Tag Archives: solo trip to China

Shangri-La China: Guishan Park and the World’s Second Largest Prayer Wheel

I arrived in Shangri-La by bus from Lijiang.  The ride cost 68 RMB ($10.97 USD),  took about four hours, and was full of beautiful scenery.

lijiang to shangrila

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I knew I wanted to buy my ticket for Baishui Terraces tomorrow as seating is limited.  Or so I thought, but more on that in my next post.

After buying my ticket, I went outside and as is standard China, any Westerner who emerges from a bus station, train station or airport, must be greeted by every taxi driver who ever lived.   I honestly do not find this as over the top frustrating as I did last year.  It is still annoying as all hell, but I have come to accept that this is China.

I pick a driver and off to my hotel we go.  The ride cost me 20 RMB which = $3.23 USD

I am staying at N’s Kitchen and Hostel.  I walk in and am greeted with “Jennifer?” because that is a perk of being a Westerner in China.  You get five star diamond service by being greeted with by name whenever you walk into a hotel.

I am taken to my room, followed by the hostel dog.  It turns out there were two of them, the tiny one was so adorable I wanted to steal her so badly.

ns kitchen hostel dogs

Shangri-La was a victim of a fire back in January 2014 that completely destroyed the old town.  The view from my window showed construction going on to rebuild.  I could constantly hear it as well.  It was a very noisy place.  The noise did not bother me but I find that sometimes when you visit a place (Istanbul comes to mind) and you hear the background noise it is a bit surprising as you are in a real life movie scene complete with background music.

Room view:

room view N's Kitchen and Hostel

It was around 4:00 pm when I arrived and I was told the internet would be on in half an hour.  I internally groaned thinking that this meant my internet would be incredibly sporadic and slow but it turns out I had the best internet speed here so far in the trip.

As dusk hit, I walked over to Guishan Park.  This was about a five minute walk from my hostel.  At night the locals dance from 7:00 to 9:00.  It was really cool to watch.

Guishan temple dusk Even cooler was up above lives the Golden Temple and the world’s second largest prayer wheel.  A lot of people think this is the largest prayer wheel in the world.  That is because up until 2010, it was.  Then a bigger one was built in Guide County in Qinghai, China.

prayer flags outside prayer wheel

People spinning the large prayer wheel.locals spinning prayer wheel shangrila china

Prayer flags everywhere:Golden Temple Shangrila China

View of Shangri-La from the top:

Prayer Flags over Shangrila ChinaDown below, the locals dance nightly in the square:

dancing guishan

Lijiang, China: My Budget for a Three Day Visit

I spent three days and nights in Lijiang, China.  You can read about that here.

Total cost:

lijiang cost

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The Old Town Protection Fare is required if you are going to be in the Old Town.  I wasn’t quite sure how to go about paying for this.  I was eventually stopped and asked to show my receipt, which I did not have.  So I paid it then.

Once upon a time, my mother bought me a pig change purse for good luck for an upcoming trip to Las Vegas.  A year after she died, I lost the poor pig at a fest and was quite upset about it.  Imagine my glee at finding the same exact one while lost in Lijiang:
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The food and drink budget was spent largely on fresh squeezed fruit juices and yogurt drinks.  Oh and one lunch at McDonalds.  Sorry foodies!.

Unlike my gross overspending in Dali, the only real way this trip could have been cheaper would have been to book a cheaper hotel. But I was not going to do that when I had a chance to sleep in a round bed.

round bedOh and those stupid ATM fees.  For some reason, I am being charged to check my balance every time I go to an ATM, in addition to the ATM fee.  Yes, I am aware Charles Schwab exists and yet I am still using a bank.  So this is my own fault.

The way this could have been more expensive would be if I hadn’t been sick from the altitude and had gone to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain like I had planned.

To leave Lijiang, I took a bus to Shangrila.  When I got to the bus station, I was getting a lot of stares that I accept, but hate.  Luckily there was a car crash outside the station so everyone turned away from me to look at that.

I was surprised at how nice and clean the bus station was.  I decided to use the bathroom, which is on the second floor.  This is China so that means up three flights of stairs, with luggage. Sigh.  The bathroom was so gross and the opposite of everything the rest of the station was.

And for anyone who has asked me how I get around China without speaking any Chinese language, this is how:
lijiang bus station englishHere are some stray photos from Lijiang:

couple statue lijiang china coy black dragon pool bridge stone bridge lijiang china

 

Dali, China: The Gorgeous Three Pagodas of the Congsheng Temple Grounds

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have seen me post that once upon a time, I saw a photo of Dali’s Three Pagodas and immediately thought “I need to go there.”  So I did.

