Well, That Was Fun

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I refer of course to the entire Olympic/Paralympic period. Over and done with, let’s get back to work.

But first, one tangential post. I spent most of this week in Lijiang, a great little tourist trap in Yunnan. I don’t mind tourist traps all that much, unlike the cultural purists out there who really dig squatting for a week out in some rural village so they can come back to New York, London, or Shanghai and tell all their friends about how they connected with the common folk. Barf. I have a bad back and a very odd reluctance to smell raw sewage, so I choose my vacation spots wisely.

The wife and I spent 4 1/2 days walking around cobblestoned streets, sitting in cafes and looking at the river. Lijiang has been touted as the Venice of China, and there are many superficial similarities. Moreover, as with Venice, my wife and I got lost in Lijiang several times — this is par for the course for me but is rare for her. We also had no idea what to eat, and discovered some horrible cuisine (mostly the Western stuff) along the way. The place is chock full of B&B-type hotels. All in all, yeah, let’s call it the Venice of China.

Some comments about the trip, in no particular order:

1. The next airline attendant who refuses to allow me to use my iPhone to read a book during the flight, even when the phone is clearly in "Airplane Mode" is going to get an iPhone planted firmly up his/her ass. What the &($# do they think the little airplane icon is for, anyway? Stupid bastards.

2. Tourists from Shanghai have no right to take candid pics of a white guy (who happens to live in Beijing) when everyone involved is on holiday in Lijiang. I really doubt that the sight of a white guy is all that rare in Shanghai these days.

3. Hotel staff should not allow drunk guests to sit around in the hotel courtyard and talk in loud voices until 2:00am. That’s what bars are for.

4. I think that wireless Internet access is better in Yunnan than in many parts of the U.S., which is scary.  Then again, your average water buffalo is more tech savvy than some people I know back home, and I’m not just talking about John McCain.

5. Flight cancellations due to "maintenance problems" mean that the flight was undersold.

6. "Cappuccino" is a relative term that usually, although not always, involves some form of coffee-flavored beverage.

7. Lijiang could have fielded a gold-winning team at the Olympics if the sport was spitting on the ground. We’ve made progress in Beijing on the spitting front, but not in Lijiang. Tremendous amount of phlegm buildup in Yunnan, apparently, and they can’t blame the pollution like we can in Beijing.

8. The amount of money that has been poured in to tourist places like Lijiang is stunning.

9. "The Hump" in Kunming is a pretty good bar, if you’re into backpacker hangouts.

10. As my flight landed in Beijing Thursday night, not only did everyone frantically take off their seat belts as soon as the wheels touched the ground (seat belts in China burn the skin — everyone knows this), but the old guy across the aisle immediately reached over to take the seat belt off his 127-year-old wife. That’s love for you.

Note from Danny in Shanghai, who sez: "Lijiang is a cess pool but can be a veritable oasis from the busyness that is life in modern China. I can’t say this on my web site ChinaTravelAdvertisementNews, ’cause my clients might get upset, but since no one reads your shitty little blog, feel free to quote me in full." That’s more of a paraphrase, I guess.

If the news ever gets back to normal and includes a China topic even remotely interesting, I will start posting more often. And no, stories about tainted baby formula/milk products will not suffice.

5 responses on “Well, That Was Fun

  1. ChinaMatt

    If you’re really bothered by Chinese taking your photo while you’re on vacation, you should get the shirt my wife had made for me. One of the lines in Chinese says, “take a picture with me: $25.” Haven’t even had anyone say hello to me when I’ve worn my price list shirt.

  2. Will

    I can’t verify this but I think it might not be the stewardess’ fault that she’s haranguing you about the iPhone. I recall that there is a regulatory element to recognizing an “airplane” mode in cellular devices, and that Chinese civil aviation regulations don’t currently provide for such a distinction. So whether she “gets it” or not, she probably has to ask you turn it off until such time as CAAC gets with the times. Which could be never, given their track record.

    However why she’s up your nose about the phone while people tango in the aisles during runway deceleration I have no explanation for. Priorities, I guess. Loose bodies catapulting down the aisle with trolley bags during a sudden stop is a natural hazard. But an iPhone…well, that might be terrorism.

  3. happysheep

    Sure, Lijiang is a touristy place – but then you also get lots of tourists to the Eiffel Tower, the statue of Liberty, etc, and that doesn’t detract from its appeal and attraction.
    You make a good point abut cultural purists in pursuit of authenticity. Often going to these places has a greater impact than a coach tour of mass tourists. And let’s face it: do these poor people ever ask you to visit them and take photos of their in their squalour?
    Lijiang since the 1996 quake has been developed and now hosts 7 millions visitors a year. Rents have increased and in ‘bar street’ a bottle of beer or terrible coffee will cost around 35 yuan. There are now few local Naxi people in the old town, as outsiders have invaded, demolished and built new guesthouses for their comrades from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
    There’s more info about the area at http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog/happysheep/shangri-la-la/tpod.html

    p.s. isn’t there a race to take off your seat belt, get up, grab your hand luggage and make for the exit, as soon as the rubber hits the tarmac?

  4. Tyler

    I can verify what Will said regarding the iPhone situation. On my last Beijing-Shanghai flight, I was told by the purser (head stewardess) at least 3 times that listening to and playing sudoku with my iPhone was bu keyi. After we landed, I found her, and asked what possible problem there could be with a device in airplane mode. She very patiently explained to me (I was not being patient) that any cellular device, regardless of whether it has airplane mode or not, is not allowed to be used during flights by CAAC. I asked if she could prove it (I had slept less than 3 hours the night before), and she kindly showed me the CAAC regulation in their on-board rulebook that bans all cells. So, my advice: claim that it is an iPod touch, or keep it concealed in the pocket.