Despite the heavy fog, today the temperature was pleasant. In the morning I went to walk in the “e-Mall” to see the gadgets, then I met Alexandre to buy some USD from him, and I made the transfer to his account in Brazil. My brother didn’t know if he’d come anymore, if he came, I’d ask him to bring me a few USD and especially deodorant that was rare around here.
I had doubts about:
• If I would go first to Chengdu (inland,) or Shanghai (on the coast), then descend further south towards Hong Kong. I also didn’t know if I would include India in my itinerary. I decided to shorten my studies and lengthen my time in travel, yet I didn’t know if I would be able to “embrace the world”. I hadn’t started planning my route yet, I thought about improvising everything, like I always did. I’d leave the big suitcase here in Xian and travel only with the backpack, pick up my suitcase on the way back to Beijing. I’d only be here for two more weeks in Xian. I was thinking of making a goodbye party and invite my new Chinese friends, coincidentally, mostly English students, with the exception of Kang Li.
• During today’s class Teresa explained to me that the “zhong zhu” (or “ba zhan” in Taiwanese) was not typical Taiwanese food, but from southern China, and that here there was only the sweet, not the salty. Anyway I hadn’t seen any yet, except at the Taiwanese restaurant, but she would buy two for me.
• I went out with Rebecca, a beautiful Chinese girl who I thought was from the majority Han, but she told me she was of the Li ethnicity. She said I’m a Han, her family was from Fuzhou, my father’s land. We dined typical Hui (another ethnic group) food from Xian in the Muslim quarter, behind the Drum Tower.
While I was writing my blog, in a few words I put a hyphen, as they could be filtered or monitored by the Chinese government. Back in Brazil I felt a relief to be able to express all my ideas with freedom.
Here the Chinese only greeted each other verbally, until handshake was not so common, kisses were not even thinkable! As I grew up in Brazilian, it seemed that there was something missing. Steven exclaimed, “Do you also shake hands when you say goodbye!?”. For him it was more than enough a handshake as soon as he met someone. Steven and another girl thought it was very different that I used deodorant or perfume. They did not have this habit, perhaps because they really had no need, since most of them did not exude any natural odor.
The next day was monotonous, without sun and fog, it did not rain and it was not so hot. We had lunch together, Flávio, me and Jan, the English redhead who introduced me to Steven.
In the afternoon after napping I went again to watch the fountain show at the Great Pagoda. I walked back, I must have taken over an hour walking and eating along the way. I was annoyed when I tried to dine in a fancy Tibetan restaurant, as I could not read anything, they had no menu in English and had no other tables occupied by guests to point out the dish I wanted, I left the restaurant without eating.
I woke up early to go to the station and take the tour to see the Warriors of Xian, the east circuit, the day was great! Me and Denise went together, I regretted taking the tour, we went through several expendable places and could have saved on tickets, since you only pay what you are to visit, besides the transport (USD 1.30) and the guide (USD 1.15), which were cheap, the tickets were expensive! We spent over an hour in a jade shop, despite the time spent no one was interested in buying anything.
The guide explained something in the van, but arriving at the place it had another guide proper to the tourist attraction, anyway we did not understand everything and ended up walking alone. And for the Warriors of Xian it had to pay another guide separately.
The tour was as follows:
• Lintong Museum, it was waste of money, it could not be worst. The guide tricked us saying it worth.
• Mount Lishan, where Chiang Kai Shek’s nationalist generals took refuge with the advance of communism, it was reasonable.
• Xiangyu Barracks, only a few replicas of the Terracotta Warrior statues.
• Qinling Palace, there was only a palace model and a few things in miniatures.
• Museum of The Eight Wonders, it was reasonable, with mock-ups of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World plus the Terracotta Warriors, the Eighth Wonder.
• Terracotta Warriors, the visit to Xian’s Warriors was half-race, the guide gave us only an hour and a half, which left me reviled.
