Friday, July 31, 2009

touristy for touristy tourists

tomorrows tomorrow
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
Don't know why i find it so annoying that so many culturally historic and beautiful spots get all touristy.

i spent a day and night in Kunming where a young woman i met on the train offered to take me around Kunming. We poked out heads into some loud mainstream bars and walked around sipping beers, cabbing home before we even finished sipping. Kunming struck me as another big chinese city, so i got out fast.

And arrived in Dali today. Which seems great, but is all newly renovated and full of beautiful new fountains, and int'l restaurants and guest houses, bars and gift shops. Ok, so i talked w/ some guy in a cafe for a long time, 'cause he was playing guitar there. And now i'm in a bar/cafe listening to radiohead. It's all very convenient and comfortable, but i know i gotta get more remote and less convenient before long!

More on Dali once i pry myself out of the cafes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
Maybe it's a bit too touristy, but it sure is purdy to look at them mountains. That's what i do here. Bike, look at mountains, hike, look at mountains, swim, look at mountains.

Unfortunately Q wasn't able to hang out long, ' cause the mud bath in the water caves would pbly be more fun w/ a girl to hang out with.

Now i'm sort of solo again, though i've hooked up w/ the german dude from Shanghai and Guangzhou here in Yangshuo, funnily enough. That's cool, even if it somehow encourages me to drink more than i would solo.

Anyhow, a week in YS is just about enough, even if i didn't squeeze in any rock climbing (too much rain, today). And even though i'ts nice here, the town itself is a bit too touristy to hang out for too long. i think it'll be nice to get somewhere quieter and more remote for a while.

By tomorrow night i'll pbly be in Yunnan province. Heading eastwards.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No more Xinjiang

yi ar san si
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
Uh, it looks like a bit of rioting and killing has thrown off my plans to spend a considerable tasty chunk of time in the province of Xinjiang. Too bad. Because not only did a whole lot of people get killed over tensions which have been stewing for years as China tightened its grip on the disputed semi-autonomous region, but i was told that it is The Must See part of China. Which is kind of weird 'cause everyone says it's part of China that doesn't feel like China.

On one hand, i could possibly try and see part of it where the tensions aren't so immediate: it is, after all, a hyuge province. But the likelihood of even getting over the border and staying within it could be slim.


I never had plans to get into Tibet for various reasons. Them being: 1) i strangely never felt the urge to go and 2) i definitely didn't have the time, energy, patience, or organizational skills to set up a tenuous visa. But i did have plans to go to Tibetan-like areas near the border, in Sichuan provivnce, which also has huge barren landscapes, monasteries, etc.


I luckily learned not long ago that many travelers have not even been able to go to those regions, and were turned around after days of traveling. Lame.


THOSE travelers were whiteys. So it's possible that since i can travel undercover, so to speak, i can possibly buy a train ticket, and not be singled out by police officers checking the bus. I will however need to show a CDN passport at any rooming house i go to, which could apparently be risky for the rooming house to accept me.

Well, all this is stewing in the back of my mind for now, so we'll cross that bridge when we get there, i suppose.

Aside: i didn't bike to YangShuo because of a very precipitatiotous forecast. Which turned out to be wrong. Shame, that.

Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
I'm eating too much instant noodles on the overnight train trips. I'll start spending more on meat-laden dishes in the train restaurants, pbly.

Met up with Q in Nanning where her friends have a Yaletown-ish pizza restaurant. Thru them we got a swank hotel room for dirt cheap. Nanning's not so exciting, though i enjoyed the brief stay. Got a bit drunk at a wine tasting event in their restaurant, and had a nice drenched walk in the rain.

Guilin was alright too. Cool to see how people built a city in the midst of so many vertically incined peaks. But not unexpectedly the city is a tad over touristified. We stayed in her friends' apartment there, which was a very designery pad built into a rather old and run-down building. Very cool. Except for the cockroach i discovered running down my leg one night. Yuck.

Now i'm in Yangshuo, which seems way way better than Guilin. A small town full of restaurants, bike rental places, and rock climbing tours. Unfortunately there's not much opportunity to live it up right now since Q suddenly came down wih a frighteningly high fever.

