A Travellerspoint blog

China

The only non-Chinese person on a cruise

First thing on Saturday, I went to a small old fashioned town in Chongqing, with lots of vendors and shops-I actually enjoyed this, but had to return at 1:30 to be picked up for a river cruise of the Yangtze river.

I was picked up from the hostel by a guy in a small car. I had a tag around my neck so I wouldn't get lost, as the whole tour was in Chinese. I did Chinese because it is less expensive and because it worked within my time constraints. The driver from the hostel took me on a 20 minute drive, and put me on the bus with the tag around my tag, full of mostly older Chinese folks (I was the only Caucasion). Not unlike, when I was little and flying to Florida-I was given a button since I was an unaccompanied child.
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I was told it was two hours to the first port-it was actually a six hour drive to where we picked up the ship. With three breaks along the way, two to get food and one for the driver to fill up. On the bus, I paid for meals on board (5 meals for $15.00). At one of the rest areas, i met Jim, who happened to be on my room. Jim was getting his MBA at a university near Hong Kong, and was a handy person to know because he spoke a little English, so he was my savior, as all the announcement we're in Chinese and he did the translating.
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At roughly 8:00, the bus arrived in Wanghou, according to the old 2003 version of Lonely Planet a big town-but this was definitely a city, with many skyscrapers and bridges.
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The boat was small, and left at 8:00 pm. One stevador carried my bag to the ship and didn't ask me and then demanded payment-I Gave him half of what he wanted.
I went to the room, which was for 4 with 2 bunk beds, and was tiny. The other set of bunk beds was taken by a man and wife. The room was crowded. There is a small, disgusting bathroom. The whole boat looks like it has seen better days. There are no deck chairs, just stools to sit on. And everything is extra. I paid $6.00 for tea and to get the privilage of watching the boat sail away from the upper deck.
Then I went to dinner. Dinner was served in the dining room, on metal trays (just like prison). The food resembled slop, consisting of bland vegetables, rice, and meat. I learned many of the Chinese folks didn't like the food either.
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I went to bed at 10:00 pm, only to wake up a few hours later.
The first port was at 12:00 am. hundreds of Chinese people got off the ship at midnight to go to the tomb of a founder, the Zheng Fi temple.which was magnificent. which was also a emporer. We climbed the steps, and saw the vases. I was wondering how all these old folks had energy to climb the stairs at midnight. Along the way out, venders sold all sorts of food, including full meals of pork-i was wondering who ate that late.
I went back to bed after returnig. Chinese music came piping through the room loudspeaker at 6:00 am, plus an announcment, which I later learned the first gorge was coming up in 15 minutes. To be up at 6:00 am trying to go use a small bathroom around with 3 other people made me question the wisdom of taking this cruise. Anyway, I put off a shower to hurry up outside, and I saw the gorges approaching-beautiful cliffs on both sides.
After 1/2 an hour or so of looking, I went back to the room to take a shower, and then back to the dining room for more slop. This time, a bowl of watery rice, an egg, and a strange spongy roll. Shortly after the boat docked, and I went on the first tour-getting on another boat to look at smaller gorges. While an annoying voice on the loudspeaker kept taking, the scenery was magnificent, even if I didn't know what I was looking at. There we're signs of various gorges, and the cliffs we're breathtaking. Then we got to a pier, and got to an even smaller boat, and looked at narrower gorges. Here, A Chinese man asked me how he was-I complemented him on his good English, and learned he actually lives in Texas, and has for 40 years. We got to talking, and he mentioned how he has never been here. A man on the small boat kept making annoucements, and sang a song. A woman from our crowd got up to sing. Once again, great scenery.
Soon, We came back to the bigger boat and back to the ship for more slop for lunch.
Afterward, the ship went back out to port, and I went on another tour, with another smaller boat, again with absolutely gorgeous scenery. We stopped at a small island (I think it was an island), and some singers performed for us.
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Afterward, I went back to the boat to sail away. I sat on deck. One woman wanted me to be her personal photographer, and made me take all sets of pictures of her (all clothed-I think she was there with her husband). A lot of people wanted photos with me.

