A Travellerspoint blog

Day 4

last day in Beijing

May 16, 2009

Today Christa nd I went back to the dumpling place for breakfast (SO good...I loves me some dumplings!). Tonya and Adam accompanied us and we had fried bread and what looked like potstickers filled with beef. After that we needed soap/shampoo stuff. After Christa bought her stuff, we wandered down the street and came across this GIANT market. It was the same concept as the Pearl Market (aka Hangchow) but ALOT calmer. No one was yelling for our attention or grabbing us. I wish we found it earlier and not on our LAST day there.

Anynoodles, we went to the Temple of Heaven; it was a lot less crowded. I enjoyed it, but I liked the park even better, haha. The Chinese really take care of themselves. We saw people ballroom dancing, singing opera, and singing in a chorus. I got video of it :D The Chinese really are an amazing culture and people, and I 'm proud to be a part of it....somehow...atleast half of me....

The summer palace was a very beautiful structure. It's unfortunate that so much of the landscape was covered in smog. We walked down this super long corridor that they call the longest (or largest) art gallery in the world. Something of that nature. Along the eaves and ceiling of the corridor were paintings and no two looked alike. It's a little saddening that the Empress Cixi spent more effort on the palace than her country during the Opium Wars, when China need leadership the most. Instead, she opted to build and maintain this palace. Atleast she's added to part of China's architectural history. Heh, in Asian studies circles she's known as the Dragon Lady...fufuf.

The lake was calming and the dragon boat ride was relaxing. I hadn't been on a boat in years. The weather was just right for this particular trip. I made a short sketch of the Summer Palace in my journal. I'm SO out of practice, BUT, I did it in pen! Mostly because I didn't have a pencil with me. heh.

Posted by CelLung 16:32 Archived in China Comments (0)

Day 3

In Beijing


View Unnamed Trip on CelLung's travel map.

  • this was actually typed up....hrm....early June?. We have been so obscenely busy that it was impossible for me to keep this up and pass my classes, so here you go. I have pics up on Myspace,but the whole shabang will eventually get posted on some online photo account thing.*

May 15, 2009

The 15th was a fairly long day. We went to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. The Forbidden City was HUGE, to say the least. Several 'plazas' and towers and portions of the palaces. I loved the fu dogs...I don't know why I have such an obsession with them. I just do. They're cute. Sue me. But there were a bunch of fu dogs guarding several of the entrances.

The color patterns of the Forbidden City were getting a little monotonous. It was still a gorgeous monumental structure and majestic in every way. Unfortunately, there was a truck load of tourists, both locals and foreigners. The tour guide (Winston, he was awesome) did a really good job at keeping a group of 49 people together. Power to him. But back to my point, I felt that I didn't get the 'authentic' experience because of all the people surrounding me. I also heard that a few years ago they actually put a Starbucks somewhere on the Forbidden City grounds. There were so many protests that they finally took it out. China has a real issue with commercialization. I bet many an emperor is rolling around in his tomb because of it. And Mao is going to rise out of his tomb zombified any day know, I predict.
Tiananmen Square was very large and I felt that I was more of a part of history there than in the Forbidden City. And I fit right in, I was a student. Hrm...mayhaps that was a little morbid. I was standing on the ground of what used to be a bloodbath almost 20 years ago. For many parts of China (and other countries as well, I'm sure) it helps to know what you're looking at and it's significance in history. I could barely imagine thousands of students standing where I just stood and being gunned down in such a merciless fashion.

Regardless, I enjoyed the openess of the area. I got to see the famous portrait of Mao on the back of the Forbidden City (the City and Tiananmen are across the street from each other). And of course Mao's mausoleum is at the Square as well. We didn't get to go in.

After this excursion, we went to Hangchow (sp?) Market. It was very...interesting. It's this fairly large marketplace with everything knock off and counterfeit...such is China, haha. It was about four stories, I think. The basement and the very top had the good stuff (real jewelry and the like) so we stayed on the middle levels. They had all sorts of products; clothes, accessories, heck, they even sold the DS and Wii. Would they have worked past 5 hours? Probably not. I was tempted to bargain down for a DS but it was probably all fake to some degree. Another thing about China is the golden rule of thumb: there is no such thing as a set price. Always bargain with them (unless it's fancy upperclass jewelry or clothes...). Some vendors won't sell to you unless you bargain. If you're really good, you could knock a hundred or more yuan off the price.

Hangchow of course was a tourist trap. The vendors were especially aggressive, and the really dangerous ones are the ones who know English, hah hah. But I mean hey, everyone has to make their living, and staying quiet to some degree isn't going to get your stuff sold.

At a stall that sold purses, I was physically dragged in by the arm of a woman that I'm sure I weighed atleast 30 pounds more than. And I mean I was 'dragged' in. I resisted as much as I could and told her my friend was waiting for me, but she didn't really listen. I ended up escaping, but I hold nothing against her at all. I chocked it up to another quintessesntially Chinese experience, hohum.

