Dear Diary: Gotta light? Asian men really like their smokes. Not only do they all smoke, but they all smoke all the time. About the only time I have seen an Asian male not smoking is the flight attendant serving me my chicken and rice at 35,000 feet; that being said, I would in no way be surprised to glance up at one dangling from Mr. Male Flight Attendant's mouth giving a special glow to the fasten my seat belt sign.
I have tried some interesting food, much of which I cannot identify. This is especially true in the streets of Guangzhou, which has a vendor every few feet for a good kilometer (did you see what I did there). This is right below our hotel. We are literally living on the Asian version of Bourbon Street, which is especially active as we approach Chinese New Year. I ate some tofu that looked like big chocolate chunks, and also think I dug into some cow intestines. It's ok, though, since it was in a soup. I mean, anything is ok if it's in a soup. I am right here, am I not? I am holding to this theory, Mr. Dear Diary, so be agreeable.
Speaking of Chinese New Year, the natives take a week off and everyone goes to their home town. There is no census, King Herod, since that would require that everyone take a year off. It would seem that they travel by bus, train or plane. I have been astounded by how many locals are as yet unsure which mode of transportation will be utilized. I mean, the holiday starts in a couple of days and, based on information I have gleaned from broken English, trying to get on a train is next to impossible due to the mass movement. I guess on the appointed day they will take a long drag off of Marlboro and figure it out. I imagine the car horns will be heard as far as deep outer space.
Is there no one in the entire world that speaks both Chinese and English in a coherent way? Here are a few translation goodies -- the toothpick package in our lunch pack on the plane encourages us as follows: "You are welcome to travel on our plane." This is excellent news since we have been in the air a good hour as this story is breaking. And this is Air China, which one assumes is a rather major corporation. Why am I thinking that a Chinese welcome mat at the front door would read "Thank you." Or, at the Chinese zoo, we are admonished as follows: "Do not flap the glass." I certainly don't want to irritate the baboon, but if I have to flap then I just have to flap. I hope this doesn't create a tap between me and the zoo officials. I also had a bit of a translation problem of my own. We are on a bus safari at the zoo and I hear people excitedly exclaiming "Look at those two hippos!" Well, I glance over and see two hippos, and one has kind of collapsed on the other from what appears to be hippo fatigue. Being the clever and funny guy that I am in most any country, I volunteer in a rather loud and obnoxious American voice that the hippo looks just like Jill after our scale of the great wall. It is only then that Jill points out that it is actually the two hippos mating a few feet away that has caught everyone's attention. I quickly amend my statement to provide that it absolutely does not remind me of Jill after our scale of the Great Wall.
Jill, being exhausted, was in no mood to flap . . .