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A guy sat with me and bought me beer, (and his wife/girlfriend/friend, joined us on and off) and we had more beer. He kept saying stuff to me in Chinese like “tisyou sutokhah. TISYOU!” Then he kept raising his glass in cheers. He also bought a large bag of peanuts which we shared. (Eating peanuts and drinking beer on deck was the best meal I had on the boat). He even bought a bottle of whisky I believe for each of us., a girl came to clean up and she spoke a little English. The guy wanted my address and phone #. He really evidentially enjoyed our coversation although apart from Cheers, neither of us could understand the other. Shortly after, his wife/girlfriend/friend dragged him away, I guess because he was drunk.
Shortly after, I went back to the room, read and went to bed.

Yesterday, i got up at 6:00 am-once again, all of us we're on ready to sue the bathroom. We we're off the boat at 7:30 am, and pushed on to tour busses. We went to see the house of someone. When I asked the tour guide, she said she didn't know in her limited English (but she must have know because she had a long explanation in Chinese). So it was beautiful, but i had no idea where I was.

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We then got on the bus and went to the Three Gorges Dam, the largest dam in the world.
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After the damn, we all got on the bus to Yichang City, where we dropped off. I went to lunch with Jim at a shopping mall, and then we shared a cab to the bus station. He made sure I got on the right bus to the airport. I caught the plane to Beijing, and it took approximately 2 1/2 hours to get to the city.

Posted by DavidPearlman 17:20 Archived in China Comments (0)

Tour to the Mall and Planet China

Yesterday, I took a cable car over the river. When I said that Chongqing looks like San Francisco, it actually looks more like Pittsburgh, with the confluence of a couple of rivers. The car went high above the river, and to the other side. i was talking to a girl who in her very broken English, said she thought I looked younger than my age of 48. I liked her.

We parted ways, and as I went up the hill, i saw a small shuttle bus that promised to take people to a few tourist attractions, that seemed to be connected with the cable car. I tried to get on the bus, and the driver wouldn't let me go. He motioned me to go to the ticket window, and of course, the lady at the ticket window (who doesn't speak English) was confused. I went back to the guy, and eventually he brought me to the ticket window, and told them I wanted to buy a ticket for the shuttle bus. He got me a ticket and I was on the bus.

So I got on the bus, and i rode it about 15 minutes-it stopped at......a shopping mall, which was attached to a Madame Toussands wax museum, a winding path with a view of the city, an aquarium, an Madame Tussauds art museum, a french structure which was boarded up. It wasn't a bad first stop-I was tired and there was a Starbucks. Plus there was a supermarket which provided a box of mandarins for $1.00. While I was getting my coffee at Starbucks, the bus pulled away.
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i waited roughly 1/2 an hour fro the next bus (which had the same driver), and it turned out that was the only stop-the bus went back to the cable car. So i begged and pleaded to buy a 10 yuan (roughly $1.50 ticket) to a shopping mall.

I took the cable car back across to the other side, and went to a public park called Eling Park, which is supposed to offer a great view of the city. I went up to an observation tower and took in the view. I also watched people do different things-there we're board games, people singing, folks doing photo shoots, (including one woman with a furry tale), and all sorts of stuff going on.
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The day was getting late, I got back on the metro-and got off at a place called Hongtudi (just because it had a funny name). There wasn't much there-just a lot of apartment buildings and small businesses. I really still wanted some pizza for dinner. I got back on the metro, and got off at another station a few down the line, which was connected to a shopping mall. I found pizza-which at around $9.00, was expensive (particularly for China)-but I decided to buy it. They didn't accept credit cards (common in China)-and they didn't accept cash either (increasingly common). They accept WeChat (sort of like Facebook combined with Google Pay), and Alabiba Pay (Chinese Google)-I couldn't do either. So I left. I found another vendor who sold duck and rice. (I don't like to eat duck but I was hungry). They accepted the same, but I found a desk where I could pay cash to and I was provided with a voucher.
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After dinner, I was tired. I took a walk along the river and back to the hostel. China is fascinating but also frustrating. Here deep in the country-most don't speak any English and those who speak it generally speak little, and you have to speak slowly. That said folks are pretty friendly.

i learned not to go out late at night-not because of any safety issues. The hostel doesn't provide a map, and the metro closes early. There are taxi drivers, but even with their mobile phones-both times I used a cab, they had problems figuring out where to go.
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Posted by DavidPearlman 17:33 Archived in China Comments (0)

