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China 2009

a travel blog by prrrrl

My business, vacation jumping off point blog.
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Catching up... From the top!

Beijing, China

It's Hot in Beijing Aug 25, 2009 2:27 pm

I'm here. It's 2:20am Beijing time and I'm wide awake. I cannot get on Facebook - it must be blocked by someone/thing. I have a lot to do this week and am hoping I will adjust quickly to my new time zone.

The air is thick & white - smog! That's one thing I could do without when I visit!

I am the house guest of a wonderful lady who is very kind. It will be hard for me to not just spend time with my old friend when I should be working. :-S

Blog luxury Aug 26, 2009 6:09 am

I am sitting in a restaurant on the west side of Beijing having just finished a large bowl of Korean style noodles blogging on my new iPhone. The wifi is free, the chair is cushy... Nice!

Taking Matters Into My Own Hands Aug 26, 2009 5:58 pm

My life philosophy is to change rather than complain. Is the picnic area littered? Don't complain, clean it up. Is the budget accomodations too hot? Don't complain, buy a fan.

As I type I have a fan on me. I hate being hot & sticky. Oops - I just complained!

A Great Trip! Aug 26, 2009 6:00 pm

After less than 36 hours I already had a great trip! First, my shins got dinged on the taught chain suspended low and not visible in the dark. Then my hand got bruised and clothing smeared with Beijing 'uck' as I rolled on the ground on the other side. Then my ego got bruised as I saw that four locals saw me, the 'Big Nose' sprawl so. It was a great trip!

Shin-cerely Dangerous Aug 27, 2009 3:07 pm

My current accomodations have me in a small room with a large bed. Instead of having recessed legs so I don't stub my toes [ remember when I built my third platform bed - I had finally learned to place the legs in from the edge to avoid toe boo boos? ] Well, this bed's manufacture hasn't learned that lesson. But it is not my toes that are getting bumped repeatedly by my shins at about the same level as the chain that tripped me the other night. No shorts for me! Good thing winter is coming...

Sounds weird to say that about winter but here in Beijing there will be a few weeks of beautiful weather in October and then it quickly gets cold. Because of the shape of the land features across China, weather is very predictable and varies little from year to year. North American land features cause just the opposite with wide variations causing Americans to always be talking about the unpredictable weather. Because most other countries have much more consistant weather patterns weather is not a 'hot topic,' and foreign learners of English puzzle over our fascination with weather! Can any non-North Americans confirm my observations???

"At Ease..." Aug 28, 2009 4:46 pm

I am heading to part of China that has been in the news of late because of riots. When a concierge at a fancy hotel here heard of my plans he asked me why I would go there - 'many generals,' he said. He meant to say 'soldiers.' Twould be worth going to see thousands of men highly decorated uniforms manning bus check points.

Grammar Police Strikes Again! Aug 28, 2009 4:49 pm

Chinglish: "We are now arriving at Guo Mao Station" comes over the loudspeaker after the subway train stopped. Grrrr... And the Chinese says, "We have arrived at Guo Mao Station."

We Haven't Got a Failure to Communicate Aug 28, 2009 4:57 pm

I wanted to have an eyemask made - ya, know the kind you wear at night to keep light from bothering your sleep? Well, I stepped into the tailor shop and realized that I had the fabric but an eyemast to copy. Could I explain the details in my limited Chinese?? I got out pen & paper and began drawing throwing in guessed measurements. I'm sure she has never made one before and probably never seen one. I explain the function getting the Chinese for 'eye' mixed up with the Chinese for 'sun.' Hey, it's been 18 months since I was last here!

Well, it worked. The eye mask is a tad wider than necessary but well worth it. And I now know how to say 'ruffle' in Chinese!

And she did it on the spot. Usually I have to drop off tailoring a pick it up 2-7 days later.

Good deal!

For the Few Who Care: The Modern Art Scene in Beijing Aug 29, 2009 5:06 pm

There are oft repeated themes of obscure juxtaposition [ giraffe, machine gun, baby on a skate board ], and large head-small body portraits. Not much in the way of abstract.

