Travel

My holiday in China

September 3, 2011 · 0 comments

It’s been almost two weeks since I returned from China, and it’s time I updated my blog. Below is some notes I wrote during it, but which didn’t complete. I’ll complete it below these notes….

11 August 2011, 11:50pm

I’m sitting here on the plane to China, after having had something to eat and drink. But I think I need a coffee… or not. It’s almost midnight and I’m very tired… I really should get some sleep, we’re arriving in Guangzhou at about 6am local time, which I think is another 8 hours from now…

It’s very exciting! There’s some kind of Hong Kong movie on the monitors, but I can’t be stuffed plugging the headphones in to understand it properly, although there’s English subtitles on the screen as well. Meh… I just want to type this up and then get some sleep.

But maybe I can watch an episode of Warehouse 13 before I go to sleep… that could work out quite nicely. 🙂

So I’m on my way to China. It’s been a dream of mine to go to China for God knows how many years now. And now I’m on my way…

I’m going to try and keep an ongoing record of everything. Even if I can’t update my blog online, I’ll keep a record on the laptop.The exciting thing is that this my first ever experience of flying to a non-English speaking country, so everything’s in Chinese, I’m surrounded by Chinese, and everyone’s speaking it…. It’s very cool!

12 August 2011, 8:20am

I’m sitting in another plane in Guangzhou, but we’re not flying. We’re sitting on the tarmac, delayed due to bad weather in Shanghai. Not sure how long we’re going to be sitting here, but a stewardess just went past me with a trolley of refreshments, so it could be a while…

There was a small emergency during the stopover in Guangzhou… My friend wasn’t able to get in touch with his wife (who had come over 10 days ago) so he was panicking a bit, but finally managed to get in touch with her.

It was funny because he had to use my phone because he hadn’t wanted to pay for global roaming himself, although it would have made things easier for him. And then he tried to find the phone number of the hotel we were staying at, in the hope she was there, but one of the locals was unable to get the right phone number on his phone, so it was me to the rescue again with my global roaming able to get the hotel’s website on the iPhone and call it to find out that everything was ok. Yay!

So we’ve been on the plane for an hour now, and have had something to eat and drink. I wonder how much longer we’ll be here…

17 August 6:20pm

I’ve been bad, not updating this blog. To be honest, I completely forgot about it! I’ve been doing occasional updates on Facebook instead.

I’m in a van at the moment, returning to Shanghai from Huangzhou where we’ve been for the day. About 10 of us in the group. I wanted to add a few observations about China….

* It’s hot and humid, more so than I’ve ever experienced before. Every day, I’m usually sweating like a pig, and my shirts are so wet it’s like I’ve been drenched with water. It’s terrible! Surprisingly, I haven’t been debilitated by it like I have been by the Australian heat, apart from the feeling of being wet all the time…

* Shanghai people are crazy, particularly when they’re driving, and especially taxi drivers. There’s a general feeling I get that they have absolutely no regard for any laws, nor do they have any regard or care about each other. The level of chaos exhibited by them as they’re driving is just insane. Those that can’t afford cars ride scooters or bicycles, and they usually dodge and weave between each other and the cars on the road.

The roads are just chaos, with pretty much everyone doing what they want, how they want. When accidents occur, everyone involved keep driving, unless their car is unable to be driven. And then they get beeped at and abused by everyone that has to drive around them. No one stops, no one cares, except for the fact they’re personally inconvenienced by someone else’s problems. It’s amazing.

* Shanghai is huge. There’s more people in this city than there is in all of Australia, and it feels like it. As you drive around, there are high-rise residency buildings as far as the eye can see, with most of them looking very much worn out. The new buildings are few and far between, except for the city centre areas. Then they’re amazing and beautiful, but again, I get a strong feeling that there’s a huge difference between the average (poor) Chinese and those that frequent these wealthy areas.

* Being the wealthy foreigners that me and those in our group are, there’s a distinct feeling that in relation to what the average Chinese can afford, we are Gods. We went into a fancy restaurant while hundreds of Chinese people were lining up for a takeaway section, and they looked at us with envy. The number of looks I got from Chinese was amazing, as they looked at my camera, at my hat, at my shoes…

Today I had a Chinese man gesture at me and his camera and he got his girlfriend to take a picture of him with me. I guess that to many of these people, having a photo taken with a smiling white foreigner is about the same as us having photos taken with celebrities. Something we can brag about to others in some fashion (although I’ve never really understood why that’s so important to people…).

* Food is amazingly cheap here, but items are either about the same price or more expensive than back in Australia. I was surprised by that. I went to buy a new camera as an upgrade to my current camera, and discovered that I can get it for about 25% less in Australia… So needless to say I gave up on that idea and will do it when I get back home.