The hutong tours were fascinating. A hutong, by the way, are the more traditional (old style, if you will) houses with their own courtyard. Like, all the buildings are built around a courtyard, but the kitchen will be on one side, the living room on another, the dining room on another side. Oi, I can't believe I'm using this reference, but you remember Mulan's house? They had a gate at the front and that courtyard and everything? You know what, just Google "hutong". I should have just said that.

Anyway, we took a hutong tour by bicycle rickshaw. It was a rickshaw attached to a bicycle. Go technologly, go. It was extremely fun, actually. The wind in my face was nice, and I was traveling somewhere without expending any of my energy, haha. We visited one of the hutongs and I absolutely love their courtyard! It's moderately sized but it's nice and intimate. They had a plant pot full of water with a few goldfish, and lots of seats. It had a really nice, homely feel to it. :) I want one of my own :/
The family was very nice and one of the girls told us about how her family's living quarters were set up. They were actually renting out rooms to anyone who wanted the full experience. The space was close and intimate and so were the living quarters.

Later in the evening a large group of us went with Dr. Reynolds to these local market streets. Itw as AMAZING. I love the local life and not so much the really touristy parts. It was so intimate and local; REAL Chinese food, not a cuisine catered to Westerners. Things were really cheap. They had restaurants, family restaurants, tea shops, clothing, etc...Dr. Reynolds happened upon a painter who was going out of business and was trying to sell all of his work. Jessica and I split a set of four for 80 Yuan (so 40 yuan each). All of the paintings were extremely beautiful and detailed. Some were prints where he added the paint, but they were still a sight to be seen. Some were 20 yuan and some were 50 and more, but I think every cent was worth it.

I loved the alleys and the local life. That the beautiful side of China they don't mention in travel guides; that is the part of China I fell in love with. I don't think many foreigners know about that part (we only saw a handful). :) The whole place was in walking distance of our hotel as well. A few people went to a massage parlor that...well, did massages...and other things in the back. They went for massages, yes, but they said the women had on a lot of make up and wore heals with low cut dresses. So yeah, one of THOSE parlors...haha. Ewwwww......

Posted by CelLung 07:27 Archived in China Comments (0)

Another brief intermission

argh...

semi-overcast

The internet connections at this university really aren't up to par (on spoiled Amercian standards). I've been so absolutely busy (and sick) these past couple of days. I really should be doing work, but I owe you guys an update.

I still have to update the rest of Beijing and Xi'an (ARGH) but I'll get to that when I'm in Shanghai (not for another 9-ish days...).

So, we arrive at Zhengzhou University (in the city of Zhengzhou) on Wednesday at 2 in the morning after a six hour train ride. Hohum. Thursday is first day of classes and we meet our Chinese buddies. My friend Linda and her friend Susan are really cool :)
They show us around campus and in the evening they have to go to class. My roommate Christa has to go to this banquet thing, and I completely forgot where the cafeteria was, so, thinking I was being safe, I go to the campus market buy a cup o noodle (ramen) thing.

I didn't taste all that well, I like the 'simpler' version of ramen back in the states.

And the beginning of my hellish rollercoaster begins.

I wake up in the middle of the night with the runs :(

It was bound to happen. I'm surprised I lasted this long with no ailments. They say 73 percent of those that study abroad get sick. I'm finally part of the majority. yay.

anynoodle, I go back to bed and wake up the next morning with achy joints, a little dizzy, and generally lethargic. I'm thinking i'm just dehydrated. The program director, Dr. Guo takes me to the campus' clinic to hook an IV up to me. Before they do that, they take my temperature which is 102 degrees, I think (39 Celsius) and they need to test my blood (for swine flu, heh...) but the blood machine is broken, I can't get the IV (which I think would have helped TREMENDOUSLY). So, they give me a shot to reduce my fever, tea that helps beat cold/flu, and pills to reduce fever.

I skip my first class to rest and go to my second one like the trooper I am.

As the day goes my, I notice that when I eat, maybe a few minutes later (10 minutes at most) I get hungry again. And I mean if feels like I haven't eaten for half a day. I tell Dr. Guo and he concludes I have a stomach infection.

  • &$%.

Christa, my roommate, just happened to bring antibiotics for just such an occasion (thank the gods) and I take one. The next morning (Saturday) was a big field strip to Yuntai National Park and I'd been looking forward to that for so long! I had to skip out because I thought all I had to do that day was recover.

No.

I was miserable.

Aboslutely miserable.

Christa wasn't feeling that well either, and she also wanted to stay to keep an eye on me (a very sweet gesture indeed) but she's an assistant and they made her go :(

About five of us altogether didn't go because we had some sort of stomach issue.

