update: yangtze cruise, xi’an, arrival in hong kong

The following section is copy/pasted from an email I sent to my family. It says what I did on the three-day boat tour I took down the Yangtze River to see the 3 Gorges and the big dam and a bunch of temples.

8/10: plane from Guangzhou to Chongching. We woke up kind of late–we
left for the airport at 7am, and our flight was at 8am. Bad bad bad. We
took a taxi to the airport, which cost 101 yuan. Actually it cost 116
yuan because of the 15 yuan toll to go on the brand new beautiful road
to the brand new airport… which I misunderstood when the taxi driver
was telling us about the toll, and I thought he wanted to charge us
extra just for driving on a certain road, so I yelled at him cuz I
thought he was trying to cheat us, and then when I finally understood I
spent the rest of the ride apologizing to him. He forgave me, I think…

The Baiyun (white cloud… there’s a mountain called baiyun shan (shan =
mountain) in Guangzhou. We climbed up it a few weekends ago. It’s
totally paved with steps and at the top there’s a big park and tons of
people hang out there) airport in Guangzhou really is brand-new. They
just moved operation from the old one to the new one five days before
our flight. It’s a really nice airport. Wow. The flight was uneventful.
Not like that other one from Hong Kong to Taiwan a while ago where the
lightning hit our plane and stuff… hee. Chongching was hot. And
smelly. And really really hot. No, like, really hot. Like, if you stood
in the sun, you would be in severe pain in 2 seconds. No, really. It was
very bad. We ended up staying in a crappy little motel-thing right next
to this temple for really cheap. The temple… it was nothing much… it
was old and falling apart. R’s guidebook says it had a really good
vegetarian restaurant, so we went there, but all of a sudden I felt
awful, and I ended up not eating anything… and throwing up in the
restaurant’s bathroom. Delicious, huh. So we didn’t do much. A guy came
to deliver our boat cruise tickets and told us about joining his
company’s tour group, which we decided we better do, but we didn’t buy
the tour stuff right then because he didn’t have the tickets on him, so
we told him we’d go find his office the next day. Then we went to the
commercial center place, and hung out… went to a gigantic book store
(called the chong ching book city) where I bought “My country my people”
which was written in 1935 by a Chinese guy whose last name is Lin
(forest)… uh… lala… we ate some really really delicious tomato-egg
at a dirty little restaurant.

8/11: We both had really terrible diarrhea. We hung out in KFC for a
while, and then an internet cafe. Went to the travel agency to find the
guy to join his company’s tour group and hung out there for a while…
met four other Americans, two parents and their son and daughter-in-law,
and we all went to the docks and got on the boat together. The boat left
at 8pm. Our first-class rooms were small, but nice. The only difference
between our room and our new friends’ second-class rooms was that the
second-class rooms had four beds (two bunkbeds on each side) and ours
was one bed on each side. The bathroom was small but had a western
toilet, and the shower wasn’t in a stall, so you had to take everything
out of the bathroom to not get it wet when you took a shower…
lalala… it was really really really unbearably hot at first on the
boat, especially since first-class is on the top (fourth) floor, and we
were upset about that. It turned out that R had a fever (I brought my
thermometor with me) =( I had gotten over my stomach sickness by this
time, for the most part.

8/12: At 6am, we went to a temple on a mountain. We had to ride a chair
lift there. Something like a temple of ghosts… we went with our tour
guide, who only spoke Chinese, of course, and I got very little out of
it, but enough to have fun… like, there was this one little walkway in
it where you weren’t supposed to look back otherwise um… uh…
something bad (that i didn’t understand) would happen, and then there
was this gate where you need to laugh as you’re passing through it,
otherwise um… something bad would happen… haha. Ok so you can see
that the tours are kind of sucky for us, but I do the best translating
job that I can. And at least with the tour, we didn’t worry about
missing the boat. Hehe. Actually, this temple was the most depressing,
because it was about to be flooded. There was an entire large city
across the river from the temple that was completely deserted. It was
just a bunch of gigantic empty concrete boxes. Grey, with all the glass
removed from the windows, and no cars in the wide streets… etc. It was
really sad to look at.

