Saturday, 30 October 2010

Chinese FBI

Yesterday I had to check on the internet where my hostel in HK is, but internet at Julian's plaece did not work at all, so the mission was to find internet cafe somewhere in Shanghai.Wang ba, this is how they call internet cafe. Gladly tourist information had that knowlendge and they showed me where to look for.
Very dodgy entrence to the building, but dozens of computers inside.
When I told that I want to use internet they told: Password.
Me: What? Why do I need password to use internet?
They: Password
Me: What? What password?
They: Password. Chinese FBI.
Me: Whhhhhat?
They: Passport
So what they wanted was passwort basically.... but pronunciation was horrible. I really understood that they want some kind of password from me. Maybe this is dodgy internet cafe and only trusted ppl have
acces to it.
Pudong by night


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Lost in Hangzhou

If anything starts going wrong it remains that till the end.
I've planned that on Monday I go to Hangzhou. I knew that there is a lot of trains going there from Shanghai, most f them from South Railway Station, but also some form Main Railway Station, and that was where I wanted to take a train. Of course I had to run, cause I was short with the time, but by the time I've reached ticket office I was on the safe side already. At least this is what I've thought. Cause all tickets were sold out. I've decided for a train from South Station and with a stnading place. 1,5h is not that much, and maybe if I turn on my smile no. 57889672 I'll manage to squeze somewhere. Partially it worked out, until there was stop in the half way and someone who owned that place come. But still at least half a way was comfortable.
In Hangzhou I've easily found bus Y2 (it was too smooth), got off after two stops and headed towards the Ming Town Youth Hostel. At leas this is what I thought. I guess I was wanderin around about hour and a half until I've fonud it. Even policemen involvement did not make it much easier. I've asked them and they've showed me where to go and than in half way there was another piliceman waiting and showing me the way, but hostel was so hidden that only after I've given them a call, twice, I've managed to find it. There should be some signs pointing the way.
In Hangzhou itself everything was going rather smooth.
In the evening I was with some girls (all traveling alone) at Qinghefang Old Street where one can buy everything (mostly souvenirs) and he night market where one also can buy everything, but everything faked.
Next day with french girl (I dunno remember her name) we've rented bikes. Actually you get them for free. What we had to do it to pay 200RMB deposit, 100RMB credit on the card and we could take bikes from stalls on the street. First hour is free, next/third is 1RMB/2RMB. But you can switch bikes as often as you want, so if you remember to switch it before hour passes, enjoy free biking. We did not manage to do that, but the price is so low, that I could not have beed bothered. We were following Lonely Planet bike tour and I must admitt it's pretty surrounding, except that biking up the hill on those small, Chinese bikes was impossible, so most of the way up we were pushing our bikes. Even though we found bikes with higher seats they were to small for European girls. But still, Longjing Village, village of Vengjiashan, Nine Creeks Park were beautiful. Combined with the trip around the West Lake it was so chilly, and it was nice to do some other activity than walking. Cause walking was planned for today. Actually it was not planned, but the plan rose during the evening. I decided to go to Lingying temple and climb North Peak. And as usually in China it wa snot climbing the hill/mountain, but it was climbing the stairs... View from the top was nice. At least ;-). In fact whole area of the city which is directly at the lake is sooo cool.
Three, in fact two days, were not enough here. I'd like to stay a little bit longer. Sit at the lake, watch the water, read, rest.
Now I'm back in Shanghai (got here on the train going 350km/h), doing
laundry and getting ready to go to Hong Kong tomorrow.
New family - guess who is real?

Drum Tower

West Lake

Hangzhou street map. I took hat and hand gloves for this journey and I did not believe I'll need them...

Street barber

View over Hangzhou from the North Peak

Temple behind the scene

Angry Buddha
Lotus flowers and green pea soup, which turned out to be sweet (so disapointing)

Walkway on West Lake

On the way to the Hangzhou railway station - dilapidated houses

Fast train to Shanghai

In fast trains water is unfit for drinking ;-)

Monday, 25 October 2010


Yellow Mountain (HuangShan) was originally called Black Mountain. All the rocks there are black granite, so it was so obvious to call it Black mountain. And than one day Yellow Emperor visited Black Mountain and liked it so much that ordered to change it's name to Yellow Mountain. So easy...
Wikipedia says that is a mountain range in southern Anhui province in eastern China. The area is well known for its scenery, sunsets, peculiarly-shaped granite peaks, Huangshan Pine trees, and views of the clouds from above. Huangshan is a frequent subject of traditional Chinese paintings and literature, as well as modern photography. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of China's major tourist destinations.
From the above surelly the last one is correct. It was so fucking crowded there that if I did not see that I would not believe that. 2h line to get to the cable car, people traffic jam on the paths at the top. Nightmare. To make thigs worst it was raining all day long, it was foggy and not plesant at all. So I did not see even a single stunning view, what I regret so much, cause from some pics that I've seen on the internet it looks really beautiful. Sepecially now, during autumn it must be so cool there, with all those colorful leaves. But it was obvious that it'll be raining. All my recent hiking trips were in rain, fog and snow. Same here, fog, rain and crowd. Except that facts it was good weekend.
We've met on Friday at the South Railway Station: 5 Swiss/German guys and me. I've met three of them one evening in Captain's Bar and just out of the blue asked them if they are going to see Yellow Mointain, and they said that they plan trip for the weekend, so I've decided to join them.
We've 5 hours trip to Huang Shan city talking, laughing, drinking and waiting for a bus to make a stop, so that we can go to toilet.

