Monday, July 30, 2012

My China Trip, part 5

From my last post, you know I went go Guangzhou. Guangzhou was a cool place, but I couldn't wait to go to my hometown. 台山, Taishan. The thing was that the day before we left, we watched the news and it said that there would be storms in Taishan. My mother was hesitant to go the next day, but we called my cousin who was at Taishan, to see how the weather was really like. He said it was hot, sunny, sticky, just like any other summer day.

We actually took a bus to Taishan. My mom's aunt took us to the bus station,which was really nice of her and she showed us how to buy the tickets and everything. We barely made it on time to the bus because the tickets we bought, the bus would leave in about 10 minutes. We didn't want to wait for a couple hours at the station with no air conditioning. There were actually tons of people there who seemed like they had spent the night there, with their sleeping bags out and everything. 

The bus was actually quite nice. The seats were pretty comfortable and there was air conditioning. I actually fell asleep on the bus ride. I think I've gotten used to sleeping on the bus because there were long bus rides while I was on tour. 

Anyway, when we were close to Taishan, my dad started pointing all these places that he recognized after not being there for about 20 years. Of course, there were new things, but he recognized the area. My mother, on the other hand, didn't. It took her a while to remember.

Anyway, when we arrived in Taishan, it started. It's normal for it to rain at this time of year. We waited for a family friend to pick us up. As it turned out, we had a taxi van take us to my grandparent's place, where we stayed during our stay in Taishan. Taxi vans are common throughout Taishan. There are even taxi motorcycles (but I don't suggest taking those because mainly men drive them, and who knows what other things they have in mind).

After meeting up with a family friend and settling into the apartment, we went out to eat lunch. We walked to the restaurant, which wasn't that far. My cousin joined us too (he's also staying at the apartment). The food was actually yummy and I loved the mochi like dessert they had. It was brown, shaped like disks, and it was made with rice flour, stick brown sugar and some other things. I wish I knew how to make it, but oh well. Walking around Taishan, you really see some of the poverty around. You also see how dirty the streets are and how much people either ride their bike, motorcycle or walk to the places they need to go to. There are so many people on the street. No wonder why Asians are so skinny, unlike me. I feel so fat compared to them. I still feel fat...

Anyway, we went back to the apartment after. The food in China tastes so much better in my opinion, even though some of it is street food. You have to be careful because sanitation is unheard of on the streets. I'm scared how they prepare the food, even though they cook it right in front of you. You just have to trust that the heat will kill the germs. Their steamed buns are awesome. I ate red bean buns, lotus buns and sesame paste buns, almost every morning. They're pretty cheap too. The steamed buns were sold on the street. However, there  are actual bakeries, where they sell baked buns, cakes, and other baked goods too. The bolo bao was delicious, especially with the red bean filling. They even added some shredded coconut to the cookie part. Delish! The street fried noodles too and the cheung foon was good too. They did have rice porridge, but I was disgusted how they put it "to go". Instead of putting the porridge in a container, they poured it into a plastic bag, and doubled bagged it. I didn't eat it.

Anyway, we did many things in Taishan. For one thing, we went to one of the shopping streets there. We called up the same taxi van person to drive us there. He's pretty nice and we ended up calling him most of the time for when we needed someone to drive us. Anyway, at the shopping place, it was really hot but the clothes were so cute. It's kind of scary though because the sales people watch you like a hawk and follow you around, trying to get you to buy stuff. ANyway, there was also an indoor shopping center too, with McDonald's there too. McDonald's is seriously taking over Asian. They also have this Kung Fu fast food place everywhere in China, but we never ate in one of their restaurants. I actually like the McDonald's in Asia better. They have better customer service. They even bring the food to you and clean up after you. Their food options are so much better and more variety and they use REAL ingredients. Iespecially love their ice cream cones, and they're pretty cheap too. It's less than 50 cents American money.  Anyway, I always got their iced coffee and, guess what. They put ICE CREAM in it. Not CREAM. It was delicious.

Anyway, the indoor shopping center had more modern clothes but it was so expensive. I was actually on a lookout for a cute Asian dress, but I never found one, even though we went to all the shops there, in the center and the outdoor shopping area. Well, I did find one, but it was expensive, in Chinese standards, at least. It would be pretty cheap for American standards. Anyway, we even found a mini dollar tree there. Well, it's actually 2 yuan, but that's basically a few cents in American money.

