Memoirs of a trip to China (东游记)

All my photos are here.
[[ Access my blog from China at http://phor.net/blog/ ]]

Here is a record of my recent trip to China, traveling alone. FYI, 7元 is about $1.

Shanghai 
汉庭快捷酒店‎ 上海黄浦区中山南路433号




9/27 I took a ride from a stranger to get from the airport to the train station. After that, I was amazed by how little people on the street could help me. If I couldn't speak the language, this trip could have really sucked. I rushed to my hotel and checked in to relax.
## Quick Quiz ##
Question: The room number is 8217, what floor is this on?
Answer: Floor 2. All rooms start with 8 for good luck.
Went to  南京路 for shopping and food. Many people tried to sell me things, being the ONLY FOREIGNER IN CHINA. But I did meet 周琴 who was nice and helped me plan my trip in Shanghai. Also, I started the process of mailing postcards to Mom and Dad. Sending postal mail in China is like sending email in 1925.

9/28 Went to a cheap market 七蒲路 to buy the essentials for living. After much bargaining (but not enough) I bought 4 undershirts for 150元. From then on my bargaining was much improved. Also of note, bathrooms do not have doors, and stalls do not have dividers. So you can watch girls poop as you walk around the shops.

I went to 工商银行 to trade some money, the teller used an abacus to do the math.



Later, I ate dinner at an unassuming shop on 四川路 which doubled as that person's house. Afterwards, I played a card game, 斗地主, with some strangers till midnight.

9/29 Went to a park 豫园. This was the first of many parks that will eventually look the same. At night, I traded gifts with the employees at 汉庭 hotel, who are awesome, and got ready to leave.



9/30 Met my cousin Rob West of the river to check out the financial district. Also, getting a cab in East Shanghai is not easy if you are white.


Jiaxing, Zhejiang province
[what address did I stay at??]

My time at Jiaxing included the national holiday, and Bolomi set up a vending stand in the middle of a closed off street market. (Take a close look at that fourth photo).









9/30 I traveled to Jiaxing to meet Wenyen's parents. My itinerary was shuffled around and I stayed for 3 days at the Bolomi Bakery factory. Day one was full of embarrassment.

At dinner, I almost died in a chopsticks accident, dropping a hot pepper in my eye. Later, we went to a parlor for foot massage... and let's just say I was less than prepared for the temperature that foot washing occurs.

On 10/1 we went to 南湖 park for boating and 10/2 we went to Jia1San4 and Xi1Tang2 [readers, please help me fix this].

10/3 We drove to 江苏 along the bay and I was on my way.










Suzhou, Jiangsu province
格林豪泰苏州火车站店 苏州市人民路2156号

10/4 There's a few pretty parks in Suzhou, I saw 狮子林 (OK) and 拙政园 (way better). At the end of the day, I met 蒋琴 who owns a KTV venue. A few beers later, we were having a great time singing and dancing. Me and 筑梦 went out to a club in the area which wasn't bad and we had great food afterwards.






10/5 Took a bus trip to 周庄古镇 for scenery and fun. I met 冯慧平 and 冯英骄, who were a handful of fun.






Yellow Mountain, Anhui province
华艺宾馆 黄山风景区汤口南大门

10/6 I climbed from 汤口 up to 慈光阁. There were many steep roads and roads are boring, so I started climbing rocks and trying to get lost. This was a bad idea and this is a tree I made _really_ good friends with while climbing.



10/7 Woke up at 4am to climb to 天都峰. The ticket office gave me two options: take the cable car and arrive in 4 hours or climb by myself and go in 5 hours.





Please compare the climbing abilities:





Rocky Balboa
Amateur
Will Entriken
Hero


After that, I climbed back down and went to bed by 11am and slept until 9am. Besides climbing the mountain and buying local tea, there is nothing to do at Yellow Mountain.

