Like Going Home

Going back to Qingdao is the closest I can get here in China to achieving that “I’m back home!” relief. Not that I had been openly missing Qingdao, but on a sub-conscious level, I always compare the new cities to my good, old familiar “home”. So going back to film the TV show was great.

Diana and I found our way to Shanghai Pudong airport by using the subway system, it took about 1 hour and 30 minutes, but saving money is ALWAYS worth it! Instead of a 100+ RMB taxi, it was only 7 RMB. Also, I always have the tendency to pack as if my life is starting anew at the next destination point, so this time I intentionally only brought a small carry-on and my back pack, traveling without worrying about being overweight makes flying almost fun…almost. Anyways, we landed without a hitch, I called Dr. Shepherd and he told us to book a hotel for two nights, and we would see him for practice later. To be honest, I hadn’t really studied the story he wanted us to perform, I had memorized half before jetting off to Shanghai, but promptly forgot about learning the other half when I thought my vacation had started, haha. So crammed and miraculously got it down. It helped that we all would be saying the Kuaiban story as a group (Diana, 4 Tier II students, and I). Unfortunately, I was put front and center of the formation, so I felt the pressure regardless. Diana and I went to the Tier II student’s dorms and practiced with them until our 8:00 pm appointment to perform in front of Dr. Shepherd. It was kind of a train wreck (what with everyone clapping the beat, while trying to remember the words on said beat, while also trying to remember body movements), but after more practice and a few adjustments it turned out pretty good.

The next morning, Diana and I got up early to meet up with the other students, Dr. Shepherd, and his performing arts teacher to get more practice in. We made slight alterations and practiced for 2 hours, then headed to the TV station. After a wait in the lobby, we were escorted into the studio and got seats at the side of the stage. The set and stage were very colorful, I love getting to see the “behind the scenes” look at things, the cameramen, producers, and lights. I realized that the show we were filming for is one of my favorite Chinese shows, Yu Le Gang (娱乐港); I would describe it as a more laid-back version of Mad TV, so the show is focused mostly on hilarious skits performed on stage. There was a skit about a couple going through counseling before a divorce, a family with a spoiled son, lax mother, and almost abusive father, a cheating husband in a hospital and a thief, and an idiot (it was a man dressed as a woman) trying to fill out forms at a bank. This show is filmed before a live audience, so everyone else got really nervous, but I didn’t. I’m a bit of a contradiction, I LOVE being on stage and leading things (Diva since the crib), but I hate being on camera, so with the audience there, I just pretended the cameras weren’t there and was able to have a good time. After the story, instead of escaping off stage, the MCs kept us there for a quick question and answer session that I had to speak in, of course I was also forced to sing an American song. When put on the spot like that I can NEVER think of any song, so instead I sang a Chinese one, Cyndi Wang’s 《我会好好的》. The crowd loved it, but we shall see how that turned out, haha.

Dr. Shepherd performed a few stories of his own, and then we all got on stage to film a “Happy Chinese New Year/Happy Year of the Dragon” message for them to use later….much later, as in February when it actually is Chinese New Year. Diana, Jessie, Gloria, and I went off to find a restaurant to eat, right when we were about to step in the doors, luckily Dr. Shepherd gave me a call to ask if we had eaten yet. I hate to take advantage because he ALWAYS pays for the meal, but free food and good conversation is always at the top off my list. After our lunch, Dr. Shepherd reimbursed us for our plane tickets and hotel room; I made the purchases with my visa card so it was technically paid in USD, but Dr. Shepherd could only pay me the equivalent in Chinese dollars, haha. Diana and I scrambled over to the large night market, Tai Dong 台东, to buy many last minute presents for family, I love the Chinese system in which almost no price is set, and haggling is practically a hobby. We got really good prices and also bought Diana a new suitcase, since her other one broke (AGAIN). We took a taxi to the Tier II students’ dorms so I could say goodbye, at the dorm gate we ran into a pack of Americans all dressed up and ready to party. There was this white boy there hitting on me and trying to convince me to go to Ye Chao…I was so shocked by this sign of fate, because Diana and I had been debating the whole night whether or not to go to YeChao (my favorite club in Qingdao). We hurried back to our hotel, changed….and I changed my mind on the last minute. I didn’t want to pay for a cab there and back, I had to be at an official forum thing in the morning, and also I wasn’t sure if my employee friend (the one who gives us the free table) would be working or was even still my friend; he hadn’t replied to my text the week before and I didn’t want to take the chance.  

Ironically enough, the next morning around 8 am I got a text from the very same guy, asking how Shanghai is going and that he misses me….so mad! But all is well that ends well, I got to the forum in time, put in a good showing for Dr. Shepherd, and got back to our hotel to check out with Diana. Our flight didn’t leave until 3:30 pm, so Diana and I went to get lunch at our favorite restaurant in Qingdao; Taipei 1+1…the food was sooo delicious! We ordered too much of it, because all we could think of were the tiny portions and bad food awaiting us in the south. The plane ride was delayed but smooth, and thus ended our relaxing interlude back “home”~

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