A Travellerspoint blog

October 2015

Expat Halloween

I got to Nanyang really late at night, but Jenni waited up for me. When I got to her place, I passed out on her couch.

In the morning, it was raining. I forgot to bring my raincoat, so I had to buy an umbrella at the mall next to Jenni's house. She had to work, so I went wandering around the city all day while she did that.

There is an old palace complex that was the emperor's house in the Han dynasty a long time ago, so I went and saw that. It was cold and rainy and I was getting a little miserable, but I walked around the whole place, trying to kill time before lunch. I saw some ladies singing in a choir around what I guess was a statue of the emperor, so that was neat.

Jenni had a three hour lunch, so we went and got massages and a big bowl of noodles. The massage was pretty intense, and you keep your clothes on here at the genuine massage parlours. I did not know that. I would have never found this place if it wasn't for Jenni, that's for sure. She said it's one of the oldest places to go for a massage in Nanyang.

When Jenni went back to work, I tried to amuse myself with the malls, but it wasn't happening. I bought some fruit and yogurt for us and went back home to wait. She was done at 6:30 and we had our fruit dinner before we went to have *free* beer at Cathryn's. It's bar like Helen's in Changsha, but for some reason has a different name in Nanyang.

That was all fine and good. I met a Calgarian named Daniel, but the kiwis wanted to watch some sort of rugby match. It was the world cup or something. That's when I wanted to die. The one kiwi was a complete asshole. I came here to get away from one asshole and then just came smack up against another one. Another black guy from Seattle smacked my butt and I had to tell him off. They wouldn't leave, even though they said they were going to, so I went for a walk into the night.

As I was on my walk, everyone left and didn't bother sending me text or something to tell me. One guy that was there came on his scooter to tell me that Jenni was leaving and he brought me to the taxi where she was waiting. The kiwi and the American were there and tried to get in the taxi with us! I slammed the door on their faces and went home.

Wolong Gang

Wolong Gang


Wolong Gang

Wolong Gang


Why are there distorting mirrors here?

Why are there distorting mirrors here?


Wolong Gang

Wolong Gang


Wolong Gang

Wolong Gang


Wolong Gang

Wolong Gang


Wolong Gang

Wolong Gang


Wolong Gang

Wolong Gang


The emperor?

The emperor?


Wolong Gang

Wolong Gang


Temple marketplace

Temple marketplace


Temple marketplace

Temple marketplace


Snack street

Snack street


Me and Jenni

Me and Jenni


Me and Jenni

Me and Jenni


I have been.

I have been.


The rugby match

The rugby match

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

Finally made it to Tiananmen Square

I slept for 12 hours, until 10 a.m., but didn't leave for a while, because Bear had some work to do. He brought me to his favourite noodle shop and ordered mine extra spicy because he thought I was sick for some reason and he said it would cure my dehydration headache. I don't know if it did its job, but it was awesome nonetheless. We took the subway all the way to Tiananmen Square, but when we arrived, realized neither of us had ID. Who knew you were supposed to show your ID to buy a ticket, but they took pity on us and let us in anyway.

We wandered around the ginormous spaces that were way more monumental than I imagined. It really is one of those places that must be seen in person to really appreciate.

Bear was really easy to find in the crowds because he was about a foot taller than everyone else. He also wore a silly fedora that was quite unique, so I took it for granted that I'd find him no matter what. However, at some point, he had to take a call, and I got sucked into the palace crowd. He had to go back to work anyway, and I wanted to go to the special exhibit that cost extra. They had imperial jewelry and furniture on display. There were huge jade sculptures and intricate head ornaments, etc. There was also a ceramics exhibit with lots of stuff from the imperial kiln in Jingdezhen, which I visited last year.

As the park was closing, I walked over to Tiananmen Square to see the soldiers take the flag down for the night. I was a little early, so I wanted to see the city walls, but they close the whole square off at sundown! The onlyplace I could stand was around the flag pole with everyone else. This is definitely not a place for the "people". I even saw some guards forcing a tired man to stand up. He was sitting on the ground on his map of Beijing, obviously exhausted from a day's touristing around. Pssshhhh.

Anyway, I guess I'll go back later and see Mao's mausoleum and the National Museum. I'll definitely be back at some point, I'm thinking on Nov. 6 with Dave.