I was SO hungry. I mean, I was raised to roll with the punches, suck it up and not complain, but I was in so much hunger pain from the infection that I was physically weak. I had to gather up enough strength to walk 3 blocks to the market to buy some bananas (the only thing I felt I could stomach) and some bread because I needed something solid in my stomach to take with the antibiotics. I was SHORT OF BREATH. that's how out of it I was. I truly was miserable that day. All I consumed was water and bananas. I could only eat a little at a time because my stomach needed a chance to process it.

I swear, 10-15 minutes after I ate something, I felt the type of hunger you got when you ate absolutely NOTHING for half a day. I mean, hunger pain to the point of almost nausea.

That night, I woke up 3 times from the hunger pains, and I had to force bits of food into my stomach and hope that I'd fall asleep by the time I was hungry again.

The next day I felt MUCH MUCH better. My fever was gone, but I was still getting rather frequent hunger pains. I had to work back on getting real food into my stomach.

The day after that (monday) I was able to eat real food in my usual amounts, and I wouldn't get hungry again for about an hour or so. Dr. Zhan, one of the other profs told me I needed to pace myself, and Christa explained I ate so little in the past few days that I needed to give my system a chance to process things.

Tuesday I'm feeling exponentially better, and the hunger is getting pushed off a little bit more each time. I can now go over an hour without feeling hungry. I've been craving fruit, but i'm SO SICK OF BANANAS. haha.

Tonight, I only got up to pee, haha, and I drank a little water to 'fill' my tummy up a little. The past few days , because of my sickness i think, i've been getting up around 5 in the morn, usually starving to death. I got up at the same time this morning but my hunger seemed to quell itself. I didn't want to change my eating habits so that my body was expecting food and odd hours of the day.

The past day or two I've been craving yogurt, and I told Christa that when you crave something, it means there's something in that food your body needs at the moment. She agreed, saying the antibiotics probably killed alot of the helpful bacteria in my stomach and that was probably delaying my progress. I'd never thought of that :/ But now I'm loading up on yogurt (I do love their yogurt :D ).

I'm feeling much much much better now :D

The other people who got sick ate this chicken sandwhich they had at the bakery. No offence, but I don't trust mayonnaise in any country except the states, and even then.....

It's actually a little scary over here, because so many of us got sick in such a small time frame; from fevers to stomach ailments to coughing. There's a power plant ON campus, and many parts of China are polluted as is. Some people are getting sinus problems.

I'm not trying to scare anyone out of going to China (you'd get sick in any country you go to, really....).

Ugh, but that Saturday really was one of the worst days of my life. I think I'm beginning to fear hunger pains. I've felt them SO FREAKING MUCH in the past few days.

I mean, Smaug almighty, I never want to relive that day again.

ah....I feel better now. I hope things are on the up and up from now on. I can't wait til we go to Shanghai.

Yes, I'm a girl, and I want to go shopping. China is the epicenter of lace :D

Posted by CelLung 00:24 Archived in China Comments (0)

A brief intermission

brief.

sunny 77 °F

I'm currently at Zhengzhou University in Zhengzhou. It's been a pretty trying day or two lately. We don't have internet in our dorm rooms so at most, I can update the past few days but I can't upload any pictures. No jump disks or anything that can transfer something from computer to computer because China has crazy viruses/trojans/worms, etc...

We met our university buddies today, and my buddy Linda is nice. Her friend Susan tagged along and they're both pretty cool people.

The shopping in China is amazing :D LOTS and LOTS of lace :DDDDD For my stay in Shanghai next month I'm going to buy another suitcase just for bought stuff :D They have THE cutest tops, skirts and purses. I dunno...put lace and a kitten/bunny on anything and it'll make it cute. I think I run a size large by their standards...some Amercian women are...ahem...blessed. :/
My roomie Christa and I bought some Engrish clothing...hahaha. We're so bad :D

Anywho, I have LOTS of work to do. I have two 2-3 page written essays due everyday except field trip days. Our first stop is Yuntai National Park something or other. Google it.

Well, I have much to tell you all, but I have to do that at a later day. I miss you and I'll try to update ASAP :D

Posted by CelLung 04:03 Archived in China Comments (0)

The second day

man, I'm behind...


View Unnamed Trip on CelLung's travel map.

We werent' quarantined, thank goodness. In the morning we were served "western style" breakfast. I think their idea of our breakfast is a little skewed; a hardboiled egg, a hard roll, a packet up ketchup (???), half a bologna/mayonaisse sandwhich, a packet of pickled (?) cabbage. I'm pretty sure I don't eat that for breakfast in the states. Christ (my roomie) and I just ate the egg and we had a granola bar that I brought with me, and an apple/pear. That left us VERY hungry.

