day 1: shenzhen to lijiang

Flying out of shenzhen was...amusing. first off, there was a riot in the airport. no beer bottles thrown or anything, but definitely a crowd doing organized chanting and maybe a placard or two. they were concentrated around a specific check-in line, so i assume they were protesting an airline. it looked impromptu--a bunch of irate passengers with high senses of civic responsibility. democracy is alive and well in china, where ppl believe that they really can make a difference. imagine what would've happened if they'd done it in the US...blup blup blup blup (thought bubbles)...big men in black suits and dogs and cops and backrooms and shoot first, ask questions later (don't scoff, airport police really did shoot some poor guy who didn't speak english and was reaching for his cell phone--conveniently, i've forgotten any specific details that would allow a googler to check my facts). the shenzhen airport's response to the rioters? one bewildered cop, waving his arms around ineffectively. la di da.

a man hawked a loogie (sp?) onto the floor of the bus taking us from the terminal to the plane. about a minute later, the guy next to the spitter drops his cup of coffee, splattering only the spitter. jon says it's the world spitting back at him (gravity: "take that!"). i like it when karma is swift...i felt quite righteous.

en route to our hotel in lijiang, we passed a man squatting on the back of a tricycle, carrying a hawk on his arm. apparently, hunting is a popular pasttime amongst the native naxi ppl (by the way, that x is soft to make a shhhh sound...so the word doesn't sound like nazi at all). our guide says 1 hawk eats the equivalent of 2 cows in a year. i wonder how many quails it's got to catch to make up for that.

and now some color on the local culture: Dongba (as practiced by the naxi's). Dongba tribal culture is matriarchal and hellish from a girl's perspective. the women do all the work and inherit all the property. the men...cultivate their entertainment skills. a dongba woman prides herself on not letting the man lift a finger in manual labor. she wants her husband to be a very good conversationalist, so she makes him go and read while she slaves in the fields. in the old days, no one got married. the women slept in a big house, and the men would slip in at night and entertain them. if that's matriarchy, give me patriarchy any day.

the creation myth: in the beginning, there were 9 brothers and 7 sisters. the 9 brothers broke open the sky, and the 7 sisters broke open the earth. i guess then they got bored, so they got it on. the gods got mad and sent a flood. only 1 man survived. he procreated with a god's daughter, leaving 3 offspring: the progenitors of the tibetans, the bai tribe, and the naxi ppl. my favorite part of this myth is when they call on "the wise men and the able men"--which category do you fit in?

on our way thru the cultural museum, we saw a HUGE crossbow. it was taller than me, must've taken 2-3 ppl to shoot. i asked our guide what it's for--hunting. what did they hunt?--rabbits. WHAT?! upon further prodding--bears.

the curator also showed us some ancient barks with ancient writing. she said the barks will last forever b/c they're made from special trees. when asked how old these barks were--100 yrs (but apparently they have ones that're 600 yrs old in special storage, and some stored at harvard if you guys want to go take a look).

then we learned about the love suicides. marriages are arranged, since its a land based society, but love suicides are practically heralded as good life choices. the way the thing usually goes is this: the boy and the girl run for the hills, frolick in a cave for 2 days or so, and then they either 1)eat poison or 2)throw themselves off the cliffs (always make sure the boy goes first, giving him a gentle shove if necessary--this from our male guide who says it's b/c boys are more wishywashy about love vs life choices). according to the lore, those who die by love suicide achieve great peace in paradise; they ride deer for horses and use tigers to till their fields (apparently they still have to till fields, but i guess that says something about the work ethic of the society). weird. i mean, you don't like your arranged mate? come commit love suicide instead! no downside, we promise.

that afternoon, we climbed elephant mtn, which isn't a tall mountain, but is a very high mtn considering we started at around 2000m. li (our guide) thought we were crazy (i don't think he enjoyed the exercise). halfway up, i spied a couple making out in the bushes. i guess not many ppl pass this way. and no wonder. we could really feel the elevation--let it be noted that in the time of need, jon refused to share his water (altho he did just huff his way up, and i had been sitting in the pavilion waiting for a while--that's right, i beat him up (the hill that is, remember no domestic violence here, move along, move along)).

then we went to the old town, which only got older after the earthquake knocked down all the modern concrete buildings to allow for the erection of more "old" wooden buildings. its a nice, quaint place where backpackers spend months at a time. no cars allowed, only horses and i guess bikes (if you're suicidal and fancy hitting your face on the slippery cobblestones repeatedly). plenty of hostels and coffee shops and wifi. at night, a hopping club scene.

J really liked the rice cakes with brown sugar (above). I preferred the yak's milk yogurt. neither of us really liked the dongba baba (but it's hard not to buy b/c, well, who doesn't like saying the words "baba please").

we bought some native teas (pu'er is made here!) for our parents after an extensive tasting procedure. the tea lady discarded the first cups and used tweezers to handle everything. very professional. apparently, teas can cure all sorts of ailments, including obesity. tune in for next post's installment of lily's china vacation--transition free, we promise (and holy shit i'm long winded).

on a horse in old town square

spicy wontons, a post-dinner snack.

for $10, you can hire one of these to take your wish down the river.


the good fight

wow, so many things have happened. we bought a spinning bike from the gym for $1000 (around USD125). they're switching the old bikes out for new-fangled electric ones. maybe now that i have this way of letting off steam, i won't beat jon so much (kidding! domestic violence is never funny). jon wants to name the bike "whizz", so he can add ambiguation to the words "i'm going for a whizz"--he's a wit, that one.

and, we are proud owners of rockband, the most awesome ps3 game EVER. let's just say what with the drumset and the bike, my apartment is (even more) crowded. we may have spent the entire weekend playing it...i can't wait to get home tonight and design tattoos for my rockers. we have two bands called aural mayhem (in which i'm the guitar and jon's the drums) and frog face fish (roles switched). ok, enough about my pretend life.

the ankle is slowly getting better. today i hopped gently on it (while supporting with hands on bed). i'm off the ibuprofen, which means i can feel the full benefits of doug's "massage" (ouch!). and he says i have a golfer's elbow, so we're working on that too.

