You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2008.
I’ll be heading over to Albuquerque in the next day or two. My sister and her husband have been kind enough to take care of my dog, Sadie, for the last three months. I can’t thank them enough, especially after Sadie’s naughty behaivor. Here’s a brief rundown:
— She’s chewed up shoes, cloths, anything else she can get her jaws on
— She’s dug up my brother-in-law’s precious garden, even after they installed a fence
— She’s killed birds and other animals and brought them inside the house
— She’s seemed to forget all her potty training
— She barks and cries at night
— She now pulls on the leash
— She is possessed by the devil
So that’s what happens when you leave your dog for three months. It’s back to square one with her. Perhaps if she doesn’t behave, I should tell her that some people in Jixi would be eager to put her on a plate.
That’s the view of Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco from my window seat. I’m now sitting in a cafe in the Sunset district drinking Hong Kong-style milk tea. SF is the perfect transition, since I can speak as much or as little Cantonese as I want to. In a few days, I’ll be back in Salt Lake City, where my Cantonese will be put back in the drawer.
And even though there’s much to criticize and complain about here, I’ve got admit that when I went through customs, it felt good to hear the customs agent say “welcome home.”
My time in China and Hong Kong is ending tomorrow. With the markets crumbling and the economy in the doldrums, there’s no better time to return to America, right?
I’ll be spending a couple days in San Francisco, where I can sit down and reflect on the past three months. Perhaps write something compelling and profound — or I could summarize my trip with this video of freshly butchered fish heads.
Yep, that’s my China trip in a nutshell.
My trip is drawing to a close. And what better end to my three-month journey than riding out a typhoon in Hong Kong. I’m hunkered down in my hostel (OK, it’s really not that bad outside) as Typhoon Hagupit moves toward the city and Southern China. Hagupit apparently means “to lash” in Tagalog, the main language of the Philippines. Hagupit will stay on my good side if it doesn’t affect my flight on Thursday.
Two cell phone stores. Two salespeople. Two mics. A lot of noise.
Shenzhen is one of China’s most prosperous cities. It was one of the first to open up as millions flocked to the metropolis — kind of like California during the gold rush.
Obviously, not everything is rosy. The streets aren’t paved with gold and not everyone finds wealth. I witnessed two of the more depressing sights in Shenzhen.
While I was walking from the train station, I saw a grandmother scooping and eating rice out of a garbage can while she cradled her napping grandson.
And when I was touring a busy thoroughfare, there were beggars — young and old — everywhere. This one girl would “entertain” pedestrians by spinning round and round while she clung on to the revolving stand with her teeth. She would spin, spin, spin — and stop. Rest for a minute or two. Then bite the cloth mouthpiece to spin, spin, spin again.
I stopped in Guangzhou last week for a couple days. Saw my relatives again, ate at my favorite Chinese fast-food joint, Kung Fu and attended … Oktoberfest.
Once I saw the advertisement for it, I knew I had to go. I had never been to an Oktoberfest, so I figured there was no better locale to experience my first than Guangzhou. For $30 or $40 bucks (I forgot how much admission was), you had unlimited food and beer. Chinese servers dressed in Bavarian dresses and guys forced to wear really, really tight overalls. I expected a wild, debauched night.
Not so much.
Perhaps it was because it was a Wednesday, but the crowd was pretty subdued. The band tried to pump up the crowd to no avail. It wasn’t for the lack of trying or enthusiasm (they even yelled “ganbei!” to get the crowd to polish off their mugs of beer). Or clever games. Like the one they fooled 10 women in competing.
I’ve been trading IMs with the guitarist of Oliver, one of the bands I wrote about for msnbc.com. Cool guy who enjoys all things rock.
He sent me the link to their MySpace page, which you can check out if you want. Here’s part of the description of the band from their site.
The band were formed in chaos, and they played in chaos. In fact, the band are used to dealing all the music-related matters in chaos.
Perhaps they should’ve called their band Chaos Theory?
That’s my second uncle and me on the first night I was in Jixi. I had met him for the first time hours earlier. I didn’t know what to expect, except a lot of food. Oh, and I expected booze — a lot of it. I was warned ahead of time by my aunt’s family that my uncle and his family loved to drink. Beer and baijiu, a nasty, fiery liquor that people in the northeast love to down to toasts of “Gan bei!” I was able to keep my baijiu toasts to two shots during the trip.
My uncle couldn’t drink much any more. He had a small glass or two of beer during dinner. But my cousins-in-law kept toasting me and refilling my glass. I tried to keep it under control, drinking tea over beer whenever I could. But still, my liver is just now recovering from the past week.
One major topic of conversation during my time there was who I looked like. If I looked like my father or any other relatives. But the consensus was that I looked very similar to my uncle when he was young and in the People’s Liberation Army (he joined when he was 15 or 16). Judge for yourself.
I wonder if I’ll also look like my uncle when I’m in my 70s? Perhaps, but with a lot less hair.