A Travellerspoint blog

Day 10: Kokkari

storm 10 °C
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Day 10: I woke up to the rain pouring down and the sea violently crashing into the beach (which is about 5 metres away from me). I waited for the rain to stop, but the wind kept blowing. I figured that my hike to Vourliotes village would be a good thing to do today, because the mountain and forest would protect me from the wind. I put a bunch of warm clothes in my bag and went out in my base layer and coat.
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My clothes system worked well and the trail was completely empty. I went up through the valley to Vourliotes, walking on a trail mostly made of broken rocks and a lot more challenging than I had assumed.
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I found myself in the village by 9:30 a.m., way earlier than I had assumed. From the village, I could see how far I had come in two hours and it was super satisfying. I looked around for anything open, but there was nothing except for a small mini mart. I decided to just buy some wine .
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(The exact wine from the winery that I wanted to go to yesterday, friends) and amble on down via the car road. I did that and soon had to pee. While I peed, I put my mittens down. When I got back up, I left them there. Ten minutes later I was cursing myself for forgetting them. I went all the way back up to the top and down and back up again, completely unaware that I had passed them three times before I actually saw them on the fourth try. Ohhhh I was real mad at myself about that. Mittens are important. I wasn't going to leave them behind, but if they are so important why did I forget them on a log!? Ugh. It was an easy saunter back down to Kokkari.

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When I got back I made some stamppot and sausages with some strange potato that may have given me cyanide poisoning, I'm not quite sure about that still.

Posted by baixing 09:51 Archived in Greece Tagged samos kokkari Comments (0)

Day 9: Kokkari

rain 10 °C
View Greece trip, 2018 on baixing's travel map.

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Day 8: I keep waiting for Greece to grow on me and I keep waiting to appreciate it but I really can't. People are miserable in general and most of the things I want to see are closed for the winter. Hmm.
Last night there was news that my ferry had been cancelled. So, I'd have to wait until Sunday to go to the Fourni Islands, which messed up my plans for my annual Christmas Skype phone call.
I went to town for the day to see the museums and church, but two out of three were closed.
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There were a lot of students at the church that day, probably for a special Christmas mass, I don't know. So that was nice. At least something was busy on the island this week.
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The museum that was open was great, full of offerings they found to the Greek god Hera. But it's a shame, how can I ever know what the other ones were like? I was really looking forward to the wine museum for tastings and picking up some local libations. Instead, I stocked up on food for tomorrow's hike at the market and then went home with a cheap bottle of wine and a takeout gyro...
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I slept the rest of the day in my room to the sound of the ocean splashing against the pebble beach.

Posted by baixing 07:04 Archived in Greece Comments (1)

Day 8: Kokkari

overcast 12 °C
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large_90_IMG_0065.jpgI managed to find the bus in the morning, it passed right by the hotel at about 7:30. I waited outside starting at 7 just in case, because I knew that it was the only one. In fact, it was pretty much a school bus. I saw a young girl walk out onto the side of the road with a backpack a few metres down the road, so I walked over and asked if she was waiting for the bus, and she said she was. Relieved, I waited with her and her friends, and then I got on the packed bus. It took me down to the port and I loaded up on breakfast and snacks for the ferry at a grocery store. Yogurt, cheese, fresh bread and oranges. I also got some cheap wine and mixed it with juice for a hobo mimosa. I found a spot beside a window in the sun and dozed all the way to Samos.
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When I got there, I hopped the next bus to Kokkari, which was at 2 p.m. and had a little bit of a difficulty finding my hotel, because I forgot to write down the phone number. Oops. But I found some random free wifi and found the number to call the owner, who brought me to her place and gave me some fresh coffee, cookies and baklava. Priceless.
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Her husband came home and he spoke better English, we talked about the weather tomorrow (it's going to rain a lot) and the weekend, and speculated on whether the ferry would leave for the Fourni Islands or not on Saturday.