The entry was RMB 90, I paid RMB 45 (USD 5.80 with the student card), it is better to go without much expectation not to be disappointed. There are three sheds, the main one being the largest and with hundreds of warriors. It was nice, but I expected to see the carriages, but there was only one and this one was in a glass, I wish I’d seen it in droves. And as for the soldiers, I expected to see closely and walk among them to see details of the faces, but it was not so. The photos I took up close with the warriors were replicas and were photographed elsewhere.
Altogether there are more than eight thousand statues of soldiers and horses in natural size and more than one hundred battle cars, arranged in regiments of infantry, cavalry and archers, not to mention the generals and officers who commanded the silent army. The pits where they were buried occupy a surface of 20 km², the ones that can be visited were sheltered by an immense pavilion and constitute only a part of the complex connected to the mausoleum of the emperor, which extends over an area of 56.2 km². They were buried about 2200 years ago. In 1974, a group of peasants from Xiyang village who dug a well by Mount Lishan discovered the first pieces of terracotta statues, a type of baked clay, and ancient bronze weapons.
The discovery of terracotta statues contributed to the scholars coming to a clearer conception of the dynasty of Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di. Today it is already known that it was in this period that the standardization of writing, currency, weights, measurements and the width of the axles of vehicles used in transport took place. The emperor is also credited with the beginning of the construction of the first version of the Great Wall.
Qin Shi Huang, his real name was Ying Zheng, was a feudal lord endowed with political and military qualities, cruel and tyrant. He ascended the throne at the age of thirteen, conquering and eliminating six rival kingdoms, founding China’s first unified state, the Qin dynasty, which grouped a large number of ethnicities. He adopted the title of Shi Huang Di (founding emperor) and lived about fifty years, from 259 BC to 210 BC.
Strongly superstitious, Qin Shi Huang believed in the eternal life of his kingdom and dynasty, he began to build his mausoleum soon after ascending to the throne. The works lasted for 36 years and even requested more than 700,000 men, most of whom were convicted and prisoners of war. The tomb itself, stood at 115m high, today due to soil erosion reduced to 70m, and is surrounded by two walls. The complex host a palace where the emperor’s stone sarcophagus was placed, surrounded by objects and statues in silver, gold and precious stones of incalculable value.
The first cesspool contains an infantry battalion supported by horse-drawn cars, distributed according to a precise war strategy; the second was filled with divisions of archers and cavalry; the third reserved for the General Staff. In addition to the military cesspits 1500m from the mausoleum, the complex comprises cesspits with statues of civilians and hundreds of other galleries, in the mass graves were sacrificed the craftsmen who worked on the work – these ditches reproduce the land empire of Qin Shi Huang. The warriors and horses symbolized the elite army that guarded it in its passage to the other world. It is estimated that these statues have been cooked at a temperature of 950ºC to 1050ºC and their quality and resistance reveals well the technological level of Chinese ceramics, more than 2000 years ago.
At night, we Brazilians ate Moroccan food made by Regiane, we ate with the right hand. The flat and baked bread, called “nan” was similar to a pizza, we dipped the “nan” in the pan to try to catch the meatballs in a red sauce, which was not tomato.
Xian terracotta warriors.
The next day it was hot. Denise left our city this morning, but maybe I’ll find her again in Taiwan.
At lunch I was going to look for another Cantonese restaurant, but on the way I ended up meeting Henry the Uighur, and we went to eat typical Uighur food with two other friends of his who had not yet adopted a name in English, suggested and they readily accepted: Jack and Tommy, one came to study English and the other French. We ate the chopped pasta by hand and the lamb kebab, which incidentally was something that I ate most in Xian. This time they paid the bill, because I had paid Henry another day. As they were Muslims they had concerns about food, so we did not go to the Cantonese restaurant, they did not eat pork and I think they didn’t want to eat any dish made in the same pot the pork was made either.
I always made a point of paying the bill, because most of the people I knew were students and life here wasn’t easy, but they insisted on paying. Anyway, I always took my friends to a cheap restaurants, so no one would spend too much.