What really got me annoyed was that whenever I went into a local shop, the owners automatically spoke to me in Mandarin. Not the local dialect, Taishanese. However, they would speak it with other customers. I think it's because I look like I'm not from the area. It could have been the way I dress or just my skin color. They actually judge by skin color too, to see if you are from the area or not. But, in Beijing, they thought I was from Taiwan because of my more western clothing. Anyway, seriously though. I thought that I blended in with the rest of the Taishanese people. But, some people could tell by the skin color too. I lie, actually. Only once in Taishan did that happen, but still, I felt offended that someone thought that I was an outsider.

 I ended up buying a dress the first time we went shopping at that area. We went at least 4 more times and I bought 2 new shirts, spandex shorts and a new sleeping dress/shirt. Twice, I bought the hong kong waffle from the street vendors in the area. It was delicious (but not as good as the ones I ate in Hong Kong and the ones I tried here in the states, which had banana filling in it).

Anyway, we went to my dad's village a day or two after we arrived in Taishan. My dad hadn't gone in almost 20 years and yet, he still blended in with the village people. You can tell they were villagers. The buildings were basically right next to each other, some made of bricks and that stuff. The locks were pretty secure too. They had rice grains laid out on the ground and peanuts as well to dry them out. Chickens were roaming freely and the ground dirty. It's really hard to explain. Anyway, the people still farm and wash their clothes in the river. They had tans, the women with hunched backs, and their teeth, you can tell they were villagers. The guy farmers actually had abs, at the age of 50. It was quite a surprising sight. But, my dad's house was actually bit more modern, since it had a real bathroom. I did meet a guy there, whose house was actually quite modern in the inside, besides not having air conditioning. He had a big screen tv, computer and all that stuff. I was quite shocked, since I didn't expect that in an old farming village, where everyone was connected to each other somehow and that most villages didn't modernize. There's internet and running water.Everyone has the same surname  in the village and there are really strong and close ties with one another. Anyway, the guy happens to be the son of my dad's friend, who was a teacher.  By the way, we bought tons of candy and crackers there and all the villagers divided it among themselves.

We ended up taking half the village out to eat for lunch. We somehow crammed 18 people into a van to get to the closest restaurant. At the restaurant, you could really tell who the villagers were. The way they acted and how they dressed seem really out of place from the others. My dad's village friends ordered tons of food, soda and cigarettes and that stuff. They did order a lot of eel rice, which Taishan is famous for. They didn't really even eat that much. They took home the leftovers, which they put in bags and not boxes. It was quite an experience dining with them. 

Anyway, we went back to the village. We walked around the village, took pictures but then it got too hot, so we went back inside. We even walked into their community center, where they had names and pictures of the people that have lived in the village. They had my grandparents names and pictures up there. I was so surprised but touched by it. 

We walked around the farming fields and stuff and then, we finally, we decided to go back to the apartment. We had someone drive us back. Surprisingly, my dad's friend's son tagged along, since he said he would be hanging out with friends in that area where our apartment was. I think he had more than that in mind though (me) since he stayed with us for a couple hours in our apartment. 

Anyway, most of the time in Taishan, it was either eating out with my mom or dad's friends or family, shopping, and staying home in the apartment. We started walking more to the places now, instead of having someone drive us. There was this one restaurant that we almost always went to whenever my mom invited either family or friends to come talk and eat. The place was actually pretty decent and more modern though. I really loved the vegetable dishes they cooked. 

So, we stopped by the supermarket a couple times in Taishan. We bought one of their shampoos and liquid soap to use and I have to say, I like it a lot better than the American ones. They work so much better and smell better too. I also looked around their snacks and everything and guess what. I found something I hadn't eaten in 10 years. They were Iced Gem Biscuits. I used to eat them a lot when I was a little kid. They used to sell them in the Asian stores here in Cali. But, the stopped selling them for some reason and I missed eating them. So, I bought a bag. Boy, they are delicious, just how I remembered  how they were when I was a child. It brought back so many memories.  One of them was that, a tooth fell out when I was eating the hard icing once. It was actually a crown on a tooth, but I still remember that clearly. Boy, I wish I had bought extra bags to bring to the states. I even found red bean kit kats there, but I didn't buy any. I wish I had. I love red bean. I also love kit kats. Hopefully, I can find some here in California, but in the meantime, I'll just have to hate myself for not buying it. We also found Chinese Oreos with random fruit flavor fillings. It tasted okay. I should have gotten the strawberry filling, but we got the mango/orange filling. 

I forgot to mention that in Taishan, my parents bought cooked dog meat from restaurants to eat. They love dog meat. I didn't eat any though. Another popular item besides dog meat is eel rice in Taishan. Everyone seems to love both of those items. 

