Professional Bluffer

My poker face. Along with my camera and sunglasses I won’t leave the hotel without these important travel essentials. Exploring this part of the world, every single day we behold images that if I was reacting truthfully would make my jaw drop to the floor and my eyeballs pop right out of my head. In the name of respect, instead I put on my poker face. There is a saying that “Cantonese will eat anything with wings, except an airplane, anything with legs, except a table.” If it has legs, wings, fins, or scales it’s sitting in a tank or cage outside the restaurant waiting to be killed at your request bringing new meaning to the word, “Fresh”. Poker face. Baskets full of dead rats, restaurants advertising dog meat for dinner, and can I just say that what everyone says about spitting in China is absolutely 100% true. Poker face. I will probably go back to being a vegetarian when we get to Montreal. It’s the easiest way for me to do something for the animals that I love so much every single day. One of my major life goals is to help the cause in a bigger way somehow. In the last three cities that we have been to in China, basically no one has spoken any English so eating vegetarian is a little difficult. We eat in the restaurants that have photos in the menus or on the walls, and point to whatever it is we think we can recognize. I repeat, WHATEVER WE THINK WE RECOGNIZE. When we order or buy a whole chicken at home we are getting ripped off and we don’t seem to care.  Around here ordering a chicken means feathers removed, chopped up and plated. Whole chicken. I’m actually quite happy when I see the head on my plate because at least then I’m sure of what it is. Pointing to things that you hope you know is not the most reliable ordering method. I just say a silent little prayer every time we sit down for a meal that Fluffy and Fido don’t end up on my plate by mistake. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I feel like my cats would never come near me again, because they WOULD KNOW. The bottom line is, China has made me feel welcome. The stares are unavoidable but the reactions feel more positive now, or maybe I’m just getting used to it. Especially in the less touristy places we’ve been to, it seems like people are thinking,” Oh my, is that a very tall, very very white person?” These moments are always followed by a big bright smile. On more occasions than I can count, complete strangers have come out of the woodwork and bailed our asses out of what could have easily turned into extremely scary situations. To these special angels who have read signs we couldn’t read, stopped us from getting on buses to god knows where and hailed cabs in areas when it was impossible for a non-local to get one, I am unbelievably grateful. Xiexie! Communicating without language has reminded me of the simple connection that exists between each and every human being in the world. No matter which part of this great earth we are from our basic needs are exactly the same. This is why we can still understand each other when we are trying to communicate even without words. A humble smile is still the most powerful tool anyone can use on any part of the planet. I wish we could come back to that idea. Simplicity, acceptance with a facial expression, connection through race. The HUMAN race. So many of the most complicated problems can be solved quite effortlessly.

F.

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