Spring Festival 2016


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February 23rd 2016
Published: April 22nd 2016
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I should really have my theme song to be "On the Road again" by Willie Nelson. Because this part 30 days I have done more traveling then in the previous 3 months combined. In December I went to visit my friend and former coworkers in Jinhua, Zhejiang province. Last weekend I visited Baotong temple in Wuhan. And now it being the national holiday (Spring Festival) I am off on another tour of Jiangsu province and others unknown. That being I haven't decided where to go father here Might return to Nanjing to see a few of the sites that I missed seeing all those years ago. Then go further south to warmer parts of the country. Who knows. I might just stay in Jiangsu for some time to finish some much needed blog entries that I need to catch up on. Although the landscape hasn't changed since I was here last but what has changed is the few inches of fallen snow that layer the ground and the fallen temperature that has gone along with it. From the news articles are saying about this winter it is one of the worst in recent years that have hit the country. In areas that normally don't see a lot of snow or low temperatures are being hit hard. As far as I can see in this bus that I am currently occupying with about 50 other people all of which are Chinese heading home for the holidays. Snow has covered this once lush green countryside with a layer of he much hated and detested white powder that brings joy to the children and an overwhelming dread for drivers and passengers of the drivers. A bus once normally filled with chatter and noise is now quiet. All eyes forward on the video taped program that is playing on the monitor of some movie that I had been sitting closer I could if I cared to watch it know the plot. But to me most movies on buses are similar in plot. Especially here in China, national pride defeat of the Japanese invading army or those of the former nationalist government or the pre communist era. But I am getting way off topic.



DaFeng, Jiangsu

The frozen tundra landscape that the area has become along with the dropping temperatures had made things unbearable. Well for me it just reminds me one of the reasons I left Canada. The unending hatred of this powdered freezing ball of death people call snow. But anyways The train ride to Nanjing led me to met an old friend even briefly, then getting a bus ticket to DaFeng which added to my total visits to this small hamlet of a town in Jiangsu province. Now it is no longer a city but a district of Yancheng City. This is the first time that I have visited this city during winter. I must it is a different environment then being here in the summer. For the next ten days, I would be doing some part time teaching at an old friends school for which I have added the photos of the students of both classes I have taught. Yeah ranged in age from 7 to 13 years old. During this time I saw several of my old friends from here most of which are still teaching English but in different areas. One does it privately with a collected group of about 50 or so students, while the other does it for the students from what we would consider the less fortunate families while still maintaining his day job as a government employee. The last which I didn't have a chance to see this visit teaches at a kindergarten, which I think is a good fit for her bubbly active personality. I didn't do much exploration of the city but did find that I didn't get to see the whole list of beautiful places that DaFeng has to offer. So I asked a friend to make a more complete list of attractions that DaFeng has to offer. This including parks museums and temples. For which I will go through and eventually visit and write about on here my dear readers. I know some of you have mentioned the wanting to see some of the smaller places of China. That is what I plan on doing in the future. Continue to see the places that I live in and venturing out into the smaller more unexplored parts of the country. But as everyone knows China is a big diverse country. But I do plan on visiting more places then before and make an effort to have more of an open mind.



En Route 2. To Linyi Shandong

My next stop on my holiday tour is a city in Shandong province, a city called Linyi. I am not sure what to expect from this city or what there is to see in it. I will only be there for a few days. So I will see what I can get accomplished while I am there. The purpose of going to this city is to see an old friend that I had the privilege of working with in Jinhua, Zhejiang. A fellow human that shares a morbid sense of humor but not quite on the same level as myself. A person of good standing and good nature. Later in the evening before leaving DaFeng I made a list of some potential places to visit during my stay in Linyi. Even if I don't get to see them I will have the opportunity to return here for a further exploration of the city. That evening I spent alone as is my normal custom. The following morning I awoke early and proceeded with my friend John to the bus station for my early trip to Linyi. I got the opportunity to see the countryside of both Jiangsu and some of Shandong province during day light hours. It was breathtaking scenery a fellow passenger had taken some photos and with the help of a translator on his phone had promised to send me some of the photos he had taken between DaFeng and Linyi so I could attach them here.

