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> On the Road Again: The Travel Thread
epinephrine
post Sep 28 2010, 08:24 AM
Post #41


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From: Chongqing, China


Not really sure what thread this post belongs in, but I'm wrestling with my first real bout of homesickness and I'm feeling pretty bummed right now. Whenever I slip up or commit a social faux pas here, I just feel so awful. I feel like a big, fat, stupid, ugly, rude, clueless foreigner and I have nowhere to hide and nobody to talk to who knows I'm really not an idiot. It's unnerving how quickly a couple of negative thoughts can snowball into a major funk when you're hit with the sudden realization that all the people you know are asleep in bed on the other side of the planet and you're surrounded by strangers who you can't talk to about anything, let alone anything personal. I don't even have the privacy to wallow in depression here in my room. I don't even have the refuge of a hot shower; the hot water's only on a couple hours a day and it's probably run out by now. I just have to sit here doing homework and pretending I don't have a fucking annoying teenaged roommate sitting six feet away from me. The most familiar thing I have for comfort is my music, so I'm losing myself in Joy Division now.

Well, writing helped, and so did Joy Division, but still...ugh. Bad end to an otherwise ok day. Tomorrow I start Kung Fu classes, so I should be feeling better then.


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foryoursplendor
post Sep 27 2010, 02:57 PM
Post #42


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Holy crap, Epi, it all looks AMAZING. I am so jealous right now.

I cannot wait to be done school so I can go on a trip.
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sukouyant
post Sep 26 2010, 07:56 AM
Post #43


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Jesus, it's beautiful.
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stargazer
post Sep 26 2010, 07:48 AM
Post #44


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What beautiful pictures, Epi! Your friend JiaJia is adorable. I've bookmarked your blog so I can follow your adventures in China. smile.gif


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sybarite
post Sep 26 2010, 06:27 AM
Post #45


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So awesome to read about your experiences Epi (I have wondered about Chinese attitudes to drinking; it does seem fairly gendered). Your neighbourhood looks beautiful!
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epinephrine
post Sep 26 2010, 05:09 AM
Post #46


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From: Chongqing, China


My blog is back in business! Although, sadly, I'm having a hard time uploading pictures to it. In the meantime, I''ll just post them as a photojournal on my Windows Live page. Enjoy!


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totomoto
post Sep 23 2010, 08:21 PM
Post #47


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Keep it comin'. I like this. smile.gif
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sukouyant
post Sep 22 2010, 10:17 AM
Post #48


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I'm enjoying reading this. Your descriptions of what you're seeing are so detailed and evocative, I can really imagine it.
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epinephrine
post Sep 19 2010, 09:13 AM
Post #49


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From: Chongqing, China


Unbelievable. My Windows Live account has just been shut out by the Great Firewall. Thank god I still have access to my Hotmail account. On to plan C, I guess...

And yes, the public toilets are pretty unsettling at first. Everywhere I've been outside of my dorm has had those hole-in-the-floor toilets - even the common toilets in the dorm are like that, only the private ones are flush toilets. Every time I go out I'm reminded of what luxury I have compared to everyone else here.

Oh, I just remembered another highlight of my trip so far: I learned that when the Chinese take pictures, instead of saying cheese, they say "qiezi" (chi-et'zeh), which means eggplant. That is so fucking cute. "Everybody say eggplant!"


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sybarite
post Sep 18 2010, 02:02 PM
Post #50


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Great to hear about your city and settling in experiences Epi! What a wide range of nationalities in one place; that's amazing. Your campus sounds beautiful. I seem to remember that a lot of Chinese travel during the festival, which means journeys and accommodation in China book up fast during that time, fyi.

We visited HK, Chengdu and Llasa and you've reminded me of the supermarket in Chengdu; all kinds of foodstuffs I had never seen before, amazing spices and an aisle of nothing but green teas. (I have to say though that the public toilets in mainland China defeated me, I'm not that acrobatic.)

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epinephrine
post Sep 18 2010, 12:25 AM
Post #51


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Thanks, Aural!

So, twelve days ago, I moved to Chongqing, China to study Chinese for a year. I'm in the Modern Chinese program at Southwest University, living in the foreign students dormitory with people from all over the world. There are people here from Vietnam, Lesoto, Korea, Kazakhstan, Tanzania, Japan, Egypt, Thailand, Pakistan, Zambia, Congo, Slovakia, America, Samoa, Micronesia, Brunai, Nepal...it's really amazing. Most people here speak some English and/or Chinese, so it's pretty easy to communicate with people. My Chinese is still pertty basic, but it's coming along. Along with my Chinese classes, which are from 9 to noon Monday to Friday, I've taken on Kung Fu and Calligraphy as my electives. Haven't started those yet, but I'm stoked.

Chongqing is famous for being one of the hottest cities in China. It was 37 degrees yesterday. Thankfully, it hasn't rained in over a week, so the humidity was bearable. Sometimes the climate here is practically tropical. My skin reacted pretty badly to the humidity and pollution at first, but it seems to be calming down now. And, thankfully, nearly all the buildings and dorm rooms here are equipped with a functioning air conditioner. The one in my dorm works about 50% of the time, which is better than nothing, I guess. We also have a private bathroom with a flush toilet, which I'm quickly realizing is a real luxury here.