I went walking around to find the trailhead and listen to the waves on the pebble beach. There were probably hundreds of cats roaming around free and a lot of them were very friendly. I sat down for a few seconds on the beach and in a matter of seconds a friendly white and orange one with a bitten off ear was climbing all over me and asking me to pet her. She followed me down the beach for a while.
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Posted by baixing 07:51 Archived in Greece Tagged samos kokkari Comments (0)

Day 7: Kambos

rain 10 °C
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Day 7: I was just following the Lonely Planet "island hopping" itinerary for a while, so it said to "hike under the shade of the mountains in the orange groves" in central Chios. I wasn't sure exactly where to go but I knew there was an orange farming museum just outside of town.

I took the bus back early in the morning and I was freezing. I decided I needed my North Face jacket. If it was this cold here, I knew it would get colder if I went anywhere north of here. And I knew I would be going north eventually. It was even drizzling a little bit as I made my way back to Theodore and my bag. I was just about dying. I put on another pair of pants, stashed a pair of long johns and put on my nice warm jacket. Now, I believed I was ready for the rest of the month.
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I bought my ticket for the ferry which was leaving the next morning. There was a city bus going out to the citrus museum in a few minutes so I took that one.

The museum was really nice, but probably better in summer. Everything here is probably better in summer. There was a big orange business around here up until 1960, when shipping technology improved and people got their oranges from further away where they were cheaper I suppose. There was a video about how the government needs to invest more money into the orange business or it will completely die. Kind of depressing but I don't know how to make a museum. I really liked the style of the well, it was powered by animals and the water got scooped from under the ground and poured into canals that fed the trees.
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There were very attractive restored mansions and other crumbling ones all along my route to my hotel for the night, Topakas House.
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It was an old farm house, and the woman who ran it was too busy even to provide me with water.
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I was not happy about that. I tried to drink boiled tap water but it tasted like salt. You can't have salty tap water and not supply people with fresh water at a hotel. She's not getting a very good review, that's for sure. She even lied about how far the supermarket was. She said it's 400 metres away but actually it's 850. Is this Greek measurement? Ugh, so bad.

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I still had some of my own water so I went for a hike down to the beach. Who did I see there, but my old pal George from the fishing port. He was not happy to see me. He quickly got in his car and drove away. I couldn't find anyplace to eat lunch besides a bakery. I bought three pastries (for lunch, dinner and breakfast). I knew I wasn't getting any breakfast at this place. And they were very good pastries anyway.

I did some laundry quickly in the machine and hoped they would be dry by the morning. I fell asleep at 5 p.m.

Posted by baixing 15:35 Archived in Greece Tagged kambos citrus_museum Comments (1)

Day 6: Mesta

overcast 10 °C
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I took the 11 a.m. bus to Mesta, after a nice breakfast with the best yogurt and three cups of pretty good coffee. Theodore spent most of the morning trying to help me figure out what is the best thing to do. He wanted to give me lots of options but it felt like he was trying to get me to change my flight for some reason. I don't think it will be too difficult to get back to Chios on Jan. 19 ish but he seemed to be worried.

Anyway, I stashed my stuff in his office and then hopped on the bus. I was pretty cold all the way there, but Mesta is a really interesting medieval town. Absolutely nobody was there though, and that meant that every single hotel I tried to stay at was closed. Finally I got a room in this fancy "castle" place. It was the only one left.

I put my bag in the room and started wandering around.

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An old man who said he used to live in Indiana started talking to me. I mentioned that I wanted to visit the church except it was closed at the moment. He told me he could find the guy with the keys, so we went to his friend's house and he left me there with this old deaf man.
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I had to scream to get him to hear me. He gave me some bread and cheese with homemade olive oil and I thought he was kind. Suddenly though, he started caressing my hair and telling me how beautiful I was. I had a knee-jerk reaction and jumped out of my seat. I sprang to the door and went back to the church. He had mentioned something about how the door might not be locked, that I should try again. So I did, and it was open.
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I went into the nice church and then wandered around some more, relieved to be away from that creepy 70 year old man. The stone walls were quite incredible and I was glad I had come here to see it, even if it was a little crazy and terrifying.

