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Dali grannies

In Dali, I start to think the old ladies in turbans and pink dress can be annoying, when one of them approaches me yet again and tries to sell something. But speaks in Chinese, so I have no idea what she peddles.

But then Luize, who is from Holland, explains me that they actually invite to smoke hashish somewhere in town! This is so different to what old ladies in Poland typically do.

Then late in the evening we discuss this idea to organize grannies exchange, so that the Polish grannies could come here and chill out with the Dali grannies. Late evening, it was.

Chinese sleeper trains are great

Only the heat during the day is unbearable.

On the road to Kunming I met guys from Israel, and they were great. This is no surprise, because Israel is not the easiest country to live in and difficult conditions generate great people, while the opposite is usually true when it’s too easy (in Poland it’s getting too easy).

On arrival I managed to buy what seems like a hard sleeper to Dali and even a plane ticket for Xi’an for next week (70$). IMHO remarkable performance on the logistical front. I decided for air lift because there is not so much time left, and I want to visit tiger’s gorge in Yunnan.


I spent couple of days in Yangshuo, the place of pride for the Chinese for its scenic surroundings. Indeed, all around are the mountains. They hang over the river and beautiful view ensues.

I took a bike – a local must-do – and cycled around.

On the first day I met Olga, Spanish, and I spent rest of the time with her. We went on a river trip. Then we climbed the Moon Hill, another local must-do, and the views were worthwhile. Nevertheless, I developed preference for climbing mountains which are not located in sub-tropical zones.

When I was leaving we met two more Spanish girls, travelling on their own. In Poland my travelling on my own was a shocker, but it seems for Spanish girls it’s no deal at all.

At last I visited my “travel agent”, who from the beginning was trying to get me a train ticket to Kungming. She was sleeping over the desk when I came but to my surprise, she had a ticket, a hard sleeper, and even 100Y cheaper than expected. All set for the 22h trip, then.

Silver lake

I don’t know why the idea to name a bus station “Silver lake”, but that’s exactly what they did in Shenzen.

I took me more an hour to find it and it would be impossible without hand scribed paper scrap from Sherly. The Chinese who were around didn’t speak English and were of little use and some were of little use and additionally wanted 20Y for it.

Eventually, the policemen put me in the right bus (no 7), after they had almost directed me to the perfectly wrong bus. Still, on the right bus passengers varied on the topic whether the bus goes to Silver Lake, but the driver confirmed that, yes, it goes there. It took something like half an hour drive.

On place I managed to buy ticket no problem. At the cashier I was assisted by one Chinese guy who didn’t know English the same as cashier, but could nevertheless add value to the conversation, and it was quite impressive.

The bus was fun. My first time on bus with sleeping berths. My only remark would be that the berths feel like they’ve been designed with a Chinese factor in mind.

On the minus side, I had to sit in Shenzen for whole day doing nothing; or rather almost nothing, for I learned some more Chinese, though.

Added: I failed to mention that the very aim of finding Silver Lake was to have a direct bus to Yangshuo, without having to go to Guilin.

Great Chinese Firewall

Ok so everything works great in China, buses etc., but with exception of Gmail, which hardly works at all.

I may have trouble responding to any email because of that, my apologies.

Ad business in Hong Kong

I was told that ad business is one of the easiest way for foreigners to earn money in China, but to get inside this business took shorter than I thought (but np money yet).

In the very late evening I sat in McDonalds with ice cream – always eat ice cream in the evening – and right away I was approached by a Chinese guy, later introduced as Steve.

Steve was asked by his boss to prepare an ad in English and it was a problem for him. The ad was about some skin medicine and he already had a draft. He asked to review it and we did with this final effect:

– Lately I really don’t feel very well. I’ve got pimple, ringworms and chapped skin as well.

Moreover, I’ve just got cut in an accident a moment ago.

What should I do?!

– Don’t worry! I have ABC oinment.