The dinner was also the farewell of Alexandre, who would spend only a couple of months in Brazil. We went to the wonderful Thai restaurant “Banana Leaf”, he ended up paying the bill.
The next day it was no longer hot and the sky was half overcast, the temperature was good. I had a sandwich at home, it should have been the second time I had my meal myself. It was more practical to go out to eat and sometimes it would come out even cheaper when I ate simple things.
I studied Mandarin and took a Cantonese class with Teresa. I went out to dinner with Teresa and Steven at a Cantonese restaurant. Cantonese is the language of southern China, from Guangzhou Province.
I haven’t had diarrhea in a long time, I didn’t miss it. Normally the foreigners had here, Regiane was already a whole month with diarrhea, but Daniela, extraordinarily, had diarrhea once for a whole year. I think I only had about three or four.
Today the weather was fine! After the meeting we went to eat my long-dreamed Peking Duck, a typical Beijing dish that cost twice as much there. Here in Xian it was around USD 10 a dish. The main thing is basically the skin of the roast duck that is eaten with Chinese bread in steam, a delight, the preparation takes 24 hours. You also eat some of the meat and take the duck soup.
In the afternoon I walked Lili through the center. She hardly knew the city, because she didn’t go out much, her friends in her apartment didn’t go out much either. I already knew how to take all the bus lines while she still got lost.
The next day was great, a day of clear skies. I went to a Foreigner Sunday service in the morning, obviously not recognized by the government. And I tried other exotic dishes for lunch: rice, beans and picanha with Brazilians friends at Flávio’s house. This meal I would only repeat when I arrive in Brazil next year. I was very anxious to bite a picanha (imported from Australia), but it was a great disappointment to have the meat well done! In the afternoon I fell asleep and then studied a little. I enjoyed the night of full moon, a beautiful night and decided to wander alone through the streets without certain destination. I dined a plate of dumplings, known as “guioza” in Japanese, those dumplings was in the shape of half moon.
Our friend Denise came this morning to visit us, we were very happy with her arrival, she would stay in the Regiane’s home. So we had Flavio’s cooking for lunch and dinner. We had good times of conversation and lots of laughs. At night I jumped into the English Corner, but due to the holiday there were few people and I didn’t stay there.
The next day the Mid-Autumn Festival was celebrated with the arrival of the full moon. The Chinese gather their families or friends for dinner and swap the moon cake. I bought some to give to some Chinese friends. This tradition dates back more than 3,000 years, beginning in the Zhou dynasty, the Chinese worshipped the full moon, and celebrated abundance and fellowship. This date is always celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, so it is a mobile date like most festive dates in Asia. Family and friends must wait for this date to eat the cake and admire the full moon.
The day was cloudy and the temperature pleasant, just like yesterday. Flávio, Denise, Daniela, Regiane and me – the Brazilians – had an English brunch with juice, bread, butter, fried egg, mushroom, tomato, bacon, sausage and half-sweet beans prepared by our “chef” Flávio.
In the afternoon I took Cantonese class with Teresa, this week I studied only a little. She showed me some beautiful pictures of a mountain she went with her friend. At the end of the afternoon I went with Steven to the Moon Cake Party, too bad I couldn’t stay until the end, because I had arranged to have dinner with Flávio, Denise and Regiane. There must have been about 20 people on the scene, we played some games, we had some food but no drinks. I met Lili, an English student who was Cantonese, just like Steven.
The dinner was at a Thai restaurant in the Downtown, called Banana Leaf, the best restaurant I’ve ever been to. Beautiful environment, well decorated, waiters wearing typical clothes, all Filipinos, interactive dance show, good food, well clean, including the bathroom. A little expensive for the locals, I spent RMB 62 (USD 8)!
I went through some clubs just to see what they were like. One of them had four floors, there were many more men than women, and it was difficult to walk because of many people there were, especially on the dance floor that was tiny. Admission was free, only consumption was paid. I noticed that there were no teenagers or students, maybe because the college kids didn’t have money or maybe they needed to study.
