Monday, April 30, 2007

okay, it's been a week on the road so far, and i'm ready to share it with you, dear readers. i landed in bangkok, found a room at a hostel that was relatively cheap although not bottom rung as i was unwilling to sacrifice AC. i set off walking around town, where i quickly got lost, then found myself rejected from entrance to the Grand Palace due to inappropriate attire. not one to be discouraged, i hopped on an express boat down the river, which apparently you're supposed to pay for, but no one told me. i ended up in siam square, the ultramodern new shopping area. i walked around the food court for about an hour, feeling pretty stupid cuz i thought they'd have less stuff than Beijing but they've even got an au bon pain! that brought a tear to my eye, as the only sandwich chain we've got is subway. then i went to see a 3D movie about africa. random, i know, but i didn't have much else to do, and it was worth it because i got to see the 2 minute clip proceeding all movies in thailand, which shows footage of their king from 40 years ago, with an extremely cheesy song sung by young thai children in the background. we all had to stand up for it. the next day i flew to chiangmai, where i met up with heidi, a good friend of my friend annie. she had a friend living there, so we got to ride all over town on his motorbike, and saw some cool temples and drank coffee brewed on their mountain. then we rode an un-air-conditioned bus to the town of pai, not a bad ride although we came close to being hit by a girl's projectile vomit. pai was an awesome place, i'd recommend it to anyone travelling in the area. it was small and chill, and you could rent motorbikes and drive out to see waterfalls and stuff. we met some cool travellers there, with whom we shared a nice night at a bar during a torrential downpour that threatened to leave us without electricity. we then headed back to chiangmai for more temples and some excellent mango, and then i took an overnight train back to bangkok. oh my god thai food is sooo good. although i must say, everyone was quite enthusiastic about the pad thai you can buy off the street, but the first time i got it there was a huge black hair in it. my hair is not black. um, since i've been back i've been using my time efficiently, i think. yesterday i went to the national museum, and then watched a competition of some game that looks like hackey sack but they are trying to get it into a net in the middle. at night i went to a bangkok lesbian bar, which was pretty fun although there was not a western face in sight. and the drinks were crazy expensive. today i visited the grand palace and wat pho and wat arun (wat means temple, so you hear it a lot over here). i'm trying to decide what book i should buy for the rest of the trip, as the one i'm currently reading is going faster than i had expected, so let me know if you've got any suggestions. i've got one more day in bangkok, and then i fly to kunming, yunnan for the second leg of my trip. i'll update again at some point. sorry, i know i've got lots of interesting thoughts to share about things i've seen and done on this trip, but i can't think of them. maybe in time.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

okay, its the morning of my big trip down to thailand, yunnan, and tibet, and i'm leaving in about ten minutes. i thought i'd do an update because i've got these ten extra minutes, because i am wracked with pre-travel anxiety so i slept about an hour and a half last night. at about 5:30 i finally gave up completely, and got all my stuff together in record time. so anyway, i hear that internet cafes are prevalent in thailand, so i assume that i will be able to do another update down there, so stay tuned for the exciting stuff. right now i am nervous, but also incredibly excited about what i am sure is going to be an intense and character-building journey, and hopefully an awesome one. and i can't help hoping that my hair will get a little blonder. big goals, i've got. okay i'm actually going to try to use this time in a more productive way, so wish me luck, and you'll hear from me soon.

Friday, April 20, 2007

so i was thinking about writing an entry today about the beijing sandstorms. or rather, about the lack of beijing sandstorms. i remember in the winter, when i would talk excitedly about spring coming, my boss would always shake his head and say that spring was hell because of all the wind and dust. i even told my parents that i didn't think they should come visit me in the spring, because it wouldn't be a good time to go outside. and so, i was going to say in this blog entry, i was surprised to see that spring is actually quite nice here, as spring tends to be. the weather has been sunny and warm, i don't have to wear my coat anymore, etc, etc. to call it "hell" would be completely off. but okay so i was thinking about writing this entry as i walked along dongzhimenwai to meet my friend isaac for an all you can eat indian buffet. i was walking along, deep in thought (as i tend to be, i often offend people by not noticing them as i pass them in the street, because i'm just so totally unaware of what's going on around me). walking along, and all of a sudden there is a big gust of wind right in my face, and i say out loud "dust!" then, i think about what i've said, and i look around. people all over are rubbing their eyes and holding their hands over their mouths. oh my god! i experienced a beijing sandstorm. it wasn't the most intense thing in the world, not really akin to other words with "storm" at the end. but it was pretty unpleasant, and i definitely tried to get inside as soon as i could. hooray! i'm a sandstorm survivor!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