When we were sure that the ad will blow competition out of the water Steve wanted to teach me the following sure-fire dialogue in exchange, so I can easily survive in Chinese-only mainland (dialogue originally in Chinese):

– Where is hotel?

– xxx (some answer in Chinese)

– Do you speak English?

– No

– Who speaks?

Then it turned out that Steve was previously studying European history in Latvia and that’s why he can draw contour of Poland better than me.

Ukrainian sailors in Hong Kong

This I didn’t expect, that I will speak Russian sooner than Chinese here.

They were both Sevastopol and one even spoke some Polish because he worked here. Main topic – communism good / no good, Ukraine could be like China if it didn’t collapse, etc.

Meeting Sherly

With her small, black poodle, it was easy to recognize Sherly – at that moment it was the first dog I had seen in Hong Kong. Without a dog, it would still be little problem to recognize Sherly, for she is something like one of its kind.

I own her for seeing how living in HK looks from the inside, tasting first Chinese dish, and even taking some business lessons from her.

Arrived in Hong Kong

The air-conditioned airport and swift airport train and clean air-conditioned central station hide for almost an hour what Hong Kong really is – a giant glass-house with over 30 degrees and 90% humidity.

Under a sky white like milky glass you start to think of fresh air as kind of luxury. It all sounded like an exotic weather forecast before, but you never know until you go.

And there is this specific smell in the air, like one of mold in the hot wet undergrounds of some buildings. Or maybe it’s smog?

My hostel exceeded the expectations i.e. they knew about Internet reservation and there was no problem to get a room and the room is more or less ok to sleep (but nothing else, so small).

Turned out a sleeping bag was no dead weight after all, for the sheets are hardly clean. But heavy trekking shoes are so far a joke in these conditions.

I need to meet Sherly today and then probably take a train to mainland tomorrow.

To think of Warsaw air to have nearly mountain quality and of my apartment as a luxiorously big space, not bad for one day.



I have a reservation for Hong Kong

I should have a place to sleep, for the start, so there is one element of chaos less. All the hostels (I’m in backpacking-budget mode, of course) seemed more or less equally disgusting, judging from the reviews, and they are apparently all located in the same two buildings in Kowloon.

I picked Vincent Guest House because at least the service was appraised as friendly. I was considering taking a dorm to be 100% budget, but thought maybe it’s better to take it easy in the beginning, after flying for two days.

It was fun to read all the people coming before me, e.g. Myra, Agnieszka (funny internships they have in DaimlerChrysler).

China route (first draft)

I received a visa. Spent some time reading Lonely Planet, too, and settled for this (preliminary) route:

Hong Kong
Guilin and the vicinity
Chengdu (from here I count on having a plane)

So I basically miss Xi’an, which some of my friends say is a must, and the others consider it touristic trap; but I will still have time to make up my mind.

Yet one more Chinese essential

In a shape of Wenlin software, with over 10,000 characters and ca. 200,000 words and phrases. Features I find most exciting, from what is visible in the demo, include finding all related characters, displaying order of strokes for the character, and even presenting the evolution that character went through.

But it’s quite pricey! 249$. And again no sales representative in Poland. I will wait and see after return from China.

First found at Joan Biesnecker’s. I was also surprised to find that Supermemo has apparently such a broad international following.

Previous posts: Supermemo for Chinese

Getting inspired for China

I?m looking for some additional inspiration for China trip. So far the most inspiring is Gary?s story:

Nowadays Gary spends his life travelling China, finding out local artists and distributing their works to all the world by Internet. Before this, he came to China from the States to teach English as a ?break from America? experience. He seems rather happy with his current life, even if it’s not for the money:

It is a labor of love. I once did some math, and realized that for the time I spend, I am making the same as minimum wage in America. But in China, that puts me in “Upper Middle Class”.

That, and I am one of the few people that can say that I truly love my job!

I really love the personal context that his site gives to each of the things presented. That’s the right way to do this business imho.

More pictures from Cracow

(On the second day I remembered to have _both_ camera and charged batteries with me, so no more lame photos from phone camera)

Cracow street

(read more…)

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