Thursday, August 28, 2003

The Odyssey

While eating lunch in the cafeteria today, I couldn't help but reminisce about that fateful day in November almost 13 years ago on which my sister, Mom, and I took the inter-continental trip to the States from China. Our first trip on an airplane took us across the globe. In hindsight, it would have been much more enjoyable if our eyes hadn't been all puffed up from pink eyes. I also had my first encounter with cheese, something that I had never tasted back in China and about which I had read extensively in many books, from Grimm's Fairy Tales to The Arabian Nights. Because the first word in the Chinese compound word for cheese ("nai luo") means milk, I had always imagined it to be deliciously sweet, like ice cream, except not frozen. Therefore, when I finally got my hands on the little packet of cheese that was included in the boxed airplane lunch, I eagerly peeled away the wrapper and took a huge bite out of it. Big mistake. It was without a doubt the single most disgusting thing I had ever tasted in my life up to that point. I almost spitted it out on to the seat in front of me. I can recall with ease that horrible, disgusting taste in my mouth to this day, which probably explains my aversion to cheese.

Now as I am about to embark on my momentous trip back to China, I'm experiencing a mixture of nervous anxiety and eager excitement: nervous because I have no idea what to expect after having been away for so long, excited because I have been looking forward to this trip for so long.

Here are a few goals I have for the trip:

1.) Don't get busted by customs for packing so many bottles of multi-vitamins, which are apparently extremely popular and pretty expensive in China right now. I hope they won't suspect me of being some drug dealer trying to smuggle Ecstasy.

2.) Don't get ass-ripping diarrhea (my precious pack of Immodium AD is all packed and ready to go) or any life-threatening diseases.

3.) Don't say anything unwittingly horribly offensive that will upset the relatives.

4.) Don't say anything too controversial that will get me quality torturing time in some gulag.

5.) Buy lots and lots of cheap namebrand knockoffs from the markets. It's cool to have the spending power of a foreigner and yet still be able to melt into the crowd like a normal Chinese person. Hopefully I won't get ripped off.

6.) Pay my respect to those relatives who have passed away by trekking to their burial places in the mountains and bring them food offerings.

7.) Hopefully won't have to dissuade relatives from trying to match me up with some girl.

8.) Eat tons of real Chinese food.

9.) Go visit some of the coolest places on earth and take tons and tons of pictures to post online after I return.

10.) HAVE FUN!!

I will try to update my blog while I'm in China, but I don't know how often I will have access to a computer with internet access, and even if I do find an internet cafe, I don't know if I can access my blog since Google (which owns Blogger now) is currently blocked in China. This blog may be stale for a couple of weeks.