July 3, 1997:
In the morning I tested the word "cha" with some Asians in the lobby. The response was universal: They looked at me quizzically. When I finally told them it meant "fork," they nodded enthusiastically and said, "Oh, yes, fork." I determined I would try this experiment again with another group of locals.
As I type this, I am slightly forlorn. I felt I had thought of everything but the Recoton electrical converter does not have the ability to handle one of those plugs with the third grounding prong on it. Here I am, halfway around the world, and what I would give to be able to go a block away from my house and pick up an adapter so I could recharge the battery on this laptop. It has given me its warning as the power slowly wanes, that I had better save and either plug directly into the wall or stop and recharge. Without that adapter for this adopter, I'm going to have to journalize this trip the old fashioned way with pen and paper but how very much I love this modern convenience known as the laptop. I shrugged my shoulders and turned off the laptop.
We determined that it costs 4 Hong Kong dollars to make a local call from our hotel room. But if we simply go down to the lobby and use one of the pay phones, it is only 1 Hong Kong buck. Not one to pass up a deal, I grabbed some questions we wanted to ask and took the "lift" down 22 floors to the lobby and called Les, our Holt Representative.
"When will we get to see Kristina?" was my first inquiry.
Les responded with if the flight is on time, we will arrive in Nanning on Sunday around 7:30 PM, take a 45 minute bus drive to the Hotel Majestic, then we will receive our child. If the plane is delayed and it looks as if we won't arrive in Nanning until around 9:00 PM or later, we would receive her in the morning.
"I'm journalizing this trip and brought a laptop but I need an adapterů" (I explained what I needed.) "Is it going to be possible to find one here?"
Les answered in the positive. "There are a lot of business travelers that come through Hong Kong. Go to the corner of Nathan and Peking and there is a 'Duty-free' store there that will have your adapter."
"Great! Also we are looking for an inexpensive vegetarian restaurant. Any suggestions?"
"Go to a Buddhist restaurant," Les said. "There are many throughout the city. Ask at the hotel lobby."
After the phone call with Les, I went over to the front desk and asked, "What is cha?" I wanted to see if "cha" was consistently the correct Chinese word for fork. All four of the Asians manning the desk looked at me quizzically. When I drew a picture of the fork, they all laughed and one said, "Oh, cha." One individual hinted that the reason no one was able to tell me what "cha" meant when I asked them was because it was not being used in conjunction with other Chinese words. So it has come down to this: I'll draw a picture of a fork and point to it. I would say more than anything else you do (short of learning the language), be sure to practice playing the game of Pictionary. If you can draw the concept, thing or condition you want to get across, and successfully convey it, you win. Besides certainly the Chinese people are used to looking at pictures and who knows, maybe one of your Pictionary drawings will eventually find its way into the Chinese written language. It could happen.
We are back from our outing today. We found a Buddhist restaurant and had some good tasting mock meat dishes with exquisite sauces. I've given up on trying to get a fork for every meal. Chop sticks work just fine and it keeps me eating slowly because I'm still a little awkward with them. Also, if you want to split a piece of mock meat, there are no sharp edges on the chop sticks. I wonder how meat is cut in half..
I found my adapter at a duty-free store though I do not believe it was the one Les told me about. I neglected to write down all sorts of pertinent information like exactly what the name of the store was and where it was located. When we walked to the general vicinity of where this place was supposed to be, there were so many stores all packed together tightly that I became dis-orient-ed and decided just to walk until I found a shop that looked like it might carry adapters. Incredibly, I was successful.