June 29, 2008

Diving

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:14 pm by changisme

If there’s one advice I would give, is that if you have any kind of
nasal or sinus discomfort, don’t dive. Before my first dive, I had a
bit of mucus, but not plugged nose. I thought, I’ll be fine, it’s not
blocked, so I should still be able to equalize my ears. Little did I
know!!! I had so much trouble and pain on the first day, I wanted to
cry. On the second day, Jason, one of the instructors gave me a
decongestant pill, and I took some antihistamine before that myself,
and it became easier, but I was still slower than normal. I could hear
the wheezing sound of air trying to get in and out through a narrow
tube. I think one of these days I’ll get my ears checked, just to make
suer I don’t have an extra small eustatian tube.

Otherwise, the diving experience was fantastic. We learnt all the
theory on Friday, and on Saturday and Sunday, we each had four dives in
total. From the jetty in Kota Kinabalu, main island Bormeo, we got on
to a boat with benches full of holes, and inside the holes were tanks
of air. These big tanks just made me excited, not mentioned the BCD
(Bouyancy Control Device) jackets and the hoses and the fins!

The equipments together were probably 17 or 18 kg, so heavy that I had
to grunt whenever I stand up. Surprisingly, the air tank is the most
heavy part, I guess it’s because of the thick alloy. I do have to say
that, I"m generally not someone who likes intensive equipment. I even
feel that goalball and skiing has too much of that. On the other hand,
it seems like the more equipment intiensive the more fun things are. I
wish I could just like jogging or soccer.

Upon takeoff, we each sat ourselves on the ledge of the boat, and allow
the heavy tank to bring ourselves backwards. Down we rolled!. Once in
the water, everything became virtually weightless.

Throughout the two days, we did numerous drills, but also went through
corals. Even in shallow water than hardly deeper than a person, we many
sea creatures. One of us was bitten by a little really territorial
fish, and we saw numerous other kinds of fish near that little piece of
territory it was trying to guard. The fish was yellowish white, and had
two black spots on the back. The instructor said it was a denssel fish,
very common. In one incident, me and another guy were stand back to
each other, and we each felt a tap on the back, and turned around,
looking at each other expectantly and puzzled, then I saw the lizard
overhead. It was liesurely twisting its body like nothing had happened,
and such a smooth curve it was swimming in I nearly dropped my mouth
piece.

We also saw some sea urchuns once turned upside down, they flipped
themselves right back. We also saw saw many many clown fish, very
bright and easily spotted. Once, Nev, my instructor somehow (had no
clue how) saw this flaunder flat on the ocean floor, and he carefully
dug beneath it, and it slowly started floundering, and I touched it
lightly, and it was scared and scurried off so fast, don’t know why it
wasn’t so freaked out about Nev! He’s the one with all the pirate
looking tattoos….. under the wetsuit..

We also saw what I was later told to be a sunsset rasse. It was so
pretty with glowing blue bodies and small little fins frantically
beating. It reminds me of a little child running around slapping its
arms.

Oh, one thing, we saw these long ribbons of absolutely transparent
jelly pockets, inside were black little eggs of soemthing. We couldn’t
figure out what eggs they were. They were so long, but easily broken
off into little segments. Now I really want to know what they were.

Overall, it’s been fun. We didn’t go to the really exhautic places,
because our fins were still not very well controled, and we were
kicking all over the place disturbing the luxurious existence of the
ocean.. one of these days, I’ll need to get better… if my ears don’t
pose too many obstacles.

Advertisements

June 26, 2008

mosque and state

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:55 am by changisme

So I’ve signed up for a diving course, and hoping to see some sea creatures after those jungle walks. I met this hong kong diver who’s super talkative. She told me that Bali is so much better in terms of the number of things you can see and the prices, but I kinda want to compare the difference, plus when Yoni’s doing his 4000 meter mountaineering, I might as well do something else, as I"m not so keen on going somewhere in freezing temperature at this point.

Today, I mainly relaxed after running some errands. I went to the State Library and a Catholic church. The church was large and it seemed like most of the congregation is made up of Chinese. I later on found a book in the library that says to be a Malay (ethiically, not nationally) you have to be a Muslim. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, although I understand that if you want to convert out of Islam, by law you would be executed, unless you change your mind…. so I guess.. you could be a dead Malay and a non-muslim at the same time.

