A Travellerspoint blog

China quirks

Why China will win everything at the olympics

Competitiveness
The Chinese people are ultimate competitors. Even just crossing the road, they will compete to get to the other side first. I recently took an internal flight in China, and amazingly 5 seconds after the plane had landed (not stopped), large sections of Chinese people were unbuckling themselves and retrieving their hand luggage so they could be the first off the plane. The air stewardess had their work cut out. This was not a one off, its happened on all five flights i've had through China. This also probably explains their incapability to queue in any situation.
Queuing
At bus stops there are single file barriers to keep people in line. However this doesn’t shop Chinese people jumping in at the front when the bus turns up. It’s like being at a January sale. Where they come from I don’t know. This must be born out of missing buses when they were children.
Zebra crossings
There are white line markings on the road the same as the UK but that’s where the comparison stops. In china they are just paint markings and don’t mean anything, Crossing the road is literally like playing Frogger. Whilst in Guilin, I attempted to cross a road to the centre partition of a dual carriageway, except the gap in the hedge was a lower hedge. I was subsequently caught short and ended up diving on the a hedge (A bit like crowd surfing but painful), the alternative being mowed down by the oncoming competitive drivers (they are the same in cars). Also whilst in Beijing it is important to note that when the green man says go, this means you can go but watch out for cars that will still turn, and alway give way to buses because they wont give way to you!!
Driving
Don’t even think about it. Not even riding a bike. Imagine the queuing mentality, but in a car, bus, van, motorbike. It is insane, line markings for road users also count for nothing.
Important words
The most important words you will ever need to learn is Buyau xiexie pronounced “Boo yow she she” (Brookside “she” style) and means no thank you so I’m told. After 10 minutes in China you will be proficient in using this word having said no to watches, handbag, necklaces, ties, memory cards, massages, seal stamps, kites, incense, silk dresses, tablemats, chopsticks, buddas, belts, Strange jelly that remould back to its original form, dice, candles, sex, herbal tea, fans, budgies, silk knickers, scorpions, DVDs, socks, jade, paper cuttings, illuminating Frisbees, someone else art that’s being passed off as their own, dressing gowns with dragons on, skates, photo scenery of the photo you’ve just taken, pot pouri containers, girls that are learning English and would like to discuss it over a cup of tea?, monopoly in Chinese and you’ve just walked one block!
Food and drink
Remember that when ordering soup, it is served after the main course, the waiter looked confused when a complained.
The horrible smell that is always in close proximity to the fast food stalls is “stinky tofu” which I understand tastes very good, however, I’ve passed on it since I couldn’t get close to the stall, the smell is that bad.
Snake Wine is more a spirit than a wine so prepare for a shock when drinking it (a kind of cross between vodka and tequila. I hate tequilla)
The nice looking bbq pork rings on skewers are probably pork intestines, which have a essence of pork but that’s where the comparison stops. Not recommended
The strange golden fried balls on skewers are actually fish with a texture of swiss cheese like
Try the beancurd dumplings, they are excellent.
For some reason, the meat and birds delicacies in the restaurant are all of the parts that we wouldn’t touch. i.e. duck necks, chicken feet. I still haven’t found a place that actually sells duck or chicken breast on a menu.
in beijing you can buy anything on a stick. So far ive seen, Battered Prawn with shell, baby lobster with shell, Silk worms, sea horses, snake, Scorpion, Pig testicles and Dogs penis? I tried all but the later. Fortunatley whilst attempting the silk worm, A kind American girl (they do exist) brought me a Tsing Tao (pretty good chinese beer) to take the taste away. I will be eternally gratefull. I don't recommend any of them, althought the snake wasn't too bad (a bit like squid).
Spitting
The Chinese are a nation of spitters. It’s part of their culture. It’s strange and slightly disturbing listening in 6.1 Dolby stereo to ten grown men trying simultaneously coughing up the contents of the back of their throats. But it’s their culture so you have to deal with it. HHhrrrrr

Posted by I Langley 08:50 Archived in China Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (1)

Top 10 things - so far.....

