Archangel's blog A pointless waste of time

6Jul/114

Exodus of Lizardman

It's now 5:00 and I'm about to leave for the airport. Many hours of travel ahead before I'm back home.

So it's time to leave China and Hong Kong behind. But I also leave a little of me behind in China and Hong Kong and not just metaphorically speaking. I have been shedding skin now for almost a week, probably due to the fact that I burned myself quite badly two weeks ago. So I'll probably be as pale as ever when I return back home.

I just hope all flights are on time... Fingers crossed!

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6Jul/110

Shenzhen to Hong Kong

Sitting in Hong Kong now, soon time for dinner...

I did go to Mix C mall yesterday and I arrived when all the Chinese were having lunch, so there were long lines outside every restaurant. So I made my way outside the mall and hade a small brunch. After which I walked a bit of the hungover off in a nearby park. Sweaty!

I then headed back and bought my movie ticket. But the times were different from the day before, so I had an hour and half to kill. I actually decided to eat some more! My body craved food and liquid and I really wanted to be in good shape when he evening came. After my second lunch I perused the shops for a short while before I headed back for the cinema and seated myself.

The movie turned out to be more story than action and since both spoken language and subtitles were in Chinese I think that the finer plot points were lost to me. The fact that the poster said "official selection of Cannes" should have tipped me off to the fact that it wasn't an hard core action film. Live and learn! But it was beautiful. I'll have to see it again later with subtitles to give final opinion.

It felt a little strange when the entire audience laughed and I had no idea what was funny...

On the way to meet Stoprock I swung by the area where Oceanpower (the company I had my internship at last time in China) is located.

I met Stoprock and Decklan at the subway station and we walked together to Stoprock's house. There Stoprock showed me pictures before dinner. First we went down memory lane and watched all the pictures he had from last time I was here. Nostalgia!

He then showed me all the pictures from his wedding. Turns out Money/Benny actually proposed to his wife at their wedding after he caught the bridal bouquet. So their marriages are a bit linked. And they all plan on getting children next year. So maybe I'll have to come back and visit to see their children soon.

After picture time it was dinner time!
And just like last time five years ago had his mother prepared a feast!

Text!

Home made food really the best! Her dumplings are probably the best I have ever had. The only thing I couldn't eat were the chicken feet. They were so spicy that my lips hurt. And like last time I had my bowl filled over and over again everytime I began to se the bottom of it. The beer flowed as well. But unlike the day before I paced myself better this time.

I feel really fortunate to have been invited to this dinner. It's hard to describe how good the food was and how pleasant the whole meal was!

Text!
Stoprock's mother and me.

After dinner was eaten and all the bottles of beer were drained Stoprock's mother produced some packaged (bought) food/snack that is from here home province. This was for me to bring back to Sweden and let friends and family taste. So you back home have something to look forward to. Stoprock decided to add to the package and gave me some special Chinese sausages. Hospitality isn't enough to describe it!

Then it was time for some KTV, also know as "ka la ok" or as we would say: karaoke. So the five of us, me, Stoprock + wife, Decklan and Linlin hopped into a cab and drove to the KTV place where we met up with Money/Benny.

This place looked like a huge luxurious hotel. A myriad of red corridors with gold fittings everywhere but instead of bedrooms every room had a huge U-shaped sofa facing a huge TV-screen. Next to the big TV was a small touchscreen TV where one could chose and preview songs while other songs played on the big one.

On our way in we passed what looked like a huge duty free shop filled with alcohol. From this store shopping carts filled with booze was rolled to the thirsty clients in all the rooms.

So we sat down and in came a huge bucket with beers in ice water. Time to sing! But coward as I am I let them start. I think I needed a few beers more to work up the courage to emberass myself that much. But I managed to find several English songs that I knew. For example I had to represent Sweden with some ABBA. Fortunately they were very polite and all cheered and clapped when I was done even though it must have been a traumatizing experience for them.

