Saturday, July 04, 2009

Yes, you can read my diary

Monday, June 22

I'm back in Beijing after three weeks in Europe. It's a little strange. I definitely have to switch to Asia mode. When we got off the airport shuttle at Beijing train station, we were greeted by a pack of touts wanting to give us a ride/or take us to a hotel. That never happened in Europe. That always happens in China.

I'm staying with my Chinese friend, Cici, tonight. We are leaving for Tianjin early tomorrow morning, taking the bullet train. My first bullet train experience. Exciting.

To tell you the truth, I'm not feeling all that excited about the second lag (or is it leg?) of my trip. Mostly I'm feeling tired. I'm also worried about Cici. This might be difficult and scary for her. I know I'll need to be patient, which will be difficult. I'm already a bit burnt out from traveling. I do think our personalities compliement each other fairly well, so things should go fairly smoothly.

Unfortunately, I am pretty much going to Indonesia on nothing, as I left my guidebook back in Chengde and will be mostly winging this trip after all my precise planning in Europe.

Tuesday, June 23

This morning we took the fast train (330km/hr at top speed. Don't ask me what that is in miles) from Beijing to Tianjin. Now we are just killing time as it is to early to go to the airport. Cici, however, doesn't seem to want to do much of anything, which equates to us hanging out at the train station's KFC. Not exactly wanted to do with my day, but that's what happens when you have other people buy train tickets for you. Cici's over cautious boyfriend got us tickets that had us arrive in Tianjin at 8am. Our plane leaves at 4pm.

This is going to be a difficult trip for me; I can sense it. Perhaps that's pessimistic? I wish I were alone, left to my ponderings and crabbiness. I miss Ming and want to go home, but at the same time the thought of slipping back into my former life (living in Chengde, teaching everyday) feels me with dread. It's always so hard for me to adjust when coming back to China. So difficult, in fact, that it makes me question ever leaving in the first place.

Cici, ah, Cici. This is the first time I've traveled with a Chinese person other than Ming. I know she is looking to me to figure things out, but I don't much know what I'm doing. Perhaps a guidebook would help. There's more to say, but Cici is looking over my shoulder.

Wednesday, June 24

Today is a slightly better day for me. I'm excited to be in KL (Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia), our stop over before heading to Bali. I'm most excited by all the delicious food that surrounds me. I still miss Ming and there is a part of me that wishes I was left alone to my grumpy ole self. I'm too serious, yes. And a bit of a loner at times. I definitely take things too personally. I see these weaknesses in myself--can i change them? "You need to change your personality," Ming said to me while in Greece (among other times). If only it were that easy.

As for the time spent in KL. . . we got into the city late last night, around midnight. Our taxi driver was quite nice and chatty, as was our waitor at the Indian restaurant we went to. The locals here, many of them speak English as a native speaker would. In fact, when the Indian waitor didn't hear me clearly he said, "Come again?" I think it might be a bit of a blow to Cici's English speaking confidence. However, the situation is different here than it is for most Chinese. I think people here grow up using English. Thanks British imperialism.

We are staying at Red Palm Hostel, which is where Katalin and I stayed when we were here two years ago. I can't believe it's been two years. I miss Katalin. She is so well-traveled and we really have similar interests. Cici and I share one common interest--food! She is a compulsive buyer. I had to talk her our of buying a $50 pair of shorts (that's two days budget here!) at The Gap (first store we went to) today. She's also not much for walking, which is one exercise I actually enjoy.

It's hot here, of course, but it's the humidity that's killer for me. But it's fairly laid back and the people are friendly. I love the open-air restaurants and air-conditioned 7/11's.

Today we took the monorail to the Petronas Towers (which are twin towers that are among the tallest buildings in the world). I got scolded by Cici for crossing the street on a "Do Not Walk." I let her have it. I'm just a bitch. Why am I so crabby? It may be the lack of sleep, which I'm hopefully caught up on now?

We also visited Chinatown and ate Chinese food (CiCi didn't believe me when I told her it was Chinese food). We walked to Sentral Market and Merdaka Square. She seemed pretty underwhelmed by all of it. Then the sky became heavy with grey clouds and we could hear thunder, so we made our way toward the monorail. Right after we got in, it began to pour. We eventually made it back to the hostel. I passed out for four hours and then we went next door for dinner. Naan bread with curry, Tom Yam soup, and a Chai tea for 6.7 ringgit ($2). I'm in heaven, but tomorrow we are off to Bali which will be another kind of heaven.

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