Doing my small little part to cheer up someone, somewhere and sometime.

Friday, September 30, 2005

My dream today.....

Dictating to myself......

"Today I dreamt about my exams again. I was rushing to the lecture hall and to my horror found out that I studied for the wrong subject......"

*sigh* no wonder I am just a normal I wish my dreams were of epic proportions, then maybe I was someone more important in my previous life. Haha

My budget wish list :)

Might as well throw in my 2 cents worth :-

1. Reduce tax.
2. Tax free for foreign cars - so that I can change my car :)
3. Lower tolls.
4. Lower electricity tariff.
5. Lower this, lower that.......
6. HHmmmm heck not much of a wish list huh?!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

haha...yeah...the horror stories

How can I not blog on this? Though I briefly mentioned it in earlier post. Well, you are safe if you need to answer natures' call around the city area, shopping centers, most tourist attractions etc.

Don't ever try the petrol stations.....advise to ladies, use the umbrella as your "door" that's about the only advice I have or keep fingers cross no one is gonna use it too. But a practice of holding your breathe would qualify as Rule of Thumb #1 and Run-out ASAP will qualify as Rule of Thumb #2.

But most other areas are really comparable to those at home. The Tang Palace's ones warranted a pix from me - to blend in to the overall architecture of the whole place, they are so nice and pretty and super clean (even cleaner than the MVM ones) almost felt unworthy to use them :)

So I would say, being a stomach-challenged-extra-sensitive-to-anything-I-eat person, facilities for answering natures' call was 1 of my least worried items around Xian (most of them at least).


Some small tips.....

1. 1 catty = 500 grams, this is Xian or maybe China's way to metricise the weight conversion.
2. Don't be alarmed when the cab driver rounds up or down to the nearest dollar. Eg. 6.30=6 or 6.60 = 7. Apparently cab drivers in Xian are too lazy to use coins or even notes for fractions of a dollar. These apply to most small shops etc except for supermarkets I think.
3. If you think driving in KL is a challenge, then you will probably get heart attack in Xian - some how their judgement of distance between cars can go until 0.00000001 mm so try not to shout out loud when taking a cab ride.
4. Drivers have incredible tolerance for overtaking and "cutting" into each others' lanes - somehow I had this feeling maybe they traded in their car horns for a cheaper price for the car.....they don't horn like we do in KL.
5. Most entrance fees to attractions are governed, even the charges for tour guide and transport charges, so you can be quite safe that you won't be fleeced. But do note that some of the online information don't reflect the latest charges tho'.
6. As usual, food around tourist attractions are more expensive especially those 1 day trip to various tombs etc etc. Then again b'cos standard of leaving in Xian / Shaanxi province is quite low so more expensive is really relative. We had a lunch - 1 vege and 1 taufu + rice and drinks = approx CNY$ 20 + or 30 I think (which is about double the usual price in Xian), which is about RM 15.
7. You must try the various "small eats" - stuff bread with e.g. peanut, "tausa", vegetarian, meats etc.
8. Mutton noodles and bread pieces - like the soup and mutton (tender and yummy) but don't fancy the bread pieces tho'. Yang Rou Pao Mo.
9. Satay China style - they use stainless steel instead of wood/bamboo/"lidi".
10. Some other local attractions we visited - the Muslim Street, Cultural Street and others.
11. Cool noodles.'an.html (have trouble linking because of the apostrophe)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Day 8 - Going Home

Well had to do some last minute was going to take trishaw to the bank first. "WAS" because......trishaws are only allowed to ferry customers in the smaller streets and can't get on to the main streets, so here we are riding along and didn't know until the police siren was blaring and an oncoming police car was stopping just behind us.....then the trishaw fellow kept on cycling away.....while urging us to get off ASAP.....we sort off jumped off the trishaw.......and he sped off without colleting the fare...poor fellow.