Posted by baixing 07:01 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Day 5: Chios

10 °C
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Day 5: I left the overcrowded apartment at about 11 and then pushed my bag around trying to find a hotel that would keep it for a month or so. The first place I called was owned by a grumpy New Zealander guy. He basically told me to take a hike. I started walking around in person going from hotel to hotel, gradually going up in price each time. Eventually I hit the 40 euro mark and the owner of this hotel was happy to see me and store my junky bag until I got back. There was a jacuzzi in my room and a huge balcony. Theodoro (the owner) even offered to do my laundry. I relaxed the rest of the night and attempted to decide what to do with the rest of my time in Greece.

Posted by baixing 06:59 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Day 4: Chios

sunny 15 °C
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Day 4: Oh dear god it's my day off. I went to the archaeological museum for about an hour, that was nice.
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The other museums were closed for the day, so I wandered around until I found the old Turkish baths. I thought they were still operational, so I was looking forward to a nice hot bath. However, they had already turned it into a museum. No baths since 1912. Dammit.
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In the Lonely Planet there was a recommendation to go to some sort of small port for fish. I walked around and around and finally found it. A strange old sailor man pounced on me and I'm not sure what his goal was but I'm sure it wasn't honourable. I humoured him and he ordered me a great dinner of squid and snapper, as well as an awesome Greek salad with the best feta cheese I've ever had in my life. He even drove me home and I promised I'd see him tomorrow. However that was a lie and I decided I'd quit and take the next bus out of town the next day. I had asked the big bosses at work if I could work half days from now on and they said no in their stupid read between the lines way. Forget this place. It's insane and I'm not killing myself working 10 hours a day with no break and no preparation time over some refugees, forget it.

Posted by baixing 06:53 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Day 3 Chios

rain
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Day 3: I woke up early again and made my breakfast. Some German woman came in and started talking to me about work. Seriously? Just let me relax for a goddamn minute. I tried to change the subject but it didn't work. There are seriously things wrong with these people that I can't even begin to understand.
I had morning bus duty so I went to the school to await what I thought was the bus.
No one was there until 9, even though they told me to be there at 8:45. Also no one told me a small car was picking me up and not a bus. We went to the camp where we waited amongst more creepy looking loitering refugees. We got on the bus and Cordelia began nagging at me to make sure all the kids sat down. I tried but they're out of control. Especially this one kid Memati who is decidedly autistic. He's constantly got thick green snot coming out of his nose and he screams the same words in Arabic over and over again all day. He kicks and shoves the other students, jumps on the tables and rips things off of the wall. I wanted to take a break while they had art class, so I stayed back in the class. But of course someone came around to tell me I had to do it. I sat there tired and not enthusiastic. Sitting in art class is not something mandatory for us, so no I'd rather have a break thanks. I didn't come here to be bossed around by people talking to me like I'm an idiot and telling me "it's not that bad". I need to use their language next time. I'll have to say they are "invalidating my feelings" next time I complain about being exhausted.
After art class this kid had a full on break down and injured his own foot and another kid's face. They took the two of them out of the class and I had lunch with the rest of the kids. I tried to keep them colouring some random stuff while the other two students were out getting fixed up.
Soon it was time for them to go and I took them to their bus and came back. Cordelia was going to show me what to do for the afternoon and I had enough at that point. I waited for her until 2 p.m. and she never came, so I just left. I told everyone I saw that I wasn't coming back for afternoon shift. Forget this. I'm tired. Find someone else. I'm not doing 12 hours of class time with this insanity every day.

Posted by baixing 06:52 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Day 2 Chios

