Monday, June 29, 2009

Weekend in Fuyang

Ahhhhh…The weekend is over and already this Monday has started off pouring down rain. I’m trying to find things to do with myself now that I’m done with class, but the rain is seriously putting a cramp on my outside plans. I did manage to get a small bike ride in today before the downpour started.

At least I had a great weekend to be thankful for. We stayed in and around town this weekend, which was nice and low key. Friday night we had some friends, who haven’t been in Fuyang very long, over for dinner and then we all headed to our local pub Music House, where we remembered Michael Jackson and danced the night away. It was fun to go out. Eliot and I haven’t been going out as much recently. I think we’re both just a little burned out on the small town scene. There’s one bar that we’ve been going to for the last 10 months and needless to say, we’re ready for a change. Saturday night we headed to Hangzhou (the big city that’s an hour away from where we live) to watch the rugby match (my first time ever) on TV, between South Africa and Great Britain. It was definitely an exciting and physical game with the British leading most of the time and South Africa pulling it all off at the last minute.

On Sunday we really wanted to go see something around our town. There’s a Fuyang tourism website that has information about different places nearby and we read about a place called Tian Zhong Shan, or Heavenly Clock Mountain. It’s supposed to be an easy hike up a small mountain, with a lot of streams and small waterfalls. But, as with everything in China, there were no directions on how to get there; it only said to take a bus from Fuyang station. Knowing it was near Fuyang we really wanted to take the motorbike so we did a quick Google Earth search of the place, which gave us a rough location and decided to try and find it ourselves based off that.

Here are the photos of what we found:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
~I may have too many pictures of bamboo.~

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
~The Mountain~

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
~Swinging Bridge~

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
~Lots of green!~

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
~Resting Dragonfly~

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
~Small Fall~

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
~Another Fall~

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
~Orange wildflowers~

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Another Last

I had my last Chinese class on Thursday. I haven’t stopped studying and am still doing it at home, but right now there’s no one holding me accountable except…myself. And in my experience with myself I find I’m not a very strict teacher. I really love learning Chinese and in the past few weeks have started learning characters. I don’t want to forget what I’ve learned and I am looking for a language school in Cape Town so I can continue studying. But like I said before, nothing is going to be the same as being completely immersed in a language and culture like I’ve been the past 10 months.

I want to especially thank this lady here:

Flora LaoShi has been teaching me Chinese for the past 5 months and she’s a wonderful teacher. She’s also very patient and a good friend. I know we’ll keep in touch when I leave and I hope that our paths will cross again someday.

Here’s something I’m not going to miss:

I snapped this photo at the bus station I wait at every day to get to Hangzhou and go to class. I’ve seen this guy hanging out before, but he never sat still long enough to get a photo. Makes my skin crawl a little bit.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mini Holiday

~The Lake~

Our weekends in China are severely numbered and we’re trying to make the most out of our time here. So when Eliot has a weekend off we’re trying to soak up as much of China as we can before we head back to South Africa.
This weekend we went to Qian Dao Hu (Thousand Island Lake) which is a man made lake that was flooded when they damned up the nearby river. Basically, they flooded a mountain range and are now left with a lake that has over 1000 islands or islets.

I really wanted to camp here, but we couldn’t find, on the internet (at least in English), any place where they had camping. And even after being there we didn’t see any places, so we’re assuming the Chinese aren’t too into sleeping outside. We stayed in a hotel, which was so nice (Eliot’s booking) we could have easily spent the entire weekend there (but we didn’t).

~The Pool~

Qian Dao Hu is a beautiful place. On Saturday Eliot and I took a boat out to a couple of the various islands. The first one, the boat dropped us off at one end and we walked around to the other where the boat was then waiting to pick us up. It was gorgeous scenery but the only regrettable part is that they have very specific paths for the tourists to walk down, and it’s a perfectly manicured paved trail. Sometimes I feel like we miss out on seeing the more natural beauty of things. The second island we went to there were two paths and they were directing all the tourists down one of them and we decided to take the other one. A little lady that was on our boat came running after us, telling us we didn’t want to go down that way because it wasn’t very beautiful and there wasn’t anything to see. We told her we didn’t mind and that we would make our way back to the boat when it was time. It was a nice quiet path without all the tourists and had stunning surroundings. I don’t know what we missed out on not going the other way, but it was nice to get away from everyone else and do something on our own. The last island was called Snake Island where they have tons of snakes in cages and pits. The main attraction here is at one of the pits they have an auction to feed a mouse to a bunch of poisonous snakes. We quickly moved past that area and found a quiet spot near the water and enjoyed a beverage.

