Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Andis Kaulins in China Diary Entry for February 5 to February 16, 2014

  • This diary entry recounts the few days spent after our Spring Festival stay in Beixin, our time spent in Shanghai, our journey to Hong Kong and back, and the first few days of our return to Wuxi and my return to work.
  • Being in holiday mode, I have departed from my normal way of dating the entries in this diary. Usually, I will date the entries on the day they were first written. In this blog entry, I have dated some of the entries for when the events took place, not when they were written about.

Wednesday [February 5]
[Home Laptop]
  • It is raining outside. The K family stays at home.
  • Jenny watches to get the stench of smoke out of the clothes that were taken to Beixin.
  • J's parents and every one else in Beixin smoke.
  • I will spend the day at home doing computer things if Tony lets me.
  • Typically, I am doing things on the laptop and Tony then wants to play Train Simulator. [Train Simulator can only be played on my laptop.]
  • I watched Adam's Rib. While doing so, I posted some screen shots of it to We Chat!
  • I am almost finished 32 Shorts Films about Glen Gould. It makes me want to act eccentric.
  • Only problem is that I am not a genius in any way.
  • My new personal policy is to never think of myself as nothing special.
  • On the 7th, we will go to Shanghai and stay at the 2013 Shanghai Expat of the Year's pad.
  • Hong Kong has a train museum I learn doing some research on the Internet.
  • Hong Kong has a train that goes up a mountain as well I have learned.

    Thursday [February 6]
    [Home Laptop]
  • Another cold and rainy day.
  • Tomorrow, we go to Shanghai. We will spend a day there before we take a plane to Hong Kong.
    I will be staying at Casa Rudkin. Sir Paul tells me that he has an extensive supply of alcohol.
  • I haven't begun to pack yet for Hong Kong.
  • Yesterday was spend at home. I didn't leave Casa K for any reason. I watched two movies and played on my electronic devices.
  • I phone my Mom, who is in Manitoba, last night. Telling her about not being able to take a shower in Beixin, she recounted how she couldn't take a shower when she went to Latvia in the 1990s.
  • Safeway in Manitoba is being bought out by Sobey's I learned. I spent a lot of time wandering Safeway aisles in my time.
  • We talked a little about Downton Abbey. Apparently, my sister Benita is keen on the show as well.
  • David Warren is making a point of journalizing every day on his anti-blog.
  • In the afternoon, we go downtown so Jenny can get Hong Kong dollars.
  • We have lunch at KFC.
  • While Jenny goes to bank, Tony & I hang out at Starbucks.
  • Afterwards, we go to the deluxe hot pot place near Wu Ai Lu. [It is called Hi Da Lao Hot Pot]
  • Back at Casa K, Jenny is peed at me because I ate all the Hershey's Kisses. No point in defending myself to her, but I will say here that she shouldn't have left them on the counter.

    Friday [February 7]
    [Ipad Mini and therefore the entries are very short.]
  • Wuxi rain.
  • Taxi to train station
  • Packing decisions
  • Arrive in Shanghai at 1500.
  • Crowds of people returning from holidays.  So it seemed crazy.
  • Took line 1 and 2 to get to Sir Paul's.
  • He meet us at station.
  • Walked in rain with bags to his apartment.
  • Talked and talked.  
  • Harry their dog kept attacking Tony.  Even seemed to be humping T.
  • Apple TV. I must get! Sir Paul has one and it is a wonderful tool.
  • Tony liked Apple TV and so he hogged it.
  • Took subway to The Grandma's restaurant. They have them in Shanghai as well.
  • J said I talked loudly on subway ride back
  • Blame it on Crown Royal!

