China Travelogue IV

13 11 2008

October 9, 2008

It’s our second night here in Xian. We’re staying at the Xiangximen Youth Hostel and it’s been a good experience so far. This is the first time I’m staying at a hostel and luckily Yun found a fabulous one. It’s in a good location as it’s right next to the old city wall. (Note: I must admit our accommodation was a level up from the full hostel experience as Dan and I had a private room with an en suite bathroom.)

This city has wider roads and more traditional structures than Shanghai. I find it less suffocating.

***

Today Yun, Andre and Lisa are going to the Hua Shan mountain but Dan and me decided to take it easy instead because Dan’s tummy is still feeling funny.

Yesterday we went on a tour that included the Ban Po Museum and the Terracotta Warriors museum, then in the evening we had fantastic street food at the Muslim Quarter.

Unfortunately I enjoyed the night bazaar at the Muslim Quarter more than the statue of the warriors. Maybe I built it up too much but I still found it amazing.

I’m not used to seeing Dan this sick, hopefully he feels better today.

***

I just got back from breakfast, turns out Lisa didn’t go with Andre and Yun so she and I had a good conversation over breakfast reminiscing about our experience at our own universities, protesting for a cause and talking about life and the choices we made and will make.

It’s nearly noon and Dan is still in bed, but that’s alright ’cause today we plan to just take it easy and visit sites around the city.

TO BE CONTINUED…





China Travelogue III

12 11 2008

October 8, 2008

Dan and I are at a coffee shop in my company’s Shanghai office. We just got back from a quick trip to the Bund. It was quick because we didn’t really enjoy our foray into construction land, accompanied with dust and persistent hawkers.

Hawkers. It reminds me of one observation I had in Hong Kong. I noticed most of the signs I saw had Tagalog translations to them, which goes to show how much of the population is made up of Pinoys.

Anyway, going back to what I’m supposed to write about. Shanghai this time around is a different experience.

I feel like calling this city a “city under construction.” The Jing’an temple was under construction, our hotel’s facade was hidden, or partly hidden, by a flyover under construction and finally, the Bund was under construction.

I don’t mean to sound negative, I did enjoy several things about Shanghai, like riding the Maglev at 430km/h and having cocktails atop the Jinmao Tower, and of course eating street food and dumplings at the Old Town.

We met up with our friends Andre and Yun and Andre’s mum Elisa yesterday when we flew in but the three of them have gone ahead to the next city in our itinerary. Now Dan and I are killing time and regaining our strength after five straight days of traveling and sightseeing and suffering a slight case of the squits. Haha. I suspect it was due to the smelly tofu.

We’re flying off to Xian in a couple of hours. We reshuffled our itinerary a bit because we couldn’t get any tickets for the overnight train to Beijing and all the flights are expensive. My head hurts a bit and I’m feeling a bit lethargic like I was just on a return trip to Manila from Tanay, Rizal in an open-air jeepney. Hehe.

TO BE CONTINUED…





China Travelogue II

11 11 2008

October 8, 2008

On our last day in Hong Kong we went back up Victoria Peak again because the rain had let up and the sun shone a bit. Paying another $66 HKD was well worth it because we finally saw the skyline.

After the Peak we took the MTR to Tung Chung Station and got into the Ngong Ping 360, which is a tourist trap that takes you to a fake traditional village with its own Starbucks. For a moment I felt dirty and hypocritical drinking watered down coffee while walking the stretch of souvenir shops and scripted “traditional” tours.

After Ngong Ping, our next stop was the Golden City Computer Center which was Dan’s version of techie heaven.

I forgot to mention that the dirty touristy feeling I felt at Ngong Ping was redeemed when we went up the 260 steps to see the 40-foot Buddha statue and it was completely eradicated when we lit several incense sticks to pray at the Po Lin temple. Lighting up the incense sticks and praying left us with a kind of serenity and contentment that we walked silently back to the cable car station.

Our stay in Hong Kong was capped off with a good seafood meal and three huge 640mL bottles of San Miguel beer (Dan’s first taste of Pinoy beer) at a food stall near the Temple St. night market. It was, again, surreal and very special to have Dan with me at this spot thousands of miles away from home.

I would say the highlights of this leg of the trip were seeing the Symphony of Lights show, offering incense sticks and praying with Dan at the Po Lin Monastery and the very filling seafood dinner with San Miguel at a Temple St. food stall.

TO BE CONTINUED…