I really like the campus. It's quite large and has all the amenities - there are a few cheap restaurants and snack bars, several markets and shops scattered around where we can buy pretty much everything we need, a post office, two libraries, three banks and a hair salon. It's also really beautiful here - there are plenty of trees and they let them grow out a nice big canopy to provide shade during the hot summer months, so the effect is quite lush and exotic. There are gardens and courtyards around the campus with cute little stone tables and stools to sit at. The campus has a fleet of small, open-sided electric buses that ferry people around at a cost of one Yuan per person, or about 17 cents, and zipping around the narrow, winding streets through the dense overgrowth feels like some kind of safari. The surrounding scenery is beautiful, too. Chongqing is surrounded by lumpy, green, mist-shrouded mountains, exactly like in the classical Chinese paintings.

In the next month we'll be having one three-day holiday and one week-long holiday, and I'm thinking of hopping a train to do some sightseeing. People tell me that Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) is typically a four- to six-week vacation, so I'm making some travel plans. I've got a friend in Tokyo I really want to see, so that's the priority. There are also loads of students here from Vietnam and Thailand and I'm getting to know some of them, so hopefully by spring I'll have an invitation or two to come visit with them!

Anyway, here are the highlights of my trip so far: on the first day, I woke up to find a spider bigger than my hand on the ceiling above my head. Last weekend I tried Chongqing's famous signature spicy hot pot - tasty, but it's just so much oil! The supermarkets here are amazing and shopping for food to cook at the dorm is actually more fun than eating in restaurants. The dollar goes pretty far here, and I can fill a shopping bag with tasty eats for under five bucks. In the "leisure foods" aisle you can find a variety of potato chips with flavours like blueberry, lemon tea, cucumber, sour fish soup, and "vigorous and refreshing numb and tingly hotpot." Yesterday I ate fresh durian (I'd had durian before, but it's shipped frozen and tastes different), which, for those who haven't tried it, is a truly phenomenal fruit that tastes like a combination of avocado, pineapple, and onions, and has a sinfully rich, buttery texture. Everyone here is super friendly and curious about foreigners, and it's really easy to make friends.

Anyway, that's all I have time for now, but I'll keep posting in here! Most blog sites are blocked in China, but I think I can still access some of the minor ones, so when I get that up and running I'll post a link. Windows Live has a blog function that I might check out.

ETA: I've gone ahead with the Windows Live blog, but I'm gonna be lazy and copy and paste this for my first post. I will be posting some pictures, though, so do check it out. I'll post the address later after I've fixed it up a bit.


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auralpoison
post Sep 17 2010, 01:02 PM
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Bumped for Epinephrine.

Y'know, I've never used it, but the Lounge does have a blog function. I know I for one would like to keep up with your adventures!



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delibelly
post Sep 12 2010, 09:28 AM
Post #53


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I am also from southern Ontario, and Quebec City in January is the coldest I have ever been in my LIFE! Beautiful - like, family Christmas movie picturesque - and COLD AS HELL!
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sukouyant
post Sep 12 2010, 08:11 AM
Post #54


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QUOTE(MadameHooch @ Aug 31 2009, 11:30 AM) *
I saw some talk of Montreal/Quebec on here, but am wondering if anyone has been there during the winter? Like December or January? I go to a community college that offers an excellent study abroad program in which you can go to live with a francophone family and attend the Universite de Quebec to study French. I would only be able to go during what they call the "French and Snow" program, however. I don't HATE the cold, but I was wondering just how cold I should expect to be, if I do this!


I was there for a few days in February a couple of years ago, and it was coooold. As reference point, I'm from Southern Ontario.
There was a bitter wind and at the time the sidewalks on residential streets were also very icy and hard going.
Be prepared to cover up exposed skin during cold snaps (and there will be one), when the wind is up it's really bad.
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stargazer
post Sep 5 2010, 05:05 AM
Post #55


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bump


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MadameHooch
post Aug 31 2009, 09:30 AM
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I saw some talk of Montreal/Quebec on here, but am wondering if anyone has been there during the winter? Like December or January? I go to a community college that offers an excellent study abroad program in which you can go to live with a francophone family and attend the Universite de Quebec to study French. I would only be able to go during what they call the "French and Snow" program, however. I don't HATE the cold, but I was wondering just how cold I should expect to be, if I do this!
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sassygrrl
post Jul 8 2009, 04:19 PM
Post #57


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I'll be in San Francisco for a day in the fall checking out grad schools. I'll also be in Portland for a day and Seattle. Any cool stuff to do?
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designermedusa
post Jul 4 2009, 09:38 PM
Post #58


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Thanks for the info Billy and Edie.
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edie52
post Jul 4 2009, 09:03 AM
Post #59


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When I was traveling in Europe last year I had my passport checked a few times, within the EU. Once was on a bus from the Czech Republic into Germany- the bus even stopped at the border, it was nighttime, and German cops got on with flashlights. I also recall being checked on trains (but I think that was because I had the Eurail pass, so it served as I.D.). I think it's always good to have it if you're foreign, even if you don't get checked, it's the most legit form of I.D.
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billybonka
post Jul 4 2009, 07:41 AM
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DM, your passport is required when arriving and departing an external border of the European Union. By agreement, passports aren't checked at the borders of 22 countries within the EU. UK, Ireland, Romania and Bulgaria don't participate in the agreement. France and Belguim are in the 22 countries that do.
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