Dying from pollution in Changping

My first thought when I arrived at Zhuhai this morning: “OMG it’s so hot and dusty and smoky.”

It was so different from when I came here five months ago, around winter’s end.

Hot, I can deal with. Smoke and dust give me bad allergic reactions. Smoke and dust and impatient drivers honking the hell away nonstop and glaring sunlight give me a deathwish. Almost.

I thought Changping would be better. A childish vain hope to comfort myself, I later realised.

Our plan was to take a three-hour bus ride from Zhuhai to Changping. One of those cheap tour buses with seats that recline a little way. The fare was about $16.

Zhuhai bus station

Zhuhai bus station

It was 10:45 am. The next bus wouldn’t leave till 11:30 am, so we went for brunch. The KFC in China is so good!

KFC

KFC egg tarts

The bus departure terminal is an enclosed building with really bad acoustics. Sound bouncing and echoing everywhere. It doesn’t help that Chinese nationals enjoy screaming or shouting at each other. And then there was the endless announcements for departing buses. There was like an announcement every few minutes.

This is probably the last time I can ever be persuaded to take a bus in China.

Our bus was delayed for an hour due to a traffic jam, so I was stuck in that horrendous hell of a place for an hour and 15 minutes.

The most exciting part of our three-hour bus journey was when our bus turned into a boat. Suddenly, it was rocking like crazy, like if a boat were to hit turbulent waves.

I looked out the window and this was what our bus was driving through:

Zhuhai

Crazy humongous potholes competing for space on the ridiculously uneven road.

Fortunately, I didn’t die in the journey.

Unfortunately, Changping is as bad as Zhuhai in terms of air and noise pollution, if not worse.

We hired a private taxi to take us to our hotel. In China, private taxis usually mean beat-up old wheels.

This was our private taxi. It was a minivan or something:

Changping taxi

Changping taxi

Did I ever mention that I really hate being in a moving car with the windows down? I hate when my hair flies all over my face. Sometimes it hurts. It gets in my eyes and whips my cheeks.

According to my friend Isaiah, who works in China, Hui Hua Hotel is the best in Changping. He had helped us book a suite a couple of weeks ago.

So we did get a suite after all. Yay.

The hotel looks very unassuming (even cheap) from the outside. But it looks better on the inside, although not like super grand or anything. I guess we can’t expect too much for a small town in China.

Besides, it’s really cheap. It’s only $100 a night for our suite! Splitting the cost, we each only have to pay $50 a night. =D

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

After checking in, we went out to get some food, SIM cards and peaches.

You know, I think you can identify China by the number of construction works going on. You see them everywhere you go.

Changping

There’s a huge one going on beside our hotel. This is the view from our sitting room, lol:

Changping

Anyway, we were hungry again after the long bus ride, so we wanted to eat first.

When we were still in Singapore, the Goonfather couldn’t stop talking about the food in China, naming all his favourite China-specific dishes.

And then once we’ve checked in and are ready to go food hunting, he says, “Let’s go eat at a Hong Kong cafe!”

So, this is what he chose to eat first (KFC not counted because we really only wanted to get a drink while waiting for our bus, but then we couldn’t resist when we got there):

Pig innards

Icky disgusting beef innards.

I know it’s a little weird that I eat liver and intestines and kidney, but I cannot stand all those in the picture above. I think they are like lungs and pancreas and stomachs. They just don’t look like food.

I ordered a very safe item. Luncheon meat and egg sandwich.

Luncheon meat and egg sandwich

We bought some peaches after that! They’re now sitting in the hotel fridge. We haven’t eaten them yet so I don’t know if they’re good.

After buying those and SIM cards and some Blu-ray movies (all very near our hotel), we went to our room.

I started this blog while the Goonfather went to a spa.

I think I’ve been blogging for 2.5 hours now. (Taking very long because I’m not used to the free video editing software (GIMP) which I’m using on my Macbook, and then I couldn’t connect to my FTP server to upload images for some reason, so I had to use a more manual, time-consuming way.

It’s almost 9 pm. It’s hungry time!

Oh, the Goonfather just came back from his spa and then we’ll have dinner with Isaiah. I hear we’re going to have roast chicken. Supposedly some most famous food or restaurant or something in Changping.

More field reports tomorrow if I haven’t died from the pollution yet.