We booked a cab to the airport.....cost us CNY$ 80. Decided to go early.....3 hours before our flight time, was dozing off in the cab - hot, windy and dusty ride cos the cab didn't put on the aircon.

Reached airport in good time....actually too early to check in so had to wait......then got a pleasant surprise while checking in - 4 free tickets to the 5th Global Chinese Music Awards which we found out was worth RM 150 each when we turned up, courtesy of MAS as the official airline.

But traffic was horrendous around Bukit Jalil - TV3 Sure Heboh and the music award were on that were parked along the TPM-Puchong road all the way until Astro's entrance and on the opposite side almost until the Petronas station.

We had a packed schedule too - a colleague's wedding, so we went to the wedding 1st and then joined mom & sis later at the awards around 10pm and the awards went on until about midnight.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Day 6 & 7 - 31 August & 1 Sept


You know the famous hill in those Cantonese Kung Fu series??! Yup that's the one....

Well we spent a night in 1 of the lowest peak.....thanks to cable car, if not it would have been a 2 hour hike up the mountain.

Then we woke up at 3am wanting to climb to the top......but by then my foot was hurting very badly.....(which explains why I am still limbing around till today). So wife continued without me...... :( so now wife has 2 bragging rights - Mt KK and Huasan...... :(

Friday, September 16, 2005

Day 5

Hhmm started off late.....b'cos everyone told us that you should only visit Tang Paradise about 4 to 5 pm. Luckily we didn't listen but still we went there about 12 or 1 pm. This is 1 place where you should budget 1 full day if you don't fancy running and rushing from 1 point to the other. Found a site that had quite good photos.

A pretty funny episode happened here - when we bought the tickets to go in, we asked the sales girl if the timetable (which was printed on a huge notice board near the ticket booths) of the various activities inside will be provided on the map/leaflets which are provided inside. After confirming 3 times, we decided ok we have to copy down the schedules and venues etc. As Murphy will have it........tala.....there it is, nicely printed leaflets of timetable on the notice board for us to take.......then the chinese version map ran out and only Japanese ones were left.....for a moment I contemplated if we should take the Jap version since the anti-Jap sentiment was quite high (after an encounter in a cab, where a cab driver was really anti-Jap, but was quite amused/surprised that Malaysians speak Mandarin and Cantonese). But then, we had no choice so we took the Jap version.

After the visit, we decided the best plan should go something like this:-

9 am to 12 noon - Leisurely walk around to cover the various Gardens and sculptures etc around the place. I must say the park is beautiful and in the same class with Disney (not in the same sense as the rides etc but the "wow" factor in terms of activities and interest to sustain a 1 day trip there).

2 to 6 pm - Catch the various "free" shows - my take - they were really impressive......cos my other yard stick was the show that was held in Genting a few years back (something like the Tang/Chinese costumes of the various dynasty etc).

6 to 7 pm - Catch a FANTASTIC performance at the theatre. Had to pick up my jaw from the ground, maybe I am just a "katak di bawah tempurung". But was well worth the RMB 100 per person. The entrance to the park is only RMB 50 per pax.

7 to 7.30 pm - Get your dinner at the nice Tang Restaurant which is in the park itself.....we didn't fancy the buffet so went for a nice simple dinner. Not really expensive by KL standard (almost the same as what you will pay in any mid-range air-conditioned restaurant), but about double what you will pay for in a similar posh restaurant around Xian. But the security measure is just high-tech - you need to present your park entrance ticket and capture your photo and a barcode sticker will be put on your entrance ticket. This is because the restaurant is open to customers for meals i.e. without entering the park, so to prevent people from sneaking in to the park via the restaurant, this canggih system was installed. When you leave the restaurant (i.e. to get back into the park) the system will scan the barcode and your pix will pop up on the screen.....phew luckily it was me on the screen....hahaha.

7.30 to 8.30 pm - Make your way to the water screen show.....similar to the Disney Fantasmic Show. Superb laser show, explosives, fireworks but kinda lame and draggy story line.

