I originally started this site as a travel blog but it has since taken on a life of its own and I write about whatever comes to mind. Politics, culture, my experiences around the world and in my own country. Feel free to follow me and leave comments!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Zengcheng: A Society of Apathy

Everyone knows how bad the pollution problem is in China but most people just think about the billowing smoke clouds coming out of factories and smog so thick you can't see down the block. In my last trip to China I think I was so amazed about being in another country that I didn't notice how bad the littering problem is. The big cities hire people to clean up the streets but smaller cities and towns don't have such services. We went to a small suburb city about 3 hours outside of Guangzhou to visit some of Jen's relatives and I have to say I was astounded. There was trash everywhere. In the water, in the roads, in the fields, everywhere. It was ridiculous.

The very water that they use to irrigate their plants and give to their animals is black with waste. Since it was the New Year there were piles and piles of red firework wrappers all over the place and the whole town was just a mess. Even though we were far way from the big city and surrounded by mountains and trees as far as the eye could see there was still an unpleaseant smell in the air. How could it get this bad? It's simple. No one gives a shit. There's no garbage service to get rid of the trash so people just throw it wherever. We had a dinner with about 20 people and the aunt we were staying with threw all the trash in the chicken coop. The chicken coop. Word? And it's hard for me to believe that there isn't some hard metal soaking into the ground water and getting in peoples food. Urrrg. I had to try really hard to keep my mouth shut and tell myself that this is how they do stuff in China. So be prepared if you go out into the country. And for the love of God, don't drink the water.

Travel in China,

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Trek

Oh man. I had forgotten how draining the trip to China can be. I had to leave the house at 4am to catch my plane on time so, being the genius that I am, I decided that I would just stay up all night. Bad idea. Felt like crap all day and I was struggling to stay awake in the airports. In fact, let’s talk about the airports. If you are flying make sure you have AT LEAST 2 ½-3 hours in between flights because if you’re a moron like me you’re going to get lost in LAX or OHARE trying to find the international flights and then some Indian guy with a horrendous accent who works for the airport will point you in the wrong direction. I had just twenty minutes to make my connecting flight to Shanghai from Los Angeles. Twenty f*cking minutes to figure out I was going the wrong way, get to the international departures, check in with China Eastern Air, get through security, and sprint to my plane.
Now let’s talk about China Eastern. Those people are fantastic. I’ve had positive experiences across the board with them. When I was late for my plane the lady at the check-in desk came with me to security and pretty much jumped me to the front of a line with about 400 people in it. What a sweetheart. And then when I tried to thank her she was already gone.  Another thing with China Eastern is that 9 out of 10 of their flight attendants are attractive young ladies whereas 98% of American flight attendants look like busted Daytona strippers. On every flight I’ve been on they give you free beverages and snacks while most American airlines are starting to charge or cut down portions. What a bunch of douches. AND Chinese airline food tastes better in my opinion.
I got to the plane as they were about to leave so there was barely any overhead luggage space left. Why do these people try to squeeze in these huge bags so there’s no room left for others? Anyway, I was in the center aisle between a guy, his wife and baby, and another guy who turned out to be okay. Me and him talked for what seemed like forever. I looked at my watch and we still had 14 hours left in the flight! It’s torture. Even if you fall asleep for 9 hours you still have an obscenely long flight. Now let’s talk about the movies I had to endure. A bunch of crappy comedy romances followed by the most retarded Chinese cop movie I’ve ever seen in my life. A robot time cop travels back from the future to battle cyborgs who have praying mantis claws and dragons for hands, he lives in disguise with his robot daughter who somehow doesn’t know she’s a robot and a lady cop falls in love with him but he can’t love her because he’s from the future and then there’s some fights and the movie is over. Terrible special effects throughout. If you can’t afford good SFX for a sci-fi movie then you don’t do the movie. But what blew me away was that all the Chinese people on the plane loved it while the westerners were scratching their heads in confusion. And East Asian people wonder why most of their cultural stuff doesn’t make it over here.
I ended up watching the dad next to me play Plants vs Zombies on his laptop, which isn’t as lame as it sounds, and enduring the god awful drone of plane engines. Aside from a 2 hour delay in Shanghai everything went fine and Jen and her mother were waiting for me at the airport at 2am. What a relief to finally see her again!

Travel in China,