spectator. Women bring snacks in between. I resisted, before fellow land a tall glass full of some floating plants and dried fruit. It does not look bad, but when you swallow the first sip, mop they face. The Chinese are smiling lightly. Out of curiosity and taste brrrrr - nothing sweeter in life I had in my mouth, tea flavour is zero, just horribly sugary water with bits of vitamins.

Suddenly in the distance we can see running boy who disappeared a few minutes ago. Breathless stops at our table, holding triumphantly chocolate milkshake from McDonald's. We do not understand. We started laughing. They do not understand nor our hosts. What is wrong? What our gesture in them the impression that we have a craving for a milkshake, decipher or later one of us. Anyway, we felt incredible gratitude and humility. Those people are trying to do literally what we saw in the eyes, although it was slightly odd look. And we have forgiven them and that when paying our purses crowded around and stared into them as into a well. Later we learned that staring, peeking, scanning, touching of strangers and lack of respect for the intimate zone.... it is all natural for local people and they do not consider it as nothing improper or indecent.

Text/photo: Andrea Fantová

 



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