Sunday, September 18, 2005

china redux (revised)

china is a wonderful counrty, and it seems like i have seen nothing of it. beijing, xian, kunming, dali, lijiang, baisha, jinghong, mengla... it's really nothing. china is such a big country with such varried lanscapes and people, it would take years i think to really see it all in a significant manner.

but i will mostly remember china for:

- all of the wonderful people that i met while traveling, from europe and africa. you guys really made this trip wonderful and i will never forget it.
- the lovely people of the south and their warm smile - specifically around dali.
- the great food: peking duck, beijing's dumplings (good anywhere, but best there), xian arab "kebobs", street food in general but mosly the different breads, kunming's food on a stick feast, dali's best omlette, lijiang's super filling naxi bread filled with honey, great orange juice.
- the cheap beer
- the best landscape: the route between jinghong and mengla. i did it three times and i was still amazed!
- chinese music: nothing beats techno music at 7am blaring on the bus. or having a pop song in chinese stuck in your head, regardless of thne fact that you do not know the lyrics.
- the way chinese people can start signing anytime, anywhere, out loud. and how they love to sign when they're drunk.
- chinese transportation, from the train, plane and bus rides i took. some good, some bad. nothing beats being woken up by loud speakers at 2:30 am to go for a pee break.
- the best hotels: beijing's far east hostel, for the people and the late nights. lijiang's old town hostel, for the cute cottage feel.
- the way you can enter a temple or a cultural sight and find "grass" growing in the wild in the yunnan province. no one seems to care.
- the fashion crimes: beijing's popular "half-way up" shirt on fat guys, the awful little nylon socks everyone wears, and the terrible act of throwing anything and everything on the floor, in rivers and lakes, as if the earth was a big garbage. there's nothing uglier than someone with such disrespect.
- the fact that in some places you can be as much of the attraction as them. people look at you with such intrigue sometimes!
- garbage trucks playing the "happy birthday" song non-stop.
- christmas songs in september.

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some notes about the hotels:

- far east youth hostel in beijing: the internet is faster in the basement of the hotel section. getting a taxi to drop you off there is near impossible. go for the nearest intersection.
- ludao binguan in xian: well located but the dorms are pretty depressing, and so are the toilets. could be cleaner... but the youth hostel is not much better with that regards, and they have no cheap restaurants around. although, they are located besside a street only occupied by bars.
- camelia hotel in kunming: do not do phone calls there! and coffee prices go up after 10am by Y10. *** the laos and vietnam embassies are in the hotel ***
- jim's tibetan guesthouse, dali: could be cleaner!
- old town hostel in lijiang: not super organised or friendly. will charge you Y5 for checking out 2 minutes late. no doors on the public toilets, only a screen. some toilets in the old courtyard section do not work, so test them first! and the walls are very thin!
- mengla: the hotel in the guidebook no longer exist. go with what a scout will offer. the xiu guesthouse is somewhat clean but *very* humid and dark. and adorned with naked ladies in the bathroom. and can get *very* loud.

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