So till one we kept drinking, singing, taking pictures and talking. Even though I'm no great fan of karaoke I had a spectacular time! Good company equals good time, no matter activity.

Text!
Melody (Stoprock's wife), Money/Benny, me, Decklan and Linlin.

Text!
The boys!

So a little after one we said our goodbyes and hugged after I promised to come back and see their kids (which are still to come). Hus ended the second of two spectacular evenings. Those two evenings would have in themselves made the trip worth it!

When I woke up this morning I was a bit hungover but nothing even close to the day before. I woke at 7 and couldn't fall back asleep and thus got up, packed and left.

It took two hours and ten minutes from the hostel to the guesthouse in Hong Kong where I stayed last time. I drank a lot of water on the way to help with rehydration. After checking in and having some breakfast I felt that I might as well check out the camera situation. So I went to the store that I had found recommended online. With that shop having been recommended, the other recommended shop being far away and the price being around what could be expected I took the plunge. I saved almost exactly 3000kr compared to Sweden, about a third of the price. Not at all bad! Also bought a small (8GB) card so that I could take it out for a spin. Since I hadn't showered in the morning and the battery comes almost empty I headed back to my room to charge the battery and freshen up.

Then I have just perused all the shops around town. But I haven't bought a lot more stuff, I feel that a camera like that is quite sufficient as my dosage.

Now I'm soon off to find dinner before I head back for an early night. My plane departs at 8:30 so I have to take the first subway at 6:04 to get there with a little time to spare. Yay! So no beer tonight, that's for sure!

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5Jul/112

Chinese Hospitality

Is dangerous!!!
It's 10 am and I'm still in bed nursing a huge hangover.

I met Stoprock, his wife and their friend Decklan (have no idea about spelling) and they took me to a restaurant in the area. We were joined by Stephen and Linlin (or something similar, I'm bad with names) at the restaurant. Then Stoprock ordered food for the six of us that would have fed ten people. That's the Chinese way it seems. So much food and so good food! I ate till I was about to burst at the seams. And whenever my glass got empty Stoprock or his wife (I sat between them) would fill it up.

Food!

Stoprock knew two thing in Swedish: skål and botten upp. He liked using the later one... Fortunately the glasses are small. But when the numbers start piling on it goes to my head. When we left the restaurant I was already a little tipsy and that was by no means the end of the night!

As I would have guessed he wouldn't let me pay a penny, but I still tried to offer. He wouldn't hear of it! So a huge feast with food and drink in abundance with great company and I didn't pay a thing. I felt like royalty!

So after dinner we took a short walk to "BBQ place" as they said. Which was another restaurant but more of the laid back street variety. Reminded me a little of the BBQ at the hotel I used to stay. And since that's where I met Stoprock this place felt appropriate.

Text!
Me and Stoprock with Stephen in the back.

A bit more food!?! That's madness! This time at least they didn't order so much, just a little to snack on to the beer. So I got almost exactly the same as we used to back then: lamp skewers and some deliciously fried eggplant (without coriander, which I still remember how to say in Chinese).

And of course there was beer! Glass, after glass, after glass, after glass. When I got up to use the bathroom I realized that I wasn't just tipsy anymore but flat out drunk! I felt ready to collapse almost. So I realized that I needed to reel it in a little to not perish completely. When I told them I needed to slow down they all just took it in stride and no one tried to get me to drink a lot. They gladly accepted that I just sipped my beer when when drank. That's hospitality! Making me feel relaxed and at home.

Ate the BBQ place we were also joined by Money/Benny! Also long time no see. So nice that he joined up as well, just like the good old days. He's gotten married but sadly his wife couldn't join us.

Text!
Me and Money/Benny.

I had earlier been asked what I was going to do the next day in Shenzhen. I said that I had no particular plans. Sometime during the drinking I was asked to come home to Stoprock the next day for home cooked meal with his family. I say asked but it was more like told, it had been decided for me. And Stephen chimed in that after we would go out, either to karaoke or "Next bar" which is supposed to be a great club.