These will probably change to top 15

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Top 10 things done so far
1 Diving at the Reef
2 Abseiling Waitomo
3 Climbing Franz Joeasph Glacier
4 Flying from Milford to Queenstown in a lickle biddy plane
5 Helicopter ride over Niagra
6 Ballooning at Alice Springs
7 Canadian Rockies (in Particular Lake Louise and Spirit Island)
8 Kings Canyon Rim Walk
9 Sydney bridge Climb
10 McDonnald ranges - Alice Springs

Top 15 Chill/ hangout out places
1 Central Park - New York
2 Granville Island - Vancouver
3 Stanley Park - Vancouver
4 Fraser Island
5 Melbourne- Riverside , Belgain Beer garden (St Kilda Road), narrow street cafe bars,
6 Darling Harbour - Sydney
7 Byron Bay
8 Mollolo - Fiji
9 South Bank - Brisbane
10 Lake Louise - Banff
11 Pier 39 - San Francisco...... not Grimsby
12 Newbury Street - Boston
13 Whitsunday Islands
14 Freemantle - Perth
15 St Kilda - Melbourne (especially on sundays)

Top 10 Shopping
1 Hong Kong
2 New York
3 Melbourne
4 Montreal
5 Sydney
6 Toronto
7 San Francisco
8 Calgary
9 Vancouver
10 Boston

4 places to Avoid
1 Seattle USA - Dull, except the pigs
2 Taupo NZ - dull, ( go straight to Wellington)
3 Manjimup Oz - Bling, Bling, Bling, Bling, Bling, Bling, Bling , Bling, Bling ( Banjo Territory)
4 Hamilton NZ - Dull (but go to the caves, just head for Rotorua afterwards)

10 important things in my backpack
1 My journal, with out it i'd be buggered.
2 My Credit card - Thank You Nationwide for not charging for transactions - shame on you Halifax
3 My Merrels- best walking shoes ever
4 Teabags- You can't survive on crap tea
5 My camera
6 My shades
7 My stubby cooler
8 After bite- liquid ammonia -strong stuff
9 Packing tape- for all kinds of uses
10 Aloe vera- its amazing where you get chapped!

5 mistakes made whilst touring
1 Bringing too much clothing- Ended sending some back.
2 Not booking the china trip in UK. - Thinking it will be cheaper and easier in HK. (still stuck there.)
3 Booking 3 nights in Taupo - What was in thinking.
4 Not staying longer in Vancouver, Fiji, Fraser island,
5 Staying longtime in Hong Kong- (yes i"m still here and if i'm asked if i want a fake rolex again!)

7 Freebies
1 Bus around Stanley Park - Vancouver
2 Tram in Calgary Central
3 Te Papa Museum - Wellington
4 BBQs all over Australia
5 Swimming Pools down the Australia East Coast
6 Tourist trams around melbourne
7 Nothing in New York and if it was, you'd still have to pay a tip.

Posted by I Langley 18:15 Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (1)

Actual Route

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This is the actual route i am taking so people can track where i am ( not sure if thats a good thing)

Places So Far

New York, Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Niagra, Bamff, Jasper, Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, LA, Fiji, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Taupo, Wellington, Picton, Christchurch, Alice Springs, Ayres Rock, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Airlie Beach (Whitsundays). Fraser Island. Brisbane, Surfers Paradise, Byron Bay, Sydney, Wagga Wagga, Melbourne, Perth, Penberton, Freemantle, Kalgoorlie, Hong Kong,

Posted by I Langley 07:23 Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

Day 120 to 122 28-9-07 to 30-9-07 Pemberton

Banjo country- Bling, Bling, Bling, Bling, Bling, Bling, Bling, Bling, Bling,

sunny 65 °F
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Time for a road trip. So checking out the map, we decided to go to Pemberton so Chris could get a taste of rural Oz. The drive there was pretty uneventful, stopping on the way to take in a tree top wire bridge walk and a few photo stops. We arrived in Pemberton about tea time. The place was very small with a couple of restaurants and a drive in off licence. Bizzare?

The following day we took a local tourist train following the route of the logging trains used to take. The afternoon was spent trying local wines and ciders ( there's a lot of wineries around here)

That night, we decided to try a different town for a meal, as their wasn't much choice in Pemberton. The nearest town was Manjimup About 20 minutes away. Driving in to town, it was noticable that it was larger, but, even quiter that Pemberton. As we approached the town centre. We slowed down in search of somewhere to eat. What we saw made us lose our appetite. How can i say it. There are Dog lovers in this world and there are DOG LOVERS. The man outside the bar, was one of the latter. Suffice to say, we sped off pretty damm quick back to Pemberton. Not to return to Manjimup again. I've seen some crazy S*** on my travels but nothing will top that.

