Apr
14
2011

Amusing Signs

bya Gabrielle at 5:40 AM

Nothing too exciting happening in Shanghai, so I went diving into my picture collection and found some amusing ones to share with you.  All of these were taken in Linyi, China.

Amusing Door

Usually, when you need to escape a building, there are multiple exits – at least two sets of stairs.  This was not the case of the building that we lived  in Linyi.  There were two sets of stairs, but only one would go all the way to the bottom floor.  On the third floor, where we lived, the middle stairs continued down to the restaurant below us only in the case of an emergency.  Unlike some of the emergency doors you would see in America, this one could not be opened by simply pushing it, thus causing an alarm to sound.  In the event of an emergency, we would have had to find the person who had the key to open the door, had a handy pair of bolt cutters, been willing to chuck something very heavy at the door or pray that our parachutes were ready for action because the window would have been our only remaining option.  Thankfully, there were no emergencies in the ten months we lived there.

Amusing Clock

Hrm.  How does one fight against time, and publicly nonetheless?  And why do you have to strive for efficiency(not spelled correctly on the sign) privately?  Isn’t it easier to make things better when you work with like-minded people?  Hrm.  I don’t think I get this sign.  I found it in the F building of Linyi University, which is the Foreign Language Building.

Air Stairs?

Well, I suppose it makes sense right?  An elevator is very much like a floating stair.  Out of curiosity, I Googled the term airstair, and found out that the term is real, but it isn’t quite an elevator.  Wikipedia tells me that an airstair is “a passenger staircase that is built in to an airliner — often, though not always, on the inside of a clamshell-style door. The stairs can be raised or lowered while the aircraft is on the ground, allowing passengers and ground personnel to board or depart the aircraft without the need for a mobile staircase or a jetway.”  You learn something everyday.

Categories: China,Chinese,Humor,Linyi
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Apr
06
2011

Okay, No More Excuses, I Don’t Even Have a Job

bya Gabrielle at 12:26 PM

Blogging . . . it used to be a part of my daily routine and then I got lazy.  Well, now I don’t have any excuses.  I’m not bouncing around the globe, I’m not attending a funeral or mourning my loss anymore, I’m not standing at an alter saying, “I do”, and I am most certainly not working.  So, what else do I have time for?  Pretty much anything that I want. And for the most part that has included sleeping late, watching season and after season of whatever TV show I downloaded, and making sure that dinner is cooked for my hubby when he finally gets home after a long day behind the desk.  But those aren’t the only things going on in here in Shanghai.

Since I have moved to Shanghai, China, a lot has happened.

On my second day here, my flipping wallet was stolen.  All in all they didn’t get much, but they did get five crisp 100 yuan bills, my US and Chinese debit card, credit card, traveler check receipts, a whole section of business cards of people I don’t really know, the USC staff card I liked to use to get discounts at movie theaters and the like, my driver license(that had a good picture on it!) and random mementos that I’ve carried in my wallet for way too long.  Most of what was stolen can be replaced.  The major pain was having to call and get everything canceled and knowing that it was probably going to be a complete bitch getting access to 8000 yuan I still had left from Linyi.  Why, would that be difficult you ask?  Well, it’s simple really.  China wouldn’t be China if everything was easy.  As much as the lack of ease irks me here in China, I do suppose that it is part of the reason it keeps me here.  I know, I am completely retarded.

As soon as I realized that my wallet had been stolen, the first thought that popped into my head besides, “Oh, shit, oh, shit”, was the Ben Ross post I read several years ago.  His wallet wasn’t stolen, but it might have well have been.  He just forgot his pass code.  You can read all about it here, here, here, and here.  It’s a lot of reading, but worth it.  The memory of this post put the fear of God in me.  I was almost certain I was gonna be screwed eight ways to Sunday.