so from now on, blog updates may be fewer and more far between. i probably shouldn't have told you that, because i want to keep my blog stats up, but at least i can tell you that my updates, when they do come, will be terribly fascinating. well not this week, because this week i'm at home getting ready for my big journey. after this though, whenever i can find a computer in the wilds of whatever village i find myself in (well i guess they keep the computers in the main part of town, not in the wilds), i will entertain you with tales of the great unknown Orient, and maybe some photos.
also, i don't think i've announced this yet, but i'll be home for three weeks in june, so if you are planning to be in the NY area and you love me, or even like me okay, come say hi. and if there's anything from china that you're dying for, lemme know. note: i can't promise chicken feet. although i have brought them home before, i've heard lots of stories about them being confiscated so while i'll make an effort, i can't ensure that some drug dogs won't sniff out the sweet scent of chicken claw and rip open my bag with their teeth in fervent desire for a taste.
in local news, there's a new russian bakery in my russian grocery store. a new door has appeared in the back, and when you walk in there's a whole room, with cookies and breads and a wide variety of alcohol, apparently an important part of bakeries for russians. its pretty cool, today we went in and tried to find out what's on their menu, which is only in russian. if only i'd learned that alphabet! but it turned out the woman spoke really good chinese, which we were kind of surprise about. based on the sampling of russians that shop in the grocery store, who are probably mostly embassy related, it seems like a lot of the russians in this area speak just pidgeon chinese. which i guess is how embassy people from most countries are. anyway, she introduced us to all the dumplings and stuff in the store, and was very nice and reminded me of the russian women who cut my hair in brooklyn. except she was speaking chinese. um, that is all for today.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Okay, I've just done my first self-censorship. Man, the China fear really gets in your bones. Anyway, it was about this article. See if you can guess what I was gonna say.
Also, today is my last day at work, and I won't be back here full-time until September. So I am pretty darn happy, and on top of that its a beautiful warm day and we went out to a nice thai lunch. Yeah, I am feeling pretty good.
Oh also, for curious minds, the random guy is not coming with us to Yunnan. Things have worked out better, so we're meeting him and another girl when we get to Tibet. Which is only 10 days, so how bad could that be? Maybe I'm tempting fate, pretend I didn't say that.
Man, that first entry, the one i self-censored, was so nice and organized. I think my mind ran out of organization, and now its all just random thoughts. Sorry.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I just have to share this sad news. Equine herpes! I told some people about it at dinner last night, and they all thought it was a joke or something. But, no.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

From a NY Times article about sexual desire-

"For example, 93 to 96 percent of the 655 [female] respondents strongly endorsed statements that linked sexual arousal to 'feeling connected to' or 'loved by' a partner, and to the belief that the partner is 'really interested in me as a person'; they also concurred that they have trouble getting excited when they are 'feeling unattractive'."

Come on, women! this is why we always get made fun of.

Friday, April 06, 2007

and now, for a blog entry in cockney rhyming slang.
yesterday i was drinking my chewy toffee and eating some Holy ghost when the dog and bone rang. it was my China, kind of a Joe soap. he was elephants and started Duke of Corking about his Dutch. turns out she found someone's Dickie Dirt in his jam jar and called him a Ginger and went to her skin and blister's. "Don't pipe your eye. Open your minces, step away from the Mother's ruin, and use your crust!" i said. "She's a dunlop tyre. I bet she's been hit and missing (not to mention plating) some Richard the Third. Now go take a hit and miss [the second meaning], put on your weasel, brush your Barnet, put on your canoes, walk down the apples and pears, and stick your boat in some Toe Rag's Bristols." He said he wanted to be Tod though, so i told him his Trouble was right and he was an Iron.
i know i'm being quite prolific today, but i just wanted to share the big office gossip. here's the info- a foreigner in our office arrived in december. one of the chinese secretaries in our office is now four months pregnant with his child, and they are going to get married within the month. how do you say shotgun wedding in Chinese?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

