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In No Particular Order, part III

Beijing, China


Ticket not on packing list:
Some prep work on my part. In my free moments riding the subway or dining solo I made a packing list for my foray to far west china. So organized, I am! The night before departure I am all packed by 11 pm - very reasonable, I say. Morning arrives after a sleepless will I miss the alarm and miss my flight night but that is not new for me. A bummer but not new. I do my final prep but am very relaxed 'cause....
My list has been all checked off - I am ready! 15 minutes before my scheduled hail a taxi time I realize I forgot to pack my plane ticket. :-0. I rip every bag & pocket I have open looking for that ticket three times never finding. While I'm on the phone finally connected to a person my friend, Stasia, looks in the first place I looked, the place I designated for the important stuff, and produces the ticket. "May I help you?" in strong Chinese accent, I hear. "Thank you very much," I reply. Click.

Lost cane:
I almost lost my walking stick at the Urumqi airport. I was about to get on the shuttle to city center when I remembered I had hung it on a hook on the toilet (word of advice: do not use the term 'restroom' overseas, you will get a blank stare). I had to show my passport to the soldier guarding the door then explain to airport personnel to let me in backwards through security. It worked. They let me flow up stream.

'Generals' at airport:
Just a smattering of soldiers.

Aviation Modernization:
Air travel in china used to be novel in that they handed out gifts like silk ties and had decent meals. Alas, apart from the flight attendants bowing to the passengers at the beginning of the flight they have 'caught up' with the western world in no longer handing out trinkets & having bad food just like the big guys.

What's in a name??
Clio coddle. Clio codile. Cliocodile. Clocodile. Crocodile. Oh! That's what the 'Clio coddle' next to the Izod symbol meant!

I am 'street performer' for elderly Uighur couple in Urumqi:
I think the airport to city center bus driver just wanted to get rid of me. He asked where I wanted to get off. I gave him store & street name. He just dumped me down town several kilometers short. Oh well. An elderly Uighur couple spied me and approached me, eyes wide. They walked around me as if I were a statue and by viewing me up close from several angles would get a better idea of the artist's intent.

Over hang n build across buildings in Kashgar old city:
It appears that the Uighurs built one story houses by stacking bricks, one horizontal layer parallel to the wall the next layer perpendicular to the wall. These layers are the covered with a mud/straw plaster. Neighbors' homes abut one another so from the alley it is difficult to see where one home starts and another finishes. Then later maybe they add a second story. That second story might be flush with the first, extend over the alley by a couple feet or reach all the way to the other side shading the already dim, narrow street. Now how to get INSIDE one of these lovely homes....

Acidophilus, Anyone?
I was served a lovely yogurt with my first meal in Xinjiang. In Kashgar I assumed it would be easy to find more. Not so. The mounds of white goop for sale at sidewalk stalls that I thought was pure white sour milk is really some sweet pastry filling or topping. Yuk!

In my element in Kashgar:
I left Urumqi in haste. I arrived in Kashgar very late. My first morning of being on holiday came two days after my departure from Beijing. And oh what a feeling of being 'home' by being someplace far flung. :-)

Austrian men & skivvies:
What is it with Austrian men stripping to their tidy reddies & tidy blackies when sharing a dorm room in guest houses??? [I averted my eyes...]

Sequin city/dental city:
Kashgar is sequin city. Any time of day women of all ages & sizes can be seen wearing dazzling neck to ankle sparkles. Cool. The ubiquitous store front other than bread is dental services. There might be 6 dentists on one block often next door to each other. I see plenty of little old men that don't stop there. I don't see many little old women. Hmmmm....

Set breakfast asking for little
Xinjiangers are night owls. Little is happening before 11am, 9am Xinjiang time. So my early start for the tomb was not passing me by many breakfast options. And the down town area seemed to be mostly China Mobile outlets. Around the block I trod at 11am hoping for a sit down but not uber fancy restaurant. I finally found one open n already serving customers. They asked me if I wanted big food or little food. I assumed this meant breakfast or lunch considering the hour. I said little thinking I'd get the breakfast menu. Nope. It was a set meal of soup with spongy tofu bean threads mustard greens & gritty meat balls, two large steamed buns one flavored with herbs the other with hot pepper a small dish of pickled veggies and a large kettle of tea. All for ten quai - $1.50.

Foot hicky
Do you know what cupping is on Chinese medicine? My foot masseuse did it to my feet. He poured propane on a fire eater type puff, lit it, placed a fish bowl shaped glass just bigger than a golf ball over it briefly and then immediately applied it to my foot, the cooling air forming a vacuum. A foot hicky! [No red marks were formed on my feet - I'm just being silly. He moved the glass bowl too quickly.]

Consistency:
15 years ago my children attended a Chinese school in Beijing. The walls through out were white washed green on the bottom half n white on the top. You'll be delighted to know that as of 2009 nothing has changed in terms of school d├ęcor, country-wide.

What I Cannot Photograph:
Clubs; semi automatic machine guns; circular barriers under stand alone awnings; fatigue green jeeps; medics; riot face shields; riot shields; combat ready troops in line for toilet; talkless soldiers sitting on the ground under shade trees; convoy trucks; five soldiers per stand, one stand per street corner in Urumqi; marching past old city wall in Kashgar.

Otra dohblay:
Any Uighur speakers out there who can tell me if I was propositioned with that phrase? I've got to stop smiling at male hotel guests.

Unaware:
According to my map the international bus station was just after the river which is where I was. And there was a bus behind a gate. But one does not enter the bus station through the driveway. The pedestrian entrance had to be close. Since all I saw were shop fronts I asked the fruit vendor who happened to be in front of the driveway complete with parked bus. He asked his friend. The bus was just yards away yet neither knew where this bus station was.

Racial Profiling:
There is a Uighur night snack market in Kashgar. Is it safe for a solo female such as myself?? I ask the hotel's cafe manager/travel expert who happens to be Han Chinese. Her answer? "It is safe for you but not for me."

No smile boy takes us to bazaar:
Instructions from more than one source were wrong. There we were, far from our goal - the Sunday animal market - and not knowing what to do. My Chinese should come in handy at this point. Dong wu shi chang. One person pointed south. Three people pointed north. A young man volunteered to take us. North. It took two buses and never a smile to go to... The Sunday bazaar. No animals. I think my Chinese was good enough. It's just that foreigners are not believed. They think all wai guo ren want the Sunday bazaar. We did make it. The one who pointed south was right.

If you want me to like you:
Turn off the car alarm and the incessant sales pitch! I do not have the tolerance for noise that most Asians seem to have.

I can't loose a thing!
I thought I lost my ticket. No. It was on the first l place I checked. It just took four looks with much tearing apart of other places in between those four looks to find it. I couldn't lose my passport either. I tore apart every pocket of every bag I had three times before remembering that it was in the safest place possible - attached to me! Ah, the secret pocket...


permalink written by  prrrrl on September 28, 2009 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: China 2009
tagged Soldiers and Skivvies

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