So I finally am going to put together the china post, almost a year later. It's really still very clear in my mind and I also journelled the whole time, so if I don't really remember something I can reference it again ;)
So stephen picked me up and took me to the airport and I got on a flight to chicago. He really only picked me up cause I said I would wear his rebuild shirt
to travel in. Instead of giving me a hug before I left, he just grabed my shirt and stared at it. So much for frien
dship. From chicago, we flew over the north pole and dropped down over the upper portions of russia & china. It was really cool and I took a bunch of pictures. On the flight there were a bunch of people from venezuala, I think they were on a tour and they keep drinking bad red wine and clogging the aisles and chatting really loud. They were cute even though I really just wanted to sleep. I realized at the end of the flight that alcohol is free, I got some on the way back. I first arrived in Beijing where I was to meet my uncle and cousin who live in Belgium. My mom was really worried about me getting lost in the airport and actually so was I ><. And so I kept asking where my connecting flight was and no one could seem to give me a straight answer. When I went to transfer my baggage to my next flight, the lady just pointed me through the door. The door defeated me for awhile cause it wouldn't open and it looked just like a wall. But the nice security guard was just like, "keep moving through (idiot)." And it actually was this huge glass sliding panels/walls. It was pretty cool, untill I realized they had kicked me out of the airport system and would have to go through security again. Damn it. And now I was outside and I didn't know where I was. And I felt really uncomfy because people were staring at me. It's pretty obvious that I'm chinese and I think they were really curious, because it's not like I'm straight american. I look chinese but also american. I actually passed some americans and one person was like "Billy! Look we're actually in Beijing!" XD like where did you think you were? So after asking around and going back and froth a bit I finally found the security point, because I was switching to domestic, I was in international till they kicked me out. So then I go in and I'm looking for my gate right? Can't find it. So anyways, I'm wandering around and finally find my security check point. But once I got past it, the next thing I knew, I couldn't find my gate! The reason being that it was 1.5 hrs before hand and they usually don't put in the gate information up till like an hr before hand. So I chilled. I finally met up with my uncle and cousin, they had run out to the city to eat. Jealous. Anyways, when we arrived in Chong Qing, which is in the lower SE area of china, my mom and my great uncle came to pick us up. Chong Qing for history buffs was the capital of China at the time of the WWII invasion. It's also the largest city in China at 3million. There's actually another man along and at first I thought he was a relative but actually he wasn't. The problem in china is the fact that there is too large of a population and thus there aren't enough jobs. Therefore people just end up taking jobs that we would find weird or below or whatever you want to say you know? He is pretty much the driver/secretary/general gofer of one of my aunts. And actually my other aunt, her sister has one too. It's kind of strange because we will just sit in the car and talk and I don't feel comfy cause there's someone I dont' consider "family" in the car. Anyways. They drive us out of the airport and into the city. There were so many neon lights all over the place, even on the highways into the city and then when we got into the city it was a more classy las vegas on two rivers. We go stop at a resturant and then climb at least 5 set of stairs to the ROOF?! I'm like dinner is up here? And we come up into a courtyard and there are three rooms on top and tons
of people running around. I have no idea who they are. But here is one of the pictures of them. To be honest, all my uncle, my cousin, and I wanted to do was eat our faces full but everyone wanted to take picutres. And to be honest, I don't even know who half the people are I guess I could try. so sitting at the table from left to right: My uncle, my cousin: yen yen, me, & my mother. Next row is: my aunt, someone, my great uncle in the back on my grandma's side, my great uncle on my grandpa's side infront of him. Someone, someone, someone, someone...till the end which is my 6th great aunt. Obviously I know all these people. Right... There were a ton of kids running around and most of them were boys *raised eyebrows* my mom said that the girls had left earlier for class but you have got to wonder neh?
Day 2 or 1 depending on who's time sched you are counting on. I lost a day for people in america.
