Saturday, July 15, 2006

All over Guilin

I would post this on the comment section of my Shenzhen entry, replying to Jon, but my site is busy being blocked: "Actually, that was a habit I changed. At first I just looked down and ignored people. However, towards the end I started staring them dead center in the eyes and saying "no thank you." After that, it took only the real jerks to keep pushing it, most people got the picture you were serious. Also, "fantastic city" definitely did not come to mind in Shenzhen. I liked some people, but they all came from somewhere else."

I would post this in regard to an Allie comment (I can read them because they go to my email box): all but one of them are French cuffs. The pants are really great, they are spot on. The three main shirts are beautiful (definitely great fabrics) but I think too big. They said they will shrink in the wash, but I will believe it when I see it, they say bigger looks better, but I did not have time to disagree. That said, the other shirt I got is just spot on, nice fit, beautiful look. Most importantly, I learned lessons, next time I go there (and I think I will go there again), I know exactly what to buy and how to buy it: (get fabric from the fabric store, but go to one of the stationary tailors to make it, and if you think they are measuring you too big, they are measuring you too big. Better yet, bring something to replicate, my pants were duplicated in shape, if you give them an article you like and fits well, you can get a nice copy.

PTI: I don't know if I can start an entry with a PTI, but I will probably add a where am I above this, as wireless is clearly not a thing. On the train ride (to be described) I befriended a former student and temporary teach at the Guilin Normal University, somehow, I ended up at her university, so that she can watch my bag. Now I am taking a quick break at the student area before hitting the parks that make this places name.

It is of note that this little student area, and this campus in general, are very different from Taiwan. For one thing, the Taiwanese universities are blanketed with wireless. I am now at a cafe, next to another cafe, two computer centers, and a number of dorms, yet I can't even smell a connection in the breeze.
The University is super run down, and has a lot of places that are far more Chinese industrial village than University. That said, the people seem nice (though the staring is at an all time high). Even more important, they make a ripping good Milk tea here. Anyone who knows "Taiwan Matt" knows that I am somewhat of a Milk Tea conesuier (there was a time when I was hitting at least two a day). The secret? They use carmel for sugar, a luxury in Taiwan that pushes a 500cc drink from about $.45 to about $1.30. Here? The Bo Ba milk tea (with Tapioca added) is $.25 and ripping good. Also they seem to normally deal in small cups. Anyway, I should go.

PTI: So I just had my day in Guilin and successfully ended it in Yangshuo. The problem is that I am about at least three or four somewhat decent stories, so if things get confusing and anti chronological, sorry.

My day in Guilin was fast and furious. After putting away my luggage at the female dormitory of Guilin Normal University, I took a bus to Seven-star park. Guilin is famous for having many parks integrated into the city. The park itself was alright. The Chinese tourists were not to disappoint and thusly out in force. That said, I found my own little path and followed that. I took it to the top of a decent hill (which I have some handwritten stuff that will probably be added to the end of this blog entry).
The precipice of this mountain/hill was a truly excellent view of Guilin, a pretty weird view. At the top, I met two law students. It was clear they picked luck just as a matter of course. They did not have any strong, at least speakable beliefs about the government. They also seemed to have no focus with law, they were just sort of doing what they were doing.
As I left the top, I ran into a young man wearing a Beijing Olympics 2008 shirt. I started talking to him, doing my normal meeting a Chinese person routine (there are certain questions I always ask, so that I can compare people and regions). He was nice, and amazingly talkative. He wanted to practice his English at first, but it was clear his English was not going to cut it.
After that, I was walking down the hill when he ran down towards me asking what I was doing now. I said I was going to the cave they have there (which I heard was somewhat tacky, but I had already paid admission on accident and felt entitled). He basically repeated the tacky thing but said he had nothing to do and wanted to join me. This he did, as he went with me to the cave, the next park, the bus station ticket office, back to the dorm for my bag, and back to the bus station.
He did this, partially to be helpful and partially for the story "I hung out with a foreigner for a day." No matter what I could say though, he was very cool and friendly. He reminded me of what I like about Taiwan, people will help you because people should be helped. They are infinitely kind and often go out of their way without question.
His accent was a bit problematic for me, plus my Chinese is going through somewhat of a weird phase right now, so communication was sloppy, but it worked. My Chinese has gotten super funky. They use different structures in different parts of China, and everyone here is from different places. That is all battling with my Taiwanese style of speaking. Things I know Taiwanese would understand don't work here. In a way, I feel like I no longer control the language. I keep saying things I don't mean to say, often correctly but surprised the way they come out. The best example is I keep saying 那兒 which is very Beijing, rather than 那裡 which is very Taiwanese. I am okay with that, but it seems like I didn't choose to switch, and that weirds me out (I also sometimes say 那兒裡 and take out both of those birds).
After the first park, we went to a second park, the Elephant Mountain park. It too provided a great view of this city dropped into a natural wonderland (crashed upon it might be a better word). The park was not that special for the most part, a bit crowded, some cool stuff, but nothing worth writing a blog about. That said, I was glad I gave Guilin a chance.
So far Yangshuo is what I thought it would be: Kaosan road from Thailand dropped into China. There are a lot of white people, clubs, cafes, and other things white people bring. I look forward to the views for right now, but first I am going to appreciate what looks to be wireless at cafés all over the place.
Tonight I ate dinner with two Chinese students from my train. They randomly approached me and acted as if we were close friends (we had just said hi a few times), that said, the result was great. They more aggressively pursued English with me, but after a day of nonstop Mandarin, I was not too sad.
It was the first time I had declined alcohol in a social setting while sober (normal I drink to be social, but we are trying, well, not). We played a dice game that is famous in Taiwan as well. Then we ate one of the best meals I have had in China, a spicy garlicky Beer Fish (which conjured up for me dried, scaly fish soaked in beer), the thing was puffy, contained few bones, and was generally shockingly delicious.
Now I am going to go to sleep in my little wood room located under this hotel's stairs. It is costing me $2.50 a night, and lets say, that fee is a bit stretched. That said it works, hopefully I will have an opportunity to post this, write another, and type up the one from my book in here.

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