hey everybody, I am currently in a wang ba (netbar) in Guangzhou, down the street from where my aunt lives (we're staying with her). Also I can't get any LJ notifications at the moment, mainly being that yahoo mail is spazzing out, so I will look at them all once I'm home.
Anyhoo, back from a week of traveling, which I will write updates on once i'm back home, most likely. For a brief itinerary run down:
- Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. yeah, spicy foods, a bit too spicy for me, ehehe. (Esteban, Priya, you two would prolly love it) But the chao shou, a kind of dumpling, is really tasty. Also there's this great restaurant called Dou (as in Tofu) Tang (as in soup) Fan (as in rice) where instead of tea they serve you free doujiang, soymilk. Add your own sugar, yumyum. Lots of various historical/cultural things here to look at.
- Jiuzhaigou valley, it's amazing. The most crazy blue lakes and rivers running through, gorgeously clean air, the visitors' center has a video explaining the science behind why the lakes are blue and the sunken trees don't really decay but get covered in some calcium compound so they look like coral (CaCO3, anybody?), and what kind of fish could possibly live in this kind of water, hehe. Also: tadpoles in the shallows!
- Emeishan (aka Mt. Emei), land of mountains and dinosaurs. There's a kind of sauropod called Omeisaurus Tienfuensis that used to live here (there's an adolescent and a baby's fossil on display here!), and the mountains are special, apparently a couple thousand species each of plants and animals live here, and the museum talks about geology. Now I've seen the Chinese translations of the Ordovician, Cambrian, Triassic, etc. Periods. Shiny. also strange rock, there's a kind where the crystal formations make it look like chrysanthemum flowers blooming in the rock, way neat.
Also hot springs! where i got eaten alive by mosquitos, but there was a neat area called a kang (my beijing friends should remember this- Xi'An, watching Korean soaps on New Year's, wut?) where you lay on the stone surface and it is heated from below. So fried below, sweating out toxins on top, heheh.
Day 2 lil bro and I were kinda sick and stayed in, but that's all right because it was raining, and turns out Mom and Aunt got attacked by wild monkeys, who stole mom's waterbottle right out of her purse, and they got pushed down some steps. er...
- Leshan (le as in happy), a major Buddhist site (we keep going to all these temples and what partly cuz hey, history and culture, and partly cuz my aunt is Buddhist. My mom's family wasn't religious, but my aunt converted after she started working as a manager of a factory/company, she's retired now.) So yeah, there's a giant Buddha in repose, and statues of various bodhisattvas, and the whole mountain (looking at it from the water) looks like a reclining Buddha, though that sort of thing takes some imagination.
- Dazu (da as in big, zu as in foot, like zuqiu, football) Another Buddhist site, we're now in the Chongqing area. Lots of rock carvings of Buddhist imagery- it's amazing. Various grottoes, somewhat exposed to the elements, but a lot of the original bright colors remain. Also, it was done during the Song dynasty, and the architectural design is pretty neat- they took into account drainage and so forth, so there are various form/function things with bowls and pools and channels so water off the mountain doesn't run across the carvings and leave black water marks, but gets channeled artfully elsewhere. Very cool. The food here is also very good, lots of fish. Also apparently the water here is very han (as in cold), so everyone compensates by eating lots of spicy foods and huo guo (hot pot) and I'm basically all "Wah, it's so hot! how can you eat huo guo in this weather?!" but the people here are used to it. Us being Cantonese, we want our food more qingdan (clear and light) and so all along the way Aunt has been yelling at people to add less oil, less salt, *no spicy!* to our food, to varying degrees of success, eheh.
- Chongqing, special economic development zone like Shanghai, Tianjin and Shenzhen. Crazy crazy drivers, crazy crazy up and down roads since like Hong Kong it's built on mountainous land, so all the roads wind and curve and there are no straight paths from point A to point B *anywhere* unless you're on a bridge crossing the river, which by the way is the Changjiang, aka the Yangtze River. Someone riddle me this, why the hell is it called the Yangtze anyway?
