A Travellerspoint blog

Drink[able]

One of many memorable moments we'd like to share. By: Becky

rain

It was our first full day in Foshan, and we had set out on our first mission: locate the supermarket. The roasting 95-degree air hit us as we stepped from our air conditioned sanctuary. Another humid day in southern China.

Though I'd engaged in nothng more strenuous than the 10-floor elevator ride, my skin was already sheathed in sweat by the time we passed the neighborhood security office. One of the guards, wearing a friendly smile and a blue uniform, patted the bench on which he sat. Jake and I exchanged a curious glance, shrugged, and accepted the invitation.

The guard immediately dashed inside the office and returned with two glasses and a pot of boiling water. He carefully poured the steaming water into both cups and then along the rim of each, cleaning them to satisfaction. Just when I thought he was prepping a batch of tea, the guard filled each cup and handed them over. Surprised, yet touched by his offer of hot water on such a sweltering July day, I accepted mine gratefully. In China, tap water is not drinkable - it must be boiled before it can be consumed. With this knowledge, Jake and I understood the message behind the guard's gesture: this water is good, clean and drinkable. Despite the stifling heat, the drink was oddly refreshing.

My own cup resembled a skinny shot glass, sans handle, and so the scorching water turned the clear glass unbearably hot. Holding it gingerly by its rim, I placed it to the side, hoping the slight breeze would help it cool. Meanwhile, the security guard attempted conversation with Jake. Rattling on in fluent Chinese, he continued in spite of the growing looks of confusion we gave him. Eventually, we asked if there was a supermarket nearby. He attempted, unsuccessfully, to relay its location, and the humurous sight attracted interest from numerous spectators.

One man in particular, pushing his dozing baby along in its stroller, joined in on the fun. After a lot of gesturing, pointing, shrugging, and head scratching, our game of charades was nearing forfeit. When all seemed lost, the young stroller-pushing man successfully communicated the store's location, to the cheers of all around. Having managed to sip half my drink, waiting for it to cool further, the guard hurried to re-fill it...to the brim.

After a few more minutes spent chatting and tentatively testing my scorching drink, Jake and I waved goodbye to our new friends. We successfully navigated the Foshan streets and arrived, unscathed, at the allusive supermarket.

Now, weeks later, we visit the same supermarket regularly. And everytime we do, we pass by the security office, waving to our friend as we go.

Mission complete.

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Our apartment complex (Foshan). For more photos, see our gallery on right-hand side of page.

Posted by rovingduo 09:01 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad

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