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John and Dean's China adventure

Shopping in Zhuhai

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After spending 4 hours on the computer and many hours of discussion, we are not going to Thailand this weekend. It seems that with all the unrest and the Government take down, it's not a stable place to travel. A bit bummed since is was relatively inexpensive and so close. We are contemplating Shanghai for next week. Not sure yet.

Dean skipped school yesterday but brought his teacher Li Yu with us to the most complete antique market here in Zhuhai.
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It was an extensive collection of furniture, doors and statues you name it they had it. We walked for hours from shop to shop. For a moment I wanted to open a store in Los Angeles and house everything I saw there. Then I remembered that we are in a recession and so many people are out of work and I should stick to my day job. Dean's teacher was the best shopping buddy we've had since Danny. She knows how to bargain. You bargain for everything here. If they start at 500 you come back at 200 and end of paying 250. It's crazy fun. Dean can't stand doing this but I love it. I'm half way out of a shop and you here this voice in the background saying "okay Okay OKAY" I go back and they have lowered the price to 250. The shop keepers are so firm in the beginning but then they melt once you start to leave. Sometime they don't melt and they don't go any lower and you just keep walking. No voice coming from behind other than the voice in my head saying "do I really want that".

On the way back Dean tried to talk us into stopping at the car dealers lots. Every make and model of car you can't buy in the states. Our driver Lee and Dean have been threatening to make us walk the lots for a while now. Both of them are always pointing out this car or that car. Peugeot has two very cool models here that we don't have in the states and did I mention the BMW 1 series?? I'm sure I did, its a beautiful. Li Yu and I had had enough of shopping and decided that car shopping would have be another day. We had so much fun.

Posted by JohnVosler 18:15 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

John and Dean's China adventure

Hong Kong

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It only took a little over an hour by ferry to get to Hong Kong. Dean was worried about the seats so he bought the upgraded ones. When we got on we went up a flight of stairs to what looked like business class seating. I was thrilled, great seats great view. It wasn't until the lady pointed to a set of doors did I realize what upgrade meant. We opened the doors to our own cabin. A private room with a view. It may have only been an hour and a half trip but it was so worth it. I just want to add here how everything is so reasonably priced. Yes, if you want to buy and original Prada bag it will cost you but from the food to transportation its very reasonably. No, I didn't buy anybody a Prada bag. Anyway, back to Hong Kong.

We arrived at the Ferry station and walked to the Sheraton. I found the hotel online. It was in the heart of Kowloon. I highly recommend it. Good hotel with exceptional service. Location location location. You could walk right outside and you were in the heart of it all. You could take the Star ferry to Hong Kong island or go downstairs to the subway. It was so easy to get around. We only used a cab once and that was on the way back to the ferry when we left.

Our room had an incredible view of Hong Kong.
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We took the ferry over to Hong Kong Island and road up on the Peak Tram, checked out the city's skyline and harbour from the Peak Tower Sky Terrace. Walked for hours through Lan Kwai Fong, Soho and then back to the star ferry to Kowloon. We ate like there was no tomorrow. Food of all kinds, I wanted italian and Dean wanted chinese, of course. We met some nice people from Australia and Sweden. It's so fun to travel.
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It felt good to be back in civilization. Nobody was spitting, they even had signs that said "no hawking". I meant to take a picture of it but we were moving to fast. Okay, I have to share a pet peeve of mine. People in China spit ALL the time. They hawk loogies and out they go. One time we were eating and this lady came right up next to our table hawked one and spit it out literally 2 feet from me in to an ash tray. Yes I know it was better there then the floor but COME ON!! A guy at breakfast the other day held a tissue a foot from his face, as if he were taking aim at a target. AND it's no big deal to them. It's just what they do. I know this is my issue and I'm working on it. I even tried spitting with them, but after a while I couldn't do it anymore. Now I just turn away as they start to load up... no reaction.

The other uncouth thing they do is pick at their faces and clip their nails while they are talking or selling you something. I walked out of a DVD store the other day because this guy wouldn't stop picking at his zits. I was hoping he'd be less uncouth in public but nooo. They need a class on etiquette. WHEW!! Sorry about that it just came out of me. How did I get here? Oh yeah, Hong Kong was a very sophisticated city.
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Hong Kong had turned into a Christmas capital right before our eyes. Everything was Christmas.. Lights on the buildings, stores, buses, shops.
It was my first entry into this years holiday season. It was a bit disconcerting sitting in the coffee shop listening to the little drummer boy on the speakers. I wasn't expecting SO much Christmas fanfare here. I wasn't alone.

