A Travellerspoint blog

May 2014

Shenanigans

Wow this weekend was full of shenanigans. I took the train and used Ranald's phrasebook because my iPod sat in a puddle for two days and I can't get a new one until Indonesia. Actually a dictionary would be better. Anyway I was playing around with the book and made a fun friend on the eight hour ride to Guangzhou. Sitting up. Because it's a holiday. And there were no more sleeper cars available. Agh. Then, I took a bus to Quingyuan because all the trains were sold out. When I got there, it was pouring rain and I got a cheap motel room with a giant picture of people in underwear making out on it. The picture is attached for proof that this actually happened, or titillation of my readers also, I suppose. The manager of the motel told me I could just walk to the dock and get a boat to the temple I wanted to go to, Feixia. It was supposed to be dark and spooky inside, but actually I never made it. Here is the story. First, the man at the motel told me there would be a moto-taxi that could take me there for 10 yuan. I tried walking but it became complicated with spaghetti-like highways, so I hopped on the back and showed him some Chinese characters and he said 10 yuan was OK. I got off and thanked him, but then when I went to the boats, it was the wrong place. Screwed over again by a moto taxi. I asked a woman security guard from a posh apartment to help, but she wasn't any. Then, I decided to wait for the next random bus I could find. I showed a bunch of people at the dock and they said they didn't know, and THEN the coolest thing happened. There were SO MANY awesome strangers this weekend. I will tell you about more later. I just walked to the next bus stop and i was going to show the driver the paper I had from the motel, but before the bus came, this old man (stranger #1) on a bike came by slowly, just like a ghost, stared at me for a long time while coasting VERY SLOWLY. "Take..... bus...... two.....zero.....eighttttttttt." I was like, WTF is this??? and then he turned around and went back to his friends, I suppose and played mahjohng, I don't know. So, the bus came, and I got on and got to the next dock Then, these people were like "Yeah, we'll take you there, 600 yuan please." "Ummmmm....I have only 400" So I went and took the bus back and a wonderful young lady who spoke perfect English (stranger #2) told me how to get to ANOTHER dock. Then when i got there it was only group tours, so I hitched with a random group tour, but they were eating lunch before leaving on the boat. I was like... "Are you going to Feixia temple?" "Oh yes feixia temple!!!" (stranger #3) "Come with us! eat lunch 15 yuan!" (stranger #4) "Hahaha ok!" How can you say no when people are doing that? So, they charged me 15 yuan for the lunch and let me ride for free. As we were going along the plot thickened. There was supposed to be two stops and we silently glided by the first temple, I thought no biggie, I'm sure we'll stop at the second one. Nope! They boated out and TURNED RIGHT AROUND! Nobody went to go and look around at the temple, they just took a picture from the boat. The whole thing was about 30 minutes, maximum. After this, I had zero enthusiasm for staying around there any longer, or trying to hike to the temple, which also was a possibility that I learned about on the bus. I went back to the bus station, which the bus driver helped me find (stranger #5) and emailed Lisa, (stranger #6) who I would be staying with that night. It seemed like the bus was leaving at 2:30 so I told her and she said no problem, she will come and pick me up. Way too nice. Then, we didn't leave until 3 p.m. actually and I was too late for her, she had to take her daughter to the doctor. She sent me directions to her house and I waited for her outside a convenience store, maybe for 45 minutes. Not bad with an umbrella, a little table and a notepad to write out all my frustrations. Finally she came right when she said she would. I was getting anxious because her building's security guard decided to follow me around after he turned me away the first time. I was exhausted but we went out to get some food at the market and I tried to help her cook it. After dinner she showed me some of her pictures and I think I was cranky, so I just went to bed after that.

Sexy poster?

Sexy poster?


Lunch on the boat

Lunch on the boat


Nice ladies

Nice ladies


The cruise

The cruise


Feixia cruise

Feixia cruise


Feixia cruise

Feixia cruise


Feixia temple

Feixia temple


Fexia cruise

Fexia cruise


Feixia cruise

Feixia cruise


On the bus again

On the bus again


Waiting for Lisa!

Waiting for Lisa!

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Sports day race!

I ran the 3 km race at sports day, but not the whole thing because I was confused about how many laps I ran.