Posted by I Langley 07:50 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Summary so far (Fiji and New Zealand)

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Once again heres my brief summary of the palces i went to

Fiji

Good
The People - Friendliest in the world- bula
Just a great place to chill out

Bad
Expensive island boat transfers (thats all i could think of)

Auckland

Good
Viaduct harbour- Great restaurants
Decent place to live- lots to do and visit
Art Museum

Bad
Transportation. Its a serious nightmare to get around
Nightlife dissapointing for such an exciting city

Hamilton

Good
Witomo Caves nearby

Bad
Just a dull town - if you can get up early, do the caves and drive to Rotorua in one day

Rotorua

Good
Loads to do
Good Walks especially the coastal walk
Tour to Hobbiton
Luge - via the cable car - great views
Zorb (even though i missed out its still worth mentioning)
Polynesian Spa
Blue and Green Lakes
Te Puia - Great place to learn about the Maori culture and a big geyser to boot

Bad
It smells (but you can put up with it. in return you get the Geothermal stuff)
Nightlife was dissapointing for such a buzzing place- but it was Winter

Taupo

Good
The drive away from the town
It has a lake and on a clear day to can see Mordor (shame i didnt get a clear day)

Bad
If it rains theres bugger all to do

Wellington

Good
Great Nightlife in Courtney Place
Great Restaurants in Cuba Street
Street car to Botanical Gardens
Rings tour to surrounding places
Te Papa - Best Museum so far
Check out the chochlate fish cafe (favourate place of the RIngs Cast)

Bad
Nothing i can think of.

Christchurch

Good
More English than England
Very Cultural
The Scuplptures by McKennzie Thorpe
The train journey to Greymouth

Bad
Not much nightlife

Franz Joesph

Good
The trek up the glacier
Good Hostel YHA

Bad
Not much more to do but thats only what you're there for

Queenstown

Good
Good Nightlife
Loads to do (base jump, canyon swing, bungy)
Good Walks
Milford Sound (take the plane back you wont regret it)
Skiing resorts nearby

Bad
Full of Air heads

Overall

Best Bargains

- The walks,
- The Bus ticket from Greymouth back to Queenstown - there are loads of special deals for coaches and are more like tours than a bus service

Rip Off

Nothing i could find

Most irritating

Lack of Nightlife - excluding Wellington ( i put it down to being Winter)

5 Questions that need to be answered

1 Why is netball so popular - and there's no shirtswapping at the end! so why
2 Why do kiwis put avacado on burgers (its like the french using mayo)

Useful websites while travelling in New Zealand
www.wotif.com - good for late deals for hotels

Posted by I Langley 17:38 Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (0)

Day 113 to 117 21-9-2007 to 25-9-2007 Melbourne

sunny 0 °F
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Like Sydney, I had been here before But since this is one of the best cities in the world to live, i was still looking forward to it. To compare Sydney and Melbourne is what people do alot in OZ. The way i see it, is that Sydney focuses on buisness and Melbourne focuses on People. The city is geared up to being people and tourism friendly. There are free trams. One circles around the central core of Melbourne, whilst the other is a tour tram, taking in the major sights.

On Saturday I arranged to meet an old friend at Belgian Beer Garden. He's been in Melbourne for a number of years. So i was looking forward to catch up and find out what was the best places to go to from an insider. Shame he didn't turn up. Still, the Belgian Beer garden (St Kilda Road) is a pretty damm good place to spend the afternoon lot of different beers and mainly European. Later, I was fortunate to get tickets to the War of the Worlds concert. The show has an amazing Holographic computer generated image of a young Richard Burton narrating the story. Its not long before you actually start believing it is him. It's strange, that the hologram recieved a larger applause than any of the cast (including Jeff Wayne himself).