Can't think of anything I'd like to do more in Shenzhen than hang out with these guys another evening so I gladly accepted! And I remember the last meal I had at Stoprock's place and it was superb! So really looking forward to it. Just hope I can get rid of this hangover before then...

So today I have decided to be lazy white tourist and go to the air conditioned Mix C mall. There I'll eat and drink (non alcoholic) to nurse myself back to health and then take in a movie.

I'll also try to pace myself better tonight since I don't want to be this hungover when going to Hong Kong tomorrow. But even with this hangover it was definitely worth it. A great evening!

So to sum it up: Chinese hospitality is dangerous but spectacular!

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4Jul/111

Shenzhen My Old Friend

The bus ride was supposed to take 13 hours according to lonely planet. It took 8! So I arrived in Shenzhen a little groggy right after 5 in the morning. After a short walk to the metro station I was promptly informed that the first train departed at 6:30... So I had no other option but to park my but outside and wait. But I was by no means alone, there were plenty of Chinese doing the same. But since I was the only westerner in sight I drew a lot of stares. Some of the children even pointed.

Then the chaos! The subway in Shenzhen is really in need of optimization! Paying tickets and getting in are making huge lines. And I have no idea what hey are doing by the machines either. It's completely in Chinese but I still use them faster than most Chinese! And when they enter the turnstiles they wait for the doors to close after previous person before presenting their token. This presents a gap of several unnecessary seconds between each person which quickly adds up to minutes and long lines. And trust me, that wait is not necessary! When it's my turn I just present my token and walk, no closing doors and several seconds spared. Add to this that they due to some paranoia have started scanning all luggage larger than a wallet in an airport x-ray machine which again takes up a lot of time... So needless to say, the subway is congested!

But I eventually got to the right station and looked for the hostel. It's located in a new fancy art district with lots of galleries, restaurants and shops. Sadly it wasn't as easy to find inside this complex as the complex was to find. I wandered around for a while before calling them. And again with the language barrier... She couldn't properly explain how to get there, even though she knew where I was: outside the Starbucks! She opted for outside help and asked if there was anyone near me who spoke Chinese. So I looked around and saw a young guy who looked like he could be the helpful type and gave him my phone. He first looked a bit perplexed, then talked to the lady for a minute, handed me my phone back and indicated for me to follow him. He then walked me the 200 meters through smaller twisting streets to the hostel! And I should add that the hostel was in the opposite direction of what he was walking in when I stopped him. I love helpful people!

Since I was so early it turned out to be impossible to check in to my room yet. But I payed and could use the shower and then store my bag in their luggage room. So after a quick freshing up I headed down town. Time to browse among the toys! Both previous times I have been in Shenzhen's technology district I have arrived so late that most stores were closed (unlike stores in Hong Kong they keep more normal business hours). This time I arrived so early that everything was closed!...

Still the better option! Since I could find no smaller stores or restaurants in the area I caved in and had a quick breakfast at McDonalds. And then sat down on a bench outside one of the large malls and watched the manager give the employes the daily pep talk outside on the side walk. Then it was opening time! Sweeeeeet!

I could mill about that street for a day! So many nice things and so many weird trinkets. Wonderful! I couldn't resist the temptation to ask the price for the Canon 60D and play with it a little at several places. The prices seemed a little lower than what my research for Hong Kong indicated. But I would not fall for temptation since I had gotten recommendations for reliable sellers in Hong Kong but knew nothing of these. So ask around and then maybe google a little later.

I walked these stores for a few hours until I felt dizzy, tired and hungry. So I decided to head to Lao Jie, another shopping district, but one with more restaurants and where the shopping is for smaller items.

I quickly chose (at random) one little restaurant with tables on the sidewalk and from their menu ordered dumplings with some nice soup. Or so I thought! I got the dumplings (and ate them) and a bowl of water with lettuce and tripe... I did as one should and tasted it but could not eat it. So the dumplings had to suffice. Luckily the whole meal was only 10 Yuan, so it wasn't that much of a loss.