Anyway, I thought about identity issues. We all want to be part of a bigger entity because we feel more powerful, and that’s our identity. However, if you are in a society that’s based on almost everyone is of a single religion, then you don’t really get an identity out of it right? Or maybe you do? Did I feel a strong Chinese identity when I was growing up in China? I guess some people must have, I didn’t. Maybe it was just my lack of imagination for what’s beyond. Religion in this country is obviously very identity based, you automatically inherit your parents religion.  I am identified by my race and heritage and not really my belief system.

When I went to the library, I picked out a couple books on Islam and Malaysia. It’s actually quite like China’s relationship with Atheism. It seems like the concensus is that Malaysia is almost an Islamic state, but tolerating all other religions. The state spends money on Islam and allows schools to teach Islamic materials, and all Muslims are governed by Syariah law while the rest of the population is not. It seems like the tension is that people want the islamization in the people, but also want to claim that the state is fair to all religions. It’s somewhat contradictory, but it seems to work. It’s like how China tolerates all the religions but the government embraces and teaches atheism.  It made me wonder if these are better or the other extreme in Canada is better. Canada basically is so afraid to touch any religions that it’s like a housewife trying to scrub a table white, scrubbing really hard, and then when she stands up she’s horrified to find it’s slightly blue, then she scrubs some more, and she stands up again, and sees that it’s slightly pink, then scrub scrub scrub and realize it’s slightly green. She becomes so afraid that people would think she’s dirty but she can nver gets her table perfectly white. I know by multiculturalism, we want the table to be celebration of cubism, but somehow I don’t think that’s what the school system at least is undertaking.

JUst a side note, the library here also isn’t very well funded, like those in Beijing. I think the libraries I’ve seen in Canada is still the best, not that I’ve seen man6y though, so I’ll find out. Yoni thinks I’m crazy to be going into a library when I’m away on vacation in a tropical country. Well.. you know the AC there was good 🙂

June 23, 2008

from Zhuhai to Kuching Borneo

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:04 pm by changisme

After Yunnan, I had a day of rest in Zhuhai, where Yoni and Jinging’s
school for work (UIC) is. It’s a beautiful campus with numerous ponds
swallowing the shadows of the thick tropical vegetations nearby and the
unique dome shaped hills farther away. It’s a more delicate beauty
compared to UBC which is also one of the most beautiful campuses I’ve
been in. UBC has way more buildings in the middle, so to enjoy the
scenery, I had to go away from the center, and the trees and waters and
mountains are generally bigger with a bigger breath. The difference is
almost parallel to the small bonedchinese beauty vs. a brave sprawling
greek goddess. Actually, I don’t know why my impression of a greek
goddess as being big and her hair flying everywhere so long as the sky
can contain… the paintings maybe?

Anyway, Zhuhai is a very nice place to live, small maybe, relatively,
but clean and near the ocean. I think it has an air of the little
satellite district my grandparents are in, a little more compete I bet.
It also has numerous university branches on the out skirt, and the bus
ride in has more tullips than traffic. I really think it’s much better
than Beijing or Guangzhou. Did I mention that Guangzhou is probably the
dirtiest place… well together with Beijing maybe. I think also that
all the chinese dietary stereotypes all came from Guangdong province.
They eat absolutely everythere… all kinds of animals and fungi, no
wonder I was bewildered that people thought Chinese people eat dogs in
Vancouver and I had absolutely no clue. In fact, all the other
provinces I’ve visited, Yunnan being one, the diets were more boring
than the western one. Anyway, eating so many different things made
Guangzhou incredibly dirty I think, very easy to contract something,
and the streets were also flown with mucky water that god knows just
washed what kind of insect. The weather is also so hot and humid that
these sewage networking the street quickly fests. urhhh.

Another thing I don’t understand about China, is that, the bathrooms
are also so incredibly dirty!!! I remember never going to public
washrooms unless I’m on the road, this trip just reminded me. They
smell so bad. I don’t understand why they can’t make it cleaner. The
put all the white decor, but the smell is just nasty. They also have
cleaning ladies, but somehow it’s not the outside that needs cleaning.
However though, when you go to individual homes, it doesn’t smell
(unless you are in the rural area I guess) As soon as we cross over
from the China side to Macau, the bathrooms have become clean. It’s
such a dramatic change… weird.