This is one of the many things I love about travel.  That as you go further and further, you realize how attainable things are.  You can be a person who looks at a picture in a magazine and thinks “Oh how pretty” before turning the page and running for your car keys when you see an ad announcing that your preferred brand of kitty litter is on sale, or you can be the person who does not turn the page and instead brings the magazine to her laptop and begins Googling to figure out the logistics of getting there.  I will always be the latter.  How could I not be when this exists:

Dali three pagodas Conghsheng Temple China

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The pagodas were built during the Tang Dynasty and are part of Chongsheng Temple complex.  It is a very large area featuring beauty all over the place.

congsheng temple gardenview of er hai lake from congsheng temple complexcongsheng temple ground tree with hearts

Here is Chongsheng temple:

Congsheng Temple Dali China

What could be more beautiful?  How about THIS picture of the pagodas from the other side with the Cangshan Mountains in the background?

three pagodas dali cangshan mountains

Or how about THIS view with the pagodas reflecting in a lake?

three pagodas dali china reflecting

Do you see what I mean here?  Totally worth traveling to Dali for.

You used to be able to enter the main pagoda and climb up, but the ladder is now broken so the best you can do is gaze lovingly from the ground.  Trust me, there could not possibly be a better view from inside, because if you are inside, you cannot see the pagodas.

The entry fee of 121 RMB ($19.51 USD) is a bit steep by China standards. To give you a comparison, those beautiful mountains in the background?  Those are Cangshan mountains. The entry fee is 40 RMB ($6.45 USD) and a cable car up will cost you an additional 50 RMB ($8.06 USD).  So for 90 RMB ($14.51), you get to take a cable car ride and explore a mountain.  You can also just pay the entry fee and hike up if you wish to do so, making it one third the cost of seeing the pagodas.

Personally for me, seeing the pagodas was worth the high cost.  I have day dreamed about seeing them in person.  Today may be the longest time I have ever sat and just stared at something.  I could not believe I was seeing this or that it looked just as beautiful in person as it did in a guide book.   Dali was kind enough to give me such a beautiful sky as a background.

underneath large pagoda dali three pagodas

smaller leaning pagoda three pagodas dali china

smaller pagoda three pagodas dali china

31 Hours from My Apartment to Kunming Via Kong Kong: Then Not Finding an ATM That Takes My Debit Card.

After taking an hour long subway ride (that includes taking three trains to avoid having to carry my bags up several flights of steps,) I missed my airport train by about two seconds.  I wait half an hour for the next one, and then finally arrive at the airport.  Of course I was excited to see my flight was delayed.  Oh wait, no I wasn’t.  Sigh.

I was a combination of exhausted and hyper and I didn’t even realize I was making some sort of scene by stamping my feet singing outloud and talking to my cute little stuffed dog.  Then an airport employee came over to ask me if I was okay and then I realized I looked like a crack head.

My first flight was seventeen hours.  I always read about how Cathay Pacific is a great airline so I was excited to be flying them.  They do not have individual air vents at your seats, or at least they did not on this flight.  I did not like that.  They also didn’t do regular beverage service on this flight.  I am not sure if it was because it was an overnight flight or if that is normal.  Yes, you can hit the call button and someone will come, but I felt weird after eight hours of nothing, asking for a snack.  I don’t even know what kind of snacks they had.  It was weird.

My row only had two seats.  I was in the window and my seat mate had a seat’s worth of empty space next to her, until some woman decided to start jogging in place in it. I could not stop laughing.  I understand the reasoning for the jogging in place on a plane.  I do not understand why you would  think it was okay to do so, so close to another person.

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Descent into Hong Kong:
plane landing in Hong Kong

I need to start bringing a phone charger with me.  Oh and a toothbrush.  I would have loved to have brushed my teeth at the airport.  Or killed time on my phone. But the battery was dead, so I could not take a picture of the guy who was using plastic bags as socks, underneath his sneakers.

I wanted to go to Ngong Ping during my layover to see the Tian Tan Buddha when his head is not completely enveloped in a rain storm like last year, but wouldn’t ya know it.  It is storming outside again today. I am sorry Tian Tan Buddha, I am trying here.

