Sunday, December 19, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
So what if he didn't finish grade school (truth), he still captured more ships and killed more people than you ever could. This guy blockaded one of the most important port cities in the Americas, held the population hostage, made off with a mountain of ransom money and THEN got a royal pardon! If that story doesn't get you some booty then nothing will.
Aside from the usual pirate stories and haunted house tours there are cathedrals and churches, synagogues and citadels, forts and plantations. Personally, I'm a military history nerd so I love checking out the fortress museums. But it's not all about old stuff either. There are at least two art museums in Savannah. One is for modern art and the other is mostly for neo-classic stuff from the late 1800's so there's something for everyone. Check it out if you're in the area!
Saturday, December 11, 2010
I just posted some more pics from China since it's been so long after the trip I wouldn't be able to recall in detail everything that happened. Honestly, about a third of the time I was there Juan's male friends and family had me in a drunken stupor. Snake Wine's a hell of a drink! If you're interested in hearing more about living in China and all that good stuff check out some of the blogs I've linked to. Crystal Tao's LoveLoveChina is very interesting and Lao Wai Wen Shen has some good info from an average Joe. And he's into tattoos which is pretty beast. I'll update again soon! Like, tomorrow soon. Peace in the middle east.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
Siwei met up with me at the hotel and we headed over to her home. In the taxi on the way there, I mentioned that I wanted to get some lunch or something one day with a friend of mine in the area. She asked me if my friend was a girl, which she was (you know who you are), and promptly got jealous. Like I traveled half way around the world to play games with this poor girl! Oh well. I let it go for the time being. Maybe next time.
We got to the place where she lived which was this small market district and her family's apartment was down a small alley. There was just one other apartment in the alley where an old lady, her son, his wife and little boy lived. And there was a separate, shared bathroom that also served as the old lady's cooking area.... -_- You know the phrase "Don't shit where you eat?" Apparently they have never heard it.
Yes. That dark, foreboding doorway is the bathroom/kitchen.
I met Siwei's parents and they were very nice. There wasn't as much awkwardness as I thought there would be. If my future daughter ever brings some weird foreign guy home I think I just might drop kick him as soon as I see him. I'm aware that it is good manners to bring a gift when someone invites you to their home in China but I could never get a good suggestion on what they would like so I got them this super awesome photo book that has pictures of my hometown and landscape. I almost wanted to keep it for myself! Her parents couldn't read any of it but they appreciated the gesture. Anyway, her mom is really cool and even now, everytime I call Siwei, her mom wants to talk to me and hear me say "Yom Zow!!!!" which means "Let's drink beer! (I guess.)" Her dad is a workaholic and sleeps the nights away at work and comes home for lunch most days so I saw him only a few times while I was there but he made a point to meet me and spend some time around me. He seems like a really cool guy. Like a Chinese Vito Corleone so I should watch out! He even bought me this huge jug of Snake Wine!
Is that thing huge or is it HUGE? It's like 5 gallons of liquid fire! And no. Your eyes are not deceiving you. It's called Snake Wine because there are a bunch of coiled up venomous snakes in it. They even cut the venom sacks open and you can see it glisten at the surface like an oil slick. Her dad poured me a little dixie cup of it to have with lunch and I could see little pieces of snake at the bottom. Snake Wine is one of those things that you absolutely have to try just to say that you did it (you also get massive respect from your Chinese friends) and I had just turned 21 so I was still a lightweight. That little cup had my head swimming BIG TIME. He kept offered me some more but I, rather embarrassed, had to refuse. And besides, you really don't want to get totally smashed in the first hour of meeting your girl's parents. On to the food. Siwei's mom is a master chef. No exaggeration. And Chinese people eat differently (And more orderly in my opinion) than in the West. In America you just kind of slop everything you want onto your plate but in China, at least where I was, there are bowls of all the dishes on the table and you get it as you eat. A little of this, a little of that. It was good! And there was always a nice variety of food. Some vegetable, some meat, some deep-fried bread or something.