Then I got lost time upon time in this maze like area where you go into one building and have no idea where you come out after having scurried around several floors with millions of vendors. Again spent quite some time just wandering about and looking at the goods. Felt nice and relaxing.

Then I decided to check out the "Mix C" mall where we hung out a little back in the days. Still looked mainly the same. Still has a ice-skating rink on the third floor. These shops aren't as much fun as in the previous districts but still worth the visit. And checked the cinema which showed a couple of films I could see myself enjoying. One looked like an action movie, so I'm going to go for that since I'll probably get it even without subtitles. Unfortunately I was just a few minutes to late for the early screening and couldn't see the later today since I'm meeting Stoprock tonight. So I'll go to the movies tomorrow.

After all this I headed back to the hostel to freshen up and relax a bit. Soon I'll head out to meet Stoprock. Looking forward to it!

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3Jul/111

Chinese Market (Updated)

Now with pictures!

The squeamish might not want to read this...

After lunch me, Monica and Phoebe headed for the local market at the edge of town. This is where you'll get all the ingredients you'll need for any dish.

The first hall had rows of tiled benches in the middle where they had all the vegetables you could want. Along the wall they had plastic buckets on the floor filled with eels, snails, frogs and small fishes, all alive of course!

Stalls

Vegetables

Crayfish

Frogs

We were a bit surprised that the didn't have any meat. Then we found hall number two... Along the wall here they had places that prepared meat. First we saw ducks.

Duck

Then we saw chickens.

Chicken/rooster

Then comes the part where the squeamish really should stop reading...
The next couple of stalls had dog!

Dog!

Not only prepared dog like this but in cages behind they had live dogs waiting to become food. Not only this but they also had cages of cats awaiting the same fate. One of the ladies was preparing something. She was using a small flame thrower to lightly grill and burn the hair from something. When she flipped it over we could see it was a cat, just of the killing block with it's throat cut.

So a little disturbing for the western mind. I didn't exactly get peckish from watching it... But I'm hardened enough not to become a vegetarian from the sight. :-P

The rest of that hall had cages upon cages of poultry. And looking into these cages I'd say that these animals fare a lot better than those back home. Sure, they are in cages in the market but you could se that they had space otherwise. They all looked healthy, no marks on them, no broken wings, feathers, feet or beaks.

And on the other end they had mixed dried wares, like teas, fruits, nuts and the like.

So quite an experience to say the least!

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3Jul/111

Bike Ride and Local Food

Didn't have time to write yesterday and don't know if I'll have time today either. Leaving for Shenzhen on the night bus tonight. But I have booked a hostel in Shenzhen that I know has wifi, so I'll at least update when I get there on Monday.

But a short summary (which might ending up having to suffice):
We had decided to hire bikes and go see some scenery around the outside of town. While Monica slept late I had breakfast in town and then got ready. While I was up at the rooftop terrace I met another girl from Canada, Chelsea, who asked what I was doing today. Turned out she was also going biking and wondered if I wanted some company. So Chelsea And her roommate Phoebe from England joined us. We hired some really nice looking mountainbikes and headed towards the supposedly scenic place of "Moon Hill".

The bike ride there was not quite as scenic as one could have hoped for, more like a big road with lots of tourist buses whizzing past. But we got there safe and sound.

The climb up the hill was very steep and we all sweated gallons of water. I had as usual not brought enough water to drink... The view from the top turned out to be worth it though. An astounding view of the surrounding area with it's many small hills as far as the eye could see.

Once down again we realized that it was time for lunch. We were approached by a lady who offered us tours of the caves in the area and when we said that we were going for lunch she offered us home cooked lunch at her place. She started at 25 but Monica haggled it down to 15 per person. So we got on our bikes and followed her scooter to her house in a nearby village.