Saturday [February 8]
[Ipad Mini]
  • In Shanghai.  In morning, open curtain to see sun.
  • See lots of foreigners as we go about.
  • Morning. Go to Mr. Pancake for breakfast. That was good.
  • Afternoon, Tony & I go the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. The building was impressive but the museum was a bore. It was meant to be interactive and educational. Interactive displays in China mean having to stand in long lines. Interactive exhibits in museums are more educational than entertaining. You couldn't have paid me any amount of money to waste memory on my Ipad if these exhibits had somehow been turned in Apps.
  • Tony got his money's worth.  Dad didn't.  (Tony had free admission.)
  • The evening was spent at Sir Paul's.
Sunday [February 9]
[Ipad Mini]
  • We rode the Maglev Train to the Pudong Airport. The Maglev station is a ten minute walk from Sir Paul's. Top speed was over 400 kmh.
  • At airport, Tony whiny.  Absolutely insisted on his parents buying him toys. He also said that he was scared to fly.
  • Flight delayed 20 minutes.
  • What to do in HK?
Monday [February 10]
[Ipad Mini]
  • Prudential hotel:  good location in the middle of Kowloon.  It is above the Jordan MTR stop.
  • Only problem:  Wifi No Wifi in rooms unless you pay for it.
  • Before flight, Tony was scared.  After, he was happy.
  • Train ride from airport to Kowloon was great.  Rode along coastline.
  • We are in room 1216 in Hotel.
  • Sunday evening:  walked around hotel.  The area was very touristy.  An very diverse collection of non-Chinese.  There seemed to be a lot of Turks and Pakistanis.
  • Girls wearing shorts and short skirts.  I have to give a second glance.
  • Jenny annoyed the K boys by spending twenty minutes in a cosmetics chain store.
  • On Monday, plan: go to HK railway museum, take Star Ferry, and buy Apple TV unit.
  • Monday, we did go to museum.  We took MTR there.  Transferred two times.  At Tai Po Market, we couldn't easily find the museum.  I had to pull out the Ipad instructions.  Museum was small.  However, it wasn't crowded and Tony enjoyed himself.  He had to, however, take my camera so he could run around with a group of older boys.
  • On the MTR, a pair of older women looked at Tony and looked at me.  His mother is Chinese I told them.  They gave me a thumbs up.  In fact, many HKers liked Tony.
  • Few foreigners at Tai Po Market area.
  • HK has lots of mountains and skyscrapers.  Downtown streets are narrow.
  • After HKRM, Tony & I return to hotel.  Tried to get a hold of Jenny via Wifi  No response. So, we go to Star Ferry area.  Tony didn't want to go on boat so walked the Avenue of Stars.  Found Bruce Lee statue where Tony hammed it up.
  • Then back to hotel so I could find Apple store address.  Found it was at Kowloon Tong in a large shopping mall.  I got my Apple TV.  I used Wifi to contact sir Paul in Shanghai.  I sent him a photo of the store's Apple logo.  He asked me for a photo of the Apple TV unit.  He got it.  I also did a brief FaceTime call with him.
  • We took the train back to hotel where we meet Jenny in the lobby.  She had had a nap.
  • The K family then wandered around Kowloon.  I bought a Turkish doner.  Jenny then took us to a simple restaurant to have seafood.
  • Sometime during the day, it seemed the train was too crowded.  We found a car that wasn't so crowded because someone had vomited on the floor.

Tuesday [February 11]
[School Laptop]
  • This was HK Disneyland Day.
  • We took the MTR from the Hotel (above the Jordan Stop) to get to the HK Disneyland Resort stop. Had to transfer to two trains to do so.
  • We had a fright at the first subway stop. I ran to get on the train whose doors were open and just as I got inside the automatic doors closed, but J&T were still outside. I tried to pry the doors open and got caught in them. They automatically opened, thankfully, and J&T got inside, but I felt stupid and sheepish. I was relieved that we didn't get separated then. I don't know what I would have done.
  • The Day at HKD was as expected and so it was not a bad day overall. We didn't see all we could have seen. We had to wait in long lineups. Some of the rides were quite corny. But some of the rides were quite interesting. The space roller-coaster, the one that goes in the dark, was scary. The spinning teacups gave one an interesting dizzy sensation. The rides through Toy Story land, It's a Small World land, and the Winnie the Pooh land were quite well done. I got my HKD Fridge magnet. Tony enjoyed himself. He particularly liked the train that went around the entire park. Jenny would have liked to have two days in the park to see everything.
  • Mickey Mouse blankets were on sale that day and lots of visitors to the park could be seen wearing them. I read in the papers the next day that our HKD day was the coldest February day in HK since the 1990s.
  • Our plane back to the Mainland was to leave 11:00 the next day. As the clock was making its way to 18:00, I was itching to get back to our hotel.
  • Jenny did a lot of shopping in HK and so when we did go back to our hotel room, we had to buy ourselves another suitcase to take Jenny's purchases back. I thought to go to the outdoor tourist (possibly fake goods) markets to buy there, but Jenny ended up purchasing a suitcase for 770 HK dollars at a luggage shop near our hotel (the Prudential).
  • We had supper at a street food place in downtown Kowloon. I drank a bottle of San Miguel beer. I also ate a doner roll from a Turkish restaurant.