I did the proper thing after I realized my wallet was gone.  Teary-eyed(me, not Phil), Phil and I found a police officer and in broken Chinese told him what had happened.  He told us to follow him and so we did.  I don’t think he told us where he was taking us and if he did the Chinese was lost on us.   All I knew was that he was walking us away from the possible scene of the crime.  He guided us, silently, across several busy streets and eventually turned down a very dark and quite alley.  For one paranoid, horror-esque moment, I thought he was guiding us to our doom.  I’ve seen to many movies for my own good.  In my defense, I was tired, angry as a bee hive that has been poked with a stick, and worried sick about how I was going to survive in Shanghai until all this was resolved.  You need money to live after all.

The police officer finally parked his bicycle in front of building and pointed that we should go in.  Surprise, surprise, he had taken us to a police station.  He told us to wait while he went and talked to a few of the other officers.  In a small, windowless back room, I could see about 7 officers chain smoking.  A wall of smoke continuously wafted out.  When one officer put out his cigarette and left, another officer would replace him.  Not a single one of them stepped through the door frame holding a cigarette.  It was obviously the designated smoking area.  I didn’t know China had designated smoking areas.

Finally, a guy came over to me and asked in Chinese if I had a Chinese friend that he could call.  Apparently, of all the officers present, not a one of them spoke enough English for me to file a report.  If this had happened in Linyi or Fuyang, or any other small city I have lived in or visited, I would have expected as much.  I guess I thought Shanghai would have more officers that could communicate with foreigners on some level at least, and especially so soon after the Expo had finished.    I thought wrong.  I was very lucky that I did indeed have a local Chinese friend to call.  Amanda(Zhang Yun Jing) has been so very helpful to both me and Phil since we have arrived.  I hated to call her so late, but it was the only way the officers were going to be able to communicate with me.  I figured they would just use Amanda as a translator, so I waited patiently while they talked to one another.   When the guy hung up the phone without handing it back to me, I was confused.  I immediately called Amanda back and asked her what was going on.

“I am coming to you,” she said.

“But it is 11:00 p.m. and you live so far away.  You don’t need to come all the way here.  I just want them to know my wallet was stolen, so that if it is somehow found that they can give it back to me.”

“No, it is okay.  We are friends.”

At this point, I had only met with her three times.  We spent two days together looking for an apartment in December and then earlier that day, I had seen her at Phil’s work.  She was helping us get our paperwork in order.  I tried very hard to convince her that she really didn’t need to travel 30 minutes across town, but it was no use.  She was my friend, and friends help friends in times of need.

Phil and I sat and waited while our ice cream cones melted.  We had forgotten we had bought them with all the insanity.  I refused to let mine go to waste and slurped mine out of its wrapper.  It dripped all over me and I didn’t care.

When Amanda arrived about 45 minutes later, we found a police officer who sat down with us to write up a report.  He asked the normal questions – where did I think I was when my wallet was stolen, when did I realize it was missing, what was in my wallet, and how to contact me if my wallet was found or if they had any further questions.  This took about 30 minutes.  They told me if I was sure it was taken at Carrefour, a store a lot like Wal-Mart, they would review the tapes, but there was no way I could know for sure if it was or not.  It could have happened in several different places.  They took all of my information, typed it up and gave me a copy.  It was my first and hopefully, last Chinese police report.

As we walked back down the dark and now even quieter alley, I thanked Amanda repeatedly for all she had done.  I even got a little emotional when I told her how happy I was to have a friend like her because g0od friends, not just in China, are hard to come by.  She told me that I did not have to thank her because I was her friend and that she was very happy to be there for me.  I hugged her and off she went.

Phil and I went home and promptly crashed.  It had been a long day.  I probably should have looked for the number to my bank then, but I was just too tired to think about it.  It was the first thing I did when I woke up the next day, though.

After finding the English hot-line number to the China Construction Bank and telling them that my wallet was stolen(fairly easy), they froze my account so that the stupid pick pocket couldn’t attempt to withdraw my small chunk of change, after verifying who I was.  They wanted to know how much money I thought I had, when the last time I used it, and my name of course.  Since I did not know my card number, I had to provide my passport number.