All the vegetables, which we asked to see before she cooked it, came from here garden and the eggs she used was from her two ducks. And I must say that those eggs were amazing! Really tasted a lot more and a bit different than normal eggs. All the food was great and really worth the wait and the 15 Yuan it cost me. Turned out she also offered cooking classes. If we were 4 people it would cost 70 Yuan for 5 dishes and one of them would be egg dumplings which would be amazing! Had I stayed more days here I would have had a cooking class.

After our filling lunch we headed back to town and returned our bikes and sat down for a while on our rooftop terrace to rehydrate.

I spent the afternoon just walking around town and also took time to book hostel in Shenzhen and a meeting with Stoprock (thanks Tim!). We were thinking about seeing the evening show outside of town that is directed by the same movie director that also made the opening act for the Beijing Olympics. It's said to feature 600 performers with a huge light show, dancing and singing. After some thinking we decided to do that today instead. (which turned out to be a mistake since the wasn't at 18 as previously stated but rather at 19:50. So I won't be able to see it since I have a bus to catch at 21:20. Bummer!)

So what we decided to do in the evening was to find the local night market outside of town. This is not a market for trinkets but rather a market for food and where you'd see almost no foreigners. Items on the menu included dog, snake, mouse and loads of other strange things. Turned out they were all out of both dog and mouse and the snake was really expensive. So I ended up getting the "beer duck" while the girls shared the local speciality of "beer fish". Since we weren't sure what fish it was I asked if we could see the fish before they cooked it. They looked at me like we were mad but eventually complied and the lady came back with a plastic bag with a fish in it. When I peered into the bag the bag jerked, the fish was still alive. So there was no question about the fish not being fresh, that's for sure! We also got to select the vegetables we wanted from a big table with all sorts of fresh ingredients on it.

Turned out we ordered way to much food! So when we saw a western couple walking the market looking curious I invited them to join us and partake of our feast and order more for themselves if they wanted. So they joined us and ordered some frog, some snails and some more vegetables.

So we had a huge feast at our table and it was very nice. We all got really stuffed and there was still food left at the table when we were done.

Then came the bad part... The check was a lot more expensive than expected! Especially the fish but also the vegetables. Since the lady didn't speak any English and she had such bad eye sight hat see could barely read what I pointed to at the menu. We tried to argue for a while but the language barrier made it quite tough. Eventually the table next to us took notice and one of the ladies there spoke good English so we got some help. So turns out the language barrier had hampered us while ordering as well. So the first price was wrong but even after getting some extra off due to the misunderstandings it was still more expensive than we had expected. But it was still only around 70 Yuan per person, so compared to home it's still cheap. So we paid and decided that it was worth the experience.

We had spent so much time eating and talking that after the walk back into town it was midnight. So I decided to head straight to bed.

Today I've been relaxing by the river during the morning. A Chinese guy started talking to me and wanted to practice his english, so we chatted for a while. Now it's time for lunch!

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1Jul/117

Calm Evening

So what did I do today? I mostly just chilled. Walked around town, took a stroll on the small paths outside the town and just enjoyed the hot clammy weather and the beautiful surroundings. Ate a nice noodle lunch for only 10 Yuan. And have had lots and lots of liquid to try to rehydrate.

Right before dinner when I went through my little locker I heard a familiar voice from the lobby, Monica was checking in to the same hostel. Since she has a Canon DSLR I have now confirmed that my body is bust but the lens works (really hope that the lens isn't producing unsharp pictures. But worst case scenario it needs readjustment and that doesn't cost a fortune).

So after confirming this dread we headed out for some dinner. We ended up at a place I found on the back streets yesterday. We thought it was a bit expensive but it turned out that was because we got a huge pot hat would have fed at least 4 people, maybe 5. So we left quite a lot, a shame that couldn't be helped.

After dinner we walked aimlessly through the streets just looking through shops and stalls. We didn't find the night market we were looking for. Will look it up in the lonely planet till tomorrow. The night market is supposed to have quite special food... Will report back if we find what we're looking for tomorrow!