We didn’t linger in Macau, just long enough to see the streets and the
Portuguese signages. I wonder how many people actually learn portuguese
these days here. We arrived at the airport over a bridge onto the
reclaimed land. It must have been a big project to ship that much earth
over to build hotels and runway. Oh yeah, it only has one runway and
it’s an international airport. LOL I think the navigation office
probably has a pretty serious job.

The flight to Kuching, Sarawak was smooth and it took us 3 hours. I
loved Kuching as soon as I got off. The airport was a little overly
AC’ed, Maybe because most of the people who work there are muslims and
the women especially have to be fully dressed and wear the hijad. We
had a Chinese cab driver and Yoni said most of the cab drivers were
Chinese, and later on I found most of the restaurant owners too, though
the cooks and servers were usually malays.

Borneo, the part of Malaysia I’m in, has a very low percentage of
Muslims and high percentage of Chinese. They are also very segregated.
Malays in the friendly and laid back ways walk about the own business
and smile at you. The Chinese talk among themselves in Chinese even
though they know Malay perfectly well. Most of the businesses seem to
the owned by Chinese who hire the Malays. I was surprised that the
Chinese (almost all that I’ve met so far) could speak all three
languages, Mandarin, English and Malay, while Malays mostly just speak
Malay, so it was hard to do business with foreigners directly. Someone
told me that the Chinese schools were taught in Mandarin, so I wonder
how they do standard examinations.

Kuching is also a very colourful city. Buildings are in very bring
coloured blocks. Bright green, bright pink, bright red etc. The state
mosque is in pink and gold, like a fairytale! My hostel is yellow and
the mall nearby has one colour for each floor. I just refer to it as
the colourful building.

On the street, the malay people pleasantly say hi, but they only seem
to address the men, never the women. If I walk alone, people don’t say
hi, but if I walk with a guy, they would say, hello boy, so I guess not
to me. Maybe women are expected to be humble and not expose ourselves,
so even though I wear boyshorts, they just pretend I’m not exposed? I
generally feel pleasant though, because I haven’t been pushed to buy
anything or any service so far. I just need to ask for myself and they
would pleasantly respond, if they know english or chinese that is.

We went to a few museum, much cheaper than the Chinese ones even though
the standard of living is higher here. There were local children and so
forth. I’m quite angree at how Chinese entrance fees are so
unreasonable that I don’t think anyone local would bother going even
though the places were worth going (not for the money). I saw the Islam
museum and the Sarawak museum where there were animal displays and
indigenous culture displays. Aparently the indigenous people here were
very much into body art, and had lots of piercings, including the
genitals. That must have been painful.

We also visited Sikh temple and a mosque and saw a buddhist temple and
there was an indian temple as well. It was strange to come to a country
full of religion in the open from China where no religion is really in
the open. I’m still here for too short a time to actually feel the
difference in people’s everyday life. I wish I could be more relaxed
and not having to move around, maybe when I come back from Indonesia I
can, or in Indonesia for that matter.

The food here is also interesting. It’s not as spicy as Yunnan, though
always have a little hint of spiciness. The rice is grate, the grains
are always separated, not sticky like Japanese or Chinese cooking
methods. They also eat lots of sauces and seafood. In general though,
it’s a little blender than Cantonese or Yunnan food. Yoni also tried to
middle eastern food here and said it’s incredibly blend.

We went hiking in bako national park yesterday. We took a boat over.
There were mountains fading into the landscape and trees growing in the
high tide. Watre was emerald green competing with the rich forest
colour sitting above it. We met a British man of about 55 years of age,
after we disembarked and registered, we went on hiking together. The
man’s name is Mike and is from Liverpool. He’s very friendly but I was
a little annoyed that the amount of talking he did probably made us
less likely to see fast moving animals along the way. Nevertheless, we
saw lizards, big butterflies, and later on Monkeys with and without
babies hanging off of their bellies and lots of crabs in shells, as
well as three … what do you call it? The ones that are round and
flat, but with a long and thin tails. They are called sting…
something. Anyway, they were small though less than a foot in diameter.

The vegetation is also very interesting. I would have imagined in such
a humid place, all the trees would have incredibly big leaves, but
that’s not the case, some even of needles! They are not the same hard
needles as on the rockies, but softer ones. Most of the leaves are also
wax coated. I gather they get lots of sunlight here. The canopy is also
not very thick. Lots of smaller plants get to grow on the jungle floor.
We also saw some pitcher plants. There were a couple types, one grow on
tope of the trees, and they have a little lid on them, and another grow
on the foot of the trees and have no lid. Basically, they are little
pitchers that contain juices that attract insects who fall in and
drown. Literally, I guess.. you could also say that they die of thirst?

