A Travellerspoint blog

August 2015

One more time, Macau...

I still had some Macanese money left, so I booked a table at the tourism school's restaurant for lunch. I didn't manage to get out of the hotel until noon, I was pooping so much.

When I did leave, luckily, I made it to the restaurant at 1:30 because it was one of the best desserts I ever had in my life. Lunch was only about $45 for three courses: mackerel, halibut and the dessert bar, including wine, port and coffee. Wow. The ice cream was seriously the best in my life and the chocolate cake was heavenly. Just like the cashew roll, mascarpone/strawberry cake and plum/cream cheese tart. My god... Even the coffee was better than anything I've had in a long time. It even came with hot milk!

The service was so good, it was even a little creepy. There were about six young women just standing around waiting for a fork to drop or for any need to fill. The hostess even greeted me by name (of course I'm sure I was the only foreigner expected that day) but still, nice touch. Even the man I emailed my reservation to introduced himself to me. Really nice way to spend an afternoon.

Well, that was the end of Macau, and also the end of my itinerary. I still had another week before I went home and really could not conceive of spending it all in Macau. So, I bought four bottles of wine with the rest of my money and left. I was hoping to offload them on my next hosts.

I found the bus station without too much hassle and let Sarah know I was on my way. She really was the most outspoken Chinese woman I have ever met. We laughed a lot and very loudly together all night.

She picked me up at the station and we went for late night dim sum at this cavernous meeting hall type venue. Before this restaurant, I had no idea any Chinese people ever ate after 7 p.m.

It was extremely busy and only Tuesday night. So strange. There were about 200 tables which were all full, and many of them were watching the state broadcaster on the jumbotron, in anticipation of a big military parade for national day, two days in advance. This was all that was on TV for days. It was the 70th anniversary of the Japanese leaving, so that's a good time as any for a party, I'd say.

The dim sum was great and I loaded up on water and tea, after thoroughly dehydrating myself this week with this terrible illness.

Sarah drove us back home and I fell asleep quickly once again.

Mackerel

Mackerel


Me vs. Halibut

Me vs. Halibut


IFT Educational Restaurant

IFT Educational Restaurant


Sarah and me at the big dim sum place

Sarah and me at the big dim sum place

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

Ray cancelled

I woke up and Jenny had already warmed up the sweet green bean soup from last night. I was still really sick, so it was really nice to have some. I fell back to sleep again until noon, when Jenny had to go to work. I left quickly for my next host's house, but realized I had forgotten to give her key back. I handed it to her through the holes in the front door, while she was brushing her teeth, haha.

I went to meet my next host, Ray, at a mall in the pouring rain. It hadn't stopped raining since I got to Guangdong.

Ray had recently told me that his mom suddenly wanted to stay an extra day at his house in the city, so I'd have to go elsewhere. OK, no problem, I thought. I'd get a place in Macau and leave for Yangjiang and the beach the next day.

The next message I got from him was an offer to buy me a hotel room for the night, because he made the mistake of overbooking himself. Wow. I still was feeling like crap, all I wanted to do was eat fruit and sleep anyway.

I accepted his offer just because I was so tired. He brought me to a nice place and I fell asleep as soon as he left. He came back at 9 and brought me to a nice noodle shop. I managed to eat 1/4 of my huge bowl and brought the rest back for breakfast. Ray showed me where to take the bus to macau in the morning and I went back to sleep.

Hotel in Zhuhai

Hotel in Zhuhai

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Jack cooked a lot of great food

In the morning, Jenny and I went to the city museum. Most of the rooms were closed, but there was a lot of pottery to look at, again.

She took me to see the statue of the woman in the clam shell. She saves sailors who are in danger in the storms.

We also went to see the beach and then back home, where Jack was cooking boiled chicken and sweet green bean soup for lunch. One of Jenny's friends brought her cat over for a cat party and English lessons.

I ended up falling asleep and waking up in time to help with dinner about three hours later. I was a lot sicker than I thought, I guess. I shelled some shrimp and we had stir fry and fish like typical Guangdong people. After dinner we had Bailey's and milk and talked until Jack went home.

Jenny and me at the museum

Jenny and me at the museum


Zhuhai museum

Zhuhai museum


Lady with the pearl

Lady with the pearl


Me and Jenny

Me and Jenny


The beach

The beach


The beach

The beach


Jack and Jenny at dinner

Jack and Jenny at dinner

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Crazy Scottish guy calls me a cunt

Diana seemed to be jetlagged from a recent trip to Europe. She had a weird sleeping pattern and slept most of the day.

I left her to go to my next host. She gave me shoddy directions again and I wanted to kill her again.