I finally arrive in Linyi, but the fates being the joking farce that they are had played someone of a joke on me. Instead of the bus going to the bus station in the city they decided to drop off those heading within the city to the side of the road at a gas station on the highway. Going into the city set me back 100Yuan roughly 20CDN. So getting into the taxi I phoned my friend and she tried to explain where to go to the driver but failed to convey it properly. So a friend of hers which is Chinese phoned and explained the way and off we went. One way to see the city. It looked nice, clean although somewhat small in Chinese standards. I have not made an addition here for the past two days. It has been somewhat eventful and interesting. I met my old coworker Dina whom I worked with in Jinhua. I met some of her coworkers and friends. Very nice and good people. The first time here we went to the local Starbucks for a cup of coffee and a snack. We walked around the mall"Limyi Hexie Plaza Store." It looks spacious and well stocked with a lot of high end stores but this is typical with some of the newer malls here in China. Upon finishing our walk around the mall we proceeded to return to Dinas home for the evening, where had took the couch. Given that my travels I have slept in many different locations having a couch seems like a luxury for many. The following day I returned to Starbucks but instead of taking a taxi I had opted to walk the distance knowing that it wasn't that far to go. Also I wanted to see a better view of the city then before. On my way to the first Starbucks I had been too, I had stumbled upon the second location of Starbucks which was just further down the same road as the first. Remembering that Dina had mentioned she didn't know where the second one was I had to mention to her that I had found it on my walk to the first. Spending the day walking around in the area taking photos and generally getting familiar with the area. I had also met some of Dinas their friends from Africa, mostly from Ghana and a Spanish woman. All very pleasant and nice people. That day I had went to another home of a friend of Dinas a pleasant South African woman. After which we went to the local amusement park which of course was closed to the public because of it being Spring Festival. We walked around generally had some laughs and some more photos were taken. It was getting on in the evening and it was decided that we were all hungry and everyone mentioned this local pizza parlor with amazing pizza at a reasonable price. So it was agreed that we would go there and have dinner. So we paired off on the motorbikes and went off. I was with Dinas housemate Dorris a cautious driver like myself to an extent when I rode my EBike. We got to where the place was only to find that it was closed. All assumed it was because of the holiday. Oh well maybe next time I am to visit Linyi I will have more time to not only visit some of the good eateries but the local tourist attractions without having to worry about it being open or closed because of the holiday. I had a list of about 6 or 7 places to visit here, which I will eventually get around to see. Sadly, because of the time of year I had come to Linyi I couldn't see any of the places I wanted because it was during the Spring festival. It's like visiting some famous places in Canada on Christmas or New Years Day, chances are they would be closed for the employees to spend time with family or recovering from other things. Anyways, the following day I went out with Dorris to purchase my bus ticket to Nanjing and then we agreed to meet at Starbucks then go for Pizza Hut for dinner. So off I went in the taxi while she returned home to pick up the other passenger. What I had forgotten was that I was suppose to check to see if Pizza Hut was open. Being the start of the actual festival. Which I eventually did and phoned. They eventually came via the bike not by the taxi which they wanted. After dinner it was agreed that I would walk back considering the distance to the home wasn't far. So off I went walking and walking, I eventually ended up on the other side of town. Being a guy knowingly lost in a different city I was forced more out of embarrassment o phone my host to explain that I was indeed lost. I eventually found my way back to the apartment where a nice tutus driver drove me home, and when I tried to pay him for his services he flat out refused and he seemed insulted when I kept insisting that I give him something for his kindness and the effort he took to bring me back safely. I got back to the apartment and my two hosts and I had a good laugh at my wondering feet. They had insisted I phoned them earlier and would have saved a lot of time and energy. But it would not have given me the time to explore the city on my own. The following day would be my last in Linyi my brief time here with my hosts from different countries was a pleasant one. One filled with laughter and good times. I got to meet new people and experience a new culinary dish from Ghana. A dish called Banku which to my understanding is a basic flour dough recipe that was done in a wok. Although, from what was said any frying dish would work it was just the wok was the most handy at time time. A friend of theirs had come over to et her hair done has time wore down to my eventual departure again photos were taken. I finished packing and gave my farewells to my hosts and proceeded to the bus station. Which I took a little motorized tuktuk. Again was a pleasant experience although a little worrisome that I would make it on time. Which I did. I always try to have enough time to do things and make course corrections mid fly if needed. On the bus, aside from the bus driver and his companion driver for when the first got tired. There was me and one other passenger on the bus ride to Nanjing south station.

En Route To Nanjing, Jiangsu

The bus ride to be honest was rather uneventful. It was a total of four people, two of which drove the bus. One to drive and the other as a back up incase the first one got exhausted. We stopped part way through the the trip at a rest stop which is customary on trips longer then 3 hours. To eat, refresh in the washrooms and pick up snacks if needed. Unlike the Greyhounds in Canada there are few buses that have a washroom in the bus.

