good news and bad news
I got an email from Tom Jennings today, relations with Air China and PBS didn't go well so now he is not coming to film the Olympic baseball game. I'm glad that Kailey and I have Volleyball tickets, and we're going to buy some more to other events when we get back to Beijing. Its too bad though, film shoots are so much fun and it wouldn't been nice to do something productive while I was here!
I'm trying to remember everything that happened since we hiked the gorge...
After spending the night at the Halfway House in the middle of the gorge, we hiked the next day to Tinas Guesthouse, where we all had lunch, and the Kailey and I wrote all our postcards while the boys climbed down to the water at the bottom of the gorge. We then had a scary car ride back to town where we started our hike- scary because after the rainstorm there were places where the waterfalls were just running over the road itself and there were rocks everywhere. Very scary. After we got back to town and collected our luggage we were going to take a bus to Shangi-la, but there was a taxi driver who had just brought someone there from Shangi-la and was going back anyway, so he took us back for much cheaper. (We would never be able to do things like this without Lihao. Having a Chinese speaking law student with us has saved us more than a few times now). After we got to Shangi-la we stayed at the Dragon Cloud hostel for a night and met a nice guy from Oregon named Tom. We went out together and had dumplings. The next day we were going to take a bus to Deqin, but again Lihao found us a deal to get a ride from one of these little grey vans you can rent. We thought it would be better to be in the van because we would get there faster, and because people smoke on the bus which makes it pretty miserable. The van wasn't bad but it was soooo slow because the woman made so many stops! We stopped at all the good photo places (which was fun at the first few but we got tired of taking pictures), we stopped for watermellon, for lunch (which we didn't eat- SKETCHY restaurant. We got chips across the street instead) and all these other dumb things, so we got there much later than we thought we would. She was a very nice driver, but just not as much in a hurry to get to Deqin as us.
But finally we got to Tashi's Mountain Lodge, which was the coolest hostel bar far. Its way up in the mountains above town, and there was a yak, a pig, a dog, two goats, and a chicken that wouldn't stay out of our room. The goats were the most fun, we fed them grass and played with them a lot. We stayed there two nights and enjoyed hanging out with an Austrailian guy we met and playing cards. Also the girl who works there, Maria, was an AMAZING cook, so we had lots of meals at the hostel.
After those two nights we took the bus back to Shangri-la. Lihao misplaced our bus tickets so we had some confusion that morning, but finally we convinced them we had bought them and they let us ride the six hours in the bumpy bus. We had some time to kill in Shangi-la and went to another monistary. It had some pretty funny giant gold statues with funny face expressions, but after our previous skamming monk experience I was very wary of my wallet being there. It was fun to see though. That evening we went to the airport to attempt to fly back to Kunming only to find out that our retarded travel agent didn't know where Shangri-la was, so instead of CLARIFYING with us where we were going to be, she just books flights out of some other town with a similar name. So we called her and she switched us onto the one flight of the evening our of Shangi-la which, lucky for us, was to Kunming, just several hours later. Then the flight got delayed beause of bad weather in Kunming. We called the Hump to let them know we'd be rolling in after midnight and they said that was fine. We finally landed in Kunming after 1am, and the first taxi we got in tried to skam us by pretending he didn't know where we were trying to go (which we knew was bullshit because the hump is in a major square just 15 minutes from the airport). Lihao yelled something at him in Chinese and we baled on that cab and went and caught one on the street, and that driver was totally fine and took us there no problem. We got to the Hump around 1:30, to find that despite our reservation AND our phone call a few hours earlier, they had given away our room. All they had was skattered dorm beds. We called a few other hostels but finally settled for the dorm beds. Kailey and I were assigned to the "girls dorm" and Alex and Lihao to the boys dorm. Kailey Alex and Lihao went to get a latenight McDonalds snack but I was so tired I just went into the dark dorm and fell asleep.