8.30 to 10.00 pm - Check out the night lights of the whole place - beautiful to say the least.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Ringgit Coins

Been spending my ringgit coins lately. Found the following places to be especially useful:-
  • for toll - the poor girl will not risk a long queue.
  • shopping complexes' parking machines - they have yet to change the machines, so you can still use the coins till dunno-when.
  • food stalls - still accepting them as of last Thursday.
  • drive-by newspaper stall - still accepting them, wouldn't want to cause a traffic jam or accident I suppose.
  • hypermarkets - again the poor cashier will not risk a long queue.

Day 4 - 29 August

hmmm started of at early. Was in a bus with 2 other couples - 1 couple from Canton and another from Beijing I think. We were on the East Line - 1 day tour which include amongst others Huaqing Hot Springs, Lintong Museum , Museum of Qin Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses and Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

We did what everyone who had been to China told us to beware off - toilets. We had to take a leak at one of the petrol my.....Malaysia's public toilets would be 5-star standard anytime.

This trip would certainly qualify as the most value-for-money trip amongst all the other tours being promoted. The rest are mostly tombs of emperors and .....tombs of emperors.....which to this banana chinese and also chinese history challenged caveman would mean pieces of rocks and old stones.

Well, the trip to the terracotta warriors reminds me of BMW (Bas Mini Wilayah), because everyone wants to take a good look at the 2 bronze chariots. Here are some more photos.

Yup.....if you only have a couple of days in Xian, this will be the 1 trip you can't miss (opcors that is my 2 sen).

Thursday, September 08, 2005

My Ringgit coin episode :)

Decided to try my luck today by paying RM 1 coin for food. Luckily the stall owner (different shop from my 1 sen episode) did not make a fuss.

Thus I could enjoy my chicken rice and at the same time use my soon-to-be-not-legal-tender. Save my trips to the bank to exchange them. On the same note recently I got a RM 1 note from the previous series, wonder if they are still legal tender?

I found out that restaurants are also very courteous in accepting 1 sen coins. But I got short-changed 3 sens the other day while buying mooncakes.....thot of pulling a HL-stubborn-principled stand of not letting big corporations make even more moolah.....then again the shop's workers and bosses have been very kind to let us taste quite a few mooncakes and also gave us 20% off our purchases so was kinda "pai seh" to insist on my 3 sens. I am sure if the big guys offer me an extra helping of fries or a leaf or two extra of lettuce I may also let them short change me..... :)

Day 3 - 28 August

Visited the great wall.....not the famous Great Wall of China but the Xian City Wall..... kena conned by my bro-in-law. He told us that it was a nice ride by bike. We ended up cycling for 2 hours and worse still, got a minor leg cramp. That took us all the way till 2 or 3 pm.

The Xian City Wall

The magnificent and grandiose Xian City Wall was constructed in the early Ming Dynasty on the basis of the Imperial City of Chang An (Everlasting Peace) of the Tang Dynasty. It is also a symbol of great significance of the famous historic cultural city of Xian. One of the features of the Xian Wall lies in the fact that it has been preserved intact, which is rarely seen in the world. The construction of the Xian City was formally started in the seventh year of Emperor Hongwu's reign (1374) and completed in the eleventh year of Hongwu's reign (1378). After its completion, the circumference of the city wall was 13.75 kilometers long in an oblong shape. Its height is 12 meters; its top is 12-14 meters wide and its base, 15-18 meters wide. At the four corners are watchtowers at each. Outside the wall are moats. There are four city gates, and to each of them are three tower entrances: sluice tower, embrasures watchtower and the main tower and in between are enceinte. There are 98 watching enemy platforms between the watchtowers and the city gates, protruding over the city wall, and on the platform the towers for watching the enemy are built, which is not only convenient for watching the enemy, but also to shoot them with bows and arrows from three sides and firing wooden cannon stones by taking the advantages between the position like two sides of a horse face and the city wall, inflicting casualties on the attacking enemy. There are 5984 crenels served as lookout posts, firing at the enemy and shield of protection. They formed a close engineering system of defense.
After repair and protection, the Xian City Wall now presents a three-dimensional distribution with the city wall, city moats, forest belt and city ring-routes combined into four-in-one grandeur in perfect harmony, each shining more brilliantly in the other.