~View from Bird Island~

~Koi fish desperate for food~

~The island~

~Gorgeous Day :)~

~I wouldn't want to mess with this guy~

~Bamboo forest~

~Eliot thought these steps reminded him of the ones in Kill Bill that Uma Thurman had to carry giant buckets of water up and down.~

~Tiles on the rooftop~

~Lots of parks around the area~



~Rain moving across the water~


On Sunday we went for a swim in the gigantic pool at our hotel and then decided to go out and explore Qian Dao Hu town. There wasn’t much to the town really, which was a bit disappointing. But we had a nice lunch and then had a foot massage down by the lake before making our way to the bus station to head home. It was a quiet relaxing weekend, which seems necessary these days to keep our sanity. Another place that reminds me of all the beautiful parts of China we’ll miss when we leave.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I'm Melting!

Wow! It's gotten hot here. This week it's been up in the 90's but with humidity it's been feeling like it's around 105. I don't mind the heat so much, I definitely prefer it to the cold, but Eliot doesn't handle it quite as well. He has a condition we refer to as "showering." It started at ActionQuest down in the Caribbean and every time I'd see him he'd be pouring with sweat and I would make some comment like, "Was it raining down in the engine room locker?" So needless to say he tends to prefer cooler weather. But right now in little Fuyang it's hot, humid, there's no wind and there's no water to cool ourselves off in (unless we want to go jump in the dirty river).

So nothing really new going on with us. We've been trying to get some stuff packed up to ship back so SA. I've been finishing up my last few weeks at my Chinese school and trying to cram as much vocab and grammar into my head as possible. Right now my head is spinning, but I'm really happy with what I've managed to learn in such a short amount of time. Eliot's job has 2 prototype boats going right now. A 37' power cat and a 38' sail cat. He's hoping they launch the 37' before we leave, it would be a nice way to end our time out here in China.

So since Eliot only has every other weekend off we are planning on going and seeing something new for the last few weekend that we do have. No sure where we're going to go this weekend, but I'll definitely be documenting it. We're thinking either a place called Thousand Island Lake (a huge lake with tons of islands) or going out to the coast and going to see another little island we heard about.

Since the photos are the best part, here some that I took of our little town. Some are from last weekend and some are from during the winter time when it was a bit colder.

Riverside dinner with friends.

From the top of Dong Wu park.

The sampan boats coming in to sell their goods.

Playing cards to pass the time.


River Town

Friday, June 12, 2009

And Then Again?....

Shoes being hung up to dry after being scrubbed

So as our time in China gets shorter and shorter the days seem to just drag on. I really feel like I’m ready to leave China now and July 18th can’t come soon enough. A lot of the annoying parts of Chinese culture and just normal day to day life I used to just be able to shrug off or even find humor in. But lately, these things have been driving me INSANE. For example, it’s a common misconception (I know this happens in the US too) that if you meet someone who doesn’t speak your language, or understand it, that he/she perhaps isn’t as smart as you. I know that we have all done it at some point where we’ve met someone and because they couldn’t speak English we in some way discounted what they had to say. But in the US we’re used to having foreigners, and we don’t stare at Mexicans when they ride their bike down the street. I think it’s safe to say that foreigners in the US are a part of the culture. But in Fuyang (small town China) foreigners are a brand new out of the box concepts, and everywhere I go I’m the silly foreign girl (I say girl because being a foreign girl in China is a lot different than being a guy, but that’s another annoyance entirely).

I’m tired of going to the store and having to ask someone to help me find something and suddenly becoming the center of the circus. Then there’s a group of people following me around the market and pointing and laughing at either my Chinese or whatever it is that I’m buying. It’s funny at first, and then it’s exhausting, and now I just feel like it’s rude. Could you imagine if this happened at a market in the US? I know people are curious, and I hope they continue to be curious because that is the only thing that will help foreigners in Fuyang and Fuyang people understand each other better. But I’m tired of being the dancing monkey, and I’m really looking forward to returning to a place where I blend in a bit more. I love China and always will, but I know I could never live here.

So in all fairness, here it is, the top ten things I WON’T miss about China:

10) Riding the dirty bus at least 2 times a week from Fuyang to Hangzhou. (Later in the list you’ll see why it’s so dirty.)

9) Not being able to take a deep breath while riding my bike through the streets of Fuyang.

8) Stinky Tofu: This is a common street food in China and from probably a mile away you can smell it, and it smells HORRIBLE! Think about something dying and then baking in the sun for a couple of days, and then you still don’t even know what Stinky Tofu smells like because it’s 10 times worst than that. Sometimes our neighbors downstairs cook it and it fills our whole apartment with its horrible aroma. I’ve never been able to get close enough to it to taste it, but Chinese people love it.

7) Being followed around the super market. (See above)

6) People yelling “Hello!”, “Heeeelllllooooo!”, “Heeerrrrooooo!” everywhere we go. For a lot of people it’s the only English word they know so when they see us, they automatically associate being white with saying “Hello!” Could you imagine if I went back to the US and every Asian person I saw I yelled “Ni HAO!”

