Sunday, April 29, 2007

China Part 5: Wonderful Hotels

With the price that I've paid for this trip, one would think that the hotels that I'd stayed at would be similar to our budget hotels here (all in, I paid around RM2k). Surprisingly, the hotels we stayed at were beautiful and clean, similar to a three-star/four-star hotel here.

The first two nights, we stayed at Guangtian Hotel at Hangzhou. This hotel uses antique-like furnitures and decoration.

Hard beds. In China, they believe in sleeping on hard beds for good posture. I believe them. I don't see many hunching while walking. I was REALLY glad I didn't run and jump onto the bed when I first entered. It would have been really, really painful.

Chairs. Don't even remember sitting on them.

Dressing table. Those are all the lights we had. No ceiling lamps. In certain parts of China, they are required to save electricity. I'm really not fond of going around in semi-darkness.

BIIIIIIIIIIG mirror =D for the vain me...

Toilet fetish strikes again!

Alright, so the details of this hotel:
Guangtian Hotel
Add: No. 501, Dengyun Road, Hangzhou,. China
Tel: 86-571-28939999
Fax: 86-571-28025090
Website: (I tried visiting it, but can't access)

On the third night, we stayed at Yijia Kaiyuan Hotel(a four-star hote)at Suzhou. This hotel is the opposite of the first one (in terms of decoration). Has a very modern look.

I love the shower!

You can open the cupboard from INSIDE the bathroom. It's really not safe bathing in this room, the bathroom door has no lock, the cupboard door has no lock either, anyone can go in and out as they like.

I like the way they decorate this place. The cafe's down there...It's a pity I only got to stay there for one night.
The have a nice website too:

Ok, next one at Nanjing: Nianfa 168 Hotel (hehehe, nice number)
Erm...I can't believe it. I didn't take pictures of the last three hotels. Ah well, there are always the websites.
Nianfa 168 Hotel's located at a very convenient place. Many shops around the hotel for guests to check out at night. There's a hair salon nearby which, according to my group member, charges "VERY CHEAP!". They added hair extensions to her already funky hairstyle (think of Mel B from Spice Girls) and finished only at 1.00a.m. Anything for money, I guess. I'm not too sure if the other shops were open until that late (they don't have our mamaks there) because I was safely and comfortably buried under the comforters.

Details, details:
Nianfa 168 Hotel

Check out for more details on their website, if you can read Chinese, that is.

At Wuxi, we stayed at Donglin Grand Hotel. It's located at one of the busier areas at Wuxi (IMO). For the first night ever, I ventured out of the hotel and enjoyed the cold air outside. There were roadside stalls selling chow kuey teow (er, I don't think it's exactly the same as ours) and other food (some looked like lok lok). Finally bought fruits (BANANAS! HAHA!)- it's really difficult to search for fruits at China at this time. Most of the time, they serve watermelon during meals (got sick of it).

I wanted to go to the mini market nearby, but it was closed when we reached it. So we went to the 24-hours convenience shop which is known as Ke Di (可的) there. Only in Nanjing, their 24-hours convenience shop was called something else, which is Hao Di (好的) and bought their cup-of-noodles, except that it's in a rather large bowl, instead of a cup. It's not that great, and has lots of MSG, but I guess it's sufficient enough for a late night snack.

Address: No. 33 East Renmin Road, Wuxi. (at Donglin Square)
Tel: 86-510-82256777

Finally at our first and last stop, Shanghai, we stayed at Jinhui Hotel. For our twin-bed room, it costs RMB580.00 per night. I guess it's alright, considering that it's located at Shanghai.

Jinhui Hotel
Address: 8 Wuzhong Road, Shanghai (Xu Hui District)
Tel: (86)21-64282222
Fax: (86)21-64641774
Website: I don't think they have their own website, but details can be found here

So if you want to go to Shanghai-Jiangnan area, I recommend these hotels to you. :D (no, I'm not paid to do this). I didn't encounter anything strange of have strangers knocking on my room doors at night (even if they did, I'd probably be too deeply asleep to hear).

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

China Part 4: Banana in China

Yes. That is me. However, that doesn't mean I can't understand a single word :D Sometimes it's good to be a banana. Especially when you have those pesky salesmen pushing their items into your face.