After lunch we visited Shaanxi Historical Museum.

The Shaanxi Historical Museum

The Shaanxi Historical Museum, a large-scale modern State-class museum, is situated at the western side of the "Wild Goose Pagoda" in Xian City. It covers an area of about 70,000 square meters, the architectural area of which is 55,000 odd square meters. It was completed on June 20, 1991 and open to the public.
The Museum is divided into three main parts all for overall display, hall for temporary display and hall for display on special topics. There are over 3000 pieces of cultural relics on display; they are the cream of cultural relics selected from among the hundreds of thousands of cultural relics, the majority of which are worldly treasures.

Then we visited the Bell Tower and the Wild Goose Pagoda. Saw some performances there.....much like packed sardines and almost fainted and more exercise up the tower and the least the stairway is much roomier than the bell tower of a church in Christchurch where I nearly vomitted and almost had a "claustrophobic-attack".

Bell Tower

The Bell Tower is situated in Xian city, capital of Shaanxi Province. In the beginning it was constructed in the 17th year of Emperor Hong Wu reign of the Ming Dynasty (1384) at now Guangji street cross and in the 10th year of Wanli removed to the present site.
The construction of the three storeyed Bell Tower has multi-eaves, sunken cornices and pinnacles with turning corners. The building basement area is 1377.4 square meters with four gateways connecting four streets. Each of the four sides of the building pedestal is 35.5 m broad and 8.6 m high. The height of the building is 27.4 m while it is 36 m high from ground to top. The architecture is grand and the art is superb. Ascending the tower to look around, one can get the bird's-eye view of the whole panorama of the ancient Xian city.

Wild Goose Pagoda

The Wild Goose Pagoda is situated at the Benevolence Temple to the south of Xian City, Shaanxi Province. The temple was originally known as Wulou Temple (literally no leaking ) in the Sui dynasty. In the 21st year (647) of Emperor Zhenguan rein of Tang dynasty, Prince Li Zhi (who later succeeded to the thrown as Emperor Gaozhong) reconstructed the Temple into Grand Benevolence Temple in commemoration of his of his mother Empress Wan De.
When Xuanzhuang, the Tang Monk, after acquiring the scriptures of Buddhism from India, returned to his motherland, he was lodged in the grand Benevolence Temple for the translation of the scriptures. In the 3rd year of Emperor Yongwei's rein of the Tang Dynasty, the Pagoda was built after the style of the Western Regions for the storage of the translation version of Buddhist scriptures. It was a five storeyed building at the beginning and the built into 7 storeys when the Empress Wuzetian was in power. The Pagoda is square in shape, 64 meters high with spiral staircase leading up to the top. There are structural design and Bodhisattva image delicately carved on the lintels on four sides. At the lower part of the Pagoda are two stone tablets on which are engraved Preface of the Holy Teaching and the Narration Record of the Holy Teaching by Chu Suiliang, the calligrapher of the Tang dynasty and on the brim of the stone tablets are relief sculptures of musicians and dancers.
Xuanzhuang (602-664) generally known as the Master of the Law (Tripitaka of Buddhism), customarily called Tang Monk was the famous scholar of Buddhism and great traveler and the Founder of Benevolence and Philanthropy of Buddhism.

Ah.......dinner time.......never seen a much bigger bowl being used to serve you call that a basin not bowl. By then we were so tired from all the exercise the whole day.....we were ready to hit the bed b'cos tomorrow we were setting off 7 am to join the Eastline Tour or the Presidential Tour (b'cos most foreign dignitaries usually request to visit the same sites)

Day 2 - 27 August

Got myself a prepaid. Supposed to register and provide identification....opcors that could be arranged. So I am "on" in China. First numbers to key in are my bro-in-laws and the GF's. Then SMS back to Malaysia. Since I got away with providing ID, I could not call international.....thanks to SMS, I am on limited communications with family in M'sia.