Then there was a temple-pagoda thing built right up against a sheer rock
face in a mountain, and we climbed all the way up that–lots of stairs.
That was fun.. i can’t really remember what else happened on this day…
I think the zhang fei temple, which was built for a famous guy named
zhang fei, who I don’t really know anything about except for the fact
that “they” (I don’t know who) cut off his head and threw it in the
river, and the temple is famous for a lot of poetry carved into stone on
the walls….

8/13: At 5am, we were ordered to go out to the deck to look at the first
of the Three Gorges.
This email is really really long (I’m skipping around… I actually
wrote the stuff that happened today first… this is probably going to
be the last paragraph I write for now…). It was kind of neat. Then we
went on a smaller boat to go through the Little Three Gorges. That was
really nice. I liked it. 43 of us crammed on a small boat with windows
and a roof that they coudl pull back when it wasn’t too sunny (we were
in the shade a lot in the little gorges, since it was still morning)…
we saw some monkeys, they were yellow… the water in the little gorges
is green, unlike the water in the yangtze which is brown… at the end
of the three little gorges we got off the little boat and got onto an
even SMALLER crappier bamboo boat to go through the Mini Three Gorges,
which was kind of fun, and kind of random, because there were all these
people standing on the sides of the Gorge on the rock walls in the
forest with those ampliflying things singing for us as we went by. It
was cool singing… traditional Chinese singing… but random and kind
of strange. And then we rode back on the original little boat…
everyone, of course, thinks I’m the white peoples’ translator, and I
have to explain to everyone that my Chinese really sucks, and then i
have to explain the concept of immigration, then everybody is fascinated
and asks me a bunch of questions, and then they say things to each other
like “oh, see she can’t even read, terrible, but at least she can speak
ok, some of them can’t even speak anymore, and did you hear, she didn’t
even call herself a chinese! she calls herself an american! what
strangeness” or whatever, and I’m standing there like “um, i can
understand you, you know…” anyway. So like yeah… the tour guide
would say something to the boat, then I’d ask for a condensed version
more slowly, and she’d try to explain things, and then I’d understand
like a third of the simplified version and explain it to the five white
ones I was with. Fun… at least I understood when we went by the
sleeping maiden, and the hanging coffins… we got back to the regular
boat at noon. Then that day there was another temple I think, which we
didn’t go to, because I was taking a nap. Then at night, there was the
massive tour to see the 3 Gorges Dam. It was huge. So that was an
exciting tour…
1) We drove by the dam. It was very big.
2) We got to spend 40 minutes at this sightseeing place at the top of a
small mountain between the dam and the ship locks (ship locks are the
thing that a boat goes through to get past a dam on the river… you
know, your ship goes in the first door, the water sinks or rises, to
match the water level of the next “room,” and then the second door opens
and so on, so that the ship can go down or up…), so we could get a
birds’ eye view of everything.
3) Then we went to a horse show. Frickin’ random. It was kind of lame. I
mean, it was ok… like, all they did was ride out, and a guy yelled in
Chinese over the loudspeaker, and then they rode around in circles doing
horse tricks, and fought with each other. So the horse show was because
the 3 gorges area is home to classic chinese stories, like the 3
kingdoms. I think zhang fei was one of the characters in the horse show.
At the end, I rode a horse around the circle twice for 10 kwai. Wahoo.
4) Aquarium. To see a gigantic gigantic (300 kg!) Chinese river
sturgeon. And other fish. It even had a little walkway through one of
the tanks where you could see the fish above and around you. It wasn’t
thaaat nice an aquarium, but it was cool.
5) Temple. Of some guy named “Da Yue” (big…
some-word-that-sounds-like-fish-but-the-word-is-not-actually-fish). Who
controlled the flooding of the river. With a gold ox. Or something. I
really don’t know. It was a really cool temple, actually; in the big room
there was a big commanding statue of him, and there were dragons on the
poles. Lalala. Then we stood around and waited for our cruise ship to
finish going through the locks and arrive to meet us (as we went on the
dam tour, the ship went through the locks… yeah). It was 1am by the
time we got back on the boat. Very tired.