Museum, Graffiti, and riding with the Chinese Sandra Bullock

Yesterday i work up ready to go to the People's Square and Three Gorges Museum. Because it was cold the day before, I wore my sweater and leather jacket. Of course, it turned out to be a sunny, warm day and I was hot and carrying my jacket. The hostel doesn't offer maps, but it does offer tiny pieces of paper that tell people how to get there. So I took one of the slips of paper and went to the metro, and got off at the stop for the people's park and the museum. I walked through a long tunnel linking the metro and the park, and people we're practicing group dance routines in the tunnel. First i went to the Great Hall of the People, which I paid 10 yuan for, roughly $1.50. A lot of people paid to go in, and it is -just an auditorium, which nice but looks like any other auditorium.
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After looking around for a little bit, I walked on out, had a quick breakfast of some cake, some coffee-like beverage and warm soy milk, I walked across the square the Three Gorges Museum, which is pretty big. Interestingly the museum was free. I learned that the huge damn on the river was constructed by relocating 1,000,000 people, and according to the government, many of these people we're now wealthy, because the government trained them in new fields after relocating them. Some exhibits we're in Chinese only and some had subtitles. One exhibit showing how much of the country was overtaken by the Japanese, with Chongqing became the temporary capital, was just about all in Japanese. This I would have found interesting. Another exhibit of ancient vases and other precious works, which I have no interest in, had English translations.

At one point, I followed an tour guide with two American customers around the museum, which was somewhat helpful. I don't think the Americans (an older couple), noticed me-which is probably wrong, since I believe the three of us we're the only three Caucasians in the museum.

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I saw a 3d presentation on the Gorges, which is near the city, and than left the museum to take the metro again to Graffiti street. This entailed taking the metro to a bus, and riding the bus almost to the end of the line. At that stop, the bus driver told me to get off (I think-I didn't understand what he said), and i was on a street with graffiti on cool apartment buildings wrapped in graffiti. Supposedly this is one of the largest graffiti streets in the world, but I'm not sure. I asked someone if I was on the right street-and they weren't sure either. (in China, I learned to always ask young people in I had questions or needed directions-as they we're more apt to speak English). I walked around, saw people playing card games. The graffiti was cool on the buildings, and multi-colored..
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After walking around for an hour or so-I took the bus back to the metro. The bus was mobbed and I was standing near the front. The bus driver was a young looking woman with a sweet face-sort of reminding me of Sandra Bullock in the movie Speed. She wore gloves, and seemed like a sweet person-much like Sandra. A woman near the front had her toddler with her, who was acting up a little-i think the driver smiled at the woman. I could picture the driver waiting to meet her Chinese Keanu Reeves.
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I rode the bus for the approximately 1/2 hour ride back, and at the end, near the metro station, all of the passengers got off the bus. More people wanted to get on the bus, but i heard a shrill screaming in Chinese-like nails on a chalkboard-it was Sandra Bullock-she wasn't as sweet as I imagined.

I then went to a place called "Fantasy Land"-basically a mall for kids, which like many malls in the US was empty. I took the metro further, and then walked along the riverfront. I had trouble getting back to the hostel once again, and found a metro station.
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Posted by DavidPearlman 16:46 Archived in China Comments (0)

Need of a Electrical Plug in the Tech Capital of the World

I learned that Chonqgqing is one of the leaders in production of laptop computers. All of the manufactures seem to have facilities here. I even learned today that 1 in 4 laptop computers was produced here in 2013.

How do i know this? because I think I left my computer cord in the old hostel, and needed a new computer cord, and the above is what I came up with when I Googled computer accessories in Chongqing. I did however locate a few places that sell accessories-but that doesn't mean they we're easy to find.