I woke up around 7:00 in the morning. I took a bus to the train station to join the tour. The traffic in the vicinity of the station is always very complicated.
On the highway there was traffic jam and everything was stopped. The cars started to go back in the other lane. My bus where there were only Chinese did the same, returned to the toll site to be able to take the highway on the other side by the opposite hand. I was a little apprehensive, because the cars and trucks came from the front giving high headlight.
Due to the delay, we didn’t go to one of the museums, maybe I hadn’t missed anything at all. The sights I went to were:
• Maoling Museum, a well-kept place with carved animal-shaped rocks belonging to the Han dynasty (206a. C to 24d. C.), its construction began in 139a.C. It was 40km from Xian.
• Qianling Museum, was a kind of history museum with wax statues, mockups, reconstruction of ancient scenery, nothing impressive.
• Qianling Mausoleum, it was interesting, there was an outdoor corridor with some statues on both sides and a hill to climb. Belonging to the Tang dynasty (618D.C. to 907d. C.), had several tombs around him. It was 50 miles from Xian.
• Tomb of Princess Yong Tai of the Tang Dynasty. At the site there was a tunnel, and at the end of the tunnel was the large black stone sarcophagus of the young and beautiful princess who was sentenced to death at seventeen by her tyrant grandmother in 701.
• Faman Temple, last place visited and the furthest 120km from Xian, beautiful place with monks, was a Buddhist temple, but after so many temples, it looked all the same to me. There was a thirteen-story pagoda. Outside I ate the “Chinese Shwarma”, the bread was baked on the plate and the meat was precooked before it was grilled.
Surprisingly no one smoked on the bus!
The workers work till late, day and night they are opening or closing holes in the street or sidewalk. Men and women, often ladies, in normal attire often without the use of company uniform. In another city, I saw people paving the road without the machines we know, all manually, for example, without the use of the truck with steamroller. To open a hole, they didn’t use a jackhammer, they hammered with their hands anyway. Of course not every place was like this, in some places should use modern machines.
Today it was a sunny day and a good weather. I looked at the map of the city and took a bus to the monument that marks the beginning of the Silk Road, it started in Xian and ended in Baghdad.
While exchanging a few dollars in the bank, I began to smell an unpleasant smell, I looked at the sole of my shoes, but there was no indication of having stepped on something unwanted, I noticed then that the smell came from the street, the so-called “stinky tofu”, the fermented soy cheese, a Chinese delicacy that usually emits an unpleasant odor.
From the monument I went to the center (“Bell Tower”), it was very crowded, some foreigners and especially many, many Chinese! The whole week would be like this, due to the holiday week. I finally found the Grand Mosque, which had a half-hidden entrance, but I decided to visit it in another day. Then I stopped by the “electronic mall” to buy a microphone for my computer.
I took a Cantonese class with Steven and last night I had dinner at a Cantonese restaurant, my favorite. I used to go there about five times a week. And always asked for something different in the menu of the day. To order the food, I had to look at someone’s dish at the table near by and point out that I wanted it, or I could read the ideogram of beef to make any request that had that ingredient. The restaurant was small and very dirty, the price was at the average local price, ranged from USD 0.50 to 1.20. And I had to share the table with any local, even if the table was already occupied, like it was in a college canteen, it used to fill up with students. It was in front of the XISU, where the “English Corner” took place, just across the avenue.
The next day once again made a good time. I tried to visit some temples in the south of the city, according to the guide, just take bus 215 until the end, and from there take a “rickyshaw”, the motorcycle cab with cabin, in South Africa it was called “rick”, but no one knew how to inform me anything. Frustrated, I went to the train station at the north gate of the wall, checked the tour package for tomorrow, for the Circuit of the Imperial Tombs, the western circuit. And not to lose the habit, I ended up strolling in the center.
