Sunday, October 22, 2006

A man of action!

After writing that last entry on my blog, I though I'd take the bull by the horns! I said to myself, "You know the problem, its within your control. So do something about it."
So I gathered a couple of friends who were also stranded in Shanghai for the week, and WANTED to go some where and made rough plans to head out. First plan was Hangzhou. Apparently a very nice city and not too far from Shanghai.

We left for the train station and arrived only to discover we had missed the train. (story of my life...) So we'll take the next best thing, the bus. Bus we discovered was going to take way too long to get there and we didn't really have enough time. So off to Suzhou it was.

Suzhou is a nice city, small in China terms. Think the taxi driver said it had 7 million people? I could be completely wrong. We visited several gardens, all of which I cannot remember the name of. There is probably value in taking more note to detail druing my travels.

Some of these gardens were quite nice. Within was beautiful architecture and landscapes. Because we went during the public holiday time, there were quite a number of people around. On a quiet day these gardens would be a fantastic place to just get away from it all.
I've always had great respect for customs and cultures. Though you may not share the same beliefs, it is only appropriate that you treat it with a certain level of respect. Walking through these gardens you got an idea of the way of life and that these people would have had. What I liked most was the furniture and architecture. Imagine having a lovely home built with an old style chinese tiled roof, hand carved wooden doors, carved fringing, a centre courtyard and pond. Inside you'd have all wooden furniture and round archways. Your windows would also have carved wooden surroundings. Your lounge room would have a sunken floor. I'm not sure whether this is traditional, but I'd put it in. Then I'd put in plasmas, in floor heating, A/C, a theatre room and through the house I would have a Linn Knekt system running. As I drive home my Aston Martin, I drive over my chinese style lounge bridge and park it under the pagoda. But thats a way off yet.... lot of hard work between now and then.

When I meet people here in China, I decide whether I want them to know I speak Chinese or not. Its quite a fun game to play. (Although my chinese is still very poor.) On this occasion we were getting on to a boat to head up and down some canal. The 3 of us wanted a boat to ourselves, however the operator said (in chinese) to my english speaking friends, "the boat will leave only when we have more people." Of course after he realised that they didn't understand he turned to me, the chinese looking guy. I replied, "Sorry, I don't speak chinese." Pointed at the boat and said, "Lets go." We did this lovely exercise about 6 times before others arrived and eventually 5 of us got on the boat. The old lady who was rowing looked at me in great disbelief because I was speaking english. She spoke some dialect, and was saying to me, "You understand chinese. You are chinese! You speak chinese." I begged to differ and said, "Wo Bu Dong." (我不懂), in the most foriegn accent I could. Sounded more like "War booo dong" and smiled. Meanwhile Zelah and Tomas (my travelling companions) were laughing away. Zelah said to her, in her foreign chinese accent, "He is from Singapore."
On the way back we saw the entrance and Tomas suggested to me to ask the lady to stop the boat there so we could leave the park easier. No problem, except I now didn't know how to speak chinese. Great....... When we got off, I really wanted to say to her in chinese, thank you and I really don't know how to speak chinese. But bit my tongue.

Lunch was at some small local restaurant. I decided I was going to speak chinese here, otherwise we'd never get any food. It ended up that the owner ordered some dishes for us. I just told her how many dishes and it has to taste good. So out came 3 dishes including sweet and sour pork. She specifically announced it saying that foreigners LOVE it. Not the case here. It wasn't very good sweet and sour pork. Bill time came and the waitress called the here for the bill. Without looking at the order she said 50RMB (under $10 Australian). I gave her the money but also challenged her. I said there was no way it was that much and told her that if she could show me the dishes on the menu and they added up to 50 RMB I would give her 100RMB. If not the bill should be free cos she was trying to cheat me. Now 50RMB is dirt cheap, but its the fricken principle and I HATE being lied to and cheated. So I kicked up a fuss and she was trying to squeeze out of it by saying that she gave us more so charged us more and so on. Load of Shit really but gave it to her anyway. I hate being taken advantage of and sometimes China becomes so tiring that you are constantly thinking, "Are they lying to me?". I hope that China doesn't take away my ability to trust.

Later on we were walking around the city streets and stumbled on some parade. Basically we were walking up the street and the street turned in to red carpet and there were people taking photos of us. It clicked after the police officer directed me off the carpet. I quickly blended into the crowd, pulled out my camera and waited for royality or some superstar. I had NO idea what was going on. Some foreigners walked up accompanied by some chinese officials and several cars. It was weird.

Trip back to Shanghai took around an hour via train. Suprisingly the train was much cheaper than the bus, half the price. I really want to do more trips around China. I guess the only factor is TIME. There just isn't enough time to do everything.

Song for the moment: Laytrx - Lady don't tek no. An old favourite song that scratch djs like to drop in their scratch routines. Nice simple beat and bassline. Nothing to do with my blog entry, just a song that I was listening to.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Apparently Golden week..

Stepping back a couple of weeks, Marty came to visit. FOR HIS BIRTHDAY THAT I FORGOT AND HE LACKED TO MENTION! FOOL! (BOTH ME & HIM). We visited a museum of something. The one in people's square (人民广场)here. Nice little exhibits, can't remember the name of the exhibition. Then we went to Barbarossa. (Seen in the background of the picture.) Showed Marty some of the rush and masses of people around and then after a quick tour of my apartment, we had some food. All in all, there wasn't much of a birthday celebration, more of a catch up drink. We should have consumed at least 5 times the alcohol.

So its public holiday week here in China. Don't get me wrong, I love holidays. Especially because I'm going to be really busy when work starts again. I'm not sure how much time I'll have to even write this blog once my projects start rolling for work. (Lets just say initiative is not a strong point here.)

This week I basically am going to waste away in Shanghai. Many reasons why I haven't gone anywhere... I'll regret it. I've had fun spending time with people this week, and not having to go to work, but its not really a holiday as such. Basically my wish to see China, is just not happening... I will have to do something about this soon. Work gives me a measly 7 days off per year, which is nothing short of a joke. So really I need to make the most of my time as well as negotiate more time off. Things that are seemingly so simply, are always so complicated.... and I don't even know why.