Our family walked to so many places, it felt so natural and I actually knew my way around the area. My dad found his way around on the first day, actually. He's really good with direction and he has been to that area before when he walked around and biked there a long long time ago. Anyway, we went to my mom's village another day too. It's so sad how not many people live in the villages anymore. There are very few people in the villages. Mainly the older people stay while the younger ones move out for to get their education or move to the city to have a better life. My mom's village was the same but different than my dad's. The house was really old  and not modern, but it was modern and advanced when my mom lived there as a child. It's made of bricks, the cooking is over a hole thing while you need to start a fire to cook. 

There is no running water in that village and the population was so small. My grandma's relative helped us out. Her married son was also very helpful and their granddaughter was just adorable. Anyway, my mom's house that she lived in when she was little had stairs, which were quite small. She remembered running up and down the stairs with her siblings and running around the dinner table. There's also baskets hanging in which they store food.  Anyway, we went out to eat and then we went to the son's place, which was in an actual part of the city. Most people have moved out. Their house was pretty fancy. It was an actual house and not an apartment. There were gates, fences, they had pet dogs. They had real couches, big screen TV, smartphones and there were these fancy chandler lights. Their little daughter had tons of toys and always wanted to talk and play with me. I guess she gets lonely being the only child. However, their bathroom was quite old fashioned, having to pour water into the hole after using it.

WE also went out to another city around that area to visit my mom's other aunt. Both aunts would be there to have a mini reunion, but my grandmother was still in the USA during that time. Anyway, that aunt's place was really nice too. I'm guessing big screen TV's are the norm in China. This place was an apartment. All of the apartmens have a mini outside patio thing with bars for hanging clothes to dry and that stuff. That aunt had 2 grandsons that were also there, around my age. The older one's English was okay though. Anyway, the whole big family went around town, ate lunch and went back to the apartment and then, we took a bus to the bus station and then took the bus back to Taishan. By the way, my cousin tagged along too, that's also staying at the apartment we are.

Anyway, that was pretty much it. We visited family, friends, shopped and walked around and went out to eat. We had McDonald's ice cream cone a lot though. We also went to a fancier part of Taishan, where there were these 5 star hotels and an amazing restaurant.  We just looked around though.  We also walked around this man-made lake, which was pretty and nice. We also walked around this huge park area. We saw bamboos, banana trees, taro plans, guava trees and these cool plans we don't see in America. It did rain on us though, but then, it become hot and sunny.

We stayed at Taishan for about 2 weeks. But, we did go to Macau for one day during the 2 weeks. We went to Hong Kong after staying in Taishan, but that will be in the next post. I guess that's all I'll write about Taishan. There's so much to say, but this is all I will say since I might have forgotten some things. I hope it isn't too long.

Stay tuned if you want to hear about Macau (the gambling city) and Hong Kong.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

My China Trip, part 4

I'm sorry about my long post of the tour. I just wanted to get it all finished in one post so that I don't post too much about the trip. I hope I didn't bore you guys or anything with it.

So, after the Shanghai trip, our next stop was Guangzhou. However, we did not receive our flight times until the the night we were suppose to pack so that we could leave at 5 in the morning the next day. I know. 5 in the morning. We didn't get to eat at the breakfast buffet that we had paid for when we paid for the tour. They didn't refund the money for it. What made it worse was that we did not have time to search the weight and luggage limit for that certain airline.

We arrived at the airport at 6, while the flight was at 7. Imagine that. They told us that our suitcases were overweight and that we had too many. We'd have to pay extra. We ended up throwing away some things, and still had to pay the extra money. They should have told us about our flights earlier, but what's done is done. By the way, they didn't give out any snacks or water or anything during the flight. Then again, I didn't really pay attention since I fell asleep right when the flight started.

We ended up arriving in Guangzhou around 10 or 11, but didn't get to the hotel until 12 or 1 pm. Not having eaten breakfast, we were starving. So, we walked around the area, which happened to be Beijing street, I think. We ended up going to this one restaurant and ate a decent meal. We went back to the hotel and then my parents signed us up for a local tour of Guangzhou. It was a bad choice. But, hey, at least we went around the city. I even got my hair straighten, well, a straight perm. It has held pretty well after 2 or 3 weeks. My hair is naturally wavy, frizzy and a little curly, and it has stayed pretty much straight. It looks better than when I straighten my hair with a straightener.  Anyway, my mom's aunt lives in that city and she and her husband and grandson came over to our hotel and then we all went to a restaurant to eat dinner at around 7. We had eaten McDonald's as a snack (where I got a delicious taro pie). Anyway, my mom's cousins also came to the dinner too, and the dinner was delicious. I also noticed that their son was quite..stubborn. That's all how I can describe him, even though he's just 6 years old. Apparently, they had walked for at least 30 minutes to eat dinner with us. That was so nice. Then again, it has been around 20 years since my mom has seen her aunt.

