China 07.04.2009 - 10.04.2009

Ni Hao! (Location: Xian, China)
I have now changed my location to a place with cooler climate - it is actually really nice to be in a cooler place after 2 months of tropical climate. But it is not cold here - it is pretty much like Finnish summer actually even though it is spring time here!

Xian is one of the most important historical cities in China - one reason being the world famous Terracotta warriors in the outskirts of the huge city. I have spent two days here now - yesterday was nothing special as I was really tired after a night flight.

Xian on siis yksi lukemattomista kiinalaisista miljoonakaupungeista - taalla on kuitenkin 'vain' kolmisen miljoonaa asukasta. Kaupunki on valtava ja kadut ovat leveita. Ihmisia on paljon mutta yleinen tunnelma on paljon rauhallisempi kuin aiemmissa miljoonakaupungeissa talla reissulla. Yleinen ilme on aika lansimaalainen mutta silti kiinalainen kulttuuri ja arkkitehtuuri nakyy joka paikassa.

Olen toistaiseksi kayttanyt aikaa lahinna kaduilla maleksimiseen, huomenna olisi tarkoitus tutkia tarkemmin keskustan nahtavyyksia. Tama paiva meni nuo kuuluisat sotilaat tsekatessa, taytyy sanoa etta paikka oli pieni pettymys. Syyna oli lahinna se, etta heti kun saapuu Xianiin nakee kyseisia figuureja jokaisessa vastaan tulevassa matkamuistoliikkeessa joten kun lopulta nakee aidot sotilaat niin eipa niissa ole mitaan uutta ja ihmeellista. Lisaksi sotilaiden 'hautoja' suojaavat hallit on rakennettu siten etta on mahdotonta nahda yksittaisia sotilaita lahelta ilman kiikareita. Suurin halli on kieltamatta valtava mutta toisaalta vain murto-osa tuhansista sotilaista on ehjia ja nakyvilla. Kummallista kylla suurin osa alueesta on matkamuistomyymaloiden ja ravintoloiden kaytossa... Silti kaymisen arvoinen paikka mutta ei maailman kahdeksas ihme kuten kiinalaiset mainostavat!

Osasin varautua kiinalaisten kehnoon englannin kielen taitoon mutta en uskonut sen kuitenkaan olevan niin surkea kuin mita taalla olen kokenut. Edes hotellista ei loydy montaa kielitaitoista. Tavallisilta kaduntallaajilta on turha olettaa yhtaan sanaakaan - jopa numerot ovat ylivoimaisen vaikeita joten kaupoissa asioidaan taskulaskimien avulla. Internet nayttaa toimivan ihan hyvin enka ole havainnut mitaan blokattuja saitteja kuten Myanmarissa oli. Internet-kahviloiden loytaminen on kuitenkin erittain hankalaa - loysin pitkan hakemisen jalkeen taman valtavan pelihallia muistuttavan paikan mutta yhtaan muita vastaavia en ole havainnut.

Paivan suurin saavutus oli junalipun ostaminen - pidin sita lahes mahdottomana tehtavana kielimuurista johtuen. Olin varautunut kirjoittamalla kaikki tiedot Kiinaksi paperille (fraasisanakirjan avulla) mutta kumma kylla rautatieasemalta loytyi englantia puhuva henkilo eika jonotuskaan kestanyt kymmenta minuuttia kauempaa. Eli huomenna olisi tarkoitus jatkaa yojunalla Beijingiin. Saapa nahda mita siita tulee...

Engrish everywhere... (Location: Xian, China)
I spent another full day in Xian to explore the sights in the downtown area. Even though the city is big most of the important sights are concentrated in a small area and can be easily visited during one day. There was nothing really that special really - some interesting temples and a mosque that did not look like a mosque at all. Maybe I have seen to many Chinatowns already so I have kind of gotten used to Chinese architecture and culture already? There are Chinese people everywhere and even my local Chinese restaurant has a lot of common with the places here... Myanmar was much different in a sense that I did not really have any idea of about what to expect!

What is really funny though is the amount of Engrish that can be seen everywhere (see www.engrish.com for examples). There are so many misspelled signs and lots of really funny ones that don't seem to make any sense at all. For example the sign at a local mall that said that one floor had 'Cowboy's clothes'. Could not find any boots or stetsons though. I would have uploaded some photos here but for some reason this computer is not accepting my card reader.

On the other hand the non-existent English skills of people are very annoying. I would expect the hotel staff to speak at least some English... Most annoying are the shop clerks that keep following you and keep talking Chinese or just remain silent no matter what you say!

I'll be taking the night train to Beijing today, it is actually my first ever night train trip in a sleeper car anywhere, let's see how it goes!

Having poor Donald for dinner (Location: Beijing, China)
I took the night train to Beijing and arrived here early in the morning. It was actually more pleasant experience than I expected - I shared the 4-person sleeper cabin with just one Chinese guy (who did not speak any English - surprise!). He did not snore or fart and the train did not make any stops on the way. So I managed to get a decent sleep.

Just some first impressions of Beijing... This city is huge! Even getting to the other side of city by taxi took more than an hour. Tiananmen square is as big as expected. Need to explore the city more when I come back from North Korea.

The title refers to my dinner tonight - of course I had to try the famous Beijing duck. It was not the most memorable feast ever though - slices of quite greasy duck meat with some vegetables. Maybe I need to try it again in some classier place?

Anyway I'm all set for North Korea tomorrow. Should hopefully be back next Friday. There is no Internet or mobile phone coverage there so don't expect any communications for a while! You even need to declare your mobile phone in the customs even though it does not work... But I'll keep more detailed diary by using the old pen and notebook method.

 

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