When I woke up to get dressed in the morning, it was startling to see that this "girls dorm" was full of college aged German guys. Alex and Lihao's dorm had guys in it too, so its not like we got switched or anything. I don't know why they told us it was only girls. I don't mind a co-ed room, but it was annoying to be so suprised when I was already so tired and disoriented. Lihao was already up and arguing in Chinese with the manager- apparently he had heard through the wall (his dorm was next to the lobby) the girl at the front desk giving away our room AGAIN that morning on the phone! So he had argued a long time with her about how they had given away our room twice. Finally he convinced her to give us back our room (AND at the dorm price with a free cup of coffee). She had given him a sob story about how the rent at the hostel is going up and they need to keep all the rooms full- which made no sense, since if we hadn't shown up they could have charged our credit card anyway, and that we were already THERE with our room reserved for the second night.. so he won the argument. Yet another time that he saved us from being screwed over in China. So we got our nice 4 person room with our own bathroom and shower and TV for the cheaper price, and we were all very happy to be back together. Alex and I had been attempting to do laundry all morning (with a very slooow washing machine) and by then it was after 1pm. It would have been a 2 hour bus ride to see the Stone Forest and the last bus back was at 5PM, and it was raining very hard, so we all decided we couldn't really face it that day, we were too tired and annoyed with China. So we went to a fun street fair instead, I bought Mom a present and Alex bought a fun wallet. It started raining harder and it took us a long time to flag down a taxi- finally Kailey had to stand out in the road and jump up and down and FINALLY one stopped. As we were running to jump in our cab a pudgy little chinese guy tried to push past Lihao and get in the front seat. We didn't let him steal the cab and we just got in, then he got very flustered and started yelling in Chinese. When he realized we didn't understand him he screamed "fock yuu!" at us. We all four burst out laughing hysterically at his attempt to curse at us, (which I'm sure was extremely patronizing, but whatever he tried to steal our cab!) and we couldn't stop laughing until we were about 5 blocks away. Alex and I went back to the hostel and watched Monsters Inc in Chinese and Lihao and Kailey went to some park and ate egg things.
The most annoying thing I think about China is that people don't respect STANDING IN LINE. Even in the grocery store people will try to walk around you to put down their items in front of yours, or push you out of the way on the subway, or walk in front of you everywhere even when you're obviously next. Its been very annoying and rude, and we've been trying to not be rude tourists while being here but we are getting tired of people being rude to us- today we were more firm in not letting people push past us.
The next morning (yesterday actually, now that I think about it), we were sad to part ways with Lihao at the airport. He went back to Beijing to spend more time with his family and we came to Shanghi. So far this is my favorite part of China. Shanghi is a beautiful fun big city, and much more clean and nice than Beijing. Its hot but not unbarable, and there is actually blue sky. Our hostel is a little more expensive, but much nicer than any other. Nice bathrooms and showers, we have card keys to our room, there is AC (YAY) and free internet, free breakfast, and a shuttle that can take us to fun tourist places. They also arranged our train tickets back to Beijing on the 10th. We got a soft sleeper car for the evening, so we can go to bed and wake up and be there. Last night we went to the Peoples Square and saw more neon than I've ever seen before. Everyone on the street has been trying to sell us "watch? bag? MP4?". We were a little mistified as to how these people thought they were selling MP4s, but we finally figured out today that they meant cell phones that can play MP4s. Today we went to the Chinese Sexual Health and Culture Museum, (which was hilarious), then to this underground market famous for selling couterfeit goods (LIZ- they had super cheap Jimmy Choo bags, like under 50 bucks- but I couldn't tell if they were real or not. I got a different bag that was cuter though!) and Kailey and Alex bought some fun stuff too. It was kind of intimidating, there were very few other white people there, and the shop people would just SCREAM at us to come into their shop, they demanded that we look at their stuff and would follow us up and down the rows. The only Chinese phrase I really know turned out to be the one I need the most- "boo yow" = "I don't want it!". Then we took a crazy light up tunnel ride under the river to The Bund, where more people tried to sell us "watch bag mp4!". We took some pictures of the water front and then came back to the hostel. We're hanging out in the common area watching the Opening Ceramonies with everyone else. Everyone has been clapping for their country. We're the only Americans here, and everyone laughed when we clapped for the US and then booooed Bush. Some guy from Korea came over and said "Go Obama!" to us. Tomorrow we're going to a water park to play in the biggest wave pool in the world after we get Chinese full body massages. The day after that, we're FINALLY going to see the Pandas! hooray!