Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Crazy City. Chaotic Country. Amazing Adventure.

(November 12 - 15) Day 78 - 81

Boy am I full of alliterations today. I know. Avid blogger has been MIA for a long time. I have a legit reason...well, sort of. I was typing up my Singapore trip, added pictures and everything, was ready to post, and then BAM! my computer decides to trip out and all is gone. I spent hours perfecting my blog and it was gone in 5 seconds of electronic failure. fail. But I am determined to not let it get me down so I am BACK with my tales of China. China contained a lot of firsts for me that seem bonkers not to have done by age 21: first time to get on a plane from the run way, first time to see snow, and first time to buy fake goods.

November 12 (Day 1):

Instead of taking the Hong Kong airport, we decided to save money and travel to Shenzhen (2 hours away) to get on our flight to Chengdu. Terrible idea. Hong Kong airport is definitely worth the higher price for the travel cost and time lost getting to and from Shenzhen airport. I had to take an MRT ride to Shenzhen which takes about 1.5 hours and then take a bus in Shenzhen to the airport - another 1 hour. That's 5 hours of travel time loss just to get to Shenzhen airport. I got my first taste of Chinese culture when I attempted to buy my ticket from the ticket vendor for a bus ride. Before I can pull out my money, I had people shoving me trying to pay for their ticket. Apparently there is no concept of a line in China. In fury of being pushed, I started yelling blasphemy in Chinglish which seemed to really confuse them. Anyway, from Shenzhen we landed in Chengdu - it was my first time getting on an airplane from the runaway!

When we got to Chengdu it was around 12 midnight so we checked into our hostel first. It was the beginning of a series of unfortunate events. Felicia left her camera in the taxi. She was going to hold a baby panda at the research center the next day and needed a camera to capture this once in a life time experience. We spent an hour trying to figure out a way to get it back but resolved it by combining the forces of Janice, Floria, and I to take lots and lots of pictures for Felicia. 4 hungry girls decided to roam the streets of Chengdu in search of food and found delicious street snacks. There were so many options! From lamb meat, beef, to lotus, mushrooms, and dumplings - they were all only .5 to 1 RMB each!

November 13 (Day 2):

We woke up bright and early to head over to the Chengdu Panda Research center to look at all the cute pandas. I even got to hold a red panda! He looked more like a raccoon than a panda so we called him a raccoonda instead. He took his job rather diligently, eating his apple with his left hand and holding my finger in his right hand all whilst looking at the camera.

I also discovered why pandas are my favorite animals: they are cute, all they do is sleep, eat, and play all day.... my kinda teddy!

Afterwards we headed to the nearby monestary to have a Sichuan meal. Popular foods in Sichuan are: Siu La Fen, Pumpkin Bing, Ma Pa Tofu, Mushroom Wonton, and Dan Dan Mien. Below are my two favorites: Mushroom Wonton and Dan Dan Mien!

After lunch we headed to a teahouse to enjoy hot Chinese tea. A lot of families and people go there to enjoy tea. They often bring cards to play with along with fruits and nuts to enjoy with their tea.

There was a woman making sugar art as well. It was so cool to watch her make it! She poured hot sugar onto a marble slab and started drawing with what looked like a spatula.

