7. You like the smell of the bus.
We spent our first two days in Yunnan in the Bai minority town of Dali a pleasant old walled city on the banks of one of Chinas largest lakes, Erhai (so named because it supposedly resembles an ear). We visited Chongsheng temple, took a trip out to the Bai village of Xizhou, and then found ourselves with an extra day on our hands. We had planned to only spend one day in Dali but the mass migration of tourists to the city caused a sudden shortage in transportation to Lijiang. Faced with the opportunity for a little more exploring, we bought a pair of chairlift tickets up the nearby Cangshan mountain range.
Posted in Humor,
Is it the characters, the tones, the vocabulary, the grammar? Anyone who has studied Chinese longer than a week will find this essay very interesting and likely very funny. For those curious about what makes Chinese so challenging to learn, read this for a glimpse.
So my wife did just that. She took the dress down to her vorite Guangzhou dressmaker, let them take measurements, and left to be back to pick up the dress in a week. She picked up the dress just a couple days ago. As expected, fine job, ir price, ready for the wedding.
Posted in Europe-China, Guangzhou, Humor, Learning Chinese,
9. Dead fish (of course)
And then I realize there is more to this scene than immediately obvious.
Then I start to think about what may have happened. In the big cities like Guangzhou, you rarely see the monks outside of their temple domain. Very rarely do you see them roaming the downtown streets. And never have I spotted one in Starbucks. The Chinese have utmost respect for these men who devote their lives to a not-so-easy Buddhist way of life. If they do see them, Chinese are quick to give them some spare change. This case must have been no different. Except the change was converted to a 40 yuan latte. One of the employees must have given these monks a coffee. After all, what would you do if Buddhas own pious disciples walked into your store looking for a little get-up-and-go?!
2. You enjoy karaoke
Following our experience in Dali, we figured we were all warmed up for the highlight of the trip a 28 km hike through the deepest gorge in the world Tiger-Leaping Gorge just north of Lijiang city. (more)
Posted in Charity, Guangzhou, Humor,
8. You find state-employed retail staff helpful, knowledgeable and friendly
Getting there from Guangzhou: 5-hour bus to Meizhou, private car (Mr. 200 ) to Yongding , stay in Yongding, bus to surrounding Hakka-style earth buildings ().
China Hostel Directory
Im at Starbucks just across the street from my house right now (trying to avoid the distractions of sitting at home doing work) and I cant help but jot down a few words (and waste some more time). At the table next to me are a pair of Buddhist monks done up in traditional drab orange tunics sipping lattes. Im intrigued. I want so badly to take a photo. What contrast! What irony! What a perfect advertisement for Starbucks (as though they need any more brand recognition). Im puzzled because these are Chinese champions of moral religious ideals prescribing to a middle way that abstains from all hedonist consumption and generally live very lives. And here they are consuming possibly one of the most expensive beverages in China (in yuan/drop) at a decidedly non-Chinese institution, a symbol of all that is conspicuous over-the-top consumption in western culture.
TIP 2 Despite what guidebooks say, check in the local town for the latest transportation/closing times.
Be sure not to miss a small gallery where you can check out creative art made from fish bones. Buy a framed one for less than 100 RMB.
These monks were at Starbucks in the name of prophesizing Buddhas teachings to the unsuspecting affluence that gathers in such places. Such was the story with the man and the card. The manager soon caught on and chased the religious men out. Gotta hand it to them for their ingenuity! Not to mention the free cup o joe! Maybe tonight Ill see them at the citys local watering hole throwing back a Guinness?
Somehow, slowly and cautiously, we managed to make our way to a massive 10-foot wall that surrounded a crop field. We waded through the low crop till the ground fell out from under us where there was an enormous crater and beyond it, a lake blocking our way. We doubled back. We headed back up the mountain, circling the crop and our way to what appeared to be the lights of the rmers house. Surely, there had to be a road leading there. As we approached the lights, we realized it was a high barb-wired fenced government compound. We low-crawled past an illuminated window trying our best to blend into the surrounding rm.
This video (and post) is dedicated to my little bro who turns blackjack today. He claims drinking is such a regular part of his lifestyle these days that this b-day has no particular significance. Even so, Im sure hes still celebrating right now. This isnt just dedicated to him because I just happened to find it on the internet on May 7, but because I know he could make aHumor screamingSushi video even more popular and even more entertaining than this already internet-mous clip. You see, hes headed to Columbia film school next semester and already well on the way to being the next Tarantino. Check out some of his amazing photos at his cebook profile. I know he also has a whole library of travel videos from a Chinese bush-whacking trip we took last summer. It should only be a short time till were posting his masterpieces on this silly blog.
10. You find western toilets uncomfortable (more)
Five hour bus to Xiamen. Stay on the island or see the post about cheap sleeps in China.