8/14: Got off the boat at 6:30am and met a guy who gave us our train
tickets (that we “ordered” and paid for back in Guangzhou at the travel
agency. It had to be done this way because you cannot buy train tickets
until three days in advance, so somebody bought them for us… yeah). We
ate a really delicious breakfast: 1 dou jiang for 5 mao, 1 dou hua for 5
mao, and 1 you tiao for 5 mao, for a grand total of 1.5 yuan for a yummy
breakfast. It was fun. We sat right next to the guy making the you tiaos
at a little table and watched him… he made them so quickly, and he
made it look so easy. He had a big bucket of dough, right, and he’d cut
off a length, stick it on the table, cut off a few rectangles, put two
of them on top of each other, stretch it out, and toss it in the wok
full of oil. Then he’d turn it a few times as he cut some more dough
pieces, and out it would come, brown and straight and full of oily
goodness, and give it to us. Ooh it was so good. We chatted with him a
little. I told him that his you tiao were better than any I’d had in the
States, and he said we should go back and “tza you tiao” cuz then we’d
“jwan da chien.” So yeah. People are generally nice here.

Then we walked around a little. As we were walking, we saw a duck on the
sidewalk. There was a little string tied on his foot, and the other end
was tied to a pole. I said to Ryan, “Do you remember how to say duck?”
And since he forgot, I reminded him, and then he went up to a cute
oldish lady hanging out in a chair next to the duck and he asked her,
“zher shir ni de ya ma?” and she answered “shir!” It was a cute duck. We
were worried that she was going to eat him, so I asked her that (all in
Chinese, of course), “Are you going to eat that duck??” And she said
“no, raising him for fun!” And then Ryan and I were even happier. It was
a clean little duck. There was a clean bowl of water next to him and
some rice porridge (congee… shi fan… whatever)… She told us, “You
know, he’s a really brave duck. He goes up to people walking by and
pecks at them. Dogs and cats are afraid of him… Dogs that are
thiiiiiis big (stretches arms out) walk all the way at the side of the
road to avoid him.” It was funny.

And maybe his name was Ping. =D

I saw one duck swimming on the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang). But mostly
all we saw on the river was garbage… shoes, plastic cups, old instant
noodle bowls… =P

Anyway. So today we will get on a train (we have “hard sleeper” seats I
think… bunkbeds we can sleep on) to Xi’an. 20-hour train ride! We had
lunch at McDonald’s with a bunch of foreigners we met and befriended on
the boat, so that was cool. (We saw them walking around in Yichang after
we got off the boat, and we just grouped together and stuff). Yeah.

Ok, well, this email took me an hour to write, and now I have to go do
other things, cuz Ryan and another guy who’s going on the same train as
us (who we met on the boat) are waiting for me.


Yar. The cool old guy we met on the boat and then rode on the train with turned out to be an Irish Catholic priest. His name was Peter. We played cards with him.

We also met a cool Korean man on the boat who spoke English really, really, really well. He was also fluent in Japanese, Mandarin Chinese (he spoke way better than me. He even reads completely fluently), and a bit of Spanish. That is a lot of languages to know fluently. He was a professor of travel management and passenger airline management. He liked old Chinese songs. We saw him in Yichang too, and then we found two people from the Netherlands (our age-ish), and ate at McDonald’s, where we found Peter… so Yichang was pretty fun. Though it poured rain AFTER I checked my umbrellafull luggage into “left luggage.” That makes it sound like I had only umbrellas in my luggage. I use umbrellafull merely to indicate that I was subsequently umbrellaless. Yeah. Oh yeah, and then in Yichang we went to a small tiny grocery store type thing where I talked to the shop owner and her daughter for a while. They were all totally fascinated that I could speak Mandarin and English and that I was a Chinese who grew up in America. Yeah. She wanted my phone number, but I felt weird about giving her that, so I gave her my email address. We bought really delicious cashew cookies and instant noodles to eat on the train.

Instant noodles are really really delicious here. Ryan’s favorite is the kind with sechuan peppers. I can’t spell sezhaun. Sichuan? You know, I got like 100% on the pinyin chapter test when I was in Chinese 1ax. I got really good at pinyin. Of course then I got like 20% on the first character test and then dropped the course, but still. I totally do not know pinyin anymore.

