Saturday, May 22, 2010

Once upon a time in China

It's been 14 years since I last set foot in China.
My motto for my trip was... expect the worst, hope for the best.

My previous experience in touring the sights was great. The problem was, the toilets were horrible. The time I was there, they had pay toilets but these had no doors! We had to use umbrellas to shield the door part. (although we are all women, we did have our modestly).  Some of the the toilets could not even be considered toilets as they were just HOLES on the ground. Peering over them, you could see the depths of the abyss and who knows what lying there. YUKK...

So, 14 years later.... I am back.

My flight was Manila-hk-hangzhou. My luck was with me when I got upgraded to business class on the first leg of the flight. I really love business class... the wider seats, the better food. (you get linens and real spoons and forks- not like plastic utensils in economy) Plus!!, they address you by name- "You need anything Ms. Acidera?"- That is what you call service!

 If only I could afford going business class every trip! We had breakfast on the plane and I loved the stone-like salt and pepper shakers that I was tempted to pocket them! (the white one is salt, the black one is pepper)

Alas, my HK to hangzhou was economy style. oh well.

We were met by our contacts at the airport. Hangzhou is considered rural not like Shanghai or Beijing so it was a pretty small city. It was a 30 minute drive to shaoshing. The industrial city were we are going to do most of out sourcing.

Things I noticed:

There are a lot of nice cars but they all looked liked they needed a good car wash.  Notice the RANGE ROVER and VOLVO.
I was thinking I could make money if I open a 24hr car wash in China... hahaha

The Chinese here drive like madmen. They don't even warn you when they are coming and you really have to be vigilant or you'll get run over. Even the people who walk or roll the carts don't shout a "excuse me". I had myself bumped a few times while walking.

They have tricycles that they use for public transport. It's pretty cheap and if you are tired from walking, a nice way to get back to your hotel. The only thing is, you get scared when they cross from the bike lane to the main road because it seems they don't look at the oncoming cars before they merge into traffic.
I kept on thinking "OH my Gosh! I need more insurance!!!!"

The hotel was nice enough by China standards. I don't know what kind of people check in there though as they have a vibra-condom stand in the bathroom. (I assume the condom vibrates) and when you look in the drawers, behind the laundry list is a pamphet with instructions on how to put on a condom and AIDS info (it was all in Chinese and I guessed thru the pictures).

One time, we had to ride a taxi and it had stainless steel bars between the passenger and driver.. What the????

I thought my friend said China was relatively safe like Singapore.... why the bars???
He said it was because sometimes, drunks get a little rowdy late at night.

My eyebrows were raised in doubt....

taxi bars!

Toilets. What can I say about toilets in China.... hmmmm...

You better go in the hotel before you do any walking because even though China has grown leaps and bounds, the quality of the toilet is very far from standard. I did not take any pictures because, well.. you might lose you appetite.

One advise, better take a VERY deep breath before entering because you might barf at the smell. You literally cannot breathe from the fumes.

They already put tiles on the toilet but it was not the "stand up" kind. You had to squat. Some had ceramic "bowls" but it was ground level. Some toilets had two rows of tiles with a indentation in the middle where the would put a flow of water, much like a men's urinal of old, but here, its in the ladies room and you do #1 and #2 in the same place... ENOUGH said.

The Chinese smoke like chimneys. Almost everywhere people are puffing away, even closed restaurants and indoors.  I even had the experience of walking into a store and instead of being offered water or tea, I was offered sticks of cigarettes. (go figure).

Glad I am home.

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