Tag Archives: China

Various views

7 Jul

This post isn’t going to be easily comprehensible because of the many random thoughts I am choosing to reveal.

Most disgusting moment thus far: realizing that women in China don’t care to close bathroom stall doors when taking a leak.

Most fat moment thus far: all of today. Family members honestly try to overfeed you. I ate everything I could have possibly wanted to eat in Malaysia and Singapore combined.

Happy 50th Birthday to Malaysia (prior to 1957, Singapore and Malaysia were combined as Malaya)

First Malaysia’s government tried to move the capital from Kuala Lumpur to Shah Alam.  That first project failed. Now they are trying to move it to Putrajaya – where one streetlamp costs $10,000. I’m pretty sure this second project is in the midst of failing. What a waste of money – the government could have done more for its people.

When you encounter Malaysian beggars, you almost tend to stop sympathizing with Canadian ones.  I only say this because I’ve encountered 3 in one night market – all could not walk because of missing or deformed limbs. Apparently, there is some sort of syndicated operation where someone will pick these beggars up and deposit them at busy areas for them to collect/beg for money. Once the rush is over, the beggars get picked up again and share their gains with other beggars in the group – and the group mastermind of course (who is an able bodied person).  Would you give these beggars money? Think about it. There are many pros and cons to any decision, no matter how you look at it.

“True” Malays are preferred by the government in M’sia. They are to be put at the top of large organizations – i.e. sometimes, a Malay must be a CEO. They also get incentives to start businesses. Other ethnicities do not. Especially Chinese-Malaysians. There is underlying conflict.

The streets are really dirty here in Malaysia. and smelly.

I really hope I don’t talk like the Singaporeans and Malaysians when I come back. As in I better not get used to speaking without pronouns, nouns, etc and using “lah” way too often.

Yangtze River Cruise

25 Jun

Alright so after Xi’an (shee-anne), we went to Chongqing (chong-ching) to board a cruise ship; but we got to look around the city for a bit before boarding.

Chongqing was the war capital of China during WWII (what they refer to as “the anti-japanese war”). Why’s this interesting? because you can still see bomb shelters built deep into the mountains of Chongqing – these are now being rented out by citizens from the government.  The population of this “small city” is 32 million. Yes, folks – the approx. population of Canada is “small” according to Chinese people.

We boarded President Cruises No. 6 Friday June 22, 2007.

Saturday June 23, 2007
We went to Ghost City in Feng Du (where I had to climb over 400 steps….goodness). This place consists of Taoism and Buddhism temples. Although it concentrates on the two major Chinese religions, it is believed that ghosts from all over the world, regardless of religion, race, and gender, come to Ghost City to be judged after their death. Those worthy go to Heaven (or a similar rewarding place depending on what they believed in) and those who were damned went to hell – which is believed to be Ghost City. Citizens of Feng Du believe that the ghosts wander the streets after midnight and so they stay home. There is a statue of the God of Hell (oxymoron?) which does NOT represent the devil. The God of Hell is just in charge of judgment and punishment. Punishment examples: cutting off your tongue for lying, cutting your body in half for bigamy.  All in all, it was an interesting place….whether or not you believe the stories.

Sunday June 24, 2007
I realized that this cruise was probably the most relaxing part of my trip so far. Even though I haven’t gotten up past 6am on any day, my cruise days have consisted a lot of sitting and relaxing with a book or just enjoying the view. The purpose of the Yangtze River cruise was to see the famous 3 Gorges and the huge Dam Project (which costs 23 billion US dollars and requires the displacement/relocation of 1.3 million citizens due to the rising water levels which submerge lower land!).  The Dam Project is supposed to be completed in 2009. 
The scenery of the 3 gorges is beautiful. All you see is mountain after mountain, cliff after cliff, and waterfalls trickling down the side of sheer mountain drops. Nature paints the perfect picture, as they say.  You can even see little farms and fields where people own and work on the hilly terrain.
A weird sight you have to know about: Hanging/Suspended Coffins. These are coffins made of special wood which are excellent for preserving bones for more than 130 years. These coffins are in little caves in the mountain walls. The mystery behind hanging coffins is that nobody knows how people put them there. Imagine a huge mountain wall with a random coffin in a hole – so far off the river and so far below the top that you can’t get to it. There are no steps or attachments to access them.