I asked the guy on the phone how I would be able to get what money I had left out and he told me what I feared. He said that I would have to go back to the China Construction Bank branch where I opened my account to unfreeze my account and to have a new card issued.  I told him I didn’t care about the card, that I just wanted my money, but he said that was what I had to do.  This wouldn’t be much of a problem if I was still living in Linyi, but I wasn’t.  Linyi is about 10 hours away by bus and depending on when you buy a plane ticket, it can cost anywhere between 370 to 800 yuan to fly there – one way.  Of course, to fly I would need my passport, and Phil’s work was still in possession of it at the time, and without the ability to get to my money, it would be difficult to pay for the stupid ticket.  I could have used what money Phil had left on his Chinese debit card or had him take money out his US accounts, but I refused to go that route.

The next day, I decided to call the hot-line number again, to see if there was someone else I could talk to – maybe there was another way.  I talked to a woman and told her my situation.  She asked where I was living and gave me the address to a near by branch that should be able to able to help me.  This seemed promising and made me happy.

Almost a month later, I finally made my way to the branch the woman had told me to go to.  Why did it take me so long?  Well, Chinese New Year happened, it took almost three weeks to get my passport back, we were really busy getting settled, I kept forgetting about it, and perhaps it was that I didn’t want to have to deal with what was most likely to come.  But if I wanted my money, I would just have walk the walk and deal with it.

With my passport in hand, Phil and I jumped in a taxi and rode to the bank.   I think the taxi guy took us to the wrong branch because the numbers on the building didn’t match the ones I had written down.  We walked in anyway.  In a lot of banks here, they have a machine that gives you a number and you have to wait until your number is called.  There were 25 people in front of us.  Not too bad, really.

My main worry was that I wouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone at the bank and that I would just be screwed.  I brought my police report hoping that would help.  I showed it to the guy who greeted me at the door and he gave me a paper to fill out.  Of course, it was all in Chinese, so I had a really difficult time filling in all the blanks.  Another guy tried to help a little, but most of the form was left blank.

We sat down and waited, watching the numbers tick away.  About 20 minutes later, a guard came over and tapped me on the shoulder.  He reached down and took the number I was holding in my hand.  I was confused why he was taking it because my number had not been called yet.  He pointed over to the side where some other consulting areas were located and I saw a woman getting her area ready.  I put two and two together and walked over and sat in the chair in front of the desk.

Since I hadn’t heard her talk yet, I wasn’t sure if I should speak  in English or my broken Chinese.  I went with the good ole’, “Ni hao”(hello in Chinese).

“Hello,” she said back to me in perfect English.  “How may I help you.”  This made me smile.  Maybe it wouldn’t be that hard after all.

I explained my situation to her and handed over my passport and my police report just in case.  It seemed that she had experience in this and started pulling out several forms that I would need to fill out.  I must have signed my name no less than ten times.  Just like on the phone, I had to answer questions about my account to prove that is was me.  She was just about down with all the paperwork when Phil suggested that I mentioned that the card I lost was issued to me in Linyi and ask if it was still possible.  So, I did.

As soon as I asked, her eyes seemed to get bigger or maybe it was just my imagination.

“Linyi?” She repeated.  “No, that is not possible.”

My heart sank.

“It has to be from Shanghai.”

“Well, it’s not,” I said.  “Can I at least get my money?”

She looked at me and you could tell she was thinking really hard by the way her eyes moved.  “I don’t know.  We have never done that before.  Please wait while I talk to my manager.”  I felt like I had been put on hold and that any minute a stupid ditty would start playing.

As she walked away, I crossed my fingers and prayed to every Chinese God there ever was, specifically, Guanyin, the goddess of mercy.

After she talked to her manager, they disappeared around a corner for a while.  The woman came back with what seemed to be more paperwork and handed it to another man sitting behind one of the main desks.  They talked for awhile and then he sat the paperwork aside.  He fiddled with something on his computer screen and then waved me over.  I looked over at all the other people waiting patiently and wondered if they were mad that I had skipped ahead a few places.  No one threw anything at me or yelled any insults my way, so I guess they didn’t mind all that much.

