Our second day in Hengyang we had no set plans for the day!
I thought I would catch up on sleep, but my jet lag decided to do the opposite and I woke up at 5:30a.m. So I used the time to unpack and adjust to my new apartment, then met up with Brittany, Drew, and Lauren around 11. We explored the city, hunting for a general store or market to buy food and items we needed.
Luckily we found our apartment building is just a walk away from everything we need! There was a smaller store right outside the university, where we rummaged for shampoo, soap, dish soap, towels, and toilet paper among other things.
Shopping in general overwhelms me because I’m a bad decision maker, and the process was only lengthened because of the fact that everything was in, you guessed it, Chinese characters. We had to guess at pictures and compare things to try and figure out the different between shampoo vs. conditioner and hand soap vs. dish soap. There was a really nice lady who helped me – I would look up a word on Pleco and show it to her, and she would nod and run around grabbing things.
We found a bigger marketplace farther away, past many shops and markets selling vegetables, fruit, and meat.
The marketplace was two stories tall and had an escalator taking shoppers and their carts up and down between them. Chinese grocery stores are very exposed – you can run your hand through the rice grains, select fruit to be cut up, pick up pieces of fish and meat you like. Everything smells different (it’s wise to hold your breath by the meat section) and looks different.
They had an “imported food” aisle, where we found Starbucks frappucino bottles and Dove chocolate. They also sold Skittles, Coke (of course), Oreos, and a variety of US brands like Head and Shoulders, Colgate, and Pantene. People told us peanut butter would be very hard to find but we found it – 10 dollars for a small bottle of JIF (and a small jar of jelly for $7). I’m holding off on buying American comforts right now and saving it for a rainy day I really miss it.
Among the Chinese delicacies to choose from, some of my favorites were the animal intestines, MSG sold by the bag, and the chicken legs (imagine a chicken with all the meat taken off. You just naw on it.) We can’t drink the water in China, so we have to be careful when buying fruits and vegetables and make sure we boil water then wash it in that.
After shopping, all mentally exhausted and hungry, we just decided to go next door to the supermarket and grab some KFC. It was so easy to order when we had the Chinese guys with us yesterday, and we weren’t exactly sure how we would order today besides just pointing at the menu high up.
A sweet Chinese girl noticed our struggle, came up to us and told us she would order for us. It took us quite awhile to explain and point out what we wanted because she had limited English knowledge, but she was able to tell the lady at KFC what we wanted. She told us she was in high school and had to go home for lunch because her parents were outside (we’re not sure why she was in KFC) so she gave me her number and left, telling us to call her if we needed any help. She quickly came back inside and said her parents wanted us to get a picture with her!
It’s such a wonderful thing running into Chinese people willing to help us – out of a city of 7 million, it was a blessing to run into a friendly person in a KFC.