The following day, Sunday, i took the short tram ride to St Kilda. This is where i stopped last time i was in Melbourne. Thankfully it hasn't lost its charm, although it is more busy. The main street is still lined with cafe bars which were all packed. The previously closed Luna Amusment Park, which is a 60's style looking amusment park was now open and rammed. Also being Sunday (best day to go to St Kilda), the local art and craft market were strung along the prominade. Most of the stalls were pretty good and different to the usual tat you'd expect from a sunday market.

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Monday was a chill out walking day, taking in a few parks, the massive war memorial, a view from the tallest building in Melbourne and a couple of exhibitions.

On tuesday I travelled on a tour down the Great Ocean Road. this is a long day trip,(about 15 hrs) but some of the best coast line you would see in all in the world, the hightlights being the Appostles and London bridge. Whislt travelling down the road if you have a keen eye you can see Koalas in their natural habitat.

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Wednesday was another packing day, and another flight this time to Perth, where i am meeting up with friends Chris and Anna for a couple of weeks.

Melbourne has changed a bit, from when i visited last time. But it hasn't lost its cosmopolitan image. The restaurants (especally the ones within the Crown casino) are exceptional and the side streets lined with cafe bars are a great place to hang out. I can't say a bad thing about the place. (OK the weathers not as hot as Brisbane or Cairns).

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Posted by I Langley 17:35 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 112 20-9-2007 Wagga Wagga

So good they named it twice?

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I decided to break up the journey from Sydney to Melbourne with a stopover in Wagga Wagga. Why? "I remember when i was a lad" (about 5 or so) looking at a map of the world and seeing Wagga Wagga, alongside Sydney, melbourne and the other major cities. I remember wondering what that place would be like. Well now i have been there.(still, i'm still not sure why it was on the map).
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Wagga means crows, so Wagga Wagga means lots of crows (although i dont remember seeing any). The town is low key, it reminds me of Hamilton in New Zealand, with a main street for shopping, a picturesque rail station, a small shopping centre and a river with a decent park alongside. Like the larger cities, Wagga has numerous war memorials with an eternal flame burning in the park. The most impressive memorial being a scupture showing the route of the Sandakan - Ranau Death March in the second world war.

It's commendable how the Aussies embrace their history and achievements. If i looked around Grimsby, where would i find any sence of history and respect of the past? A cenotaph at Nuns Corner, tooked out of the way, is that it? Sad.

Yes, even Wagga Wagga has pride in their towns history and their achievements .They've immortilised them with bronze plates embedded in the pavements. I only been a day here but supprisingly learnt alot (plus they have a beach!)

Posted by I Langley 17:34 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Days 107 to 111 15-7-2007 to 19-7-2007 Sydney

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I've been to Sydney before, but it didn't stop be looking forward to going there again. Darling Harbour is one of those places that you can never get bored of. There's always something going on.

This time around i moved further affield. taking in the Rock ( the oldest part of Sydney), a few of the Parks and their famous Fish market? This comprises of a large unloading area with about a half a dozen fish stalls, a bakery and a deli. Thousands flock here, especially the chinese who demand that the fish they buy is live fresh. A couple of the fish stalls have a cafe attached so customers can have there produced cooked on the spot, it is always packed. It just shows, it doesn't take much to be become a tourist trap (take note NELC)

I took a wine tour around the Hunter Valley. (thats about as much as i can tell you). I also remember the tour guide saying not to drink all the wine, but to spit the wine out. I remember thinking sod that. Funny, that's all i remember.
I learn't whilst tasting wine, i could disitintivly taste difference between still wine, sparkling wine and vinegar. My pallet is not refinded, i just know not to pour it on fish!

The last day in Sydney i climbed the Harbour bridge. I figured that if it's good enough for Kylie. Yes, i have stood where Kylie has stood ( it doesn't get better than that). The climb is not scrary at all, unless you don't like heights, then it may be. You are strapped to an harness, which is hooked on to a continous wire sytem along the whole of the journey. so it's totally safe and a spectacular view especially at dusk when the lights start coming on (you have to pay extra for a dusk climb, but it's worth it).

