A Travellerspoint blog

The Adventure Continues...

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open - Jawaharlal Nehru

sunny 86 °F

One defining characteristic of any adventure is its tendency to deviate from course. Tonight is our last night in China; due to personal reasons, our stay has been snipped short. But, rest assured, it has been an adventure we wouldn’t think of rewriting.

Below are photos from our last days in southern China.

Our Zhuhai apartment complex.

Our Zhuhai apartment complex.

Jake requested a photo with this specific tree.

Jake requested a photo with this specific tree.

As usual, a bright day in Zhuhai.

As usual, a bright day in Zhuhai.

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Many buildings in Zhuhai were being renovated.

Many buildings in Zhuhai were being renovated.

The area we lived in was quite empty compared to the rest of Zhuhai.

The area we lived in was quite empty compared to the rest of Zhuhai.

On the way to our favorite noodle shop.

On the way to our favorite noodle shop.

According to our friend, this building was part of a graveyard.

According to our friend, this building was part of a graveyard.

Since our converter is so heavy, it often slides out of the wall...Jake attempted to fix that problem.

Since our converter is so heavy, it often slides out of the wall...Jake attempted to fix that problem.

In Chinese hotels, you insert your keycard into the wall for electricity. Are there any hotels in America like this?

In Chinese hotels, you insert your keycard into the wall for electricity. Are there any hotels in America like this?

At our favorite dumpling restaurant.

At our favorite dumpling restaurant.

mmmm...

mmmm...

According to the visual instructions on this compressed towel, one must insert it into water before using it...does this make sense?

According to the visual instructions on this compressed towel, one must insert it into water before using it...does this make sense?

Take note of #2 (in the hotel elevator).

Take note of #2 (in the hotel elevator).

Light traffic in Guangzhou.

Light traffic in Guangzhou.

I wish American hotels included tea sets.

I wish American hotels included tea sets.

The drink I shall miss most: naicha (milk tea).

The drink I shall miss most: naicha (milk tea).

From the textbook the school asked us to use.

From the textbook the school asked us to use.

We plan on continuing this blog from the States with whatever adventures we encounter there. Keep checking back, and we'll keep posting.

"Sometimes I see myself as a child in a rain storm, running around trying to catch all the drops in his mouth. I long for your adventures to be like the raindrops the child saves and not those which crash to the ground" - unknown.

Posted by rovingduo 05:58 Archived in China Tagged adventure china guangzhou zhuhai Comments (1)

Mooncake

overcast 88 °F

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is a celebration of harvest and abundance. Though dancing, feasting, and moon-gazing are important aspecst of the festival, the sharing and giving of mooncakes is perhaps the most notable practice.

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The most common type of mooncake is filled with lotus seed paste, though more contemporary versions may hold icecream, cream cheese, or even ham at their core. Since mooncakes are generally high in calories, some companies have even created fat-free versions of the traditional cake.

In the past, mooncake production could take as long as four weeks, though production is considerably quicker in modern times. It has become increasingly popular to present mooncakes as gifts to relatives and even business clients, sparking a desire for more high-end mooncake variations. On average, a box of four mooncakes may range from 10USD to 50USD, though those sold by prestigious hotels or restaurants exceed this range.

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Mooncakes are meant to be cut diagonally, into quarters, and then shared. Many include a salty egg yolk center symbolizing the full moon.

There are many legends surrounding the mooncake's history, though I will describe only two here.

The first folk tale is one rooted in history, during the Yuan Dynasty. According to legend, mooncakes were used by Ming revolutionaries to overthrow their Mongolian rulers. To spread word of their rebellion, special mooncakes were created with secret messages baked within. On the night of the festival, the attack took place and the rebels were victorious.

Another legend, as described by chinavoc.com, says, "Another legend explained the role of the Old Man on the Moon, the Divine Match-maker. The Chinese believed that marriages were made in Heaven but prepared on the moon. The Old Man on the Moon tied the feet of young men and women with red cords for marriage. Thus a maiden made offerings and prayed to him during the Mid-Autumn Festival, hoping that some day she would ride in the red bridal sedan chair."

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Jake and I recieved five boxes of mooncake throughout the course of the festival. Needless to say, we have consumed enough mooncake to last us at least until next autumn.

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In celebration of the festival, every teacher at our school received a large box stuffed with apples, oranges and grapes. Since there are two of us, we received two of these boxes. Our fridge has been filled with nothing but fruit for weeks.

To our readers, we wish you all a Happy Mid-Autumn!

Posted by rovingduo 21:52 Archived in China Tagged china living_abroad mid_autumn_festival moon_cake zhuhai Comments (4)

Mountain Quest

"I want to see mountains again, Gandalf. And find someplace quiet where I can finish my book..." - Lord of the Rings

sunny 94 °F

The alarm goes off. Grogginess leaves us quickly, for we know what awaits us this day: The top of a mountain.