The man before me asked me a bunch of the same questions about my account, making sure once again that I was indeed who I said I was.  Hey, at least they are cautious.  His fingers danced across his key board for a long while before he spoke to me again.

“Okay,” he said.  “Forget about your account.  It does not exist anymore.”  My heart stopped.  “If you want you can open a new account later.”  Still no heart beat.  I was beginning to get  a little light headed.  “I can give you the money remaining in your account,” he said, and my heart fluttered back to life.  “But,” he continued, and my heart flat lined again, “I will need to charge you 25 yuan for losing your card.”

“Oh, that is fine!”  I probably sounded hysterical, but I was so happy.  My heart almost leapt out of my chest and hugged him.

He just looked at me and then said, “That will be 20 yuan, please.”

“Oh, yeah, sure.”  I opened up my purse to look for some money, but all I had was a few yuan and some lint.  I looked over my shoulder at Phil waiting patiently on a metal stool.  “Please tell me you have 20 yuan.”

Phil reached into his wallet and handed me the most beautiful 20 yuan note I have ever seen in my entire life.  I snatched hit out of his hand and quickly shoved it into the metal tray so the guy could get it.

“But just forget about your account,” he said, taking the 20 yuan bill into his possession.  “It doesn’t exist anymore.”

Ten minutes later, after counting and recounting, I had my money and I didn’t have to go all the way to Linyi to get it.  I danced out the bank’s doors.  Everyone thought I was nuts, but I really didn’t care.

Life may not always be easy in China, but man, when things go smoother than you expect, it makes you giggle like a school girl.  And now that I have written a short story and bored all of you to tears, I am going to jet.  And since the secret it is out and I don’t have any more excuses, I’ll be more of a regular here from now on.  Next time, I’ll try to post some pictures or something.

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Jul
29
2010

And We’re Back . . .

bya Gabrielle at 2:08 PM

And we have been since Sunday, July 25th.  What?  Already?  What happened to going to  Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-la?  After bumming it out in Yangshuo for a week, we decided it was a good time to make our way back to Linyi.  Money was a little bit of an issue, as I thought it would be.  Plane tickets just cost too much.  And we spent too much here and there . . . I mean, it was our vacation!  Plane tickets are relatively cheap in China if you compare them to American standards, but when you are not making an American salary, it hurts to cough up so much of your hard(haha) earned cash.

Hrm . . . where to start with my 900 some pictures?  Since we are on the subject of money, how about we take a look at how much we had before we took off, and compare it to how much we have left over after bouncing around the country for 20 days?

What does a person do with 22,200 yuan in cash?  I’ll show you.  :)

Money Bed

Pretty amazing, isn’t?  Here is a few more shots.

Money Bed

And, well, I couldn’t just let it sit there and look pretty, now could I?  Nope.

Gabe on her Money Bed

I had to lay on it.  It is everyone’s dream, right?  And it couldn’t just end there.  Nope.  My dream wasn’t quite fulfilled.

Gabe rolling on the Money Bed.

Money may be the root of all evil, but damn if it doesn’t make you happy as hell.  And what became of our money, you ask?  How much of it still remains?  Can I still roll around in glee?  Hardly.  I’ve got a picture of that, too.

er jiao

Just enough to pay the ferry to cross the river of Styx.  :)  Actually, I doubt that is enough.  I don’t know how many jiaos equal a copper coin, so I may be short.  Drat.  And for those of you who don’t know, a jiao is one-tenth of a yuan, and approximately 6.8 yuan equals one US dollar.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I have something like 900 pictures from my trip, as well as many others that I have never posted.  I still have a month left of vacation, so I am bound to have time to post them.  However, every time I sat down to right this particular post, my phone, both Chinese and Skype, rang and I was summoned or distracted.  It took me two days to get it done.  I decided to stay up later than usual tonight so that I could at least have something for my undying fans to read and enjoy(haha).  I have some errands to run tomorrow.  Phil and I met some new teachers, and they need help in finding a decent, but cheap computer.  So, no promises about how soon the next entry will appear.

