So much to say, so little time

Actually, I have lots of time.  I have from now (Friday at 1:19PM) until classes resume on Tuesday.  But I will limit myself to random ramblings because one thought leads to another and something as straightforward as a vacation trip can lead off to other thoughts.

We left for Shanghai on January 29th and had dinner at an American hangout that’s been in business there for over 15 years.  Drinks were good, onion rings were great.  I’m easily pleased.  I appreciate a different meal once in a while.  I pay the price but you only live once.  And if I can live only one life, I’d rather live it as an eater of bad food.

We stayed in a cheap and dumpy hotel (but reasonably clean) because why spend money to just sleep for a few hours.  We were picked up and delivered to the airport to begin our Asian adventure.  There were 31 people in our group.  I met some people who I liked and there were people that annoyed me.  Some talked too loud, most had no manners (even the nice people), there were 2 kids under 10 and I only roughed up and pushed the boy once (brat).  Once more I say I don’t really like Chinese people but the ones I talked to, I liked.  However, no one talked to me until the last couple of days.  They are afraid to talk to me because their English isn’t good but they don’t realize that I don’t care.  One girl was a University student who majors in English and she didn’t talk to me until the last couple of days.  I asked her why and she said she thought I didn’t want to talk.  Of course I wanted to talk but I can’t approach others and put them on the spot.  If they want to try their English, they can.

But it’s funny.  On the return trip home one girl needed some help in a store to buy something.  She needed someone who could speak English so naturally she could summon up some English.  She seemed like a nice young lady, but I wanted to punch her in the face because she didn’t speak to me on the trip.

You get what you pay for.  The tour was not expensive and it was sold as 10 days, 9 nights in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.  Sounds good, no?  These people are so cheap I think the budget for food was $3 a person for the whole trip.  We only ate in Chinese restaurants, which meant I didn’t eat (no problem as I expected that).  The meal times are not coordinated so sometimes you’d have lunch and 3 hours later dinner.  But those Chinese eat.  The same freaking food at the same type of cheap Chinese restaurant every day.  I managed to find places to eat dinner so I didn’t suffer too much.

We had the tour coordinator from Shanghai with us the whole time.  Did anyone say asshole?  He gets my vote.  You don’t have to speak the language to get a read on people.  I really disliked him and so did Shujie.  He was not friendly (to me or the Chinese) and he was just pig-like.

Many Chinese are pig-like.  They smoke like chimneys and it’s so gross.  They can’t smoke on the bus, which is good, and they can’t smoke in the restaurants but every free minute they’re running for a smoke.  I would guess that 70% of men smoke and 3% of women smoke.  I think the women should withhold sex or something to get them to quit.  I don’t know how they can kiss ashtrays.

We had 3 different guides: a Thailand guide, a Singapore guide, and a Malaysia guide.  The reviews from the people on the tour was that the guides weren’t good.  I gathered that even without speaking Chinese.  The Thailand guide for some reason totally ignored me to the point of rudeness.  Thailand has a different sex culture and she went on and on and on about it.

The Singapore guide was nice to me until I didn’t buy anything from her and then her attitude changed.  The guides are selling things from a personal business or to “raise money” for the bus driver.  I figure since it’s natural and a reflex action for most Chinese to lie, it’s tough to believe anything.

The weather was good but we didn’t see a lot.  Much time was spent on the bus or plane going from one place to another.  We only went into cheap places.  We saw 2 shows with crocodiles, 2 shows with elephants, 2 shows with monkees, 2 casinos, and we drove by many things that were probably interesting.  In Malaysia the Batu Caves are supposed to be a highlight when you look it up on the Internet but we didn’t go.  We did drive by and on a close examination of the itinerary, that’s all that was promised.  A drive-by.  The guide said it was too busy to go and we then went on a 1 hour and 15 minute bus ride to a cable car and lined up for 2 hours to take a cable car to a casino area where we were given 1 hour to spend.  We could have seen the caves 10 times in that amount of time.  They wasted our time and we really didn’t get a good picture of the countries.

We did see a lot of stores.  Chinese tours keep the prices down because stores give them money to bring the tourists in.  The guides get commissions based on what you buy.  We went to a chocolate store, a coffee store, a jewelry store, a tin store, a medicine store, a massage parlor, and other wastes of time.

Spend the extra money next time and make your own tour.  It’s just not worth it here.

The manners of the Chinese (here he goes again) are terrible.  I was in line at a moneychangers and at the wicket with Shujie and the guy behind me is practically standing on me.  I turned around and asked him if he thought he would get there any faster by breathing down my neck.  He was clueless as to what I was saying so Shujie translated.  We were with someone from the restaurant (we were getting local money to pay) and she thanked me for saying something.  In one lineup this jerk behind me was crawling up my back so I turned around and pushed him back and told him to stay away from me.  He didn’t touch me again.  And the stupid little boy was oblivious to everything so I would just push him out of the way.  These people think that if there is no space between people in a line that they will get their faster.  Stupid.  On our bus I would stop and let people out of their row before me if they were ready and they would thank me.  However, no one ever did the same for m.  After all, there was some hidden prize for being first off the bus I guess.

