Have You Seen Us Lately? Dot Org

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While occupying Hong Kong I stumbled across the #OccupyHongKong movement camped out under the HSBC building.

Perfect Public Transportation

If there was any ever doubt as to the global strength of China, look no further than the Hong Kong subway system. It is as close to the most flawless system I’ve ever encountered. High-speed trains departing every 3 minutes. Completely intuitive maps and routing information. Highly informational on-board position tracking. And just look at these lovely color coded stations.

I’ve often thought that the key to any modern civilization is public transportation. If you can’t get people where they need to be, when they need to be there, your growth will be stunted. Getting that system in place is of course a classic chicken-and-egg problem! Hong Kong has the whole damn hen house.

Water Foul

BLEH. Something was seriously foul with that water fowl. That’s the theory at least. Both of us have gotten pretty sick since ingesting the drunken game. Jay feels like his stomach just gave birth to a butcher knife, and I feel like a butcher knife is swimming around inside my skull.

Time to get some rest.

Water Fowl City

A few nights ago we met up with a couple of Chinese CouchSurfers Janet and Vivian. They invited us out to diner with their other surfing friend from Perth, Rene, who actually surfs more skys than couches with over 6,500 skydiving jumps! During dinner it was decided that we would all take advantage of a 2-for-1 promotion for a day trip out to a water village.

We woke up at the break of dawn this morning to catch our 7am bus ride to the town of Nanxun. The weather was a bit drizzly but it sort of added to the vibe of this ancient place. Right after stepping off the bus we walked smack dab into the middle of one of the most exotic sights we’ve seen so far. A small lake full of hydrophytes (that one’s for you Joel) and surrounded by stalagmitic stones. Across the lake sat a small gazebo, creating one very picturesque moment…

…after another…

…and another. From the Gazebo, in the distance is an ancient library with over 6 million volumes!

We would later find out that their “books” are waterproof — that is to say their books are actually slabs of wood with words carved into them — as we saw a woman washing a few novels off in the nearby stream.

Here’s a shot of some of the volumes on their book shelves, or perhaps drying racks.

Once we finished reading all 6m volumes, we walked down some narrow pathway that opened up to make way for a memorial archways of the Qing Dynasty…

…and its ferocious stone guards.

Just like in Venice or Friesland, the primary means of transportation through their Asian counterpart is by boat. Duh.

Unfortunately my rowing skills are a bit rusty.

So in an effort to keep dry, we just footed it across one of the towns many bridges to the other side, where we found some interesting street vendors. One in particular sparked Vivian’s interest, a wok full of… of… um… motor oil?

As if by magic she was able to take three chopsticks and turn that 10W-30 into something that almost looked edible. Actually the only way I knew it was edible was because she ate it.

There are about 9 points of interest to see in the village, and since time was somewhat limited by the fact that we needed to be back on the bus at a certain time, we skipped a few lesser sights, in favor of the more impressive. Like this temple…

…that had a giant round platform with thousands of prayers hanging from the handrail, and in the middle was a giant Yin Yang symbol that was circumscribed with the 12 zodiac signs.

Once inside the temple we were given a yellow slip of paper and told to write our name down on it, then we were escorted back out of the building and told to burn it! What an interesting form of hospitality!

I’m still not sure what to make of it all, but hey, there I go.. up in flames.

After watching myself burst into flames, we searched for a quick bite to eat before heading back to the bus.  The ladies selected one of the more popular spots along the river…

…and like a few nights earlier ordered us a bunch of local delicacies, like chicken stew. And when I say chicken, I really mean the WHOLE DAMN CHICKEN.

That is one of it’s claws trying to climb its way out of its own broth.

Being a local, it really wasn’t a big deal to Janet. But to us westerners, it was like watching a carnival freak as she gnawed the meat (do feet have meat?) off the scrawny foul foot.

Not one to be outdone, I had to represent and go for the gusto.

One chicken head. Down the hatch.

Would you be surprised if I told you that it tasted like chicken? I hope not. Now that you’ve all lost your appetites, let’s move on…

And speaking of moving… according the Janet’s cell phone we had met our walking quota of 7.7km (that’s 11,647 steps) and burnt somewhere around 261 calories.

Which is concidentaly the same number of calories listed on the side of a package of chicken heads! If you don’t believe me, check it out the next time you’re at a chicken head store.

So with a successful trip under our belt and a bird in our belly it was back on the bus to head back to Shanghai for our final night in the city.

Tea Time

While walking through People’s Square today we happened across two young ladies that were quick to strike up a conversation in English. It came as somewhat of a relief as we were beginning to grow frustrated with our lack of ability to communicate with the locals on any level. After regurgitating the same conversation we invariably get into with most people we meet (i.e. the story about our round-the-world trip) they invited us to a local tea parlor to practice the ancient rituals of the original tea drinking people.

We were lead inside by a tiny Chinese woman in a silk garment.

She sat as down at a table that seemed to be fashioned from the base of a tree stump. Our seats, or rather stools were probably made from branches from the same tree.

The host only spoke Chinese, so the ladies translated every couple of sentences. Stories about a lucky three legged frog-like-creature.

And the meaning behind the blossoming of flowers.

In all we tried 6 different teas, each with their own special properties and unique preparation technique.

The whole experience was quite enjoyable, and the tea made me very relaxed. So relaxed in fact that on the way back to the hotel I just had to pull up a chair and join the local nappers.

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