Previous entry Next entry

Dre J.’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 10 Oct 2009

Location: Beijing

MapSOOOO, back in Beijing. My first full day back, but none of you wanna hear about today, you all wanna hear about my trip, so here it is. The trip was amazing. i'm actually kinda bumped to be back, if that is possible, cuz being back means beijing, china. come on, seriously. well if you have followed my last real blog you heard about the trip to the earthquake site and the many changes my trip had until we got something solid. i told you about the trip to the taoist monastery and my trip to the water damn. i left off at the night before huang long xi, the ancient water town. well that night we all went out on the town, it was the last night in chungdu for a while so we decided to make the most of it. i went out with brandan from my group and then 4 or 5 shanghai kids. we just went down the street to a bar district. we met this really nice chinese guy who spoke great english. him and i talked about martial arts for half the night. abe, one of the guys from shanghai, does krav maga, the Israeli military martial art, so we all talked about martial arts quite a bit. it was a real late night and didn't get back in till 3-4. then we had to wake up at 8 to do and hear a women, who was a sichuan opera actress, talk about the history of the sichuan opera and other stuff. it took place in a traditional chinese tea house which was cool, but the talk was not at all. not only was i dead tired, mind you everyone was just as tired, but it was really boring and i was far from the women speaking so i couldn't hear her anyways. we had a small intermission so i decided to go for a walk and explore the surrounding area. by the time i got back i had missed the second half of the talk (ahhh) and peeps were getting back on the bus. we then tried to drive to huang long xi but the bus i was on broke down halfway there. remember the last blog i said it rained in sichuan 250 plus days and only had a few dozen hot, sunny days?? well this was on of those days. so for over an hour and half we were stranded either on a hot ass bus, or outside the bus in the hot ass sun. colin and i made the best of the situation and had some fun. we cut off a few sticks of bamboo and had a wiping match, lol. it hurt a lot but was really fun. we basically just wrestled and wiped the shit outta each other. both of us still have small marks from it and its been a while. it was worth it tho.
we finally got the bus running and got to the ancient water city. it was another tourist trap place and seemed to be used as a water park by chinese people. there was an artificial spring running through the middle of the town and kids and adults were playing in the water. most of the actual town were souvenir shops. there was a buddhist temple in the middle which was cool to see. i basically hung out with brandan for most of that trip. we got some cool stuff tho. overall i give that place a D. it sucked, but passed the time. the coolest part was that this town was located in an area of sichuan was is known for its grapes. they have the best grapes in china and compete with european grapes. and on our way out, driving back to chungdu, the entire street as far as the eye could see was littered with grape selling vendors. I asked Bing to pull the bus over so i could get some. i got his huge bag full for 10 kuai. they were delicious and lasted me for the rest of the trip basically. i hadn't had good grapes since i've been in china so that was a treat.
latter on that day was one of the two things i was really looking forward to doing. first we had a traditional sichuan type of dinner, one of two traditional dinners. it was basically 10 courses of really small portioned, different (by all shapes and forms), but delicious foods. i tried duck tongue, yak butter, and a few other things i can't remember or don't want to remember the names of. but i thoroughly enjoyed all the dishes and ate some of my friends dishes as well. after this we went to see a traditional sichuan opera. IT WAS AMAZING!! shit blew my mind. sichuan opera is really known world wide by what is called "changing of the faces." these men, cuz only men can do this, where these helmets and somehow are able to change the masks they were multiple times though out a show without you knowing how they do it. it is really fast and all they do is flick their heads and all of a sudden there is a new face. there are masters who can change their faces over 250 times. its f--kin crazy. most of the time they will be dramatic and swipe their ropes over their face real fast and then there will be a different face, but other times they will stare right at you and change it in a blink of an eye. i recorded it all so they lucky few will be able to see what i'm talking about. a few of the opera guys even came into the crowed, one just one row behind me, and would stand there, right in front of you, and change their faces one or two times in a row. no matter how you look at them and try to see what the hell they are doing you cant. blew my mind. they had some other performances that were great too but i won't go into length about them although they deserve mention because they were really good as well.
the next day we flew to Jiu Zhao Gou, the highlight of my trip and what i was looking forward to the most. words can't describe how gorgeous this place was. one might say, "well andre, a picture says a thousand words." well i took over a hundred pictures my made up friend, plus video, and even they can't tell the whole story. it was less than an hour flight to Jiu zhao gou from chungdu, but we went from sea level to landing on a plateau 11,000 ft up. we flew over some of the coolest white peaks i've ever seen. i mean i was flying in the Himalayas, f--k!! how cool is that? i was going crazy on the plane. in fact the entire time i was in Jiu zhao gou i was like a kid in a candy store. i was literally on cloud nine. our hotel was just over an hour away from the airport, at 6,000 ft. the next day we went to Jiu zhao gou national reserve. this was the only time i hoped off cloud nine for the trip cuz they way it was explained it sounded like this was going to be some nice mountain hiking though untouched woods and mountains. just us, the mountain, the woods, and some hiking trails.... major let down. both colin and