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Archive for the 'January 2006 Trip' Category

Taeleanig tower of Pisa

Now I know what the “Leaning Tower of Pisa” is but what exactly is a “Taeleanig Tower of Pisa”??? Oh, and what if I’m not in a rush and want “Maintenance for Camera Slowly”??? Great examples straight to you from the Window to the World centre in the Nanshaan discrict of Shenzhen.

Window to the World

Window to the World
Yesterday was very nice. I thought that the thick smog would filter out the UV rays, but it didn’t, so I was a bit burned. Not too much though. Andrew and I had our day off yesterday, so we went to the ‘Window to the World’. It’s absolutely huge. It’s a theme park, and there are miniatures, or at least scaled down models of the world’s major landmarks and recognisable places. There are some truly amazing things. For
Australia they have the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Ayres Rock and the Opera House.

Arc de Triomphe Sydney Harbour Bridge Sydney Opera House

There’s something, or more than one thing, for every country in the world. They are very proud of their Eiffel Tower. It’s quite useful too, because you can see it from anywhere in the park. Which was necessary, as the park took us nearly 6 hours to walk through, and we didn’t linger too much at anything.

Eiffel Tower Pyramids Colosseum

We filled 2 photo cards on the digital camera and flattened 2 sets of batteries. 194 photos, and we ran out before we got to the end. So no German castles, or British thingos, or Stonehenge, or bits like that. The detail is quite amazing, and it must’ve taken a very long time to do. Worth another trip, actually. I’d like to get a photo of lying down on one of the stones at Stonehenge. That would be very classy.

To tell the truth, we suspect Window is there so that the Chinese people don’t have to travel; they have all the major things you go to foreign places to see, right in their own backyard. We imagine the government would want to promote the line of thought, ‘I’ve seen it, yes it’s great, China is so much greater than the rest of the (small) world. And if that’s what I was going to see, I don’t have to spend money travelling; it’s just there at a convenient distance from home. Now I’ll go home and be happy that I’ve ‘travelled’ and seen the sights, and not think about possible alternate ways that these people in other countries must live or be governed, and instead be thankful and go home and think happy thoughts about our government and living situation, or at least not unlawful dissident thoughts about it.’ My opinion.

Niagara Falls

‘Hi. My name’s Gail. It’s been 2 breaths since my last smoke’
For the next while I’m going to be a smoker. I took for granted the non-smoking properties of Aussie restaurants. Never again. Every 2nd or 3rd person smokes here, it seems, and I’m sure it contributes to the pollution. We inhale so much smoke every day, it’s quite nasty. Evening eating in enclosed areas can also be unpleasant. You try not to breathe deeply, but every so often you just have to. On the pollution front, I was fine yesterday. ) No headaches, nausea, difficulty breathing, headspins. ) A bit ho-hum, really.

(*Note: we subsequently discovered that 70% of Shenzhen [adults?] smoke. Feelings of justification of accuracy do not alleviate actual discomfort.)

Bitte, wo is die Toilette? - Da drüben?!
There aren’t many public toilets anywhere, even at train stations. You carry your own toilet paper - you know the little packets of Kleenex tissues? They use those. They come in 4-ply, has anyone noticed? Amazing. And no paper can be put down the toilet, it all has to go in an open bin next to it. _Most_ people are accurate. You make sure your feet are _well_ out the way when it flushes, though. )

Language, et al.
About the language, I’m picking up a bit. ‘Wo yao n tser suo’ is ‘I want female toilet’. Andrew taught me ‘Wo yao he Kaffe’ ‘I want drink coffee’, or ‘Ni yao he kaffe ma’ ‘ You want drink coffee question’. ‘doong caffe’ is iced (’cold’) coffee. I have no idea what hot chocolate is, but I know ‘da’ is big, so will be prepared. ) They make their coffee strong, so Richard would be happy, and is generally served black, so Purdos would be fine, and Jan, you can put as many sugars in it as you’d like. ) )

Food
We’ve had a decent time so far. Would you believe I’m a bit fed up with eating out? The food is pretty good, though, but usually not what you expect. Tried duck and didn’t really like it. It wasn’t Peaking duck though, so maybe that’s different. It was a Set Meal A-type, and they’d cooked a whole duck, then hacked it up into small pieces with a cleaver, had a lot of bone, gristle and fat in it.

Apartments
On the apartment front:
We looked at apartments today.
We looked at apartments yesterday.
We looked at apartments the day before.
Would you believe after 30 apartments, I’m really fed up with it? At least we’ve decided on one that will be fine. It’s actually a lot more spacious than I was expecting, and in the city centre, so don’t open the windows: noise and pollution is pretty bad. It’ll be home though for the next while.

Apartment view

Here’s a shot of the apartment we like and hope to get. Note that we have a wonderful view of concrete buildings shrouded in smog. At least there are plenty of windows, but you wouldn’t dare open one.