Sometimes, it's frustrating because they (the China Chinese people) have problems understanding what I want. can be quite funny...

I was at the West Lake when another tour group consisting of China folks from other areas approach the place where I was waiting for other group members of mine (they were using the washroom), when their tour guide said loudly, "Ni men qu chang ke zai ze pian (han yu pin yin may not be accurate. Literal translation: You guys go and sing there)". I stared. Do local tour groups normally sing loudly at the park? I panicked. I won't have to do that right? We are from Malaysia after all, we won't have to sing right?!

My mom laughed out loud. Apparently, "chang ke (sing)" simply means "to do your toilet business". -_-||| I had forgotten. It happened again in the bus and I seriously thought that we were going to the karaoke to sing...

I also noticed that as a banana, you get stared at a lot. They aren't subtle about it at all. They'll stare at you for a long time, then start whispering to their friends. Anyway, I don't think it's something good so it's better not to know :P

However, being thought of as a "gaijin" (foreigner in Japanese language) in Nanjing is no joke. Their hatred towards the Japanese people has not waned at all even after many years, until a Japanese in a previous group from Singapore refused to alight his bus at Nanjing as he feared for his life. This is due to the Nanjing Massacre,however, I won't go into details about it as I don't like depressing stuff.

We were at a shopping area called "Fu Shi Miao" (I THINK lah) at Nanjing when this old man came up to my mom to persuade her to buy his items in Mandarin (another pesky salesman, they are all over the place!). After giving up on my mom, he came over to me and started speaking gibberish! It was obviously not Mandarin.

Mom: DIE LAH! He thinks that you are a Japanese!
Steffi: Is that so?
Mom: SEE!!! It's because of your cap and hand gloves! Remove them now!
Steffi: Don't be silly. Don't wanna remove, it's cold.
Mom: Later we'll have people chasing us down the street...
Steffi: How do you know that he thought that I'm a Japanese? Maybe he thinks that I'm a Korean or Vietnamese?
Mom: Hmph. I don't know. Just better pray that we don't get chased.
Steffi: Haha -_-

And then there were times when I WISHED that I could speak Mandarin well, and in their slang, because English and sign language just didn't work very well.

At McDonalds, Nanjing. These two aunties and I were at McD's and I asked them what was the name of the pie with purple filling. They didn't know either. So it was my turn to order. Note that the conversation/words are spoken in Mandarin if they are in italics.

Waiter: (don't know what he's saying, but I presume that he's asking me what I want)
Steffi: Wo ge! (points to the board up on the wall like a retard)
Waiter: *looks at the board then looks at Steffi like she's a retard*
Waiter: (again, I don't know what he's saying. I think he named some food)
Aunty 1: She wants to know what is that food with the purple colour filling.
Aunty 2: Yes yes, the purple one.
Waiter: Yada yada pot pet
Aunty 1: pili pala pot pet
Waiter: pot pet pot pet bla bla
Aunty 1: I think he's saying that it's fish.
Steffi: No! It can't can a pie which looks like the apple pie have fish filling?
Aunty 2: Yeah, definitely not fish.
Waiter: yada yada pie
Steffi: *GRRRRR...I KNOW it's a pie* It's ok lah, don't care what it is, I'll just order one.
Aunty 1: pot pet sot set
Waiter: Bla bla
Aunty 1: yada yada (it seems that even ordering is a problem although BOTH are speaking Mandarin. Must be because of the different accent)
Waiter: *packs the pie and hands over to me* Yada yada? (I'm assuming he's asking whether I want to take away or have it there)
Steffi: *stares at waiter* Plastic bag, please?
Waiter: *looked confuse*
Steffi: Uh...bao bao! (it means bag)
Aunty 1: *quickly intervenes* yada yada pot pet
Waiter: *hands over a paper bag to Steffi*
Steffi: Xie xie *takes it and walks off

I'm sure he must have thought that I'm the most troublesome customer he has ever met. He also probably thinks that I'm a retarded Chinese...The best part was, when we could READ the label on the pie box, the aunties still have no idea what it was. THat is because it was labeled "TARO Pie". Of course, being an anime otaku, I knew what it was. "Yam pie", I told them. Hey...I thought they hated the Japanese...Ah, well. At least the pie tasted nice, though I wondered if it was worth all the hassle.