Um... I suppose now you are you wish you hadn't cared! Boring post!!

permalink written by  prrrrl on August 29, 2009 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: China 2009
tagged China and Beijing

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Beijing Syndrome

Beijing, China

Less than 24 hours after landing I developed the Beijing Syndrome - a clear the mucus from my throat cough. It will be so nice to leave this air and head to Xinjiang!

Yesterday my friend & I strolled through the art district. Very strange smells were heavy in the air making breathing difficult.

My first thought was oil paint odor or other art supply. But neither smell was familiar and I've done multiple art mediums including the chemical heavy photo developement.

My second thought was chemical warfare gas attack. I would have been doomed! There was lots of remodeling going on but the smells did not fit that activity, either.

Regardless, I made it out alive!

permalink written by  prrrrl on August 29, 2009 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: China 2009
tagged Art, Air, Smell and Odor

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Beijing, China

I just ordered take out from a restaurant I was walking past. There was live entertainment - patrons on stage with ethnically garbed dancers. I'll take a wild stab that they were representing a minority from Qinghai provence.

They wore striped turbans and long robes. Towards the end of the circular dance a bubble machine spewed it's contents into the mix. How authentic is that???

permalink written by  prrrrl on August 30, 2009 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: China 2009
tagged Restaurant, Bubbles and Ethnic

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Turn right on the Building, go to Street 206

Beijing, China

It's been 18 months since I was last in China. My first order of business after getting my luggage upon arrival at the airport last week was to get to my friend's apartment. I had the directions all written out - in English. I would have to translate to get the driver to take me to the right place.

Problem is the word for 'street' is very close in sound, at least to Western ears, to the word for 'building:' lu verses low.

It's been 5 days. I'm better now.

permalink written by  prrrrl on August 30, 2009 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: China 2009
tagged Sounds and Language

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Mini Huskster

Beijing, China

There are street vendors everywhere. You can buy hair accessories, chipmunks, socks, stationary, kites, underwear, rabbits, fans, roasted sweet potatoes [yum!], counterfeit receipts, quilts and so much more as you walk along the sidewalks of this city.

Today I passed a sliced melon vendor. He was three feet tall and a force to be reckoned with - a Chinese Billy Mays Mini-Me. Even the locals were looking & smiling as he singled out my big nose in the passing throng for extra adjectives of enticement.

I passed.

[Something about Beijing smog all through the air & Beijing grime on all surfaces, including people, make most sidewalk foods unappetizing.]

permalink written by  prrrrl on August 30, 2009 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: China 2009
tagged Food and Vendors

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Well Fed

Beijing, China

I love restaurant service here. No tipping and consistantly great service. Sunday I dined at a Korean restaurant. I orded two dishes - more than enough for one person. But I forgot that the Korean tradition includes small appetizers at even the littlest, low budget restaurant. They gave me four, no extra cost. But this was high end-ish in China which meant they also gave me fresh fruit for dessert, no extra cost. Then they followed that with a small scoop of ice cream, no extra cost. Lastly they gave me two sticks of gum with my receipt. That's a first for me in China. Still no extra cost.

Well, I"m sure they figure all this in to their pricing. The seafood crepe and sweet rice dumplings cost me $6.50.

How's that commercial go? Seafood crepe, $4. Sweet rice dumplings, $2.50. Four appetizers, fresh fruit, ice cream and gum? Priceless.

permalink written by  prrrrl on August 30, 2009 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: China 2009
tagged Restaurant, Korean and Tipping

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On the Menu

Beijing, China

It's been said that the only 'legged' thing the Chinese will not eat is a stool. Snakes have zero legs. Snails & clams have one leg. Primates have two legs. Stools have three legs. Most mammals have four legs. Sea stars have five legs. Insects have six legs. Sea stars have seven legs. Spiders have eight legs. Sea stars have nine legs. Crabs have 10 legs if you count the claws. I suppose we will the sea star from now on for all the uneven numbers!

Yesterday I stopped at a restaurant that had crocodile in pumpkin on the menu. I passed.

