Being on the other side of the world is very much like being on the other side of the world. China has been absolutely amazing and different in every way, yet is still familiar at times. I love to travel because it pulls emotions and tendencies from you that you wouldn’t normally have and highlights things about yourself that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.
We landed in china after a 14 hour flight; apparently I can't do math and was really surprised and thought we had emergency landed in Russia – I blame the lack of sleep. We meandered through the airport, through the lines at customs and began our search for the subway. It’s a very efficient method to buy subway tickets but if you don’t know Chinese it can get a little challenging. We hopped on the subway and it was very much what you would expect from a Chinese subway – just as many people as possible squeezed like tiny sardines into the subway car. It’s kind of fun to push and shove yourself in and out, nothing personal, just subway survival.
We made it to the train station and hung out there for a while waiting for our train and the last leg of our journey to take us to Liz and Lee. The only food options we had were mcdonalds and honestly we were pretty grateful for the food after the long flight and general deliriousness. The train station was my first real experience with a Chinese bathroom- which is a square hole in the ground that you just have to hover over and hope for the best. It took some getting used to but I do see the logic behind it – very much like our “squatty potty” unicorn facebook commercial. Also, I'm almost 100% sure two people on the train were eating cat food, so again, grateful for the mcdonalds. At this point my brain was trying to make sense of the Chinese language and translating the words without my approval so I heard lots of swearing and random conversations about Shamu and gingivitis.
Riding the train was the first time we were ‘outside’ and able to see the Chinese countryside which is such an amazing landscape! These mountains would just come out of nowhere and fade away just as quickly as they erupted out of the earth. It was almost as if the creator was holding a box of mountains and tripped over something and they all flew out of the box and fell randomly to the earth. The mountains also just gave away to the water, much like Big Sur, not really bothering with beaches.
From the train we could see rice patty fields next to high rises and dilapidated housing in which the Detroiter in me really wanted to explore. Staring out the window watching the world go by is one of my favorite past times, but so is sleep, and I was able to do a lot of that on our 4 our train ride to Lizzie and Lee. They picked us up at the train station and took us around the city where we got to experience the market and mall. At the mall they had all these kid rides that were so sparkly that John and I had to jump in and ride around in. they were these little Tron vehicles that rolled around and were full of shiny glowy lights. We went back to their apartment and met Zac Efron, their cat who looks like a tiny snow leopard, who gives the best hugs.
Adventuring around china with liz and lee is so much fun! Culinary adventures in the form of hot pot, feasting with Lee’s parents in a hotel room like a Chinese gangster, barbeque (Chinese version – very different then American version) and mango cake, with some weirder things sprinkled in between like pig penis and durian (a fruit that tastes good but smells like ass). Eating Chinese street food is a staple to visiting china, little street vendors line the roads and youre not quite sure if they’re selling food or stuff from their garage at times, but spicy noodles are delicious, and the spiciness totally killed any bacteria I may have eaten.
First Liz and Lee took me and John to an international friendship park where we rode a roller coaster (while Liz safely watched from below). Chinese people really like taking pictures of tall Americans and tattooed Americans so it seems me and John are floating around in a lot of random Chinese people’s pictures. Liz said that was pretty normal.
I've tried to make Liz teach me a couple Chinese swearwords, which I’ve already forgotten, and I'm also try to learn a couple words myself to help me get by, but basically the only word I know is shi shi, which is thank you.
Pooping adventures are a continuous thing as you always need to go to the bathroom (the food is pretty much all cooked in oil and fat) but you have to be very discerning on the bathroom you select. There were a few bathrooms me and Liz ventured into that I thought would be our last. But we prevailed!
Lee took John and I on an e-bike adventure through the city of Liuzhou to a park. Lee assured me he was an amazing driver, and we didn’t die, so I believe him. He dropped me and John off to a park where there was a mountain in middle.
We started wandering aimlessly towards the mountain, hoping it was climbable and then to our happy surprise we found a trail. On our way up we found a lesser travelled dirt path through the trees and followed that to the top. Once there the stairs turned into stones and we had to maneuver cleverly to avoid death. The rocks at the top were a little sketchy and mostly held in by bolts and nets that looked excessively old, but we managed to monkey up to the top overlooking the whole city with a 360 degree view. It was so cool to stand on the top just overlooking everything, as far as they eye could see and the smog would allow.
We went to the East Gate, which is the oldest wall in the province of Guangxi and then Confucius Temple, which was closed, but the architecture was beautiful and we were able to sneak around the back and climb some stairs for an epic view of the cityscape and bridges of Liuzhou. There was a cave that me and John started to sneak into but Liz and Lee assured us that’s where crackheads lived, so our cave adventure was short lived.
We took a river boat ride and got to see all of the amazing sparkly city lights of Liuzhou and the waterfalls that you could only see from the river, which were incredibly beautiful. They light up the mountains at night with green and yellow and orange lights so the whole city looks like a crazy jungle.
Basically China is fucking rad, an amazing mix of city, nightlife and epic backcountry all rolled into one. It’s fun to blog while I’m here and keeps my memory sharp by documenting and reliving all the epic things we’ve done. We’d love to stay longer and do more Chinese adventures but Thailand is calling & we’re answering the call!