China blog, part 9: Caitlin on concerts 1 and 2, Chinese food, and shopping in YanCheng

So we are now in YanCheng, checked into a hotel where we finally have wifi and some time to warm up in our hotel rooms.

Our first two concerts were great successes, and we played to full houses in both in Xingtai and Nanjing. In Xingtai, we played in a broadcasting station where cameramen were filming us as we played and projecting close-ups of different people on the jumbotron that was on the back wall of the stage. Xingtai is an industrial town that isn’t at all glamorous, so I think they don’t get very many tourists, so in the restaurant where we had lunch, the waiters came around to each table taking pictures of everyone, and I made sure to get my picture taken with them!

In Nanjing, we played at East University, also to a packed house, and at both concerts people clapped along happily to our encore, the Radetzky March. At this performance, the mother of a Vanderbilt foreign student was present. She came back stage and introduced herself to her son’s friend in the orchestra! (Which I find so cool.)

The first couple days were hard. Not so much from the time difference, ’cause our travel schedule to China made it easy to not be jetlagged, but rather because we often have to get up early to make planes and are on buses for long periods of time. By now we’re getting used to it, though, and it’s getting easier.

The food has been incredible, and we’re all loving being mildly adventurous and trying whatever they put in front of us. It’s incredibly rich and is served family-style … and I’ll probably leave this trip a couple pounds heavier!

Though it’s cold and snowing outside, some of us have used our time to explore the surrounding city, as this is really our first free time on our own. The exchange rate is in our favor, making shopping all too tempting. My goal is to try as many of the Chinese snacks I can. There are so many to choose from and are so different from our own that I can’t stop trying new ones! But don’t worry, family at home — I’m sure we’ll use this exchange rate to buy you something nice!

Now it’s almost time for concert No. 3, so I’ll check in when I next get the chance!


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