i were disappointed when we arrived and discovered that it was just a huge tourist trap again. the only trails were wooden steps that stretched the whole park, there were buses that carried you from place to place on the mountain, and there was this huge tourist center at the middle. it was also sad because there are 9 tibetan villages in Jiu zhao gou and all of them are just kinda hidden or disregarded in order for the tourism to take place. but once i got up on the mountain and broke some park rules i got back on my cloud. so basically colin, sara, katie and i decided that we would hike together. we took a bus up the left side of the mountain and walked around a lil. it was beautiful but a bit annoying because we had to walk shoulder to shoulder with tourists in their suits and high heels. who the f--k hikes in high heels and suits? seriously. so that got old real quick so we decided to take a bus up the right side of the mountain. the peak was between 11-12,000ft. this is were i said f--k it and broke the rules. we all got off the park trails and hoped the railing in favor of some trails we saw in the woods. we walked around that trail for a while until we came to a place were one could climb the rocks up the face of the mountain to its peak. so of course yours truly decided to climb it. i got pretty damn high up, basically to the foot of the rock wall that lead to the top of the peak. sara took a pic of me from down at the bottom where they were and without zoom you can barely see me. had it not been for the huge crowed of tourists who saw me, the four park rangers, and the shanghai director staring at me and taking pictures i would have hiked to the top. but i came back down and gave the rangers the good ol mainah slip. at that point the four of us proceeded to hike down most of the mountain (on the parks trails). it was truly breathtaking. the bright blue clear lakes, the waterfalls you only see in movies or on the discovery channel. the woods were bright green. it rained but that didn't dampen our spirits, it was too nice to worry about rain. the saddest part came when we had to leave :.(
the next day was another amazing experience. we had a traditional tibetan lunch at one of those villages i told you about. this is also where i met my future wife, sorry gurls lol. no legit one of the women here was the hottest women i've seen in china yet, but in traditional tibetan culture i would have to live with the family for 3 years and work on the farm and yak herding until i could marry her. and as much as i would love to do something like that for the experience...yehh i'd never do that lol. she wasn't THAT hot lol. don't worry. but when we entered this family's house they threw tibetan confetti i'll call it, basically small square pieces of paper with prayers on them, over us. then gave us a traditional silk scarf. we had to enter by first performing a few rituals, like cleansing yourself by walking though sage, washing your hands in holy water, and turning the prayer wheel. after that the men went upstairs first, cuz men are dominate in tibetan culture, to the dinning area. we then had a traditional lunch and performed a few more traditions and prayers, giving thanks and the whole yards. i really enjoyed all of it. then we ate in the traditional way, had some traditional wine, and listened to a few of the tibetans from this family sing traditional songs. it was amazing. after lunch we went out into the courtyard and did some traditional dancing. then we had to leave for the airport. it was sad to leave. i really liked it there.
the next day we went and saw panda's at the panda reserve. they were cool, but as i explained to alp, it was just like any other zoo for me. ohhh look panda's!! and moving on... yes they were cute and fat and whatever, just not a big deal for me. for me the trip was over. don't worry gurls i'll post some pics soon and maybe a video if i can get the uploader on this site to work. after that it was back to chungdu where we just walked around some shopping districts for a lil bit. i stayed in and chatted with miss pittsburgh for a while since we were right next door to each other and pretty much the only ones not going out.
the last day, yesterday, colin and i went out and explored a lil bit for some street food. we got a lot of different street foods for breakfast. they were all really good. after that everyone went to this american restaurant for lunch. i got a burger, it was suburb. after lunch a few of us went to a tea house and played mahjong. it was really cool. by the time we were all getting the hang of it it was of course time to go, the story of my trip. then we headed to the airport, caught a plane to beijing, got in around 11:30, unpacked, watched some much missed himym, and passes out.
now for today!! yeh i know not exciting. miss pittsburgh (katlin) and i went to the same american restaurant i was just talking about, just in wodaoku not chungdu, and got some breakfast. i got pancakes, eggs, sausage, and bottomless coffee for a measly 6 bucks. not bad. also finished my reaction paper for sociology. so i'll present again on monday like i did last time. except we will have a guest speaker for class, an expert on the topics we are discussing so i won't have to present and lead class discussion like last time. the topics are ethnicity and language within china. i chose ethnicity. this pretty much means i am done with this class. all i'll have to do and show up and take notes for the final. no more reading!!! well i'm suppose to but whats the point. i have so much other work to focus on. but after i finished that colin and i went to the gym for a couple hours. first we went and bought some speedo booty shorts for waterpolo. i then went and swam for 700 meters, then ran 2k, and then did some pt for my knees and worked on my core a bit. i then did high knees up 12 flights of stairs. good workout. colin and i ate muslim for dinner, something i was craving for. it hit the spot.
tomorrow i'll do homework forever, then go to my first waterpolo practice from 2-4!! i'm excited. i'll let you all know how it goes. i'll also try to upload pics tomorrow but it depends on how much hw i get done. i have a lot of language stuff to do. a whole chapter to memorize. but i'll let cha all know when i get some up. i have a lot so be patient. hope you enjoyed reading my short story. Zaijian!