Archive for May 2011

Tomorrow afternoon we leave Changsha for Yunnan. I’m blown away by the hospitality and generosity of my relatives. Eleven years, and it’s like picking up right where we left off.

Actually, we “left off” way back in 1989, when I trailed my parents to Canada. Since then I’ve only been back twice, for five weeks at the age of nine and for three weeks at fourteen. I’m guessing mom wanted to distance David and me from the very materialistic worldview they espouse here. I understand that; yet part of me wonders what it’d be like to live with extended family nearby. It’s sad how little I know about them.

So I wouldn’t mind staying longer. But I couldn’t live here. I miss having a view unobstructed by smog. I miss being able to breathe deeply without choking on cigarette smoke and random whiffs of sewage.

The food is fantastic, though, super flavorful. And we’ve tried loach, wild boar, deer, soft-shelled turtle, snake.

plaza royale

Posted on: 26 May 2011

My relatives on mom’s side sure treat us well. They booked us two rooms in the Plaza Royale for our first night in Changsha, and this place is gorgeous.

(The Fairmont in Montreux, Switzerland. Casa Santo Domingo in Guatemala. Now here, three five-star hotels in three countries. I’m more well-travelled than I ever thought I’d be.)

Despite my attempts at finding out, I’m not sure what we’re doing today. Something about a mountain.

It seems all my muscles from the waist down are sore from walking. Abs included. How does that even work?

The Beijing subway system is great, very convenient.  Takes you all over the city for the equivalent of thirty cents a transfer. So while dad was whisked away on other business, the remaining four of us hit up Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace.

Tiananmen is like the Washington, DC of China. All those important-looking monuments and government buildings I can’t identify. Oh yeah, and that giant picture of Mao. We spent the greater part of the morning in the Forbidden City, peeking into ancient throne rooms and climbing into urns.

My feet started hurting as we walked from the Summer Palace back to the subway. Maybe flip flops were a bad idea. Then again I often run or walk long distances in unorthodox footwear. Kevin was wearing runners and got blisters anyway. I don’t have any blisters, just two places where the skin rubbed off my toe.

It was worth it, though, because at dusk we found a night market. Hard to miss when the first stall was selling LIVE SCORPION SKEWERS. (I once showered with one of those creatures!) THEY WERE MOVING. Though they deep-fry them for you if you buy.

We snagged an ocarina for 20 RMB. WIN! Now I can play at being Totoro. Also, I lasted the whole day without having to use a public squatter toilet.

We arrived in Beijing yesterday afternoon. I haven’t passed this way for eleven years! It’s below thirty degrees, actually, for which I’m grateful. There’s even a breeze! Not crisp like in Vancouver, or balmy like the Caribbean. It’s a muggy-cool breeze, but it helps alleviate that sense of the air pressing in heavy around you.

I’m used to conversing with Kevin and David in English. I wonder if that will make us sound snooty here. I wonder if somehow my mannerisms make it obvious that I’m a “foreigner.”

We held out until 10:00 before collapsing into our hotel beds. It’s 3:30 in the morning now, and I should seriously consider catching a few more hours of shut-eye before sunrise.

day 9

Posted on: 13 May 2011

A photo of the item you last purchased.

Oh. I didn’t take a photo, but it was two long-stemmed red roses, with a few sprigs of baby’s breath, for mom last Sunday. Mother’s Day. One from me, one from David … at least that was the idea.