First Day in China

Trip Start Jan 20, 2008
Trip End ??? ??, 2010

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Where I stayed
Couch surfer Lucasz's house

Flag of China  , Guangdong,
Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hi Guys:) It's Ings!
China is breathtaking.  In all it's magnificence and mystery and beauty, and also in the sense of I cannot breathe in this filthy bus station bathroom, why do all my memories smell like pee?  For the past 2 weeks we have been on the road, on the tracks, on the river, and on the run, winding our way across this great land.  I think it's appropriate that we we spend our days in China in constant motion, as a tribute to a nation that is massively on the move, building and changing and moderninzing, and taking huge steps into the world's attention.  How cool to be in this country for the Olympics, the coming out party!  
This is the first time we have entered a country and felt - lost!  That true sense of feeling like we have no idea how to communicate or to find a place to stay or find the bus.  But now with a combination of pointing to characters in the lonely planet, some hand gestures, some miming and dancing, and a few words of Mandarin and chinglish, we are getting it down!  I will never forget the first time we looked at a menu with a sea of chinese characters and the potential for some unsettling choices (dog, frog, snake, chickens feet, or a variety of internal organs) and I think we ended up with some good old rice!  Hee hee:)
Even in the bigger cities, most people are not used to seeing travellers, and we are frequently looked at with big eyes of amazement and excitement, and friendly "Hello's" in chinese british accents, and often hear the cry of "laowaii" (white ghost!)  We are featured in many a chinese family photo album.  
We have found such good friends and caretakers here - they see us looking lost or flipping pages of our book and stop to say "I can help you?"  We have been adopted by our new friends Pu and Cookie and Barrie the Scottish man and many others.   Despite the fact that there are so very many people here, I have never felt overwhelmed or crowded or uncomfortable.  There always seems to be a happy chatter floating on the breeze, you wake up to it and go to sleep with it, it's surprisingly soothing.
Little catch up on our epic journey through China -
Our first night in China was spent with our Polish couch surfer, who took us to the Irish bar where we hung out with more Polish people and ate cheeseburgers.  At least we drank Chinese beer, Gunbei! (cheers!)  He has lived here for 3 years and let us in on a few secrets - there are about 40,000 characters in Mandarin.  Holy moly.  I have so far learned to recognize about 4, 2 of which involve the restroom classification (after many wrong choices, sorry boys!)
We went to Asia's largest water park!  If you can imagine, it was some incredible people watching (and some loooong lines, holy moly).  You can really fit a lot of people into a swimming pool!  Soup!  Heath found the lone budweiser stand (no Tsing Tao Chinese beer, because they knew that only Laowaii's mix their waterpark with beer) and shot water cannons at innocent people floating by on the lazy river. 
Lucasz told us to go early to buy our train ticket to Yangshou, but we didn't believe him, so we just showed up at the station to a massive sea of people and they told us they were sold out. OOPS!  
 I of HI
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christinezier on

I'll make soup out of lots of things, but I'm not sure I'm creative enough to make something yummy out of Chinese feet and body odor.

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