So when I went to Yoshinoya at Nanjing Lu in Shanghai, I decided not to speak at all. Just use sign language. I pointed to the chawan mushi and showed him two fingers. Then my mom wanted to order a bottle of mineral water. There was one bottle on the cash machine, but I wasn't too sure if it was water.

Steffi: Are you sure or not, that is water?
Mom: Yes ler..
Lady staff standing beside cashier: Yes, yes water.
Steffi: (relieved) Ok, I'll have one (shows one finger) please.

And then at the bookstore. HUGE ONE. We both looked around like lost lambs.

Mom: Where's the postcard?
Steffi: Definitely not on this floor.
Staff standing nearby: (in clear English) The postcard is located at the next floor over there. (points upstairs, to the left)
Steffi: Ah, thank you.
Steffi to mom: See, I guess people who work at the bookstore can speak better English.

Another well mannered lady. Much appreciated. :D Then we wanted to look for KEYCHAINS.

Mom to another staff: Do you have keychains here?
Staff: *looks confused* Ha?
Mom tried again, without much success.

Steffi: Wait, I've got an idea. (takes out her keychain and dangles it in front of lady)
Steffi: Zhe ge. Key chain. (makes a circle motion around the keychain) Ni you zhe ge ma?
Lady: (After much frowning, she finally got our message). Oh, mei you.
Steffi: Ah, ok. Xie xie.
Steffi to mom: Uh, looks like not all of them can speak as well as the first one.

Another incident was at the first hotel I stayed at in Hangzhou. I left a bag behind in the hotel's restaurant and only realized it while walking out of the hotel. So I dashed back in without my mother and was immediately dismayed when I realized that I would most likely have problems communicating with the waiters/waitresses there. Nevertheless, I cheered myself on as I approached the waitress and attempt to speak to her.

Steffi: Qing wen, ni you kan dao wo de...paper bag ma? Zai ze pian (points to empty spot on the floor)*Excuse me, did you see my paper bag? Over there*
Waitress: (has problem understanding the word "paper bag". started talking to another waiter)pili pala sok sek
Waiter: pili pala pot pet
Waitress: yada yada bla bla (trying to explain to Steffi. This doesn't look good)
Steffi: uh...paper bag wor...(tries to use sign language)
Waitress: yada yada bla bla
Steffi: uh, ok, xie xie.

All I knew was that someone has taken it. So I grabbed a tour member of mine who was outside the restaurant, and got her to be the interpreter. Finally, I was told that a lady wearing black took it already. Well, everything ended well, we managed to find the "lady in black" who belonged to another tour group before they left. PHEW!

And at another hotel...this sweet room cleaner knocked on my door to ask me a question. I confessed. I have NO idea what she was saying, but I know that we were supposed to be out of the room by then, as all our group members have checked out.

Sweet lady: yada yada bla bla?
Steffi: men...teng yi xiar, ha...
Steffi to toilet door: (mom's inside) MOM! How do you tell her that we are going already?
Mom: Wo men jiu yao zou le!
Steffi: (turns back to look at lady) Wo men jiu yao zou le! (she probably heard my mom already...haha)
Sweet lady: ah, hao, hao...(walks off)

Bless that sweet lady...she's one of the rare ones who's smiley who didn't look impatient and didn't look at me as if I'm retarded.

Of course, wherever I go in China, I carried around my little chinese book with me. At Cheng Huang Miao in Shanghai, I was looking for this "wired name" shop so that I can get Jyrenze her souvenir.

Steffi: Let's ask the guard (they have guards EVERYWHERE. Even the parks)
Mom: You know what to ask meh?
Steffi: (flips throught booklet) Let's see...Qing wen, ni zher dao na ge...uh...something dian zai nar? (Excuse me, do you know where' the is located at?)
Mom: Ahahaha, how do you say, wire name shop?
Steffi: aiyah, just tell him "yong uh, wire zuo ming de..." (use uh, wire to form the name...)
Steffi: ...somehow, we have to find out how to say "wire" in Chinese.
Mom: I also don't know. Er, but even if he tells us the directions, would we understand him?
Steffi: (blinks) HAIH.

So, that was the part of the reason we failed to obtain it, Jyrenze...gomen nasai!

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

China Part 3: Signages in China that make you smile...

