How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


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Wuchan: Day 12, Part 2 – Cruise Ship

Harry, a soft-spoken Chinese fellow (30-ish) met us at the airport. We walked for miles and miles to reach our awaiting bus, which smelled bad: between burned electrical wiring and forgotten musty rags.

We asked him to use the microphone as he choked off facts about Wuhan during the drive, but still he didn’t project. In fact, speaking louder would not have helped his English. He sounded as if he had a hot potato in his mouth and was the least confident guide to date. The bus trip took forever before we reached our destination.

Quick Facts:

  • Population Wuchan: 12 million
  • It takes 2-1/2 hours to drive from East to West Wuchan
  • Three towns joined into one in 1927 and called Wuchan
  • This is an educational standard next to Beijing: 87 universities; Wuchan has 69 universities
  • Smallest college in Wuchan has 8,000 students and the largest has 50,000
  • A total of 1.5 million students in the city of Wuchan
  • So far, our bus drivers have made U-turns as a matter of course

The three main industries are:

  1. Steel and iron (10 square kilometers)
  2. Automobile factories: Citron (since 1993 venture with France), also with Honda and Toyota
  3. Main industry, state-owned factory: tobacco. Produces cigarettes. Pays the second most tax next to Citron manufacturing.

Cigarettes:

  • 1-pack = 10 cigarettes
  • $3.50 USD for cheapest ones and locals smoke these
  • Special cigarettes are exported: sold by carton of 10 packages: 3,000 Yuan or $500.00 USD
  • Factory located 80 kilometers outside Wuchan

Nightlife:

  • Most important social skills in China: smoking and drinking
  • Legal drinking age is 16, same as eligibility for a driver’s license
  • China white wine very strong: 35 to 43% (sounds closer to white lightening than wine)
  • In northern China, one famous brand 70 to 75% (rice wine, high alcohol content). Only the people in northern China drink this because it’s cold there.
  • Chinese saying, “If you run out of oil for the hot pot, just pour in some wine.”
  • Traffic is terrible after 9:00 p.m. as the bars open
  • The bars are loud and packed with young people (9:00 till midnight); the older generation can’t stand the noise

  • Life isn’t much different for the young people in the east from the west.

 

  • Square dancing is popular with Seniors, who enjoy it mornings and evenings in the parks
  • Young people don’t like the sound of the loud dance music on weekends because they like to sleep late.

This is square dancing? I wonder why they call it that?

Weather:

June is the beginning of summer. The average temperature is 30 degrees Celsius. There are three ‘ovens’ (also called furnaces) in this area:

  1. Wuchan
  2. Chongchin
  3. Nanking

Six-and-a-half to seven months of the year, everyone wears Tee shirts in Wuchan because of the heat and humidity. A historical record high of 48 degrees Celsius occurred in 2006. Usual  temperature is 44 or 45 degrees. When it gets this hot, school and work are cancelled, a policy made ten years ago. Everyone now has air conditioning to combat the heat.

Harry came only as far as the dock and then, vanished. Dark had fallen some time ago. The cruise ship glowed in the distance like a mirage, outlined with tiny white lights. Slam. Bang. Clatter. We dragged our luggage down long planks of wood and sheets of steel. The ship’s crew members shone flashlights and cautioned us to watch our step at intervals along the way. At long last we boarded, and were handed heated hand towels and tea or apple juice.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

~ * ~

Something extra for you:

http://herschelian.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/bodysnatchers-in-china/

~ * ~

Next on December 5, On the Yangtze River, Day 13, Part 1

For more related posts, click on China tab at the top of the page

© 2014 All Right Reserved TAK


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100-Word Challenge for Grown-ups – Week #156

100wcgu-72

Click below to join:

http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2014/11/25/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week156/

The prompt this week is the picture below+ 100 words

Week 156

BUSY, BUSY

“Eloise.”

“The name’s not Eloise. Go away.”

“Don’t ya rest—on a full stomach yet?”

“Nosey.” She shifted and appraised the intruder.

“How many times ya re-knit this thing?” He advanced, scrutinizing her handiwork.

“You’re saying it’s sloppy?”