My next host, Jenny, met me at the bus stop she said she would be at. We went out for dinner with her English teacher, where I had some of that roast chicken you see hanging up in Chinatown. It was delicious, but later, I was sick from it, I think.

Jack the teacher was nice enough. He took us to a foreigner bar which I noticed was only populated by white men and Asian people. Where were the white women? Probably somewhere less skanky.

Anyway, we played some pool and a Scottish acquaintance of theirs spotted them and joined us for doubles. This was fine and I missed English banter, so it was fun for a bit. Until Jack wanted to play "girls and boys". He also wanted to give the women a two ball advantage. I laughed and exclaimed, incredulously, "Why?! I thought we were playing a fun game."

Mr. Scotland said "Stop being a cunt and just play how he wants."

"Excuse me?"

"Stop being a cunt. You're culturally inept and you've insulted him, now just play."

"Don't call me that. If you think you understand any culture at all, you wouldn't call me that. Goodbye."

And I handed back my pool cue, walked out and waited for Jenny to finish her game.

She found me and we went home, still flabbergasted.

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

Macau sucks

Diana's cousin and uncle drove me to the border of Macau on their way to work in the morning. That was awesome because it was so far away. I also needed to buy my ticket home ASAP, so before going to Macau, I went to the nearby train station for my ticket from Guangzhou to Zhengzhou, leaving on Aug. 5.

Some guy from Brockville, of all places, got in line behind me. He was doing his 90-day visa run, so I followed him to the other side. He seemed to know what he was doing. It all seemed so easy, but in reality, it's not. More on that later.

My first stop in Macau was Largo de Segundo, the famous black and white square with colonial Portuguese architecture. From there, I wanted to follow the "Spend a Day in Macau" plan in my Lonely Planet. It turned out to be absolutely the worst idea ever.

My map was only in Portuguese, but everyone there spoke Chinese. It was a disaster. I visited the quality museum and fort at the top of the hill behind the ruins of St. Paul's church. That was where the fun ended. I started to follow the plan but quickly got disoriented and hopelessly lost. None of the streets on my map were labelled and the signs on the streets were seemingly placed at random. Forget asking for directions when no one knows the names of the streets that you want to go to. They also don't know where the random tiny restaurants that the Lonely Planet mentions are.

Eventually, I found my way to A-Ma temple, which is named for Macau, the city's Chinese name is Ao-Men. I wanted to have lunch at Litoral, a restaurant nearby. It was easy to find, but closed for two more hours. So, I headed out to some island "villages", Coloane and Taipa, hoping they would surprise me like the ones in Hong Kong did. Nope. The two Portuguese restaurants were closed on both islands and I was getting frustrated and angry. It was already way past lunch. I just decided the food would taste better the hungrier I was and kept going.

The next stop was supposed to be the Cotai Strip of casinos, but I took one look at it as the bus rolled by and decided it was just another Las Vegas, so I gave it the skip. Everyone was picking their way through acres of construction and piles of dust and debris. Ugh.

I went looking for another restaurant in Taipa "village" from my map, the town looked tiny, but actually it was huge and even the big roads weren't on my map. I felt like crying and finally stopped in a real estate office where a really nice salesman walked me to what looked like used to be the most perfect little European restaurant in the middle of crazy China. It was exactly what I was looking for, but nope, still no lunch.

Lunch had become dinner and so I continued on my plan back to Macau. I figured I'd try to see if there was a spot at Joel Robuchon, the classiest place in town, on the 43rd floor of the Grand Lisboa casino. No, sorry, no room, not even for one person. I was literally prepared to drop $500 at that time, I was really hungry.

I checked out a Chinese restaurant across the street, but decided against it. I was in Macau for Portuguese food wasn't I? Yes, I was, I walked around some more looking for another place that no longer existed. I gave up and went back to Litoral, which had been open again for hours. It was already 8 p.m.

"Something Portuguese please!" I yelled at the waiter, exasperated, and collapsed in my chair. He brought me baked cod, that was too salty and some "green" wine. I was a little disappointed, but maybe that's Portuguese style? I don't know.

After dinner, I tried to get back to Diana's house. It took about two hours just to get back to the border. Then, it was another hour before I actually crossed it because I kept going in the wrong fenced off areas and had to walk around and find the right lines to wait in. I thought I was going to die. Really.

By the time I got back to China, it was too late for a bus, so I took a taxi to Diana's house. She texted me the directions and was there waiting for me without a very sympathetic ear.

"My cousin went and he NEVER travels. He said it was so easy!".... Yeah well, thanks for listening, lady.