5) People assuming you don’t understand what they’re saying. The other day I was at the supermarket buying some veggies and I got in the checkout line and there was a young couple in front of me. As they always do they started inspecting what it was the crazy foreigner was buying. They were snickering and laughing to themselves because I was buying big spicy peppers. They didn’t say anything to me but then a couple of guys got in line behind me and also started pointing at my merchandise and talking about how I was buying some really spicy peppers. They really thought I didn’t know I was buying spicy peppers. Then I heard the words “Ta ting bu dong” meaning “she doesn’t understand what we’re saying.” At which point I responded in Chinese “I do understand, yes I’m buying hot peppers, I like hot peppers and I’m using them to cook.” Satisfying? Absolutely. Still annoying? Double absolutely.

4) The hocking and spitting all the time. Even little ladies hock and spit anywhere and everywhere. In the streets, in the factory Eliot works in, on the bus! It’s so gross and I find myself washing my shoes a lot when I get home after walking around on the streets all day. I know that streets everywhere are dirty, but there’s something really unpleasant about thinking about someone’s spit and mouth on the bottom of your shoe.

3) Squatting toilets. Don’t get me wrong here, I actually like the concept of squatting toilets, and I think they are a much more natural way and sometimes cleaner. But so much of the time they aren’t used properly and you end up walking into a toilet with pee all over the floor. Sometimes the squatters have little shields in front of them so the pee doesn’t spray everywhere, but most the time they don’t and it’s horrible. The worst are the ones in the pubs because you get drunken people going in to use it and they’re lucky if they even make it in the bowl.

2) Seeing kids going to the bathroom everywhere (streets, parents holding them over garbage cans in the
supermarket, the bus (again!)) Most kids don’t wear diapers but wear pants with a big slit in the bottom so it’s convenient to squat and go anywhere anytime the urge strikes. The worst was seeing a kid do a #2 on the floor of the bus, on a single tissue his mother laid down for him (cause that makes it clean?!?!?!).

1) In a country that holds 1/5th of the world’s population it seems that it’s really easy to forget about compassion for others. I’ve been in taxis that have either hit a someone or been hit and the first thing that happens is they just get out of the car and start arguing over whose fault it is. No one even bothers to make sure everyone is alright. A couple of weeks ago Eliot fell off his motorbike trying to miss hitting an E-bike that crossed the road out of turn. While he was lying in the middle of the road trying to pick himself up, not one person stopped to make sure he was okay. A lot of cars just drove around him, and the E-bike that got away unharmed didn’t even look back. I worry about him on his motorbike all the time, but what’s even more worrisome is that if he had really been badly hurt nobody would have even stopped to call an ambulance.

So that’s my rant, and it feels really good to write it out. I now feel like I can face the next 5 weeks.

P.S. I really do love China!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Tashina!

To the most beautiful, amazing, talented girl I know! I love you so much and I hope your birthday brings all that you dream of and much much more. You are the best friend anyone could ever have and I miss you more than you'll ever know. I wish I was there to celebrate with you and I look forward to a day when we might live closer and we can celebrate every birthday we've ever missed.
Love! Love! Love!
~Your Kindred Spirit

Here's to you...

~Free Spirit~

~Drama Queen~

~Beauty Queen~

~A Beautiful Friend~
(Amy, Tashina, not sure who the pale girl is wearing too much makeup on the right (awkward drink face!))

And yes, I did steal these off of your facebook ;)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hong Kong- Is this really part of China?

This weekend we headed south to the former British territory of Hong Kong. We stepped into a completely different world than what we were expecting. We didn't even believe we were truly in China anymore because everything was so different. The people had a very distinct Hong Kong look, the food was different, it was incredibly clean to the point where if you even thought about coughing on the subway without covering your mouth you would get dirty looks from people sharing your carriage. This is so different from where we live where people cough, spit, and even urinate in the streets (or on the buses but that's a different story). Anyways, to say the least, we had a wonderful time soaking up some western comforts and exploring yet another part of the world. Hong Kong is a huge city on a group of islands in the South China sea, and transport between the islands is pretty easy. So in addition to the city we also were able so spend a day at a very quiet beach, catching some rays and enjoying some ice cold refreshments. We even made a trip up to see our old friend, Buddha. While doing so Eliot and I discussed how if we were to practice a religion it would have to be Buddhism because we have visited more Buddhist temples, pagodas and religious shrines than any other religion. I guess that's what happens when you've been to 6 different Asian countries.

all places we've been to...

Lotus plants

View from "The Stoep"- A little South African restaurant at the beach.

At "The Lady's Market" in the city.

Crazy architecture in this city.

On the way up to the highest point in HK for a better view of the city.

Dinner at "Simpatica"- delicious Pizza Margherita and red wine...

Oldest clock tower in HK

We took the ferry across the harbor to check out the other water front.

Related Posts with Thumbnails