We dress quickly after splashing cold water on our faces. Stuffing Chinese kiwis, apples, and oranges into our packs, along with bottled water, we head for the door and the peak. Outside, we face another hot Zhuhai day, but with our heads held high, for the breeze on top of Ban Zhan Mountain is cool and refreshing.

After hailing a cab, we jump into the backseat and give the driver directions in American-accented Chinese. "Wo men yao Qu ban zhan shan." The driver understands, thankfully, and sets out immediately. Weaving through the insanity that is also called traffic in Southern China, we arrive about twenty minutes later at the foot of Ban Zhan Shan(Shan means "mountain"). Shouldering our packs, we set out.

Ban Zhan Shan is a small mountain, but it is quite high, taller than almost, if not, all of the skyscrapers in Zhuhai. The main path to the top is made of 1999 stairs. However, it has many many small trails that break away along the way, giving any curious hiker plenty of exploring to do.

Becky and I started the daunting steps as soon as we completed a quick stretching routine for our legs. The first 500 are easy every time, but after that your body is drenched in sweat, your legs are on fire, and the benches every two hundred steps or so look very inviting.

We persisted up to about 1,000 Steps, where we took our breakfast of apples and water. Rested, and invigorated, we leapt up and continued on our way up. We finished the full 1,999 steps in about forty minutes or so, including our short breakfast. On the top, a long sidewalk stretches through several platforms where benches sit next to the low cement rails that serve as barrier between you and a long fall.

The view is incredible from the top. You can see for miles in every direction, and different landscapes find your gaze with each new way you look. The ocean rests to the south and east, and mountains bigger than ban zhan shan rest to the far southwest, outside of the city. Just under Ban zhan Shan to the South is Gong Bei Area, a tourist area in Zhuhai, and also the area from where we begin climbing Ban Zhan Shan. On the other side of the mountain lies the other areas of Zhuhai, streching out to the North and the East, sprawling over many miles. Beyond the edge of the city lies yet more mountains, surrounding the beautiful coastal city in green. Becky and I take many many pictures, before heading back down the path and the steps, where we plan on heading down a side trail to explore.

We eventually find the trail we want, and start down it immediately. No longer stone stairs, this trail is dirt, and is hedged in by tropical plants and trees. The Forest itself is not deciduous in any way, and even the dirt itself seems strange.

We follow the trail up and down, up and down, running through many valleys that stem from the heights of Ban Zhan Shan. We walked for about an hour, taking in beautiful gorges and little streams before turning back and heading back to the stairwell.

Having been to the top already, we take the stairs, very wobbily, back down to the foot where we go home to rest.

This we have done many times since arriving in Zhuhai. Ban Zhan Shan is amazing, and it refreshes us every time we climb it. We have returned to take pictures of the sunset, and will soon be going to try for a sunrise shot. I will post along with this blog many photos from BanZhan Shan below. Enjoy!

Jake Adams

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Posted by rovingduo 06:49 Archived in China Tagged landscapes mountains trees living_abroad Comments (4)

Pulled

″A traveler without observation is a bird without wings" - Moslih Eddin Saadi

sunny 95 °F

"The main problem is the wet," Allen said.

As Dr. Lee kneaded her knuckles deep into my neck, I pondered the meaning of this statement. With my face buried in the bedspread, I couldn't see Allen's face. Perhaps if permitted a glimpse, I would have discovered upon it some clue as to the riddle of his words.

Did he mean my neck was wet? Well, it was covered in some traditional Chinese medicine used by Dr. Lee. But, by all accounts, the medicine was the problem’s solution, not its cause.

Had my apartment flooded, unbeknownst to me, as I lay there mid-massage? That was possible and had actually happened once before. Such a scenario would indeed be "wet," but seemed to have little connection to the current situation.

Just as I was about to call "uncle," Allen offered another clue. "Wet. The air is wet."

How this related to the pulled muscle in my neck, I couldn't say. The pain was ebbing, but my befuddlement was as prevalent as before.

"Ah, you mean the humidity," came Jake's voice, from somewhere on my right. At this, some of the clouds of confusion began to shift, but any relationship between moist air and neck muscles remained shrouded in darkness.

Unconcerned with the current riddle volleying around her, Dr. Lee sprayed more of her spice and mint-scented oil, following the path of the pulled muscle with her fingertips, from neck to lower back.

Allen gave a sound of acknowledgement and swiveled into view, rolling by on a wheeled desk chair.

Dr. Lee helped to turn my head sideways, eliciting a groan of agony as the muscles shrieked in defiance, and rattled away in fluent Chinese.

"Many foreigners are not used to the humidity," Allen translated. "And so this can happen."

Not for the first time since arriving in China two months prior, I marveled at the medical differences between this culture and my own. In America, a doctor would have attributed a sore neck to the physical stresses of my job, not to any sort of climate condition. As an English instructor at a local Chinese kindergarten, I lift, tote, chase and wrestle 2 and 3 year olds each day. Jake, Allen and Dr. Lee are employees of the same school. Jake is an English instructor like myself, Allen is a Chinese English teacher, and Dr. Lee (aka: Chocolate) is the school's doctor.

