Sometimes I forget how big Suzhou is. Today I took a trip across town to find the fabric and flea market. The taxi driver laughed when I showed him the taxi card I took from the handy color coded book. I normally don’t bring taxi cards since this forces me to practice my Mandarin but this time I was unsure of the name so I cheated. When the driver laughed I could not tell if it was about the pink taxi card or the chosen destination.
When I took out my phone to check the map, the driver laughed again. I told him in my best Chinese that I like looking at the map so I can familiarize myself with my surroundings and thus get my bearings. I didn’t really say all of this, just some words. Then I said Suzhou is very big and he said it was not. That was the end of our conversation.
As we arrived the driver pointed at the gate of the market and started laughing again. I just smiled back. It was hard to tell what kind of laugh it was but it seems to happen to me a lot. It generally makes me a little uncomfortable as it sounds like an “I’m laughing at you” laugh. Since I could hardly (read I was unable to) ask him what he was laughing about I remained in the dark. I was hoping the market would enlighten me, in the sense that if it was really shit, I knew what he had been laughing about. Then it would for sure have been an “I can’t believe you are going to this place” laugh…1