Then there was the 20-hour train ride. It was actually fun, because I was asleep for most of it. It left at 4:50pm. There are several classes on these long trains. Our train had hard-seat, hard-sleeper, and soft-sleeper. Hard-seat means you sit on a hard bench with two other people, facing another bench that also has three people, for 20 hours. Hard-sleeper means the train car has some not-enclose cubicles, and on the walls there are three layers of beds. So you’re in a compartment with five other people, three on each side… and there’s two seats and a mini-table by the window for each compartment. So each “column” has a number, and then your bed is designated by “upper,” “middle,” or “lower.” R and I had 1 upper and 2 lower. Lower beds are 10 kwai more expensive and are better because you can sit on them like a chair, and cuz you don’t have to climb up, and cuz the upper bed is really awfully close to the roof, which slopes in at the edge, giving you even less room. Since nobody else in our compartment showed up, we switched the 1-up bed to 1-down and had to pay 11 extra kwai, and we had one blessed roomy hour with nobody else in our compartment. (Of course there were tons and tons and tons of other people in our car walking back and forth and talking and stuff. Since all the compartments are completely open to the aisle, you could see everyone and hear them and stuff.) Then people from hard-seat found out that there were extra beds, and so some of them upgraded their tickets, and our compartment filled right up. Peter was one of the people who upgraded his ticket… so we played cards for a while and chatted. I think he had a three-week vacation in Asia, and he was in China for twi of them. He was in Thailand before. He said it was cheaper for him to go on a vacation in Asia for 3 weeks than to visit the south of Ireland for 3 weeks.

Oh yeah. Soft-sleeper means you are in an enclosed apartment that’s bigger than the hard-seat cubibles, and there are only two beds per “column.” So you’re in your own little room with three other people, and instead of the hard-sleeper’s bamboo mat on a board, you have a bed with a mattress to sleep on. I didn’t really get to see soft-sleepers, cuz when I went through that car all the doors were closed. Hehe. Yeah… so our hard-sleeper beds came with a pillow and two towels–one small one to put between your pillow and your head, and one big one to use as a blanket. I actually slept really well that night, but only because I slept about 2 hours on the boat the night before, because of the awesome-dumb-kind-of-worth-it dam tour.

Oh yeah, when I woke up in the morning on the train, my voice was completely gone. No sound at all. Odd, because I didn’t even scream or yell particularly much the day before or anything. So yeah… we got to the Xi’an station at like 9:30am on the 15th… wait, that’s only a 16-hour train ride. Oh whatever. So yeah… the train station was this huge huge maze of a place, with bus stops stretched out all over, and people trying to sell you maps and bus services and tours to see the terra cotta warriors (bin1 ma3 yong) everywhere, and people holding flags for college campuses. I didn’t really know what that was about. There were all these booths with people who looked like college students and stuff. Maybe college terms were starting and they were taking new students to the dorms from the train station? We got a room at the youth hostel for 160 yuan/night. I’ve never stayed in a youth hostel before. It was kinda fun.

Uh, I just spent a really really ridiculously good-looking… no no no no. Uh, I just spent a really ridiculously long time writing an email to my family. I will paste some of it here. It talks about Xi’an. And a bit about the terracotta warriors. Which I really liked. A lot.

The terracotta warriors! Wow! They were really cool to see. The actual sites themselves are covered in a big big building, and excavation is ongoing (they only work at night, so tourists can come and look at things during the day). You go into the big building, and you stand behind railings on walkways along the sides of the gigantic rectangular pit and stare at the warriors. In pit 1, the biggest most rectangular pit, they’ve restored a large section in the beginning of the warriors. None of the warriors have weapons anymore, since they were made of wood and they’ve rotted away, as have the war chariots, but the soldiers are there in full clothing and armor and there are horses, and the soldiers have different faces and different clothes and some have armor and some are just wearing cloth, and they’re all different, and all of their hair is different, and the officers have a different little hat… some of the faces are young, and some of them are old, and some of them are smiling, and some of them look angry, and some are looking off in different directions, and they all have different facial hair, and some of them are kinda fat and have a little beer belly, and some are skinny… the level of detail is astounding. Then on the sides, there are little rooms where you can see some stuff on display in a glass case, like in a museum. So then you can get up close… there are bows on the armor of the big officers and stuff, and the “skirt” things around the waist are full and have folds and stuff, and all of the little plates on the leather armor have rivets…

We also went to the burial mound (the tomb) of emperor Qin. All that is there is the burial mound. You can walk up the steps to the top of the burial mound. Not very exciting.