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Posted by I Langley 17:31 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 106 14-9-2007 Byron Bay

Today i'll be a Hippy

sunny 0 °F
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Byron Bay reminds me of how a spanish resorts used to be in the 70's, A chilled, relaxing place. Livley at night but not as in youre face like Surfers. Ok no topless women like Spain but you can't have everything

Byron is famous for the large amount of hippies that moved in years ago before it became trendy. The influence can be seen in the shops around with models of VWs and loads of flower power souveners. I didnt see full Hippies only a few wannabees (chilling out this week, back to the office next week)

Byron is also a great place for Surfing, and particular para-surfing?,( a cross between pargliding and surfing), and tricycle bikes being pulled the wind via a sail attached, great fun.

There's a great cliffside walk around the bay to the lighthouse, (which can be seen from the beach) and back to the town. Whilst at the cliff top, you can watch the whales heading south from the view that is the most easterly part of Austrailia,

Byron is another great place to chill out away from the stress of city life. Relax, have a coffee, read a book and watch the day go....zzzzz

Posted by I Langley 17:30 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 105 13-9-2007 Surfers Paridise

Today ill be a beach bum, at least i would if i't wasnt for the big skyscraper blocking my tan

sunny 0 °F
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Surfers Paridise has a bit of and identity crisis. By day, it looks like a Marbella, loads of luxury yachts, moored up in numerous quays running parallel with a long fantastic beach. By night, it turns in to Benidorm. Livley but with traits that follow a steriotypical resort. Its worth visiting for a night, but move on after that, there are much better places to go to down the gold coast.
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Surfers is a victim of its own success and had been somewhat ruined by the High rise apartments and hotels. They are so tall, the shaddow from them eclipses the beach by three in the afternoon, which is a shame because it is a great beach.

Posted by I Langley 17:28 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Days 100 to 104 8-9-2007 to 12-8-2007 Brisbane

Dull City?

sunny 0 °F
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I wasn't sure what to expect for Brisbane and talking to some locals on the way to the city i wasn't expecting too much. Every seem to have a downer on the place and call it dull.

But as Dirty Harry says "Opinions are like arseholes. Everyone has one." So, Firstly the bad points. Actually i'm struggling to think of anything too bad. Its not a great place for shopping, if you compare to Melbourne or Sydney. The bars and restaurants are very good, especially sea food. The transport is getting in to a bit of a mess, but at least they had the nonce to relocate the bus routes underground. If anything you could say it lacks sparkle, but on the other hand the gold coast is only a couple of hours away, the reef isn't too far and the weathers pretty good all year round.

On the plus side, the the South Bank Riverside, is a revalation. It's a great place to relax and spend the day or two. They are renovating the swimming pool complex at the moment, which is massive (and free) and will be amazing when completed. The swimming pool is connected to the paddling pool which links in to the waterway meandering around the complex. The waterways are shared by the local Ibis, which are seen to be pests by the locals but look facinating to any visitors. Surrounding the pool is a multitude of cafes, restaurants, an outside arena (where there is always a local band playing at lunchtime, great idea) and numerous childens play areas (including a giant wall for chalk art). All of this is linked by a walkway with floral covered steel steel structures, all different and contorting their way through the complex like a giant caterpillar, the effect is creatively stunning.

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Also whilst in Brisbane, i took the chance to visit Austraila Zoo, (Steve Irwins Place), which is only and hour or so away from the city. I havn't been to a zoo since probably when Cleethorpes zoo was around. (so not a good yardstick to measure by). However, you couldn't help leaving being impressed with the size, dedication, and care that the staff at the zoo put in to help and conserve the wildlife. Nowadays, attractions are treated totally as money making schemes.
In this place the money goes back in to the welfair of animals, and it shows. They now have the adjoining land to expand the zoo (not that it isn't big already). So in a few years time it will be even better.

I never really liked Steve Irwin when he was alive (always thought he was mad and a bit of a prat). Having been to the Zoo my opinions have changed. I still think he was mad, but looking what he had achieved and tried to do. You can't help but admire his commiment and dedcation.

Anyway the rugby world cup started this week, so i've been avoiding as many rugby conversations as possible. The word cat and hells chance does come to mind. Having seen the All Blacks and the Aussies earlier in the tri nations, I cant help see anything but us getting completely stuffed, thats of coarse assuming we get out of the group stage. But at least we have beaten the Yanks.

All in all, i liked Brisbane, the pubs, restaurants are great and livley and the people are friendly, even though most of them like country music, but everyone has their flaws!!

Posted by I Langley 17:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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