My next entry may not even be China related.  I really need to post about something else – something that will probably open up my emotional flood gates again, but it’s something I feel needs to be done.  My baby Countess and Quantum deserve it.

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Jul
02
2010

Video Games and TV Shows

bya Gabrielle at 4:32 AM

I am now two days into my two month long vacation, and I must say, it’s nice.  So far, I haven’t left our room.  All I have been doing is watching American TV shows and trying to kill people in Battlefield 2142.  So far, I am the only one getting killed.  It is a fun game, but when the people you are playing with play non-stop, they tend to be better than you. Much better.  I have spawned and died so many times that I have lost count.

Phil and I are trying not to spend much money until we leave, since we only have some much money to play with.  I have no idea how far our savings are going to take us.  As long as I get to see at least one new city/place that I haven’t seen before, I’ll be happy.

I recently finished the last book that I brought with me – Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule.  About half way through it, I figured that I needed to order some new books so there wouldn’t be any down time between books.  I looked into having my mother send me some and I also checked out Amazon, but both had their pitfalls.  The cost of my mom buying the books and sending them was little pricey and Amazon only ships certain items overseas.  Phil did some research and found a really awesome website for me.  It is called The Book Depository.  It is a company located in the UK and they have a huge collection of books.  They ship books worldwide and shipping is free.  I was a little wary at first, but about two weeks after I placed my order, all four of my books showed up.  I’m not sure why, but they were all individually wrapped.  I highly recommend them if you are living in a small city in some strange country and you can’t get your hands on any good books in your own language.  Now I will have plenty of books to read as I sit on many planes, buses and trains!

A friend of ours here is taking off to Beijing for a job on Saturday, so on Wednesday, we all got together for dinner and massages.  Phil decided not go with us to get the massages because he hates them.  He says it tickles too much.  I think he is crazy.  Massages are great, especially $14 massages.  In my opinion, he’s missing out.  I didn’t get the same procedure that Phil got the last time we went, but I did get the ba guan on my feet.  When you get the standard massage, they ask you if you want the glass cups on your feet. I have had it done several times now, but the first time was pretty intense.  It felt like my soul was being sucked out through the bottoms of my feet.  Now I am used to it, and it sorta feels good, especially when they release the suction and rub your feet.

Here is a picture . . .

Ba Guan on my feet.

That is all for now.  I will try and put a few more posts up before I leave.  There are a lot more pictures I haven’t shared yet.

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Jun
10
2010

Meet the Office Robot

bya Gabrielle at 12:02 AM

Mr. Robot

We tried getting creative in the office with all of the boxes we’ve received since we got here.  Phil started making a fort around his desk at first, and then it gradually turned into the picture above.  It would be awesome if we could get him to walk and talk and serve us lemonade or beer.  I think I would program it with a stutter.  He needs a better name than Mr. Robot or Office Robot.  If you have a suggestion, let me know.  We also thought about putting a daily thought bubble above his head.  Strangely, my boss hasn’t said anything about it and he has seen it multiple times.  I suppose he just thinks were really strange and would rather not discuss our unusual attempt at humor.  If we get enough boxes, we’ll have to build him a girlfriend.  Or maybe an army of them.  That would be scary.

Categories: China,crazy,cute,Humor,Linyi
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Jun
04
2010

Man by the River Yi

bya Gabrielle at 3:19 AM

Every once and awhile, I try to get creative with the pictures I take.  The other night, after scarfing down some yummy KFC, Phil and I decided to walk along the river.  Of all the ones I took, this is the only one that I liked.  I wish the lighting had been a little better, then you could have seen the way that he was holding his hands behind his back.  For some reason, that is how a lot of Chinese people hold their hands, especially if they are walking.  I’ve caught myself doing it a few times. I must admit, it is comfortable.