Eating and camwhoring in Zhuhai

Okay, so, imma totally flood my blog with photos of my China trip for some time to come.

Food! Shopping! Camwhoring! Dodgy English translations!

Aren’t you so very excited!

Sheylara and Minou

When we met at Changi Airport on that first morning, Minou and I found that we had worn rather matching outfits. Yay!

A China hairstylist thought we were sisters, hah.

Settling down in the plane:

Sheylara

We took Jetstar. I really hate how budget airlines do not serve food. I mean, they do, but you have to pay for them, like $15 for a box of chicken rice.

That’s still fine because it’s still cheaper than paying for a full-price flight. The problem is that they run out of food even before they’re done serving everyone.

I was really hungry and was willing to pay to the skies for a hot meal but all they could offer me was peanuts. We got peanuts, potato chips and soft drinks at 5-star hotel bar prices.

Plane snacks

After 3 hrs 15 mins, we landed at Macau International Airport.

Sheylara and Minou

The plan was to walk across the border to Zhuhai because it’s cheaper to fly to Macau than to China. So I got to visit Macau for the first time! Yay!

Sheylara and Minou

It was almost 7 pm and rather foggy so it looked more like dawn than dusk. It was also surprisingly warm, wasting our effort in bundling up. (We were there on Jan 28, supposedly the tail end of winter.)

We were waiting for Unker Kell to find food in the airport when I caught the Goonfather in this funny photo. Haha.

The Goonfather

From the airport, we took a cab to the border of Macau and Zhuhai, where we had to pass through immigrations again.

Macau

Um, that was all the time we had in Macau. LOL.

It wasn’t a terribly long walk. Certainly a lot shorter than the Singapore-Malaysia causeway. Before too long, we had reached Zhuhai!

Zhuhai

The moment you get out of immigrations, you can see hotels and malls, a welcoming sight! It was very foggy and the air was nice and cool, like a mild aircon.

Zhuhai

We walked to the nearest hotel (Jin Ye) and checked in. It cost us S$23 per person for twin-sharing rooms. Super cheap!

I’ve already shared some photos of the hotel and Zhuhai sights, so click here if you haven’t seen them.

I know I said Zhuhai’s a scary place, but I kinda liked it because you can find nice food and good shopping there. I won’t mind going back again!

But I won’t stay in this scary hotel anymore. It was okay, really, just very old-fashioned and smells a bit musty, which makes me think of old Chinese ghost movies, therefore very bad when I’m showering alone in the dim bathroom.

Jin Ye Hotel

Jin Ye Hotel

We found a much nicer hotel nearby on our way home, about double the cost but still cheap. Will talk about that in a future post.

On this trip, we discovered that the people in China are really scared of cold. Everyone is bundled up in jackets and coats, while four of us tourists were ambling about in short-sleeve tees.

Sheylara

Which is rather surprising because I’m usually the first person to complain about cold, anywhere.

There were times in China when I was literally sweating in my t-shirts but all the Chinese were still all bundled up in wool and fur!! Crazy Chinese!

Okay, there’s something in Zhuhai I must recommend you. It’s called Peeing Beef Balls (撒尿牛肉丸), popularised by Stephen Chow in one of his silly slapstick movies.

Zhuhai

The idea is that the beef balls are so juicy that when you bite into them, the juice will spray out like pee.

Not a very appetising thought, but the balls are delicious!!

Peeing Beef Balls

They’re sold by a friendly hawker at a street stall.

They didn’t spray when we ate them but it could be because they were hot and we were nibbling on them very carefully.

The Goonfather said the first time, Unker Kell bit into the ball and it sprayed onto his crotch! Hahaha.

Peeing Beef Balls

Inside each ball is some gooey stuff which is very tasty!!!

The only fault lies in the soup, which is not soup but oil. That’s really icky but the guys were slurping it up. Gross!!

You can order noodles with the balls, so imagine eat noodles in oil, yuck.

Sheylara
Nomming balls.

You can find the beef ball stall on 莲花路 (Lian Hua Lu – “Lotus Flower Road”)

On the same street, you can find a whole row of mini outdoor pubs which men will love because each pub features cute chinese girls who will call out flattering words to men, sometimes even jumping out to drag them to their pubs.