Today we are going to see the Orang utans… we might also have some
problem climbing Mt. Kinabalu, because the accommodations on top of the
mountains is said to be full. We might try to somehow find a spot
today. I wouldn’t mind going diving instead though.

June 18, 2008

eats

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:53 pm by changisme

Today for breakfast and lunch, I gotaway from the others and ate at the street side food stands. To be honest, I much rather eating in those places (so long as not for meats) and see how dirty things are, than letting people cook in some dingy back room and I sit in the front where it appearts to be relatively clean. Today I ate at where the local kids were getting their breakfast and lunch and they tasted great.
 
When I was in Shangri-la and Dali, one thing I liked about their restaurants is that, the mostly have no menu, and just have all the vegetables and shes and birds in buckets and cages right outside the restaurants, and you pick whatever you want and hwever you want them cooked. I saw those beautiful veggies and I really don’t believe people would ever need to force themselves to eat their daily vegetables if they see things like that.
 
One interesting thing is that a lot of the restaurants have no noodles at all, at least not wheat noodles. Mostly ice and rice vermacellis. Here in Lijiang, it’s more touristy and they have everything, western food also. Nonetheless, if I go to the part of town where the locals hangout, the restaurants are more limited and cheaper and from what I feel, more tasty.

June 15, 2008

down to Dali

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:53 am by changisme

So a quick note. We came out of shangri-la and down the mountain. Well, in fact, we went up and down several times, but overall, we came down from 3300 meters to 1300 meters. The scenery has changed several times. There were the alpine medows, the mountains in th clouds and he corn and Qing ke, then there’s the rice fields, which is what I love the most. We also saw parts of tripical forests and hilly areas, where hardly anything grew.
 
We came to Dali, where the Bai ethnic group resides. It’s an old touristy area, and quite boring(the old town is just like a shopping mall), but we rented bikes and rode into the country side. I chated with some locals. Aparently, the price of rice did rise, but they aren’t happy because so did the fertilizers!! It earns them more money to grow rice than corn, but rice needs more water. I asked about the specific prices and the amount of fertilizers they use for corn and rice and so on. The local I asked was very clear and detailed about these things, even thogh tey wouldn’t even know where the next dock is or how far the next village is. I feel kinda bad in a way that they are so closed up in their lives or pasentry, but on the other hand, they do know a lot of things I haven’t a clue of.
 
I also wish I knew their dialect, because it would be so much easier for me to converse with them. they don’t speak very good mandarin, and I’m worse, as I don’t speak even a little bit of their dialect.
 
One thing interesting though, here in Dali, people keep mostly milk cows, whereas up in Lijiang and Shangri-la, people kept oxens for working mostly. I don’t really know why, maybe here is more accessible to outside market and chipping dairy product is more profitable.
 
I wish I could talk to the locals a little more, the farmers seem to be pretty interested in talking because it’s the relaxing time of their year. According one of them, April and May was pretty busy. Anyway, my traveling partners either don’t knwo Chinese or don’t really understand their mandarin or don’t feel like talking to tthem. I always have to sneak my chances.

June 13, 2008

Shangri-la, the tibet outside of tibet

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:39 am by changisme

Shangri-la is the Tibetan Self-governing Region of Yunnan Province in china. It’s half way intot he sky among the alpine meadows and glacier mountains. What’s different here from other alpine meadows is probably the characteristic Chinese landscape: the meadows are all plantations. On our way to the town of shangri-la, whenever there is a valley, whenever there is a piece of meadow, there are patches of Qing Ke, corn and other crops. The climate is obiously quite harsh due to the high elevation, and the lands are hilly. Nonetheless, food is the essence.
 
When we were in a village walking around, we knocked on the door of a local household. A woman opened the door looking baffled. We asked if we could take a look inside of their home, and she said yes. There’s an old woman in side, and she’s much more relaxed about visitors. She talked a lot with us and invited us into her living room. It’s a beautiful house, with Tibetan decorations. There’s not an inch of the walls that is empty, covered either with carpets of pictures or Buddhist statues. She also told us that she’s unhappy about the young people using the agricultural lands for developments, because food is more importan. As for money, if you have more you can spend more, if you have less, you can spend less. The men were out working, and later on we found out that it seems to be the case in every household, the women stay at home with the animals and lands, and the men out working on something else, tourism probably?
 
