The Nam, Part 3
This morning after breakfast I went to the bathroom and locked myself inside…. There was a door knob on the outside but not on the inside, so once it clicked shut I was stuck. I had to climb up a through a slot above the door to escape the dreaded bathroom. Good thing I took those parkour classes in DC right?
This trip is has become full of Mario Kart puns and references.
In the temple there was a temple that had a bunch of big flat mushroom looking structure. It reminded me of that level in Mario Kart Wii ( I think it was called Mushroom Gorge) where you had to bounce a bunch on a bunch of large bouncy mushrooms to cross…. a gorge.
I checked into a hotel one of the days and it had sky bar on the 12th floor. From the the sky bar we saw a bridge and immediately thought, hey look! Its rainbow road!!! At the bar we had delicious smoothies, I learned that night that yogurt makes a surprisingly good base for Avocado smoothies. It keeps the smoothies creamy and the slight acidity cuts out some of the fatty avocado.
Final Mario Kart reference: We were going to some recently discovered caves. We had to take a bus to a go kart, hike up some stairs to get to the entrance at the top of a small peak. While in the kart my banana broke/ spilt open in my bag. I had to make the difficult choice of eating the banana right then and there otherwise the banasuality while have been for naught. Upon eating the banana I was incredibly tempted to throw the banana peel into the kart behind us Mario Kart style. I really wanted to see if vehicles could really slip out of control from a banana. If they did, I would imagine it would be a bit like hydroplaning on one wheel from the banana peal.
APPARENTLY YOU CAN TAKE A MINESWEEPER AND BOMB DEFUSING CLASS back at the DMZ.I just found this out from my aunt while in the caves Tourists actually pay to put them selves at risk of being blowed up in pieces ( blowed not blown). There is also a 6 hour adventure tour complete with cave spelunking and mutant manbats.
The funniest thing was that happened in the cave was that as I was a roaming around the cave, I asked a Vietnamese tourist to take a picture. Apparently I unwittingly asked her to take a picture for me in Chinese as she asked me “Do you speak English?” As an American you hardly hear that phrase direct toward you ( you are usually desperately lost in foreign country asking others if they speak English)
Finally, we arrived in Hue and took a boat ride out to the river and listened traditional Hue folk singers and instruments.. sung by a Vietnamese Sarah Palin!! Honestly it was probably the glasses and the resting b**** face, I swear it looks like her, I even took a picture. Our boats had dragons on them!
The singers had a ingenious scheme( or business model) going on. As they were singing, folks in the audience could pay to pick from a pile of roses give to the singers. at which point they would put the roses back in to the pile. getting up to give the rose essentially creates a photo op that they can use to get even more money out of you. The audience really does technically get anything out of giving the roses to the singers, its the same is giving a tip, but at least they FEEL like they are getting something out of it by giving the rose to the singers. Not surprisingly most of the rose givers were male, especially considering the fact that the singers were young women. Smart right?
Thankfully the tour almost over. I cannot stand spending so much time on a bus with the same group of people ( except for family, they are cool) and being herded in and out of the bus. I feel that we spent at least 60% of our waking time sitting on the bus. I can feel my muscles deteriorating from lack of use. We never have enough time to explore any of the sites as thoroughly as we should. And the tour guide talks too much ( to be fair I don’t speak Vietnamese, and all the Vietnamese tourists seem to be entertained by him)
I mean really it is a bit of ripoff. you pay a bunch of money to be tired all the time and sleep uncomfortably on a bus.
At least we saw a lot of sights. Quantity of quality right? and I had plenty of time to read and write!
After that nice little breather in Vietnam, it was time to fill my lungs again with that refreshing China industrial air pollution. I had a red eye flight from 2:30am ( ended up being delayed till 3am) and flew in to Shanghai around 7 or 8am. Typically when you fly in and the plane lands you can see the whole city including all the major landmarks from miles away. The smog in Shanghai was so thick that when we were landing you could BARELY see 5 blocks down. I assume they only pick the most skilled pilots to fly in and out of China because you have to land the plane perfectly through a thick blanket of smog. As soon as I got off the plane it was like my lungs were getting a warm cuddly hug from the polluted air.
Impression of Shanghai is that it is a lot more modern and commercial than Beijing. Most importantly the accent is much more understandable that in Beijing. I no longer have to deal with excessive errs spoken by all the taxi drivers in Beijing. Speaking of accents, I am apparently still getting the “are you from Hong Kong” treatment from the local Chinese folk here in Shanghai too. If people and Beijing AND Shanghai say it, it really must be true
My apartment in Tonghe International Student Apartments is much dirtier than the “Apartotels” at 北师大 but I get my own room!!! My original plan was to have a single room to use KK Talkee on a regular basis, but the internet is about as fast as those days when I had AOL Dial up internet in 7th grade, so I am still trying to figure out how to stream my KK Talkee sessions. I also had a little spat where the room I was supposed to be stay in was still being occupied by a student, so I was re located to what felt like a dungeon of an apartment building, or more like an asylum. The walls are all white, pale and pasty it was incredibly uncomfortable. but its much better now!
[pictures of street and apartment]
So you know how the Chinese are really good at copying things?Cars, phones, teddy bears, Google( Yes, Baidu is essentially Chinese google, you sneaky Chinese technology overlords) turns out they can copy cronuts too. There is a little bakery by my apartment and they sell these little bastard child of the croissants and donuts ( if we are evaluating the sex of these pastries I assume the croissant is the dad). So they must be half French and half American right? I have never had the cronuts in New York, but I assume they taste similar, but they cost about 50 cents here.
Also, I ate PIG BRAIN! Yum. I assume that eating it will make me smarter in the same vein that all sayings about eating weird animal parts benefit your health. Also, since it is a Chinese pig, it must hear and somewhat comprehend a lot of Chinese when it was alive. So therefore it will probably improve my listening comprehension too right? In any case, pig brain is pretty good, when you get over the fact that you are eating a brain, it tastes a lot of like patee since it is so creamy.
I have probably said before that one of the best things about studying abroad is meeting interesting new folks. I met one Japanese girl whose father is an a Judo teacher in Hokkaido. Pretty cool right? I am trying to make my way to Japan and get in some private judo lessons ( that would be sick).
On the topic of interesting folks, I have meeting more and more ChaoZhou folks these days, its uncanny. its go through the list of people where I have met that are ChaoZhou. (Sidenote, ChaoZhou/ TeoChew is a city in Guangdong/dialect that my family speaks). I’m not sure what the policy is on name dropping, so I’ll avoid to be safe ( also I am too lazy to ask for permission) if they were to read this I am sure they know who they are. Its like that whole secret agent thing where you have to protect people’s identities right?
San Franciso (家人）
Santa Cruz ( A student I know who is currently in Taiwan on scholarship)
DC ( originally from Thailand)
Beijing ( 一个同学是潮州人）
VIetnam （Most of my family and family friends all speak ChaoZhou, plus some random coffee vendor in Saigon
Shanghai (The UCEAP Director speaks ChaoZhou, cool right?)
ON a final note. I got a internship doing research on China/Africa, China/Brazil, China/US i.e China and the rest of the world issues! So I guess this is going to be a productive semester abroad.
On the ACTUAL Final note, Mcdonalds has mooncakes! At least the one in Vietnam does!