Or tilt your head in puzzlement. I'm not implying that all Malaysians have good command of English, but some of these signs were so cute, I couldn't help taking pictures of them.

"Don't disturb the growing grass"
I had the urge to take a stick and poke the grass just to "disturb" them.

"Please take care of these plants"
I think I'll look odd watering the plants in the park with a huge watering can. Besides, my mom would be mad at me for taking care of other people's plants instead of ours back at home.

"CCB - China Construction Bank"
There's nothing wrong with the sign, really. There's just something wrong with our dirty minds. *hint-CCB-hint*:D

"Wind the step. Don't drop it"
I think it was supposed to be "Mind the step. Don't trip" Funnily enough, it was located near the gents and ladies. So, guys? Don't drop IT, yah? HEHE!

"Stopping here"
Yep. I'm stopping here. Ain't going no where...

"No touch"
This signboard follows the KISS principle. Simple and clear. No touch, ah!

"Please make up room"
With Shiseido cosmetics please. L'oreal's acceptable too.

"Hotelname for keeping new. Welcome you to come often!"
This is one signboard I can't figure out.
I deleted the hotel's name...I think it's better this way, since some of you can read chinese.

Some of the signboards I saw while on the road:
1. Rear end collision.
2. Keep space.
Yeah, some Malaysian drivers should learn how to "keep space" otherwise there'll be more "rear end collisions".


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

China Part 2: Shanghai-Jiangnan Toilets...

Since Ash wanted me to talk about China toilets...The 100th post and I have to talk about toilets...Sheesh.

Some of you might remember the pictures of Singapore toilets I posted up some time ago. This time, I will spare you guys the agony of looking at pictures of China toilets.
Ok. Truthfully...I didn't take any. That's because, taking pictures in their toilets was the last thing on my mind. My first time experiencing cultural shock happened on the very first day itself. Fortunately, it didn't happen at the airport washroom where all of us were crowding around the three sinks to perform our daily morning ritual. Instead, it happened at a nice clean public toilet (entrance fee needed) located at a popular shopping area called Cheng Huang Miao in Shanghai.

I was waiting for my mom in the big spacious washroom, when this lady in her late thirties or forties(it's difficult to estimate their age based on their looks) entered an empty cubicle, squat down facing outside and peed! How did I know that she did all that? That's because she didn't close the damn bloody door! China isn't like last time anymore, they DO have cubicles with doors now, though some don't seem to know how to use it or appreciate the doors. My eyes widened and jaw slacked, I quickly looked away to give her the privacy she doesn't think she needs.

WHICH reminds me of what our Wuxi tour guide (we have 5 tour guides in total) told us. He said there were two things Malaysian tourists used to ask him when they first came to China.

1. Where's the toilet.
2. Where's the umbrella.

I was wondering why would they ask for the umbrella? Apparently, the umbrella was used as a makeshift cubicle door. Hah. Should have seen that.

Anyway, back to the story, I told my mom about that incident and she told me that when I was doing my business, BEHIND CLOSED DOOR, another lady did the same thing and got told off by the washroom cleaner. -_-|||

About their toilet doors. Some doors are SHORT. Some cubicle walls are SHORT. All I have to do is stand up tall and look over the cubicle and I'll be able to see the person next door. There was even this cubicle which half the door and cubicle wall had MATT GLASS. This means that everyone can see all your movements in the cubicle. Fortunately, they had the brains to cover the bottom half with wood. However, this made me use the toilet as fast as possible (maybe this was what they were trying to achieve).

China people are strong *nodsnods* Because, some toilet cubicles had their doors torn off. Maybe they didn't like using the doors. Some locks were missing. It's not like our toilets here are in excellent condition either...but I haven't seen one with the door torn off.

The most hated toilet that I have used there is the one which had a long drain and uh, all cubicles share that one drain and the only available flush is in the first cubicle. The first time I used it was kind of amusing
I opened the door and went "Mom, this isn't a toilet, there's nothing there." Of course I knew we were supposed to, er, use the drain, but...I can always hope that the toilet bowl will suddenly appear right? Because...doing your BIG business there...urgh, I've just lost my appetite. Oh yeah, they don't have sanitary disposal bins either. Everything's exposed for you to see. Draculas would probably like that, seeing all those red blood.