It was gettting cold and I was getting tired, so I went back to Bear's home where he was preparing some delicious pork with soup and rice. I brought home some beer and dessert, but ate half of it on the way because I got lost and hungry. Haha.

I went to bed early and in the morning I braved the Beijing rush hour at 8 a.m. and made it to the train station with an hour to spare. Goodbye Beijing!

Bear vs. noodles

Bear vs. noodles


Me at forbidden palace

Me at forbidden palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Forbidden Palace

Forbidden Palace


Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square


Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square


Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square


Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square


Beijing morning rush hour

Beijing morning rush hour


My train home

My train home

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

Lunch with Ranald

I got to Beijing at about 6 a.m. and I was so out of it, I went to wait in line to buy my ticket home, even though I already had it. Halfway through the line, I realized that fact, and exasperatedly left the station for Bear's house.

I fell asleep on the subway and missed my transfer, but it didn't matter because Bear wasn't awake yet. When I got to his station, I had to call him and wake him up, but I really needed a nap. He let me sleep and Ranald called at 9 to say he was coming over.

It takes him about two hours to get across the city, so we went out for an early lunch in the "art zone" down the street. Pierce Brosnan was across the street taking pictures with random people looking miserable. I suddenly felt like I was in LA again, eating hamburgers on the patio with good beers in the sunshine.

We talked about the random stuff that happened in our lives for the last 18 months and visited a strange steampunk exhibition which was a topic of conversation a few minutes earlier, strangely. We also got caught up in some sort of music video shoot but we had no idea who the famous popstars were.

Bear was still at work when we were finished, so we walked around the hutong area till we were hungry again. We couldn't find anything really remarkable, so we settled for cold peking duck, for tourists. Not very good, but good enough, I guess. We were both tired, so Ranald headed home and I had to track down Bear before I could go home. He was at home now, so I took the subway over, but on the way I met a jazz band on their way to a gig. I desperately wanted to go but my head was about to explode from dehydration and I felt like I would pass out as soon as my head hit the pillow. I had to decline, and go home where my head did in fact, explode and I slipped into exquisite unconsciousness.

Sleeping on the subway

Sleeping on the subway


Weird steampunk exhibit

Weird steampunk exhibit


Hamburger!

Hamburger!


Weird Steampunk exhibit

Weird Steampunk exhibit


Probably a fake party

Probably a fake party


We saw some sort of music video shoot

We saw some sort of music video shoot


We saw some sort of music video shoot

We saw some sort of music video shoot


We saw some sort of music video shoot

We saw some sort of music video shoot


We saw some sort of music video shoot

We saw some sort of music video shoot


We saw some sort of music video shoot

We saw some sort of music video shoot


Beijing subway

Beijing subway


Misspellings in the hutongs

Misspellings in the hutongs

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

Sleepless in Beijing

It was time for my three day weekend again, so on Friday night, I took a train to Beijing to see Ranald and the Forbidden Palace. I set up my couchsurfing host, but apparently bought my ticket too late. Even though I was five days early, there were no sleeper cars left. I wasn't about to change all my plans, so I reluctantly bought a seat for the overnight trip.

Every Friday there are English lectures, so I went to see Charles talk about the history of English. He finished his talk early, and if I took the bus to the train station, I'd be bored, so I just walked. I had a peppy podcast episode of Podrunner, designed for speed walking. That meant I shaved off about 30 minutes from my usual 1.5 hour walking time. I celebrated with a beer and my favourite pre-train snack: spicy bean, lotus and peanut salad.

I finished my snack just in time and sat beside some very excited people who chatted me up for a few hours until they got to their stop. The rest of the time I was drifting in and out of consciousness until I got to Beijing.

Beans, lotus root, peanuts and eega pijiu

Beans, lotus root, peanuts and eega pijiu


Beans, lotus root, peanuts and pijiu

Beans, lotus root, peanuts and pijiu

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

Soooo awkwardddddd

Well, all the places I want to go would take three days, and I only have three day weekends twice a month. I really needed to get away this weekend, so I messaged a bunch of people in Henan on couchsurfing, to see if anyone was free to host. The first person that answered was a woman with no references and a blurry picture. I went with it anyway, even though the messages she sent me were nonsensical.

"I am wondering you are you Ms. Louise?"

When I wrote back that I didn't understand, she answered: "DO YOU NEED ME TO PICK YOU UP AT LY RAIL WAY STATION, that's it."