WHAT'S THIS ABOUT TOSCI'S?!!! Save the flavors!


day 0.5 in china: shenzhen

<-jade dragon snow mtn in lijiang

this is gonna get very long, so its pseudo linear with bumps along the way that have nothing to do with anything...i guess that's how i write anyways. and it'll be in installments. and the photos will be random (can you tell i'm adding to this intro as i go?) the first thing i did in china was lose $100 to a conniving cabbie. i was gonna pay him $140 to drive me 40km (from the hk-shenzhen border to our hotel near the airport). when we were getting out, i handed him $200 and asked for change. he said he didn't have change, so i paid him $40 more (in HKD), and he fumbled around his pockets a bit before handing me back my benjamin (err i guess its actually a mao, but mao's not very descriptive since every bill in china is a mao)--or so i thought (DUN DUN DUN)! he handed me a fake hundred! of course, i didn't find out until i tried to spend it (which i did several times in many ways: after crumpling it up, after soaking it in water, to a street vendor wearing gloves. apparently its a very very bad fake. jon thinks its printed on A4 paper, but it wasn't my fault! it was dark! and um, yeah, it was dark!). i'm a bit peeved, b/c i already think that $140 for 40km is pretty steep. come on, 25miles?! i used to drive 25 miles to pick up my groceries!

funny things seen on tv while in china:

  1. a jolly, bearded caucasian man turned himself blue. the interview was in canto, so i didn't catch a lot of it, but i think he did it with a glass of water and an electric current.
  2. a program about ppl breaking guiness world records--1 guy hung horizontally from a helicopter for a significant number of minutes using a bowl and his abs (the bowl created a vacuum).
  3. a live variety show of police/army propaganda. lots of soldier/dancers doing choreographed kicks, choreographed marching in place, and choreographed...police barracades (?), all to music, very weird. i guess china is very proud of its large standing army.
that first night in shenzhen, we ate at the dongbei equivalent of a yakitori place (which means it had that extra splash of msg to make it authentically chinese, but i'm not sure what makes it dongbei specifically except that the owner/chef is from dongbei. i guess in china, restaurants are labeled by the loyalty of the workers, not by the type of food--which was HOT). everything came skewered, well, except for the BIG POT of spicy soup filled with yummy veggies. we daredn't (is that an ok contraction for "dared not"?) try the fuzzy egg or the various organs, but jon was very brave and crunched the cartilage like any old pro. of course, i ordered the corn, eggplant, and bokchoy (on a stick! all on a stick!), and they were delicious. we ate as much of the hot sauce soup as possible, fishing out the solids and dabbing them on plates to relieve them of their fiery bathwater. nevertheless, i was jonesing for a popsicle afterwards (in keeping with the sticked theme). instead, i got a "strawberry" ice cream cone--half the cone was missing, the ice cream tasted very artificial, and the "real fruit" turned out to be raisins. on the upside, 1 big bottle of beer only costs $4! 1 handle of rice liquor only costs $5! (not that we bought any, but it's refreshing to see that we could've gotten drunk cheaply--that's the equivalent of 50 cents, btw). and that's how we spent our first night in china.



i sprained my ankle last night at pickup. i didn't even step in a hole or on a foot/umbrella handle. all i did was step. i guess my legs were pretty tired from the 3 hours of beach disc sat night and the 8km run sunday morning...but today my muscles aren't sore at all. as sprains go, its pretty mild--definite tearing of stuff, but no discoloration. i had to hop up my 5 flights of stairs last night, but today, i can put pressure on it. i'm seeing the physio 3 times this week for ultrasound. i love health insurance.

other than that, the weekend was terrific. saturday, we played beach from 3-6. towards the end, we were playing games to 5, make it take it, which is an AWFUL idea on sand. turnovers cost so much more, and you're basically running nonstop. i tried to cover jon on two of his deep cuts, but he blew right by me. pshhh, boys. great fun tho. the next morning, we caught the 8:30am pats vs jags game in stanley at MAIN STREET USA, an ostensibly american bar with a swiss chef (they even had swiss fondue on the menu). very nice eggs. go pats!

afterwards, we jogged the catchwater back to parkview. the catchwater is the flatest jog in hk, except at the end where you're going uphill for 10 min straight. phew. i love jogging back to parkview, b/c linda and hubert always feed us well. last week, hubert made true german goulash (it stewed for over 24 hours). this week, we had smoothies. we just had time to ride the bus back to central and pick up our cleats before heading to pickup.

today, jon is home sick with a cold, and i'm gimping around the streets of the city. go us!


cat got my tongue

it's not that i have nothing to say, it's that last wednesday or so, i lost my coherency. all of a sudden it became incredibly hard to make sentences, english or otherwise. this is not good. it's especially not good for the people i'm interviewing. i can't hold up my end of a conversation to save a life (hopefully not mine). unfortunately, this doesn't seem to limit my penchant for talking. i mean, i was never eloquent, but usually, when i opened my mouth, something pseudo-ok would come out...i'm still opening my mouth, but i think i'm just confusing a lot of ppl, including myself. non sequiturs galore. sigh. i've gotta stop talking. it's making me look pretty dumb.

on the bright side, i had a dream last night that involved a smite reunion and a lot of hugging.