so i was listening to a conversation between a spanish and a french coworker on the bus today about the lesbian spanish vice-president, and i got a real kick out of it. it went something like this. literally-

spanish guy: roquelle told me that the spanish vice president is a lesbian.
french guy: who's a lesbian? roquelle?
spanish guy: no, the vice president of spain.
french guy: oh, is it a man or a woman?
spanish guy: lesbians are always women.
french guy: i know what lesbians are. the vice president, is it a man or a woman?
spanish guy: it's a male lesbian.
french guy: huh?
spanish guy: to be a lesbian you have to be a woman, and to be gay you have to be french.
french guy: okay, so the vice president is a lesbian. so she dates women?
spanish guy: well, there are three kinds of lesbians- homosexual lesbians, lesbian lesbians, and bulgari lesbians.

that's what i remember from the convo, although honestly the french guy asked a few more times if it was a man or a woman.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

yay! i just got a visa to stay here through december. i don't know if i'm staying that long, but now i don't have to live in fear that i'll get kicked out of the country. it's multiple entry too, so i can come and go as i please. i guess it's hard to explain what a pain visa stuff can be if you've never lived in a country where they're a big issue, but its just this terrible cloud hanging over you. and now the sun is shining. metaphorically, of course. in actually the sky is very gray, beijing style.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

and now, for bachelor number two- the 35-year-old virgin reports that she went out with him last weekend. he was tall and handsome, the virgin says, but he was not charming. even though he's 31, she said he seemed really young. i dunno if this was chinese code for him being retarded or something, but she was not feeling it. so i asked her if this meant the first bachelor was in the lead. she said yes. "even though he is not tall," which we now know means that he is fat, "the most important thing is that he has the ability to get richer." yipes! apparently the other guy doesn't seem like he has many opportunities to advance his career. he works for some kind of sports corporation. i asked about the third bachelor, but it seems that i was kind of confused on this count. the third guy is a friend of hers from college who has made romantic overtures to her by email. he is currently living in africa working for the embassy, but he will be back within the year. she has told me about him before, and i'm not quite convinced that he exists, but i guess we'll see. anyway, she said she'll go out with bachelor number 1 again and see how it goes.
as for me, i was the only person in the station wagon shuttle to work today (there's also the van shuttle), so i felt like a very important person being driven to work. and i had fabulous all you can eat japanese for dinner last night, including beer, for 68 kuai (about 9 dollars). awesome!

Monday, April 02, 2007

okay i'm going to stop talking about whether blogspot is up or down, because today it is up again, but who knows about tomorrow. it's frustrating living with this uncertainty, but that's the life i chose when i moved to china. anywho, last night i went to the chabad seder to be a jew. i mean, i am a jew, but this was the first service i've been to in Beijing. it was cool to see how many jews we have up in here, and there are probably even more that just have their seders at home. i think we're probably secretly running China just like we run the US. the service was long and boring and used lots of melodies that i didn't know, just like every time i go to a service that is more conservative than good old Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. so overall, i guess i'd say i wasn't wild about it. and it cost 150 kuai! i may be jewish, but i am not made of money! sorry, i dunno why i can't stop making cracks about jews. i made jokes through the entire service. anyway, the most eventful occurrence of the evening was that i learned that "next year in jerusalem" doesn't mean what i thought it did. first of all, i thought it was just a private joke with my family until i saw it in the haggadah. and second of all, i thought that it meant like when you weren't really going to do something. like you'd say, "oh yeah we should go to that exhibit some time." and then i'd say, "yeah, right. next year in jerusalem." fyi, that is wrong.
another realization- this morning as my bus pulled into our complex, i looked at the sign on the first building that we always pass when we enter, which says "tnaruatser faelder." i was wondering what that could mean, and tried to read the chinese above it to see if it was a restaurant like the building next to it. as i translated the chinese, i realized that the sign said Red Leaf Restaurant backwards. haha.
also, my plans for travel are becoming quite finalized, which i'm super excited about. i already have my tickets to fly to bangkok on april 23 and then to Kunming, Yunnan on May 2. From there, we are going to work our way up to the top of Yunnan and then fly to Lhasa on May 21, hit up a bunch of Tibet hotspots and take the train home to Beijing on June 1. Hooray! i'll try to update on the road, or else i'll just do one huge ass one with lots of pictures when i get back. either way, we all win.