sunny 15 °C
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[map=1152110 lat= lon= zoom=]Day 2: I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and just decided to stay up. I needed to do laundry already after spending two days in four airports and two hotels.
They have an interesting system in the kitchen. We all contribute 15 euros every Sunday and then we can eat anything we want in the kitchen. If someone buys something for the kitchen, they just take money out of the jar and then leave it in the kitchen to share with everyone. That's pretty ingenious.
So anyway, I made a nice turkey and cheese sandwich for breakfast and did some laundry. The laundry took two hours to do because I had no idea about how to operate it. I learned that the dial should point at 7 not 1 because 7 is the fastest and 1 is the slowest. OK fine.
Another new teacher, who is from London, but originally Singaporean, Bee, came with me to meet Martha, the big head boss, so she could explain her system to us. However, she wasn't going to be there until 11 a.m., not 9 a.m., like she told us yesterday. I excused myself, so that I could buy a SIM card for the phone I borrowed from Nick, another one of my roommates. I told him I would leave if I had to buy a smart phone. He gave me his old one.
The problem was I couldn't get WhatsApp on my iPod. It was so far the only chat program I couldn't get on there. I'm sure WhatsApp needs me to have a phone number for some nefarious data mining operation. Anyway, Nick said that it would be a "safety hazard" if I didn't have WhatsApp. I was skeptical again. But Nick solved the problem for a bit. I went to Vodafone and got the cheapest SIM card. So then I had a number and I could use WhatsApp, to make Nick and whoever else happy. I turned off all the sounds and promptly ignored all the constant chatter on the two groups for information on the school's happenings. Ben noticed me doing this and lambasted me again, accusing me of "not wanting to help" in the case that someone sent a message out in whatever crisis they might've been in at that second. I didn't reply, just turned on my heel and walked into my room. "Honestly Louise!" I heard him exclaim. He is dead to me.
The school system made a little more sense and after the meeting with Martha I went home for lunch, where I was locked out of the apartment for about 15 minutes because no one was inside. I didn't have a key and guessed I wouldn't get one until someone moved out. A bunch of people would leave soon, I hoped to get a bottom bunk and a key.
This afternoon's classes went fine. The four students were Afghani girls and Syrian boys. They got along fine and they followed the lesson well, they laughed and were genuinely curious normal kids. There were no words to describe how relieved I felt. I expected at least one of my three groups of students to be enjoyable.
I was on bus duty, so I put on the bright yellow "Be aware and share" vest and took the kids back to the refugee camp, where they live. It was about a 20 minute drive, or a brisk 1.5 hour walk. Two children puked along the way. We had to leave all of them at the gate, because we're not allowed to go inside. Their parents didn't even come to meet them. They had to make their way through the crowd of shady looking desperate adult men to their caravan or tent homes in the camp.
This night there is a group of at least 100 people (mostly men) gathered with all their belongings outside of the gate. It's a little intimidating. They are being shipped to the Greek mainland, having passed the interview with Greek immigration agents. They will be permanent residents and work towards achieving Greek citizenship in the future.
On the other side however, there were 100 more people who had just arrived in the camp this morning, leading to another fire and more drama. I'm sure it was a horrible day in the camp. None of which rubbed off on my students, but I heard people were freaking out at the high school.
I walked quickly in the cool night air back to the apartment, where Ben let me in. "Welcome to my lair," he said. "Yeah, fine, great," I answered. It wasn't long before he was singing in his stupid douchey voice with the beautiful voices of a few women playing folk songs on their guitar. I didn't fall asleep for a while because of my white hot hatred of that guy.

Posted by baixing 11:28 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Day 1 Chios refugee camp