Killed the 4.5 hour layover by walking around the airport and using every free internet terminal they have.  My Fitbit told me I walked seven miles in the airport!  Then it was time to fly to Kunming.

Although this flight is only two hours, I just about lost my mind on it.  I handled the seventeen hour flight with grace, I handled this one by having a mental meltdown and GET ME OFF THIS FREAKING PLANE ALREADY.

Descent into Kunming.  Look at that blue sky.

Blue sky plane

I am staying at a hotel that is meant for people with a long overnight layover between flights. I had the idea that I could make my way back to the airport to catch the subway to get to the East Bus Station to go to the Stone Forest tomorrow.  I ask a woman at the information desk to call my hotel for me to let them know I am here. She does and I ask where the ATM is.  She points me and it will not give me money.  It keeps asking me to enter the correct pin.  Um, I am?  I give up because it clearly hates me.  I try another card, nothing.  I try an actual credit card, nothing.

It is amusing to me that before I traveled, it took me so long to finally go overseas alone because I was scared of exactly this: not being able to get cash out of an ATM and having no one back home to call for help.  Now that it appears this is happening, I really don’t care.  I know that I was able to get cash last year, I am sure this is just a dick ATM machine.

When the shuttle driver comes, I follow him.  One thing I have noticed about China is that no one will help you with your bags.  This is fine because drivers also do not accept tips so it evens out.

I know from reading  hotel reviews that mine is very close to the airport, under a ten minute drive. So obviously five minutes in, my driver’s friend gets a text and they  have to go back to the airport to pick up more people.  So many more people.  When we get to the hotel, they all get out before me and now the line to check in is very long.

I tried to pay with a credit card but they do not take them, which is fine, I knew this.  The woman walks me outside to an ATM…that will not take my card.  I don’t know what to do.  I go back and SUPER NICE – the woman asks me what I am doing tomorrow.  Stone Forest. She gets excited and tells me that they will drive me back to the airport tomorrow so I can get cash.  Then I can go to the Stone Forest and come back at night and pay.  So we are basically operating on the honor system here that I am going to pay for my room.  Can you imagine trying this in America?  HAH.

I had some RMB leftover from last year’s trip, thankfully.  I offered to pay for one night.  The super nice woman pointed to where there was a store and offered that I want to order food, to be delivered to come downstairs and they will call for me.  Also notable:  She apologized to me for not speaking English too well.  Um, I am the idiot who flew here without speaking Chinese.  The last thing on Earth you owe me is an apology.

I head out and basically run to the store to get some iced milk tea. I got so addicted to this last year and the only place I have seen it in NYC was in the hand of a guy on the subway and rather than asking him where he got it, I opted to drool instead.

milk tea

I went to my room and went online to ask my friend Google where I could find an ATM in the airport that works.  This is when I find out my VPN is not working.  Oh not today VPN. I had to reinstall it and whew, works.  Google tells me that Kunming is a major airport and all ATM’s should take foreign cards.  BUT IT WON’T.  I find a message board where someone tells the tale of how China ATM’s have six digit pins and if you put in two zeros before your pin, it should work.  Although I did not have this problem last year, I am willing to try the zeros thing this year.

This morning I got up and took the free shuttle to the airport.  The driver did not speak English, I do not speak Chinese.  She tried to ask me something, it did not work. Someone else in the car used her phone translator and I figured out she was asking what terminal.  I don’t care, I just need cash.  So I just said 1 because it was easier than trying to translate that.

Back at an ATM that actually accepts my card with the double zeros but will not give me cash.  The only options if offers is a transfer.  I don’t really know what that means, is in bad English for withdrawal?  I don’t want to take the chance.  So again, I am in China walking all over the airport trying ATM’s that will not take my card.  I start getting paranoid because Google told me last night that if you try too many times, your bank may lock your card.  Then I spot an ATM that I know is going to work.  I just know it.  AND IT DID.  AND I HAVE CASH.  I blew kisses at it and waved it goodbye as I left.

I go back outside and know that there is no way in hell I am going to the Stone Forest now.  I am so mentally drained from walking all over the airport and the idea of getting to the Stone Forest at around noon and walking with dense crowds that I would have missed had I been able to go early like I wanted, sounded more like the opposite of what I wanted to do today.