We only spent 2 days at Guangzhou. That was the first day. At the 2nd day, we went on tour. We at the breakfast buffet, which was pretty decent before leaving for tour. But, the tour was ehh. First of all, it was such a small group. 2 people even left early since they didn't like the tour. There were only two families and they arrived half an hour late to pick up the other family and they were mad. It was such a hot day and no one wanted to go out of the air conditioned van. The first stop was a river or lake or something, but it was not beautiful at all. There were people fishing and the water was dirty.

The next stop was some sort of news/satellite tower. But, none of us really wanted to go see it since it was so hot outside. There was barely any shade and for most of the time, we were trying to find some shade. We did take some pictures, however.

I don't remember the order of the places we went to. But, I do remember going up this one hill/mountain. They even had tablets with rules of the mountain written on then. Then, then we took this thing to go down. I don't remember what it's called, unfortunately. I always forget the names of the electrical transportation devices. Oh yea. I remember now. It's a cable car! Yes. We took a cable car down. It was so much fun seeing down the mountain and seeing the school hidden in the mountain.  I had fun looking down but my mother was scared to look.

After that, we went to a jade shop, where the lady trying to sell the jades commented on my jade, saying it was a real good piece. Anyway, we didn't stay that long and then we went off to lunch. The lunch turned out to be at a real cheap place, where there weren't any doors, windows or anything. It was out in the open. All the dishes they made were cheap and the Chinese white carrot soup was spoiled. It was almost all vegetables and the meat dish was mainly just bones. No one ate much.

We went up another mountain after and we saw this goat sculpture thing. I forgot what the place was called, but it happens to be a tourist place. The tour didn't last much longer after that. We went to this palace place where the rich used to live back then. It was more like a museum, but I forgot what the place was called. There was so much to see though. The bad thing was that most of it was outside in the heat. We took tons of pictures there though. The tour ended after going to that museum.

We went back to our hotel. But, we were still hungry since we hadn't eaten much. We walked around the streets and then we went to a family owned small restaurant. It was decent. That was our dinner, even though it was around 5 or 6 pm.

Anyway, around 7 or 8, we walked all the way to my mom's aunt's place. It was across the river! But, it was such an amazing site. First, we took a ferry across the river. The bridge on top flashed colorful lights and everything. The whole city literally lit up. My mom's aunt's place was amazing too, since it was at a rich place and there were even swimming pools outside in the apartment place. They're so rich and the family is so modern. They even have high tech stuff. Anyway, Guangzhou really has a nightlife. We had to walk back to our hotel, and it was 10 at night. There were so many people out and I saw people my age going out to clubs. You should have seen the way they dressed. And to think I thought the Chinese were conservative.

Anyway, the walk took about half an hour to 45 mintues, but the site of Guangzhou made it unbelievable. I even say people exercising at night, jogging, runnning, rollerblading, riding their bikes. I guess it's a good idea, since it's not as hot at night. People also dance too. Ahhh. Guangzhou. I miss that place.

That was our adventure at Guangzhou. I will tell you guys what we did after Guangzhou in the next post. I hope you guys enjoyed  reading this.


My China Trip, part 3

Hey, you guys. I'm just going to jump right into what happened during the Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuxi tour. Well, there were other cities but I forgot the names of them.

Anyway, we arrived at Shanghai around 10 pm. It was pretty late and we had not had dinner yet. We didn't even arrive at the hotel until 11 pm, at the earliest. On top of that, it was raining outside. 

FYI, always have an umbrella with you in China, especially during the summer. You will need to either shield yourself from the sunlight or from the rain.

So, It was still raining the next morning. After having a decent breakfast, off we went to this museum place in Shanghai. 
 I really don't know the name of it, but it was an awesome place. They had tons of models of places of China, ancient times as well as current times. The sculptures of the people looked so real. Some of it scared me. When the Chinese do something, do they it all the way. That's what I've learned. 

