If you sit in a car with a bunch of Chinese people, you might think that they’re easily excitable since they clap so much. Yeah, no – that’s just their attempt at killing all of the thirsty mosquitos. SO THIRSTY.
Today, my host family took me to a Buddhist temple since they knew I was raised Buddhist. This was a pretty interesting experience. It was a beautiful place with a modernized pagoda in the middle, but the place was more like a museum of relics than anything. Where they did have shrines (two of them), there was not much more than a small mat to kneel and pray on.
Back at home, temples are extravagantly ornate and filled with an excessive amount of places to light incense, place offerings, and much more. Here in China, it’s more like a history lesson. When I knelt down to pay my respects at the shrine, my host grandmother chuckled a little because she found religion to be strange. I found her amusement amusing and chuckled a little myself, and then turned my attention to the Buddha statue. Closing my eyes and bowing my head, I thought about how beautiful this shrine was and how thankful I was to be in China. Somehow, this visit to the temple made me feel at peace. Even though my host family wasn’t religious, they took me there because they knew that I was, and for that I was really thankful.
For dinner, we headed to a Thai restaurant that was also somehow conjoined with an Indian restaurant. Yeah, I was pretty confused too when I saw that. Anyway, first walking in, there was a blob of foreigners with drinks speaking a really fast European language that sounded something like Dutch. Not gonna lie, I got some pretty janky vibes, but followed my host family to the table. After a game of pool with Eden (my host brother), we sat down and had some food that was actually quite good, but probably still janky.
Besides our table, right next to me, a duo originally from the Phillipines, Lani and Clark, played guitar and sang to keep the vibes up. They weren’t bad, but it wasn’t my cup of tea until they sang songs that I could recognize and reminded me of home. “Valerie” and that annoying “One Thousand Miles” song that sounds like a ranch farmer caught my attention and I started watching intensely until my host dad came up with the idea that I should go up to sing with them. My initial reaction was “L! O! L! no” but as he started to get more insistent and my host grandfather jumped in, the duo took notice and invited me up. My thoughts shifted to “Hey, this is China, why not?” so I joined them.
Clark: “What song do you want to sing?”
“Uh, I’m not sure what you guys have, I mostly sing American pop.”
“Do you know Sia?”
*Lani plays the track and Clark starts strumming the guitar*
“What’s your name?” Lani asked, after the song ended.
“Really? Let’s do a Justin Bieber song!”
“Do you know Love Yourself?”
*second song commences*
Quite honestly, looking back at how this played out it’s quite comical, but in the moment it was more like: “Uh, what?” As I learned in the same choir class that I learned Chandelier in, success comes when opportunity meets preparation – my favorite thing to say now is, “Why not?”
Dang, I’m such a choir kid.
*Thanks to Lani and Clark for a great unexpected experience!*