Posted in Humor, Olmsted, Travel,
In our dozen or so morning and afternoon practices weve had the opportunity to observe some of the natural wildlife on the river. Besides our 20-some-odd undulating paddling bodies, there is plenty else afloat in the Guangzhou Pearl River. The Zhujiang is technically one of a network delta where estuary waters churned by a daily tide mix fresh and salt water for a most scinating concoction. Heres a running list of some of the more interesting things weve spotted from our oversized canoe.
Information on youth hostels in China
7. Dead pig (in a sack)
Posted in Humor,
3. Condom (used)
Instead of everyday touristy photos why not shake a leg? Just do a little dance and your travels could make you mous!
We made our way around the high-mountain Chinese military base to the main entrance and slowly started to creep down the road away from the gate. Then, a ferocious guard dog threw himself at the gate snarling, spitting, barking and scaring the living duzi out of us. We scurried down the road as st as we could hoping no one would come to the gate. The dog continued to bark. He barked so persistently loud that he alerted an entire pack of stray and wild dogs down the trail. They rose and approached the road a raucous racket. We kept our eyes straight ahead and moved as st as we could awaHumory from their growls.
6. Dead chicken
Im bummed I never got a picture!
Along the way, we gave up the idea of ever it back to take the chairlift. We figured we might make it in time for the cablecar. Our guidebook also mentioned the option to take horses or even hike any of many trails that scale the mountain. Once wed seen the lls, it was 6:30. We had seen another couple coming down just as we were climbing up to the highest of the 9 pools. They were probably 20 minutes or so ahead of us. Upon returning to the main trail, we stopped to chat with a local woman who makes a living selling food and drinks to starving and thirsty hikers. She explained to us that both mechanized means of returning down the mountain were now closed. She recommended that we hike back a couple km and take the horse trail back down. The couple before us, fortunately, had hired horses that were waiting for them at this junction. We set out for the trail. The lady informed us that it would start getting dark at about 7:30. We knew we had to hurry.
4. Dead rat (large and bloated)
Several minutes later, one of the employees approaches the monks. She indicates that they must leave. They argue quietly with her. The younger monk insists that she sit down and chat. She ignores them and scurries to a back room. The younger monk jumps up and pursues her going through the employee-only door. He returns empty-handed. Both monks get up and leave.
5. Dead turtle
4. The China Daily is your source for hard hitting, st breaking,new york asian escort investigative journalism
The road eventually lead past another gate guard (who we snuck past as he was asleep at his post) and then in the back of Dali University! We approached two young female students (who I am sure would have run away at seeing my haggled self if it hadnt been for AMD) and asked them how to get to the main gate. 10 minutes later and we had the university guardman call us a cab that took us back to Dali.
8. Dead dog (missing front legs and head) + dead chihuahua
11. People swimming (yes, many of them we regularly steer to avoid them oh and theyre still alive)
Then I remember I may have seen these monks before. I saw some in the supermarket. AMD says shes seen them taking the elevator in our apartment building! I wonder whats really going on here?!
3. You walk backwards in the park listening to a transistor radio
Be sure not to miss the crowded beach on the island off the coast of Xiamen indeed a sight to be seen during the May holiday. The number of sheer people on the shore makes you forget theres sand. All sorts of activities for sale paddle boats, kayaks, jet skis and of course these huge human hamster balls!
Theres a young monk paired with an older monk. All of a sudden, a fellow Starbucks patron (Chinese) approaches and asks a question I cannot hear. He then goes to move back to his seat and the younger monk motions for him to sit down. They have an unintelligible conversation. The Chinese man puts his hands together, mumbles, and bows countless times to the monks words. The monk pulls out his wallet (I didnt know they had those) and hands the man a little gold card. Ive seen them before and believe it to be a small inscribed tablet with some holy words on it. Or it could be a VIP card for the Bank of Monks. The man bows profusely again and then leaves.
We packed some warm clothes knowing the mountain would be a bit chillier than the Erhai valley below. It was about 3:00pm. We figured we may as well spend a few hours hiking around on the mountains well-marked trails till the chairlift closed at 6:30. To our surprise, when we arrived at the top, the lift operators informed us that the lift would close that day at 5:30. We had a little over two hours to cover whatever we could along the 8 km trail that ran between the lift and another cable car on the other side of the mountain. We set off for the 9 Dragon Lady Pools i.e. a watell.
A remarkable thing happened today that warrants just a quick post. Quick background my sister is getting married on July 14 to a swell dude back ye ole Ohio, USA. My wife is one of her bridesmaids. Rather than take a $1500 trip to the US to try on her bridesmaid dress (all the maids are donning the same dress), my sister opted to just send us the dress and we could get it altered in China for $25. Good deal.