I found a Taiwanese restaurant in the center, near the south gate, where I finally found the “zhong zhu” or “ba zhan” in Taiwanese, in Brazil they call it Chinese “pamonha”, but there is no similarity, the only similarity is the fact that both are wrapped in leaf of some plant. The “zhong zhu” was made of a kind of sticky rice. I thought it would be easy to find this food here in this country.
A funny thing is that sometimes on the city map it had a historical point, a tomb, but it couldn’t be found at all, as if it had been removed.
With so many daily walks, I’ve lost about 3kg in these two and a half months. Excellent, I was getting in shape!
The variety of ingredients and ways of preparing the dishes make Chinese cuisine one of the richest in the world. There are more than ten thousand dishes and about twenty different regional cuisines. In an immense country, with great climatic and landscape differences, there is a wide variety of dishes, dependent on an infinite range of products. Chinese cuisine has strongly influenced Japanese cuisine and many Southeast Asian countries, in addition to Central Asia, not to mention its influence on the world cuisine, after all noodles are a Chinese invention taken to Italy.
The hunger, poverty and wars that marked the country’s history caused the Chinese to set aside food taboos and take literally advantage of anything that could be taken to the mouth. Alongside rice, soy, pork, fish and vegetables, exotic delicacies often appear to the Western palate, such as shark fin, tiger penis, dog and cat meat, bat, snake, scorpion or locust.
In ancient times, the guests used the chopsticks and the spoons. There were no knives on the table because all the food was cut into small pieces so they could be caught with chopsticks. It was inconceivable to cut the food on the table while eating, it was considered something rude.
When preparing a typical Chinese meal, the cook is usually guided by various principles. The main one is the Taoist of Yin and Yang, the two complementary opposites. In the usual round table, where everything is arranged at once, soup, rice, pasta or bread, vegetables, meats, poultry or fish cooked in different techniques usually appear. One dish should be sweet (Yin) and the other salty (Yang); one cold (Yin) and the other hot (Yang); one soft (Yin) and the other crispy (Yang). The final picture is a feast that stirs all the senses. A good Chinese dish obeys four commandments: it has color, aroma, taste and presentation.
The Chinese believe that the meal should be a joint experience and this translate the cooperation that exists between family and friends. People serve each other in small portions.
Although they have a common base, it is possible to separate Chinese cuisine into four major regions:
• from the North (Beijing), which was for years the capital of the Empire;
• from the Central Maritime Region (Shanghai), where the handling of fish reaches its greatest refinement;
• from Sichuan inland, sweet and very characteristic;
• from Guangzhou (Guangdong), which mixes the elements of all.
The gastronomy of Guangzhou is the best known, due to its richness and diversity to a historical fact, the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644 when emigration to the south was general. The venerable Beijing cooks and their kitchen equipment from the imperial palace made a long march. On their way they collected the great dishes from the kitchens of the mandarins of the provinces, which were thus incorporated into the Cantonese cuisine. In Guangzhou, breeding animals such as dog, cat, snake and monkey go to the plate. Even in China, this cuisine is considered very cruel. What the Chinese talk about this cuisine is that: “you eat everything that has four legs but the table, everything that flies except the plane, everything that swim but the boat”. There are always people who try to organize movements against this cuisine; but on the other hand, there are a lot of curious people.
Rice is the main item of an Asian cuisine. It is so essential that it incorporated the way of expressing itself, when a Chinese receives a visit at home, he always asks “have you eaten rice?” instead of simply asking “have you eaten” or “have you had lunch?”.
Today was the national holiday of October 1st. The Chinese have been celebrating the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since 1949. The holiday lasts a week because it ends up joining with the Mid-Autumn Festival. It’s one of the most important holidays here in China. There are parades and shows all over the country, but I didn’t watch anything.