One thing I have been quite unhappy with Shangri-la and Lijiang is that they don’t seem to understand that some people don’t eat pork. Yoni’s a jew, so we always try to find more dishes that has no pork for him. When we order something, and made sure that it doesn’ thave pork, there’s usually something that’s wrong, ham or whatever inside. I can kind of understand in a way, because when I asked our guide, he said that, the local people here mostly eat pork, because cows are mostly for working but they do sell yaks and beef. Chicken are more for eggs than anything.
 
On the plantations around here, thare are usually big wooden wracks, it took me some pains to find out what they are for. Apparently, they dry the Qing Ke (local crop) and grass there. The grass is for feeds in the winter. Another thing that’s for feed is Lima beans. It’s interesteing because we saw so many plantations for it down in the lower elevation, but we can never order it for food. The locals say that lima beans are only for pig feeds. Isn’t it weird?
 
I also wento the Lama temple here. It’s a very grand group of archichture, and there are a lot of constructions going on there too. There are about a thousand monks there. The top one is the only lama, and we went in and he touched our head and gave us a safety knot made of red strings. Our guide went in also, and he told the lama that his arm has some pains, and the lama blew a few breaths on it, and our guidesmiled. He said that his name is nongbu, and it was given to him in the temple as soon as he was born. zone other thing I really loved, was this little bell shop. It sells all kinds of copper bells, all very pleasant sounding, especially some of them made of what the owner said is called Shang Tong in Mandarin. It means the top copper. It’s really too bad that I’ll have to go downt to Indonesia and Malaysia, otherwise, I would really buy it. The sound puts me intoa  trans. It sounds like water running down fromt eh sky and like the eagles gliding through the mountain ranges. I havne’t seen these beautiful bells before in other places.
 
Another thing we found out that’s interesting: every evening, in the touristy area, ther is tibetan dance. We were surprised how many locals there are. today we fiound out, that it’s because they get paid for 400 or 500 yuan to have one person per household go and dance there. I presume is either by the goernment or by the local business. I guess it’s a good thing.

June 11, 2008

Lijiang

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:13 pm by changisme

In 1994 and 1996, there was a devastating earthquake scaled 7.7. Before that, this area was very backward but also very tranquil. The peopel here did not speak Mandarin, did not read or write and planted corn and had pigs. They were the Naxi ethnic minorities. There are four sub-ethnicities. These people were a culture of their own, because they didn’t like to communicate with the outside, unlike the Bai and Dai and Yi minorities, who were merchants and had no writing system of their own.
 
The Naxi minorities were a kingdom centuries ago. They were acknowleged by the Ming and Qing empires. Their writings looked squiglly and picture like. However, they only taught their men how to read and write them, not the girls. In addition, they were declining population, so the writing was almost lost. After the earthquake of 1994 and 1996, the government thought that tourism would be a good way to develop the erea, so many little towns were built just for the tourists to see and anthropologists unearthed the old writing and started teaching them in schools as a separate subjects, and the government started encouraging the spoken Naxi language. Now the area is quite rich, and they even have a special college now called Yunnan Cultural and Tourism College.
 
I constantly compare the feeling here with the colonial towns in Guatemala and Honduras. The two actually look surprisingly similar. The details of the architechture are different obviously, but the size of the streets, size of the town, number of hostels and bars. The only things is that those towns in Central America seemed to serve the local livelihood a little more than this town. AFterall, this whole place was reconstructed after the earthquake.  It reminds me of the earthquake in Wenchuan Sichuan just last month. Maybe they could do something similar, but they lack the Naxi (or Maya culture in the case of Central america).
 
We also walked away from the touristy city and went into a local village. That was very residential. We saw people working in the fields and the men were sitting in a circling, even a baby boy was considered a man, was being taught how to walk by the men, and the women were sitting separately. Both circles were relaxing and not in a hurry. The fields were in small plots of corn, lima beans and wheat. There was hardly anything else. The houses were mostly mud breaks and a few new ones were in gray breaks. The village was very quiet indeed.
 
We’ll go on a bus soon and leave for Shangri-la. That’s where the Tibetens mostly resides in Yunnan.