After that we walked to a mall and looked around. We had to cross a few intersections and I can say with absolute certainty that China has the worst drivers on the planet. They don't care if there are people in the road or not. Those people better get out of the road. In fact, you should youtube pedestrians getting hit in traffic. It's crazy stuff! We got back after a few hours, I was careful not to buy much since I still had like, 8 days left on my trip. They put me up in Siwei's room which was really just a makeship partition in the corner of the living room. with a bed and desk in it. Because it was so hot there was no need for blankets and instead of bed sheets there was some kind of bamboo mat. I guess to keep you from sweating into the mattress? It wasn't all that comfortable but I was so tired from running around all day that I usually passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. Operation Sweep Her Off Her Feet almost crashed and burned yet again because of something stupid though. It was so stipid it's retarded. I don't want to go into details but suffice it to say that you should never let your prankster friends or family hold your phone or put anything on there that you don't want other people seeing, females especially. But there ya go! Lesson learned! Thanks to my superb damage control skills yet another disaster was averted. Job well done!
I used their bathroom for the first time and it was an adventure. The toilet is pretty much a porcelain hole in the ground and their is a tub or water with a scoop in it that you use to throw water at your dooky. Basically pulverizing it until it disappears down the hole. Good times! :D Because I was still stuck in my American time zone I would have to take care of business around 1 or 2 in the morning so I would have to open up the front door, which would always jam and wake up the whole house when I jerked it open, and walk down the pitch black alley to the bathroom. When I turned the lights on I could see roaches (waterbugs????) as long my index finger scurry for cover. I wasn't too freaked out by that since I knww they are common in tropical climates but I felt so weak and vulnerable as I squatted over the toilet, unable to defend myself should a monster bug crawl across my foot.
Doesn't exactly give off comfy vibes, right? That's ok. I've gone #2 in worse places. They also had a shower/storage closet. It was really a shower head fixed to a garden hose and spicket. In the closet where they kept all their dry goods and stuff. Don't get me wrong though! I'm not trying to rip on the way they do things. It was a lot of fun and was an enriching experience. If I could do it that way in America I probably would. I'll crank out the next update soon!
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
In the West we are taught to move aside so people can pass as a gesture of politeness and things like that but in China people don’t care about that. You push your way through the crowds to get to where you want. I eventually got used to it and being 6’4” I didn’t have any trouble as people would get out of my way. Westerners looking to go to China better not be self-conscious because you WILL be stared whether you like it or not. People will turn their heads to look at you like how an owl does. It freaked me out a lot at first but what you need to do is lock eyes with them and try not to get weirded out. I got used to it and learned to ignore the constant staring. I was in Guangzhou, maybe the third biggest in China and while not as international as Beijing and Shanghai, I was led to believe that there were quite a few foreigners there. I went nearly a week without seeing another non-Asian person. This is going to sound really messed up but it’s important to know. If you are any ethnicity other than white then you really shouldn’t go to China. That’s unfair. Go if you like but you most likely won’t have the same experience as a white person because white tend to get preferential treatment. Most of the time. There are some Chinese who don’t like white people but they are the minority.
Aside from my freakish height people stared at me because I’m so handsome. That’s what everyone there told me. I personally consider myself to be a decent looking guy. But then again I’m very humble. ;) And I was with a Chinese girl. So I usually got looks that ranged from curious to hostile from the men while I got curious and dare I say admiring looks from a lot of the women. I could be mistaken about that but most of the foreigners (when referring to foreigners in China that usually means white people) are older men or failures who came to China to make it big and there’s a stereotype which isn’t entirely untrue about an old, ugly, foreigner with a hot, young Chinese girl although I didn’t see any of those kinds of couples while I was there. But that’s beside the point. Apparently there is a shortage of young Western men. I’m also waaaaaay taller than her. Like over a foot taller.
So we went and got food and it was delicious! Way different than American Chinese food. Juan also taught me a few Chinese words. I would point at things through the window from the 3rd floor of the restaurant and she would say the words. I still remember what she taught me too! After that we went shopping for a while and one thing I noticed is that 95% of the stores sold clothes and all the stores had almost identical inventories. -_- I’ve never been one for clothes shopping. In fact I do everything in my power to avoid it. After a few hours of that we went back to my hotel and enjoyed the mediocre AC. I started showing her the pictures on my phone when something hilariously disastrous happened. I forgot that I had a picture of a humongous doodoo that I had taken a few months ago. I know. I’m a disgusting human being and I apologize but I thought it was so impressive it deserved to be recorded. She saw it for about a second before I jerked the phone away. A second was all she needed to recognize the fecal monster in the photo. She was surprised, and maybe a little repulsed but she laughed anyway. I tried to play it off like I didn’t know what it was or how it got on my phone. Soon after I went to lay on the bed to rest while she played with my Ipod (thankfully I was sure there were no doodoo pictures on it) and I eventually passed out at around 4pm and I woke up when Juan tried to put some blankets on me. Such a sweetheart! She let me sleep until 9 and by that time it had started pouring down rain so we ordered room service. It was good stuff but there is this one dish that never stopped freaking me out and they kept making me eat it.