So when I woke up I woke up hungry. The jet lag had made me hungry, it was only 7am but old people, which was the majority of my party get up early. So we rolled out and went down for a continental breakfast mixed with chinese food, like ti fan or congee for you cantos. They had these adorable cute little oranges the size of stones, they were really sweet and stuff like that. Anyhow, we hit the road at 10am with one of my grandfather's friends. When his son had come to america he didn't know anyone so my grandpa had taken him in and all that stuff so when my grandpa came here the father felt like he really had to take care of my grandpa, which included today's little excursion, getting a driver, and renting a car, and paying for my grandpa's hotel stay. A pretty penny. sigh. Anyways, It's pretty interesting driving around because when I came in last night it was dark and all I could see were flashing lights ><.
We are staying in the city center area and we drive out and see what everyone has been talking about. Fog. Yes. Fog. Chong Qing and the surround areas are famous for its fog. Also the city itself is built on a rock. Yes a rock. so it's actually a really safe place and very defensible. So the houses seem to shoot straight up off the rock and up and up on ledges and other things. Also, it's pretty safe from flooding or other major problem. And also they were able to during WWII bombing hide in the tunnels through the city and the rock. ANyways, we drive north of the city to Bao Ding I think? To this huge valley gully that as you curve down the side, they are covered in carvings from different eras. Some took 3-4 generations to finish. Most of the carvings are about buddist theory and what happens after you die and stuff like that. They actually have 18 levels of "hell" Before heading down to the valley they actally had a themed route so you could see the 18 levels. It was lame, but interesting in a bad halloween haunted house with lots of manicans, flashing lights, moving parts etc. But My mom tooks a ton of pics but the one that I like and took was this:
Yes, no carvings or scary haunted houses. Yeah yeah, crappy and boring but I like it better than the statues. SOme of them were so old they were just smooth people and walls. hmm anyways the drive out there took 2 hours. The countryside was really interesting because it was all farm land and then this sudden intense city and then farmland. It's interesting to me I guess cause I don't see it very often in the US. On the way there there was a car wreak and they were trying to get the pigs back into the truck. Interesting. So for lunch we stopped at this intersting place that was on a swamp/pound of lilies and for each table they had a little hut or room built over the swamp/pound. It was interesting. It was hot pot and they put a whole fish into each one. The following two pictures are to express my shock. Pretty much the had killed the things seconds before and then when they put it in the water, the hot water cause the muscels to tighten up and cause the fins to move and I thought it was alive! My grandpa's looking at my face in the second pic I think it's funny ;') MY EYES! Don't miss my eyes now ok?!
The food was really good though. They had such good hot mala. I took a bite and half of my mouth went fricken numb. Serious. I'm having a bit of problem with the food cause it's a little oily and there are things that I've seriously never seen before in my life. But I'm still willing to try...a little bit. ANyways, the ride back was long and I was still pretty jet lagged so I slept and then when we got back we went to dinner. Pretty much everyone was trying to fight to take my grandpa out to dinner but it's kind of hard cause 1. he's only one person and 2. He can only eat so much. Oh! Did I explain why everyone's fighting over my grandpa? My grandpa was the only child of his family to leave china during the revolution. He left around his late teens and haven't been back, he's 80. ANd he's the oldest of 8 kids. So everyone wants to fight over him and he suddenly was like, I'm goign back to china to see my hometown, everyone follows. ANyways, back to dinner. I liked the meal but really wished it had been a bit more spicer. Pumpkins in China don't taste the same as in the states. They are SWEET. They are so good. They fried them and it's so sweet. But yeah pretty much every table, every time we ate, there were like 5 servers and it just made me uncomfy. It's really anything you do, there's always 5 people serving you. THe bell boys at the hotel, just there to open doors for you. Servers at resturants to peel your chopsticks, serve your tea, listen to your conversations, etc etc. Sigh. I hate when people are around watching me, taking pictures, or staring...I just glare back. OH and the other interesting thing I found out is that they pretty much force retirment in public service. A great aunt of mine is a professor of appied mathmatics and she was force to retire at 55, men get to retire at 60. You know what I think about it, if you want to know call me and I'll tell you...very nicely.