We had opening ceremonies in the morning and I ran my race in the afternoon. Sam and Suzanne came to cheer me on.

We are neon

We are neon


We are neon

We are neon


Shekinah and me

Shekinah and me


Matt, Sam, Shekinah, Suzanne

Matt, Sam, Shekinah, Suzanne


Our personal cheer squad

Our personal cheer squad


More cheer squad

More cheer squad


Some dancing

Some dancing


Me vs. soldiers

Me vs. soldiers

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Kaiping Diaolou

Well, the bus and train connections to Guangdong are really good, so I didn't even stay overnight anywhere this weekend.

I booked a train ticket for 11:50 p.m. leaving from Changsha and completely forgot how early the buses shut down here. I went out to the bus stop really early because I was bored and it was raining, but then I realized the buses stop at 10 p.m. A guy on a motor taxi tried to convince me to go with him to the train station, but I had a whole hour, so I figured I could walk. In the rain. Yeah, great idea. It turned out OK, I made it to the station just in time for the train, but I was pretty soaked.

I had a bottom bunk and promptly fell right asleep. When I woke up we were just about in Guangzhou. I brought a peanutbutter sandwich so that was my breakfast (all cut up into pieces because of the braces). We arrived at 8 a.m. ish and I found the bus station right away and immediately boarded another bus to Kaiping. Then, from there, I had to wander around the station asking the bus drivers who would take me to Zili Cun or Li garden. Finally I found the right bus, it was probably the worst bus I've been on yet, but it was a bus nonetheless. He dropped me off outside Li garden and as I was walking there, I noticed a path leading to Zili village, where there are more diaolou buildings.

I was reading in an article that this place doesn't get many tourists, they said 600,000 per year. Some of the destinations I have been to will get that many in a week, so by China standards, this is pretty poor. I found the infrastructure here to be lacking, and I would be able to tell them how to improve it. But they're not asking me, and probably don't have the money to do improve the public's access to the attractions anyway.

For me though, I didn't mind. However, I thought Li garden was a little unkempt for the price that you pay for the ticket. Zili village was alright though the ticket price was lower and the buildings were more impressive. Still, it was cool to pretend you were a rich Chinese immigrant who had come back home with lots of money made abroad, wandering through the grounds.

I arrived at lunch time to Li garden and ordered some tofu for lunch. Shouldn't be that difficult. Just say "dofu" and it should arrive. Plus, the table next to me already had a huge bowl of it. Nope, "mayo", no tofu.

"Noodles?" she said.

"Fine noodles." Out she comes with some shitty ramen that was stir fried with some spam or something. Ugh.

"How much?"

"Two-Eight"

"Twenty Eight for that?" My god. Just pay it whatever.

There was quite a walk in between Li garden and Zili village. I thought the pathway to the village was not marked very well, because somehow, I ended up back on the highway and walked all the way there with speeding trucks and tourist buses passing me the whole way. Later when I got there, I saw the end of the path I should have taken and it probably would have been really nice. Oops.

It was really hot and the whole time I was asking myself "This is seriously torture. Why do I do this to myself?" But then I forget these rhetorical questions when I actually arrive at my destination. You know, usually I try to just "enjoy the journey", which is not hard to do, but today however, it really really was. I think my feet were even sweating, because I started to get the same blisters I got in Cuba on that really super hot day. Note to self: When the temperature is over 35 maybe don't wear Chacos.

There was nothing along the highway except ruined houses and long grass. I stopped at the lone gas station to get a drink because I had run out long long ago. I started to get a little discouraged because I had no idea how much further down the road Zili village was, but I kept walking anyway and finally found the turn off.

From the highway, it's still a further walk to get to the front gate. I realized why no one comes to this place.

The architecture inside though, was really interesting. I'm not sure how much of the art on the buildings was authentic, but it was definitely something very different and unique to this area. It was a good trip to take, despite the confusion and intense heat.

I guess I should get used to the heat anyway, I'm going to be living on the equator soon! Agh! After this weekend, I am really frightened about that.

I found myself following a father and son pair from France. We didn't say anything to each other until we were both waiting at the bus stop to go home, and even when we did converse, I found them to be stereotypically snobby. I wish stereotypes weren't true, but sometimes you can't ignore them.