Anyhow, here we booked tickets to go by boat down river to Yichang in Hubei, where we would fly back to Guangzhou. Totally got shafted, but the motto here is "develop! Anyway you can!" so the gov't largely turns a blind eye if you get massively overcharged for variously services and goods, since it's all towards economic development.
- On the boat- teeny rooms. You have to pay to get passes on the upper fore and aft decks, but the tiny second level viewing platform is free. Anyhow. ^^;;; We're on the Changjiang, going towards the San Xia, the three gorges. The view is...not bad. Especially around the entrances to each gorge. we also went to the three lesser gorges on a smaller, more comfortable boat, and the view was awesome. I saw wild golden monkeys!
- Off the boat- at the Three Gorges Dam. I've heard a lot of environmental kerfuffle from international sources, so now I've heard stuff from the Chinese side. Still withholding judgment, since any project has it's good sides and down sides. Did you know the dam project idea has been floating around since 1919, when Sun Yat-sen (Sun Zhongshan to everyone else) proposed the idea, and over the last 70 years or so there've been various proposals and research before the final proposal passed in 1992(3?)? Also, the main purpose of the dam has been to control flooding, which the river does every year. Electricity generation is a bonus, as it were. Yeah, I've heard on the other side that the flooding renews the land with fertile silt, etc. but also there's the cost to the gov't with having to rebuild every year. The area behind the dam will flood, and the water level will rise all the way back to the source, but the past years have been spent relocating whole towns and various historical and cultural relics to higher ground and compensating people for having to migrate. Since they know where and when water will be rising, this relocation has been steady and controlled.
we actually got the see the dam, and that day was only the second time that some hatch thing was released and a lot of water coming through, I forget for what reason. But it looked pretty damn spectacular. Also we saw the boat locks, heee. I remember learning about that from Reading Rainbow as a kid, hehe. There's the "elevator" for the small boats, while the big boats take three hours to go through a series of five lock to go from the high end to the low end.
-Yichang, where all the tour boats end up. That night was the start of the World Cup- whooo! I saw the opening ceremony, and the first game between Germany and Costa Rica. (what a puzzle, trying to read characters and figure out what transliteration of what country each name is) Germany won, but damn Costa Rica put up a good fight, I thought. I always seem to end up rooting for the team that loses, but I'm an underdog sort of person. :P We basically chilled, since we didn't intend to stay overnight two nights here, and went to the Xinhua bookstore, where I got a couple CDs and got Chinese translations of Alice in Wonderland (which is the book I brought to read this trip ) and Little Women. It's a great way for me to practice my reading in Chinese, with stories and characters I already know so I won't be totally confused by name transliterations. I wasn't brave enough to get the Odyssey or Vanity Fair, heheh. Books have their titles in their original languages, so it was cool guessing Anna Karenina from the Cyrillic (and by the Chinese transliteration/translation beneath) and the Iliad from the Greek. There was some book called the Amazing Adventures of Nils, anyone recognize that one?
-flight back to Guangzhou. There's these crackers called milk digestives- wow they are really yummy. eheheh. ^_^
That's all for now, at lunchtime we're going out with my mom's group of friends out for karaoke, and all y'all beijingers remember crazy times, ne? With the weird buffet food, and "when I got high" eheheheh. Should be interesting, anyhow. Also, before I go home I'm going to get my hair cut even shorter, since my aunt knows a good place and didn't think the earlier stylist did that great a job detail-wise, though she (and my cousin) think my hair looks a lot better shorter than it did when it was long. I'll post pics and get your reactions, ne? XD All the best, next time I'm online I'll be back in the States.
Oh a shoutout! emryssa
, i hope you got my lj reply about Chengdu? How are your travels about China??
all the best, and all my love *hugs*