Hangzhou ("hongjoe")

Trip Start Aug 05, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Flag of China  , Zhejiang Sheng,
Monday, September 5, 2011

Been to Hangzhou twice in as many days.  Yesterday, three of us teachers took a taxi to HZ to look for the silk market, yet; we wound up seeing the night market which did have some silk items.   Not really sure why many people in Xiasha travel  to Hangzhou so often.    Fact is:   Hangzhou is lovely and  there's not much to do.  There's not much to do in most great places, possibly go to a bar and restaurant and talk about how cool it is to be in this awesome place.  Go hit a few boring museums.  Unless you have a specific destination like "Disney World" or "West Lake",  but once you do that why go back every week?.    I enjoy just cruising around by bicycle  and exploring new places in whatever city I happen to be in.  I enjoy boring old Allen Texas or Xiasha for bicycle exploration.  You can see much more than in a car,  or getting nowhere on foot.  stop off at a cheap cafe or pub. But most big cities I've been to I didn't really do much at all.  Lots of famous places but why go every week?  Many of the travelers I know do a lot of walking to get to some lame destination.   Take "Nob Hill" in San Franciso for example,  lets walk 4 miles from the Hyatt and stand on the top of Nob Hill maybe go to lunch, then hike back to the Hyatt... Trip takes you 4 hours. You just wasted most of the day and you didn't see much.   In SF the cheap commercial bus tours are the way to go.  In Hangzhou my favorite thing was to ride a red bike around the West lake maybe check out the Buddhist temple spend a couple days checking out all the great ancient stuff around the lake.   Then what?  Not much more interesting than Xiasha, but three times the price and it's packed with tourists.  I like it here as well as any place.     Many travelers spend only a night or two in each city.  When they finish their month long trip to China,  they visited 20 places or so,  but mostly saw the inside of a train, or train station.  I prefer to live in one or two places during a month long vacation,  that way you meet the locals,  learn much more about the place.   I lived in HZ for two weeks,  that was enough.

 Yeah,  we were on a half day trip  and McDonald's was the high point for me and my friend Debbie.   I got to hand it to Mickey D's.  They are the one fast food restaurant over here that combines a fair price with a menu the resembles the US menu.   KFC fails by comparison. They have no mashed potato's with gravy and slaw.   Merely a bunch of chicken sandwiches with rice on the side.   But the KFC is all powerful here in China.

Once we were safely back in Xiasha,  the three of us went to a fancy restaurant called C-Straits,  where you can actually buy a decent steak for 12 bucks or so.  Beer prices are way ridiculous,  but it's nice to have a steak and listen to the grand piano player.   I wish every restaurant had a grand piano player for entertainment.   If I could afford the drinks I would go to just chill and listen to the music.   All the drinks including coffee, tea, beer, soda,  is about 35 Kwai, or over 5 dollars. The place is classy and spectacular.   I guess that overcharging for liquid is how they pay their bills?  I'll still go back every two weeks or so.  Might have to bootleg the ole flask though. 

Poor Working Chinese....

  I feel comfortable among the regular, common, blue collar  Chinese folks (I might like the wealthy ones too but I haven't  really hung around that many).   I like the students as well.    Today, I really impressed an old junkman, who had parked his ancient pedal powered rickshaw near the entrance to my apartment.    I had been waiting for my foreign expert to pick me up in order to take me to the immigration office in Hangzhou.  I sat been standing for a long time,  so I just sat on the curb while crossing my legs Buddha Style.   The junkman kept walking up to me and was very appalled that I would just sit on the edge of the road and offered me a burlap sack to sit on.   I experience selfless acts of kindness everyday.   I feel that I belong here amongst these kind people.   These folks are the back-bone of China.  They clean the streets, run the stores, deliver supplies,  haul what needs to be hauled,  these are not educated folks at all.  None can speak a sentence of English nor can I touch their language,  but they have an intrinsic way of communication through smiles, gestures, patience,   ect...

 This morning I am heading back to the hospital to take some blood and urine tests.   We need to find out why my ekg is messed up and why my legs are swollen.  It is getting more and more painful to walk,  and the 5 floor hike up to my apartment can be excruciating.  We go to the hospital, stand in a line where 50 people get their blood drawn every 10 minutes,  they hand me two narrow plastic urine specimen tubes,  I go to the bathroom where many dudes where trying to piss in their test tubes at the same time,  all needing a hand wash afterward.   Then I get to walk across the lobby holding my own piss for all to see (no one cared really),  then give it to the blood test lady and leave.   Chinese hospitals are efficient and inexpensive.  Blood and urine tests about $10,  CAT SCAN $200!    No appt. needed.   All the regular doctors work at hospitals,  so you don't have to go through a ton of expense and time to get something done.  I think that China's health care competes with the West for 95% of your health issues,  but if I need a brain transplant,   I'm going to have it done in the West.

Drove my little bike around afterward searching for a new coffee place near my school to no avail.   So I drove back near my place and had coffee and  2 breakfast pastries at Cafe Meil for 14 kwai (yuan) or $2.15.  Pretty expensive breakfast but the coffee makes it worth it.  The pastries really weren't.  Note to self:   Next time get the ham and mayo pastry again.

