General Musings and pictures...

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

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Where I stayed
My apartment in Xiasha.
What I did
Xu Xing Yu Hotel restaurant.

Flag of China  , Zhejiang Sheng,
Thursday, September 8, 2011

One month in China so far!  

 Just some extra pics I had kickin' around.   The first is of some decent spicy Szechwan beef with cilantro and serrano peppers,   Mexicans would wrap them in a tortilla and throw some quezo and sour cream, but just to eat this limp wet shit is uninspiring.   Yeah, serve it with rice mmmmmmmm.    They really know how to cook here,  maybe lack the finishing touches I am used to would suit me better.  Doesn't matter,  the people of ZheJiang province  love it and this is their land,  therefore:  my food critiques are meaningless to all but Texans or Mexicans who come here....    Also shown in the picture is "Kimchi" Which is pickled cabbage and pepper paste with a foot of salt.   "Kimchi" is about the only Korean dish that I really liked back when I visited there.    One valid complaint I do have about the local food, is that they salt the shit out of everything.   Maybe a "Cooley" or heavy laborer needs that extra salt,  but certainly not the average person in this college town.   Salt will kill you if you don't bust your ass hard enough the eliminate it from your body.  This is an excellent restaurant despite my personal complaints: Xu Xing Yu Hotel.    

  I found out that the same restaurant where this pic was taken has some hot and sour soup worth coming back for.   Turns out that my group of teachers met the following night after the hot beer incident I previously wrote about.   The restaurant  has good prices for a quality Chinese restaurant.   The greens and pork tasted like they came straight from the deep south,  and the green beans were nice as well.   It's a good place,  I recommend it.   The floors and walls were made of marble,  the use of semi-precious stone in architecture here amazes me.   Granite or marble,  sometimes, other stuff like jasper and stones I don't recognize.   Some stone polishing dudes up here in the China!!  

        I needed an interpreter today so I called my buddy "Lil' Al".   Lil Al is a student at one of the Universities around here that I met in a bike shop last week.  He was also a customer but acted as my interpreter between me and the bike store manager.  Lil' Al's English is not much better than my Spanish,  but he can understand my pantomime.   Takes time but he is a decent enough interpreter.  I called him to help me make a deal on an electric bike.   I prefer my pedal bike, but those cold days or days when I need to go a long distance,   I want an electric one.   Plus this bike is pimpin'. 
        Lil Al didn't have an English name, so I gave him one, and he is most grateful.   I am most grateful to meet such happy kids as the Chinese.   Not to disrespect the American kids,  but the Chinese are so glad to talk to you it really can make one's day!.  Not too many selfish, cynical little ingrates in China,  but I have seen a couple.   I really hate to see China change.  The people are still happy and beautiful for the most part.  This is a great time to be Chinese or just to be in China if you're not Chinese. 

         I remember when I was about 12 we lived near the edge of the city, but too far to go to the stores and stuff.   For fun we would spend a few hours fishing and catch these pan sized little blue gills and mudcats.  Then we would clean them and bread them,  then fry em' up in a pan of oil for lunch.   Great fun really.   No video games or cell phones, just fishing and running around in the woods.   That was then this is now...   Still a comfort to know that many kids in South America, Asia, Africa,  and a few places in the USA:  don't miss out as much as the modern kid's do. 
         Sorry to flood this with more hospital talk,  but I found the blood line to be pretty hysterical.   Many lines of people who stick their arm in a window while the nurse draws out some blood.  Just like going to the bank!  Then they hand you two finger sized tubes for you to piss in.   I already explained that so.... 

WARNING:   LONG RANT ABOUT SELF-LABELING-PRETENTIOUS PEOPLE, MIXED WITH THE BIOGRAPHY OF YUSUF ISLAM.   (people who dislike slow reading will be bored with this attempt of making a point.   I thought about editing it,  but I like it so it will stay.  Just move to the next paragraph when this bores you more than this long-winded disclaimer)..

