I also found a text from Sabrina that was a few days old. It told me that a letter had come for me at the office. Catching a cab—which is not easy to do being a foreigner, a lot of them speed by or shake their head when you try to get in…even if they have their green available light lit up—I rode back over to the office to pick up my letter, and then caught another cab back to the hostel. At that point, Yu Cui messaged me about picking up my bag and meeting for dinner.I met her at her apartment and we walked down to a café. We were chatting away when someone bumped into Yu Cui. They said something in Chinese.
“So sorry,” Yu Cui said.As we walked away, I asked, “Is ‘so sorry’ Chinese?”
She laughed. “Oh wow! I guess you have my brain thinking in English. I didn’t even notice.”When we got to the café at the corner she asked, “Do you want to eat here or have Chinese food?”
I only have about 36 hours left in China, I thought. “Let’s do Chinese food.”“You like wantons right?” she asked.
“Yes I do!” I said.“We will go have the best wantons.”
She didn’t lie. These wantons were probably the best I’ve had. They were filled with pork and shepherds purse, and had that good peanut and sesame sauce drizzled over them. She offered to buy me several orders, but I figured one was enough.“So,” she said as we sat down. “Are you ready to go?”
I smiled. “I don’t know,” I said. “I’ve been asking myself that the last three days.” I thought for a minute. “I am definitely ready to see my family again. And it will be nice to sleep in my own bed. But I’m not ready for it to be over.”“Yes,” she said. “I think it will be good for you to go home and have a rest. It is hard to travel all the time. After a break, you can come back or go somewhere new.”
Yu Cui honestly introduced me to most of the best food I had in China. As we ate, I shared with her my list of favorite dishes I’ve been keeping.“I like milk tea,” I told her. “I’d never had it in the states.”
“Is easy to make,” she said. “You just brew tea in milk and serve over ice.”“No I know,” I said. “I’ll make it when I go home. I just never had it before.”
I continued. “Hot pot was definitely my favorite.” She agreed. “And the peking duck in Beijing was really, really good.”“I have never had it,” she said. “Was it flavorful?”
“So flavorful!” I said. “And really, really tender. And then I like wantons. That fried pumpkin you took me to eat for lunch one time, at the restaurant around the corner…”“Yes,” she remembered.
“That was awesome,” I said. “In Beijing I had this chicken that had vinegar and brown sugar on it. It was sticky but it was really good.”“I don’t know it,” she said.
“I like the roasted bamboo,” I said. “And even though it made me sick, those yaoming berries were pretty good.”She laughed again.
"I also like the carmelized potatoes.” She looked confused. “They are potatoes, cut up, covered in sugar and baked. The sugar becomes hard and when you bite into it crunches and shatters in your mouth.”She thought for a second and then smiled, “Oh yes!” she said. “I love this dish too.”
“And even though it gave me a head ache and just about made me cry,” I said, “I did enjoy the flavor of the mouth numbing noodles.”She laughed. “I think you will miss all of our peppers when you go home.” I’m not so sure about that.
“And I like bing,” I said.“Oh!” She said. “I am so proud.” Bing is Yu Cui’s favorite.
“I think the bing you brought me the first day was my favorite,” I said. She agreed.“The thing you told me you ate in Xi’an, off the street food,” she said. “It is also a type of bing. I really like this one too.”
“Yes!” I said adding it to my list. “And the dumpling you brought me on my last day of work. The one that had beef in it and the juice splattered all over my face when I bit into it.”She laughed recalling the incident. “It is called Shengjian.” She was impressed that I spelled it correctly when I put it in my phone.
After we finished eating, we talked for a while about plans for the future. I am going to miss these guys so much. They feel like such close friends I can’t imagine not staying in touch with them.Once again, Yu Cui bought my dinner. She helped me get all of my bags to the metro. As we were walking there all I could think was I hate goodbyes. I suck at goodbyes. I avoid goodbyes like the plague. But at the same time, I know that saying goodbye feels a lot better than never saying goodbye.
But luckily, we put it off one more day. Yu Cui said that she would message Vivi tomorrow when we go out shopping and try to meet up with us.I successfully navigated the subway and got all my things back to the apartment. When I did, I sent a few emails before sitting down to journal about the day.
Tomorrow is my last day in China…that is such a weird thought to me. After four months of getting ready for it, and two months of adventures over here, I guess I never thought about what would happen when it was over. Coming home from Europe, I had a very distinct set of goals and a life I wanted to return to. After China, I really feel open to anything. I don’t know what I want when I get home.I still have a lot to think about.