Hello World, And we are off. We got up, ate a hearty breakfast, and went down to wait for hte buses. We have two drivers today and a huge car for 24 people. yes a big bus essetnially. But we only had 16...only 16 and two drivers. And we head out, with another car in tow of other cousins, uncles, and relatives to take even more pictures. Ok so the people along: my grandpa's younger sisters, 6th and 7th. There's also 5th brother, and then there's another brother...that I don't remember the number forI think 3rd, but who knows. There's also my grandpa's older cousin, the one below that he grew up with and loves and misses very dearly. He's almost 90, smokes, can move around without help, relatively healthy and problem free, and has a full head of black hair. How cool is that.
HOpe I'm like that when I'm 90. Mayb enot smoking but everything else. There is also the 3rd cousin younger than my grandpa. That's not confusing right? right? alright let's go on to name their gkids and grandkids. Ok no. I actually did name them in my journal but I'm not going to. Anyways, So my grandpa's home town is Yang Si (direct translation: Lamb Stone. Don't ask, I don't know.) and it's on the bank of a river. But no on knows where we are going, they just "know" where it is. They have never been there so they are like uhhh ok. So we start driving and we are taking the highways. My mom says that in 1985 most people didn't know what a high way was and now they can't even live without it. The reason that no one knows where we are going is becuase most people when traveling fron Yang Si is to float down the river. We really can't do that cause we have so many peopl and now there are roads...unlike before...scary. Supposely it's about 3 hours away. We first start out on highways, then city roads, and then we get serious country roads. They are full read dirt and full of stones to provide better tractions but it cause the bus to swing back and forth scarily.
Instead of taking 3 it takes about 6 hours. About 4 hours in we hit the YanZi River. It really has become the National Geographic for the Tan family. We hit the river but there's no bridge to get across it. So we get off and pile onto the beach and pile on this little boat to cross the river while the car takes another. THat's the river below. The city on the other side of the banks is where my grandfather went to middle school. When we finally crossed over it was still another 1 hour of driving before we go to Yang Si. It took so long. ANd when we hit the river we also were told we took the wrong route cause there was another one that was shoter and had a bridge -_- oh our preparedness. The city is called Hu Gong (Hu Zhou the Hu and Gong, 3 water dots and a prince gong...I think it's gong)
While we were driving over to the town we saw a pubic bus that runs to Yang si. The whole bus freaked and everyone had to take a picture. It was actually really funny cause when we saw this we found out that my grandpa's uncle was in this town gambling. He really wanted my grandpa to come back cause he couldn't leave his game and we were like come with us but he was like....I'm winning? oh the tan family. full of gamblers.
My grandpa's uncle is a foot doctor but he was about an hr away from his area of business gambling. amazing ;) 5th uncle was the last to leave so he knew the most and he started getting excited when we got close. When we pulled into town the road changed to paved and it looked like a small city in taipie....tall tiled buildings and stores. We parked and then walked over to my grandmpa's house. It was like an old chinese soap apera but older and less quality materials. SLanted roofs, wide doors that open the whole side of the house, and a block of wood acrosst he bottom of hte door. We wound up in this little street and up these stairs.
ALong the way we stopped at a open room. I guess it was an old tea house resturant that my great great uncle had opened and there were a number of tables in there for majong or Sichuan cards (big2). If you passed the house and looked around it's corner you could see the river right down a slope. and along the house you could see where water would sometimes flood up to cause it was growing green stuff up it.
And here it is, in all it's glory. The house use to be 3 stories and then also a basement but it's lost two of its floors and the front had been built out so it didn't look the same. My great aunt said there use to be a grape tree in front and huge door to get int he house. The only thing recognizable was the basement door that they all ran out of to go to school in the morning.