Earlier in the week I had pulled a neck muscle, and the pain had since become unbearable. Upon learning of my condition, the doctor and Allen had accompanied Jake on an impromptu house call. After shoving open the balcony doors in my bedroom to let fresh air pour in, Dr. Lee had motioned for me to lie, facedown, on the bed. Eying her stash of traditional medicine, I remembered a prior experience at her mercy.

Weeks previous, I had gone to work with a migraine gift-wrapped and FedEx'd straight from Hades. With no pain killers of my own, and feeling like H. Potter with his scar ablaze, I visited Dr. Lee. As the doctor urged me toward a stool, I surveyed her medicine cabinet, hoping for some familiar sight: Advil, Tylenol, or perhaps my dearest ally, Ibuprofen.

Dr. Lee flitted around, grabbing a thermometer, flashlight, and small foil packet from her cabinet. She stowed the thermometer under my armpit, tested my forehead for warmth, and scanned my throat with the aid of her flashlight. Then she mixed the packet’s contents with warm water, creating some unknown tea-hued brew, and urged me to drink.

As she plucked a green box from her stores, I thought, “Ah, serenity at last.” But, relief twisted into confusion as she slipped not a bottle of pills, but a glass, oil-filled container from inside. She dabbed a bit of the substance onto her hands and rubbed her palms together vigorously, as if attempting to start a fire on some desolate, frozen tundra. She placed her warm palms against my temples, and the tingly scent of peppermint tickled my nostrils. Her magician’s hands kneaded skillfully, siphoning out pain as if in ribbons.

Under Dr. Lee’s care for a second time, I marveled at the continued absence of pain medicine. Instead, she used her own hands for pain relief. If I’d pulled a muscle in America, I likely would have taken something for the pain, rubbed it a bit, and waited for the healing to begin.

“Becky,” she said, breaking my contented haze. Tugging gently on my arm, she directed me into a sitting position. She carefully turned my head to the left, then to the right, to stretch the sore muscles.

Some Chinese words flowed between the doctor and Allen before Allen asked, “Does your neck feel cooler?”

At my affirmation, he nodded and said, “Okay, then the doctor’s nearly finished.”

Looking at me worriedly, Allen said, “You must have a good rest. Even if your neck hurts, you must sleep. If you feel worse later, then you must go to the traditional Chinese hospital. If you feel better, then the doctor will come back this afternoon.”

Now, one day later, I am feeling better than I have in days. Last night and again this morning I massaged my neck with the medicine left by Dr. Lee. Though still sore, most of the ache is gone. And I haven’t had to take anything for the pain.

Medicine used by Dr. Lee

Medicine used by Dr. Lee

Posted by rovingduo 02:13 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad chinese_medicine Comments (8)

Goodbye China

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within" -Lillian Smith

rain 77 °F

Passport clutched tightly, I stood in the line marked "Foreigners." To the left and right lay countless rows similar to mine, intercultural streams of people flooding into one common ocean. An elderly Japanese woman, gray-headed and grasping her husband's arm stood behind me. To my left, a haggard Malaysian woman, anchored by shopping bags, wearily managed two squirming boys bent on escape. Streams and rivers of us, different in our origins, but all flowing toward the same place: outside China.

Jake and I shuffled through the border checkpoints into Macau, an area adjacent to Zhuhai. Like Hong Kong, Macau is a special administrative region of China. Lying on the western side of the Pearl River Delta, the territory was originally a Portuguese settlement during the 16th century. According to Wikipedia, the name is said to have derived from the Jyutping Temple built in 1448. The temple was dedicated to Matsu, goddess of fishermen and seafarers.

With successful industries in textiles and electronics, Macau is also known for its hotels, historical sites, resorts and casinos. With such a rich reputation, Jake and I couldn't help but plan a daytrip to the area.

View from the backseat of a taxi. In Macau, steering wheels are on the right and cars drive on the left side of the road.

View from the backseat of a taxi. In Macau, steering wheels are on the right and cars drive on the left side of the road.


The ruins of St. Paul's - one of many historical tourist sites.

The ruins of St. Paul's - one of many historical tourist sites.


The architecture was very intriguing, as it was a mix of Portuguese and Asian styles

The architecture was very intriguing, as it was a mix of Portuguese and Asian styles


As usual, we had little to no idea where we were.

As usual, we had little to no idea where we were.


The tourist streets were bright and beautiful once night enveloped the city.

The tourist streets were bright and beautiful once night enveloped the city.


Jake, while roaming the streets of Macau.

Jake, while roaming the streets of Macau.


Enjoying raspberry sorbet (or, as Jake called it, "sore-bit") and coffee icecream - an example of us succumbing to our Western desires.

Enjoying raspberry sorbet (or, as Jake called it, "sore-bit") and coffee icecream - an example of us succumbing to our Western desires.


A building in the heart of the tourist area.

A building in the heart of the tourist area.

Posted by rovingduo 00:31 Archived in China Comments (3)

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