[Although I have eaten alligator. And yes, it tasted like chicken!]

permalink written by  prrrrl on August 31, 2009 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: China 2009
tagged Crocodile, Alligator and Legs

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You Say Northeast, I say Eastnorth

Beijing, China

So I'm telling the taxi driver which gate to enter at the compound I'm staying in. In my mind it faces east and that is what I tell him. He gives me a puzzled head cock [I can't see a puzzled expression from the back seat - I like a drive who keeps his eyes forward where the road is!] and says there isn't any east gate. We dicker and dispute until we get to the gate that is not what I want. What I call the South Gate he says is the west gate. Oh, well. I have him drive me around the corner to the gate I want - his south, my east.

I have found that it is always good to have the confirmation of two witnesses regarding any fact in China. I ask the gate guard which gate he is controlling entry to and he says, "South." Me? Wrong???!!

The next time I am giving a taxi driver directions I acquiesce and tell him to take me to the South Gate. He gives me a puzzled head cock. I guess two witnesses are not enough! Well, I just happened to have a compass. Once level, it indicated the gate faced.... southeast.

permalink written by  prrrrl on September 1, 2009 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: China 2009
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In No Particular Order...

Xinjiang, China

[somewhere between Urumqi & Kashgar]

The Great Un-Escape

Man, that bus stopped frequently! At first I availed myself of every pit stop - just in case. But after awhile I disembarked when I actually needed. And in retrospect I've learned that on these mega journey's one stop is extra long for ordering food. I had so many snacks that was not necessary even for this 24 hours plus journey, my first upon arriving in Xinjiang. At the extra long stop I did not get off at first. Then we were stopping so long I decided I might as well. But when I went to the front of the bus the door was closed. No pushing of strange buttons with no English labels was the 'open sesame' I needed.

I sat on the floor next to the driver's seat, hopelessly locked in. Where, oh, where was the operator??? The driver did not come to my rescue.

Finally someone pointed out that there was a door half way back on the right hand side that was wide open.

Silly me.

permalink written by  prrrrl on September 26, 2009 from Xinjiang, China
from the travel blog: China 2009
tagged Bus and Door

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In No Particular Order, II

Beijing, China

Lost in single product malls:

Beijing has these niche malls that are dazzling in their expanse and repetition. There is one devoted to wedding photos meaning they sell both camera gear, professional make up kits and bizarrely ornate costumes for all ages. This mall has several camping/outdoor gear store fronts. I haven't yet figured the connection yet. Maybe after the marriage and after the photos are 'published' glossy ad style, the actual photo shoot often coming months after the ceremony, someone feels the need to disappear in the wilderness?? Anyhoo, these are vastly outnumbered by the former three. Now, these malls are rectangular/square buildings of simple concrete. Straight halls lead past myriad small shops or stalls pretty much selling the same thing and thus being indistinguishable from each other save for the Chinese multi-slash stroke characters that are also rather indistinguishable to me at a glance. If I perchance enter a stall will I remember upon leaving that I entered from the right or the left? Was I heading for white wall with the red sign or was I heading for the white wall with the red sign? I try to have a plan like keeping something in the hand of the direction I should turn at the next T intersection. This worked well for the quilt, button, zipper, elastic, shoulder pad, fabric market, the quilts, buttons, zippers, elastic, shoulder pads, and fabrics each having their own indistinguishable sections. This market is in sections and I have to remember if I am in the first, second, third or fourth set of hallways, some sets big enough to fill a basketball court others to fit a soccer field.

Subway ticket quintuple fare:

Beijing subways now have ticket dispensing machines. Apparently they run out of change quickly. They also do not take one quai bills, only coins. Coins are rare these days possibly because they are sitting inside all the subway ticket dispensers. The smallest bill they will take is five times the fare. To save time I decide to get it over with and buy five tickets. I pocket my four surplus, assuming I can skip the machine on my next subway ride and descend to the platform. All is cool… Until I try to use an excess ticket on my next ride two hours later. Expired!! I wasted on those four extra tickets...... $1.25.

Blue sky dry ground:

I am deep into cavern four of the fabric, bedding, elastic, zipper, button, shoulder pad mall maze when I hear rain on the corrugated roof. It pounded hard! When I emerged from the maze less then an hour later the ground was dry. Was I dreaming? No. Just Beijing dry air working it's evaporation magic.

permalink written by  prrrrl on September 26, 2009 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: China 2009
tagged Rain, Mall and Subway

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