Trip crew
In HuangShan City beer is drunk from bowls
HuangShan dishwasher machine
There we got to the hotel, which was rather expencive as for China, but anyway we were paying 50RBM each. I don't exactly know why, but I was not complaining, it was usually price that I've been paying for 10ppl dorm.
We went for a late dinner to one of the local "restaurants", there we happened to be attraction for local people. They wanted to drink with us, take photos and finally dance. Of course there were only man that wanted to dance, so I was the only one dancing, but in fact it was funny.

Chicken leg
Dancing classes in HuangShan

Is it why they call HuangShan Yellow Mountain?
On Saturday we've met our guide Jojo (first we did not want a guide, but somehow finally we agreed and it was ok, not too expencive and she was a nice Chinese girl and in fact it was very helpful to have her with us), had breakfast and took two buses to get to Yuping Cableway, where we had to wait two hours to get on cable car (in the mean time we had an idea to climb the stairs, but it was impossible to return/sell tickets that we've just bought five minutes earlier). There we've climbed Lotus Peak (the highest point in HuangShan - 1864), Bright Peak and headed to the XiHai hotel, had dinner and spend whole late evening/early night chatting and drinking awful chinese vodka.

2h waiting line
On the lotus Flower Peak
- What a nice saying, what a pity that noone has any respect for that and they throw away rubbish everywhere
In a hotel
Pillow fight
We at the hotel, motel, holiday inn
On Sunday we got up to late for breakfast (I guess that the breakfast time is till 9 only) so we ate what we had in our bags and went to see some other more (Beginning to Believe Peak - legend says it is the point where a skeptical visitor first realized that Huang Shan is every bit as mind blowing as advertised) or less interesting spots (Tiger Pine, Lovers' Bridge) and went down using Eastern Steps (6.5km of walking down by stairs) to Cloud Valley Temple for where we took shuttle bus to HuangShan City (also called Tunxi) from where we took 5h bus ride to Shanghai.
Black Tiger Pine 
(if woman has photo under that tree it means she
wants to be/will be independant, and if man has photo there it means he
wants to be/will be strong and brave)
Smoking, No smoking
One of the fabulous chinese translations - No naked fire. Did they mean: No open flames?
 HuangShan City
Those stairs are used by porters to carry goods to the top. They have pole on their backs and bags hanging from two ends of that sticks. We were trying to judge how heavy that stuff is, and our estimation is that, they carry between 60 and 80 kg. It is cheaper to pay them, than to pay for the cable car. They are paid 1.7RMB per kg. 
Porter (lucky shot)
 It was not hiking trip that I usually do, with a lot of hiking from the early morning, it was rather "chinese type" hiking. Take cable car, take photos with all the important things (pine trees, lovers' bridge, rocks) and go back, but it was still ok. Prolly on my own I would get mad with that crowd of ppl and would give it up, but it was fun with the guys even though it was Sunday tourist trip.
Today I'm heading to Hangzhou for 2 days of chill out at the West Lake.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Shanghai daily life

Definitelly I know now that big city life is not my life. Well, big city maybe yes, but definitelly not huge, enormous metropolis like Beijing or Shanghai. It is far too much. I hate crowds and as I get into the crowd I want to run away.
City like Warsaw, Munich, Zurich is still ok, I guess I could also live in London, but that seems like upper limit.
I hate it that you cannot go as fast as you want but you have to follow the crowd, it takes ages to transfer from one subway line to another, and what´s more sometimes you have to wait at the platform until you manage to squeye into one of the carriages (Beijing experience).
Maybe Shanghai is now even more crowded because of the Expo, which is also crowded and honestly I wonder how all those ppl are patient enough to wait in those long lines to get into pavillions. I was picking only pavillions with short lines (about 20 mins waitiing, what was a lot already) like Mexico - really nice one and interresting, showing culture, backgroungs, history; Chile - I really did not see connection between their display and country itself; South and Central America Countries - not much to be seen and Poland - line was longer, but I desperately wanted to see it and eat some Pierogi (very popular pilish dish).
Pavilion was nicely done, but I was not amazed.

Expo, Mexico
Expo, Mexico

Yesterday I went to Suzhou, according to Marco Polo, the "Venice of the Orient" or "Venice of the East". Indeed one very beautiful line along the canal with small bridges, romantic caffes and art galeries lightened with red lampions.
It is also city of gardens (but not gardens as we know them - grass trees and flowers, they have man-made hills, pagodas, kiosks, pavilions, and water-features, all gathered together in a relatively compact area) and silk.
Funny thing when I arrived there, I did not know where to go to get into the city. But I´ve spoted european elderly couple and asked them. Finally we´ve taken cab to share to drive us into the city. When I wanted to give them money they´ve declined mentioning, that when they were students they also did not have too much money :-). How nice.
Wandering through the city I´ve entered small park, where in the middle there was dancing. I waa regreting so much that I was there on my own. Otherwise I´d definitelly be dancing there.

Dancing in park
Master-of-Nets Garden
Where are the owners?
Along the canal

I was terrified when I saw that my jeans are so torn, that they will not survive next laundry. I was terrified even more, whet I´ve realised how small chinese women are and how difficut it´ll be to get trousers here. But luckily I´ve found some in Esprit (I had to take the biggest size they had, of course). Maybe not the cheapest choice, but it did not matter too much. So my mission which I was convinced is lost even before it started was actually successful. The same as my waxing mission.
I went to Dragonfly and I must admit that they had really good service. So money paid was worth it. What surprised me, was how they did armpits. Not with regular wax, but with some pink, strawberry smelling silikon like substance. It was warm when she was covering my armpits with it and when it was cooling down it was getitng more hard. But it has worked very well.

I have one more mission today - Hong Kong tickets mission. I´m affriaid it can be a problem.....