What the... I wasn't leaving for a few days still... I decided she accidentally hit caps lock and told her I didn't need a ride, and asked her for directions. She sent them, but didn't know how much a taxi would be. Really?

When I got to Luoyang on Friday night, I hopped in a taxi to the place she told me to go to. Then, when I got there, it was a dark suburban street with not much around. I called my host, Jessica and it seemed she was making excuses and trying to get me to go away.

"I have a dog and my dad is embarrassed."

"OK, but where do I go now? How do I get to your house?"

"I don't know where you are."

"!!! The place you told me to go, you can't just leave me out here!!!"

And then she finally came to get me. I said I felt like she didn't want me to stay over this weekend, but she said that I was wrong, so I believed her.

I fell asleep quickly on the soft couch, as we watched Planet of the Apes. A few hours later, I was woken up by harsh lights and the sounds of cooking. Jessica shook me and asked if I wanted to eat something. What?! I'm sleeping right now! No! She didn't sleep the rest of the night and I had random snatches of naps in between the various rackets she made doing whatever she was doing.

In the morning, I was rushed out the door and we walked to a shopping mall. For some reason, Jessica thought I wanted to eat at Burger King, but none of this was discussed until we got there. Eventually, I found a restaurant with swings for seats.

Jessica promptly started crying over some boy trouble, but I really couldn't understand exactly what had happened. She was an English major but I couldn't understand any of her phrases. She frequently would say very vague things and it seemed she was taking the Chinese "reading between the lines" thing way too far, all the freaking time. I was slowly going insane. I hope she isn't like this when she speaks Chinese. My job is making sense of nonsense all day long. I just couldn't make sense of her at all.

After that, we sat around bored in Starbucks. I bought a huge brownie to share, but she just looked at it like it was from space.

Me: "So, what are we doing for dinner?" Jessica: "I dunno." Me: "OK, so we could go to "old town", eat at home, or just go out near your house, what do you think?" Jessica: "We can watch TV" Me: "So do you want to eat at home?" Jessica: "I don't know." Me: "OK, that does not help."

Whatever... Some foreigners came in and I asked them what was going on tonight. Unfortunately, they were having a work dinner, so that was a no go also. When we left the Starbucks, she got really frustrated that the door wouldn't push open the way she pushed it. She turned and looked at me frantically, so I pushed it with a normal push and it opened. We walked back home and I had no idea what was going on still. It turned out Jessica had to charge her phone and she had no intention of eating at home, with her parents. She almost cried again when I mentioned joining them. She told me I needed to take a shower. After an awkward, shocked silence on my part, I went and took my mandated shower. I knew then, that this whole couchsurf was over. I went to bed, but she woke me up to go out.

Me: "So, are we eating out now?" Jessica: "I need some carrots." Me: "I really don't get it."

I just followed her to get carrots. When she picked them up, I asked what they were for.

"OK I won't get carrots."

What the actual hell? I had had enough of this nonsense, so I begged her to take me back to her house so I could sleep. She didn't want to. Then, she finally said she didn't want to eat at home or go home at all, because she hates her parents. My god. What are you doing inviting me into this personal shit storm of crazy? FFffFFFFffffFfFfffFFfff

I left really early in the morning, before the crazy started again. It was 6 a.m. and the bus I needed wasn't running yet. I was just glad not to deal with Jessica anymore. At the same time, I also felt bad for her. She obviously has bigger problems than I could ever begin to comprehend. However, that doesn't mean I have to stick around to hear about it though, in broken English.

Anyway, I walked all the way into town, where I was still early for the museum. There was a Carrefour on my map, so I went there for coffee, peanut butter and yogurt, which cost about $40. On the way back, I realized I didn't even look for butter and cheese. Oopsie.

When I got back, the museum was open. It's just a small one that I could've lived without, because I've seen a bigger one that was almost identical, in Jingzhou before. Even though it was underwhelming, to my surprise, an American/Canadian bus tour group was there, for what purpose, I don't know.

Once again, I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief. Did you guys really find this ancient horse carriage conveniently beside the main square in town? Or did the city grow up around it? Both those possibilities seem far fetched to me. Did you move all of these artifacts from the actual burial site to the centre of town so everyone could admire it? This seems more plausible, but isn't that really lame and weird? The signs at the museum didn't answer my questions and they weren't burning me enough to ask the bilingual bus tour guide either.