Wednesday [February 11]
[School Laptop]
  • Our trip to the Airport for our 11:00 flight to Shanghai went like clockwork. I had been worried that we would oversleep or that someone would be slow to move, but we were out of the hotel at 7:30. We took the regular MTR to get to the Airport Shuttle stop where we then had to buy another set of tickets.
  • In the airport security, I had to take a lot of HK coins out of my pockets.
  • Tony fell asleep on the plane so he didn't cause us any problems. However, in the terminal, he wanted me to carry him. He was tired and at HKD, I had put him on my shoulders so he could watch the parade (quite good actually as they played very catchy music.)
  • The food on the Dragon Air flight was the worst I had ever had. But we get a small cup of Haagen-Daaz Ice Cream which was solid like a rock till it melted which wasn't soon enough for me.
  • A two hour flight doesn't seem long at all if you have ever flown from China to Canada.
  • Tony had told us that he was scared to fly planes. At the Shanghai airport on Sunday [the 9th], he was whining about how he was scared to fly. But he got over his fright during the flight to HK. On the way back, he was in heaven when he woke up and was able to look out the window [he had a window seat.]. I very much enjoyed watching him look out the window as the plane landed.
  • To arrive in Shanghai was to arrive in drab land. Tony wanted to take the train back to Wuxi but it wasn't to be as it would have been too expensive. We took a bus back to Wuxi which was depressing because immediately the locals seemed less interesting and more uncivilized. At the taxi station in the Wuxi Bus station, we stood in line with a lot of locals who looked like they had just taken buses from the countryside. I thought of a comparison that could be made between that line and a line in Disneyland.

Thursday [February 13]
[School Laptop]
[Note: I will talk about what I did on the 13th in my entry for the 14th. I will instead record some of my overall impression of Hong Kong.]
  • HK people, like the English, drive on the wrong side of the road. It was my first time to be in a place where the cars are right-hand drive and thus are driven on the left side of the street.
  • The traffic in HK is fast. I wasn't once cut off by a car or bus as I crossed the street, and I didn't seen anyone else cut off either.
  • There were lots of double-decker buses.
  • Students were already attending school unlike the mainland where they had a week yet of holiday.
  • HK is a level or two up on the mainland for modernization or civilization. However, there were seedy aspects to it. There were lots of people standing about with the empty-gazing look of drug addicts.
  • HK is very multicultural I saw a mosque there which on an electronic board with lit-up type I read a sign that said “There is only one God and Allah is his prophet.” I saw lots of people with different hues of skin that I hadn't seen in Wuxi or Shanghai.
  • I didn't see any KFCs.
  • I saw Watson's which can be found in Wuxi. I also saw Manning's which was its competitor. No Manning's in Wuxi.
  • The subway system is quite good. I was surprised that you could transfer to another line by crossing the platform. I had expected that I would have to walk up and down some stairs, and then through tunnels to transfer.
  • I saw containers piled ten high in places.
  • I saw little evidence of the fact that HK was part of the PRC. I didn't see the five starred red flag anywhere.
  • The coins were indistinguishable to me.
  • Tony behaved at times well and at other times terribly. He was constantly whining about wanting me to buy him toys. He didn't want to take the star ferry. But then at the Bruce Lee statue he hammed it up and I was able to take some great photos of him. I was able to find a photo of me at a statue in Holland that compared quite remarkably with Tony at the Avenue of Stars.
  • Not having a mobile phone can be a pain in the ass if you are with your wife and child. To be separated from them can be scary. In a big store at HKD, I couldn't find them for two minutes. With a mobile in hand, I would have phoned them.