Nah. Ya’re workin’ too hard. I’m Percy, Perc to my friends.”

“You’ve been watching me?”

Passin’ by. Noticed ya—busy, busy.”

“Come on. I’m tired of hollering.”

“Nice work.”

“I know.” She shuffled legs.

“Hey…”

“You want to play? We’ll do it my way. I’ve room for dessert afterwards.”

“But, Wida, you slurped up… Your web’s empty.”

“Not any more. Time to Cha-cha.”

~ * ~

NOTE:

Male Black Widows have improved their survival rate by choosing well-fed females (preferably virgins). They judge by the pheromones she releases. A hungry female will eat her partner after mating.

 

© 2014 TAK


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What’s a Hero?

“Hey.”

“Hey, yourself. Where’s everybody?” Robbie rubbed his sunburned scalp.

Toe kicking dirt, pale-everywhere Jimmy heaved a skinny shoulder, then slumped. “I’m bored.”

“Let’s go swimming.”

“I hate cottage country. Can’t use my iPad.”

“Come on. We’ll round up some of the kids.”

A cement truck lumbered down the street, clouds of dust in tow. The boys sprang off the kerb and stared with mouths agape as it bounced off the kerb a foot too close. Jimmy cleared his throat first. “You see that? He almost hit us.”

“But he didn’t. Whoa. There he goes again. Something ain’t right.” Robbie looked up and down the country road. Not a soul in sight. “Come on. Let’s follow him.”

“Too hot.”

“Something’s wrong.” The bigger boy grabbed Jimmy by the wrist dragging him along, forefinger pointed forward.”

The truck ground to a halt with a screech and a lurch on the opposite side of the road, the drum still spinning.

“Come on.” Robbie let go of his friend and raced ahead. He grabbed the handrail and hauled himself onto the running board. He couldn’t reach to open the door. The driver’s face plastered the closed passenger window.

Jimmy wrung his hands. “Is he dead?”

“Shut up and let me think.” He pounded his eleven-year-old fist into his palm until his eyes protruded. A smile bloomed on his face.

“Where are you going? Don’t leave me…”

“Run to the nearest cottage and tell ‘em what’s going on. I’ll try to get inside and see if he has a cell.  Crap, no cell service here.”

“How ‘bout the CB radio?”

“Don’t know what he’s got. Go. Hurry. The other way.” He watched Jimmy change direction and ran around to the passenger side. As much as he strained, the handle was still too high. The engine growled and the drum clanged round and round. The truck cab shimmied like a nervous bride. Robbie jumped down scanning the ground. He raced to the other side and peered up. The driver’s face still decorated the window.

Sweat poured down his young face. “Aha. This’ll do fine.” He tugged and tugged. Nothing. It wouldn’t budge. “Are you kidding me?” The boy danced from one foot to the other combing the ground. He settled on two smaller rocks, which fit one in each hand. Palms down, holding them like bowling balls, he shuffled to the passenger side again. The rocks lined up side by side, Robbie sprang onto the running board, hung onto the handrail and tested his footing.

“Yes!” Chubby cheeks on fire, sweat dripped down his shirt. Nothing. “It’s locked. Are you kidding me?” He yanked and wrenched. “Open!” The door creaked and the boy scrambled to keep his balance. Using both hands and an elbow, he coaxed the rusted door wide enough to clamber up into the seat. Someone on the radio twanged a forlorn country song. He picked up the handset but it didn’t even crackle. He leaned forward and switched off the engine key. The cab stopped doing the shimmy. The cement drum creaked on.

Short of climbing into the unconscious man’s lap, Robbie braced both hands on the horn. It made a terrible noise but someone would have to hear.

A siren screamed somewhere. He peered in the side mirror. A police car and an ambulance grew larger in its reflection. Robbie scooted outside.

Jimmy jumped out of the police car. He wrung his hands like a girl. “Is he dead?”

“I don’t know, but his lips are an awful blue.”

“Step aside.” The paramedics rushed forward with a gurney.

“You did good, boys.” A policeman patted Robbie’s shoulder.

Jimmy beamed; Robbie slipped into a sitting position on the straw-like grass and stared into a void.

The policeman returned. “It appears you saved and captured a bank robber.”

