Captain’s log 8

Captain’s log: Stardate – 21.10.05
> It is 22.30 and I am sitting in a bar below the hostel in which we
> are staying. The bar has a Mexican feel to it tonight as the DJ is
> playing Spanish ballads. Last night it was playing Dub. Mairead has
> gone to bed as her cold has got progressively worse and she needs
> to shake it off before we head to the Song Shan mountains.
> Yesterday we stayed in bed until late trying to heat up, then about
> 13.30 we ventured out to find the train station to enquire about
> tickets to the Song Shan mountains. We wandered street after
> street, all riddled with clothing shops and fast food outlets.
> Xi’an certainly has money.
> We got to the train station and I prepared myself for pronouncing a
> new set of Chinese words, when the ticket clerk spoke to me in
> English. The woman who was originally at that post stood up and
> swapped with her colleague when she saw me approaching, phrase book
> in hand. Is this the shape of a new China? and is the first clerk
> conceding more than just the inconvenience of labouring through my
> bad Chinese? We were given the train times and made a note of the
> best time for us.
> We then went onto an internet cafe where I spent 2 hours
> downloading a large section of my logs to friends before we took
> the bus into Muslim quarter at about 17.00.
> We walked the streets of the Muslim section enjoying the sights and
> sounds of this gritty and lively market.
> We turned in relatively early last night in order to get up early
> this morning to catch the minibus tour to the Terracotta Warriors.
> It took us all morning to get there after first being driven to
> pottery shops and minor museums, arriving at our final destination
> at 13.00.
> The warriors really are a world heritage treasure. We were given a
> 20 minute film at the beginning explaining the history of the site
> before our guide took us into the first and main section of the
> display. I was really quite amazed, quite literally, coming face to
> face with history. There are over 4000 warriors that have been
> uncovered so far and there are sections that are still to be
> uncovered in later years. You see the warriors on tv, but you do
> not realise the magnitude of them until you see them. Each warrior
> has a different face, and they each represent an actual member of
> his army. That amounts to 40 years of around-the-clock building of the
> warriors. They are all placed in battle formation or a a command
> post. Fascinating.
> We got back at 17.00 and we grabbed a quick bite to eat before I
> sent the last of my overdue logs while Mairead tried to sleep off
> her sickness.
> Tomorrow we plan to stay in Xi’an to give Mairead a chance to
> recover, but we will buy our tickets tomorrow and start our journey
> into the ‘Shaolin’ mountains.
> This bar is really quite unusual with its cabaret acts. They have a
> drummer and a guitar player and I am convinced that they do not
> know each other, and that the drummer does not know any of the
> songs that the guitarist is playing. The guitarist is playing
> ballads and the drummer is playing as if he is opening for
> ‘Meatloaf’. I am tempted to take the sticks off the drummer and play
> the kit myself.
> Captain’s log: Stardate – 22.10.05
> One thing that I have noticed in China is that everyone squats to
> sit down. Men and women of all ages, by the side of the road,
> waiting for a bus, eating lunch or dinner, making a phonecall,
> everywhere. Even if there are plenty of chairs and regardless of
> what they are wearing. Mairead says that it is a comfortable way of
> sitting, yet I have never seen her do it. I have tried it but I
> keep falling over. I think that my butt is what is tipping the
> balance. I better learn soon, because the last thing I want to do
> is lose my balance using a Chinese style toilet.
> Because we both have colds I was looking around for a spirit so
> that we could have ‘hot toddies’. I bought a bottle of clear liquid
> from the top shelf of a market stall. I have no idea what it is or
> what it is called, but I do know that it says 50v/v on the back.
> Now for those that do not know, this means that 50 percent of the
> volume is alcohol. When I bought it the woman drew air threw her
> teeth and gave me a thumbs up sign, then warned us not to walk down
> the street with it showing. I took this as an indication that it
> was drinkable. It smells sweet and inviting but is less so when
> added to hot water. However when drunk cold it is more than
> drinkable. Hot toddies now involve taking a swig from the bottle
> followed by a mouth full of hot water. Well, it helps you sleep if
> nothing else.
> A couple of nights ago we were walking through the market and
> stopped off to buy a drink from a small shop. The mother in the
> shop saw us approaching and allowed her son to greet us. His
> English was basic, but he was keen to practice, and his mother,
> whose English was better, was correcting him. As we turned away
> after a brief conversation it became apparent that he was the
> future of China. The boy was 8 years old and will be 11 by the time
> the Olympics arrive in Beijing, by which time his English will be
> greatly improved. As the years go by more and more children like
> him will be taught English in schools as he was, and be able to
> communicate with the western world. As China opens up further, this
> generation of dual speakers will travel the globe as envoys for
> Chinese business interests and leisure consumers. There are 1.4
> billion Chinese: should we not at least make an effort to
> understand and communicate in their language as well?
> On our way back to the hostel one night we saw a man being pulled
> over and berated by a police officer for having a below standard
> tuk tuk. The officer was shouting at the man and making a show of
> the inspection, tearing large strips off the man’s canopy and
> throwing it down to the floor in a rage. The man bowed his head in
> shame and this was the point, to shame him.
> This was not the only arrest we have seen and in each case the idea
> has been to humiliate the criminal and set them up as a bad example
> for other bystanders to see. Perhaps this method, if employed in
> other areas of the globe, would add a further element to the
> criminal justice concept.
> The beggars in Xi’an are a different caliber that other we have
> seen. The beggars here are well dressed in designer clothing and
> look as if they are begging for the cab fare home. They are squat
> on the pavement with some writing infront of them. I can only
> wonder what their story is. “Need to buy a new designer jacket,
> please give generously” or “maxed out my card and now need to phone
> my chauffeur, please help”.
> I was speaking to a couple yesterday and today who rode into the
> hostel on a large touring-type motor bike. They say they have been
> travelling for 2 years. They have travelled around on a bike they
> have named ‘the Dominator’ and they have travelled through
> Thailand, Singapore and south China. I have arranged to get the
> rest of their story in the bar later.
> Well, our bags our packed and tickets bought for the train to
> Luoyang tomorrow at 11.00am.


~ by jeditopcat on 8 November, 2008.

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