Largo de Segundo

Largo de Segundo


Largo de Segundo

Largo de Segundo


Largo de Segundo

Largo de Segundo


Largo de Segundo

Largo de Segundo


Ruins of St. Paul's

Ruins of St. Paul's


Ruins of St. Paul's

Ruins of St. Paul's


Ruins of St. Paul's

Ruins of St. Paul's


Ruins of St. Paul's

Ruins of St. Paul's


Church bell

Church bell


Top of the museum

Top of the museum


Top of the museum

Top of the museum


Top of the museum

Top of the museum


Largo de Segundo

Largo de Segundo


A-Ma Temple

A-Ma Temple


Coloane

Coloane


Coloane

Coloane


Coloane

Coloane


Downtown Macau

Downtown Macau


Downtown Macau

Downtown Macau


Downtown Macau

Downtown Macau


Downtown Macau

Downtown Macau


Litoral dinner

Litoral dinner


Green wine

Green wine

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Getting to Macau

Today was the day to head out to my final destination, Macau. I have wanted to visit this special island ever since I got to China in 2013. I finally had the time, and I would finally see it. I had two hosts in Zhuhai, the city just across the bridge from Macau.

In the early morning, I went to the bus station to ask if there would be a bus to Zhuhai, thinking it was a long shot. Zhuhai is a whole day's travel away and I figured I'd have to switch in Guangzhou at some point. The train didn't leave until 4 p.m., and I didn't want to waste a whole day waiting for it.

Anyway, I was really lucky that a bus was about to leave for Zhuhai, almost as soon as I got there. I ran back to the hotel, checked out, packed and ran back to the station. The bus was still there and then we were on our way.

Somewhere in the middle of the trip a young woman asked the bus driver to stop and go to the bathroom. When he did, everyone else also tried to get off, but they were denied. Then suddenly, a small boy puked all over the bus driver. He had to clean himself up of course, so now everyone was entitled to an extra bathroom break. Ha. I was the only one who found the whole thing funny, I think.

When I got to Zhuhai, I found Diana had given me the wrong bus information, and I was tired and grumpy about it. She was really nice though, and we ate shrimp and Liaoning style food, which her uncle cooked. We watched Project Runway and went to bed.

View at Diana's place

View at Diana's place


Diana's cat

Diana's cat

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Beautiful Longnan County

I had a few hours of sleep and had to catch my next train to Longnan in the morning. Outside the hotel were some noodle places, I tried to ask for takeout, but it didn't work, so I went straight to the station instead. A man was selling hot soy milk, boiled eggs and steam buns. Breakfast of champions.

I got on the train and two stops later, I was in Longnan. A nice girl was speaking English to me, but I was too sleepy for any kind of conversation.

I caught the bus to town and got out where everyone else did. Some students were standing around looking for a bus, so I asked if they knew how to get to Guanxi fortress. Luckily, that's where they were going as well. I followed them onto the bus, and then into the fort, but they kept their distance, so I did too.

The fort was pretty interesting, but I think it's really a castle, because it was meant for one guy and his family and servants.

I liked the run down atmosphere so much better than the pristine state of many of the historical spots that I have visited in the past. It was super hot again, so I grabbed an ice cold beer for 50 cents and sat down to eat peanuts and wait for the bus.

The students were also waiting there again. I offered them some peanuts, which they declined, but they became a lot more friendly after that.

They said this was the best fort around and I shouldn't bother with the others, but I should instead go to Wudang Shan.

When we arrived back in Longnan, they showed me the bus there, which was 1.5 hours away. I figured I wasn't going to Zhuhai tonight anymore after that.

I thought it would be an easy hike, so I didn't bother putting my bag away somewhere. It took about an hour to get up, then another to get down. Should've left my bag with the ticket man.

It was another beautiful hike, and I liked the unkempt look of everything, again. The steps were a normal height, not like the tiny ones I usually see, designed for delicate high heeled shoes. While there were some women hobbling around taking photos with their boyfriends, they disappeared once I got to the sky walk at the top.

There was also a suspension bridge spanning a small canyon, but it was closed, to my disappointment. Later I reflected that I should be happy it was closed, because they found the problem before it collapsed under my feet, right?

The skywalk though, was worth the climb. My student friends gave me something that I can only describe as tofu jerky ??? so I sat down in a little cave at the top and enjoyed my snack, all alone.

On the way down, I bought a popsicle flavoured green bean (?!) and pineapple. I only waited by the side of the road for about 10 minutes before I saw the beige bus come toward me down the road. I waved it down and headed back to town, in desperate need of a shower and a sleep.

Somehow, I found a brand new hotel for 70 yuan, bought some yogurt, fruit and breakfast, then drifted off to an uninterrupted sleep. Finally.