         Spent the evening practicing the horn,  writing this blog and researching a man name "Steven Demetre Georgiou".   His father was from the Greek/Turk island of Cyprus ("always a party there I tells ya")  and his mother was a Swede.   Dad married Mum in London and had this little kid named Steven Georgiou back in 48'.   Steven was highly impressed with the local theatres in London's 'West End",  and was (as many were and still are) big fans of Rogers and Hammerstein's musical works.   Fun reading about all the phony bullcrap bands and genre's he went thru in order to find his true self...   He was quite the hard working music student and later came on the late 60's scene as the Artist known as "Cat Stevens".   "Cat Stevens" was as real as the 60's got.   He was always honest and never represented anything that he himself did not approve of.  His songs were wonderful and positive.  Once Cat got past his teens, he seemed to know who he was and found his direction as a man who sought out peace.  That's probably how he would describe  himself,  rather than "Musician" or "Songwriter".    Cat Stevens owned the world in the early 70's,   but he felt that show business just wasn't where his soul was at.  By 1975 he was completely done with show business and dumped his career in order to pursue Islam (It is a peaceful Religion essentially).   He found honesty and meaning in Islam(Dad was a Turk and all).   I haven't read the rest of Cat's bio but I can say is that at some point in our lives we need to quit playing a role and seek out who we really are.   I have seen people chasing a label for their entire lives and for nothing at all.  How Tragic?            What makes me bring this up?   Not sure really,  but the other day some fellow teacher kept pointing out sculpture after sculpture to me and really just couldn't stop,   I tried to explain that "Sculpture" was something I did back in the 80's,  and although I still appreciate it.    I do not consider myself a "Sculptor".   What is it with the need for people to label themselves?    I have also been a "Painter",  a "Guitar player",  a "Teacher", "Singer/songwriter",   "Pizza delivery man", "Teacher of ungodly acting little bastards",   "Drinker of Beer",   "Hitch hiker",   "Cab Driver",   "Crappy Poet", "Fat Bastard",   and general" Son of a Bitch",  depending on who you talk to.    I like to call myself and label myself as "Al",  I currently am on vacation but I teach as a hobby.    
         I am seeing many of these local expat misfits label themselves as wonderful things when they are just over rating themselves.  Yes I used to do a lot of paintings 50 years ago but  I no longer paint,  I'm sure I could force myself to do a few per year so I could keep the pretentious title of "Artist",  but why? .  Picasso and Van Gogh painted or thought about painting day and night,  they were driven to paint,  they were actual "Painters".     Unbelievable,   the types of people that are permanent exiles here and loath to rejoin their previous countries.  Everyone is a writer, or  artist, musician, genius. linguists,  spys,  ex-rock stars,  bla bla bla bla blah.  Some expat teachers really love teaching in the Orient because they love teaching and it's possible to teach here.  Some long term expats have to be here due to their high dollar positions with international corporations, they aren't really phony, but can be a bit pompous.  Many teacher here due to the lack of teaching credentials and can't teach anywhere else.  Many of them suffer from the "I'm a better teacher than anyone" syndrone because they feel inadequate somehow.  Many expats don't want to go back home.  Many can't go back home;  because home doesn't want them around!...  Others are just going on a long vacation and fully plan to return "Oh Baby baby it's a wild world.  Hard to get by just upon a smile". (Cat Stevens)     I will be home on Jan 17th and will count the minutes.  Until then,  I'll stick with Chinese friends as much as possible,  they are less complicated.  

In contrast to phony (and non-phony) expats, most Chinese folks are happy go lucky people and are glad to be friends with you.  They have no need for,  pretentiousness,  anti-depressants,  counseling,  or any of forms of mental help.   There are a few narcissistic Chinese who are or want to be in the emerging Chinese upper class and will spend an entire paycheck on a watch or something,  but most of the ones I meet and talk to are as described above.

Bought the big Pimpin' Electric Motorscooter.  It has big chrome handle bars and is the "Harley" of the E-bikes in this town.   With 4 batteries hooked together the bike is quite fast for an Electric.   I drag raced 4 other bikes at an intersection this morning and beat three of them and tied the last one.   That guy only weighed 100 pounds or so,  but I know I would win in a longer race.   I have one of the nicest E-bikes on the street for a mere $500.  I fully expect it to get stolen but I like my little portabike better so no worries. 

I plan to use the pedal bike most of the time because I want to stay in good shape, and it's more fun in these multitudes of humanity.   I have noticed that I can walk straight up 5 flights of steps w/o getting winded or tired,  I think carrying a 30 pound bike up the stairs for the past two weeks has helped.  Plus the weather is getting cooler.  Having to do all this walking was very hard to get used to at first, but my body is adapting and the pain is mainly over.  Been doing some yoga excercise "Thanks Kay",  that involves me elevating my legs above my head for 15 minutes, 4 times per day,  and it is really helping the swollen ankles,   hopefully this will be all I need to do.


   Been having a few issues with the Beijing belly,  which isn't really painful you just need to be near a bathroom.   Bathrooms "CeSou' "  are hard to find in China.   Ever try to use a "Squat Toilet" or "Squatty" as I call them.   Tough to position yourself where your not letting your clothing touch the floor around the toilet.   Most have poop, pee, vomit, loogies,  and all sorts of revolting stuff on them.  Since your only standing on the edge of the hole,  only your shoe soles get dirty.   I still prefer to do my business at home.  Only been forced to use one squatty until....  Yesterday I decided I had to find my office regardless.  Rode my bicycle three miles to the campus.  I accidentally went to the wrong building,  but nature not only called,  it threatened to leave the worlds largest skidmark on everything within ten feet of me!  After much worry and careful walking I finally managed to find a restroom in the mostly deserted building.   I found a pretty clean squatty,  wasn't real sure how far forward to stand.   After the initial blast I realized I should have been standing about a foot forward from where I was.   Thank goodness I always keep a roll of TP in my pack or things would have been bad.    Things are already bad enough for the poor soul who has to clean that place (especially the wall!)  I guess it's like most bathrooms (including mine),  where you spray the entire room down and it all flows into a drain on the floor.  


        Still have the same problem today.  I feel fine.   I can eat.  I'm drinking lots of water and tea so I don't dehydrate.   But nothing solid is coming out.   I guess I'll go to the pharmacy and look for some immodium.    It should be fun pantomiming for the pharmacist what my problem is!   The Chinese are completely understanding about stuff like this.   They will probably laugh awhile before helping me. 

   I did manage to go on a trip to dinner this evening with my neighbor from Minnesota,  Lil Al,  and his girlfriend.  We had a great time and with no panicked bathroom runs or crap like that.... (get it?)  Tomorrow morning we are all going DVD shopping and bike riding.
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Joanne on

I wouldn't want to live in China for fear of the same problems you had with the food, and no way would I use a Squatty! Enjoying your blogs, nevertheless. I had some catching up to do and happy I found the time.

JoAnne on

Glad you included a pictue of "Little Al." He's a nice-looking guy.

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