Man by the River Yi

Categories: China,Chinese,Linyi
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May
22
2010

Art Expo in Linyi, China

bya Gabrielle at 8:00 AM

It was a dreary day in Linyi, and because we didn’t have anything else better to do, we decided to go to an Art Expo being held down the street that we were invited to.  It was supposedly a big deal because a lot of high officials were going to be there.  And of course, they wanted some foreign faces to dress up the crowd a bit.  They promised us fun and food,  so we really couldn’t say no.

A caravan of cars showed up at the school expecting more than three willing participants.  Needless to say, they were a bit disappointed  that no one else wanted to brave the rain. They had me knocking on doors to see if there were any other last minute tag alongs, but there were no takers.

When we got there we were taken to a VIP room where two pretty Chinese women pinned roses on us.  Apparently, it indicated we were VIP’s.  When we started taking pictures of the exhibits, there were people taking pictures of us like we were on display.  It was humorous.

Phil with a pretty flower.

VIP Phil

VIP Gabe

VIP Gabe

Chinese women in traditional dresses.

If it hadn’t have been for the chair and the umbrella, I think this would have been an awesome picture.

Jade and other rocks made to look like food.

I don’t know if you can tell, but that isn’t food.  It is jade and other stones made to look like dishes of food.  Neat.

Chinese artwork.

One of the many pieces of artwork we saw.

Chinese artwork.

Another piece.


Book of Heaven

I think this section of the expo was stone that had been naturally shaped and just happened to look like something we could recognize.

Naturally formed rock that looks like a Chinese village.

A naturally formed stone that looks like it is painted.  Looks like a Chinese village.

One creepy ass looking spider-dog.

One creepy ass looking spider-dog.

Food. Umm.  Not so yumm.Nice presentation, but I still couldn’t bring myself to eat the entire thing.  I made my host happy by eating the tail, and that was enough to almost make me hurl.



Categories: art,China,Chinese,Food,Linyi
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May
21
2010

Umbrellas and Bellies

bya Gabrielle at 2:43 AM

Hrm.  Nothing all that exciting has been happening lately, at least nothing I have felt was really blog worthy.  I take my camera every where I go, though, and occasionally I will snap a picture of something neat.  The weather has gotten a lot better here in the last few weeks.  It is now umbrella and belly weather.  By that I mean, all the girls have umbrellas with them where ever they go.  They don’t like to get any sun.  The whiter you are the better.  And the men roll up their shirts and show off their big beer bellies for all the world to see.  It’s pretty funny.  I’ll try to get a picture of that soon.

In about a month and some change, Phil and I will get to enjoy a two month vacation.  I know we intend to travel, but I don’t know where yet.  I keep flipping through my guide books, but I haven’t decided on a place or an area.  There are so many interesting places I want to see.  I wish we had a little more money so we could do more, but so is life.  We really want to take a trip to Japan, but the plane tickets are pricey.  And I don’t even want to know how much it would cost to eat, sleep there, and sight see.  I am sure we could afford to go, but there wouldn’t be a lot of money left over to really do anything.  Walking around would be fun, I guess.  We’ll see.

And now for some random pictures.

Chinese Pizza

Cheaper than Pizza Hut.  Not as good, but not bad.

Ice Cream Man

Almost too cute to eat.  Those are red beans for his eyes and nose.

Cormorants - Chinese Fishing

It is strange.  We have a lot of water ways in Linyi, but I never see anyone fishing.  This was the first time I have seen Cormorants here.  I have no idea how they fit four boats into that little truck.

Start 'em young.

I see a lot of strange things in China, but this just about had me rolling in the streets.

