Yesterday was quite eventful and I learned much as I ventured out onto my own into a nearby district of Yangzhou to do some household shopping. I took the bus, which proved extremely convenient and inexpensive but also very different – the driver, at a red light on the highway, removed the engine cover inside the bus and started fiddling with wires, only to replace them and the cover and continue on as if nothing had occurred. This was not a cause for concern with anyone but me, which I’m sure was entertaining for the crowd because almost every person on that bus was staring at me. (By the way, if you’re not Chinese and you come to China, you will be stared at wherever you go.) The mall I arrived at was very extravagant, almost like a Las Vegas casino, and brand-new (just like Shuren school, I learned yesterday.)
When I somehow successfully returned to my district and walked back to the school, I was introduced to my new office and pleasantly surprised as my host family from when I was sixteen greeted me after my tour! After jumping up and down for probably too much time, I reunited with Xinran and her parents and their driver. They took me to a wedding of Xinran’s cousin, who she described to be “very fat, like a panda.” (Note, he was only fat by Chinese standards, I’m sure, as he seemed pretty average to me.) The wedding was absolutely beautiful and VERY different from an American wedding. Besides having nothing to do with religion, there were some very interesting rituals during the ceremony. My favorite was, a video was shown of a very humorous tradition where the groom and his family come to the family of the bride’s house and offer money for the bride’s hand in engagement. The bride’s family will then slam the door on the faces of the groom and his family continuously until they offer enough money for the bride. This is, of course, a big joke and is seen as such but the bride’s family really does keep the money, which leads one to wonder the origin of such a practice. The traditional cuisine was exquisite, and the music was VERY loud. (Another common thing to have at Chinese weddings is lots of noise. LOTS. As in, music, firecrackers, a very loud announcer, laughter, constant toasts, etc. They even had a live singer and a magic show!) After my long night of entertainment, I returned home and immediately fell asleep. I am so grateful to have so many people looking out for me in China, and much appreciate the honor of attending a traditional wedding.