This evening I went shopping for an E-Bike again,  but they all felt like badly made toys,  when compared to my motorcycle collection back in the states.   But I do want one so I can drive to Hangzhou,  or explore the distant countryside,   a quick way to get to class during the bone chilling winter months...   Ok,  I'll be honest.   I want another toy!   I believe I found it.   One of the electric scooter stores had the commom three wheeled rickshaw things with a heavy duty little truck bed in the back.   I've seen a thousand pounds of various shit being moved by these muthas!    So I test drove one.   It even had reverse!   It was at least as fast in pickup speed as the scooter looking ones but makes more sense for a three hundred pounder.  Plus I can buy and carry lots of stuff in the back.   I can provide freight service for my friends and neighbors and go exploring with a big ice chest and BBQ grill in the back so I can be a fellow BBQ vendor in the night markets and serve them up some real good stuff!    Imagine all the tail gate parties we can have back there for the local badminton games?    It's only about $400 new and feels like it will last for a long time.   If I ever leave here,  I'll just give it to one of the locals who could really make use out of it.   

Ate a dinner at a higher end hotel Chinese restaurant.   I was able to point to the beer I wanted,  so they bring me a hot one of course.   I demonstrated that I wanted a cold one by pointing to the beer than acting like I was cold.  Sheesh,  I dead monkey would have gotten this one.   So three other waiters came up to try to figure it out.   I pointed at the beer, then the teapot,  and waved my hand and shook my head like no this is bad.   Then I pointed at the beer and started shivering and acting like I was cold.  They just looked at me like they didn't get it.   I swear I can and have done this to a thousand Germans, Africans,  French, or  any other group of people and my acting was so obvious, they have all instantly got the message.     This is a reoccurrence here.   The brilliant Chinese,  and we all agree are excellent scholars and learn very quick.   Just suck at charades?  Maybe it's too easy for them.    I have traveled the world and have never had an issue with telling someone that I want a cold beer.   So after bringing the entire wait staff to embarrass me,  one brilliant waitress,  brings me some ice.   By then I was grouchy enough (and I admit I was wrong for this),  but I insisted they bring me a forking cold beer!  (The Chinese will not take anything back no matter whose fault it is)   I pushed the beer to the other side of the table,  shook my head and demonstrated in a way, that a baby would understand, that I wanted a cold one!   They acted like they didn't understand until I handed them 8 yuan (the price of the hot beer)  and told them to bring me another cold one.  They refused the money so they didnt lose face, and instantly brought me a cold beer (almost like they knew what I wanted but didn't want to take it back)!    Next time I'll just use the ice,  it's really not worth it.   Actually,  I take the full blame because if I want cold beer,  it's time I learn how to ask for it,  or at least write it in my little note book,  so I don't have to go through this much shit.   The fact that Chinese suck at charades is shared by many of us who have tried to use that fine method of communication.   But this lazy shit (me)  really needs to change his ways and learn more Chinese.  Heck,  it's been a month and I need to communicate better than I currently do.

I stopped at a pharmacy and managed to find Ibuprofen,  but can't ask for a friggin cold beer?

Someone from Xiasha found this blog and found where I can get a "Flying Pigeon" for like $80,  it's nice that now the search engines can convey what info I gather about Xiasha to the rest of the world.   I will try to leave more usable info in the future, but half the time I don;t know where I am eating or even the street I am on since much is in Chinese.   Hope to be of help to all present and future Xiashans like me.   God knows,  there isn't much info on the net except "Hangzhou Expat" website,  which I highly recommend for those who plan to move to the area.

Headed for home,  but first bought some Muslim bread/pizza/whatever the heck it is,  since I didn't eat much.   Hate to disrespect the local cuisine,  because obviously it;s good stuff but I just don't get it.   There are nearly a hundred different recipes in most of the good restaurants and the locals love their food.   There is probably one restaurant for every 9 people here or some similar number.   Unfortunately things like bones, chicken feet,  jellyfish,  and other exotic stuff just doesn't do it for me and other buffoons from the west.   I know this is some great food, but I am just not used to experiencing what the locals like about it.    I will keep trying to expand my horizons and try more and more of what this area has to offer.    I am getting to be quite the noodle fan already,  since they are made fresh and all.   Maybe some of the pigs kidney dishes will start to appeal at some point.


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Samantha Belicek on

I don't know if this helps, but this is supposed to mean "cold beer": bing de pijiu (pronunciation????????)

And this is supposed to say, "I would like a large cold beer, please." Maybe you can copy it in your book.


albarnes on

Thanks. I knew pejiu...... one of the first words I learned. I did use the full version this evening and ordered for three people.... I felt so smart! I;m just learning words and phrases in the order of necessity. Last week I mastered Do' shou chien'? or "How much is it"? I still haven't learned bathroom since I can let them know through charade and be very clear about it. This is fun, but can be frustrating at times. If your willing to copy words by hand then you will have no problems. I used Google translate for phases and they willl speak them for you as well. I will write the Pinyon Chinese word, then spell it phonetically, so I can repeat it. Of great importance are how you pronounce the tone, or "Beer" can mean "poop" or something.

Robin on

Boy, if you have a hard time with the food, I could not live there. I think of you as a person with a very open mind when it comes to trying different food.

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