I am sure I could have called my hotel to come pick me up for free but i just wanted to get away from the airport right now.   I took a cab back to my hotel, fully knowing I would be ripped off.   And I was.  He charged me 100 RMB = $16.  In the US, this would have been a $20-25 cab ride.  So on the one hand, not so bad.  But to consider that my hotel is only 156 RMB and comes with free round trip airport transport AND A ROOM, then know I was ripped off.  Also the driver tried to drop me at many different places that were not my hotel.  Luckily, I had already done the drive and knew where my hotel was.  I don’t necessarily think he was deliberately trying to take me to the wrong place.  We were on the correct street.  But still.

At my hotel, the nice woman who speaks broken English was not there.  So it took a bit to explain to a new person that I am checked in, no I am not going to the airport today, I am going tomorrow, etc.  But I got my key renewed and I am right now in my room, drinking iced milk tea and preparing for a nap.

This means my trip actually starts tomorrow.  Even though I did not make my way to the Stone Forest, I am happy that I had plans to do that or else I would have been leaving Kunming today.  I am so glad I didn’t have to deal with the cash thing on a day where I had to catch a bus or plane or train.

Sometimes As a Solo Traveler, I Want to Travel Solo

Once upon a time, I was in Chengdu, China.   I was going to visit the Grand Leshan Buddha.   I get on the bus and it is hot and smells like a homeless person.  Shortly after, it begins.  I hear some girl talking loudly on a cell phone.  “There are no backpackers on here, only Chinese people and they all smell bad.”  I shrink down in my seat a bit.  It is one thing to not wish for human companionship ever, it is another to hide from someone who is rude enough to have said this aloud.  Don’t assume that no one on the bus can understand you.  I’m betting a bunch of them could.

We get to the town of Leshan and I make the mistake of not immediately running off the bus.  I get caught.  “Hi!  Do you want to share a cab?”  No thank you, I am taking the bus. “I will take it with you!”  Argh, fine.  We walk to the bus and she is joyously telling me how happy she is to have found me.  Me?  I don’t want to be found.

There is a thing about meeting people while traveling.  That thing is that I don’t want to.  Let me make this clear: I know I am the odd one here.  People who want to meet other people?  They are normal.   YOU are normal.  You should be glad I don’t want to spend time with people.  Who wants to spend time with a weirdo?  Go on, run off and be free!

Whenever I do meet someone, the internal dialogue starts.

Me: Ughhhhhhhhh

Me: Would it kill you to just be nice to this person?

Me: No, but I just don’t want to talk to anyone

Me: But would it kill you to just be nice to this person?

Me: But a huge part of this trip was to escape the real world and BE ALONE

Me: BUT WOULD IT KILL YOU TO BE NICE TO THIS PERSON?

Me: I DON’T WANNNNNNNAAAAAAAAAAAAA

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If this conversation took place with a participant other than myself, I would undoubtedly be told I am rude, conceited, think I am better than everyone, I am a bitch and so on.  I know this because I have been called all these things by people that I did not know, who somehow felt I was obligated to accept their offers of companionship.

Do I think I am better than anyone?  Of course not.  Why does it always have to be me thinking I am better than anyone?  Why is this always the label I receive for wanting to be alone?

Has it ever occurred to you, imaginary social person that I am having a conversation with, that maybe I prefer to be alone because I enjoy the evenness of solitude?   No ups, no downs, just simplicity.  I like being alone.  Maybe I don’t want to talk.  Maybe I don’t want to sit here and answer questions about “what do you do for a living?”, when I don’t like my job and the last thing I want to do is talk about it when I am 7000 miles away from it?

Maybe I don’t want to explain my entire life story to a stranger, in order for you to understand why I prefer solitude.

Q: Well if you weren’t so full of yourself, you might enjoy other people’s company.

A: Let me ask YOU imaginary person I am having a conversation with:  Do YOU think YOU are so much better than everyone that there must be something wrong with me if I don’t want to hang out with you?  Are YOU so full of  YOURSELF that it never occurred to you that maybe my thoughts at this exact moment are more important to me than answering questions about how many countries I have been to?  See?  It works both ways.

So anyway, back to my story.

Here I am in China.  With a person who is super excited to see another Westerner.   The internal dialogue is flowing like a mother fucker.  No it will not kill me to spend a few hours with this person.  Even though it is not going to be a few hours.  It is going to be however many hours we are at Leshan, then waiting for the bus back, then two and a half hours on the bus back ACK.  No, this will still not kill me.  But I came to China alone, to be alone.  This trip is a huge deal for me.  I daydreamed about it for months.  I counted down the days.  I am finally here.  Now my daydreams are being infiltrated by the “get to know  you” questions that I just don’t want to answer right now.