Zhuhai

The Goonfather complained about the girls not calling out to him this time round cos Minou and I were there. -__-

The city also has very grand-looking spas with girls in costumes waiting to welcome you.

Zhuhai

In fact, this isn’t just in Zhuhai. It seems like the whole of China has such services.

We walked to a place called something 酒吧街 (Jiu Ba Jie – “Bar Street”) which is a long street lined up with clubs and bars. We went there in search of dinner because the bars are also restaurants, although they’re rather pricey.

Zhuhai

The coolest thing about these bars is that the staff are all dressed in very elaborate costumes, like Victorian gowns and such.

Costumes seem to be a huge feature in China. In the spa we visited the next day, the receptionists are dressed in, like, Cinderella ball gowns.

We chose a place called Seven for our dinner, which consisted of a variety of finger foods (because the finger foods are GOOD.)

Cucumber sticks

These cucumber sticks come with a very potent wasabi and soy sauce mix. Even the tiniest drop will send wasabi steam shooting up your nose and eyes. But it tastes so good!

And I don’t even like cucumber in the first place!

Duck jaw
Duck jaw – very crispy and tasty!

Satay
Yummy satay! I can’t remember what meat. All the good food has muddled my brain!

Duck breast
Roasted duck breast.

Corn on the cob
Corn on the cob. Crunchy and sweet.

Chicken wing tip
Chicken wing tip. Tasty marinade, but tip is not crispy.

Sheylara

I accidentally took a camwhore shot while my camera was zoomed in!

Always gives me a scare when that happens, to see my face so big.

Proper one:

Sheylara

Funny translation on the menu:

Zhuhai

Presenteed A Wine If Dressed In Pajamas!!!

Zhuhai

LOL.

We had gone a day too early, or we would have seen pajama-clad cuties. On our itinerary was to travel to Humen the next day, but the Goonfather had half a mind to stay behind for this pajama party. Haha.

It got colder after dinner, so I had to put my fur hoodie back on. Walking back to our hotel, we stopped by a pedler selling sweet potatoes and got some steaming hot ones!

Sheylara

Erm… but it wasn’t nice at all. Too mushy. =(

Then it was back to the hotel!

Last camwhoring at the hotel while waiting for Minou to finish using the bathroom and for the Goonfather to finish borrowing my netbook. I had nothing else better to do!

Sheylara

Sheylara

Now, stay tuned for Day 2!

Zhuhai, a scary place!

Gosh, it’s almost 2 am. I’m so sleepy but I must blog something!

Sheylara in Zhuhai

Am now in a very obiang (old-fashioned in a bad way) hotel in Zhuhai.

Zhuhai (“Pearl Sea”) is a province in China at the border of Macau. In fact, we walked over from Macau and will be staying here for a night before moving on to Humen for shopping.

We flew to Macau first because it’s cheaper or something like that. I’m not sure. The Goonfather planned the trip and the rest of us just follow.

Anyway, some photos of the obiang hotel! (It’s called Jin Ye – Golden Leaf Hotel.)

Hotel

Hotel

Hotel

Hotel

Our room costs RMB230, which is S$47. Pretty decent, lol.

Hotel

Hotel

The city is kinda scary. It’s dirty and old-fashioned and every time you walk past an eating place or pub, someone will walk up to you to persuade you to patronise them.

Some of them are very aggressive.

There are also beggars on the streets, mostly old people but we also saw two young kids, maybe five years old, a boy and a girl.

They followed us about 80 metres or so, persuading us in monotones to give them money.

Zhuhai

Sheylara in Zhuhai

Zhuhai

Zhuhai

Zhuhai

Zhuhai

It was kinda strange seeing people buy and sell vegetables at 8 pm. But they’re all over the place.

The food here is nice. But I’ll talk about the food when I’m back in Singapore. It’s now almost 3 am.

Lots more to talk about but I’d better sleep. I need to wake up in about four hours’ time!

Very tired!

And sad because I can’t get on Facebook and Twitter and Plurk and MSN. All the proxies didn’t work. =(

The shopping had better be worth it! There’s some nice stuff in the mall near our hotel but the stuff in the streets are really obiang.

But we won’t be shopping here much. Taking a cab to Humen (a factory city near Shenzhen) after breakfast.

NEED TO SLEEP NOW OMG.

Bye!