Anyway, after the Shanghai museum place, off we went on a 2 hour bus ride to another city, Suzhou. Then, we ate some lunch. I was actually surprised at how normal the meals were for the tour. I had expected worse, but they  were actually pretty good quality meals, at more modernized restaurants. I've had family members who signed up for a different tour (a much cheaper, local paid one) where the meals were terrible. I had that experience in Guangzhou, but I'll talk about that later. 
Anyway, we went on a boat ride after lunch while it was still raining. I think it might have been through Wuzhen, but I'm not quite sure. Anyway, the weather made my hair frizzy, which I did not like. Then we walked through this busy shopping street, where the ground was gross. Some of my friends hit a brick and water splattered onto their feet. We also went to this Garden place, which would have been much nicer if it weren't for the rain. We took tons of pictures. 

After that, we went to a temple place. It was pretty neat, actually. My mom bought this grape seed thing that you're suppose to rub everyday for good health. It's suppose to change color after some time. My mom bought one for me and my siblings. I hope it works. That reminds me of the jade my mom bought me too. It starts out as a light color bought it turns green if you're healthy. I've been wearing mines for about 2 weeks and it's really green now. Sorry I keep getting off track, but anyway. 

The hotel we stayed  at was so nice. It was so beautiful. It was quite a shock, since I had expected it to be worse by looking at the places we had visited. 
This is part of the hotel room. It's just the living room before even going to the bed room.

However, their breakfast didn't compare to the hotel at Shanghai. The breakfast buffet was only okay, compared to the other ones. The day was actually really hot, and not rainy. That surprised me. We went to a silk factory to see how they make silk and make silk bedding and that stuff. The tour guide lady even tried to get everyone to buy one. She showed everyone how "strong" the silk bedding was by grabbing it, scratching it and that stuff. But, when my friend tried it, he heard a rip. So, I don't think it's "that" strong. The lady's talking also annoyed me quite a bit, but I dealt with it. 

After that, we went to the factory's silk clothing store. The clothes were so beautiful, but so expensive. Who knew that it would be so expensive (sarcasm). But, yea. We got free complimentary silk glasses cloth to clean glasses. For me, that's actually useful since I wear glasses. And silk? That's great. 

I remember going to Nanjing to see the 中山陵 that day, which is Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum in English. According to the tour guide, there are suppose to be around 200 steps leading up to the tomb. It would have been a great workout, if it wasn't so hot that day. But even with the humidity in the air, we made it up, with all the sweat and everything. It wasn't tiring at all, compared to the Great Wall.  The Great Wall was even more tiring, but the weather wasn't as hot. Anyway, I got a red bean Popsicle after coming back down the stairs. Yum. I love red bean. 

I actually don't remember much about the rest of that day. I remember going out to eat and then going to the Chang Jiang, well, the building near it, at least. We went up the tower place and took pictures. It was a beautiful view. I forgot the name of the building though, but Mao Zedong did visit that building before and sat in a middle seat in this one room. Everyone guy wanted to take a picture there, with his signature hand gesture. It was quite amusing.  That's all I really remember from that day. The only other thing I remember was that the dinner that day was delicious. 

I'm actually surprised I survived being a vegetarian in China, even though it annoyed my parents. I ate the tofu, eggs, veggies and rice. 

So, anyway, the next day, off we went to another city, Wuxi.All I remember was that we saw the Lingshan Great  Buddha. It was great. The show of the Buddha being born was quite interesting. I liked it. They ever sprayed water on the Buddha while it was rising and slowly spinning around. It was really hot that day though.  The sun was shining really bright too. That's all I really remember. I also remember climbing up to go to up to the big Buddha, which was really sweaty work. There were many stairs too, going up to it. There were actually stairs to get to the entrance and then stairs to get to the actual Buddha statue. On a hot, humid day, it gets pretty stinky sweaty. 

I seriously forgot which cities we went to for night shopping. There were so many. But, I do know that we did go to a famous shopping street at night and that the tour guide told us to be careful. There are many people that pickpocket and told us to keep our bags safe, right in front of you. The sad thing was that, after a minute of walking through the street, I saw a lady get pickpocketed and I felt so bad that I couldn't do anything. They were right next to stairs. My friend wanted to see someone get pickpocketed, but he didn't get to. I've gotten into the habit of carrying my purse right in front of me and I still do it now when I go out. Also, in China, it's not required of you to wear a seat belt. Just saying. Anyway,  I also remember going to McDonald's that night. 

Anyway, the next day, we went to Hangzhou. It was raining that day. Well, part of that day anyway. That's where I actually got my mosquito bites. Or, it may have been a little earlier but I know I had mosquito bites the last day of tour, which was the next day. My friends had gotten at least 10 mosquito bites, starting earlier in the tour, and yet, they sprayed bug repellent. Those that didn't spray it didn't receive the bites. They got bites on the forehead, hands, knuckles, feet, and other body parts. Anyway, before, I continue on about Hangzhou, I know we went to other places too in the other cities I've already mentioned, including a teapot place, where we bought teapots and they showed us how good they were, and a jade place, where my friend's family bought jades shaped like bamboo. I just don't recall what cities we visited those places in. 