June 9, 2008

train ride to guangzhou

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:21 pm by changisme

The train ride to Guangzhou was more than a money saving option, half as much as the plane ticket. It’s also quite eye opening. I got on through the relatviely new train station from Beijing. i remember it was buit some time around 10 years ago. It was a big thing back then, but I had never been inside. It has tons of places to sell food and wide halls packed with people, more lively than the new airport. We got there through metro and then a cab, and the cab driver says that this not a very satisfactory project, it was under some kind of problem and fixing all the time. Now beijing has about 4 or 5 train station, and they are rebuilding one of them. Train is afterall theprimary form of transportation in the country.
 
My bed on the train is on the bottom of 3 bunks, and each cubicle has 6 beds in total. In my cubicle there was a young girl like me who works in Zhuhai, near Guangzhou and 3 young men who is going on a business trip for some constructive work in a golf course, and the last was a mother with a young girl of 4. The girl is so cute, with a pony tail on the top of her head,a nd she talked so much even though she was train-sick. Everybody brough dood, like cucumbers, tomatos, grapes, bowled noodles and etc… we shared all of them except probably the noodles. I loved our cucumbers, proudly, mine was the best! I hadn’t had such good cucumbers for at least 4 years! They are soooo crispy and with pointy goosebumps and yellow flowers, totally beat the soggy north american cucumbers. No wonder I stopped liking them when I left.
 
The people who take the train for this long  are usually a little different from the people I’m used to. People like my aunt would never take the train.  Chatting with them make interesting conversations. They tell history from a more Chinese angle I feel. They also have their perspective of things outside of their own world, which is very media induced. It’s not necessarily narrow, because the media since the internet era is quite informative, but you could tell, that it lacks certain aspect. It’s not to say that it’s simply that they hadn’t been to the west, even for my mother anf athers friends who haven’t been outside of the country much, they seem to get a different perspective.
 
One more thing interesting about the train ride was that, we got to see the landscape changing. Near Beijing, it was dry and more prairy like. There were large plains of golden wheat fields and hardly any mountains far far away. Tthen after we crossed the yellow river, which was surprisingly narrow and calm for a torrent season, the land became green and moist. The wheat had been harvested in this area already, vegetables or corn have been planted. The farmers on the train told me that, usually some people buy a harvesting trackter and start working for farms from the south, as the wheat ripen first there, they work their way up north for months till they hit the North Eastern Three provinces, and by then, the tractors would be on the verge of their death and they would sell them for a very cheap price, together with the money they earn in harvesting other people’s wheat, less their train ride back south, that’s who much they earn for the harvesting season.
 
This year, China also is on food shortage as to other countries. The government give the farmers more substidies than previous years. Even before this year, these farmers told me, growing wheat and rice don’t really earn you any money at all, but you get enough substities, that iyou sometimes find it worth while growing. It’s mainly because each household  o person gets so little land, and rice and wheat is just so cheap. China import a lot of rice and wheat. I wonder how much she does from Canada. This year, Australia and Berma and  Japan refuses to export these things. I wonder what the rest of the world think of this kinda… behavior, it’s really a little mean, expecially since Australia has so much land and so few people.
 
The sun set before we hit the long river, but the next morning, when we woke up, after a very comfortable sleep due to the rocking motion of the train ride, we saw the ponds and rolling hills of southern china. The little houses and rich gren leaves mde one feel that the whole place is nourished by Guan Yin’s touch. "Those stories like the White Snake has to come from place like this, " A train mate said, "If it came from Beijing, we would just have dried snake soup!"
 
So there, I arrived in Guangzhou, where it’s significantly more humid than Bejijing. It was hot even after a shower in early morning. My skin  will probably take on great texture after this.
 
The city is pretty dirty, but very lively. I met up with Ivy and Yoni at the hostel, where the bunks and bathroom were nice and clean. Most of all, we hve AC!!
 
We went to the market, where they sold all kinds of dried or fresh sea-stuff, like sea stars, sea horse, scorpians… they are all for soup  making or medicine. This is the part that the south, especially cantonese peopel, differ from the north. We don’t really have this … eating almost anything and everything type of culture, but here, oh gosh, and there are so many people bying and selling. There’re also a lot of pets right next to the exhotic eats… I had a hard time distinguishing the to be cooked turtles and the pet turbles.
 
