About Me

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Whitestone, New York, United States
I just recently finished teaching English in China for the past 2 years. This year I will be studying Chinese at Shenzhen University. I graduated from F.I.T. in 07', my major was Illustration. For now art will be put to the side and my adventures in China will begin :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hong Kong

Yesterday I went to Hong Kong. I went because I wanted to buy a new small digital camera and Hong Kong is the place to go if you know the price and how to bargain. So I went with Shedisha. Getting there is kinda a trip on it's own. Hong Kong is not part of china so you need your passport and a valid visa to get back into china. You literally go through customs and fill out forms. A teller stares at you as if they are going to say "this is not you..." and not let you through. But in the end I made it with no problem. There are these people there with thermometers that run up on you and point it in your face to make sure you don't have AIDS or something! O.o Shedisha told me she got scanned on the way back last time. I was almost hoping they would... I mean come on Shedisha and i should be prime targets for some crazy foreigners disease... but alas not this time.

We walk over the river in a totally enclosed walkway to Hong Kong. At this moment you are in no man's land. You're not in China nor Hong Kong. Rachel suggested we do a dance, but I think I will save that for the next trip. I was on a mission and I had places to go. We arrive on the Hong Kong side just to go through the whole give papers and passport routine again. Which I found kinda silly cause you seriously can't go anywhere once you pass through the first check point. But I guess it's just procedure. So they stamp my passport a few times and now I'm officially in Hong Kong.

Now I understand that this may be really cheap of me, but we need to get rail passes and those damn things cost $39. Oh yeah Hong Kong uses their own version of a dollar for those that don't know. So yeah I thought that was ridiculous. Especially while in Shenzhen I never pay more than 10 kuai to go from one side of the city to the other. Here I just wanna get to the city center area and they wanna rape me with a $39 price tag, and that's just one way. O.o We buy our tickets and head into town. Now sorry Gary if you read this but at first I thought you were named after a train station. But thank God it was Kow Loon Tong and not KaLung Tang, but it did made me laugh for a bit.

We go to meet a new friend of Shedisha's. She went the previous weekend to get her hair done by a wonderful African lady. Shedisha was there so late that the lady made her dinner and let her stay the night. Her name is Mary. When I go back I will definitely take a pic with her, she's really pretty too! She speaks French and has a wicked accent, it's pretty cool. So we meet with her for a bit to use her comp. She promises that next time we come she will cook us some jalaf rice, not sure what it will taste like but Shedisha swears i'll love it. So Mary tells us where the best places to go shopping for cameras are. So we head off to there.

To sum up the whole shopping thing we basically walked into several stores asking for the camera I was interested in, what's the price, and what does it come with. All of them are out of the price range that I was willing to pay which was quite discouraging. Until we stumble into another store and the dude there finally was the first person willing to bargain with me unlike the previous stores. Oh before I forget, nearly everyone speaks some bit of enlgish in Hong Kong which definitely was a welcome break from trying to buy things with my limited mando. He tells me a price much closer to what I wanted to pay so I go check a few more stores and decide to get it from him. I was originally gonna get a Cannon since I like thier cameras and that's what I am used to. I paid for the Cannon and he keeps talking to me as he waits for the other guy to get it. He asks me why am I getting that particular model. The reason I wanted it was because it had the best ISO for the Cannon cameras at 8 megapixels. He then proceeds to hand me another camera telling me that this one is way better. I understand this is his job, so I entertain him by looking at it. It's a Pentax which I know of. He takes pics with the Pentax and the Cannon showing me the difference. The Pentax kinda blows the Cannon out the water. And the ISO is 6400 versus 1600 on the Cannon. So I ask how much and it's almost $1000 more. I tell him thanx, but it's way too much!! He tells me that he'll give me a special price and lowers it to $1800. I still tell him it's too much. I tell him I live in China, i'm not a tourist with American dollars to spend, I have chinese money. He asks why are we here in China and we tell him, we are teachers. His face lights up, he tells me he will give me a really special price because we are teaching his Chinese people English and now drops down to $1600. This is now $300 more than the Cannon. I sit and think for a sec and he has me sold. I buy the pentax. He hands me his card and tells me to send friends to him for their camera needs. I thank him again and I go skipping into the sunset with my spiffy new camera at half the original asking price. So I did take a couple of pics of Hong Kong. I can't figure out at the moment how to move pics in this blog to differnt parts instead of it going to the top. So when I figure that out, I will edit this and stick the pics in. But all in all, it was a good day and I got something better than what I wanted and at a great price too.