Nothing much, basically more shopping. Well what do you shop for in Xian?.....miniatures of terracotta warriors, jade.....apparently there is a special kind of jade that is only found in Shangxi province.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

So what did I do? - Day 1

Day 1 - 26 August

Started early reached airport about 7am, queue was quite bad at the check-in but made it in good time. Flight was 9.35am. Departure hall will open at 8.55am.

Went to the departure gate at 8.40am and waited, saw people walking out from the departure hall.....ah flight to S'pore was delayed by 1 hour so passengers were walking out and fuming cos some have appointments at 10am etc. Waited.....waited.....then it occurs to me better my horror the departure gate to Xian has been changed to another gate.....far far away from this gate, actually almost directly opposite end of the current gate. There we were rushing across the terminal building.....

Finally there was such a long queue to the departure gate too because the staffs are also informed last minute so they too are rushing from another gate to the latest then the flight was delayed to 10 am....and when we boarded the plane....the pilot also mentioned that the plane had to be taxied to the new gate last minute.....there we go what a great rush...... and then a further delay until 11 am reason??!!.....there is a curfew of the airspace because of Merdeka fly pass practice. So we finally took to the sky around 10.50 am. Xian has the same time as Malaysia......for that matter whole of China does too cos they figured that it is too cumbersome to have multiple time zone for a single country.

So I managed to catch Herbie fullyloaded on the onboard entertainment. Eat, drink, sleep, eat drink, sleep and opcors went to the toilet to do my business across somewhere across northern Thailand.

Haha....arrived 5 hours later. The airport is pretty new and big. Even saw Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew while queuing at the immigration desk. So it was a breeze collecting our luggage and going through customs etc.....on we go to look for the airport bus that will take us down to the city.

The journey down to the city is pretty nice - aircon bus, nice commentary given by the tour guide but I suspect I only catch 10% of the stuff being said. So wife is the one asking and banana chinese......ask wife to translate into Cantonese. Was asking wife while on the bus if the wall as inidicated on the map that my mom-in-law gave us was really a wall. Wife said no lah, just an indication of where the ancient wall was. Then to our surprise it really is an ancient wall!!!! How big? Well that will come in Day 3.

Well bro-in-law and GF met us at a hotel where the bus stops. There were old ladies selling maps of Xian, very customer service oriented......I don't remember Sentral/KLIA selling KL maps??

Went for coffee at King Coffee......layout, design and even the logo will pass-off as Starbucks at first glance. Ah next to it is KFC, another sign of modern civilisation :) Well we had dinner at this nice restaurant.....had too much much that we had to tapau. Then we went to a street very much like Petaling Street near the city walls. Then I noticed a lot of halal shops along that street. Did our shopping, checking out the prices etc etc. Then we went home.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Where did I go?

It would have been such a historic event - one worthy of me kissing the ground and smelling the dirt of the land of my ancestors.....if it was in much much earlier times, yup you guessed it went to China.

Xian to be exact, never knew it was such a historic city until was told by the couple of tour guides that took us on a couple of tours. To confess I had held my expectations very low for fear of disappointing myself, but to my surprise it was much much better than expected. The city center will pass off like any suburban area in PJ and Subang in terms of trendy shops, buildings etc oh in terms of cars many of them.....jams jams jams....the hall mark of progress. But at least the jams are pretty fast moving. Somehow it seems like whereever you go in China -people, cars and buildings multiply by 10 times at least. And the city is one whole construction yard much like KL 5 to 10 years back - high rise apartments/condos, convention center, hotels etc etc all over the place as if in a rush to outdo each other.

More updates when I have time......