>To resist change is to succumb to stagnation.

>

Isn’t it true? People who refuse to accept the changes in technology and society at large are seen as old-fashioned and out of touch. Cultures and languages that refuse to adapt become less useful and endangered. This is true not just in the social sense. A river that stops flowing becomes dirty and unpotable. I can’t think of more examples, but I’m sure that’s good enough! Never stop learning! Or you suck! On to more relevant topics…

Qingdao: The Chinese Oktoberfest! There must be a ton of tourists (or at least English speakers) there we can meet and socialize with! Or so we thought. It turns out it was just another gigantic carnival with 20, 000 drunk old Chinese tourists. We counted 14 foreigners. That’s not a lot of English to go around. The good news was, beer in a bag costs only 50 cents! I’ve never had beer out of a bag before. And it was a big bag!
Rejoicing at finding the Tsingtao brewery bar, where our picture was taken with half a dozen different curious people.

Next stop: The ancient capital of Xi’an. Beautiful city, one of my favourite in China. The whole core is surrounded by a 14 km wall, which you can rent tandem bikes to ride around. We were much to hetero for that, unfortunately. We were finally informed about the names of some Chinese foods and became enamoured of steam buns in particular…which we called Chao Sao Bao, a terrible pronunciation of the Cantonese name for them. Which doesn’t really make much sense in a Mandarin speaking region of China, but that didn’t stop us from wandering the streets asking for Chao Sao Bao day and night. The good news was, there was a whole STREET of Chao Sao Bao, which we promptly named Chao Sao Bao street, and we ate there pretty much every meal for 5 days. It was quite easy to get around Xi’an…there was Chao Sao Bao Street, Trinket Street, Hot Pot Street, and White Person Street. Those were our favorite spots, anyway. We also hit up the Terracotta Warriors, which are an interesting historical discovery (an ancient emperor buried an army of thousands of clay warriors near his tomb to protect him in the afterlife or some nonsense…paranoid chump. More on paranoid emperors later.) I have a problem with tourist sites that are famous just because someone told you it was famous. “If you touch this lion statue on the nose, it will bring you good luck and long life!” Alright, I better line up behind 100 tourists to get in on that action! Not to say that the Terracotta warriors are like that…but, well, it was a bit overrated.
Terracotta Warriors…in an airplane hangar?

Chengdu: Panda City! These cute and cuddly little buddies are now my second favourite animal due to their more than adorable antics at the Chengdu Panda Preservation Centre. Check out the vids!

Awww what a bunch of snuggle buggles!

The Yangtze: The (not-so) yellow river. We took a 3-day river cruise through the Three Gorges from Chongqing to Yichang in Hunan province. Nice scenery, but rather expensive for the value. The funny thing about China is there are high-rise apartments EVERYWHERE, even along the river going well out of any city! As I wrote one morning: ‘The red sun of China rises through the interminable haze on endless skyscrapers…even in the “countryside”.’ Difficult for cameras at the very least, and you wonder what the haze is doing to your lungs! To make the trip more fun (and to save money!), we bought our beer by the case from the on-boat shop. I don’t think he had ever seen that before in his life.
The Yangtze. This was the city we started off from, which didn’t look TOO different from the countryside we floated through for half of the trip…no joke!
We got to see some purdy temples…Chinese architecture is awesome!

I had an interesting experience while on the boat, trying to get a bowl of rice from the restaurant where they were serving a one price buffet. I was not much in the mood for the whole buffet, so I asked if I could pay just for a bowl of rice (and good money at that!). Their response was something along these lines: “A bowl of RICE? Where do you think you are?? In a restaurant? In CHINA?!?! Nooooo no no no. No.” Ok that was a bit exaggerated, but they ACTUALLY wouldn’t sell me a bowl of rice, even though there were bowls sitting beside a giant steaming plate of rice. To top it all off, our English speaking guide came up and got a bowl of rice…and when I asked her to get me one too, the lady behind the counter at least looked like she had been caught red handed when she told me to get lost. What a jerk.

This tour was a VERY typical Chinese tour, the kind you would walk past on the street and see 100 tourists following a guide with a flag and a loudspeaker. We were 3 of those 100 people. But Chris and Curtis thought they could do a better job guiding.

So they gave it a try.

Curtis even asked this girl on a date. She took her flag back and left.
To prove that Chinese tourism revolves around carnivals, we played whack-a-mole and rode bumper cars in the most inappropriate places…temples, old towns, you name it!
Some temples retained their serenity.
Others did not.
There are two places you can find the words burn, strategically located, explode, irritable, and rape used in one document…dark, gory war novels and the MENU of a Chinese restaurant.

And now, the top 8 food choices at a delicious Chinese restaurant in Beijing:

8. The winter mushroom burns the fat cattle string
7. Yam explodes the shredded tripe.
6. Fries without added ingredients the rape.
5. Irritable pig’s intestines.
4. The garlic burns the blood to be prosperous.
3. Keep in good health stir-frying for a short time.
2. On the ant sets up.
1. Self-sufficient and strategically located region twice-cooked pork often with chili seasoning.

Yes, those were actual meal choices in the menu. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it!
Here’s the video of the pandas I promised:

http://www.youtube.com/get_player

Th-th-th-that’s all folks!
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