The thing that most impressed me about the burial mound was the bronze chariot set… which was actually on display at the terracotta warriors place. The terracotta warriors area is very very large… several large buildings… including the three big pits, where you see the excavation work, and then there are museum sections… so yeah, the little bronze chariot set. It was made with tons of detail, exactly 1/2 the size of a real one. Bronze horses that were totally dressed up, complete with gold necklaces and bronze bridles and everything, and bronze reins, and drivers… There were two chariots. Everythign was completely made of bronze. They both had four horses. The first one was for a standing driver, and I think all he did was clear the way for the second chariot, and maybe make a track for the second chariot to have a smoother path. He had a crossbow and a sword and some arrowheads in a chest and a shield in a silver shield bag that’s the biggest/most complete shield of its kind found from its era. Then the second chariot was bigger and had two compartments, and that was for the emperor to use… and they were all painted inside and out, but not anymore (you can see some closeup pictures of the parts that still have a bit of paint, it’s beautiful and ornate). And the best part was that there are five “directions” in Chinese philosophy or whatever, right? North, East, South, West, and Center… and each of those directions has a color associated with it… and the chariot set they found was predominantely painted in white, which is the color for… um… east I think. I cannot remember right this second (it’s in a book I bought). AND… that particular white-painted set was found in a pit to the EAST of the burial mound. So they’re guessing that FOUR MORE similar sets of carriages will be found around the burial mound, painted the appropriate directional colors. But they haven’t found them yet! Isn’t that so exciting?????

I can’t imagine how it all worked. Emperor Qin was totally nuts. He had a whole bunch of officials and workers killed and buried with him after completion of the stuff to keep it all secret… crazy how something SO MASSIVE could be kept secret. The book said that 10% of the population of the kingdom was sent to work on the terracotta pits. CRAZY! And that the ridiculous drain on manpower and resources led to the dynasty’s downfall…

So we were in Xi’an for 3 days. The first day, we arrived in the morning from the train, got a room at the youth hostel, and went to the Shaanxi history museum, which was pretty cool. We didn’t get a tour guide for the museum… sometimes I would hear a Chinese tour guide saying something I understood, and sometimes Ryan would hear a Spanish tour guide saying something he understood, so our knowledge of Chinese history was augmented an iota because of that. Haha. We drank pearl milk tea from a guy who was from taiwan, and ate at the attached pizza place (our pizza was called “Fruit family.” Apple, Banana, and Pineapple. With cheese and tomato sauce and everything. Banana on a pizza is surprisingly delicious. I only mention this cuz it was silly. Hehe.) The second day we took the big hour-long bus ride to the Qin tomb, and then to the terracotta warriors. On the third day we went to the Banpo Museum/archeological site, which was an hour bus ride (it’s inside Xi’an the city, but Xi’an is very big) from where we were… only to find that you can’t actually see the archeological site because it’s being renovated. That was sad. The Banpo museum is about this ancient matriarchal society village that made clay things and had kilns… yeah. That afternoon we visited the Big Goose Pagoda where there were tons of tourists and climbed to the top of it (7 stories)… it had some stuff important to the development of buddhism, and murals depicting the story of the dude who hiked all around asia to bring the buddhist texts back to China, and a big fresco thing in a room depicting the story of Buddha (the only thing I understood was the section showing how when he was born, he took seven steps and up sprung sevel lotus flowers from the ground). The streets in Xi’an are very very straight (you could see that very clearly from the top of the pagoda)… the air in Xi’an is pretty bad. It’s hazy all the time. The first day we were there it was actually cold. I almost bought a long-sleeved shirt. The second day was fair, and the third day was very hot. I am getting very tired. This is a long email.