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Hong Kong is thriving. I could easily live here. You wouldn't even think of the word recession let alone slow down. The people here are shopping like it's the end of the world. Phones, camera's, suits, shoes you name it they sell it. I will be back.
Oops I almost forgot. Another wedding picture but this time it's the whole family.
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Posted by JohnVosler 20:59 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

John and Dean's China adventure

On the way to Hong Kong

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It's been a while since I checked in and I've received a few e-mails reminding of this, so here is a little update. We are now back in Zhuhai after a trip to Hong Kong. The night before we left we did have a little excitement though. We had just finished doing Tai Chi and I wanted to show our instructor, Wong, the Machatz Self Defense studio web site. I wanted to show him the other techniques I was studying in the states. I tried many different ways to visit the web site but no luck. So I decided to google search the type of martial art I was talking about. It was an Israeli self defense technique. The next thing you know I was googling away and ended up on a German site, then another site which was written in Arabic and then another that was talking about nuclear war and yet another that was showing me techniques on how to kill the enemy and protect myself. I couldn't believe all the information I was able to access, normally China has such tight control over what web sites you can visit. I started feeling a little bit paranoid so I quit the search. I remember reading about people being monitored while they were on skype and others having had their e-mails read, it was all a bit eerie.

A little while later, after our teacher left, Dean started dinner and I sat down to look over my homework when there was a knock at the door. I thought maybe it was Wong and he'd forgotten something. Dean opened the door and there stood two plain clothed officers with their badges out and one of the security guards from downstairs. They wanted our passports and wanted to know whose apartment this was.... Okay, yes for a brief second I thought.. OH MY GOD THEY'VE COME FOR ME!! Why did I visit those dam web sites. They must have been monitoring my computer. Now what???

By the time I got to the door Dean was telling them, in chinese, that he wanted to talk to someone who spoke english. One of the guys put his badge away and pulled out a cell phone and dialed the office. I went to get the passports and when I got back Dean was on the phone charming the lady on the other end. Seems we didn't register with the police as required by the Chinese goverment of all foreign national. They wanted us to follow them down the street to make copies and then go to the police station to register, but Dean had other plans. Now speaking fluent chinese, he said we would make the copies tonight but that we wouldn't be going to the police station until we returned from Hong Kong.

By this time he had the two guys and the girl on the phone laughing and smiling. The other guy was a stone, all business. Long story longer we walked down the street to make copies and then back to the apartment to our now cold dinner. Excitement living abroad. Again, I don't know what I would've done had Dean not been there to straighten things out. His ability to make everyone feel comfortable and at ease is remarkable. ALL IN CHINESE!!! He continues to astonish me..
No I didn't get a picture of the police at the door so instead here is a picture of Dean on the way to Hong Kong.
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Posted by JohnVosler 03:42 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

John and Dean's China adventure

Living in Zhuhai

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I woke up again to the song "Scarborough Fair" coming from the street cleaning truck. Very peaceful morning with an unbelievable sunrise.

We've settled into our apartment in Zhuhai, across the boarder from Macao and across the bay from Hong Kong. I have to say it's a lovely coastal city. The view from our apartment is spectacular. One side is the ocean and the other side is the mountain. If you look out the kitchen you can see a local massage place, with all it's neon lights. Yes, massage and shopping are big here. Everywhere you go someone is trying to sell you something, including a "massagie". That's the way it sounds when they say it. We can walk everywhere, shop locally and even walk to Macao for some gambling, not that we have but we could.

We've met some very nice people who've helped us get acclimated. We joined the gym, started our chinese classes and Tai Chi.