Categories: China,Food,Humor,Linyi
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May
03
2010

Qufu, China

bya Gabrielle at 12:32 AM

I always seem to start out my posts with, a few something or other ago, Phil and I did this or went here . . .  I suppose I just take too long to actually get whatever it is that we did posted. I’ll try to get better at it.  Now that Phil and I can use both of our computers at the same time, that may actually be possible.  Hooray, for wireless!!  Right now, I am enjoying  a wonderful three day vacation because Monday is Labor Day.  In years previous, it used to be a week long vacation, but this is the first year it has only been a day – at least I think that is right.  I really don’t know why they changed it, but I suppose they had a good reason.

Last weekend, Phil and I decided to change up our scenery a little by going to Qufu.  The city is famous because Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, was born there.  He also taught there and of course, that is where he was buried.  See the map below to get an idea of where it is located in China.  Qufu is only about two hours north-west of Linyi by train.  When we went to buy our tickets a few days in advance, I had no idea how much they were going to cost, but was pleasantly surprised to find a soft seat only cost 24 yuan.  I saw another lady with a ticket to Beijing and her ticket said 113 yuan, but I don’t know if that was for a soft seat, hard seat, or standing only.  Yes, they do sell standing only tickets.  Those were the only ones available to us coming back.  I get to that later.

Qufu Map

Getting to Qufu wasn’t a problem at all.  Phil and I had to battle the crowd on the train and peel back our sardine can to breath better, but that is a train in China for you.  I was just happy to have seats.  When we first got on, we did find that our seats were already occupied, but once they saw our tickets, they got up.  There was no real place to put our backpacks, so we had put them in our laps.  That was fun.  At least it was only a two hour ride.

Five or six stops later, one of the girls we were sitting by said, in English, that we had arrived.  The train only stops for a minute or so, so you have to book it to the platform . . . except in our case, there was no platform to walk out on to.  The car that we were in had stopped short of it and we had to jump down to the gravel.  It wasn’t that far, really, but with a big backpack on, it felt farther.  When I landed, the weight of my bag nearly made me fall flat on my face.  While we were walking to the platform, the train station employees kept telling us to step away from the train . . . but there wasn’t much space between the train and the wall, so they yelled at us until we got to a point along the path that they deemed safe.

It was about nine at night when we got to the Qufu train station.  When we walked out front, there were no taxis or anything.  For a moment, we wondered how we were going to make it to our hostel, but then a little old woman walked up to us and asked where we needed to go.  She pulled out her cell phone after we told her and we could hear her telling the person she was talking to that she had some foreigners that needed a ride.  A few moments later, a taxi showed up, and off we went.  The guy didn’t use his meter, and I really didn’t care.  He only got an extra five or so yuan.

The only thing bad about some hostels, is that they have a curfew.  After getting to the hostel, checking in and getting a bit settled, we only had an hour to find some place to eat.  When I asked the lady at the front desk if there were any places open, she smiled and said that maybe if we were lucky we would find something.  I guess we were lucky.  Just down the street, we found a fast food chicken restaurant called CNHLS.  I have no idea how you pronounce that, but I heard another foreigner calling it Knuckles.  It sorta looks like that . . . I guess.  The restaurant was a lot like KFC or the KFC look alike, Dico’s.  The food wasn’t bad and it was cheap.  After we got done eating, we ran back to the hostel, and luckily got back before they closed their doors.

Chinese Chicken Chain - CNHLS

We awoke the next morning to beautiful weather and birds chirping.  The sky was actually blue.  This made me very happy.  Below is the picture of the courtyard at the hostel where you can eat or chill.  It was very nice.

Qufu International Youth Hostel

The first thing  on our to do list was to visit the cemetery where Confucius was buried, along with the rest of his descendants.  Apparently, people are still being buried there today.  After seeing it myself, I told Phil that when I finally kick the bucket, he is to convince the people of Qufu that I am distant, distant relative of Confucius – it was just that pretty.   I’ll stop with the chatter for a bit, so that you can enjoy the pictures.

Horse drawn carriage.

One way to travel around Qufu.

Entrance to the Cemetery

The entrance to the cemetery.

Path with very old trees on either side.

Path leading into the cemetery.  Lots of old trees on either side.

Pretty blue bird with a long tail.