She's presently bed-ridden. I spent the afternoon being the sympathetic boyfriend, but at present i'm pretty annoyed because frankly i was pretty nervous about how hot her forehead and entire body was, and ran out to get some medication for her, which she steadfastly refused to take, acting like a bit of a 4 yr old, i thought.

Then her friends arrived with more medication, which she dutfully swallowed with minimum hassle. That has rather pissed me off.

Oh well, such is life. Now she is likely to be passed out for the rest of the night, and i can walk around and drink a beer.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Last Days.JPG
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
i just got in today. But from 1st impressions, Xiamen breaks the top 5 favorite cities list.

It's small. Very small for china, w/ less than 1.5 million people.

It's doesn't feel particularly modern or developed, but still feels very convenient.

Lots and lots of little back streets to explore.

Major influence from Taiwan, which translates into cutesy and hipster shops crammed into unexpected corners.

A surprising # of veg restaurants. one buddhist monastery.

And... an adjacent island with population 15,000 w/ a ban on any cars and motorcycles. It's too fucking cool. Well, i admit, when you get off the ferry, it feels like you're walking in a bloody shopping mall, but outside of that area, it quiets down and looks and feels strangely European.

The island, Gulangyu, is just a 10 minute ferry ride from the rest of Xiamen, and the ferries run pretty frequently. And i hear from one unconfirmed source, that the water is clean enough for swimming.
My hotel is on the island, btw.

The whole Xiamen thing seems great except for the creppy hair cut i got 1/2 an hour ago. So you'd think Xiamen would hold on to me long enough for my hair to grow a centimeter or so, but alas, i'll be gone after just one day.


i'm off to meet my girlfriend in Nanning! And i'm stoked that i had some hassles finding a ticket, but managed to get a 28 hr train ride there. Stoked.

In Nanning we'll hang out w/ her friend, and to got the famed Guilin together. don't know Guilin? Google Images will be happy to show you why it's reknowned.

Anyhow, from Guilin me and her friend will ride bikes about 80 km to Yangshow, the hippy villa i'm stoked to hang out in. Um, i'll tell you about that after i get there.

ps, This morning, on the tail end of a overnight train, coming thru the city outskirts, i just felt happy. It was nice.

Ningbo, Hangzhou

thirst for symmetry
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
After Shanghai i went to NIngbo. Not because i had any real desire to, but because my cousin said i should go.

So i did. And i met her cousin. Which was a bit odd. He's very busy, and frankly i didn't care much if we met or not, but i think he felt obligated to squeeze me in, so he invited me out to karaoke w/ some friends of his.

The gang wasn't horribly friendly, and my mandarin is still pretty crappy. i found it weird to see so many hot women paired off w/ so many less than devilishly handsome men.

Other than that, Ningbo is a nice, clean, modern and boring city.

Bk in Shanghai i hung out w/ a german dude, that chinese dude, and a Dutch woman. i told them i was going to Hangzhou later. They all said, I wanna go too! So we got a room together in Hangzhou.

Hangzhou has been likened to Heaven by many chinese, and as such it has earned a reputation with the tourists. It's alright. Big lake, bordered by mountains. Boats that you have to pay a lot to ride in. Lambroghini and Ferrari dealerships, etc.

Spent a couple days walking around the city, and getting drunk every night w/ the gang. Which was admittedly a bit excessive, but entertaining enough. You know. A bit of bar hopping. A few drinking games. Pestering the dj to stop playing so much old school techno, and to throw on some Daft Punk or something. Live karaoke performances. And some dancing on the tables for good measure.

We also went to a not so far town called Xitang. Because Q (that's my gf, btw. Apparently "qq" is decided uncool) Q's friend recommended it. A quiet place w/ lots of canals.

i was stoked because the place isn't even on my Lonely Planet map.


My Lonely Planet book is now 3 yrs old.

And now Xitang has an extensive write up, including a comment that the place is quickly becoming touristified. Yes, well, thanks for the warning LP, you fuckers.