My next mission was to change my train ticket. I was tired of Luoyang and just wanted to go home. I saw a sign that said train ticket agency, so I went in there with hopeful feelings. Nope, have to go to the train station to change my ticket. So I hopped the bus, ready to leave. But it was not that easy, the next train left at 1 p.m. and it was a four hour trip. Twice as long as the first trip to Luoyang. Oh well. A bonus though, I got 10 yuan back, so I spent it on a lunch at the unusually peaceful train station cafeteria, where the food was cold and too salty, but almost vegetarian. So that was a nice change for once.

Emperor's tomb museum

Emperor's tomb museum


Emperor's tomb

Emperor's tomb


Me on the train

Me on the train


Old and slow but clean

Old and slow but clean


This is $40 of groceries ha!

This is $40 of groceries ha!

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

Jurassic Park

Today we moseyed around town, doing a little bit of urban exploration behind the giant gold Buddha park. It was 299 yuan to get in so we walked around it instead.

The whole time, I was completely terrified because Alex started walking through this dark tunnel, which had a gate on it that I thought might close on us at any time. Then, once we were through, it looked like a normal monastery, but there was giant electrified fence and everything seemed at a very large scale. I expected a velociraptor to come charging out at us at any time, afraid we had stumbled onto some secret Jurassic Park only for wealthy Chinese people and they were all there with their expensive tickets waiting to watch us get eaten. I was that scared.

It turned out fine though.

Alex went and burnt some incense with the monks and we turned around and went back out the tunnel without incident.

The next day, we had to catch our train at 11 p.m. from Hefei, so we caught the last bus out of town at 4:30 p.m. We wandered around aimlessly after getting kicked out of the room and then slept for a few hours on the bus back to Hefei.

There were more hours to kill when we arrived and so we had beers and snacks in a tent beside the train station. I thought it was alright.

I barely slept on the train back to Zhengzhou, and snoozed a little bit on the bus back to Jiaozuo. I was just thankful we didn't get stuck anywhere, and got back home on time for work in the morning.

Hotel

Hotel


Hotel

Hotel


Beautiful view

Beautiful view


Delicious dumplings

Delicious dumplings

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Jiuhua Mountain

In the morning, we went up the mountain. I got so confused trying to match the Lonely Planet with reality that we took the wrong bus a couple times and went around in a big circle. Finally, we gave up trying to hike up the mountain and took the luxurious cable car.

At the top, it wasn't far to the peak and it was real quiet up there, in between the mist and the pines. It was quite a relief to me because I was bracing myself for insane crowds like last time.

We took the stairs down and passed some more quaint temples and monasteries. It's a super Buddhist mountain, so there were a lot of serious people climbing the steps to the top with incense.

We walked around in the rain for a bit before taking the bus back down to our hotel.

Misty temple

Misty temple


Random guy I met

Random guy I met


Temple

Temple


People taking photos

People taking photos


Peak

Peak


Another temple

Another temple


Sweaty guy would not get out of my shot

Sweaty guy would not get out of my shot


Mountainsssss

Mountainsssss


Alex is scrambling

Alex is scrambling


Temple

Temple


Me on the way down

Me on the way down

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Sleepyyyyyyy

We got to Hefei early in the morning, and some guy Alex met on the train offered to help us find our way to the bus station. However, Alex told him we were going somewhere that we weren't, so this guy brought us to the wrong station... thrice. The first one we went to was actually the right one, but we went to two other bus stations because this guy was so confused.

I slept a bit on the bus, but by the time we got to Jiuhua, I just wanted to crash for the rest of the day. We went out and ordered some food on sticks.

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Crazy train

On Friday night, Alex and I took the bus to Zhengzhou. The last one left at 6 p.m. but our train wouldn't be leaving until 10. It turned out fine and we didn't need to wait very long at all. It was also not as busy as I thought it would be, nor as it was two years ago in Zhang Jia Jie.

On the bus to Zhengzhou, I freaked out a little when the bus wasn't leaving and the people at the front were getting restless. Someone kept saying "Mei guo, mei guo!"... which means "American", and I had the idea to just get off the bus in case something crazy was happening. However, since it was the last one I didn't have a choice but to stay anyway.

Nothing crazy happened, we just went to Zhengzhou like normal, and almost straight onto the train, which was packed. We couldn't even get up to go to the washroom the whole night. Once, I tried to but there were so many people all over the place I couldn't wash my hands afterwards.

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