Nanjing

We got into Nanjing earlier than I thought. But they dropped us off and the regular Nanjing station instead of Nanjing south. unexpected changes happen when you travel in China, so I grew accustomed to making small changes myself when I travel. I grabbed the subway to Nanjing south in which my friend was to meet me. When I got there I noticed a young lady obviously having trouble with her luggage so I offered a kind hand with it. After a brief misunderstanding we had gotten to the subway and on her way to the proper stations she intended from the beginning. I doubt she will read this entry but in case she happens to stumble across it in some future time. I do hope you got to your destination on time and enjoyed your holiday. I eventually got to where both me and my friend agreed to meet. To find the Starbucks there already closed which was fine. I stood around for a few moments waiting for him, from there we had went to his place where he was kind enough to let me stay in the spare room. We had already bought the ticket to Dongguan, with that concern already out of my mind we proceeded to discuss things of life and other things. We decided to go for a ride around the city just to see a few places after dark. Even during this time of year it is a nice city. I do plan on returning to it to see more stuff I haven't seen in years and write about in a bit more depth then the last time I was in Nanjing. The following day I finished packing what little belongings I had brought with me and we walked around taking our time continuing our discussion on different matters that came through our minds. I know my dear friend will probably read this, but I do think he is a good man, young but a good man. With a good heart. So around 1pm after eating lunch with a coworker of his and his wife we proceeded to the Nanjing Railway station for my departure to Dongguan East. As some of my readers are aware I have not laid a foot in the city in several years due to a series of incidents that had happened and my refusal to see the city while an individual was still there. But the individual had long since left and my personal problems stemming from it have been mostly resolved I plan to return to see some old friends and the city once more.



En Route 3. To Dongguan East station. Travel time roughly 23 hours.

Dongguan has a certain seedy reputation Although roughly 80%!o(MISSING)f the local population hails from other parts of China, it is a migratory city. During Spring festival it becomes a vital ghost town. It was to my surprise to learn that Guangzhou received snow for the first time in over 80 years. More on Dongguan later.

My train ride was the resting as it is normally. I failed to get a hard bed like I had hoped but instead gotten a seat. Which my friend was surprised that I took. I explained to him another journey I had undertaken a year and a half prior going from Shenyang North to Jinhua was a 33.5 hour trip having a seat the whole time. So if I could handle that I know I could handle this shorter trip. At the same point it gave me much needed practice with my Chinese. Which in my opinion needs improving on a daily basis. To finely hone my skills in the oral aspect of the language. I still need to improve my reading and writing if I am to be successful with the language. The train left at 3:40 in the afternoon and didn't arrive in Dongguan East until approximately the same time the following day. Then from there would be roughly an hour ride via taxi and a 200Yuan cab fare into the city proper. Why they couldn't have a train station in the city proper is beyond me. For several hours I sat alone in my 6 seat area not worrying about what to do. I spoke to a few people in different seats around improving slowly my confidence in the language. I also did some reading that I postponed for some time. Finished reading one of the many books I had on my pad and of course did some updating on my Pokemon list of what to breed. Yes ladies and gentleman I play and breed Pokemon.

Darkness has enveloped the train for sometime now. Personally I like traveling at night. I guess it's the insomniac in me and the writer as well. Most people are sleeping and it gives me a certain liberty to do my craft. Well, the craft which you are more familiar with. My blog entries. My expectations of my visit to Dongguan are low to non existent. Meet some old friends and might stop by my old job in Dongguan to see some of the old people I used to work with there. But honestly speaking I doubt it will be open because of the Spring festival. I guess I could count myself lucky working in a public school instead of a training center. Training Centers tend to have a shorter holiday then those in the proper schools. As well training centers are often looked down upon in general, as bottom teacher teachers. Those worth their worth tend to go for public schools like primary schools and higher.

Nothing is wrong with working in a training center, I used to do it. I did for over two years while being here in China. 2 years in Dongguan and 6 months in Rizhao, Shandong. Both are beautiful places and have a lot to offer those willing to look. Each place is different. While Dongguan is a bigger city it doesn't feel that way because it's spread out. Rizhao is a smaller tier city, less to attract the adventure and thrill seekers . But with Rizhao there is history to be found there if one knows where to look.

About 8 am on the tenth the people that shared the seats with me left at their destination, I moved back to my own seat and leaned against the wall and window and promptly fell asleep for a few hours. Waking up several hours later I proceeded to the dining car and had a bit to eat. Near the end of my meal I lit up a smoke which I was promptly and politely asked by one of the other passengers in the dining cabin if I would stop it because of a baby in the room. I didn't even notice them entering with a baby I suppose I was busy on my own task of reviewing and editing the current blog and previous ones I have yet to publish to notice. I sincerely apologized and put it out. I finished my meal and went back to my typing to pass the time.

I received a text message from a friend stating that he won't be back from Shenzhen until the next day and if we could meet up then. Which wasn't a problem it just gave me time to readjust to being down south. Nice warmer weather.