So then yesterday morning we got up at 6 to take a 7:00 bus to the airport for our 9:50am plane. The airplane ride was uneventful… we talked briefly to a guy sitting next to us who was an import/export officer or something (at least that’s my best guess. He only spoke Chinese… he kept trying to explain what his job was, and finally I asked, “oh, you mean you keep in track of stuff that goes in and out of a country?” and he was ilke “yeah, yeah”) hehe. He pointed out the Yangtze river and the Three Little Gorges when we passed over it. That was really, really, really, really cool to see from the airplane. One thing I didn’t mention yet was that the water in the Yangtze is brown, and the water in the Thre eLittle Gorges is green. From the airplane, you can see this basin where the Three Little Gorges opens up into the Yangtze, and you can see the green and brown water mixing together. Oh man, the landscape was gorgeous. I love airplane views. Oh my goodness, before we got to the Yangtze, there were tons of little rivers you could see carving twisted S-shapes in the jagged green mountains. So we got back to the hotel in Guangzhou without a hitch, and that’s when I called home. And then we went to the peasant training institute which was not huang-pu. I was really disappointed that we went to such a wrong, wrong place. That was stupid of me. How could I have gotten it so wrong? Oh well. I just think it’s so sad that I was in Guangzhou for almost weeks and I didn’t make it to Huangpu. Well, it was impossible–for most of the time I was in Guangzhou, I was teaching all day… I would have very much liked to see it. Ryan really wanted to see it too. He’s really excited that I have a direct tie to a piece of history. (Obviously, I am very excited too. That goes without saying.) I am sad that I know no stories from that time or anything. Mommy, do you? Or is it something that your parents and sisters didn’t like to talk about? I can’t believe that my grandfather was directly involved in a big war and that all of my grandparents had to run away from China. I mean, that’s a big deal, to have to run away from your home. I have no concept of what that could have been like. You know? It’s weird. Grandparents are not that far back in one’s history, but I’m in a different kind of situation (as were you, my parents) because I do not speak the same language that they speak, and I didn’t live in the same country they lived in… you don’t really ever think about stuff like this cuz for us it’s just normal, but like for other families that have lived in the same country and area and town for many generations whose kids are close to their grandparents and see them every day and stuff… it’s very different.

But what pride! I was telling some of the others that my grandfather went to that military academy that mao and chiangkaishek went to, and they were like, wow. And they asked me if my family was still really influential in taiwan, and I was like, I guess they are. Which is weird because, you know, we are ordinary people… I dunno. I’m going off on a really long tangent.

So today we left the hotel at 9:30… there were 14 of us. We rode a bus to another hotel, where we met some other people in different areas of Guangzhou, and then there were like 19 of us. Then we rode another bus to Hong Kong. Then we got off the bus, took all our luggage, waited in line and went through customs to get our passports stamped, then got on another bus. Then 15 minutes later we got off the bus, took all our luggage, waited in line and went through customs to get our passports stamped… AGAIN. Then we got on another bus. Or maybe it was the same bus. I don’t know. And then we rode on that bus for a long time… and then got somehwere, where we had to take all our luggage and wait in line and get our passports stamped AGAIN, and got on yet another bus, and passed our stop, because the driver, who was supposed to tell us when we got to our stop, didn’t tell us when we got to our stop. He was terribly mean, even before he found out that we missed our stop. So he was like “I don’t give a crap. Get off the bus. Take a taxi back.” But we didn’t have any hong kong money. So we went to a hotel, got some money, and took taxis to our hotel. Which is crappy. The rooms are terribly small. By then it was 4:30pm… and none of us had eaten much all day (I ate a breakfast sandwich at McDonald’s before we left for Hong Kong). So we ate dinner, then hung around, and that brings me to this moment. Phew!

I’m going to go back to the hotel now. It’s very very close to this internet cafe. There are tons and tons and tons and tons of people in this internet cafe. And in hong kong. Oh my goodness, hong kong is a crowded crowded place. Right now we’re in Kowloon. Um. Yeah. Oh yeah, Xi’an is a really nice city. The roads are very very very wide. And very straight and very orderly. And there are separate bike lanes… like, really separate, like there’s a railing between the bike lane and the regular road. And tons of buses come all the time… I wish we could have spent more time there.

Oh yeah, in Xi’an, on the third day, we also visited the drum tower in the center of the city (we couldn’t visit the bell tower cuz it was closed for renovation), where I talked to a Chinese-American family for a little bit. There were two daughters… the older one (13 years old) spoke a little mandarin, and the little one (10 years old) didn’t speak any at all. Though both can listen and understand. I knew they were American cuz I heard them talking to each other, and I went up to them and said “Did you come to visit from America? Me too!!!!” and I was excited to meet other Chinese-American tourists, especially from my generation… the grandmother said it was good that I could still speak Chinese. The dad grew up in Xi’an, so they were back to visit… I told the girls that I wish I had learned to read more Chinese when I went to Chinese school, and the dad was like “Did you hear that???” to the girls… hahaha. They don’t go to Chinese school… They’re from New Jersey.