Anyway, I went back with them to Guangzhou in silence, they weren't interested in sitting near me or talking with me at all. I left the bus without saying goodbye and took the next sleeper train back home at 10:30 p.m. Twenty three hour trip! Wow!

The horrible bus

The horrible bus


Li garden

Li garden


Li garden

Li garden


Li garden diaolou

Li garden diaolou


This was a bird cage, but no birds

This was a bird cage, but no birds


Li garden

Li garden


Li garden diaolou

Li garden diaolou


Li garden diaolou

Li garden diaolou


Me vs. Li garden diaolou

Me vs. Li garden diaolou


Li garden diaolou

Li garden diaolou


Li garden "mini" diaolou collection

Li garden "mini" diaolou collection


Li garden diaolou

Li garden diaolou


Li garden diaolou

Li garden diaolou


Some old ones on the way

Some old ones on the way


Some buildings on the way

Some buildings on the way


Building on the way

Building on the way


Building on the way

Building on the way


Building on the way

Building on the way


Building on the way

Building on the way


Watchtower

Watchtower


Me vs. bean??? jelly

Me vs. bean??? jelly


Zili village

Zili village


Zili village

Zili village


Zili village

Zili village


Zili village

Zili village


Zili village

Zili village


Zili village

Zili village


Zili village

Zili village


Zili village

Zili village


Me on top of Zili village

Me on top of Zili village


Zili village

Zili village


Zili village

Zili village


Zili village

Zili village


Fang clan watchtower

Fang clan watchtower


Me on the horrible bus

Me on the horrible bus

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Sleeping on the way home

I needed more sleep so I booked a sleeper car to go back home. In the morning, I had no idea how to walk back to the metro station, so I hitched a ride with Rachelle, Lukasz and Fabiola's roommate (also from Ottawa) on a motor taxi. I had a few hours to get to the train station, so I attempted to walk. I had some delicious eggs/pork/rice noodle breakfast, and bought one of each dim sum at the dim sum shop to go for lunch. Then, I walked right past the train station and became lost. Fortunately, I found a bus going back to the station and made it in time for the train home.

Me vs. breakfast

Me vs. breakfast

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Long day in Guangzhou

I arrived in Guangzhou at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning and I hadn't heard back from Lukasz or Fabiola yet. I assumed they were still sleeping, so I went to Shamian island by myself. This was a small British enclave in the 19th century and now all the buildings have been restored and there is a nice quiet park there. Cars are restricted so it's very peaceful, especially so early in the morning.

Then, I tried to get out of the area back to the metro but I became ensnared in the most disgusting fish market I have ever witnessed. There was wet garbage all over the place, I had sandals on so I tried to avoid the mess but it ended up being impossible. People were walking around in rubber boots to avoid it themselves. The smell was horrendous. Since moving here, I have become kind of indifferent to awful smells, but this was terrible. I tried to get out, but everywhere I turned there was more garbage and more disgustingness. It seemed to go on forever and I was retching the entire time. Blech.

Finally I found my way to the metro, somehow. I had dropped my lonely planet on the subway over to Shamian so I had no idea where I was. I found a coffee shop that wasn't open yet, but they let me use their wifi. From wikitravel, I picked the top dim sum restaurant and headed over there. When I got there, oops! it's a little upscale. I had to change from my disgusting fish-smelling jeans and top into a skirt in the washroom. You could tell everyone in Guangzhou had brought their mother there today. But I was alone with my dim sum. The waitresses were nice, I just told them to bring me something for breakfast and they brought a nice tea set, which they kept refilling with hot water that was boiling continuously on the table, some real cantonese egg rolls, shrimp and pork dumplings. So delicious.

From there, I went to meet Fabiola and Lukasz on their lunch break, which is two hours long. We took a nap and then I headed out to the orchid garden. There were not many orchids, I guess it was the wrong time of year, but it was still a tropical paradise. I went over to Yuexiu Park where I had to take a picture in front of the five rams. The story is these magical rams founded the city a bazillion years ago. Then there is a monument and a memorial to Sun Yat Sen, who is the equivalent of George Washington, I guess, in China.

I went back to meet Lukasz and Fabiola for dinner (which was Sichuan, but I didn't say I really wanted Cantonese...). They brought another couchsurfer with them, Martin from the Czech Republic. After dinner I took a shower and went out wandering around with him. We missed the last subway back and had a ridiculous time getting back to Fabiola's house. Ai yi yi.