I then had a relaxing beer at the rooftop terrace. Am going to bed now, a bit early, so I can get up early tomorrow. The plan is to rent bikes and get out of town to see the scenery during the first half of the day. And I'll buy my bus ticket back to Shenzhen tomorrow as well so I have that sorted.

Now time to sleep!

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1Jul/110

Broken and Lethargic

It's really beautiful here and the weather is good (but oh so hot and humid). I should just walk around or rent a bike and take to the countryside and enjoy the views... But I just can't.

Part of my mind runs through pointless "what if"-scenarios, another part just keeps cycling through obscenities and swear words while another part just keeps going through economic calculations with accompanying pros and cons.

Add to this that my stomach is still on the fritz which makes me a little dehydrated and thus I have less energy than I normally would.

Ugh!
That about sums it up!

I'm off to find some lunch, close to the hostel...

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30Jun/114

F**k, s**t, h**l and damn

So with just one week to go on an otherwise good trip it happens...

At the hostel they have a shelf inside the toilet/shower so you have somewhere to put your stuff while having a shower. Not wanting to leave stuff unattended I bring my camera bag with me to the toilet and put it on the shelf...
*boom*
It's on the floor!
And now it won't start half of the time, and when it starts it just says "busy" on the screen and I can't do anything with it. I have tried with several different memory cards and both with and without the lens. So it seems like it's the camera body that is fucked up. :'(
I hope I meet someone else with a Canon so I can try my lens in their body and vice versa. If one thing is to be broken I hope it's the body since it's cheaper than the lens.

But it seems like there will be no more pictures on this trip...

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30Jun/113

Good Food, Bad Stomach

A small update (making up for the lack of those in the last couple of days?).

So I am now in Yangshou. The train was a little late but not to bad. When I arrived in Guilin I went directly to the bus station. Which was only about 300 meters up the road (and that was he first time the compass in the iPhone actually came in handy). The bus ticket was easy to acquire, I just said "Yangshou" and she showed me the next departure which was 15 minutes away. The ticket cost 18 Yuan. So I just had time to buy something to drink on the bus and then board. The bus trip only took one hour and twenty minutes.

Hoping off the bus I just had to shake of the plethora of people trying to sell me hotelrooms, guided tours and such services. "Bo jao, bo jao" and walk on. Once one the street I was quite shire which way to go in this small town but once again double checked with my iPhone compass. My good sense of direction lead my on the right path but I missed the street I was supposed to turn of since it was an alley about 1.2 meters wide in between shops. So I walked to far and came at it from the other direction. But that didn't cost me more than 2 minutes, tops!

Fortunately they had empty beds, was a bit worried since I hadn't booked. A bed in a six bed dorm cost me 30 Yuan per night, not bad. And they have roof terrace with a view of the entire town and washing machine I could use. So I freshened up with a shower and threw my laundry in the machine and then headed out for some dinner.

On all the main streets the restaurants looked both expensive and boring. Many even "boasting" Western food. No thanks! So I headed for the back streets and the outskirts of town. I eventually found a street full of small restaurants that had small tables out on the sidewalk. Classic Chinese street food!

So after walking up and down the street I settled on one. They had all the raw ingredients presented like a buffé. So I just pointed to what I wanted, beef and five different vegetables and I asked for noodles instead of rice. They fried it up for me with some spicy chili. And of course I couldn't resist ordering a beer.

Dinner time!

So what did this little feast cost me? 12 Yuan!
That's right, about 12 kr for that. 8 Yuan the food and 4 Yuan for that big beer! Eat your heart out Stockholm!

I then headed back to the hostel to hang my laundry on the roof and I'm now sitting on the roof with a beer just chilling.

The only stormcloud on my horizon is that my stomach still is not feeling all that great. So I need regular trips to the bathroom (sorry, maybe TMI). But I'm trying to ignore that and just enjoy it here.

The weather here is hot and very humid. After a few days in a cool climate I'm sweating badly, but I'm not complaining.

Since I now have internet I'll probably update again shortly (so people can chill).

Bonus! A video from
The hostels roof top terrace. 43.3 MB

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