The bus to the castle

The bus to the castle


On the bus

On the bus


Guanxi fortress

Guanxi fortress


Guanxi fortress

Guanxi fortress


Guanxi fortress

Guanxi fortress


Guanxi fortress

Guanxi fortress


Guanxi fortress

Guanxi fortress


Guanxi fortress

Guanxi fortress


Guanxi fortress

Guanxi fortress


Guanxi fortress

Guanxi fortress


Guanxi fortress

Guanxi fortress


Guanxi fortress

Guanxi fortress


Guanxi fortress

Guanxi fortress


Guanxi fortress

Guanxi fortress


Guanxi fortress

Guanxi fortress


Guanxi fortress

Guanxi fortress


Guanxi fortress

Guanxi fortress


Rice for Jeremy

Rice for Jeremy


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan GARBAGE DUMP!

Small Wudang Shan GARBAGE DUMP!


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan


Small Wudang Shan

Small Wudang Shan

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Oh the things I do for adventures

Suki's mother in law made us breakfast and we went to the train station to buy my ticket to Longnan later in the evening. She was a little confused about why I would go there, and then she made me a little confused also. This was the second Jiangxi-ite who had no idea where Longnan was and what I might do there.

There were people on Couchsurfing registered in Ganzhou, a town about two hours away, but none of them had answered me after at least a week of writing. My train would arrive at 1 a.m. anyway, so asking someone to meet me at that time on a Tuesday night was rude. I'd have to catch an 8 a.m. train to Longnan the next morning anyway. Oh well, no couchsurfing tonight.\

After coming back from the station, we all took a nap. I slept for three hours at least. I must've needed it. My alarm went off at 5:30 p.m. and we gobbled down more homemade food (including white gourd and cabbage)

My host in Zhuhai had also recently cancelled on me due to work, so I spent much of the day asking other hosts who had accepted me if they would host me still. I was lucky to find two people, Diana and Jenny. If I stayed there two nights each, that would be four nights in Macau, probably plenty.

So, today was mostly a day of sleeping, blogging and begging for accommodation on couchsurfing.

Suki had a little baby, about six months old, and everyone was absolutely obsessed with him. Suki was busy most of the time taking care of him, but that was OK because I needed some computer and nap time anyway.

I felt a little terrible for her. Apparently, in China, it's traditional for your mother in law to move in with you, after you have had a baby. She never had any privacy. Even if she was breastfeeding her son, her parents-in-law were sitting right there with her, on the bed, watching. So think about it, her husband's dad has seen her boobs many many times...

I caught the train just barely after waking up to my alarm and I quickly said goodbye. We almost had to run to the station, but we got there right on time. The train arrived in Ganzhou at 2 a.m. and I went with a woman who gave me a room for 80 yuan. She never told me there would be no toilet seat, no air conditioning, a broken mirror and a shower in a bucket though.

Suki and her family

Suki and her family


Hotel in Ganzhou

Hotel in Ganzhou


Hotel in Ganzhou

Hotel in Ganzhou


Hotel in Ganzhou

Hotel in Ganzhou

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Longhu mountain

Doreen brought me to the high speed train station for my trip to Longhu mountain. My next host was working all day, so I decided to spend the day in this famous park. That also meant that I couldn't drop my bag off at her house, so I might have to carry it all day. Oh snap. In general, I was really satisfied with the way I packed my bag. My clothes choices were not the most stylish, but at least everything was useful and nothing in my bag was inessential.

When I bought my train ticket this time, I was pleasantly surprised to see the man behind me tell off the people in front of me for cutting in line. He even yelled at me for not saying anything to them. I yelled back "I don't know!" (TEE BOO DOHNG) at him.

When we arrived at Yingtan, I noticed a couple and child getting off the train with me. They were speaking English to each other for some reason. I asked them if they were going to Longhu Shan and they said yes. Could I join them? Of course! Wow!

We got a taxi to take us to the park, which was 20 yuan for me ($4), because we shared it. Then, at the park, they found me a place to leave my bag, which was $2. That was fine. This was working out great! I bought the same ticket they bought, and we went into the park.

There was a raft ride included in our ticket, so we did that. Probably the job of raft punter is not a great one. But the difference of not having a motor on the boat was incredible. Even though there were tons of rafts going up and down the river, it was still quite silent and peaceful. The extra money for the raft trip was worth it, just to float down the river without an awful noisy motor in your ear all day. The punter told stories in Chinese that everyone laughed at.

After the boat ride, we went to see the coffins that were found in the side of the mountain. I guess the people who lived here in the olden days would put their dead relatives in coffins and hoist them up the mountain to stay, basically on a shelf, forever. Creepy or tender? I don't know.

My two friends took me out for lunch. I tried to pay but they were having nothing of it. When we went back into the park, we went to see another temple, that was restored in 1990 something so it was boring. It was the temple of the founder of a taoist sect. I don't know. In my book, it said there was an abandoned church down the street. I wanted to go see it, but my friends didn't have enough time for that, so I said goodbye to them and ambled off through the village.