Shamian island

Shamian island


Our Lady of Lourdes

Our Lady of Lourdes


Shamian island park

Shamian island park


Shamian island park

Shamian island park


Shamian island

Shamian island


Dim sum

Dim sum


Tea set

Tea set


Dim sum

Dim sum


Dim sum

Dim sum


Orchid garden

Orchid garden


Orchid garden

Orchid garden


Orchid garden

Orchid garden


Orchid garden

Orchid garden


Orchid garden

Orchid garden


Orchid garden

Orchid garden


Orchid garden

Orchid garden


Orchid garden

Orchid garden


Orchid garden

Orchid garden


Me vs. ram statue

Me vs. ram statue


Ancient walls

Ancient walls


Ancient walls

Ancient walls


Ancient walls

Ancient walls


Ancient walls

Ancient walls


Sun Yat Sen monument

Sun Yat Sen monument


Stairs

Stairs


Sun Yat Sen Memorial

Sun Yat Sen Memorial


Sun Yat Sen Memorial

Sun Yat Sen Memorial


Guangzhou tower and opera house

Guangzhou tower and opera house

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Bee-you-tee-full

After all of crazy Hong Kong, I needed a break, so I headed out to the islands. There are amazing islands just 30 minutes from the main ferry terminal in Hong Kong, can you believe it?! It's like literally transporting yourself into the Caribbean for a while.

In the morning, I said goodbye to Nick and Ranald and hopped aboard a ferry to Lamma Island. It's the biggest and most popular of the islands, and it's paradise! The smaller islands must be even better. Wow, can't imagine that.

Anyway, there is a little trail that goes from one side of the island to the other and most people do that and go home. So, that's what I did, and of course I added some seafood to the end.

I couldn't even believe how good this fish was! Living for a year next to the ocean in Korea had nothing on this place. It was un-freaking-believable. There were a LOT of restaurants to choose from, so basically I just went to one that was only slightly busy. I sat down and the waitress said, "You want this." and it was a set menu of all different kinds of sea creatures. My kind of waitress.

"Why yes I do, thank you." and I had a delicious feast on the harbourside. Not sure what I was eating all the time but that's beside the point.

On the ferry back I chatted with some more random people, so much fun when everyone around you can speak moderate English. That would be my favourite thing about Hong Kong I believe. You can just assume people understand you, and 80% of the time it works.

After lunch, I went and found Stuart my friend from Korea at his swanky hotel. We decided I would stay there one night to relax but it wasn't to be. Ranald emailed me and told me he and Nick had a terrible time getting back home. All the trains from Shenzhen were sold out, so I decided I should go back immediately, instead of tomorrow. So, Stuart and I went to try and find the travel agent. We did, but it was closed. We had dinner and then went up the escalator that takes you to the top of this big hill full of expats and bars. We remarked that it was kind of like those popular exhibits at the zoo, where you stand on a conveyor belt so that you all don't crowd around the penguins. Except for us, we were at the drunk foreigner exhibit of the Hong Kong zoo. Very strange experience. From there, we walked back down and I hurried off to make it back to Guangzhou.

I did and finally found a hotel at 2 a.m. Pretty cheap for 80 yuan, but chock full of annoying mosquitoes. I barely slept at all and woke up with a swollen face and arm.Gah! I left around 6 a.m. for the train station. The train I wanted was leaving from the main station, but I was at the east one. So, after forcing myself around like a zombie through three transfers on the spaghetti-like subway system, I luckily managed to get a sleeper car on the train at the main station and happily dozed all the way home. I even ate in the dining car at lunch. I had some perfectly cooked fish and crazy amazing bananas that I bought at the train station. Wish I brought my camera, but my car was way too far away to justify going back to get my camera. You will just have to imagine.

One last thing: you don't even want to know how much this trip cost me. I think it was about half a month's wages. Not kidding, do not go to Hong Kong with an empty wallet.