The sun came up a little bit and the weather was nice, but with a slight mist. On the Sunday morning I went to visit a clandestine evangelical Christian church along with a Chinese graduate in English – I had a Xianese lunch there. I was anxious because I always heard about these “secret” and “illegal” churches. In fact, as there is a certain restriction on freedom of religion, the faithful end up gathering secretly in their homes. A Korean pastor was expelled from Xian due to his pastoral activities. There is still persecution of Christians and members of other religions and sects, people are arrested, tortured, sent to labor camps and some are “missing”. Every Christian church must join the Movement of The Three Autonomies (MTA), being the Patriotic Church, the puppet of the Chinese Communist Party (PCC), otherwise it is considered illegal, clandestine and in some cases criminal. The policy of freedom of belief is a big lie, it is easy to search on the internet news of persecution against Catholics, Protestants and members of Falun Gong, Buddhists and Muslins in China.
In the second half of 1950, the camouflaged religious oppression began, under the pretext of political reform, called the “Movement of the Three Autonomies”. By virtue of this movement, the Church in China should completely get rid of foreign influence.
The three autonomies are:
• Autonomy of government, that is, the guarantee of church leadership to the Chinese, without any kind of external interference;
• Propaganda autonomy, that is, faith should be propagated only by the Chinese;
• Economic autonomy, churches should be maintained only with Chinese and never foreign funds.
Official statistics say that in China there are 10 million Protestants, all from the Patriotic Association, born of the MTA. The “stowaways” are estimated at 50 million. In 2005 alone, the Chinese government arrested 1958 people among pastors and faithful.
Christianity was introduced by the Nestorians in China in the 7th century (after Christ, of course), as it was the Islam. Buddhism was introduced in the 1st century BC, Taoism arose in the 6th century BC, and Confucianism emerged in the 4th century BC.
In the afternoon, Steven and I went out to walk a little aimlessly and ended up going for a walk in the Botanical Gardens. Bland and ill-taken care of by the way. I was much more in the mood to see the National Day celebrations. In the evening I went to see the fountain show at the Great Pagoda with Kang. There were groups of foreigners excursions, in addition to many Chinese, it’s too many people in this country.
I stayed at home all day long and I had for lunch the Flávio’s English breakfast and in the afternoon I took Cantonese class with Teresa.
I only went out to have dinner with Flávio and Daniela at a Chinese buffet in downtown, near where there was a huge poster of the soccer Ronaldinho, I registered a photo. I was a little disappointed, I was with too many expectations, there was a variety of dishes, almost everything, but there were no dishes of “chao mein” (the fried noodles, known by the Japanese name as “yakissoba” in Brazil) and no meat with broccoli, among others. There was “hwo gwo” or hot pot (known as “sukiyaki” in Brazil), some seafood, “tepan” (fried foods on the plate), dessert and also live small fishes to put into the hotpot. I paid for everything almost RMB 40 or USD 5.
But by 9:30, they had already collected everything, I couldn’t even get dessert! The restaurant looked like a smokehouse. Have I mentioned that 99% of the men smoke and very few women smoke in this country? They make a mess on the table and on the floor, like in any restaurant here, no matter the level.
The one-week holiday that would begin on October 1st this year. The Chinese celebrate what they call Mid-Autumn Festival with “Yue Bing”, or “Moon Cake”, a Chinese twist representing the moon with varied flavors, the most common being the sweet bean filling. As usual, on an extended holiday the whole China move, students go to their hometowns and others would travel for fun. Train tickets were hard to find and the lines at the ticket counters get kilometric.
We were waiting for a friend from Brazil to arrive in Xian. Denise was studying in Tianjin, an hour from Beijing, and she was of Taiwanese descent. I haven’t visit the famous Terracotta Warriors yet, I was waiting for her to arrive, so I wouldn’t have to go twice.
It rained less today and it was not so cold. In the afternoon I went to buy a speaker and webcam for my PC, I bought a local brand, at least I knew they were not pirates.
There were few people in the English Corner, due to the bad weather and the proximity of the holiday, maybe a lot of people went to travel. I had dinner with Steven and his friend Roy, another Cantonese guy, short and shy.