I got my first haircut here and let me tell you it was right out of the movies. The first movie that came to my head was "Being John Malkovich" because as I ascended the stairs to the shampoo bowl I had to duck because the ceiling was so low. I was hunched over the entire time I went down the hall until I entered a room with two beds that where table height, each had a sink at the end. It was very private, almost to private. There was two girls standing over a guy who was laying down on this bed/ table with his head suspended over a black sink. The girls where tapping his forehead and pinching his skin. The guy was making some odd sounds. The young lady who brought me into the room gave me a little shove and pointed to the other bed next to them. I wasn't sure I was in the right place. I laid down for all of two seconds when one of the girls starts talking really, really fast in chinese. She was trying to get me to sit up and was helping me take my shirt off. I jumped up and and forgot the ceiling was half the size and smacked my head. Everyone laughed and pointed at me. That seemed to have broken the ice, let alone my head.

Everyone was a bit nervous because I was there, little did they know, so was I. I was envious of the guy next to me not just because he had a great head of hair but that he was chatting away with these two girls. Every once and a while I would open my eyes and look over to see why they had stopped talking only to see three other girls in the doorway staring at me, then they would run off giggling. I must have been quite amusing to them. She stuck my head in the bowl and away we went. First shampoo then massage, then conditioner and then more massage, then came the tapping on the forehead, chinese torture, the the skin pinching around the eyes and temple. Don't get me wrong I love giving and getting massages but this was more like a facial treatment. I kept thinking of the time I went t for my first and last facial. PAINFUL.

Then came the resting part. She covered my head with a towel and then massaged my arms, hands and legs, it felt so good. She flipped me over and started working on my back and neck. She was still talking a mile a minute to the other girl. The guy on the table next to me fell asleep and was softly snoring. They started to laugh I knew they were laughing at him snoring, right? Or where they still laughing at me hitting my head? I didn't know so I decided to try out my trusty Lonely Planet application on my iphone. MANDARIN! I pushed a couple of buttons to start it up and the next thing I know everything stopped. I wasn't getting massaged anymore and the the other girl stopped massaging her client. They circled around my table and they were fascinated with my toy. No not THAT toy.
I pushed the pad that said thank you and out of my little phone came a chinese voice that said Xiexie, thank you in chinese, the girls just giggled with joy. Then I accidently pushed "are you married", and both said no and blushed a shade of red I've never seen before. I kept pushing more buttons and they kept laughing, until finally the guy on the other table woke up and realized what was up and the next thing you know we were all communicating. By the time I left I had made three new friends and a haircut.

Posted by JohnVosler 17:40 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

John and Dean's China adventure

Chongqing

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We left Xian at the crack of dawn. I was a little spent from the previous day's activities. Chongqing was a transition city for us. We had the day to run around the city and then embark the Yangtze cruiser. I was ready for a couple of down days. We did the fast version of Chongqing, get us to the highest point of your city and let us look around to get our bearings.
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see a garden or two.
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Then we found a starbucks with wifi and spent the next two hours e-mailing and getting news on the election. The guy behind the counter gave me his itouch with Obama's acceptance speech on it and my friend Christine sent me a couple of links to watch. For some reason I can't get the Huffington Post in China, wonder why? :-) I felt connected again for just that moment. Watching it was exhilarating. I handed back the ipod/itouch to the guy behind the counter and off to the boat.
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We settled into our room and unpacked, we were going to be stay put for almost 5 days. We went up on deck for our safety meeting and ran into the couple from South Dakota again. The couple we had met in Xian. It's a small world. We met a nice Chinese family on the boat. We shared the dinner table with them. She and her husband were from San Francisco, and they brought her mother to see her sister in China.. One sister fled to Taiwan and the other was trapped in mainland China. They hadn't seen much of one another for many years, so the family brought them together on this cruise. One was 82 and the other was 88. The older one LOVED Dean. She enjoyed watching him eat and speak Chinese. Together they decided what was good chinese food and what wasn't. The rest of the table just followed them.
We made friends with so many people on the boat. We met two nice Danish couples. A couple of Brits and the Chinese family. The river offered amazing views and vistas. The Three Gorge Dam was huge. We were luck to see it with it's gates open and flowing. The power it generates was palpable. Here are a few pictures of the Dam and Yangtze River.
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The River was extremely calming and relaxing. A lot of time for reflections and talking.
We both had time to think about where we wanted to live. We had come to the decision that it was Zhuhai. The weather, the size and location. Dean wanted Suzhou and I wanted Hangzhou but we both liked Zhuhai. Now it was time to eat drink and gorge, what's new as we traveled down the Yangtze river through the three gorges.

Posted by JohnVosler 01:50 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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