A Travellerspoint blog

March 2020

Nagoya for an assignment


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I took the bus to Nagoya in the morning. It was a little difficult to find at first, but I made it. I arrived at Leo Star Hostel in the afternoon in time for my assignment at Wolfgang Puck again. It was up on the 10th floor, but there was a private party going on at the time. I was almost shooed away, but I persisted and eventually got my hamburger and wings.
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I had a drink upstairs in the bar and went to bed.

Jan. 19, 2020
I had planned on checking out and hanging out in the lobby writing my report, but at 10 a.m., the owner actually kicked me out. I spent about an hour on the phone with booking.com, but there was not much they could do. The owner threatened to call the police. I packed everything up, put on my coat and hat and booked my ticket on my phone while standing in the doorway. I literally had nowhere to go. Somehow, I found the bus stop, just outside the train station. There was a power outlet and wifi on the bus, thank god, and I wrote my report all the way to Tokyo. The Willer bus was really comfortable and perfect for my "homework" assignment. It had electrically adjustable seats and small personal egg shaped pods to relax in. There was also a nice big table that I could pull down in front of me.
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Posted by baixing 11:09 Archived in Japan Comments (1)

Arrived in Japan


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We arrived in the morning at Osaka. I followed the Norwegian couple through customs and we took the subway into town together, stopping at a 7-11 for cash first. I found my hostel (Roots) quite easily and slept most of the day in my bed, I was exhausted and still sick as a dog. For dinner, I went to the top restaurant on TripAdvisor, which was sukiyaki. I didn't know I had to cook it myself, but it was pretty good, even if I burned it a little bit.

Jan. 17, 2020
I had a lot more energy in the morning, I walked to Osaka castle, which had quite an exhibit on the warlord who had built it, Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the late 1500s.
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I spent a good chunk of time at the Osaka museum.

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Then I found myself at Okonomiyaki Chitose, which had a kind of long lineup. I waited about 40 minutes for my large omelet type pancake thing, which was plopped on a hot steel plate embedded in the table in front of me. I had to eat it with chopsticks and a kind of putty knife. I sat with a nice couple from Singapore and then walked all the way home again and fell asleep immediately.
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Posted by baixing 10:28 Archived in China Tagged osaka Comments (1)

Shanghai with Emily

overcast
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When I woke up, I had sweat right through my shirt, it was really soaked and disgusting. I guess I had a fever al night. I went straight to the train station and arrived in Shanghai a few hours later. I checked into the hotel near Shanghai Disneyland around noon and tried to find a laundry service. The good news was I found one, but the bad news was that he wanted 100 yuan for one load! I went back to the hotel and the woman at the front desk gave me laundry soap and a bucket. I did a whole load of laundry by hand. I hung it up inside, hoping it would dry over the next three nights. It was still raining, it hadn't stopped since we had started our trip in Jinan.

Just after Emily arrived, we went and did one of my restaurant audits at Wolfgang Puck outside Disneyland in "Disney Town". It really was a big let down, but it was cool to see the fireworks at the giant castle.
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Horrible presentation

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A mess on the bar!

Jan. 12, 2020
I spent the morning doing my report and Emily went out to see the Bund on her own. When I was finally finished, I went to the glass museum which I had missed the first time I came. It was pretty nice, but the ticket was expensive, so I felt a little fancy with all the other fancy people spending $10 just to look at some glass.
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Emily told me via text that she had gone home, but I wanted to see the other side of the Bund from Pudong. I arrived exactly at 6 p.m. when they switched on the fancy lights on the other side of the river. I watched them all become illuminated one by one. It was pretty magical. Almost like I switched it on myself by stepping onto the boardwalk in a romantic movie. Nobody was there waiting with dinner for two and rose petals though...
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Soon however, I was cold. I headed back home again and brought Emily some soup to try and apologize for making her sick.

Jan. 13, 2020
I had the mission of trying to buy my ferry tickets to and from Japan. I found the office at about noon and was assisted by three people in the office. They told me that if I downloaded the CTrip Chinese app, the tickets would be almost half price! They sat there on my phone with me and walked me through it. So kind. I saved a lot of money because of their kindness. They told me not to tell anyone they did that, so it must be an ancient Chinese secret.

Afterwards, I figured I needed to find a train back home in February. I knew it would be busy because of the end of Chinese New Year, so I went to the train station. I found the tickets hadn't been released yet, so I booked a sleeper bus to Qingdao, that was the best I could do. From Qingdao, I guess I'd book another train later online when I would be in Japan.

The rest of the afternoon, I spent in the M50 art district, which was cool, but most of the galleries were closed on Mondays. The Island 6 Collective was open, so I spent a good hour or so thinking about their interesting digital multimedia art.

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I got back to the room, drank the rest of the wine and got super excited about my ferry to Japan in the morning. I was even feeling a little nervous for once. I didn't have a whole lot planned before I took off on this adventure, but it was happening anyway.