We get on the local bus.  I don’t know where exactly we are going, I assume we will see the Buddha – this thing is ginormous.  It seems like we are on there for a long time.   The entire time, she is asking me about where we are getting off.  I don’t know.  She is now mentioning that it was stupid to take the bus if I didn’t know where to get off, and we should have taken a cab.  No, YOU should have taken a cab.

We see something that looks like SOMETHING so we get off the bus.  However, once we are off the bus, we are clearly not where we are supposed to be. We ascertain from some people who can speak very little English (which is a billion times more Mandarin than I can speak) which way to walk.  We begin.  My buddy now starts talking about how Chinese men are really ugly. Aloud this is happening.  In China.  I am crawling inside my skin.

We have to cross over a bridge and this is when my buddy starts getting visibly annoyed with me.  I am in China.  I am very excited to be here, I want to take pictures of everything.  So I cross the bridge to the other side and take a picture.   My buddy has had enough of my picture taking and is encouraging me “come on, let’s go!”   I am not here with you.  I am not here with anyone.  I can do whatever I want.

So we get to the beginning of the Buddha site.  My buddy wants to hire a guide.  I do not want to hire a guide.  If I were going to ever hire a guide, it would be like a city guide, not an attraction guide. It is this ridiculously huge Buddha, what do you need a guide for?  But if YOU want a guide, you should totally get one.  You are in China!  Do whatever you want!  I try to sound enthusiastic and encouraging.

But me not wanting a guide = she does not get a guide.

We stop at the bathroom and this is the soap container:

flies in the ointment

Next we begin the super long walk to the Buddha. We would not be taking this long walk if we had stayed on the bus.  The bus does go straight to the Buddha entrance.  This is my fault because I didn’t know where to get off so we got off too early.  I don’t care all that much.  Part of being solo in China is getting lost.  My buddy however, she cares.  She is mad, we should have taken a cab.   No YOU should have taken a cab.  I don’t even know you.

She is growing more and more annoyed with me.  This walk is so long, should have stayed on the bus, should have taken a cab.  I stop for too many photos, “What are you going to do with all these photos anyway?!?”   Post them on my blog of course!  Which I do not tell her about because I already know I am going to be writing negatively about her on it.

And of course, if this woman has a blog, she would be writing just as negatively about me.  But the difference here is that I am aware we are not compatible and I want her to GO AWAY.  She is aware (?) we are not compatible and she feels we should compromise to get along.

I keep politely letting her know “You can go off ahead of me, I don’t mind.  I know I take a long time and I don’t want to hold you up.”  And she does not go.  Yet she keeps getting more annoyed with how slow I am going.   In the interest of honesty, I was moving even slower than I normally would have been, in hopes that she would go on without me.

Finally we get to the entrance.   Finally.   Instead of going to the entrance though, I walk to the side of the park outside to take pictures.  At this point my buddy has had it with me and goes in without me.  Finally she is free, finally I am free.  In reality we both should have always been free.  Even if only one of us wanted to be free.

If you  have read this entire thing, I will reward you with a pretty picture of the Grand Leshan Buddha.

Grand Leshan Buddha China

Guilin, China: Sun and Moon Pagodas

Following my morning at the Reed Flute Cave, I napped.  When I woke up later, I went outside and for the third time, tried to find the bus that goes to Fubo Hill.  I walked around in every direction from my hotel and all it got me was sweaty.  I kind of wanted to go back to my room and cry, but instead, I thought I might be near the Sun and Moon Pagodas.  I did have a map, but maps are useless to people who just cannot master reading them.

I walked for a bit and made the observation that there may very well be more scooters in China than in Naples.  The huge difference is that scooters in China are silent.  I mean REALLY silent.  So silent that at one point, I had the life scared out of me by a horn blaring at me.  I turned and the scooter was less than an inch from me and I never even heard it coming up.  I honestly thought at first that maybe for some reason, they were all turned off and just gliding.  Nope, dead silent motors.

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Walking around got me a lot of “HELLO” yelling.  I cannot accurately describe how much of a thrill the Chinese got out of yelling “HELLO” at me.  It was always men.  Not once did a woman acknowledge me.  It must be a cultural thing.

Imagine my shock when after walking for a while down a street, I found what I was looking for.  ER-MEH-GERD!  SUN AND MOON PAGODAS!