Back to the food… A meal here is about AU$5-15 depending on the quality, with the equivalent in Australia being about $20-$50. It’s been great. A bottle of water costs AU$0.20 cents…

3 September 2011

After settling back into the normal routine of Australia, China really feels like another world, completely foreign to this one. So many people, completely oblivious to the luxuries we take for granted in Australia.

(I purposefully don’t use the term ‘Western world’ because I know all countries are different, and I can only compare with Australia. I’m sure that if I visited the USA, for example, that would seem like ‘another world’ too…)

I really can’t find anything else to add that I haven’t already covered above. Shanghai was too hot, too humid, too busy, too dirty, too uncaring.

Hmm… You know, as I think about it closely, the feeling I have is that Chinese men don’t care and don’t speak English, whereas Chinese women seemed far more approachable and spoke English more than the men… I wonder if that’s a normal thing in Shanghai, or if it was a flawed observation…

Anyway, even though I met some nice people (only women…), and took hundreds of great photos, I really don’t feel any urge to go back there. Next year I plan on visiting Hong Kong and Guangzhou (where Fanfan is from), and I hear they’re much better places to visit. I’ll let you know. 🙂

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So I took the Toyota FJ Cruiser out for a test drive last weekend, and I wasn’t disappointed at all.

The drive was excellent. The seats were very comfortable with my back, and my passengers thought the rear seats were comfortable too – they weren’t expecting them to be as comfortable as they were. I also asked about leg room, and they felt that there was enough room to be comfortable for maybe a couple of hours of being in the back. I was happy about that, since I’d be stopping every couple of hours on long-distance journeys.

The suspension was excellent. Unlike the Toyota Prado, it didn’t ‘wallow’ when going around corners or when accelerating or braking. Body roll was minimal, considering it was a large vehicle. I also went off the road at one point and onto the dirt beside it, just to test the suspension on some rough ground. There were some ruts in the dirt, and doing about 50kmh over them didn’t result in any great jarring – the suspension covered it up quite nicely.

So after a 20-minute drive, I was disappointed that I had to stop and hand the keys back… I decided that this would be the one I’ll end up getting. So I entered into financial negotiations to get some ideas on pricing. Reasonable. But there’s only one problem….

If I was to order now, delivery won’t be until October. That’s 5 months away, and because I’d be trading in my car, it means I would be without a car for 5 months!

That’s not acceptable, so I’m going to wait until delivery times are less than a month, and then I’ll make the deal. So I’ll just keep an eye on the FJ Cruiser forums and see what people are being told about delivery times. when it’s less than a month, I’m in!

If there’s any way of getting it sooner, however, then I’ll be grabbing it faster than a beggar fighting with a pigeon over bread.

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Traveling and off-roading

30 April 2011

I’ve been spending a great deal of my spare time lately doing some research into 4WD vehicles. I have quite a few ‘must haves’ though, which include: – the ability to handle most off-road situations – a comfortable drivers seat for my bad back over very long distances – good leg room and comfort for […]

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Becoming a travel blogger

2 April 2011

A few months ago, as I was returning home from a trip to Melbourne, I was thinking about how much I enjoy traveling, photography, and blogging. I was thinking about how enjoyable it would be to combine them all into one activity, and actually earn some money doing something I really enjoy. I thought about […]

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I’ve won a new award!

31 March 2011

Back in 2009 I won an award for 6th best blog about life and travel in Australia and New Zealand. I’ve just been notified that I’ve won it again for 2011.  That’s pretty cool. Thank you Tripbase!

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Themes

4 February 2011

Continuing on with the theme of travel, I’m traveling to Sydney tomorrow to catch up with my friend Peter. I’m supposed to be meeting a friend of his who is apparently very insightful on a spiritual level, and I’m going to be a guinea pig for her. She’s starting a business doing readings for people, […]

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Roaming around

31 January 2011

I’ve called this ‘roaming around’ because I’ve been doing a lot of that lately I’ve been traveling quite a bit over the past few months; every month has seen me traveling somewhere interstate, sometimes multiple times.I think all this roaming around is a reflection of my roaming mind…. I’ve had a lot on my mind […]

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I’m in Melbourne

16 January 2011

I’m writing this while in bed, at my friend Scot’s place, in Melbourne. I drove down from Canberra yesterday, taking 6.5 hours to do so, and I’ll be driving back tomorrow. On the way down I saw signs to places that I’ve always wanted to visit – tomorrow I will. These places are Ettamoogah Pub, […]

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And now for something completely different

7 January 2008

An update! Oh wait, that’s not completely different…. Oh well, you’ll just have to accept it anyway. It’s taken me this long to recover from our holiday, so I hope you can forgive me for not writing. I haven’t really been ‘recovering’ as such, I just haven’t felt like writing anything, but that changes today. […]

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The latest changes

19 December 2007

If there’s one thing that’s constant in my life, it’s change. I can always rely on everything to change, regardless of how much I want to settle down, or how much I think things have settled down. Change will always remind me that I can’t rely on anything to stay the same. My contract finishes […]

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