One of the highlights of my trip was the opportunity to get bespoke career wear. As a new grad looking for work back home right now, I thought it would be good to have a suit that fit well for job interviews. I had contemplated getting a black, grey, or navy suit made. In the end I decided I go with a navy blue suit as I thought it would bring out my red hair and be less harsh than black.
I had also brought my favourite blouse, a fitted Theory blouse I’d bought used at Value Village, to have copied. I ordered 3 blouses: black, white, and grey. We looked through fabrics and buttons, feeling all the fabric, and seeing what buttons looked like on them. I had great fun- I felt like I was a fashion designer again.
The tailor we went to didn’t have the fabric or buttons I wanted for my suit, so the woman gave us an address to the fabric district so I could go buy exactly what I wanted. She wrote the address on a piece of paper which we have to a taxi driver.
Nicole was excited as she’d always wanted a reason to go to the fabric district. However, it was further away than we thought. When the driver entered the highway, we questioned where we were going. Turned out the fabric market was an hour away!
The driver didn’t know of any other fabric shops, so we headed to Keyuan Garden instead. During the car ride, Nicole and the taxi driver gave me a Mandarin lesson. I learnt how to say “I don’t know.” (Wo ting bu dong). Nicole is very impressed with how quickly I’ve picked up Mandarin in comparison to my French. At the tailors, I figured out than mein meant cotton, and yesterday I learnt how to say hello too! I think I’d like to continue learning Mandarin when I get home. It would be good to keep my mind active by learning a language that makes more sense to me than French did.
When we arrived at the garden, first thing we did was head to the washroom. I yelped in surprise when I opened the stall- the toilet was like a porcelain tray in the floor which you had to squat over. Nicole called them squatty potties. When I got up, it flushed unexpectedly and I yelped again in surprise. As I washed my hands, Nicole gave me a quick lesson on the Asian Squat (north American squat not as stable).
The garden was beautiful. The eavestrough, garbage cans, and the birds’ water bowls were ceramics. There was an old house from the 1850’s, an art museum, and a large pond with many bridges.
It was the first time I felt like everyone was staring at us. Nicole told me that people would stare, especially as I have red hair. Two girls even approached us and asked to have their picture taken with us!
We missed the bus home, so instead of waiting for the next one at the bus stop, we walked around the old slums and workshops by the bus stop. Pedestrians were very interested in what we were doing and followed us around, watching. One came up and asked us what we were doing and Nicole said we were taking pictures of the beautiful old buildings. The man laughed, saying they weren’t beautiful, they were terrible.
Nicole and I took the bus home and now she is making lunch from yesterday’s left over. I’ll go see if she needs any help…
-Photos taken on a Canon T3i.