I guess my favorite part of taking the trips I do is the actual trip itself, the journey of getting there. The places in between from where you set off to where your going is the real beauty. The lakes the rivers the small towns that fly by when going somewhere. It always makes me wonder, the creative side of me, wonders about what it is like in this small corner of the world while the world seems to fly by at break neck speeds. It seems that time stands still even for a moment. That time pauses for a moment for these people that speeding a few hundred yards away from them is the present and the future. That although they may have the wonders of modern conveniences at their beckon call, some how the town and surrounding area has been somehow swallowed in time. That nestled in the rolling hills of green and brown are valleys of fields where crops are grown, livestock roam around unburdened and oblivious for their own fate. The people that work these valleys are bound to it, their existences tied to the land just like the people in the city depend on these rural warriors to provide everything that is needed for us to feel superior over them. But deep down I suspect that each person know are content and happy with the lives that fate have thrust upon them. Even though they may be content they still strive to better not only themselves but those generations that come after them.

As most can see my mind wonders when there is a bit too much time at hand. This leg of my trip is a few hours away from being complete. I finally arrived in Chaping town a sub level city belonging to Dongguan and the only stop for the train. Exhausted from the train ride I grabbed a taxi ride into town cost 180RMB roughly 30US. I got to a hotel and checked in and promptly took a shower and rested for a bit. Knowing my friend I was suppose to have met that day was still in Shenzhen. So the first night I was back in Dongguan was a restful one. This is the first time in close to 3 years that I had been back to this city. The following day I met up with my friend Wesley had lunch and caught up on some things that happened for both of us since my departure. The following day, I had met up with Wes at his new home the one him and his wife and bought. I must admit I didn't have a chance to meet his wife while I was there. It was a lovely home. The weather in Dongguan was nice and cozy not really that hot nor too cold. It felt. Nice being back less stressful. I don't know I guess I left on bad terms and with issues the last time I was here that I overlooked the beauty that it had to begin with. Well, first and foremost the officials were taking serious steps in cleaning up it image. Trying to show the citizens not just the world over that know of this place but it's own citizens.

For those of you who don't know Dongguan has had a. Reputation of being acuity of sin, the sin of the flesh. Where young ladies from off over the country would come. At first by the lure of an easy life, fast money and an easy lifestyle. This is usually done to the country girls from the rural areas. I am now proud to say that it looks a lot better. Anyways, I will discuss this in a bit as I talk about the areas I returned to and how to an extent.



Over the next few days I met up with some old friends. Most if not all were from my time there when I worked in Dongguan. There was an old friend I met there that I didn't work with, it was nice catching up with her as well. Seeing how much everything had changed in the time I was gone was refreshing. My old work didn't have the bad atmosphere it once had, now a reign of peace had defended upon the place. A place where I could be proud of calling a work place. Before leaving I got to see a few more people I worked with. It was nice catching up with some old friends. Before leaving Dongguan I had fallen sick, a change in weather brought it on. My final day I had lunch with an old friend, Jason another one of many people I knew from back in the day. From there I went to the bus station to catch the bus to Guangzhou south station. The bus trip was rather quick, but considering I dozed off on the bus ride, only to be awoken by the driver once we arrived in Guangzhou. Getting out of the station was more like a maze, I had gotten lost finding my way out. Eventually I did and proceeded to the ticket office to buy myself a ticket to Wuhan. The departure of the train was in 45 minutes from when I purchased the ticket. After going through security and finding where I was suppose to be to board the train. I found a place to sit down for the next 30 minutes. Having a coffee before departing. Getting on the train was rather easy, the ride itself was a breeze nothing worth mentioning. Although I did doze off for sometime on the train. As we eventually came to our destination, leaving the train I, like the rest of the passengers, felt tired and the only thing on our collective minds was to get home and get to bed and sleep until the first rays of spring and warmth shone upon us. So tired and weary we slowly made our way towards the exit. So as we moved from the exit of the train and still in the station itself, the collective group broke off into smaller groups finding the right exit that would lead us to our final destinations throughout the city. Some found it quicker while others finding locked exits and having to retrace our steps to find the proper exit. As for myself, I found two locked doors and eventually found the right area.



As I approached the area that I would lead me home, I was approached by several local eager taxi drivers wanting to earn a living. After negotiating a fair price we were off. I know I could have gotten it cheaper but I'm not complaining. Night had already decided upon the city like a warm blanket. I prefer traveling at night less traffic. And there's something nice and comforting about traveling at night, something I can't explain. To me even after all these years I still find traveling via a seat on the train better in some aspects then any other way to travel. But getting back to me getting home. I finally got home later in the evening. With getting home I quickly dropped off my bags took a much needed shower and crawled into bed and fell into a slumber and woke up the following day in the afternoon refreshed and happy to be home. Until next time my dear readers. Have a pleasant journey on your own travels where ever they may lead, and remember to expect the unexpected. Also, always bring a towel with you, it may come in handy one day.


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