These birds were all over the cemetery.  So pretty.

Purple flowers every where.

We must have come at the perfect time.  These purple flowers were every where.

Up close with the purple flower.

Here is what one looks like up close.

Random tombstone.

Random tombstone.

Statue

I am not sure of the significance, but this one guy kept trying to throw some coins on top of the statue’s folded arms.

Confucius Tomb

Confucius’ Tomb.

Confucius' Tomb

Another view of the tomb.

Pretty Picture

I took a billion pictures while I was there, this is just one that I liked.

Twisted tree.

A pretty twisted tree.

More pretty pictures.

More pretty pictures.

No smoking.

The no smoking tomb.

Dry water bed.

Dry water bed.

After we finished walking around the cemetery, we decided to head back into town.  We went back to that “Knuckles” place and ate some more chicken.  After that, we waked around and did a whole lot of nothing the rest of the day.  And we did the same the next day, too.  There were more things we could have done, but I didn’t feel like shelling out money for some of the attractions, and plus, I was a bit tired.  I didn’t mind relaxing.

Phil and his Chicken.

Phil and his Chicken.  He loves meat more than me sometimes.

Qufu Park

A park we stumbled across in Qufu.

Yet another pretty picture.

This was at the top of a man-made mountain.

Crazy Wysteria

Some crazy Wisteria.

Chinese Mermaids

Chinese Mermaids.

Bee Beard

Found this on the back window of a car.  Weird.

Okay, last but not least, our trip home.  It happened like this.  We stood on the platform and waited for the train to roll up.  Of course, the place we were told to wait was not where the door stopped, so we had to run down to where it was.  The train was already stuffed full of people, so it was really, really hard to squeeze ourselves and our bags on.  A Chinese man kept yelling at everyone to squeeze harder.

Phil and I, before we left Linyi, had bought some folding chairs because we knew that we would be standing.  Our seats were almost useless because there was absolutely no room to put them.  After the train started moving and the people started spreading out into the aisles, we finally found a place in between where one car started and the other ended.  Let me tell you, it was one bumpy ride.  The cars constantly shook.  And every 5 minutes, someone needed to make their way through us, so we had to keep standing up and sitting down, much to the amusement of every person watching us.  We were the only foreigners in our section.

About an hour into our ride, a man in uniform came walking through our area with two Swedish people.  We asked them where they were going and they said that they thought he was going to give them seats.  I looked at the guy in uniform and asked if we were supposed to go with him, too. Our conversation was mostly in hand gestures because I had no idea how to say what I needed to in Chinese.  He told us yes, and off we went.  The four of us walked through 8 packed cars of young people, old people, and monks before we reached the seats they had provided us.  If it hadn’t been for my over sized back pack, it probably wouldn’t have been so bad.  When we finally plopped out butts down, I was so tired and sweaty, it was amazing.  I felt special, though, that they had made room for us.  I guess they thought that the foreigners should not be standing in the smoking section for the entirety of their journey.  I must say, it was a very nice gesture.

Standing room only on the train.

Fuzzy Phil.

Fuzzy Gabe

And Fuzzy, Gabe.  Not a flattering picture – AT ALL.

And that was our journey in a nut shell.  Can’t wait until we go to Qingdao or some other city near by.

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Apr
27
2010

Linyi, China’s Bird Lady

bya Gabrielle at 10:01 AM

Thanks to my Dad, I can now upload my videos to YouTube and show them to you here.  The following video is of me feeding the pigeons located at the People’s Square.  You pay the attendant 2 yuan and he/she gives you a small plastic bag with some seed. When watching the video, you can hear the attendant yelling at a little boy who comes up to me and grabs one of the birds by its’ tail.  She is saying something like, “Just look! Just look!”   Of course, the boy doesn’t listen and grabs anyway.  I felt really bad for the bird.

Phil and I went to Qufu this weekend, and I have some picture and videos that I will be posting soon. I just have to allot some time to do it.  Well, anyway, enjoy the video!

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