Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lost in Translation: Shenzhen, China: 10 Days With My Cousin Traveling Through Macau, Hong Kong and China.

Jessica and I officially arrived in China, where we would come across new places, new faces, frustrating situations, and have conversations in which we . . . well, hadn't the slightest idea of what was being said. This is "Lost in Translation: China." And let the new adventures . . . BEGIN!

China: A country with over 1.4 billion people. It was a number I once found difficult to comprehend; however, after using the country's subway, it's quite clear how large this number really is. Crystal clear.

Jessica misplaced the piece of paper she had written our hostel information onto. She really got pissed off and upset with herself. Needless to say, she fell into another depression. Since we had no clue as to where we were or where to go, we decided to go to a McDonald's to regroup and rehydrate. You can always count on a good 'ol McDonald's to be nearby, even in China.

"Ba da baba ba, I'm lovin' it!"

While Jessica went to purchase a snack and few bottle waters, I asked 4 people (1 Frenchman, 1 middle-aged white guy, and 2 Chinese women) if they knew where we could find an inexpensive place to sleep. The Frenchman spoke poor English and couldn't explain to me well enough to write good directions; the middle-aged white guy ( I don't know where he was from) didn't know; and the 2 Chinese women didn't speak English. Oy vey . . .

As I was asking for directions from the Frenchman, Jessica walked over and interrupted us. "Never again, while we are in China, will we go to another McDonald's!" She looked extremely annoyed as she handed me my water. "How ya doing?!" she hollered to the guy I was speaking to, before turning around and walking away. There was a brief awkward moment of silence between me and the Frenchman. " . . . Okay then, " I said, smiling, "As you were saying. Sorry."

Since we didn't have any luck obtaining information about hotels, we began to walk and hope that we'd stumble across something - which we eventually did. The receptionist of the hotel didn't speak English, but it just so happened that one of the guests who was checking in, did. After negotiating a reasonable price through our newly found translator, we took the room. It was a large room with 2 beds, a television, air-con and a bathroom. The bathroom had a large clear sliding door, creating an atmosphere of 'openness' in which Jess and I, however, were not opened to. Seriously, no privacy. It was a simple fix, though. We placed our towels on the coat rack and placed it in front of the bathroom, then made the other person who wasn't using the bathroom sit on the bed on the opposite side of the room. Like I said. A simple fix.

Our room also provided an assortment of sexual condiments, such as vibrating condoms, lotions and creams, and a compressed towel. I mean, I sooo would have been irate if our room lacked a compressed towel. That just wouldn't have been acceptable. There would have been hell, I tell ya.

Later we would discover that our room also provided us with roaches. They were cute roaches compared to the ones Jessica is used to in New Orleans, but that didn't keep her from freaking out. "I don't have a problem roughing it," Jessica said, "But when it comes to roaches? I just can't deal with that."

We eventually left the confinements of our hotel in search of some botanical gardens that Jessica had read about. Unfortunately, no one in the city of Shenzhen had ever heard of such gardens. We did eventually find someone who knew about the botanical gardens and where it was located. I think Jessica was happier to discover that she wasn't crazy, that she really HAD read about the gardens and that it truly did exist, more so than that we'd just been provided with directions to the gardens. In the end, however, we decided not to go because it was getting late. We ended up walking and exploring the city by foot. It's the best to see a new place, in my opinion.

Shenzhen was absent of tourists. And for good reason. It was an overpopulated dirty, smelly city. The smell of vomit and piss seemed to linger everywhere. After we saw another person throw up we seriously began to think there was some sort of epidemic going on. "Okay, I don't think I'll be having any street food here," Jessica said.

And if it wasn't the vomit we were worried about stepping on, it was the spit and large loogies. Yes, the Chinese appeared to have an obsessive compulsion to spit everywhere, and all the time. It's really gross. We did find, however, another area in Shenzhen that was cleaner, more developed, and upscale. Not upscale enough though to find people NOT spitting. You can pretty much count on them doing that everywhere. It's a spitting everywhere, all the time extravaganza in China. Yummy.

We discovered that there was a movie theater in one of the malls, and as we were walking toward it, a bunch of little girls who were selling something came running and hollering towards us. After we politely gestured to them that we didn't want to buy anything, they jumped and clung onto our legs, not letting go.

"What the hell?"' I said. "I can't get this girl off of me. She has a kung-fu grip!"

We both began laughing as we continued to walk towards the mall with the little Chinese girls clamped onto our legs. I didn't think we were ever going to get them off of us until this elderly Chinese man approached us and began yelling at them. I have no idea what-in-God's-name he said to them, but it sure as heck did the trick, and they immediately removed their devilish paws. When the Chinese speak it sounds as if they are angry, but they're not (I think), it's just what their language sounds like. So just imagine what this guy sounded like as he REALLY was pissed off, and yelling.

Before we went back to the hotel we stopped at a local Internet cafe. This Internet cafe was unlike any cafe I've been to during my travels. First of all, it was huge. And I think Jess and I took the last 2 available computers. So, yeah, it was very busy. Busy enough that there was actually an usher who would find and escort you to a vacant computer. Smoking was allowed, too, which I wasn't too fond of. But here's the real kicker: before we could access a computer we had to give a large deposit (I don't get the deposit policy in China), a copy of our passport, and a picture of us had to be taken by the receptionist. Whoa! Talk about paranoia. What the hell did they think we were going to do to take such precautionary actions? Good Lord. I made sure to avoid any websites that could have been used against me to say that I was a spy or something, because I'm sure that everything I was doing was being monitored. Jeez.

We were definitely not in Kansas anymore. Oh, China . . .

Next Stop: Shanghai, China


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