That required like 5 million pictures. We finally got someone to come and open the house cause no one lives in there anymore. It's really run down inside. It was kind of cold and dirty. The walls were made out of paper thin plaster and wood frame. The kitchen wok placements were kind of run down and falling apart. My grandfather went to the back room which had a cart full of hay in it...don't know what it was doing and said that this is where he was concieved and born. It just hit me then, the strength of will to get back to this place no matter how far he had gone just to come all the way back and drag the whole tan family along for the ride. The whole time we were walking around the town my grandma kept turning to me and being like, aren't you lukcy? If your grandda hadn't left you would be here pulling up yams. And yeah we are very lucky. Pretty much after that we packed up and headed out...my mom wouldn't let me go to the bathroom anywhere on the trip cause it was the country side, good thing I didn't drink much water. blah
Pretty much for the rest of the trip it was visiting relatives and just doing touristy things. The most interesting things happened the first three days of the trip. This day we just went around viewing Chong Ching.
Chong Qing, and where the two rivers met. You can see if you look closely...one is green (Jia ling Jiang) and the other dirt redish (YangZe). It's a cool city and I would love to go back. It's such a mix of old and new. It reminds me of taiwan but then there are people walking around with bamboo sticks and rope on the end so that if they need to carry anything heavy then can put it on either end and balance it on their sholder. Most people do this becuase most people don' thave cars to carry them in...just very rich people do. We had some real hot pot. Real hot pot is just oil with hot spices. My mouth was going numb becuase some of the Ma La spices they were using. The food was different but it was good. The tripe was black and they brought out duck blood jelly and threw it in there. I tried everything but I was confused by half of it cause it looked so different. We went shopping for the rest of the day and ate.
Day 5 (the 2nd of Nov, I think)
We packed up to head out to Beijing. THere are three things I forgot to mention. 1. No wonder everyone is brainwashed here, chinese propaganda is painted all over the place, especially the country side. It's on tons of houses and it's white on red brick so it's really stands out. ANd in each town center they also have a nice little picture and some local saying or issue of propaganda. Man the governement really knows how to brainwash and send people out to paint. And there seems to be trash everywhere. I think they jsut take the trash from the city and dump it int he country side. it's going to come back and bit them. A lot relatives came out to send us off. To be honest through out the whole trip I just felt uncomfertable. THese are people that I barely know and yet they are my family. If I see them a few more times I might get a little more comfy...hopefully.
My grandfather getting drunk at dinner. Again. He really can't hold his alcohol. at all.
My family on the great wall of china.
Pretty much I'm going to wrap up here. Beijing was more touristy then Chong Ching. We were staying with my grandmother's side of the family, her cousin, my mom's aunt but just about the same age. I really enjoyed eating in Bejing cause my great aunt is taiwan born and raised so she took us to all the the good taiwan places. One for lunch which was super good. Shaved ice, we had peanut and it was super good I don't knwo why. The thing that really stood out to me was how different beijing was after 5 years. I had come a few years earlier and all the houses were being torn down and rebuilt and the roads were being fixed up to the point where it was becoming a huge city...any city int he world. There's a really famous street called Silk Ally and it had a lot of history as the ending point of the silk road. They tore it down and then put a building housing a bunch of merchants. It's sad and such a lost but the chinese just steamed ahead. So much is being torn down. We did go over to the old governmental quarters which they are keeping and some of them have been turned into unversity's and gardens and what not. It's cool, just think Chinese soap opera plus royal court and you get the general idea. My great aunt lives in a really nice apartment but she doesn't jus have one she has three. the other two is for the aunties which do everything, cook, clean, and sleep with her adopted child. it's weird. Having someone do everything for you. I also met a few kids who were born in US but living in China. I think they are going to have weird lives going back to america for college. They've been able to pay for someone else to do everything for them. I've been told that they actually have classes for seniors on how to teach them how to cook and do their laundry to prepare them for college. oh the sadness.
That's about it. It was a great trip and I'm so glad I took school off to go. It was once in a life time and I know my bro missed out and regrets it. But man the ducks and chickens in the country side....scary...scary....
Thanks for waiting for this post so patiently. I hope you felt it was well worth it ;)