I walked all the way to the end of the road but didn't see this catholic church. When I turned around to go back down a parallel street there it was! Really eerie and definitely abandoned. I looked in the crack between the locked doors and there were some pews and an altar, all in a shambles. China is so weird!

Further down the road was a really old temple, but it was almost time to meet Suki, my host, so I went back to the front of the park.

She worked right outside the park entrance, so it was no trouble to find her, and her carpool friend brought us back to the city.

I took a nice shower and we headed out for dinner, which was also paid for by my generous hosts. We walked around downtown in Yingtan for a while, but you know I hate shopping so that ended quickly and we went home to bed after I did my laundry again.

In the middle of the night, I got a random nosebleed. Gross. What else could go wrong with my body on this trip?

Me on the mini train

Me on the mini train


On a bridge

On a bridge


Punter on the river

Punter on the river


Raft ride

Raft ride


Raft ride

Raft ride


Raft ride

Raft ride


Raft ride

Raft ride


Raft ride

Raft ride


Raft ride

Raft ride


Raft ride

Raft ride


Raft ride

Raft ride


Raft ride

Raft ride


Raft ride

Raft ride


Coffins

Coffins


Coffins

Coffins


Fairy cave

Fairy cave


Cloud temple

Cloud temple


Egrets are trapped there

Egrets are trapped there


Ferry ride

Ferry ride


Ferry ride

Ferry ride


Ferry ride

Ferry ride


"Flying coffin" show

"Flying coffin" show


"Flying coffin" show

"Flying coffin" show


River

River


Temple of the Celestial Masters

Temple of the Celestial Masters


Temple of the Celestial Masters

Temple of the Celestial Masters


Temple of the Celestial Masters

Temple of the Celestial Masters


Temple of the Celestial Masters

Temple of the Celestial Masters


My friends

My friends


Church

Church


Church

Church


Church

Church

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Some big caves

I woke up too early for the 9 a.m. rendezvous downstairs with the rest of the entourage. That was fine, I got dressed slowly and tried to unstink my sandals. Note to self: Never buy Chacos again. They really suck since the last time I bought them in 2010. Ugh. They're lighter, but the plastic grows nasty bacteria. Ugh.

Anyway, we went for breakfast across the street and Doreen and her driver whisked us off to a giant cave out in the countryside. It reminded me of Vietnam. I thought the first cave was more impressive than the second, larger one. There was a Chinese guide telling stories about the rocks. These look like monks, those look like lovers. There was even a pool of "dragon saliva" which you splashed on your head to remove all your problems. What.

Why does everything have to have some shape other than a rock? Why do they all need accompanying stories? Why can't we just look at the beautiful and interesting rock formations and appreciate them as they are? I don't have all the answers in life.

For lunch, we piled back into the cars to Hongcun, where the rest of the entourage snacked on pig's feet and I mostly ate jellied tofu. We were all getting sleepy, we we were glad to get back to Shangrao finally.

Ingrid's husband picked us up and we spent a few hours at home before we were off again for dinner at a famous Jiangxi restaurant. Also, delicious again, but we only managed to eat about 1/4 of what we ordered. Then it was time for tea. We went to a super hipster tea house where we had some black tea and amazing soup for dessert. It was full of raisins, dates, nuts, longan and beans. One of my favourite dishes so far in all of China!

They told me the cold soup was only good to eat in the summer and it had cool properties in Chinese medicine, so it was good for us, especially after all the beer and greasy "hot" food we ate all weekend.

I said goodbye to the entourage and we made some loose plans to maybe go to Xiamen for the upcoming September holiday.

Some breakfast

Some breakfast


Breakfast

Breakfast


Hanxu Grotto and Lianhua Cave

Hanxu Grotto and Lianhua Cave


Lianhua Cave

Lianhua Cave


Lianhua Cave

Lianhua Cave


Lianhua Cave

Lianhua Cave


Lianhua Cave

Lianhua Cave


Lianhua Cave

Lianhua Cave


Lianhua Cave

Lianhua Cave


Lianhua Cave

Lianhua Cave


Lianhua Cave

Lianhua Cave


Lianhua Cave

Lianhua Cave


Lianhua Cave

Lianhua Cave


Lianhua Cave

Lianhua Cave


Hanxu Grotto

Hanxu Grotto


Hanxu Grotto

Hanxu Grotto


Hanxu Grotto

Hanxu Grotto


Hanxu Grotto

Hanxu Grotto


Hanxu Grotto

Hanxu Grotto


Hanxu Grotto

Hanxu Grotto


Hanxu Grotto

Hanxu Grotto


Hanxu Grotto

Hanxu Grotto


Hanxu Grotto

Hanxu Grotto


Hanxu Grotto

Hanxu Grotto


Me on a bench

Me on a bench


Lunch

Lunch


Tofu

Tofu


Wuyuan railway station

Wuyuan railway station


Fancy restaurant

Fancy restaurant


Some of the remaining entourage

Some of the remaining entourage


Fancy restaurant

Fancy restaurant


Making tea

Making tea


Eating soup

Eating soup

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Huangling village

In the morning, my clothes were still wet and still stinking. My white shirt had also become stained yellow from my sarong. Oh well. I left them on the line for the weekend, hoping they'd be better on Sunday.

