Sunday, December 18, 2005 | 19:26
laments of a traveling soul
It's good to be back on Malaysian soil again. I slept for approximately 10 hours last night and woke up about three hours ago. And I still want to sleep some more. My face looks rounder than ever. I think I may have caught a slight sniffle in China besides the great amount of photos that we all took.

It's a bit difficult for me right now to recollect everything that happened during those last eight days of traveling, shopping, eating and visiting. But I'll try nevertheless. I'm not putting up every photo we captured because it would be too cluttered up so special requests to see all of them has to be paid in the form of a visit to my house. I'm that selfish for good and nice reasons only. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking from this point on.

First day began with landing in Shanghai and then some touristy things followed. The Bund was cold and slightly wet and boring too as it was akin to walking a boardwalk while soaking in the sights and sounds. Not much happened as it was mostly that and it was already evening and dark when we arrived with hardly any shopping or any interesting things to do. Photowhoring was the main attraction there.

The next day we visited this water village in Zhujiajiao where we took a boat ride through the village and bought cheap bargained souvenirs from the quaint little shops along little dirty roads and kampung-ish style houses. Went back to Shanghai to visit the Yu Yuan Garden and Chenghuang Temple before the showy acrobatic show in this hall place. It was alright and atypical of a China visit so not much complaints there. Following that was morning shopping the next day in this flea market at Huai Hua Ru and Xiang-Yang before leaving off for Hangzhou in our bus. Slept for most of the journey I think which is not surprising. I managed to get this white bubble type long winter coat at the flea market for RM80 after bargaining a little of course. It was so cheap I couldn't believe it and just grabbed it as soon as I could. It made me look fat but it's good as it kept me warm for the rest of the trip.

In Hangzhou our itinerary for the day was quite full as we visited the West Lake, Longjing; a tea plantation, the tomb of Yue Fei, and experienced Song Cheng, which is something like a fancy show attraction thing for tourists. Oh, and notice the cheap RM80 white coat that I'm wearing in the photos. To me Hangzhou was the most interesting part of my trip because something odd and flattering happened at the West Lake and Longjing.
On the scenic boat ride around the lake, there were this other tour group with our group and there were these two 'ang moh' guys taking photos on the deck of the ship. Typical, right. I never gave them much thought except that I noticed that they were kind of stealing stares at me occasionally when the cousins and I were happily snapping away on the deck as well. But I just shrugged it off as my imagination. Anyway, when we all decided to go inside the boat to get out of the wind and cold, they actually called and asked me to take a photo with them. Naturally, I was a bit surprised but whatever and I graciously took with them both. One of the cousins teased me a little but he's always been that way around me. After the lake, we went to the tea plantation where we saw the same tour group there too. And of course I saw them again and actually didn't want them to see me for whatever reasons but of course they did spot me and we politely took photos again. I think they thought it was funny too that I was there as well. I didn't have the camera with me on both occasions to take photos with them because my brother was the official photographer for my own family but if you see carefully in this photo, the two guys in the background were the supposed 'admirers' as our tour guide called them. I suppose it was nice that they wanted to photowhore with me but I think they actually thought I was a China native, which I am so not! At least I don't think I look like a typical China girl. God, I hope I don't. Anyway, they're Australians as I asked them on the boat but didn't get to talk to them anymore as the tour had to go on. What struck me odd was that we all actually visited the same place on two occasions. I mean how weird is that. Don't get me wrong that I have a crush on them and I don't but they weren't too bad looking to put it simply and matter-of-factly. But the one with the funny afro looking hair was quite cute.

The fifth day was filled with merely traveling from Hangzhou to Guangzhou and then taking a tiny plane, which is actually smaller than our bus, to the remote and smallish town of Meizhou and then some shopping after dinner where everything was dirt cheap and we all went slightly crazy by contributing to the shopping economy there. Got myself sweaters for less than RM30 each and two jackets for less than RM100 each at the local brands shop where at home would have been on sale for at least RM50 and more. And I got the black winter coat there for about RM150 which I think would be sold in Malaysia at Zara or MNG for more than RM300. It was exhilirating to find such cheap buys at rock bottom prices and they looked not too bad and felt good too. I love my black coat. Excuse my enthusiasm.