Today the weather was rainy, as it would be during the next five days. And the heater got too hot!
The lunch was spaghetti bolognese in the apartment of Regiane, it was a long time since I had last seen this dish! Afterward, I took a class with Kang.
Eating in China is very cheap, especially in small towns. I’ve paid up to RMB 2 in small meals, which is about R $ 0.58 (less than USD 0.50). But this is an extreme, on average spent from RMB 8 to RMB 12 per meal, which is between R$ 2 to R$ 3 (between USD 1 and USD 2). Things in Xian were a little more expensive than in Kashgar, but still much cheaper compared to Beijing or Hong Kong.
I caught a cold. I had lunch at a Uighur restaurant and in the afternoon I had Cantonese class with Steven, then we talked about random subjects to spend time since it was drizzling. He was a Christian, rare to find in this country.
Some Chinese locals compared me to a banana, that is, yellow on the outside and white on the inside, because I have the physiognomy of an Asian and inside I think like a Westerner.
I slept about 12 hours in a row, because of the cold I was very tired. I took a Cantonese class with Teresa and went out to have a dinner with Flavio, Regiane, Aaron and Steven. I almost didn’t study today.
In this country I’ve seen funny things, such as:
• Seeing Chinese going out simply in their pajamas. The women in colorful pajamas, vermilion or pink, I came to see a man in ceroula! In Brazil I also go out in pajamas, since I sleep in sweatshirt or shorts and T-shirt, but I think it’s different, isn’t it?
• Watching restaurant staff dancing and do stretching exercises in the morning in front of the restaurants, as if it were a military order, they probably thought it was weird for me to photograph them.
• Dance in the parks in large groups, mostly women, especially ladies. Someone took the speakers and the crowd dance synchronized to the rhythm of the music, in the late afternoon and evening. On other occasions I have observed social dance for couples.
• People bought takeout food and took their food in plastic bags, rather than styrofoam or aluminum packaging or lunch boxes.
• They also bought juices, soft drinks, teas and ice coffees in plastic bags and drank with straw while they walked. Later I would realize that it was something common in Southeast Asia.
Today was the fourth day of unrelenting rain and cold, unlike other days when there was no cold. Today I got all wet, just walked with the raincoat, did not like to wear umbrellas, from the thigh down I was soaked. All I had left was a long pair of pants and a pair of dry boots, these pants I used to sleep too!
The Mandarin class with Kang was at her college where she was doing grad school. I went on foot and came back by bus.
I did a little cleaning at home. Then I had dinner with Flavio, Seal, a Chinese and a beautiful and friendly Korean in a Cantonese restaurant, whose food is typical of the South.
I had to buy an umbrella for RMB 10 (USD 1.30), you could find for this price in Japan too, the only thing in Japan that is cheaper than in Brazil.
On the fifth day of rain the cold was more intense! According to the weather channel forecast there would be ten more days of rain ahead, after that there was no forecast, but it should be rain. Today the rain was a little weaker.
Here in China one should be very careful with the goods, after all I was in the “Land of Pirates” and I had bought a fake iPod, flash drive and backpack in Beijing, only the backpack was still functioning. Here things are made not to last, all of the lowest quality, it is included in this list even home plumbing, Flavio says so. It is very rare to find original DVD, in relation to the quality of pirated DVDs, they are very good being difficult to visibly differentiate between copies and originals, sometimes the recording was in the cinema theater with subtitles of any another movie. The government has stepped up actions against DVD piracy only. Here you can also have a sandwich at KFC or KLC, and have coffee at Starbuck’s or Starduck’s. Even cars and airplanes are cloned.
I took a class with Teresa. Cantonese is funny and I’m finding it a bit difficult, but not as much as Japanese, since it bears some resemblance to Mandarin and Taiwanese, due to phonemes, whose languages I already have familiarity, but it is totally incomprehensible among people who speak only one of these three languages.
At lunch I ordered a dish of noodle with meat, the woman got it wrong and brought me rice with meat.