We met Doreen's friends for breakfast of another bowl of Jiangxi noodles with beef. I got some sauce in my eye and it was so spicy that I couldn't even open it for a while. Doreen noticed and then everyone started to panic. They brought me to the washroom where there was only a hose and bucket for a sink.

"Oh no, too difficult," I said and ran back to my seat to avoid causing anymore panic.

When we arrived at the Wuyuan train station we were whisked away by Doreen's father's driver. Her family owns a big hotel downtown and we dropped our bags off before we headed to the Huangling village

It was an hour's drive away and I spent the day wandering around and watching the ladies take photos. I felt like I was on that TV show Entourage. We travelled around in a pack and everything was comped. We showed up at the back entrance and Doreen paid for everything.

The village was really nicely restored and the most unique part about it was that the villagers would dry their harvest in the sun on planks stuck out from their upstairs windows. They didn't have a lot of flat land, so this was their solution.

There were also two pedestrian bridges that went nowhere, and a zipline which I politely declined by saying, "I'll watch you!"

It was raining when we left, so we didn't go swimming. We had time for a nap before dinner and Doreen's friend's party. I had a bathtub in my room (luxury!) so I sat in there until the water got cold. I was just out of the bath, enjoying some complimentary green tea, when Doreen knocked on the door all ready to go.

We had a fantastic meal with green dumplings (which I had already sampled last year in Wuyuan) and my favourite of the night, pumpkin mashed up with green beans. Sounds gross, but it's awesome.

Then we went off to the party, but it wasn't much of one. Everyone was silent, laying around on the astroturf of the ultra modern home, watching some random Bollywood movie. Weird. Doreen's friends were just about to open a new hostel, so they showed us the rooms and the entourage was visibly bored, so we all left.

We drove down to the main square, where Doreen's friends rented a bike with Christmas lights on it, so they could pedal around town and everyone would look at them I guess???

Just off the square, was a beer garden doing honest to god, American style karaoke, with beer towers and everything. It was about $2 to request a song, but I had to do it anyway. The first song I recognized on the tiny English song list was Drive by Incubus. So that's what I sang. We drank a lot more beer after that and more of Doreen's friends arrived with random takeout and empty cups to fill.

We went home at about 11 p.m. again and I had a nice sleep in my hotel bed.