sunny 15 °C
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[map=1152110 lat= lon= zoom=]Day 1: Jakob picked me up at the Chios airport. I had four hours of sleep at a small apartment in Athens. The Chios airport only had space for about 10 people to grab their bags on the tiny conveyor belt. My bag came to me in about 30 seconds and I waited outside with two gap year students from Norway. They would be working inside the refugee camp. They were bringing large plastic bags packed with warm winter clothes. I suddenly experienced a pang of jealousy. I wanted to bring someone warm clothes. I didn't want to sing stupid songs and play games with kids who aren't interested in what words were coming out of my mouth anyway. I wasn't sure what I could possibly contribute, but there I was, killing time before going back to China. Hoping to maybe do something good for a minute.
Jakob drove me to the apartment and I met Olive, a 50-60 ish year old American woman who warmly welcomed me to sleep on her top bunk. I also met Ben, an arrogant gap year student from Luxembourg, who would instantly get on my nerves.
A few hours later Jakob was showing me around town, giving me a tour of the various buildings that house the high school, youth centre, and my place of work, the primary school.
The basement of the school was a complete mess, with supplies and donated goods strewn around in piles and labelled boxes. There's no end in sight. Upstairs was a little more sane. My classroom is "orange" and the theme is "jungle". Other themes of the rooms are "snow", "ocean", "desert" etc.
Soon our students arrive from the refugee camp. The three boys are instantly out of control, throwing cups and toppling chairs when anything doesn't go their way. They do an art project, that they quickly rip up when they make small mistakes while decorating. The violence that they exhibit is shocking, although Jakob says it's a good thing, because it shows they are comfortable enough at the school to show their emotions at all. I am skeptical about this theory. The girls are little angels. Does that mean they're not comfortable at the school? I don't think so. Something is wrong with the culture they come from. Boys are given free reign to smash and destroy anything, but girls are confined and controlled every second of their lives. It's an unspoken truth. We all know it but no one ever mentions it.
We fed them two small meals and they went home on the bus to my relief. After that nightmare of an afternoon, I was exhausted and ready for bed.
But oh no, there was a meeting that I simply had to attend. They brought snacks of panettone and salmon/cream cheese with beer. OK fine.
The one time I did pipe up in what I thought was a brainstorming session, Ben belted out a belly laugh and humiliated me in front of the whole group. I didn't react, just decided that he was a piece of human garbage and quickly found an excuse to go home early to bed. I decided I wouldn't be participating in any other meetings this month. If that's how you treat someone who has the beginning of a tentative idea, forget it. You're on your own Ben.
I flopped into bed but there was a light shining right into my eyes from the next room. No one was in there so I turned it off myself, but it only stayed off for about two minutes... eventually I fell asleep, nothing would keep me up at that point anymore.

Posted by baixing 10:53 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Yancun and the MBA grad

overcast 16 °C
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[map=1074430 lat= lon= zoom=]It was my last trip to Wuyuan this weekend. I stopped in Yancun and secured my drafty guest house for the night. The tour groups were annoying, but it was still a nice visit. There is a 500 year old bridge, shaped like a boat.
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And I got some amazing deep fried snacks. Can't tell you what was in them, maybe carrots, corn and tofu. So creamy inside and crunchy on the outside. Delicious. I should've bought more, but I could feel just one of them clogging my arteries already.

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I got lost in the Qing dynasty era buildings, as you do.
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The view from my guest house was great, and I could understand why many film crews come here to capture life in the olden days. There are bazillions of Chinese historical dramas on TV every day. This place must be crazy in the summertime.

I took a nap in my little bed and then went down for dinner. I was pleasantly surprised to meet an endoscopy salesman who spoke perfect English. He had gotten his MBA at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He was there with a cute secretary from his office who spoke no English.

He ordered me some random food and it turned out to be thick chunks of pork fat in "preserved vegetables" with fried lettuce. Ok, great. Thanks. I was just hungry for anything, so I ate it. He also ordered me two large glasses of home brewed baijiu and a can of beer. We were having fun and laughing until the topic of American politics came up... as it does so often nowadays. The Drumpf had just finished his tour of Asia, so I guess the afterglow was still wearing off on this Chinese businessman. He couldn't shut up about how proud he is of this great president! But he's disrespectful to women? I said... well I'm not a feminist, are you? My new friend Tom replied. I didn't answer, but suddenly, I was a little worried for his secretary friend. I started to wonder what on earth a non-feminist was doing bringing his secretary to this romantic place on the weekend. Tom had perhaps noticed, because I turned to her and translated "can I help you?" on my google translate app. He got up quickly and paid for everything. I said thank you and they were gone. Yeesh, was it something I said? Oops.

In the morning, I was awoken at 6 a.m. by screaming old men and crying babies.

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I got up slowly and walked all the way back to Sikou where I could catch the bus back to Wuyuan.

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I walked over the Wuyuan bridge for the last time... goodbye Wuyuan...

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Posted by baixing 19:42 Archived in China Tagged wuyuan yancun sixicun Comments (1)

Ancient postal roads in Wuyuan


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[map=1074430 lat= lon= zoom=]I wanted to do the ancient postal road hike from Guankeng to Lijiao this weekend, but I wasn't sure when. If I went on Saturday, it might get dark, but if I went on Sunday morning, it would be raining. All the way to the trailhead, I was worrying. Would I get there too late to do it today or not? As the mini bus rounded yet another hairpin turn around yet another mountainside, I worried more. Finally, I made a bargain with myself. if we arrived before 3 p.m., I was going to attempt the trek to Lijiao before sunset, if not, I'd stay in Guankeng.