Anyway, in Hangzhou, even though it was raining, we went on a boat ride on the river. The river is the river on one of the bills the Chinese use for money. It was a nice boat ride. 

Then, we went to this tea place where there were tons of mosquitoes. We got tons of mosquito bites there, but apparently, the tea was good and has many health benefits. My mom bought some. The whole tour group had this hilarious conversation with the guy who was telling us about the tea and one of the people in the group recorded it. He has yet to send the recording to us. 

Anyway, we had to walk a long distance to go back to the tour bus, in the rain. I do not like rain, but we had to walk through it. Once on the bus, we went to other places, ate and that stuff. I do remember going to this amazing show/performance. The best I've ever seen. The technology was amazing. With the screens, moving stages and the acrobatics involved was great. There was this once part where these girls poured tea and 2 lucky people (guys) get to drink it. My friend was chosen (we sat in the front row) and I would have been chosen too, if I was the guy. Instead, the guy next to me got it. 

Anyway, the next day, we went back to Shanghai. That took up at least half the day. We went to this jade place, where I fell asleep on accident while the lady was explaining the jades. Whoops. We all sat around a table and she talked for at least half an hour.

That day, I had a huge mosquito bite on the inside of my feet and my sandals kept scratching it. It irritated me so badly. We even got foot massages that day. The guy that massaged my feet asked what had happened and, guess what. Mosquito bite. He didn't say much, except that he was the manager of the place, at the age of 21, and that I have a nice smile. Do I have a nice smile?  
Anyway, for the foot massage, we had to place our feet in hot tea first. It felt so good, especially on my mosquito bite that was really irritating me.  

I also remember going to this famous shopping area in Shanghai, where we ate our dinner. We had to buy our own dinner instead of going to a restaurant where they had prepaid and pre-ordered everything. It was actually a good idea, since we got to experience more of the local food. My parents bought some buns that Shanghai is famous for. We also bought some other stuff to eat as well. My parents bought chicken feet, fried noodles, and some sort of bird. It was creepy. There were other stuff too. I didn't eat much of it though, since they mainly bought meat items. But, yea, while eating, I found two more mosquito bites. One was on my neck and the other on my other leg. 

After eating, we walked around and then we saw this place where they sold some vegetarian steamed buns. Street food. Oh yea. It was actually quite delicious. They only bought one for me since I didn't eat much when they ate. Tofu, veggies, it was delicious. Then, they bought some ice cream. Yummy. My dad even bought me a red bean drink after. It was delicious as well. 

After walking around the area, we had to go back to our meeting spot so that we can go on a boat ride to see Shanghai at night. It was so beautiful. The boat ride took about an hour. We took a lot of pictures.At first, we sat inside and we took seats by the window. But then, these older ladies came in and sat next to us because the table was by the window and there were open seats. They talked so loud, and did things like lean over, picking their noses, not fun. So, we decided to go outside and leave them there, since we didn't even know them. But, the outside was really fun, even though the sky was hazy. 

We went back to the hotel after. Then, we walked around Shanghai, along the place where the boat was too. Me, my family, my friends and my friend's family all walked around and took pictures. It was a great night. Great view and everything. The person that got cut off was my friend, who loves taking random pictures. He got in my way while we were walking around. It was a nice way to end the tour. We would all go to Guangzhou, but at different times and different places in Guangzhou. It's ironic how we all somehow are all from California and ended up on the same tour.  We even live kind of close by. There were people from China and from Maryland (the state). So weird. 

Anyway, the tour of the cities was amazing. Even with the weather, I had a great time, especially with the friends I made. I was lucky since most of the time, the tours don't have people my age. They're so much fun to hang out with. We even had a get together after coming back to the states.

Anyway, we even took some pictures of the foods they had during the tour. People (the waiters/waitresses) stared at us like we were crazy, but hey, we never seen food that was prepared like that. Here are some pictures: 


Anyway, the last thing I want to say is that, during one of those tour days, the hotel was right next to Wal-Mart. I guess Wal-Mart is taking over too, as well as McDonald's, KFC and other American chain fast food restaurants. The sad thing is that, the Chinese ones are better and the food is better quality. Even the items at Wal-Mart are better. The Wal-Mart store is huge! There's  3 stories and  there are moving stairs or whatever you call it. But, you just had to stand there and it'll take you up or down a floor.They have Chinese and American products, their stuff is cheaper and my friend bought some Green bean or green tea popsicles from there and they were amazing. Asian frozen ice crea m stuff is amazing. The taro, chocolate, melon, red bean, yam,everything. It's delicious. 

