A hot Sunday night in South China

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

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Flag of China  , Guangxi Zhuangzu Zizhiqu,
Monday, June 18, 2012

Hot Sunday night,  I ate dinner at 9 and was asleep by 9:30.  This is never a good idea.  At midnight I awoke.  Now it's 3 AM and sleep eludes me.  Oh well,  I don't have to work for 90 more days.   

Spent the late hours doing some research into bicycle routes around my lovely Province,  I seek to avoid many highways which are crowded with  many giant cement trucks and horn-blaring busses, which can make a short trip into a scary nightmare.  I am looking for maps!   I need to find the smaller roads,  avoid the hassle, pass the farmers carts and a few smaller busses and cars,  but avoid the "US I-35" Chinese equivalent of highway bedlam, which can lead one to an early demise to say the least.   There are many nice routes in China but tough to find for the Laowei.  Many have managed and I am researching their ideas.   

I have nothing planned for tomorrow, except a trip to the local swimming pool (scary unless they use chlorine),  with my friends Phillip and Jessica.  Jessica is a Chinese "english" teacher and is very kind,  yet a bit prim and proper.  She has helped me with many things since I came here 10 days ago.   She won't swim but can bring friends so hopefully Phil and I will have a party with a small group of Chinese lovelies.  My guess is that the "lovelies" will all be wearing dresses and holding parasols,  but none will swim.   This is merely a guess.   I will report the results tomorrow.

Somehow my balcony door was left open while I was asleep,  and several mosquitoes invaded my home and bit me during my 3 hour sleep.   I closed the door but these little bastards are so fast that they are hard to detect.   I had to take a hot shower to relieve the itching.   Malaria and Dengue are my main worries,  but some say they are not that common around here.   I fear food born illnesses than the mosquitoes.  Cholera, Typhoid,  and Hepatitis scare me.   I need some vaccines.    I do cook for myself,  and wisely choose hot boiling soups which no germ can live in to the big rotton chunk of meat dishes I see in restaurants.   I am quickly becoming a vegetarian down here since the hygiene is lacking in comparison with Hangzhou (which wasn't meeting anybodies health codes either)!   I will buy meat in the morning from a freshly killed pig or chicken,  but no more afternoon meat.   Too much time for it to sit around in filth while yesterdays meat gets mixed into it.   Actually I haven't cooked meat since I've been here.  Lentils mainly.      

  I also wash my hands more than where I came from.  This place is dirty and gritty,  the dust on the streets,  the dirty money in one's wallet,  the filth on one's shoes (I now leave my shoes at the entrance).   This place is more "third world"  than any place I've lived before.  But I'm sure it gets worse in areas of India and Africa.   The transportation infrastructure is quite good compared to the "Third World",  so is the level of education.   But the sewage disposal and food hygiene requirements could use some work.

So tonight while alone on my balcony, in the back alley light. I can hear the sounds of water dripping from buildings but not from the sky;  the buildings themselves drip.   AC condensation, water leaks, sewage leaks.  The whole system here is a bit leaky.  Perhaps that is the beauty that I have found here?    The night is quiet in comparison to the day.   I love the night and have even once wrote a long poem about it (I won't bore you with it I promise).   

[Monday report] Not much happening this morning.  I did wake up at Midnight and stayed awake until 4 AM,  so I slept until 11 AM. ]

  I had coffee and did general Internet communications and then started to write down a list of Words and Phases I would need to learn for travel within China.   Not only how to say the words but also how to recognize the words written in the Chinese text.   I bought a special fountain pen which is more conducive to writing Chinese than a ball point pen.   My first word was "Fried Rice" or "Chao Fan"炒飯  ,which is always pretty good no matter where you travel.   I also added Eggs with Tomatoes or  "Jid'an he' xihongshi"雞蛋西紅柿,  which is a common dish all over China.   Just add some "Me Fan" (white rice) and your eating like a king.   I also have written down the most important word that a bicyclist must recognize which is Small Hotel, or Guest House.   There are several ways to write this so this makes it hard.   "Small Hotel" or "Fandian" is easy enough (小酒店)  { focus on the last character}...  Guest House is in someone's home much like a Bed and breakfast in the West "Yingbing Yuan"   (Yuan means garden so.... there ya go)  More confusion.  But I have stayed in a YingbingYuan in Yanguan and can recognise 賓館 aka "Binguan".    I can also read the difference between the Male and Female restrooms,  but I doubt anyone would care around here.   

I plan to review these words and add a new one or two every day.  Reviewing is the key.  Having this all written down and available on the road will be priceless.   Time to seriously work on my Chinese.

Went on an early afternoon bike ride (the rest of the town was sleeping at 1 PM),  and stopped in for a haircut.   Still $1.70,  which includes a free scalp massage by the scalp massage lady.  Nice to get the little bits of cut hair off the head.  She also scrubs one's head clean and even catches the inside of one's ears.   See why I can easily live off $700 per month or even less?

Came home for the customary nap and met up with Phil at 5 in order to catch a swim and meet the lovelies.   The two lovely ladies showed up and watched patiently as Phil showed off his diving prowess and I showed off my superior swimming skills.  We were swimming and diving while the pretty younger ladies stayed in the shade and talked (I caught them watching a few times),  then their Chinese male co-teachers showed up and none could swim worth a crap,  all much younger than Phil and I.   One of them was kind enough to have a conversation with me but the two others didn't appear to be so friendly.   So once we got out and all sitting around I could detect a little bit of a vibe.  Hopefully I am wrong,  but my vibe detection skills are honed in sharply.  Not sure if all the men liked us hangin' wit the local girlz.  Heck,  Phil and I can't help it if we are far more athletic than our competition.  Such is life.

Phil and I caught Bus 9 to the nearest intersection to our school and went to our homes in order to dry off.  We hooked up again at 8 PM in order to check out the main square and the famous   "night barbeque".    I order a foot long barbequed sardine looking fish for about a dollar, which was a meal all in itself,  one of the best fish experiences I've ever had to say the least.  Then the Chicken, and finally the red pepper fiery corn.  Served with two 20 ounce Tsing Tao cold beers the total cost was about 4 dollars.    Afterward,  Phil and I went further into the square itself but the crowds were quite thin this Monday night,  so we walked the mile slowly back to the West Gate of campus.

    I said "Later" to Phil and continued my journey to the distant "North Gate" of the University, which follows along a broken dark street with hanging wires and branches, as several night citizens can be seen heading towards their destinations.   Soon the Mississippi-like,  hot dishwater air,  soaked a third set of clean clothes with great prejudice.  Despite the darkness and constant drone of the traffic noise,  I slowly pedaled home thru the other night wanderers; themselves no strangers to the fringes of scattered rays of tired street lights, quite familiar with the wild images, stench, and sounds.  Sounds, images and smells,  which have rang out across this and each one, of a million previous nights:  in this hot hot place.   

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Mom on

Get the vaccinations, please!

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