Ferry to Lamma Island

Ferry to Lamma Island


Ferry

Ferry


On Lamma Island

On Lamma Island


Butterfly

Butterfly


The walk to the other side

The walk to the other side


Still walking

Still walking


Doggy latrine

Doggy latrine


Me on the beach

Me on the beach


First beach

First beach


There is a factory beside the beach

There is a factory beside the beach


Nice

Nice


Very nice

Very nice


Me by another factory

Me by another factory


Nice

Nice


Cool mural

Cool mural


Second beach

Second beach


Second beach

Second beach


BBQ place

BBQ place


What is that!?

What is that!?


Temple

Temple


Seafood by the seashore

Seafood by the seashore


Me vs. seafood

Me vs. seafood


Me on the ferry

Me on the ferry


Stuart's first tram ride

Stuart's first tram ride


Stuart's first tram ride minus flash

Stuart's first tram ride minus flash


Me and Stuart on the escalator

Me and Stuart on the escalator

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

My brain exploded with the intensity

I started the day off right by throwing a tantrum at the breakfast place. I ordered something I thought was too expensive and then I saw something better someone else had two seconds later that was cheaper. When I asked to change my order the waitress wouldn't let me. So, I just didn't eat it and didn't pay for it when she brought it. Bah. I DID however get a nice Hong Kong milk tea. I had heard about it many times from other people. I don't care how annoying I was, it's the damn principle. You should be able to change what you want if it's only been a few moments. Also, you should put the prices on the menu, crappy restaurant people. When I was a waitress, you know how many times I had to change people's stupid orders after I told the chef what they wanted? It's really easy to do, especially at a breakfast place, where most of the stuff is just soup and dumplings.

After that, we followed a walking tour in the Lonely Planet and saw some traditional medicinal shops. I didn't take any pictures, 1. because I think it's gross, and 2. because it's not shocking anymore to me. There were a couple cool temples we poked our noses into. Then, I had another milk tea on Possession Street, the place where England first planted their flag in 1841.

In my book, it says there is a free observatory in the Bank of China Tower, so we went up to the 43rd floor to see that, and then to the Anglican church again, because I didn't see inside last night. I had a good laugh because Ranald and Nick wouldn't leave the church without finishing the labyrinth or stopping for a cup of tea (preferably with a scone, but they didn't have any).

From there, we went to the government house, the place from where England used to control Hong Kong and now I suppose Hong Kong controls itself there.

Then, we went to the harbourfront centre, where you were supposed to be able to go up to the 7th floor and see the sunset. However, when we got there, there were only five floors. Maybe something funny happened since my book was published.

Ranald and Nick were tired again so they went back to get some curry and take a nap at the hotel. Nick's friend Jason was going to meet them to go out partying somewhere. I was not really interested anyway.

So, I went up to the Temple St. night market. Which is exactly like a Korean highway rest stop multiplied by about 1,000. A bunch of blinking lights, pop music blaring and all kinds of useless crap for sale as far as the eye could see. I was not in the market for useless crap, so I went looking for something good to eat. I found some awesome bean pudding and then some dim sum. I caught the subway home for a beer with my friends before they went out on the town.

Nathan Rd. at night

Nathan Rd. at night


One of the Mirador "mansions"

One of the Mirador "mansions"


MILK TEA!

MILK TEA!


Where to buy name stamps

Where to buy name stamps


Incense temple

Incense temple


Incense

Incense


Me vs. incense

Me vs. incense


Nick vs. incense

Nick vs. incense


Nick vs. incense

Nick vs. incense


MILK TEA AGAIN with Nick and Ranald

MILK TEA AGAIN with Nick and Ranald


Nick and post box

Nick and post box


Snack street

Snack street


Noodles on snack street

Noodles on snack street


On the tram

On the tram


Free observatory in the Bank of China Tower

Free observatory in the Bank of China Tower


Me on top of Hong Kong

Me on top of Hong Kong


Hong Kong

Hong Kong


Fancy elevator

Fancy elevator


Fancy elevator

Fancy elevator


Anglican church

Anglican church


Nick finished the labyrinth

Nick finished the labyrinth


Government house

Government house


me and Nick and government house

me and Nick and government house


Nick and government house

Nick and government house


Nick and government house

Nick and government house


GREEN subway station

GREEN subway station


Temple St. Market

Temple St. Market


Me vs. bean pudding

Me vs. bean pudding


Me vs. dim sum

Me vs. dim sum

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)