Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Adding oil

A day and a half on the night (and a day and another night) train and I was on Hong kongian soil. The ride was a long one, with me being the main curiosity of the car... I guess that's part of the things that have weaken my joviality during my last weeks in China... for the past two months, I've been laughed at, finger pointed at, stared at, gawked at, giggled at, touched by, and I don't know what else by the entire Chinese population. When I wanted to buy something at a store, it took at least 12 Chinese to carry out the order... one to not understand me and call for someone who can speak a bit of English or good sign language, and another 10 people to stand around and stare at me while talking about my height, color, chest hair and what I buy. It can get to you after a while. If I remember correctly, my first similar experience was shared by Raquel. we.. well, I, wanted to eat dumplings at a nice old vendor next to the train station. so we sat down on the low benches and started the munching, while a police officer, a rickshaw guy, some dude and the vendor herself were standing on top of us, staring and laughing while we ate. I think I have a picture somewhere, but that's irrelevant.
I guess I was upset at all the attention, upset on being alone and upset due to my inability to communicate (which I have only me to blame).
But never mind. I was in Hong kong now. and nobody gives a flying f***.
you know something? that's awesome.
My first day in Hong kong, and I was off to meet with my couchsurfing host. Since he told me he was studying till 4pm, I had a lot of time on my hands, and no clue where to start.
So I ended up at a Fancy shmancy mall. I really don't like that kinda malls I gotta tell ya. The huge building had a vaguely mazy like feeling to it, and getting from the bottom floor to the top was a serious endeavour with lots of strategy planning before hand.
But, it was worth it. Next to a small ice skating thingy, there was a cinema, with NORMAL movies!!! Not just the usual crap they showed all over China, but actually movies, like WALL-E (awesome movie) and other new features. So I decided on catching up on my movie titles.
4pm, and I was waiting at university station. John, a cheerful fellow with a very quick stride, arrived and quickly went down to business. He told me: "listen, I'm gonna be busy till Monday and on Wednesday I'm going into china for a week. I have an apartment in the center of town which you can take, but I won't be able to take you around town myself... is that ok?"
Although I really could use a company, especially when it comes to the benefits of couchsurfing, the offer was too good to pass on. So after a bit of organizing, we were on our way to one of the city centers on Kowloon. Stepping up the stairs from the underground, I was dazzled by the lights and the amount of people walking to and fro. The numbers of different foreigners was stunning... from Indians to Americans, passing along the streets along with the Chinese. I was one of many, and it was a great feeling. The next great feeling came when one of the many Indian tailors came to me and badgered me over a great cashmere suit for only 200 us dollars. It was just like Bangkok. John was taking me to the apartment, walking through streets, dodging other people, and I was too busy being happy to notice where we are going. The next notion of Modern society occured when we crossed a small magazine shop, with plenty of PORN. Porn! at last!
I'm back!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Add Oil

It's been more than a week now that I've been waking up at 10 am sharp. Not by my alarm clock... the alarm clock is set to 7 am, so every day I wake up by the alarm clock, shut it off, go to sleep, and wake up at 10 am sharp.
After waking up, a bit of excercise, a bit of water, brush my teeth, and go watch TV.
After watching the olympics for a while, I go to the same small restaurant, order the same thing (noodles with some sort of meat), pay the same amount of money, and continue to my usual internet place.
After finishing my time browsing the net, I go back to the hostel, and watch TV, or read a book. Afterwards I buy some dumplings and an egg at the local grocery, eat them, and go watch some more TV. After that, I go take a shower and off to bed.
That's it. No traveling, no exploring. I'm too tired and too lazy to even get out of my bed.
hell, I'm too tired even trying to write.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Movie, Mosque, chicken and Good-bye

It was 5 days ago I presume. The gang of four - Ana, Lidi, Tim and I, went to see the shrine of 8 suicidal immortals, or something like that. It was boring, not to mention closed at that hour, and the market next to it was pitifully minuscule. Luckily, we had a plan B, which was to go see a movie. The lovely hostess has granted us 2 free tickets for any movie we wanted to see, so we went and saw an animated Chinese movie, surprisingly with subtitles. It was actually quite nice, even though some of of the time the movie quality looked suspiciously similar to a ripped movie.
But never mind, we had fun. Going back to the hostel, we celebrated the soon to be departure of the girls with beer and an orgy... no, I'm kidding, there wasn't any beer.

The next day started a bit uneventful. I woke up early, as usual to my roommate displeasure, and did absolutely nothing the whole of the day, till Tim and I decided to pay the great mosque in the center of town a visit. Joining us, were an nice Italian couple who just got to Xian (and China).

A mosque... can you believe it?

We got off at the center of town, and the walk to the mosque was a short one. On the way to the Mosque we entered the Muslim (sort of) market, with lots of shiny and crappy quality souvenirs, just perfect for the Italian newbies. The Italian guy bought a bag at almost 180 yuan (90 shekels) before we stopped him and forced him to bargain, though he didn't understand why (it was such a low price for him).

The Retrdsp... huh?!

Entering the Mosque itself, I was surprised to see a very well tended garden inside a peaceful court with Chinese architecture that did not even hint the Muslim structural design I'm so used to. I even forgot the annoyance of the money I had to pay to enter. It was really worth it. I even found an interesting possible relation between stone turtles that were located all over the Muslim premises and the famous stone turtle remnant of the mongol empires capital city of Karakorum (interesting, hmm?). Just to make sure, I had sent the evidence to my former professor on that matter.

Going out of the Mosque, we continued walking around the city, through the various roads and markets, and ended up in a local restaurant. The Italian guy ordered an interesting dish, which we found out to be even more interesting. It was spicy chicken, but without the actual meat... all the rest was there, but not the meat.

It was evening time when we entered the hostel. I was sitting at the computer when May, the hostess, addressed me with her grave news. It appears that the police visited her today, and ordered her to evacuate all the foreigners who were staying at her hostel till midnight, due to new rules that came to effect because of the Olympics. Their explanation was that the hostel was too far away from the city center for their taste, so we had to leave... today!
We were of course, shocked, and bewildered without any clue to what to do... all of us adored the little hostel we called home, and some of the foreigners arrived that very same day that they were told to leave. In the end, May and us decided that we should stay for the night, but hidden in the upper floors of the building, so that the police won't find us if they come to do a search. So we all huddled together on the upper floors - mostly the dorm rooms. The evening was gone early... we all killed the light and stayed in our beds, quietly, for fear of the police, for fear that something will happen to May and her family for not following orders.

Me and the adorable Nainai (grandma)

Luckily, the night went pass peacefully. No police, no nothing. But we knew that in the morning we were obligated to find a new place to stay. We all got up, with somber looks and tired faces from an inconvenient slumber, and one by one has left the premises to another hostel. May and her brother followed us all the way and made sure that we are comfortable and satisfied enough... perhaps they were feeling guilty somehow... I decided taking the opportunity of leaving the comfy hostel, so I bought bus tickets to a new place, Cheng-du. It was hard and sad to say goodbye, especially in these circumstances.

That very same day, I was on the bus, looking at the eclipse that had set the night upon the land.