Anyway, that concludes the northern China tour. After that we went to Guangzhou, Taishan (my hometown!), Macau and Hong Kong. I will post about that in another post. I hope this one wasn't too long. Enjoy. :) 


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My China Trip, part 2

Hello everyone. I'm sorry that I have to split the posts about my China trip, but I think that you guys wouldn't want to read one huge post. It'd be easier to read in little chunks, right?
Before I go any further, I wish the best for those in China right now. In Beijing, they had a huge storm and it flooded the area. It's terrible, especially in the humid conditions. Even in Taishan and Hong Kong, there are typhoons. I was just there last week. I hope things are okay there.

Now, back to the trip. Well, the next day was our last day in Beijing, which signaled the near end of the tour for that area. We packed everything up and put our luggage on the tour bus. Our first stop was this medicine/herb store and that place took a long time . The parents were the main reasons, since they kept asking questions and that stuff. But, finally, they were all done and it was time to go to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. I've always wanted to go there since I learned about it in my World Cultures class my sophmore year.

It was  not how I had expected it too look like. I think one of the main reasons is the pollution/clouds in the sky. It covered up the sun. 我不喜欢。 But, other than that, it was up to my expectations. The building, with Maozedong's picture on it, it was just the weather that threw me off.

The inside of the Forbidden City was huge! There were so many buildings and places to visit. The emperor's place, the queen's place, the garden, everything. It was all so beautiful. But, it did sprinkle on us a little bit, but the rain stopped after. What was cool was that part of the China police (or military) marched right through, and they were singing. It was amazing, but, unfortunately, I did not record it. But, I did take a picture of them. :)

After going through a billion small places in the Forbidden City, I still do not understand how people were able to walk around without our types of shoes. The ground is so much different, and the doors were smaller too. After exiting, we were bombarded with locals trying to sell us stuff. There are actually a lot of them around tourist attractions, trying to make money to make ends meet.

I forgot some of the things we did that day, but I remember going to a famous shopping street. It was pretty big and amazing. There were so much retail stores, American and Asian ones. But, be warned. Do not buy items from American stores. They will cost twice as much in Asia. I also saw a McDonald's there too. There are tons of McDonald's in China, actually. I'll tell you guys more about my McDonald's experience in China later, but what I can say is that their ice cream is delicious. At that street, I got the vanilla ice cream with chocolate in a cup. Their vanilla ice cream cones are delicious as well. They also have melon flavor ice cream, taro and all that good stuff, at McDonald's.

Anyway, back to Beijing. They also sell tons of street food too. My friend wanted a coconut milk drink, from an actual coconut. It was pretty cool. They also sold bugs, squid and that stuff. I'd never eat these, but, some of the locals actually like them.

Anyway, I forgot some of the things we did that day. I think that was about it. We did get free foot massages, which felt nice. The people were students and were practicing it on the people in our tour group. The students were mainly men though. Anyway..

After the foot massage, we were off to the airport and on the plane to go to Shanghai. On the plane ride, we got peanuts that were delicious.

Now, the Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuxi and other city tour was around 4 days, I think. It might have been 5. All I know is that it was a city a day. Anyway, I'll talk about that tour in one post, the next one. See ya next time.


Monday, July 23, 2012

My China Trip, part 1

大家好! How are you guys doing? I'm so sorry for the delay about my China trip. I had to wait until I bought a new keyboard to start typing normally again. I just bought one yesterday and it's Hello Kitty! I use a laptop and some of the keys broke, which is why I had to buy a new one. Interestingly enough, it broke while I was in China. Strange. Anyway, I shall now tell you guys about my trip. Just a warning. My writing will be going all over the place, so, bear with me.
As you know, I live in California. So, living in California, we went to the SFO, San Francisco International Airport, whom my aunt and uncle drove me and my family too. That took about 2 hours to get there, and by that time, we were about 4 hours early until we were suppose to arrive at the gates. Our flight was at 1 am. Waiting at the airport was boring though. Sitting, waiting, buying some food, talking, more sitting, until it was time.

These pictures of the plane and me waiting at the airport. Such a long wait. Me and my siblings ended up playing card games with the cards I had brought. Finally, it was time to board the plane!