9. You no longer need tissues to blow your nose
Any seasoned hiker would be getting nervous at this point. The horse trail was exactly that. A steep, rocky, slippery, meandering mud crevice meant for creatures with four legs and thick hooves. We clambered down in the twilight. Temperatures dropped and we donned our fleece jackets. Then the trail split into two trails. Squinting through the dark forest, we picked what appeared to be the more worn trail. Then it split again and again and again till it was too dark to tell nor care which one was the actual trail. The horse trail at one point merged with a stream and we found ourselves slipping and sliding down a muddy slope hanging on to the high grass as we continuously wiped each other out.
10. Woman bathing (old and naked)
If you ever get the chance to train for the dragon boat competitions in China, its great fun to get out on the river. The air flows freely, the water refreshingly splashing in your ce, and dramatic weather swirls overhead ntastic sunsets, ferocious storms, and beaming sunlight. Its really a great workout and a nice way to see a different perspective of China. Nothing quite like training for the traditional southern China duanwu festival.
Posted in Chinese MBA, Dragon Boating, Guangzhou, Humor,
6. All white people look the same to you
Soon it was completely dark and wed been tripping and sliding down the mountain for almost two hours. As we struggled to find anything that resembled a trail till we managed to lose any trace of a path altogether. We flailed our arms grabbing anything to keep our slick running shoes from slipping. We grasped trees, thorn bushes, each other, and then I grabbed a wall! There in the middle of this dark, thick forest was a wall made of stone at about waist height. All around it was cubic in form and curved on top. I peered closer straining to see through the starlight. It was a gravestone. I looked around. We were sliding down this mountain through a sprawling hillside graveyard.
Youth Hostel Association of China
Were starting a series on great weekend trips from Guangzhou. You live in the city for a while and you soon see everything there is to do in Guangzhou proper. You need a little escape. Weve seen some things and traveled some places close to Guangzhou that typically get left out of the guidebooks. Here is a recent extended weekend trip we recently took up to Fujian province. Easily a half-day train or 5-hour bus ride away. Here are some tips. If you really are interested in copying parts of this trip, let us know.
My wife was back yesterday in the same tailor district on some other business. She passed by the store and glanced in the window. There, proudly displayed on the store window mannequin, was an exact copy of my sisters bridesmaid dress! The store had apparently assumed my wifes order to be the latest in overseas shion. In standard Chinese style they just did up a quick imitation. Just think, my sister may singlehandedly be responsible for introducing a new western shion to the Chinese market! Look for it soon on the Shanghai shion runway! Should only be a couple weeks till the new import design hits US shores as the latest Walmart special.
Xiamen youth hostel
Romantic private cottages overlooking water with views of Taiwan on gulangyu island Haoyue Park
TIP 1 When hiking in the afternoon, bring a flashlight (I ended up using the luminescence of my cell phone touch screen).
We stocked up on Chinese camping gear prior to our departure intending to save a few yuan on hotels and spend a few days in the wilderness. Unfortunately in China, youre never too r from civilization. Regardless, we managed a rather unforgettable trip see photos here (sorry if youre trying to access these photos from China Flickr is STILL blocked but you can download a plugin for Firefox that gets around that). Based on the stories below, we offer up several tips for those that are considering similar backpacking, hiking, or otherwise outdoor adventure trips in China.
Tips for Chinese camping, hiking, and outdoor adventure
Just back from an action-packed high-adventure trip in Chinas SW Yunnan province. The geographically isolated province is known for its varied minority cultures and stunning mountain scenery. We went there with the intention of experiencing both. The entire country has the first week of October off every year. The holiday doesnt really have any historical significance other than being a semiannual opportunity for 1.3 billion people to simultaneously take to the road, Humor, rail, and skies. Against others cautioning, we hit the tourist route for Yunnan. I figured, with enough miles under boot, we could escape the burgeoning crowd that would advance on Dali and Lijiang city the quaint old towns that are often the destination of many vacationing Chinese tourists.
2. Raw sewage (a noticeable dark cloud of stink)
1. Youre at an expensive western restaurant and dont even notice the guy at the next table yelling into his cell phone
Posted in Business,
5. You smoke in crowded elevators.
Posted in Camping, Humor, Things to see, Travel,
We laughed about it over a satisfying meal and many tall beers back on Yangren Jie in the center of town. As we sat there recalling our terrifying experience, it started pouring rain and continued raining for the rest of the night.
Mountains. Lost. Dark. Cold. Foreign land. In a graveyard. We tried not to think about it. We spotted some lights off in the distance and decided to plunge through the thick, tall foliage in their direction. All of a sudden, my foot fell through the grass into water up to my calf. We turned around. I sat down and slowly inched my legs down the mountain in front of me sure there was solid ground ahead.
Ok, so this has been circulating around the internet for many years. If youve never seen it and youve been to China, then enjoy. Or just read it again for nostalgia. It makes me smile every time. Can you think of more???
1. Leeches (small ones in the bottom of the boat by our feet)
Out-of-the-way laid-back bar on Gulangyu island not to miss Slowly Cafe