We went to JinLi street to do some shopping and have dinner before heading to the airport for Xi'an where I had more delicious sichuan (spicy!!) snacks. When we got to the airport we found out our flight was delayed due to bad weather in Xi'an - there was "big" snow! We started freaking out and layed out our options at KFC. Thank god for KFC ice cream and egg tarts for pick-me-ups! We waited at our gate and there we met some interesting people. We look Chinese but once we started speaking in English people would all stare at us. Particularly an eccentric old lady around 70 years old had no shame in blantantly staring at Felicia and even inching closer to examine her. She began to strike up conversation with us and it was quite hilarious as it was exhausted to communicate since we were fluent in Mandarin and she knew zero English. She asked us if we consider ourselves Chinese or American and if Americans consider us foreigners. We laughed and said we consider ourselves both Chinese AND American and that America is really diverse so it's normal to see many different ethnicities. She didn't grasp the idea that someone could be both. She proceeded to ask if we are ashamed to say we are full Chinese because we can't speak it fluently and implying that American is the inferior ethnicity. Another guy commented that we were "bananas". I've experienced a lot of confusion in my dual identities which I plan on further discussing in a later blog post. She asked us if we think China is better than America and we told her that America is home to us but we like China as well. Luckily we began to talk to her because other people were getting interested in us as well and began talking to us and asking us questions. Then our flight got cancelled completely. We were calm and decided to handle one crisis at a time. The guy sitting next to us befriended us and decided to help us figure our situation out. The airline was giving everyone a free night at a nearby hotel until the next day and it was so chaotic. One thing I learned about China is that it is incredibly disorganized. In the meantime of waiting for information and traveling to the hotel, we gave our new friend an English name. His name was something along the lines of "Hai Wei" so we named him Howie. While waiting in line, Felicia was trying to play a dirty joke on Floria and the 70 year old woman interupts and asks what we are doing. We quickly thought fast and said we were playing patty cake which she proceeded to ask us to show her. She got really estatic and jumped in to play patty cake with Felicia. At the hotel, Howie took us out for street food and we learned some things about him. Howie was traveling for his business - he was in the industry of producing clothing. Howie treated me and Felicia to more late night goodies and introducing us to foods we didn't dare to try. He asked us more questions about America and was intrigued by us. He bought us lots of fruit one of which looks like a mixture between a lime and a clemantime and called a king orange in Chinese despite its tiny size. Tiny little king if you ask me. The girls and I decided to name it l'orange, quite sophisticated I have to say. We felt really bad as Howie persisted to pay for everything, calling us China's guests and it was the welcoming China way.

November 14 (Day 3):

We were shuttled to the airport by 11AM and more chaos happened. They got confused with the gates and mixed up our flights. After more stress, but thank god for Howie, we got on our plane around 5PM and arrived in Xi'an at 7PM. Xi'an was EXTREMELY cold and me being the Texas girl I am never imagined how cold cold could really be. Needless to say I was underprepared for the excruciating weather. We spent the rest of the night staying inside our hostel. Youth Hostel is like a freaking hotel. It's huge and it has its own restaurant and bar. Definitely worth to check out. At Youth Hostel we were explaining all the obstacles we went through to finally get to Xi'an and the girl working in the front desk volunteered to be our tour guide the next day and find an economical way to get everything we wanted to done. Thank god we found her.

November 15 (Day 4):

We started our day at 8AM and was determined to condense what was suppose to be done in 2 days into 1.

Terra Cotta Workshop

At the Terra Cotta Museum

My First Snowball!

Lunch at a local restaurant eating Rou Jia Mo

Wild Goose Pagoda

South Gate of Xi'an City Wall

Drum Tower

 China Takeaways: Not the to-go food
1) As rude and chaotic as people seem, we've really met a lot of wonderfully helpful people. I will miss the people I met in Chengdu and Xi'an.
2) Still working on my bargaining skills, I learned that there are 2 strategies to use: the aggressive and the cute girl. In a small girly voice with my broken Chinese, it seems to win over a lot of the shop ladies into giving into my price.
3) I HATE SNOW. It's so cold and wet and gross and cold. I swear to never see snow again in my life. I have avoided snow for 21 years and I can do it again! Mark my words, snow is on my black list. I am going to change Snowball's name to Sandball. Even though its been his name for 11 years, he's just gonna have to get use to it. Erica came back from China with a speech impediment. He'll understand.
4) I am grateful for traffic lanes, cleanliness, heaters, Texas, lines and toilets.
5) People in China have no concept of a line, as I was pulling out money people start shoving and cutting me. They want to be the first ones on the bus and the first ones off. Jeez.


Tiffany said...

haha. for some reason, racoonda makes me think of rashumba. you're my banana!

Tai said...

What an exciting adventure !!! The food pics are making us oh so hungry. Stay safe & keep blogging. Love & miss you,
Maricar, Uncle Tai, & Bella

ryon p said...

my cousin has started restaurants in Ningbo, which is like south of Shanghai. But when my aunt and uncle, who are midwesterners, visited, they had a hard time getting anything due to the no line factor. They also mentioned the spitting and public display or relieving ones self.

Alice said...

lollllll. I'm super amused and I'm glad I wasn't there otherwise I would've gone ape shit on somebody's ass. Then I would've been hauled away to Communist prison and you would have never seen me again. We almost got snow in Austin! But Houston got super snow. And you should've been here last night, people were honking in the street for like 2 hours after the game. Despite being like 35 degrees, people were lining up for the Ebus like it was Halloween.