One man who was about 35 and single and had the mentality of a 14 year old asked the girl who was an English major how to say “fuck” in English.  So for 15 minutes it was the only word out of his mouth.  He asked me how many times a day I had sex and I told him 3 times daily.  He wanted to know for how long so I told him 1 hour a time on Mondays to Fridays and 6 hours at a time on the weekends.  He then asked Shujie if this was true and all she could say was, “are you stupid?”.  It was hard to dislike him but what a moron.  Oh yes, he also asked me what time that night I was going to have sex and I told him 11:17PM.  Geez, what a repressed and backwards people.

People talk about China becoming a world power but all they have (from what I see) is a lot of useless and stupid people.  How do you upgrade a country of 1.3 billion people?  How do you change it?  I don’t know and I’ve been thinking about it.  I’m guessing it will be long after I’m dead that the Chinese have any effect on the world except for their cheap and dangerous products.  How dangerous?  A woman was looking to buy baby formula at the duty free for her niece because her niece would only buy imported formula and it was very expensive.  Why only imported?  Because the quality of the Chinese stuff could kill you.  What a place.  What a job for future generations.

In Thailand we went to Bangkok (what a dump) and then to Pattaya which is on the coast.  It’s quite the tourist town.  I guess there are about 165 prostitutes for every tourist.  There is a “walking street” filled with bars and sex shows and prostitutes, prostitutes, prostitutes.

Here is a picture of walking street (not busy yet), and a lady of the night.

We were there after seeing a dinner show with “lady boys”.  These are “men” who have breast implants and who knows what else.  We saw 2 of these shows (ridiculous).  Here I am with one of them.  Shujie insisted.  One of the two single guys couldn’t stop throwing his head in any set of breasts he could find.

The next night in Pattaya we went to a live sex show.  I had been to one in Amsterdam many years ago but I thought Shujie might find it interesting.  Most of the people on the tour went.  Our oldest person was an 82-year-old woman who was quite unique for a Chinese woman.  When the Chinese get over 50 everyone seems to start treating them as old.  This woman was for doing what she wanted and she was travelling with her granddaughter and had no trouble keeping up.  I can’t say we liked her, but she was different.  It’s hard to like people who take food from a buffet and stuff it in their purse.  Here she is (Pattaya in background):

Of course there are no pictures allowed but what surprised me as compared to Amsterdam was that in Amsterdam the crowd was mostly male and here it was pretty evenly mixed.  What do you get to see at a live sex show?  Some pretty bizarre things.

A performance of an organ and drummer playing “Happy Birthday”.  The organist was using his organ to play the keys and the drummer was using his penis as a drumstick.

A game of pool between 2 men.  Naturally the pool cues were the men’s penises.

Dancing by some attractive women.  Oh wait!  At the end of the performance they pulled their penises out of their vaginas.  Hermaphrodites.  I’ve never seen them before.

A man and woman having sexual intercourse.  He would carry her around the audience and drop her in some mans lap and then carry on.  One time the lap was near me and the ushers had a flashlight that he would aim through the backside of the man’s legs and he invited me to have a look.  Why?  I don’t know.  It was just (as Alex would say), some of the old in-out.  Big deal.

Then another time a man comes out and is taking the woman from behind.  But wait, here comes another man who takes the man from behind.  The woman exits and we’re “treated” to about 5 minutes of homosexual gymnastics.  While inserted he would turn circles going around the man and never leaving “ground zero”.  There were other things but those were the highlights.  So now we don’t have to go again.  It’s not cheap but it’s packed

The locals are very nice and I know we really don’t meet people outside the service industry but smiles go a long way.  I think we saw some temples, a place where some big time monk was cremated and his body had stones left (some sort of special sign) so these were on display.  We went parasailing.  Shuie loved it and it was my 2nd time so no surprises there.

When we were taking the boat back from an island to the bus it started to rain really hard.  Everyone got soaked and it was rather uncomfortable.  The Chinese finally rebelled and insisted on being taken back to the hotel to change as the guide just wanted to go on.  But when you’re cold and wet you just want to shower and change.  Basically Chinese are sheep.  They follow the leader and don’t complain (I’m just one person, what can I do), so this was big.  But overall they put up with crap because they are defeated before they start.  Maybe I could be a Chinese psychologist.

Here are some films Shujie shot from the crocodile show.  What a way to make a living.  Maybe I can get a job sticking my head in a crocodile’s mouth.  It might be more interesting than teaching English.

We went to Singapore for 1 day.  Singapore is tiny and I always assumed it was spotless.  I know many years ago there was a big uproar about an American kid being sentenced to 20 lashes (or something like that) for littering.  It’s clean but I imagined they banned outdoor smoking.  No such luck.  There are outdoor areas you can’t smoke (children’s park for example), but they don’t go all the way.  You can only bring 19 cigarettes into the country which has nothing to do with cleanliness but is all about money since you would then have to buy your smokes in Singapore.  If you have money and a few days to relax and hit the casino and Universal Studios Singapore, it would be a good place to go.  Our hour at the casino was spent in the Hard Rock Café (my upscale McDonalds).  I had a great Bloody Mary and cheeseburger while Shujie loved her Margarita.