Friday [February 14]
[School Laptop]
  • Back to work. I work 9:00 to 17:00 which isn't a normal working shift for me. It is a special day on the Chinese calender.
  • Yesterday, I spent at home recovering from the holiday slash vacation. I did get up early to deal with the electrical cord problem I had with my Apple TV unit (which I had purchased in Hong Kong). I looked for, but didn't find any adaptors or converters at Wanda or Tesco. Coming back, I was depressed at the prospect of how I was going to solve the problem. Where was I going to find the needed cord? I also worried that the unit would not work on the television at HK which was old, and not HD. It turned out that I already had a power cord, that came with my Nikon Coolpix camera, that I could use. How the thought came to me about the cord was a miracle.
  • And the Apple TV seemed to work fine though there was buffering problems and the HDMI cord seemed loose. Jenny doesn't like it because it uses too much power, in her opinion.
  • I am not back in the swing of things. I have podcasts to listen to, blog entries to make, books to read, and many things to get checked off on my to-do list.
  • It is Valentine's and Lantern Festival Day today. I won't be observing either though I will be talking about them.
  • The first class of the day went well though I was nervous at the start though I attribute that to my having drank a large Cafe Americano from 85 degree bakery.

Saturday [February 15]
[School Laptop]
  • The school closed at 5:00 PM on the dot last night.
  • Jenny & Tony came downtown. We walked to Nanchang Temple and then Nanchang Jie Bar Street. There was a lot of traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian. We had supper at a Burger King on Nanchang Jie Street because all the good Chinese restaurants were packed.
  • At about 8:00 PM we took the #25 bus home.
  • At Casa Kaulins, we played on our many Apple devices including the Apple TV.
  • I work 1000 to 18:00 today. I have but four classes. My first one will be at 11:00. My final class will end at 17:00.
  • I am not yet up to fulfilling the obligations I set for myself on my to-do list. Today, I will work on editing this diary entry.
  • A lot of poo-pooing the idea of going to Hong Kong among the foreigners at my school. I am glad I went. It was like going to a different country.
  • When watching the parade at the HK Disneyland, I had put Tony on my shoulders so he could see the parade. Since then, he has kept asking me to carry him everywhere. When asking me, he has been using a phrase he picked up from Jenny: I am so tired!
  • It gave me great pleasure this morning to force a car making a right turn to stop for me as I was crossing the street. I swear that Wuxi, China drivers are a life form on the level of weasels, toads, cockroaches, and maggots.
[Home Laptop]
  • There is a drop dead gorgeous girl, recently graduated from university, working at our school as a study adviser. I asked her what she did on Valentine's Day and she told me that she spent the evening at home because she had no “lover.” [Her use of the word “lover” was not meant in the sense that native English speakers would take it these days.] Her telling me this shocked me. There was no way a girl so pretty could not have a boyfriend. But it was also strangely gratifying for me. Not in the sense that I would have a chance with her myself, but some girls are so beautiful that the idea of them actually having relations with the male sex doesn't seem right. It is hard to think of any male, even me in my mind, who is the right man for her.

Sunday [February 16]
[Home Laptop]

  • No school today for me or Tony.
  • Tony goes back to school tomorrow. None of the K family is looking forward to that.
  • It is wet and cold outside Casa Kaulins.
  • Last night, I put together some video of Tony, taken in Shanghai and Hong Kong, that showed Tony with or on trains.
  • Theory: Chinese men think with their wallets, and not with their other thingee. So they look at a very beautiful girl and figure she is too expensive. Thus there can be pretty girls without boyfriends in China.

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