The trick with being in China is that anything raw or uncooked isn't safe enough to eat. That includes salads (you guys know I load up on those) and pre-peeled fruit. Tap water can't even be used to brush our teeth with, much less to drink. The fruit has to do with human waste being used as fertilizer, so even if we wash it, it may still be a risk.

Here are some city pics (my camera is actually half decent...WOW...)

building_1.jpg
building_2.jpg
building_3.jpg

Anyway, we went to the Great Wall first. I saw LANDFORMS. coming from flat Augusta, that amazes me that hills and mountains exist. At that point, it still hadn't hit me that I was in China. The wall was nothing short amazing, trust me. But climbing it is NOOO JOOKE. I see why so many Chinese remain so young and youthful; if you climbed that wall often you wouldn't have to worry about a single health ailment on the planet :D Some old ladies were climing the wall in HEELs. wowsers.

Some parts of the wall were like San Francisco's streets but STEEPER. MUCH MUCH steeper. I mean, you had to lean forward and grab onto the handle bars to get some strength going. It didn't helpt that the steps were uneven (in the parts of the wall with steps). Some were tall, some were short; it changed on and off sometimes so quickly. i think drainage pipe things made gaps between some of the stairs. You had to be really careful in some parts.

The view was amazing!!!! To be up in that mountain air (even though the majority of China is so polluted). It was so pretty! And to think this structure is so old and built by the bare hands of so many; to know that so many people died doing this...it's mind boggling, almost scary.

A lot of podunks carved their names into bricks. It kind of hurts that they don't respect a part of their own history.

A couple of vendors were on the Great Wall as well. They're fairly aggressive around foreigners, but they're trying to sell stuff to make a living. some really do need the money.

GW_Solis_2.jpg
GW_mountains_7.jpg
GW_mountains_6.jpg
GW_mountains_5.jpg
married_couple.jpg
GW_mountains2.jpg
GW_mountains.jpg
GW_Solis.jpg
GW_mountains3.jpg
GW_mountains4.jpg

After that we went to a restaurant. I had my first (and last) sip of an alcoholic beverage. Before I left for China I debated whether or not I'd take part in local liquor. I had a literal sip of 'bajiu', a freakishly potent type of fermented rice. someone said it's like sake but a LOT stronger. Even from that sip in burned all the way down my throat and a fire of sorts setteled at the bottom of my ribs. The Chinese...and Japanese....and Europeans...okay, everyone except Americans know how to drink alcohol without the want of becoming drunken fools. I figured it's part of the culture and I wanted to take part in it. Trust me, I'm too G-rated to develop drinking habits :D

We went to a Pearl Factory that was kind of boring (WAY to touristy). It just felt like a filler for the evening. I did get a free pearl (small one) from one of the clams they popped open. The store also had pretty jewelry, but heck, i'm stingy. Ah, and now i know the difference between a real pearl and fake one: if you rub two real ones together, they make a powder. They're also not as shiny even when they're polished :)

The Cloisonne factory was okay. Again, a bit too touristy. I want to be surrounded by locals, not tourists :/
Cloisonne_factory.jpg
I3010130.jpg

The funnest part of this evening was the night market! A bunch of food vendors line up on the street selling stuff on a stick, basically. First we tried roasted silkworms. Yes, silkworms. The seasoning was good, but the soft texture of the inside and the resisting texture of the shell made it a bit hard to swallow (literally). Christa just popped a whole one into her mouth but I nibbled half of mine. I tried to pretend it was chicken so I could eat more..haha. Next I got some roasted squid on a stick. They were so chewy! They tasted okay. I like my grandmother's squid better.

Ah, and the fried scorpions. They were sooooooooooooo good. I'm serious! They tasted EXACTLY like fried chicken skins. EXACTLY like them. We didn't eat the tail, of course. No venom please. I wanted to eat another but Christa bought them and they were technically hers. :D Lucky girl.

It was interesting to see all that they'd put on a stick: chicken hearts, intestines (they smelled), chicken gizards ( i think), sheep heart, all kinds of stuff. We came across a stall selling sheep penis on a stick and the guy yelled "Hey, you like penis? You want penis?" hahah....They also had some animal's testicles. It might have been a sheep's as well.

After that we wondered into a shopping mall cause I wanted some icecream. We had our sights set on a Dairy Queen (which had a green tea blizzard...). it was a 6 story mall! It reminds me of the one I went to in San Francisco (Westfield shopping center). and i CALLED it! they have a Sanrio store!

silk_worms.jpg
forbidden_..t_night.jpg
night_market.jpg
mall.jpg

After being moved twice, we finally got a hotel room with interent :D so busy!!! i'm actually typing this on the 16th. I'm so behind, i hate it. there's just so much that we're doing and so much to say.....

Posted by CelLung 07:26 Archived in China Comments (0)

(Entries 11 - 15 of 19) « Page 1 2 [3] 4 »