After that,w e went to Beijing Ave, which is a HUGE shopping district. There are so many people, it’s not even funny. It’s also because it was a holiday, so people where really toes to heels. I had to really control myself not to buy anything due to my trip ahead, but it was very temping indeed. Onkay, I did buy a pair of sandles and a little magnifier, but I thought that was justified!!
 
Yoni and Ivy wanted to go to Subway for dinner. I couldn’t believe them!!!! I really couldn’t. In a food heaven like Guangzhou, you go to SUBWAY sandwiches???? Well, they are two people, and I’m only one , what can I say. There were lots of foreigners at the SUBWAY, I guess if you’re in China for long enough, you miss sandwiches.
 
On our way back to the hostel, we saw more lively streets. Small clumps of night food markets and people sitting around to get some evening coolness and socializing, thought.. the evening is not cooler according to my standards. There were people sellilng spicy food and skewers and all kinds of things. We bought some Lychi, which were pretty good.
 
Today, we are flying to Yunnan, where it’s supposed to be cooler due to the higher elevation. I look forward to Lijiaing!

June 7, 2008

tea

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:23 pm by changisme

Went to a tea house with my aunt and her friend yesterday. We stayed there for the whole day, only came out for a big of food at lunch. It was a nice place near the university my parents went to. The outer door was glass, but once we went inside, the decor was a warm air of wood. The windows were patterned only shedding dim light on the tea sets on the large table. Each little room only has one table for one group of people sitting and chatting. The place is actually not really a tea house, it’s a tea store. People drink here more for friendly chats and purchases afterwards. The owners were a young couple with a 10 month old baby, they chat with their customers, like she chatted with us for the whole day over 3 clumps of tea. We talked about all kinds of things, like children, marriage, life, earthquake, and of course tea. Pu Er tea is good in that sense, it can get you through hours without becoming too blend. I always loved it, and always try to have some when I visit my aunt. I can’t really afford it on my own. It’s actually a very sad thing, because it used to be pretty cheap, more expensive than green tea obviously, but not so much. A few years ago though, it somehow became something you can store and earn money. the price raised by 1000% or more. It’s crazy. Tea pickers from yunnan wound up picking so much fromt he trees that the tea produced in following years became blend, so they started mixing fake ones, low grade ones and so on. Some ignorant bastards even chopped down the ancient trees because the lower branches were all picked clean. 
 
I’m going onto the train in a few hours. I hope

June 5, 2008

intermission

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:57 pm by changisme

Back from my grandparents place. Their town hasn’t changed all that much. It’s because the it’s part of the south and west suburbs where the development was minimal. Both the south and the west are down wind from Beijing, so the government build all the chemical factories there. In fact, my grandparents worked in one, and my aunt is currently working in one. So, the land in these areas are not developed for commercial and residential purposes. When I went there, it’s still the same… from the 90’s, mostly. Fashion changed a bit, facilities changed a bit, but people’s habbits are still the same. On the one hand, I really like it, because people seem to retained a lot of the good things, like cycling, walks after dinner, slower pace of life… but I guess it’s really partial, I mean people do earn relatively less (though things do cost less too, like playing badminton is only 5rmb, as opposed to 6-10 times as much in the city. there’s probably also less work outside of the big factories and their research facilities. I’m not sure if it’s more in the city. I know all over the country, people who work in publically owned corporations retire when they are 55, or even sooner, just so younger peopel can have work. In the city, the proportion of people working in the public sector is a lot smaller than here, so maybe there’s that factor.
My aunt works as an editor in an academic journal, she just started it probably 2 years ago, and she likes it very much. I htink she’s quite happy, and so I was happy too. She’s always been one of the happiest people I know though. She said that she’s finally found the kind of work she loves, but she’s going to retire in a few years at the age of 53. My grandma retired when she was 55, and she learnt how to do lots of things though. I don’t think she could cook before she retired.
Another interesting thing is that, men reture older, I’m not sure what age, but probably 60 or so. Isn’t that interesting? I wonder why, because men live shorter than women don’t they? Shouldn’t they retire earlier than women?? Unless one believe that the amount of work you could do is directly related to how sexually active you are.
 
Okay, enough joking around. I’m getting ready for my grand trip! I need to pack, but I can’t find a money belt! Oh well, I’ll find something of the sort. The stores here don’t seem to have heard of it.

Next page