We'll talk about nicer stuffs now. My first morning at Shanghai. I certainly wasn't used to the cold, because when I sat down for breakfast in a HEATED room, my teeth started chattering. My mom pulled out a sweater for me to wear underneath my trenchcoat. Three layers in a room with heater...amazing. After drinking warm Milo (I had milo and coffee packets with me) and eating warm breakfast, I was alright. This is the picture I took after my breakfast:

This was taken near Shanghai Bund, where buildings here looked "London-ish". The air is pretty bad there. Worse than Malaysia. The Pearl Tower is actually in the background.

The pictures below are taken at Cheng Huang Miao. You can see the difference between the above picture and the ones below. The place below looks like ancient China.

As you can see, lots of renovation work was going on. Probably preparing for the Olympics or the World Expo in 2010.

Regarding the designs of their roofs. Chinese people used to travel by boat a lot last time, so the upturned roofs resemble boats floating in the right position. If the tips of the roof point downwards, it means that the boat has overturned, therefore, that is not a good thing at all.

Most people go to China thinking that they will be able to obtain "cheap stuffs" there. They'll be disappointed. Shanghai at least, is expensive. I ended up buying nothing from that place. I told Jyrenze that I'll be getting her her "wired-name", prob a wire twisted into your chinese name, but I failed to find the shop. However, when I was leaving, I saw the shop -_-|||. I'm sorry Jyrenze...T_T

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Monday, April 16, 2007

China Part 1: China, here I come...

4/4/2007, 9.00 p.m.

At long last, I could say for sure that I have finally packed all my luggages. Nothing left out, hopefully. Including my bolster...

4/4/2007, 9.15 p.m.

Mom finally told me that we will be leaving, after I have settled down comfortably in front of the computer to read fanfiction. What?! She was the one who wanted to leave only after watching Princess Hours. Though she told me to be prepared to go, she actually sat down and watched until the show ended. Haih.

4/4/2007, 10.30 p.m.

Reached KLIA. Was an hour early, so we walked around & checked the shops out. Finally, the much-searched-for tour guide called us to group up. For a moment, we thought the tour guide was the old man walking in front of us...was disappointed, until we realized that our guide was this above average looking young guy (he said he's my age)...HAPPY SIAL...nyehehehehehe...

5/4/2007, 12.00 a.m.

Head to aeroplane. Took Aerotrain from Gate C13. Feels as though as I'm in those sci-fi movie, with all those walkways and gates (not to mention the numerous security checkpoints).

5/4/2007, approx. 1.00 a.m.

In plane. Concluded that MAS & SIA stewardesses are prettier and slimmer...The aeroplane I'm sitting in is a small Airbus, three seats each side but more spacious than the Air Asia I took to Langkawi earlier this year. Seems to be more powerful too. The plane didn't have to stop to rev up the engine before taking off. The lifting off was quite smooth, didn't feel sick at all, don't need travel sickness medicine. I looked out of the window and saw what I assume to be Putrajaya...It's so cute to see the city from above, everthing's so small, the city looked like a miniature life model. Could even see the ambulance (I think) from above. Really a beautiful sight.

One disadvantage about the seats in this plane is that it can't be pushed back to sleeping position. Meaning, you have to sleep sitting up. I thought I could do that. Well, I thought wrong. After a while I just squeezed myself into two seats, curled up like a cat. Oh yeah, the air stewardess. Don't piss her off. Not a good idea. Don't ask her to repeat her words. Not a good idea too. Better listen to her words, coz if you don't...well, you can take the risk if you want to.

5/4/2007, 5.30 a.m.

Looked out of the window and saw this...

It was that bright at this time ABOVE the clouds. When we landed, the day looked gloomy. Being a first timer in a four-seasoned country, this naive idiot thought of going down the plane without donning on her coat. Thankfully, her travel-experienced mama insisted forcefully that she should and MUST wear her trenchcoat, since she has low tolerance for cold.

She ain't kidding when she said it's gonna be cold >.< 9 degrees celcius...first time experiencing it. I ran into the bus. The trenchcoat wasn't enough...haha...

Finally, I'm in China. How did I feel? Believe it or not, I actually felt nervous. Apprehensive. Excited of course.

This, is the plane I took there:

China Eastern, Flight MU 0540, seems to be a major airlines at the Pudong airport.

Until the next post...zai jian!