“What?”

“Who steals a cement truck for a getaway car?” Robbie’s mouth dropped.” You still bored, squirt?”


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Beijing, Day 5, Part 2: Olympic Park

The Olympic Park

The Olympic grounds had been built on razed farmland. We were told all the displaced farmers had been given jobs and a better apartment than the farmhouses they’d lived in. Everyone’s happy; a win-win.

To get to the entrance of the Park, a busy highway had to be negotiated by foot. The bus had been parked on the other side. Although busy, the hazards of crossing (four-lanes? can’t be sure now) presented less chance of being run over than in the midst of the city if you timed your jaunt.

At long last, we were free to wander the grounds. I found our time there boring, however. The sun smirked overhead. Paved walkways, expansive stone-tiled and bricked thoroughfare stretched miles ahead, too bright and stripped of real shade. Thank goodness for hats and sunglasses. It felt a clear day and I noticed no smog todate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtjogMtnrjw  (published Feb. 2014, 2.53 min)

or

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12e3c6mAzfQ  (published May 2014, 9.45 min)

Notice the tents with trinkets for visitors. In the background is the 25-story IBM building (in the shape of Olympic torch)

Notice the tents with trinkets for visitors. In the background is the 25-story IBM building (in the shape of Olympic torch)

 I recall hawkers in the open and sellers of tourist knick-knacks in stall after stall after stall, along one side of the center road. These were actually white tents four or five feet wide with a flap raised on some as a sunshade. At intervals, empty stretches separated one cluster from another. The disappointment lay in discovering they all carried the same products! Every one.

One of the last ones, a larger tent, provided a digital opportunity for a mock emperor and concubine, or possibly his queen. Ernesto and Lorena, known for their carefree style, donned the costumes provided and had their royal photo taken.

Another frustration surfaced: no open exhibits.

As we left the Park, we ladies inquired about washrooms. Somebody spied one and pointed. “No, you won’t like that one,” Robert said. “See there? That’s a good one.” We’d heard a similar declaration several times now. I wondered in what way it might be different and not to our liking.

The Birds Nest National Statdium

The Birds Nest National Stadium

NO matter what was served for any of our meals, I would never starve. It struck me, though, lunch and dinner dishes were quite similar, with lot of repeats. Time will tell.

Lunch was served at a restaurant not far from Olympic Village. From where we sat, I saw back-to-back orange hoods / like half pods or huge footballers’ helmets and wondered what they were. Phone booths. Say what? Two by two they appeared on the sidewalk, back to back, closer than girlfriends. Migrants and low income workers use these phone ‘booths.’ For pictures, click below.

https://www.google.ca/search?q=public+phone+booths%2C+beijing&rlz=1C1EODB_enCA562CA564&oq=public+phone+booths%2C+beijing&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i64.12144j0j7&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8

Notice the water glasses, which vary in size from restaurant to restaurant

Notice the water glasses, which vary in size from restaurant to restaurant. Delicious.

LUNCH:

  • White rice
  • Tea (always hot and ready)
  • Pork meatballs
  • Chicken with cabbage and carrots
  • Kung Pow chicken
  • Rice (with duck meat)
  • Deep fried pork
  • Cucumbers with chicken\
  • Deep fried battered fish
  • Egg drop soup
  • Sliced watermelon for dessert

~ * ~

Some Quick Facts about Telephones:

  • Everyone has a cell phone, sometimes two
  • Use text message vs. phone because it’s cheaper
  • Two providers: China Mobile and China Unicom
  • Phone fee 200 Yuan per month or $40.
  • Use’ You Chat’ a lot

Housing:

  • Apartment rent 2 bedrooms $1,000 per month
  • Condo rent good location $1,600 per month (depending on that location)
  • Condos, 2-bedroom, 1,000 square metres, 1 toilet
  • Condos cost $6,000 per square metre
  • 1,000 metres = $600,000 per condo
  • A house and garage, minimum price 30,000,000 Yuan or FIVE million U.S. dollars

For all related posts click on China tab at the top of the page.


