Category: China

Why Do Chinese Kids Love Michael Jackson So Much?

This is teaching English to spoiled Chinese kids in real life. I never figured out why the King of Pop is never gonna die in China, but at least he helped me kill time in class….

Biking Chinese Roads in Guangzhou

It’s a wonder that I’m here to share the video of my daily commute between teaching English jobs in Guangzhou.

Swimming Guangzhou, China’s Pearl River

To those who thought it couldn’t be done: it was a great swim. It didn’t kill me so I must be stronger, more resistance to nuclear fallout. Looking back, I’m shocked how ghostly I became after a year without seeing the sun beneath China’s protective sphere of pollution.

Chinese Workouts

This is a fine example of the massive cultural differences between China and the rest of the world. Why they waste their time with these “exercises” I’ll never know, just as I’ll likely understand very little about Chinese thought (even if I devoted the rest of my life to it). And yes I had to re-evaluate myself once I realized what I’d become: a creeper filming people from the bushes.

No Fat Chicks

He might be young, but at least he knows what he wants!

Shanghai’s Charging Wall Street Bull

As I traveled through the streets of Shanghai, Marco and I came to the sorry realization that the areas of China that we like tend to have a lack of what we consider Chinese characteristics. For instance, are the streets piss-free and less dense than a brick of lead? Do the buildings lack the soulless architecture of China’s communist era? Do the restaurants serve food that isn’t soaked in oil?

We found such an area in Shanghai’s French Concession, a nice blend of greenery and French buildings.

As we continued looking for non-Chineseness in The Bund, the viewing platform of China’s financial bastion Pudong, we came across Arturo Di Modica’s Charging Bull.

As the original artist of Wall Street’s Charging Bull, Di Modica took the liberty to make China’s version “redder, younger and stronger.”

A writer for the Wall Street Journal blogged about the trend of stroking the bull’s junk for good luck.

I’ve got a better idea, and this is apparently a different growing trend as well: take a picture of kicking that bull in the nuts. Forget about receiving good luck from the bull, I’d rather wish it and everything it represents a reproductive apocalypse.

Qingdao International Beer Festival, China (中国青岛国际啤酒节)

Compared to festivals in the west, the International Qingdao Beer Festival looks like a joke when you first walk in. As you work your way into the tents you’ll see some kind of gross distortion of of festivals back home: bad food, horrible music, Chinese dancing and hyperconsumerism (cars on stage?).

But after you grab the first mug and realize all the beer is on Chinese guys who want nothing better than to toast you, it’s all good.

And there’s plenty of chances to meet all kinds of weirdo’s.

We stayed at the Kaiyue International Youth Hostel, one of the best hostels I’ve ever seen, for 55 kuai a night. Their address is 31号 Jining Road Shinan, Qingdao, Shandong China, 266000 and phone number is +86 532 6665 3920

To get to the festival, you can take Bus 5 (1 kuai) to Taidong and then take Bus 104 (2 or 3 kuai) to the other side of the city. Ask for Pijiujie (Beer Street). Total travel time to the festival is about an hour. The festival opens at 8:30am and starts closing down around 10:30pm. You’ll have to take a taxi back to Zhongshan. Get the meter running and it costs around 45 kuai to get back to Kaiyue.

And for some random entertainment, watch this guy fold in half and puff a cig with his feet:

Heaven Lake at Changbaishan, Jilin Province, China (中国吉林長白山天池)

This is another tempting but mostly unrewarding destination in China. The pictures of Heaven Lake were enticing enough to draw me all the way to the fairly remote border region with North Korea. The time and money it took to get here though made the disappointing reality of the park all the more painful.

Catching a snap and feeling the serenity of this scene is what drove me to the park.

But those rewards were eclipsed in my mind by the long hours on trains, busses and vans for this sight: another tightly-controlled play-corral for the Chinese masses.

The beauty of the landscape at Changbaishan and the novelty of seeing North Korea on the other side of the lake make it a place of interest. But the remoteness, expenses and the rules of the park that even block its visitors from taking a small hike are all hard pills to swallow.

To get here I took an overnight train from Beijing to Changchun and then another overnight train to Songjianghe for 110 kuai, hard sleeper. From Songjianghe you can access the Western slope of the mountain and Changbaishan Canyon, an easy 40 minute hike. Busses (around 45 kuai) and trains (11 kuai, hard seat) run between Songjianghe and Baihe, where you can access the Northern slope. To get to the park in Baihe, take the circular route city bus (1 kuai) and ask for the stop at the Changbaishan Bus. This bus costs around 15 kuai. You can stop before the park for access to the 68m waterfall that runs off Heaven Lake, and also hot springs where vendors boil eggs in the water for sale. In between the park’s entrance and the waterfall turnoff is a 30 minute walk to the Underground Forest, a crater filled with trees. The park’s admission fee is 100 kuai, 75 kuai for students. Busses to the other areas of each slope are included in the admission, but the vans to the top of the corralled Heaven Lake viewing area cost another 80 kuai return.

Hike the Great Wall at Jinshanling (中国北京金山岭长城)

Most people hoping to see the Great Wall go to Badaling. Those who go there have to stand in lines shoulder to shoulder just to get a chance to see an overcrowded section of the wall that was actually built in 1985. A much better option is to hike the Wall from Jinshanling to Simatai, a distance of about 10km. Jinshanling has restored sections at the beginning of the hike, but towards the end deteriorates to some of its original condition. Seeing this section of the old wall was one of my absolute favorite things of my trip through China.

Especially after 5pm you’re very unlikely to see other people at Jinshanling.

Unfortunately Simatai has been closed since June 2010, but rumor has it that it will reopen sometime soon. In light of this, you can still hike to the west end of Jinshanling and return the same way.

To get here, we took a bus from the Beijing Long Distance Bus Station to Miyun for 15 kuai. Watch out for the guys who come on the bus and snag confused foreigners to try and sell expensive rides to the Wall. In Miyun you can find another small bus station, where Bus 26 will take you to Gubeikou, from where you’ll need to hire one more short taxi to Jinshanling. We were lucky enough to meet a couple of other travelers in Miyun and we all decided to hire a van all the way to Jinshanling for 150 kuai.

Ice Cave, Shanxi Province, China (中国山西冰洞)

Shanxi’s Ice Cave is an overall big letdown. Between being far out of the way, expensive to get to and expensive to get inside, it only deserves mention as a warning. It’s fairly neat that this is a cave full of ice so close to the desert, but there’s no real compulsion to go here other than to take a nice photo and leave.

To get here we took a poorly planned option, a taxi from Datong. Expect to pay around 3 to 400 kuai. Tickets are 120 kuai, 60 kuai for students.

Meet Dave

Meet DaveUnfulfilled by consumer lifestyles, I left on a really slow trip around the world. As a 3rd eye traveler on the New American Dream, my aim is to inspire and cultivate conscious living along the way....Read More...

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