Part 2

Hello there my friends. Sorry to take so long to get to part 2 but I was kinda busy this past week. So here we go. We take the 3 hour ride down to Sanya. Now we thought it would be a van since there were 4 of us, but no we get a sedan and I get the middle seat. If this was home then I would have no problem, but the middle seat in a chinese car means a dead to the world butt. My butt was numb within the first 1/2 hour and was just painful after that. Rachel however was nice enough to offer her behind for the middle seat for the last 1/2 hour which was definitely a welcome move!

We get to the hostel and go to check in. To save some money we want to see if we can have all 4 of us in a room. But of course to rip us off, they won't let us do that, so we split into separate rooms, not before Rachel tries to argue and fails. Later however the clerk lady said she talked to her boss and said tomorrow night we can all be in one room. Of course it's not really a problem it's just that they thought we were some silly tourists that didn't know better. So that night we go to a restaurant down the block called Rainbow, which we pretty much have all our meals henceforth. Not just because this is a western restaurant but also because the food is really good and there are many choices. I don't think I ate the same thing twice.

Now we did arrive while a typhoon was passing so it was on and off raining quite a bit. We spent the next afternoon trying to find Lauren a good bathing suit, which turned into a bathing suit that fit and wasn't atrocious. You would think with all the tourists and the large amount of Russian immigrants that they would have western sizes but they don't. I came to the conclusion that they hid the real stuff in the back just to make all the westerners feel God awful fat! So after a lot of searching we finally finish tired and a bit defeated, so we go to Rainbow to figure out what the game plan for tomorrow is. We go to the hostel's lobby and on the wall there are many package deals to do different things in Sanya. We look through them and decide that tomorrow we wanted to try the scuba diving and then go to the hot spring. We pay and plan to get up super early.

We wake up and get ready and head to the lobby. We are met by one of the owners who kinda has an attitude off the bat but we brush it off since that's not too uncommon here when someone thinks they are above you. She takes us a few blocks away to the water and to the scuba center. She leaves us there and we start to suit up. The entire instruction was in chinese but thankfully Rachel is PADI certified. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's an international certification to scuba without having someone attached to your hip trying to tell you what to do. Also she is certified to dive to 30 meters, much farther than a novice is allowed to go. So while they are bringing the new group for instruction, Rachel runs through the basics with us so we aren't clueless. I did think that it was strange that the chinese instructor didn't talk too much about how to use the tank.

We take a little golf cart thingy to another end of the beach and wait. We are half dressed in wet suits and the most mortifying part of this whole ordeal was getting these disgusting (in my opinion) wet shoes on. If you know me you know I HATE FEET!!! so yeah... that was very hard! We wait and wait, while sitting there I look at the water to see where the boats are. I want to gauge how long it takes for each group to go and come back. Only because there are a shit ton of people here and I was just hoping we wouldn't sit there forever. So I'm watching and watching but I see no boats. All I see is a group of people floating in about waist deep water and flapping all over the place and coming back. So when it's our turn we ask the guy by the water what the deal is. Because we paid to scuba dive, not to "wanna be" snorkel in scuba gear and see nothing since there's about 20 people in about 50 square feet of water. He pretty much tells us no this is it. We ask if we can swim out since Rachel is certified, he says no. So peeved.... we leave and go back to the hostel to get our money back cause that was just total BS!

The hostel gives us our money back without too much problem. This leads me to believe that this is not the first time someone has had problems with the scuba place. Cause in China if you want your money back you need to fight tooth and nail for it. If they just hand it to you it means that they know it was bogus to begin with. So slightly annoyed that we wasted the whole day on this, we go to Rainbow to eat and plan to go to the hot spring for the night.

Hmm I'm thinking this calls for Part 3 :)... to be continued...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A long time coming.