The plane was amazing. The seats were comfy, they provided us with comfy pillows and a blanket. I guess they had to because it was suppose to be about a 13-14 hour plane ride. But, anyway, since it was already 1 am, I fell asleep before takeoff! I was so sad, since my sister didn't even bother to wake me up. I wanted to it, but, it's ok. When we went to Canada 5 years ago, I got to see the plane take off.

the first plane meal
Anyway, I woke up an hour or two later, and by then, they were starting to serve dinner. The dinner was actually pretty good and it came with ice cream for dessert! The best ice cream I've eaten. The meal was even vegetarian too!

on the airplane
After finishing my meal, I tried to figure out how to use my personal entertainment system they had on the plane, Each person has one. You can watch movies, shows, listen to music, and play games. I don't know what I would have done without it. Anyway, the rest of the flight was sleep, eat, play games, listen to music or watch a movie. We finally arrived at the Hong Kong airport in the early morning (around 6 am) and then we transferred to our next flight to Beijing. They had computers for people to go online on at the waiting area. Then, we were off and the plane rid took 3 hours to get to Beijing.

The first thing I noticed when I got off the plane was the heat and the air quality there. Humidity and pollution that exactly mix really well. The sun was actually looked orange through the clouds. It was hard to breathe and while in the car, the sunlight made the skin salmon color. Oh yea, just to let you guys know, most of China's restrooms are basically a hole in the ground. There are toilets though... Anyway...

We signed up for a tour of Beijing prior to leaving the States, so the next day, we were off. I had met 2 new friends at the airport, whom were taking the same tour as us. They are two sisters. So, the first place we went  to this one place that I forgot the name of, but there were many ancient buildings and that stuff. I really loved the ancient architecture, the old Chinese styles. It reminded me of Mulan a little bit. It was a nice place,but it was already hot, 8 in the morning! Boy, you gotta love humidity to survive. I was already sticky by the time we got back into the bus. FYI, if you ever cross streets in China, fear for your life! You have to watch for cars. The cars don't watch out for you.
Anyway, we went to other places too. We went to a Jade place, where my mother bought me a Jade necklace. What really caught my attention was the Great Wall of China! Yes, I climbed the Great Wall. Well, up to 2 and half towers. I could have gone higher, but I was so scared since I was really high up and also, we were only given an hour to climb the Great Wall. The steps to the first tower were really steep and long.
 I really applaud the elderly that are able to do it. I also applaud the little kids who run up and down without being scared of falling.
I'm really amazed how it has held up for the past thousand years. I'm still quite surprised how my ancestors were able to build such a wall, along the mountains. I hear that the workers who died building it were put into the wall. I don't know if that's true, but, it may be.
Anyway, I climbed up the tower, so that I'd be at the watch tower. The stairs were inside, narrow, small and really steep. I don't understand how the people back then were able to go up and down, signaling danger, but, they somehow did. I inscribed my Chinese name on the wall, since there were so many other people that did that. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it. But, I at least took a picture at the tower. My friend Sean took the picture for me.
After "conquering" the wall, I got some green tea drink to re-hydrate myself. It was actually pretty good.
The rest of the day was pretty much boring. We went tea testing, and that stuff.
The only other fun thing we did was that we went to the Bird's Nest, where the 2008 Summer Olympics was held. The buildings were so beautiful, but it was hard to see because of the sky. I couldn't tell if it was pollution or clouds.
Anyway, we ended the day with dinner (and some rain!) and then going back to the hotel. Oh yea, I forgot to tell you guys about the hotel.
So,  the hotels we stayed at were pretty much 4 or 5 stars. The hotel I stayed at Beijing was actually the best one I stayed at, throughout my entire China trip. The rooms were fancy, big, and there were free clean toothbrushes, combs and that stuff. It's much much better than the hotels I stayed at when I went to Disneyland. They even had a breakfast buffet and it was actually pretty good. I got my daily dose of black coffee everyday while I was on tour.

So, that's the end of this post. I have so much more to talk about, but I'd hate to make 1 post too long, so, it'll be split into at least 4 or 5 more, depending on how much I write.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Back from China

Hey everyone. Guess what? I just came back from my 1 month trip to the motherland, China. Well, I came back yesterday, but you get the idea. It was a great experience for me and my family and we had fun.
We went to so many places in China. Beijing, Shanghai, Wuxi, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Macau, Hong Kong and my parents hometown, Taishan.
There is so much that I have to tell you guys about the trip, but that will be some other time. For now, here are a few pictures.
Ocean Park

My outfit I wanted to wear in Hong Kong.

Ocean Park
The green tea red bean sundae in Hong Kong. Delicious.♥

The Great Wall of China 

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