I went into the city today - I had another parcel to send to Australia, so arrived at the bus stop with a big bag ready to go to China Post in Shaoxing. At the bus stop a Chinese man spoke in perfect English (actually it wasn't quite perfect - he had an American accent!)
He was visiting Shaoxing - staying with family for two months. He was from San Francisco and he and I chatted. He wanted to know where I was from and what I was doing in Shaoxing. He was very curious when I used my bus pass on the bus - he had thought I was a visitor until then! "I've been living here" I told him. So I had to tell him I liked China, and the food. Usual questions.
In China Post it was easier to send my parcel than all my visits before. This time they didn't search my parcel but found a box to put it in, sealed it, and I went to the payment section and filled out the forms. Right next to me was an elderly gentleman, sending cards to family in Beijing and Shanghai. "How are you?" he asked. In very good English.
Again a little chat. He pointed out the "elephant" on his envelopes.
So off to the dressmaker - I had some alterations and decided to get a jacket made. Several Chinese ladies came into the shop and though they spoke not a word of English we "communciated" and they approved my choice of fabric and style. Nothing private here!
Then to a little coffee shop we have found in a narrow lane. Jack owns the shop and his assistant Mary was there. Mary is a graduate of Yuexiu and she wanted to talk in English, so we had quite a chat over my cup of coffee.
At the supermarket I had to put my previous purchases in a locker and an elderly gentleman who spoke no English helped me and even offered to pay the 1 Yuan for me. It was refunded after I returned the key and collected my parcel, and he refused my offer to give it to him.
Back on the bus for the return home and a young man spoke with me. "Are you a foreign teacher at Yuexiu?" "Yes."
He is a Freshman (first year student) here and walked home from the bus carrying my parcel.
One of the other teachers and I remarked that we are finding more English speakers, or perhaps some are just more confident to speak with us. I don't know, but it is refreshing. Nice to know we can go out and hear some English.