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Beijing Day 4 / Part 1 – The Great Wall

I ate too much again at the buffet-style breakfast. We English 8 met in the main lobby at 8:30 a.m., then traveled an hour or so by mini tour bus to the mysterious Great Wall.

Some facts about the Wall:

  • Sticky rice soup and mortar were used to glue the bricks together
  • Started -200 BC
  • Has been worked for over 2,000 years
  • Still has bullet holes from last battle
  • Needs expensive maintenance due to time and tourism
Some shops

Some shops

What a happening place. Tour buses clogged available parking space. Small shops galore offered touristy goods for sale, from postcards to fridge magnets, hot tea, cold drinks and all sorts of knick knacks. One, a department store type business, carried everything you might imagine. Would you pay $39 for a T-shirt or $25 for a kid-sized one? Would you pay six or seven dollars for a two-inch square fridge magnet? They also carried silk, jade, pearls, life-size Terracotta warrior replicas and furniture. Prices included shipping. For the life of me, I couldn’t sort out the prices aside from the shipping costs out of curiosity.

Approaching the Wall Steps

Approaching the Wall Steps

We left the tourist traps behind and headed up-hill to the entrance of the Great Wall. We saved shopping time for later. The walk was steep. People from all over the world rubbed elbows. A light drizzle began. Sue and I escaped inside a battlement. Inside and out we meandered. Hordes and throngs of people stared at us everywhere. Our English Group 8 wandered off in different directions with a specified time to meet at the large department store.

Looking ahead

Looking ahead

Carolyn lost her camera on the Great Wall. She’d taken off her coat due to overheating and left it on a ledge and walked away. Ten minutes later, she realized it was missing. Dreading it would be gone, she and her husband retraced their steps anyway. Had it been me, I would have cracked under the stress and gone into shock. Forget going back  to be disappointed.

A Steady Climb

A Steady Climb

Surrounded

Surrounded

When Robert heard the story, he insisted on checking if the camera had been turned in. What were the chances of such luck?  He knew who to ask and was informed an announcement had been made over the Great Wall loud speakers about ten times regarding the camera. A security guard had picked it up and turned it in. Each of us rejoiced as if it had been our own camera. Carolyn glowed.

http://www.history.com/topics/great-wall-of-china/videos/seven-wonders-the-great-wall

 Higher Now

Higher Now

At Ground Level Again. Most of these women are over 80,  I'm sure, but energetic as 20-year-olds.

At Ground Level Again. Most of these women are over 80, I’m sure, but energetic as 20-year-olds.

Beijing driving and cars:

  • Rush hour is all day long, not at any specified times
  • Driving restrictions by last two digits of licence number / odd vs even
  • Penalty for ignoring, sometimes 100 points
  • Drivers have 12 points per year
  • If you lose your points for the year, you must redo licence.
  • If caught driving drunk, or even after 1 glass of wine or beer, can lose licence forever
  • 3 million more cars since the Olympics
  • Cost of a car (i.e. Hundai), $10,000 each, manufactured in China
  • An Elantra in 2005, cost $25,000 U.S.D.
  • Lots of new models now because more citizen able to afford cars
  • They like German models
  • Gasoline 7.8 Yuan / litre, about $1.30
I'm still standing

I’m still standing

Next on July 4th, Beijing, Day 4, Part 2: Ming Tombs

For all related posts, click on China Tab at the top of the page.

 


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100-Word Challenge for Grown-Ups – Week #131

To join, check out Julia’s Place and  ‘What is 100WCGU?‘  This week’s prompt: when the night demons visit.

100wcgu-72

Wanderers

A wispy-haired woman stabbed wood into the yawning woodstove. Jason read at the kitchen table. The autumn wind rattled the windows and shook the dilapidated farmhouse.

“Louder, son.”

He paused and cleared his throat, licked his forefinger, and turned the page. The kerosene flame flickered and hurled giant silhouettes around them. “You can’t hide when the night demons visit.” He leaned closer to the meagre light.

She slammed the lid lifter and glared down at him. “Demons? What demons?” Insistent pounding silenced her. “Did you bolt the door?”

Eyes bulging, Jason shook his head.

“Let us in.”

“Who’s us?”

“Freddy and me.”

“But. You’re. Dead!”