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In Chongqing, I bought a painting. A simple picture of flowers in bloom…painted by an artist with no arms.  Mr. Huang Guofu lost his arms at the age of 4 in an electrical accident. Growing up, he never had the chance at a proper education, so he decided to earn money by painting. He learned to paint with his feet and mouth. The paintings are nothing short of amazing. You’ve seen Chinese paintings – they are the same, except his are more awe-inspiring. Watching him paint with his mouth was unbelievable. He is an example of a strong individual who lives the phrase ‘you can do anything you put your mind to’. He paints and earns money for his family and gives his earnings to charity as well. A giving, remarkable man who faced and overcame difficult obstacles.
I bought the painting to remind me of my good fortune in life – how lucky I am. It also reminds me of one man’s strength, will, and determination. It reminds me that I have everything to be thankful for.

Xi’an, China

21 Jun

So this city is made up of flat land…mostly. Once in a while you’ll see ONE giant hill in the middle of nowhere. These are mausoleums for dead emperors and for items which they saw fit to be buried with. death hills, I like to call them.

Anyway, this part of the China tour has consisted mainly of visiting historical sites and museums to learn about the many dynasties. One famous thing you might have heard of are the Terracotta Warriors. There are over 8000 infantry, archery, and calvary men (along with their horses) that were made out of terracotta (a type of ceramic) as burial objects for the first emperor of China. These were built life-sized.  ya, that’s right, the first emperor had these made so that they could be buried with him in his mausoleum. The reason? Chinese people believe that after death, we go to another world- and whatever you bury with you in our world will travel with you to the ‘other’ world.  If you’ve ever heard of Chinese people burning paper houses, “hell money”, paper cars, etc., it’s the same concept. Whatever is burned with you at your cremation is carried with you to the other side. I think the burning paper concept is much more efficient than the burying concept.

Anyway I think I’m becoming allergic to museums. I love knowing about history and all that…but I hate looking at the same/or similar things over and over again. Thanks to our tour guide for helping out in the boredom department though – he allows me to skip out on reading plaques and plaques of information.  Seriously though, a museum a day for 3 days straight is not my thing.

On another note, I’m dumpling’d out. I went to a Dumpling Banquet and ate too many. no more dumplings please.

I won’t be updating this for a couple days due to a mini-cruise I’m taking…where I doubt they will have the internet.

Cheers, all.

P.S. Try warm rice wine!

Beijing, China

19 Jun

This entry is not going to be very comprehensive for those who can’t follow my random train of thoughts. I’m not going to write things in any particular order. I’m not categorizing. Fair warning.

June 17 and 18, 2007 (remember, I’m 12 hours ahead of Toronto)
Never drive in China. Really – don’t. Unless you have guts – serious guts.  You’ll have to get used to a 3 lane road being turned into a 4 lane road by the drivers; multiple turning lanes (marked or unmarked); crazy bicycles and pedestrians; tons of traffic everywhere; and minimal braking by drivers (they have right of way apparently). Those are only a few things you have to worry about. Road rage doesn’t exist here – because it doesn’t help. Aggression won’t do anything. Fearful people shouldn’t even cross a road in Beijing, let alone drive. If you can drive in China, you can drive anywhere in the world.

Tian’anmen Square: Nobody here talks about the massacre. There are plainclothes police all over the square. I guess silence is supposed to help people forget it ever happened.

The Forbidden City: A place where Emperors and their royal families resided away from the public. It’s ridiculous how much money was spent on the palaces.  I guess when you’re the rich leader of a country, you can do anything.

China is always smoggy. It’s kind of disgusting.

Summer Palace: one Empress had a place built for her seasonal dwelling…oh and she had a man-made lake put on the property. Yup, her own private lake took 8 years to build.

I climbed the Great Wall. And it was tiring. Yea, they’re just stairs…very steep and uneven stairs. They measure how much you’ve climbed by how many watchtowers you’ve passed. I think I did 4 (up and down in less than an hour). If I don’t have wicked legs by the end of this trip, I’m going to lose faith in walking and climbing exercises. But it felt damn good getting to the top. Now my legs feel like jelly.

Chinese tea is a good addiction right? I think it’s one of the things that I’ll retain from my culture throughout my life (without the parents bugging me about getting in touch with my own culture).

I didn’t want to bore you with historical facts about all the places I’ve been. I didn’t even mention all of the places I’ve visited – just the ones you’d know, maybe. 

Good night! (10:00 pm Beijing time)