Anyway, the next day we took another bus ride to the real 'kampung' kampung of Dapu where my extended family and relatives lived in. And I do mean 'kampung'. It was probably the worst day ever during the entire trip. The worst day on any vacation that I've ever been to actually. There's absolutely nothing to do there, the people all look the same, their clothes alike and ugly, and there isn't even a traffic light in the whole small backward town. We joked that we were living in the past of about ten or twenty years back. I don't mean to criticise the people but the food was also horrible likewise. I probably ate the least then. It was just difficult to swallow and stomach the food as it was so different from what we usually ate and the 'hakka' wine that the natives drink by the gallons smelt and tasted disgusting. Just the smell of it wanted to make me puke. I didn't know anyone's name in that small village and there were old people everywhere. I've never felt like such an alien in any place before this. The six of us cousins, felt so alien and out of place in the Dapu town that everyone was practically staring at us because of our out-of-town clothes and faces. The whole family was treated to a weird welcoming procession where we felt like VIPs in this far out remote place. There were loads of people talking to my grandfather like a celebrity in his old 'kampung' and we just felt like total outsiders with nothing to contribute except to just stand around and look pretty. The hotel was terrible and ugly as well where there were stains in the carpet which looked suspiciously like blood stains and the bathroom looked like it came straight out of a horror film. The rooms were bloody freezing and I don't think they've ever heard of heating or toothbrushes and tooth pastes to clean their teeth with.

On the seventh day, we hurriedly checked ourselves out of the horror town and more touring around was installed for us even though we were already thoroughly exhausted and fatigued. From Dapu, the return bus ride to Meizhou was horrible yet again with more bumpiness and dangerous China driving. In Meizhou, I was already half-dead before we departed again to Guangzhou for the final leg of our China vacation. Oh yeah, on this short stop somewhere I do not recall due to tiredness, we ate strawberries so sweet and juicy that I wished we could have brought back some more. And the dinner that day was extremely late because of a flight delay at Meizhou and we had the whole restaurant to ourselves. We orginally wanted to squeeze in more shopping time but we were just too tired to drag ourselves out of the hotel rooms.

The last day was quite good and sad at the same time. We were supposed to do some sight-seeing in Guangzhou but opted to do some more light shopping in the city where I got a pair of high heeled and almost knee high brown-coloured boots for RMB89 or yuan which is equivalent to RM45. I can't wait to wear them out. I love Guangzhou shopping.
We only had less than two hours of shopping time before departing to the airport to return home which was the saddest part of the trip. I so need to go back to Guangzhou again for three days and two nights of pure shopping, shopping, and more shopping. The combination of the whole family's luggages totalled a whopping 31 bags to be checked in which increased from a mere 13 on the first day. And there were only 18 of us on the trip. My family had to buy an extra bag to put in the new clothes, handbags, foodstuff, and shoes we bought throughout the trip.

Touched down yesterday night and the family had a final dinner at Coca in Subang Parade where we relegated in the memories of the good, the best, and the very ugly of our family trip. Went home and fell asleep so soundly and dreamlessly in the comfort of my own bed and room after a nice hot shower. The unpacking is still messy with clothes and stuff strewn all over my room but I think I'm getting there. Oh, yeah, about the absence of my dad in the photos, it's because he had to do some traveling of his own to Singapore and such for business and stuff. I think I may be suffering from some sort of jetlag or travel-hangover as my head feels heavy and I really want to continue sleeping again for another ten hours.

Well, it's back home and time for the routine after-trip dieting and exercising away the fats. Honestly, I swear I've never eaten so much in such a small period of time before this. When you see me in my chubby glory, please don't mention it because I already know it.
Jill |

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