Taxis: The New Generation
The taxis think that they own the road. Pedestrian safety is negotiable. Horns really are an extra part of the driver’s person, and are used incessantly by just about every taxi driver.

No horns

We have decided that a ‘lemon squash’ is probably taken by every driver before he starts, along with 5 cigarettes, and the passenger probably should take some blood pressure medication and an oxygen tank. We were driven to one place, which took far less than reasonable time to get there. The driver was doing 120-30 or so km/hr in an 80 zone. There were no seatbelts (No taxi has them. It’s considered an inditement against their ‘driving’ to wear them. I decline to comment on that). The taxi driver was also straddling the white lines, and changing between right, middle and left hand lanes at an alarming rate. He must’ve needed to do that to steady his nerves after all those ciggies. Amazingly, all/most taxis have ‘do not smoke’ signs in them. That was amusing.

First Impressions

Travel tips: take the paper bag
Our plane trips went fine. Sydney to HK is long, but not unbearably so. There wasn’t much to do really. We had lots of turbulence, and quite a few people were clogging up the toilet with unwanted goods, including beloved husband, who was really looking quite yellowish-white for the last hour or so. I had fun stretching up the back of the plane, with a few Chinese kids who didn’t speak English but giggled at funny white people making funny faces with them. It helped passed the time. I was being depressingly cheerful as only someone who hasn’t got motion sickness like half the plane, can be.

Hong Kong was ok. We got off the plane, bought tickets for the train. Got on the train, transferred to another train on a different level, transferred to a third train. After someone offered us (very welcome) directions, which we tried to, and almost succeeded in following. We then got out of the subway, walked a few streets with heavy bags to our hotel. I felt an absolute dag, as we were very travelled, and tired. We checked in, downed bags and went to get some tea from somewhere that we hoped we wouldn’t get sick at. We found what turned out to be a Japanese place. there was much sushi, cold fish, other Japanese delicacies that I didn’t really understand. We just wanted some food. I actually liked the sushi. The Japanese make it so different to us. It’s more delicate in taste balance. Andrew didn’t really go for it, though. I was really hungry, and it didn’t move in front of me, so was fair game. The place we ate at also did other western things, which were quite nice after plane food. It was also Adelaide time 11:30 at night; we were so zonked after a 5am start, too.

Tourists doing touristy things
The next day we started late and went to The Peak in HK, which overlooks the city on a fine day. On a wet day, aka yesterday, it’s a haven for misty rain, cold at about 10 degrees C, and foggy weather so you can huff your breath into the air. We had a look around, took a few photos, and shared a hot chocolate from a French restaurant which tasted nice. It was quite like our Nestle Alpine Blend, I think. A lighter texture than Cadbury’s. Then we went back to the hotel after a late lunch to get bags and head off to China. It was so cold and we were worn out, and I was more uncoordinated than usual because of it. So lunch was interesting. I spilt the noodles a bit. On Andrew. ) It was nice we were by ourselves in the corner, and could relax, and didn’t have to talk to people, and didn’t get stared at much.

Noodles

Onward and inland
Getting into china wasn’t too smooth. We had travel cards that we had to swipe, and there was an inexplicable lack of money on one of them (but not the other), which meant we couldn’t upgrade our seats to 1st class (worthwhile, and not horribly expensive). That took 1/2 hr and a lot of running about to sort out. Once on the train, it takes a while to get to China, for a border city. One hour on the train. We spent another hour in customs lines, at the end of a long and tiring day with heavy bags. Don’t bother using an overnight bag. Bad idea. Rollered cases are the way to go. Or backpackers’ bags. We got there eventually, though. The hotel was really nice.

Apartment shopping, Polluting in China
Today we looked at 16 apartments in China. Only 3 were really worth considering. The pollution is starting to get to us. My head was light and I was dizzy in increasing amounts today, and there is a bit of tightness in my chest and I feel it’s hard to breathe sometimes. Apparently this is normal, so don’t worry too much. It’s better with lots of water and a bit of food in me. The best thing today was the hot borsch soup at lunch (really like tomato soup, with onion, paprika, cabbage and meat strands). Just what I needed, and very nice. I also had a steak-thing with rice, and then tea. For their ‘dessert’ tea, they have funny milky tea. It tastes like it’s made from strong tea, with condensed milk in it. This sounds nice, but I didn’t think it was. _Very_ few places have hot chocolate on the menu!!! Oh dear. ( I might have to become a coffee drinker. I haven’t tried the coffee yet, but I hope it’s not like the tea. )

Do you want some language with that?
We had our first Ch-inglesh mix-up the other night at tea. We each ordered a lemon squash, and got a lemonade with scotch in it. ) I’ve never had scotch before, and it’s not anything to write home about. Things are a bit weird. Most things are normal, but somehow different too. In HK the broccoli and carrots tasted like normal b and c, but they were cooked in a slightly different way. I think it’s part of a new place. At breakfast this morning they had Beerenberg jams on the table!!! Half a world away, I still could look at something that’s just up the road. ) ) That felt good.