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Zanzibar's Reading Room

Adventures in the PRC
by: zanzibar

Hey everybody,

I'm in Hong Kong right now in a gaming cafe place. It's really loud because everyone is playing shooting games on the LAN and online. Hong Kong is awesome and my new friend Phil and I have been wandering around looking at everything. The subway system is one of the cleanest and most easy to understand that I've ever encountered. From the time I left Hawaii on the 10th to the time I arrived in Shanghai on the 12th took approximately 41 hours, 40.5 of which I was awake. My bed that night was the best I've ever experienced, especially because it was yellow. I felt like I was sleeping in a lemon meringue pie. Slightly crispy on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside. Shanghai was like a city from the future. All of the overpasses are lit up purple at night and over the many levels of overpasses are pedestrian overpasses. 20 years ago it had fewer than 200 buildings over 13 floors. Now it has over 2000. They say the city bird is the construction crane. They have the third largest suspension bridge in the world. They have a train powered by magnets that floats above its track and takes you to the new airport. Phil and I teamed up with a bunch of professors and explored Old Town Shanghai. There we found the legendary tree of money (and people say that money doesn't grow on trees). I got a lucky charm for good grades and threw it into the money tree. I got it to stick on the first try and Prof. Croizier said he'd have to automatically give me an A because you can't argue with the money tree. It took him about 25 tries to get his charm for getting rich into the tree, which we didn't think was a very good sign, but he's a teacher, so the money tree can only do so much. I had some roasted squid on a stick which was delicious but didn't get a chance to try the other common delicacy- roasted baby pigeons! If you say you've never seen a baby pigeon, I can tell you why: the chinese have roasted them all. That afternoon I hopped a plane to Guilin, famous for its hills that inspired traditional chinese paintings. We're talking rikitikitembonosarembocharicharibuchipicberripembo hills here. We took a boat down the river Li which is so clean that you can see all the way to the bottom. The Chinese govenment, realizing the potential of Guilin as a tourist city, had seized all the factories and closed them before they had a chance to ruin it. Communism at its environmentally friendly best! I got to talk to some Japanese tourists and use my massive Japanese vocabulary. "hi! wakari ma sen!" and they got to use theirs: "Hello! hello!"
In China, hello is pretty much a way of talking to anglophones that means hello, do you want this, come over here, buy something, which one do you want, and goodbye.
Then a bunch of other stuff happened which I will surely eventually relate, all having to do with the world's largest map and the fog and the 'bar inconsequential'. On the last day we were there, I went to a traditional chinese medicine hospital, where they gave us a demonstration in electroshock therapy. Curse my spirit of volunteerism, for next thing I knew a reincarnation of the evil asian steven hawking from alias, who can channel 220volts of electricity through his body and light up light bulbs with his forehead, was channeling electricity out of his fingertips and through my neck. He could even move my limbs like a marionette for laughs. For the record, it neither calmed me down nor did it cure my rheumatism. We'll see how that little adventure affects me down the road. I might leave for Vietnam tomorrow or maybe the next day and I'll be in Cambodia for a while, so I'll talk to you when I talk to you! I can't believe you were hit by a car, Anne!! That sounds so awful! Phil was almost hit by a car because here you have to look left instead of right. go figure. He's from Wyoming, so we get along famously. (it's the jackalope connection). I love China it is the most amazing place I have ever been. I want to go back and live in Guilin for a long time. The people are very nice and the landscape takes my breath away. It's a pretty small city and even smaller is Yangshuo where I would surely actually live if it weren't so far away from the Bar Inconsequential. We saw some water buffalo and regaled our friends with the water buffalo song. Tonight Phil and I are going to try and go up Victoria Peak and chill in Kowloon. We're there now at a less famous market, but it had great deals and Phil bought a dashing sweatshirt for $3. I have some tests tomorrow and class all day, so that will be much less exciting. Miss y'all and talk to you later. Oh, and the Explorer's sister ship, the Voyager, just had to be rescued near Majorca because a large wave broke the bridge window and they lost their engines and controls. (sounds familiar, eh?) Sooooo... they're looking into why the bridge window is such a piece, I guess, and I don't know how that'll affect the ship's return. Our captain has been dismissed (as a procedural thing... hmm...) and so has a lot of the crew so it'll be weird returning to the ship and not having our family there. Oh yeah, and I went surfing at Diamond Head. That seems like a long time ago.
Oh, and I went to the Hong Kong stock exchange today. It's filled with computers and extremely quiet. We weren't supposed to go in but we greased some wheels. I drank a Spite Ice which is my new favorite because it tastes just like Sprite but leaves this icy feeling all the way down your esophagus for about three minutes afterwards. It's got to have something illegal in it I am convinced.
Phil and I have learned to speak mandarin fluently so to you I say tsai chin. Unfortunately in Hong Kong they speak Cantonese so we have to start all over again.

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