We arrived in Guankeng at 2:40 p.m. I guessed I was doing this thing that night. The trail was a medium challenge, so I cinched my lumpy, untechnologically sound backpack tighter onto my shoulders and headed up the stairs. The way up was gentle, alternating between very shallow stairs with flat grassland and humble gardens.
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Hiking by myself always makes my mind wander into strange territories, imagining all the worst case scenarios like falling off a cliff while taking a pee, or being followed by petty thieves, raped and robbed in the twilight. I remembered every single hiker story that ended in tragedy. It seems my brain has an endless capacity for retaining these narratives for moments just like these.

In between enjoying the sound of the fall leaves crunching under my feet, and the birds chirping as they went to bed, I kept one ear open for murderers watching me from the bushes. There were none of course, only a few foresters chopping down a few trees, hoisting their harvest on their shoulders, portaging their bounty downwards on the gruelling descent home. The farmers smiled and waved, toothlessly pointing straight up, laughing at a single woman trekking alone... or were they signalling to their gangster friend to attack me at the top? I couldn't decide.

Finally, I made it to the summit, and as I inched down, I could tell the sun would set in about an hour. It took at least that long to carefully pick my way in between the broken rocks that served as stairs. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be a postman, making this agonisingly delicate commute every day, delivering the vauable mail to waiting villagers. Those stairs went straight down, with no flat stretches at alll. I was glad I had started in Guankeng and not Lijiao.
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Just as the sun disappeared behind the hills, I found myself in the town.
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I saw a group of artists and some of them spoke English. They got me a room at their hotel, but I was given a peasant's meal for dinner, and not allowed the luxurious seafood chowder and roasted pumpkin the rest of the group got. I sat at a table alone with my egg/tomato, corn on the cob and cabbage. I tried not to take it personally. I was just glad I had found a room, and these kind people had offered to drive me back to Wuyuan in the morning on top of that.

Breakfast was at 7 a.m. and a nice couple from Shanghai drove me back to Wuyuan. It was so kind of them that I didn't mention that it was way too early for my regular 2 p.m. bus home.
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I shut my mouth and said thank you, and wandered around Wuyuan again. I met a nice elementary school teacher and we happened upon some singles day sales. I got a new wallet and she bought me some Chinese books for children that I was looking at. Hilarious.

My new friend also brought me to her beautiful home. She cooked lunch for me and her family. She even convinced her husband to drive me back to the bus station. It was another really great weekend in Wuyuan county.

Posted by baixing 03:49 Archived in China Tagged wuyuan jiangxi guankeng lijiao Comments (1)

Village number two, Xiaoqi


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[map=1074430 lat= lon= zoom=]The traffic getting out of the city was horrendous. They always take some obscure city street instead of the highway, which goes the same way, and flows freely. I don't know why. Anyway, I arrived in Xiaoqi in the early afternoon and went straight to "upper" Xiaoqi, because it doesn't have any stupid tourist shops.

I asked the man at the local general store if there was a hotel and he let me stay upstairs for 80 yuan. A few hours later, I also had dinner of pig's tail, spinach and radish, with a delicious bottomless cup of jujube (the fruit not the candy) baijiu. Pig's tail is not so good, but there was some tofu in the sauce that tasted like heaven.
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The store was really a great place to be for the evening, because random people kept coming into the place to buy stuff and they would stay because they were curious about me. It ended up like a big party in there, it seemed like half the village came out that night. I went to bed super early after three cups of baijiu, and didn't get out of it until 8 a.m.

I took a leisurely shower and had a leisurely coffee in my room. i set off to wander around for the rest of the morning.

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Luckily, I met a nice Australian woman who was also wandering and we wandered together. She went back to her hotel to find her husband and driver, and I went back to wandering. As I was walking, I realized that she might need my ticket into the village. She mentioned that her husband had lost his, so I went back to her hotel and they were there, still looking for their driver.