Rice fields for Jeremy

Rice fields for Jeremy


First pedestrian bridge to nowhere

First pedestrian bridge to nowhere


First pedestrian bridge to nowhere

First pedestrian bridge to nowhere


Observation windows in the bridge

Observation windows in the bridge


First pedestrian bridge to nowhere

First pedestrian bridge to nowhere


Observation windows in the bridge and Doreen

Observation windows in the bridge and Doreen


Observation windows in the bridge and Doreen

Observation windows in the bridge and Doreen


Rice fields for Jeremy

Rice fields for Jeremy


I don't know what this is

I don't know what this is


Rice fields for Jeremy

Rice fields for Jeremy


Rice fields for Jeremy

Rice fields for Jeremy


Rice fields for Jeremy

Rice fields for Jeremy


The village

The village


Me and the village

Me and the village


The village

The village


The village

The village


The village

The village


The village

The village


The village

The village


The village

The village


The village

The village


The village

The village


Me vs. jujube wine

Me vs. jujube wine


Jujube wine

Jujube wine


Rice fields for Jeremy

Rice fields for Jeremy


The entourage at lunch

The entourage at lunch


The village

The village


The village

The village


Flowers

Flowers


The village

The village


The village

The village


The village

The village


The village

The village


The village

The village


The village

The village


The village

The village


The village

The village


The village

The village


The village

The village


The village

The village


Flowers and rice fields

Flowers and rice fields


Flowers and rice fields

Flowers and rice fields


Flowers and rice fields

Flowers and rice fields


Flowers

Flowers


Flowers and rice fields

Flowers and rice fields


Flowers and rice fields

Flowers and rice fields


Flowers and rice fields

Flowers and rice fields


Flowers and rice fields

Flowers and rice fields


Second pedestrian bridge to nowhere

Second pedestrian bridge to nowhere


Flowers and rice fields

Flowers and rice fields


Flowers and rice fields

Flowers and rice fields


Flowers and rice fields

Flowers and rice fields


Flowers and rice fields

Flowers and rice fields


Me vs. green dumpling

Me vs. green dumpling


Me vs. beer

Me vs. beer


Doreen looking for her friends

Doreen looking for her friends


The friends who brought takeout

The friends who brought takeout


The entourage

The entourage


Some lights

Some lights


Tianma Hotel

Tianma Hotel


Tianma Hotel

Tianma Hotel

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

Back to Shangrao

The day before, Bob and I went to the bus station and a woman there told us to come back at 11 a.m. the next day for the bus to Yingtan, where I could catch another one to Shangrao to stay with Doreen again.

Before we even left, Bob got a call from the woman saying that the bus was full. Now I would have to go to Nanchang instead, way out of my way. Ugh. Luckily, Bob knew someone who went to university in Shangrao. He said we could catch another bus straight to Shangrao at the side of the highway, at one of those service stations, where they would stop for lunch.

So Bob called the company and they said that there were in fact seats on that bus, thankfully. Bob's cousin was game to drive me all the way out to the highway (At first, I thought it was close, so I was confused why we needed a ride and couldn't just take a taxi. It ended up being 30 km away!)

By then I was feeling bad because of all Bob's efforts, as well as all the distance his cousin brought me in his fancy SUV. They waited with me for over an hour and got me on the bus without any problems. It was really very kind and again, there was no way to repay them. I left feeling relieved that I didn't have to go to Nanchang anymore, but also feeling guilty that I caused so much concern to his family!

I got to Shangrao at about 5:45 p.m. and Doreen picked me up again. She paid for my dinner and even bought me a ticket to Wuyuan for the next day. We planned to go with four of her friends on the train and hang out and go to a water park for the weekend. I thought we were visiting grandma, but apparently that plan changed since I left, haha.

After dinner, we strolled around the park near her house, which has a giant sculpture of a metallic planet with clouds. There were also some propaganda tourism videos actually projected onto the planet, which showed scenes from Jiangxi's tourism board. It was quite mesmerizing and I forgot my camera, sorry.

Then, we went for a short drive to see the pagodas and the bridge lit up at night. When we got home, I washed my clothes on the "antibacterial" setting because they stunk so bad still. It took two hours and I didn't get to bed until 11!

Me and Bob in the car

Me and Bob in the car


This is a cucumber, it says "happy" on his stomach

This is a cucumber, it says "happy" on his stomach


Bob and his cousin waiting with me

Bob and his cousin waiting with me

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The reluctant hiker

I didn't want to get up all morning. My legs were shot and my stomach was churning. When I did though, Bob and his mom had breakfast ready for me. Bob kept trying to make me more enthusiastic about going for a hike with him and it worked a little bit. I definitely had told him I just needed to rest for these two days in the countryside before I went to his house. I was a little puzzled when he ignored my intentions. He was just so excited to take me there that I had to follow him, even though my calves and thighs were strained and burning the whole time. I just wanted to go back to bed.

We picked up some fruit and cake for lunch and grabbed a motorcycle to the mountain. When we got there, Bob pointed straight up into the air.

"We will climb that one," he said.

"Um, isn't there an easier oe we can do? My legs really hurt."

"Oh OK, you can go slowly."

Oh lord. I really didn't want to hurt myself anymore than I already was, but we went up really slowly and only took the easy path. We merely glanced at the ladder-like stairs toward the extreme peak of the mountain. It had signs warning people to crawl on all fours when attempting to finish the hike.

It really was a nice place and I enjoyed the day, even though I was in excruciating pain the whole time. Bob's enthusiasm for the whole outing made me keep going.

When we got back, I slept for three hours and had a trace of a fever for a while. When I woke up, Bob's dad was cooking Hakka style dinner and two of Bob's girl friends were on their way over. It was Chinese valentine's day, so the joke was that he had THREE girlfriends today. Ha...ha...

Dinner was delicious. Bob's dad made interesting "vegetable balls" and his mom made amazing smoked fish for dinner. I was really impressed! There was also some wild boar (with a bullet still inside!) that was caught by his dad's friend. It had a distinct taste, maybe like a mixture of pork and caribou???

One of Bob's friends, Amy, was really animated and spoke English with me through her amazing translator app. Bob is also an interesting person, he rode his bike across southeast Asia and showed me all his photos. Really cool!

After dinner, Bob and I took a stroll through town looking for a reputable masseuse. The one his friends recommended still seemed a little skanky to me, so I declined. Bob had never had a massage in Ningdu, so I didn't feel like being a massage guinea pig that night.