Yes. That is a chicken head in my food. Not only is there a chicken head in it but this dish is also served cold. There's just something about cold meat that bugs me out. Like it's not sanitary or something. I don't even know if it was cooked but I ate it so Juan would be proud I guess. Ewwww.... Aside from chicken heads our dinner for two was fun and but she broke the tv so we had to watch this lame American Idol rip-off. I don't even like the real American Idol!
Friday, June 25, 2010
The 3 hour flight from Savannah, GA to Chicago was uneventful except for this mean old lady who kept trespassing into my foot space. >:[ So I get to O'Hare airport or as I like to call it, HELL. This place was a huge mess when I was there. The first and hopefully the last time I'll have to pass through that place. Urrrrgggg...... I had to wait a few hours for the flight to Hong Kong and while I was waiting I couldn't help but notice this Vietnamese girl who kept looking at me. I pulled out a book (an awesome book about huge Megalodon sharks that eat people!!!!) and tried to pass the time. A little while later the terminal is filling up and white folks are few and far between. The girl comes and sits next to me. She was cute and all but I didn't say anything for a while until a bunch of people went to the service desk and since I'm such a noob when it comes to international travel I asked her if we had to check in. I fell into her trap and she struck a conversation with me. She was nice but I forgot her name about 6 seconds after she told me. It was something really Vietnamesish. The time passed by quickly and we boarded the plane, we ended up several rows apart. I was supposed to have a window seat but when I got to my row some douchbag was in my seat and when I tried to raise Hell about it he pretended not to know English so I ended up sitting in the aisle.
The flight lasted about 17 hours. I don't think I've ever been so close to just having a nervous breakdown. Despite the fact that my eyes were nearly bleeding from exhaustion I think I slept for maybe an hour. All 5 movies they showed were crappy chick-flick romantic comedies. The guy in my seat insisted on taking his shoes off for the duration of the flight. He had dirty socks. A lot of people chose to walk around the cabin but I preferred to just let my ass go into a coma. That Vietnamese girl came by my seat and said something to the effect of "Hey, you've been sitting down this whole time. Come on, get up and walk around." She walked back towards the bathrooms. More on that in a bit. So we landed in Hong Kong, a HUGE airport. Rediculous. We disembarked and didn't see the girl anywhere so I just went ahead to the currency exchange booth and got some RMBs. When I turned around the Vietnamese girl was there with a stern look on her face. This is the ensuing conversation:
Her- What happened?
Her- I invited you to the bathroom but you didn't come!
Her- I was ready to have sex with you!
Me- O_0 Yiiiiiiiiiikes.......... It's about time for me to be hitting the ole' dusty trail......
I had to use some Navy Seal evasion techniques to escape. If I wasn't a decent guy with a good head on my shoulders I don't know what I'd do! After hiding in the smoking lounge where she couldn't find me for a while I went to the boards to see if my flight was on time.
So I got lost and had to get help from this super nice security guy. I have to say most Communists are a lot nicer than most westerners think. I didn't really even have to go through Customs. I just went through security and they waved me through. I caught the plane to Guangzhou and had to go through immigration with a bunch of Iranians and Turks. 0_o The stereotype is true. They do smell. Like cabbage. After I made it through I met up with Juan and her friend Candy who took me to my hotel. Juan stayed with me for a few hours and I tried to teach her a little more English. Not sure how successful that was . She was really shy at first but I had to convince her to go home for the night after her mom kept calling to see where she was. After she left I passed out on the rock hard bed and slept that exhausted sleep where you don't even dream. So tired!
Then, after I learned some Mandarin Chinese (just a tiny bit and with God-awful pronunciation I'm sure) I gave her a call and I don't think anyone was ever been so happy to talk to me before. I wish everyone was so excited to talk to me! After that I made it a point to call her once or twice a week as my schedule allowed and then I started making plans with her to visit in June. While waiting for the time to pass we emailed each other several times a week, IMing, video chat and talked on the phone. Then as the time drew nearer to leave I got some presents for her (her name's Siwei/Juan by the way. (See-way/Jwen)) including a teddy bear that I made for her at Build-a-Bear Workshop and a sketchbook that I put some poems and drawings in. Intro's out of the way. On with the story!