I found one place which required taking the metro, then changing to another line and going 5 stations. So at 9 am yesterday, that is exactly what I did. I walked out into a cloudy, cold day. All I did was wander around. i couldn't find any place that sold computers. I found a big discount department store with pets in one corner, with the cages seemingly thrown together, and a little kitten in a small cage that kept meowing. Somewhere else, i got a picture of the weird looking dog with protruding teeth. I found all sorts of cheap food for sale, including pastries, and I filled up on them. (You can get a complete meal, perhaps not nutritious, for well under a dollar).IMG_0676.JPGIMG_0678.JPG

After wandering around aimlessly looking for an electronics store, i gave up, and took the metro, connected to another metro, and went back to the hostel to use the wifi. This time, I found another place, and asked the girl at the hostel where it was. She told me which metro line it was (the same on I transferred to before), and wrote down the name in Chinese so I could find it. It was on a busy pedestrian street-but I did find it, and they did have the cord for my laptop. After that, I walked around the street for a while-but it was still a cold, cloudy, drizzly day, so I planned on taking the metro back to the hostel. First, I rode the metro for a little bit in another direction, taking a line that hugged a hill, and getting off where there was an escalator up a hill. I looked at the view, sat in park watching kids playing with their grandparents (seems like grandparents watch the kids a lot here).IMG_0674.JPGIMG_0698.JPG

I then got back on the metro and went back to the hostel to take a nap (Again, a cold clammy day-conducive to a nap). I slept for a few hours, and went out again after dark. I walked down the street, down the hill, and walked past public parks. In parks in Chinese cities after dark-folks like to play music and dance, and it was nice to see. I even saw two men dancing together. I was in the mood for a break from noodles and Chinese food, so I hoped for pizza and a beer for dinner-so I hoped I would find a Pizza Hut (seems like a lot of them in China). but i couldn't find one-so more Chinese noodles and bottled water. I did find a waterside promenade, so I walked along that for a while, and then tried to go back to the hostel. The metro seemed to stop running, so I got a cab for around $1.00. IMG_0721.JPGIMG_0723.JPGdf8c5d80-48ec-11e8-9a8f-8d119240e8ae.JPG

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:57 Archived in China Comments (0)

Chongqing Bling

Yesterday I left Changdu and took the two and a half hour rail journey to Chongqing. I was at the rail station roughly 2 hours early, and had my usual Mcbreakfast (when I am in a train station). As I was sitting there, a caucasion man approaches me introduciing himself, and being surprised he met another white person. He was surprised I was travelling alone through China. (the signs are pretty good, and in the hostels basic English is spoken).

He kept going on and on. He was from Vancouver, and his girlfriend was in Chinese. Somehow, he mentioned he was in a hot rod club. I told a white lie and mentioned I had to run for my train (realistically, I had another 45 minutes or so).

The ride was uneventful. People eating their usual noodles and Chinese meals where the odors permeated the train. I got off at the Chongqing station, and looked for the directions to the hostel from the train station. As it turns out, according to the directions-there are two stations, one where I could take the metro, and one for the bus. I would have preferred taking the metro, but I was at the station where I would have taken the bus, or so I thought. I looked for bus 429-and according to the list of busses leaving from that station. There was no bus 429. I found a police officer, and he said in very broken English-that I was at a 3rd train station which whose directions weren't listed on the hostel website-but he was nice enough to lead me to a bus to take me downtown.

Someone at the hostel recommended I go to Chongqing, a place I don't think I heard of. It was supposed to be like San Francisco. Like most places in China it seems-it's a big place. A REALLY big place. Lots of high rise towers, a big metro system, etc. (The city has a population of 8 million-roughly the same as New York City).

I rode the bus for roughly half an hour-which was full. My heavy computer bag was on my lap, and a baby was crying in row behind me. There was a lot of traffic, and I wasn't in a good mood. The bus made one stop near a metro station. I thought about getting off, but decided against it, as most people stayed on the bus. The bus continued on for another 1/2 an hour-through horrible traffic-I beat myself up for not getting off at that first metro station (the hostel did list directions from the metro). But eventually it stopped, and everyone got off. I asked many I saw where the metro was. Nobody understood me. I found it on my own. I was glad to see that I was only one metro stop from the one where the hostel was. I took the metro that one stop, and looked for exit #4. (where the hostel was near). I found 6-11. 1-3. But no 4. I walkked down miles of pathways (it seemed). Eventually I found #4, crossed the street, and found the hostel.

Later on I took a walk down the street. I panicked because I didn't have my phone. I was already far from the hostel and wondered where I left it. I looked in a few stores. I took the metro back to the hostel (again one stop), and found I put it in the locker in the hostel. I was relieved but beat myself up for wasting time after a while. I had some street food for dinner and went to bed.

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Posted by DavidPearlman 16:58 Archived in China Comments (0)

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