On top of the mountain

On top of the mountain


We didn't go there

We didn't go there


The ladder is in the crack

The ladder is in the crack


Dinner with the girlfriends

Dinner with the girlfriends


Me vs. Hakka food and Bob

Me vs. Hakka food and Bob


Dad, mom and Bob

Dad, mom and Bob

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

Heading down south

In the morning thankfully, only my calf muscles were in pain. But there was no way I could hike another mountain today. I figured I'd skip Longhu mountain and head down south to Ningdu, which was not in my plan, but my host recommended it and said I could stay with his parents.

I asked Bob if I could come over early. He agreed and as soon as I woke up, I headed out. A woman at the bus stop wasn't very helpful. Bob said there was no train station in Ningdu, so somehow, I found my way to the intercity bus station.

I saw a symbol that looked like that and took that bus. I arrived at some sort of bus station, but not the right one. Of course it couldn't be that easy. A man there told me how to get to the main bus station That bus indeed brought me to the correct place and I bought my ticket to Ningdu.

I really needed breakfast so I found a dumpling stall and sat down for an hour to catch up on the blog and enjoy some soup. Dumplings, how I have missed thee.

I told a friendly looking guy my legs were sore and he started giving me a massage on the street! I managed to tell him to go away with my dictionary by showing him the word for unnecessary.

Bob shouted at me from a new flashing white scooter. He was waiting for me at the drop off point. He had been to the station already and texted me in a panic, afraid I got on the wrong bus. No, it's fine, we're almost there, I wrote back.

At home, his mom had dinner waiting on the table, and as usual, I tried to help clean up, but I was denied. After dinner, Bob and I walked (very slowly, because my legs still hurt, remember) to a 600 year old pagoda and to a temple jus behind it. His friends caught up with us and we watched a Zen buddhist chanting session for a while. Bob said they were chanting phrases from the Buddhist scriptures. We went back down the river to have some street food and beers.

I felt a little sick after dinner and figured it was the soup I ate. I usually get sick from weird soup, so I wasn't surprised. After the beers and the street food, it didn't get any better. I was pacing back and forth from the bathroom to my room all night long. Perfect.

Me vs. dumplings

Me vs. dumplings


Pagoda

Pagoda


Temple

Temple


Bob's friend and beers

Bob's friend and beers

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

I killed my legs

August 18 Doreen took me to breakfast at her office cafeteria and even gave me lunch in a little container to take with me. Aw. She also gave me a huge bag of fruit. By the end of the day I had devoured all of it! After breakfast she helped me buy a ticket to San Quin mountain. There was wifi on the bus even! I thought I would hike the mountain instead of taking the cable car but the woman shook her head when I tried to only give her money for entrance to the park and not for the cable car. So I bought a one way ticket and decided to walk down. I'm still not sure whether that was a good idea or not. The cable car up was a no brainer, it would've been at least a two day adventure if I had hiked up the mountain. This park was a pretty awesome choice. It reminded me of zhangjiajje but a lot less crowded and there were more stairs. I ambled around the platforms in the mist admiring the enormous granite formations everywhere. Some of them had names like jade rabbit and fairy's finger etc. I met a nice couple that showed me the way when I almost went really wrong. It was expensive, but it was nice and cool at the top, kind of worth it to leave the sticky sauna of the city. Then I began the descent. It started out ok but soon the stairs were literally crumbling under my feet. I had started to wish I had worn shoes instead of sandals. Every so often some porters would pass me on their way up with two tanks of propane or gasoline on their backs. I guess they can't bring those up on the cable car. I couldn't imagine trying to take those all the way up, I was suffering just going down on my own with just my water and wallet with me. I passed a family going down, also having a tough time, but I felt good about leaving them behind me, because if I broke my ankle I knew I could just wait for them and they would help. After about two hours of brutal ankle torture, I was finally at the bus in time for the 4 pm departure. But Nope he wasn't leaving, I guess there weren't enough people on the bus for that. Forget the schedule! Oh China.

Doreen had a party to go to, so she arranged for one of her friends to pick me up and bring me to her house. It has a fingerprint scanner so I couldn't just let myself in.

My legs were so sore I stretched and stretched all night, washed some clothes and took a shower. I went to bed early, with my feet elevated because I was afraid of tendinitis from abusing my poor ankles.

I woke up to a bunch of drunk people entering the house. I heard someone puke and then I heard everyone leave. Doreen sounded like she was sick. How did they get so drunk it was only 9 pm!

I just pretended to be asleep, in the morning I thought I'd leave before she woke up.

Cable car ride

Cable car ride


Cable car ride

Cable car ride


Cable car ride

Cable car ride


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan


San Quin Shan

San Quin Shan

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