Yeah. Uh. Maybe I will write more later. Like, duh, on the last night we rode a bike on the top of the wall. Yeah, there’s a wall that goes around the city. From the um, the um, the Ming dynasty. I think.

My mother’s last name is Zhu1, which is the same last name as the Ming dynasty emporers. Which confuses me cuz I would think that the Ming dynasty emporers would be named Ming? But I guess sometimes the dynasty name comes from the last name of the emporer, and sometimes it doesn’t? Yeah I don’t know shit about Chinese history. When I told my class in Guangzhou about my family tree, and told them my parents names, one of the kids was immediately like, “Wah, her mother AND father have the names of past kings!” and that is kind of cool. I dunno what emperor was surnamed Duan4. I should find that out. I am the daughter of kings! Surely I must be worth something.

I’m trying to teach Ryan how to write my Chinese name. It wrenches my heart that he can write fucking Shelley’s Chinese name but not mine. God. Fucking disgusting. He said, “you never taught me how to write it.” I guess that’s true. But he never flounced up to me and said “hee hee hee, what is YOUR chinese name? oooh that’s so pretty, how do you write it?” leaning over my desk. What the fuck. I get so mad.

I’m sorry that this journal entry had to end on that note. I guess that is on my mind a lot or something. Oh so public, Judy, do you really have to make everything so public? It’s been almost two months. Well, there are three more days here in Hong Kong, and then back home to America.

I get mad at things. I get really upset when Ryan and I are walking somewhere, and then there’s a big group of people sitting together, and one of them points to us, and all of them turn around and stare at us as we approach, and the first one says something that I can only partially understand that I’m guessing means “she got a foreigner, look at her” or something, and they all laugh, and then when I frown because that is kind of an irrepressible reaction to have when a big group of people points and laughs at you after saying something that you don’t understand, they say something else that I don’t understand and laugh some more, and I really want to march up to them and say “I’m a fucking American.”

And I get mad when…. well, so it’ll be like this, I’m talking and they say “where ARE you from, anyway? Your Chinese is weird” or whatever, or however the subject gets brought up, or when they come up to me and say “hey where are you white tourists from, tour-guide, and where are you bringing them to?” and whatever, or whenever I have to explain where I’m from, right, like every time I’m expected to be able to read but have to explain that I can’t, especially at restaurants, I’m really tired and not paying attention to what I’m writing, I know you know that already but I feel the need to issue that disclaimer anyway, so the point is, when I say I’m not from China they’ll say ok, korea? japan? and I’ll say I’m from America and the first thing they say is “you don’t look like an american!” and I’ve taken to saying “There are many colors of people in America. We don’t all look like this one next to me who you love so much for his white skin.” …… whatever. I mean, yeah, I shouldn’t be mad, they really just think that all Americans are white with blond hair, because of movies and such, and the whole staring thing is a cultural difference (ie it’s not rude to stare, or to point and laugh, or to follow, or whatever)…………..

yeah i’m really tired and it’s time for me to stop!!!! i’ve been here way too long

i don’t even know what to do here in hong kong. there’s a free zoo… and a flower market, and a jade market… and some kind of tram on an island… and a beach…

oh yeah yesterday i bought a teaset and a bunch of tea


    1. Yay for a steve


      I got 1 kg of jasmine, .5 kg of rose, .5 kg chrysanthemum, .5 red tea, .5 oolong. and some “tieh guan ing,” which falls under the same general category as oolong, but is not oolong. (the five categories are: green, red, black, oolong, and flower. i like flower tea. and what the chinese call “red” tea the americans call “black” tea, since in American “red” tea is a kind of african tea, or so R says.)

    1. is he having a good time?

      how awesome would it have been if i’d gone to beijing/shanghai like some others in our group and run into him?

      when can i run into you?

  1. Your stories are so much fun to read, Judy! Really captivating! It sounds like you are having a good time, overall. Sorry about all the shallow, sweeping generalization-based comments. Having been asked, “So, you must have a huge penis, right?” more times than I can count, I totally sympathize. Sure you don’t wanna swing by Japan? ^_^

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