Here are 3 Singapore pictures:

This is a night view.

This is a lion doing a Danny Thomas impersonation.  (He heard something while he had a mouthful of coffee).

That thing that looks like a ship is a casino.  The flower like thing to the left is a concert bowl.

Then it was off to Malaysia.  You drive there.  It was mostly bus rides and we didn’t see much.  The highlight of Malaysia was a visit to a Mosque.  There was a man there who said he was a free guide and we spoke to him for 15 minutes.  He was Malaysian but he’d gone to school in Nebraska and had been to Niagara Falls so it’s not like we were so foreign to each other.  He was good at explaining things and it’s people like him who I think can represent and sell Islam.  Just a guy (religious as he is), who is pleasant and nice.  To me, if you want to sell your religion, don’t do it with words (you’re going to hell if you don’t buy Jesus), but do it with actions and personality.  If you meet a nice person who seems to be in touch with himself and his surroundings and at peace, you are more likely to get interested, I think.

Shujie was so taken with it that she converted on the spot:

One other truly amazing thing I saw was a real live “snake oil salesman”.  You remember the old Westerns when the snake-oil salesman would come into town to sell some miracle cure to the rubes.  Well, there are plenty of rubes in China.  We went to a place where miracle medicine is made from snakes (who happen to have 2 penises).  They do a sales pitch and I thought you’d might like to have a gander at a Chinese 21st century snake oil salesperson.

When we went into stores like this (and others) these cheap Chinese couldn’t take their money out of their pockets quick enough.  It was amazing.  They’ll buy anything.  I was told that people from Shanghai like to do that to show they have money.  They might have money, but they are a little short on brains.

Here are some various other pictures.  You can see everything on Flickr but trust me, these are the highlights.

Locked out of the Palace in Malaysia:

Malaysian monument from WWII:

A golden Buddha drawn in a mountain:

The temple containing the stones from the remains of the dead Buddhist priest (or something like that):

Shujie and tour-mate on the Elephant walk:

Two fatties fighting over food:

I’m carrying a crocodile:

A temple in Thailand:

The Elephant soccer team:

Me and the stupid guy who believed my sexual escapades stories:

Shujie and I in Maleka:

Fighting off the babes:

We got back to Shanghai Wednesday night at midnight and got to a hotel about 2AM.  We took the 1PM bus back to Jurong to a freezing apartment (takes a day to warm up) and life is getting back to normal.

I may start a new business here in China.  I keep getting people I’ve just met or complete strangers coming up to me and wanting their picture taken with me.  You are probably wondering why.  It’s because one picture with me is like getting 3 pictures with 3 different people.  Some want their picture with me because of my uncanny resemblance to Vladimir Lenin.  Some want their picture with me due to my uncanny resemblance to Norman Bethune (and if you don’t know who he is, look him up.  One of the truly great men of the 20th century and a practical god here in China).  The 3rd person is just a picture with a white guy.  Everyone wants to know a white guy and pretend they’re friends with him.  That’s me.  So that’s one business opportunity.

There’s another one that Shujie is sure would be a big money-maker.  We open a hot dog shop.  I just have to stand there so people will feel cool being in an “American” hot dog store.  It would sell.  I suggested calling it “Norman Bethune Hot Dogs” as that would sell huge in China.  I would legally change my name to Norman Bethune and we’d be laughing to the bank.  I know, it sounds crazy.  But it might work.  Write me if you’re interested in investing (after you look up Bethune, see what he looks like, and what he did for China).  Being a Canadian gets you immediate love when you come to China and all because of the 18 months that Bethune spent here giving his life for those who needed it.

The school got a new English teacher who we haven’t met yet.  Apparently she’s a young woman from England (23) and hopefully we’ll all get along.  My freshman classes will remain the same (I insisted) but I’m giving up my 2 2nd year classes since I only see them once a week and there is no connection with them anymore.  I’ll teach something else (no problem) and my 3 day week will stay the same (which I insisted upon).

So no more Chinese tours for us.  Next time we make our own or go on an English tour.  School resumes on Tuesday for me and I’m not looking forward to it.  Five weeks holidays is a long time and you get out of the swing of things.  But I’m sure it will take no time to get back in the saddle again.  I will soon begin looking for a position for September, as I want a University with English majors.  I want to talk less and have more advanced conversations.  I think the good schools will start looking earlier while the dregs will wait until the last minute.

And I will ask myself why I live here.  These mixed feelings towards groups of people and individuals is driving me crazy.  There are so many problems with this culture, as I said, that it would take generations to fix it.  And who am I to say there is something wrong with it?  I’m a reasonable polite person, that’s all, and that’s all I’m asking for.

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