December 15, 2010

White Christmas

Never ever did I think that I would find myself enjoying a white Christmas, or pre-Christmas rather, in China. I had heard rumors that it might snow a little bit sometime this week, but everyone said the snow never sticks to the ground and it melts right away.

The first sprinkles started around 8 a.m. -- I was walking from my office to another with a huge smile on my face because my scarf had the subtlest hints of white flakes melting on it. I was savoring every small little frozen speck that was hitting my face. I was like Buddy from Elf.

Within twenty minutes, the snow was no longer subtle. Huge, thick flakes were pouring from the sky and they have yet to cease. I forgot my camera at home today, but I used my cell phone to snap shots of palm trees and green leaves covered in snow. I have never been so thankful and excited to see snow in December in my life. I made it a point to walk off the path to hear the peaceful crunch of snow beneath my feet. While everyone around me was scurrying about with their umbrellas and hats that look like panda bears (complete with little ears), I walked around hatless and without an umbrella, happily encouraging my cheeks to blush pink from the cold. I wanted to stick my tongue out to try catch some flakes, but then I thought that might not be the healthiest thing to do in China...

My friend Jenn, bless her southern heart, has never witnessed snow falling and not melting before. She's seen snow in mountains of course, but her Houston home and Malibu, Calif. university aren't known for their white Christmases. By 10 a.m. she had invited me to go sledding near the river by our campuses.

After swindling some trays from her cafeteria, Jenn met up with me and we ventured off to find some other American friends. I never made it sledding (I had my first round of finals today) but I spent a solid hour outside this afternoon enjoying the scene.

Then a terrifying thought hit me: the bus ride home.

In perfect conditions, Chinese driving can be nauseating and fear-inducing. Today was far from perfect conditions -- this much snow in Hangzhou is like dumping three inches of snow in Miami and watching what happens. But Miami drivers have a more orthodox set of driving rules, it's a bit more free-for-all in this country.

Luckily we made it back unscathed, our ride took more than an hour and a half and we saw countless fender benders and accidents along the way. It makes me sick to think about how many injuries (and probably deaths) will happen tonight with so many bikes, cars and busses acting in their usual chaotic manner.

Now we get to spend the night shivering. Our apartment (and every other building in this city) lacks insulation, so the second that our "heater" (aka, fan that blows hot-ish air) turns off, the temperature drops a few degrees. Our apartment has way too much square footage to heat it all, too. 

Oh well, I can't complain. I got my dose of home today. Seeing the snow sent quite a few pangs of homesickness through my heart, but I'm also grateful that I can set a few snow angels free from my little corner of the planet.

Let it snow! (Now here's to hoping the power doesn't go out...)

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