Hefei, Anhui province

10/8 I met Su's parents and we had a fun day. We had dinner, saw the 明教古刹 temple and went to the park. I think Chinese people are very active after large meals. On the way to the park, I took a nap in the car and they thought I was exhausted, and reserved a daytime hotel for me to check in. After we got to the park, we found the ultimate child confinement machine:




Xi'an, Shaanxi province
7天西安南门店 西安市碑林区振兴路95号

10/9, 10/10 I spent two days at the bank due to a mix up. Banks in China do not have company phones. All inter-bank commerce is done with personal cell phones. But in the meantime I ate interesting food.



7 Days hotel staff is great. I met 樊志新, 徐嫒, and one more (but my notes are too sloppy!)

10/11 I roamed the streets trying to find a bus that would take me to the Terra-cotta Warriors. Many enterprising folks tried to sell me some tourism services at outrageous prices. Finally, I negotiated for someone to drive me to all the museums in Xi'an, and wait for me outside over a period of 4 hours for 50元. The museums included:

* 秦陵地宫展监馆 - a history tour
* 秦始皇陵
* 扁鹊纪念馆 - a traditional medicine museum, where they examined my blood flow using microscopes and I passed out
* 兵马诵 - the Terra-cotta warriors


Beijing

7天北京朝阳门店  北京市 东城区 朝阳门内大街甲190号

10/12 Eating at the mall required purchasing a prepaid food card, that was weird. Also, I saw a person who cleans tables recycle food that one guest didn't finish. Then I went to 王府井 (Wang fu jin shopping street), 天安门 (Tian an men) and 恭王府, the best place to relax in China.

10/13 Went to 雍和宫 (the Dali lama temple) and 国了监, 孔庙 (Confucius temple). Then in the afternoon I saw 正阳门 (前门) which is a large guard tower which is probably very old and has some historical significance judging by the large number of people visiting it.

Afterwards I walked down some alleys, 钱市胡同, 大栅栏. That's where I met my future wife 了悦 who works at 载巷小吃, which sells some combination of Chinese/Italian food. She let me know where all the fun things to do are. On my way back I got talked into gambling (with that popular card game) on the street and I lost 4元 over the course of two hours. Then I had dinner on gui3jie1 [怎么写?], which is a one mile stretch of fancy restaurants.

10/14 This was another park day, I went to 北海 park and later I went to 什刹海 (后海) with Su's high school friend Zhang Yu [怎么写?].  We had a hot pot dinner where each person has their own pot.

10/15 This is when I started missing my home, going to work, email, the stock market, and pizza. But I still didn't miss Bon Jovi music, so maybe I could have held out... Then I went to the Great Wall (eh).



On the way back I met some deaf people and found out they were using 北京话聋人语 to sign. Then I got a haircut (60元). Here is my hair washer who is of ambiguous sexuality (really people, let's stick to the protocol: men should have beards, women should have long hair). Then the salon choose the most able stylist to handle me, since none of them have cut a foreigner's hair before. He used thinning shears for all of my hair and then clippers to touch up. After that I went dancing. When I tell you dancing in Beijing is lame on a Thursday night, I mean dancing in Beijing is lame on a Thursday night!




10/16 Nothing was planned, so I went to the super market for some quick eats. Here's some notes:

* Their market had multiple floors and a cart escalator
* The marketing departments for dairy farmers are working overtime

On the street, I found a man on a bike buying used boxes for recycling. He paid 18元 for 3 kg. Then I saw the prices to rent in the 东城区 section of Beijing... holy shit! At last, I went 三里tun2 [怎么写?] for dancing. All of the music was from 1990-1996 American dance and some Europop. The first two songs I heard were Coolio - Gangster's Paradise and Wu Tang Clan - C.R.E.A.M.

Some patrons pay for the premium bottle service and then leave their bottle unattended on a table right next to the dance floor. In America that bottle would be stolen in under 10 seconds, so I have to assume Chinese people have one of the following:

* Very cheap liquor
* Guns in the club
* Meningitis
* They are extremely respectful and polite


THE END

Then I flew back home. You can find the full set of photos here. Also, be prepared for follow up posts comparing China to America.

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