Also, w/ recent filming of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3 there, i guess the secret was bound to break out.

Anyhow, it was a nice change of pace from guangzhou. Very picturesque. i'll post pix when i get bk to bj, and i'll be disappointed if you don't view each one carefully in full size.


modern sky
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
Yes i have been absent for a while.

In Shanghai a bunch of people were asked to reset their gmail passwords. i possibly was tipsy when i reset mine, using a somewhat unconventional keyboard. but my hostel friend assred me it was the same for everyone.

i then had a heck of a time feeding gmail the info they w2anted before they gave me access again. (can you remeber the year and month you first opened yr gmail acct?) it took a wk to get bk in.

In the meantime, i only could remember a few friends' email addresses. blogger was blocked. i couldn't blog thru flickr because the gmail password was f'ed up. Facebook is also blocked.

i felt rather out of touch.


Now i am quite happy to have full access to the www once again.

Hello hello hello, world.

From the Beginning

City Lights.JPG
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
Here is a post i wrote up a wk ago. But couldn't post because of the internet and gmail probs i was having. More on that later.

Shanghai is nice. It's more modern than BJ. That is to say, there's less old stuff there. But frankly i really like BJ better, 'cause there's more stuff to do. More history. More variety.
For example.
Shanghai is not a good city for art. Because it's a city for money, first.
Shanghai is not a good city for music. Because it's a city for money, first.
Shanghai is a good city for shopping, if you like shopping, and you're not tall.
Momentarily after checking into a hostel, i met a young just-graduated Chinese dude, who thought it was very odd that i planned to go to some art galleries. "Art galleries and paintings are so boring!" he quipped.
Anyhow, being moneyless and with no plans, he accompanied me to see some not super impressive art, but we did discuss a projection installation of butterflies on a glass table covered with broken white tiles at length. He thought i was thinking about it too much, but it really was a pretty interesting piece, imo. Anyhow, he was admittedly surprised to look at and think about art like that, which was cool, i thought.
Later on we met a german dude who we hung out with quite a lot too. We spent a significant chunk of yesterday riding up and down elevators trying to see how high we could get without paying. The 85th floor was what we pulled off, and it took just a little bit of sneaky work, and there was luckily a small window there.
Beforehand we had a $10 beer on the 55th floor, which was also quite chill. Sitting in the Hilton cafe, wearing sandals, with 2 copies of Lonely Planet on the table. Score.
Now i'm in Ningbo for a couple days, mostly 'cause my cuz has a cuz here who she said i should meet. He works in the museum, and my cuz's family had started up a university and museum in this small city of 4.5 million.
No bed yet, but it was nice walking around a bit early this morning and seeing lots of folk doing tai chi in the parks.
PS. the pix will have nothing to do with the entries for a while since i think posting thru flickr is the only way to blog right now...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Heading Out

Um, i really oughta finish packing ASAP, but thought i should drop y'all a quick line before i split.


FYI, here's the very loose itinerary.

1. Night train to shanghai tomorrow. There i'll hang out a bit, and meet up w/ a couple aunts etc, who i haven't seen in ages.

2. Hangzhou. Because i just found out today that Chinese folk liken it to Heaven.

3. Ningbo, because i have a sort of distant relative there and some old fam connections started up museums and universities there.

4. Xiamen, 'cause it's supposed to be nice. And there's an island nearby w/ no cars on it.

5. Guilin. Down south. So beautiful it's horribly touristy, but horribly beautiful nonetheless, so they say.

6. Yangshuo. Hippy village. Tons of nightlife for bkpackers. I'll meet up w/ Qianqian here and we'll move on to

7. Yunnan. Dunno. i really wanna see this southern province, and everyone raves about it.

8. Szechuan. Spicy food, and psuedo tibetan monasteries.

9. Qinghai. Getting remote.

10. Xinjiang. Getting north again. China that's not like China. Sort of a disputed autonomous region. Potentially dangerous, i hear.

11. Not sure, but i'll work my way bk to BJ, possibly cruising thru Mongolia...

Ok. Really. I need to jet. i'm gonna be late for dinner!