Part 1 - because my hand cramps when i type too long... -_-

Well kiddies sorry I have been gone for a while. It was a matter of being busy, tired, lazy, and just not around. But I shall try to make light of what has passed these few weeks. First there was the vacation. Here there is a holiday called National Day (October 1). This holiday is quite amazing because most everyone gets off from work/school for a whole week. So this was awesome, but at first it was kinda bad cause I did not have my passport back yet from the god knows who bureau that gives you your visa. So I didn't want to make any plans since I wasn't sure if I could do anywhere. Some of you may be thinking... just travel in China. It's not that simple. Here in Shenzhen there is a special border. The inner districts are part of what they call the SEZ (special economic zone). In order to get in you need working papers or a Visa. So there was the off chance that if I traveled when i would try to come back into the SEZ I would be asked for papers and not let back in because of the lack of them. So I didn't want to make any plans until I got my Visa. So when did I get the holy grail...the Friday before the vacay. So the rush planning began.

I knew that I wanted to travel with someone who knew a thing or two about picking up and going somewhere. So who better I thought than Rachel and to my excitement Rachel would be traveling with Lauren and Taylor. All 3 are returns to China, world travelers and awesome people, so I was glad to go anywhere they were. So I pretty much left the decision making up to them and agreed to go anywhere they thought would be cool. They started looking into flight info to different countries. Some places were crazy expensive, and no shit since we were doing this the weekend before one of the biggest holiday/breaks here. Then we found a few that weren't too bad but there was a problem... these were all online deals and they all required a credit card. None of us had one or if we did it was a bank card and no one had the amount of cash we needed to pay for it. So then they tried travel agencies. The prices ballooned to a crazy amount leaving us bewildered. We soon talk and agree upon a place called Sanya. It is on Hainan Island just west and south of us. It is nicknamed the Hawaii of China but soon would be known for nothing of the sort.

It is now Monday, I have a small suitcase packed with random stuff since we only decide on Sanya in the local starbucks that day. We buy the tickets that afternoon and head to the airport. The Shenzhen airport isn't bad at all. And my most favorite thing ever is when they say a flight will be leaving at 9:40 it is in the air at that time. No horrible taxi-ing for an hour. But one thing that made me laugh was when the announcements were telling you that the plane was gonna take off soon they literally said... flight blah blah blah is going to be leaving soon please make your way to the gate. Soon O.o! what is that... like 20 minutes....5 minutes.... only in china would they say soon at an airport and not a definite time frame. Ahh that also falls into the maybe category, i will explain that one soon, lol. No really I will but the maybe explanation is it's own post i think.

Ok so back to the story.. damn sidebars... So yeah we take a nice short 45 minute plane ride... sweet huh? And then we arrive to the lovely pit pat of typhoon rain. We have landed right as a small one is passing over, but we don't let that get us down. We stand in the lobby area trying to decide where we are going, since we landed on the other side of the island and Sanya is a 3 hour bus ride away. Lucky for us we briefly talked to a nice lady (American) who actually lives in Hainan, she sees us standing there and asks where we are off to. We tell her we have no clue and she offers to take us into town to find a hotel to stay for the night and in the morning we can make our way to Sanya. We are totally grateful but soon i am conflicted with this act of kindness. Because she is meeting up with her family. A husband and 4 kids. They do have a cool van but who do i get sat down next to... the 10 year old. Now if any of you know me personally you can imagine what I will say next. I thought I was gonna shoot myself in the face..... That little girl talked my ear off like there was no tomorrow -_- I hate children and this was karma getting back at me. We rode in the van for what felt like days... until i saw freedom on the horizon and it was a hotel.

The nice woman walked us into the lobby, did her Chinese thing and got us a room for 400 kuai when it was a business suite that usually costs 1,600 kuai a night. Now those are some china skills. We thank her and settle into the room. It's very nice, 2 beds, western bathroom and a computer with internet. The last was the most important because we used this to look up where we would be staying in Sanya. Both Rachel and Lauren had been here before so when the hostel that Lauren had stayed in showed availability we decided that was where we would stay. So the next day we head out. The hotel offered the night before to order us a private car to take us to Sanya. The car costs the same as the bus which would've made a million stops and therefor taken longer. So we opt for the car and make our way to Sanya.

Part 2 next time... fingers need a break.