Sun and Moon Pagodas in Guilin China

Lake surrounding the pagodas:

lake around sun and moon pagodas

Garden area outside the pagodas:

park around sun and moon pagodas

sculptures near sun and moon pagodasFrom here I walked around a bit more.  I have obviously never been here before in my life, but Guilin just encouraged me to keep walking and looking at everything.

li river near sun and moon pagodaskarst background in guilin china

Somewhere way past the pagodas, while walking along the Li River, I found my friend Jerry the tour guide who once again, tried to get me to hire him to show me around.

I kept walking along the Li River aimlessly.  I felt like I might accidentally stumble upon Fubo Hill, which would have pissed me off after my three failed attempts to find it.  So I made a left and walked that way instead.

I found a main street and walked down it and suddenly realized that despite never having been here before, I knew exactly where I was and that this street would take me back to my hotel.  Woo hoo!

clock

I never once felt unsafe walking around unfamiliar streets.

Guilin is really beautiful and I could easily spend so much time just walking around and taking it all in.  If the rest of China is like this, then I owe it an apology for any preconceived notions I had about it.

Hong Kong, China: Chi Lin Nunnery

Of course everyone should visit here because it is absolutely beautiful. I however, had an ulterior motive.  I had read that you can get your fortune told here and then take that knowledge off to Macau with you.  Since I was going to Macau later in the day, I was so excited to find out if I was going to become a bazillionaire.  Unfortunately, I had to wait and find out on my own since I could not figure out at all where exactly you can get your fortune told.

It wasn’t a wasted trip though.  Look how beautiful the grounds are.

This is the only time I actually saw blue sky in Hong Kong.  As an extra kick in the ass, this was the same day after I spent the morning taking pictures of nothing but gloom, fog and black skies at The Peak.  Sigh.

Chi Lin Nunnery, Hong Kong, China Continue reading

Chi Lin Nunnery Hong Kong ChinaChi Lin Nunnery, Hong Kong, China

First Impressions of Mainland China

I am currently doing my laundry in Guilin so I am going to take advantage of the spare time to do a quick post on my first impressions.  Side note: I will have clean clothes soon!  I didn’t do any laundry at all in Macau since it was so damp there that I was scared nothing would dry.  I have a washing machine in my hostel here woo hoo!

I arrived at my hotel in Guilin at midnight last night and ventured out today.

Older Chinese men LOVE to yell “HELLO” at me.  It’s actually adorable.  A couple of them were able to speak to me and seemed very excited to do so.  One kept telling me how happy he was to talk to me.

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At one point today, I was walking around and I hear “HELLO!” I looked and saw it was coming from a person with a very severe hunchback.  I kind of wanted to stare.  Ironic, right?  I am THE Westerner, let ME stare at YOU!

The only other direct interactions I have had were with a guide who I keep running into, who yells “NEW YORK” at me and then tells me how much it costs for him to take me places, and the other guy who passed me as I was wiping sweat off my face and laughed and said “HOT.”

I have yet to have any Chinese woman look at me or say anything to me.   I have also not seen any split pants.  The only sidewalk pooping I have seen was done by an adorable puppy.

We all know that people in China spit non stop and that it is started with the churning of every bit of phlegm one has accumulated in their lifetime.  That doesn’t bother me much.  I am used to it from the Chinese in the neighborhood I live in. What does bother me is that every Chinese person has their camera and phone set up to have sound.  So every picture every person takes, you hear the “kuh-chih” sound a camera makes.  Since I am in touristy places, that sound is going nonstop and it is grating my nerves.

I also do not feel like I am in China.  Maybe this is a side effect of living in New York.  I am so used to seeing foreign people that seeing them here doesn’t feel any different to me.  I haven’t had that OH MY GOD I AM IN CHINA elation yet.

Also since I am giving first impressions here, let’s talk about hostels.  I have stayed in quite a few, always in a private room.  In the one I am in right now, I have to pass through the common area every time I come and go. I have never had that before.   Seeing all these people hanging out and meeting strangers almost makes me wish I had started traveling way earlier in life.  Before I was old and so accustomed to being alone that the idea of going places with people causes me more grief than enjoyment.  I might have liked to meet new people when I was younger.  I bet my life would be richer.

Now I must go and either (a) hang my clothes up all over my room and hope they dry by morning or (b) figure out what “the grinder” is because that is what I was told I could use after being told “no” when I asked if the dryer was working.

Here are some pictures I took today:

Elephant Trunk Hill Guilin China Beautiful Guilin from Elephant Hill Park

sun and moon twin pagodas night guilin china