Jan. 14, 2020

I woke up at 7 a.m. because the people at the ferry office told me to get to the port before 9 a.m. I didn't make it until 9:30 a.m., but it was OK anyway. The two Norwegians I met the day before at the office were already there. They were smart and stayed nearby. I on the other hand needed to take three subway lines and descend into the madness of rush hour in Shanghai. I lost my poor sippy cup in the process. :( The day before, I had bought over 100 yuan worth of food for the trip. It was going to only be two days and two nights, but I guess you never know.

I stayed on the top deck of the boat until the city turned into tankers and container vessels. It was an unsightly mish mash of colours and shapes, chimney stacks and 150 ton cranes alongside giant shovels collecting unidentified ore from the boats passing through. The overcast weather made the farewell ominous and muted my excitement. I was happy to see Shanghai go. I wondered how many others have had that same feeling, as they watched the banks and office towers on the Bund slide by and out of sight, swallowed up by soupy Chinese fog.
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I had been assigned a first class cabin somehow, and had one roommate in a room with four beds. It was really lucky.
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I drank tea and ate snacks all day. I drank a lot of Chinese brandy too. I made friends with a cute Norwegian couple. We talked until very late at night the second night. Otherwise, I was just sneezing, coughing, blowing my nose and trying to finish the books I had brought. I didn't want to carry them around any longer than I had to.

Posted by baixing 08:43 Tagged shanghai Comments (1)

Nanjing with Emily

rain
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It was about 11 a.m. when I checked into the nice hotel in Nanjing's old town. I headed to the Nanjing Museum on another free share bike. It was 7 km away and a little rainy, so I guess that contributed to my subsequent illness. The museum was new and way too big for me to see everything.

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When it closed, I went to see the palace ruins and a couple of city gates on my cycle home. Emily got there just after I did, and then we went out for hot pot. There was a pig made out of soup stock that melted into the pot as we ate. So sad.

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We slept in again and then went to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial. When I first entered the building and was greeted by hundreds of photos of victims, I was overcome and immediately began crying. All of the faces, quite literally looking down from heaven were very touching. The rest of the museum was overwhelmingly informative. All the facts of the Japanese invasion were written down and proven with mind numbing detail. There was no way anyone could claim it didn't happen. Three hundred thousand victims in less than a week is astounding but this museum made it easy to see how the Japanese accomplished this exact feat. An interesting aspect of the museum was the corner for foreigners who helped smuggle letters, photos and videos about the event. I found this fascinating. The Chinese people really relied on foreigners for their message to get out. There were also a few businessmen and teachers who sheltered refugees. Somehow, the presence of foreigners at that time was a safety net for the victims. I rounded one corner and was met by a video of women recounting rape stories. To my horror, this was the most popular exhibit in the entire place. People had crowded around a tiny screen to hear all the titillating details of the countless women and girls who were raped and killed at this time. I was utterly disgusted . Is it that important to revel in these details? Why is just knowing that not enough. Why do these sick puppies have to hear about all the details? The amplification of such pointlessness subtracts from the enormity and seriousness of the atrocity.

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After seeing those curious gawkers, I could not learn anymore about this event. I strolled through the rest of the exhibits feeling numb and angry. I met Emily at the exit and we tried to warm ourselves up with a late hot pot lunch. At this point, my body had already succumbed to illness. I ached and could barely stand. We made it back to the hotel after taking the wrong bus for a bit. I thoroughly enjoyed a nice hot shower and soft, warm bed.

Posted by baixing 06:16 Archived in China Tagged nanjing jiangsu Comments (0)

Jinan with Emily

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I took the train to Jinan very early in the morning. When I arrived it was snowing with rain, like sleet. It was about 6 a.m. and Emily wouldn't be there until evening. So, I went out into the snow and got a hair cut at a trendy salon I found on Chinese Groupon. After that, I didn't want to go anywhere, so I stayed in bed all day. Emily arrived and dried out her socks and shoes on the heater. It was so wet out and she didn't have boots! We had a nice room in an old hutong with crazy Jesus and angel decor everywhere.

Here I am eating some fresh baked Chinese bread in the morning after checking in. I love it so much.

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The next day Emily went to some springs that I had already seen, and I rode around on the free mobikes, trying to get credits for parking them in the designated spots.

All of the days I travelled with Emily, we usually left around noon. It was not my usual style to get out so late, but I didn't complain about it either. Emily went to see Baotu spring and I went around using the red packet free share bikes. Later on, we went to the spa where they tried to get me to buy pyjamas again, even though I had my own. It was a Japanese style onsen with rocks outside. There was also a milk bath and electric shock bath (?!)

We left without eating dinner there. The nice lady at the hotel showed us where some nice noodles were so we had takeout for dinner then.

In the evening I took the overnight train to Nanjing and checked into our hotel before Emily got there again.

Posted by baixing 05:33 Archived in China Tagged jinan shandong Comments (1)

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