Cold Cold Rain (Final revision)
Trip Start Aug 05, 2011
101Trip End Oct 08, 2012
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Where I stayed
A stranger form of transportation than the "Magnetic Levitation train" is the "E-Scooter with rain coat on"! Looks like a motor scooter but in fact it is cheesy and electric...
It is always between 30 and 43 F and wet most of the time. No sun! Ok, the sun peeks out maybe for an hour once a week maybe...and people stop what they are doing and lay out on benches and other areas since the grass is always damp. This is the world of the dark and wet, where Gollum and friends eat fungus and salamanders. I live in a dark nasty place in seemingly perpetual dampness. People don't hide from the weather here, the Chinese are tough. Much tougher than yours truly!
I carefully threaded the rain-swollen streets of Xiasha-town in the dark, since few street lights are available. The traffic doesn't really see the wisdom in having lights on. After many near dead-on collisions with all types of transport, I just stuck to the sidewalk at a slow enough speed as not to present a danger to my fellow Chinese. I wove between streets, buses, and people with much newly acquired expertise, I am now a master of riding on two wheels in China. I can slide between a Chinese bus, two beggars, and a chicken, and pay adequate respect to all ten of them. Often in the dark.
Once home I continue to cook my Chinese greens, 5 floors up in my ancient, stained, concrete block apartment, the sounds of cats and children fill the air while laughing poor laborer neighbors are having a great time playing Mahjong. Only the poorest live at floors 5 and 6, we are the teachers.
Apparently my greens were too strong for my system and I chose to call in and stay near the toilet. The damn things just went right through me! Some of the greens I bought I didn't recognize and those were the powerful ones. I wasn't diseased or poisoned. I believe that these concentrated boiled greens just overwhelmed my systems with their high levels of chlorophyll. I did eat a ton of them. I will make my next batch on the weekend and less concentrated.
Spent the morning eating tea and oranges that came from China. By 3 PM I managed to feel confident enough to leave the apartment and eat some Jouzet "dumplings" with a bottle of 2.5 percent "Snow" brand beer (2 dollars for twenty dumplings and a 600 ml beer aint bad). They like the weak stuff here beer-wise, it's ok. Just ok. Afterwards I went to the busiest supermarket "Wumei" that I've ever been to. There are literally 100 people entering the store and exiting every minute. Going there is often an unpleasant ordeal but I needed to buy some supplies, including a 5 dollar pork rib roast (way too expensive!) and a couple $2.50 bottles of half decent wine.
I only have a hot plate to cook on, so I am cooking a pork rib roast in a large covered pan. I've done this many times, the result is always positive. The trick is to coat the roast into a mix of flour/herbs then brown on all sides. Add onions, garlic, and wine and scrape the flour bits off the bottom of the pan as you stir your onions with the roast on top. Once the onions cook awhile, add a little water and cover and simmer on low for an hour (1 kilo roast). Then flip it, add carrots, potatoes, whatever, and check the broth level. Add water or wine if needed. Then simmer another hour and it's done. Great stuff always!
On Saturday (March 3rd) I took the hour long bus ride to Hong Zhou, standing the entire way as usual. Then walked around "Wen San Xi Lu" and other places looking for the elusive "Flying Pigeon" bicycle. I was told a shop in the area sold the ancient beasts but I didn't find it. After walking a few miles and the bus ride I was completely wet and physically beat. Yet the locals do this sort of thing every day, rain or shine. Saturdays are especially busy and families are going here and there all over the cold liquid streets, like they don't even notice it. I must have lived in suburbia for too long. All this city walking and wet feet just make me stay inside. I need some plastic pants and rain boots. Actually a few days later I started using the Chinese method of wrapping plastic bags over the socks to hold in the heat. The crowds were huge! Never seen so many people that at the Hangzhou "Century Mart", or the KFC at the entrance. I've never experienced a fast food restaurant in the US where every table and counter was packed with people. Strangers share tables here but sometimes you just have to stand while eating. This is why I like the dumpling and noodle places. Easier to find a seat. Better yet.....try not to go outside on Saturdays, just too many people many just walk into you and seemingly unaware of space and time. Maybe growing up with that many people around you makes you less spatially aware. Pushing, shoving, spitting in close proximity, and people rubbing against you are the norm here. Either get used to it or stay inside. I've never enjoyed slow moving crowds of people. Rarely go to concerts or sporting events for this reason. Saturdays in the Century Mart of Hangzhou is like a football game and rock concert at the same time.