They had spent quite a while in Wuyuan, going around to different villages. They said that they woudn't need my ticket, but offered me a ride in their car back to town. Oh hurray, thanks. So I enjoyed more English chatter all the way back.

They dropped me off at the north bus station and I walked back to the bus station because it was so early. Imagine my surprise when I came across an "international" food festival. Most of the stuff was Chinese or strange interpretations of foreign food, but I got some pineapple sticky rice in a pineapple bowl. I don't remember that in Thailand, but maybe I forgot.
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A little girl followed me back to the bus station, practising her English on me and giggling to her brother, who had joined us on his bike.

Posted by baixing 03:31 Archived in China Tagged wuyuan jiangxi xiaoqi Comments (1)

The French Concession


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I was getting ready to go, at the same time as Toshi, a Japanese construction worker from Tokyo. He had been at a job interview the day before and had no plans for the day. I just wanted to see the French Concession that day, so we went down there. Our first stop was the arts and crafts museum, where people were supposed to be demonstrating their craft, but it was more of a fancy store than anything else.
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Then, we walked all the way down to the site of the first Communist Party meeting. The streets were really pleasant to walk down, so we spent most of the day just walking and walking and walking. It was great.
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At the museum, you could see the table Mao and his friends sat at to discuss the founding of the new China. Not sure it was authentic, it looked a little new to me.

This is not it, no photos allowed of the "real" table.
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Then, there was another museum next door, showing a typicaly Shikumen home. The interesting part was the small room in between the first and second floors which was often rented out to starving students and artists. Therefore a lot of famous Chinese writing was written in apartments such as these.
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We had a lunch of fruit salad in the park and then went to Tianzifang, which was an absolute nightmare.
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We left quickly for Jing' An Temple, which glitters with gold amidst the sky scrapers.
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We had dinner at a Hong Kong style place and then went back on foot to have a small party in the hostel.

Posted by baixing 02:23 Archived in China Tagged shanghai Comments (1)

All around Shanghai


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I got up early to see the Bund history museum and Yuyuan Gardens. The museum had a cool design which was underground and went in a continuous circle, but it was a lot of predictable propaganda again as well.
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Just after that, I went to Yuyuan Gardens as it opened. It wasn't early enough to beat the crowds though. While it was a nice example of a Ming Dynasty garden, it was way too crowded to enjoy properly. It wasn't peaceful at all. I did however, enjoy the ceramic instrumental group, which I had seen a few years ago in Jingdezhen.
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I watched their robotic performance and then headed back to the Rockbund art gallery which had some coo modern art. I especially enjoyedthe scientific style exhibit about Singapore. The building housed the former Shanghai Museum in the past, so it seemed appropriate to have an exhibit with old fashioned curios like that.
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There was a really nice mosaic in one of the banks depicting different trading partners of China,
90_IMG_2524.jpgso I went to see that before heading off to the "Old Town", which is gaudy and full of cheap trinkets. I saw the Temple of the Town God and the Chenxiangge Monastery. In reaity, a nunnery with an extra fee to see the golden Guanyin on the top floor.
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All the rest of the museums were closing, so I went to the Power Station of Art. You guessed it, a former power station has been turned into a huge warehouse for giant art installations.
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They had a specia exhibit by a famous Chinese pop artist. He got involved in "bio art" and became obsessed with genetics, drawing hybrid human dragon flies over and over again. This guy did some weird experiments combining the genes of corn, pumpkins and rice. The museum had actually put a field of rice and corn on display. It was pretty funny. He wanted to allow the plants to choose their own traits so he took out some genes and when they reproduced, they came out all wonky, with less chlorophyll and growing sideways etc.
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There was also another cool exhibit about a design company that builds paper homes in places devastated by disaster. There was a paper cathedral from Christchurch, a paper school from Sichuan andother small homes from other obliterated areas.
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Before going back, I stopped at a famous restaurant in the French Concession for delicious ribs and eggplant.
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Posted by baixing 02:11 Archived in China Tagged shanghai Comments (0)

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