+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 11 123456 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 110

Thread: Trav in China

  1. #1
    Gunnery Sergeant Trav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forums Trav's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Guangdong, China
    Posts
    5,458
    Rep Power
    609303

    Trav in China

    Lots has happend to me and I've learned much since taking an ESL job in China. In an effort to contain my Chinese thoughts from spreading to other posts and topics...

    The Misadventure

    The Chinese have a saying that translates roughly to if something bad happens, something good will soon come your way. Trying to embrace the local culture I was expecting a hassle free trip to Tae Yuan after my last class of the day because the buses were running late. However, it was just a taste of what was what to come.

    I took an hour bus ride from Ping Lu where I work and live to Yun Cheng, the closest city nearby. A lady from the company I work for made it seem like I should hurry to meet her and get my train ticket. I arrived at English Village as soon as I was able only to be informed that I was to meet her at the train station. She assured me I could catch a local bus to the station no problem. After a half hour of not seeing the right bus I decided to cab it. After all, I was under the impression there was a time constraint.

    Upon arriving at the station and receiving my ticket I realize the train does not leave for Tae Yuan for six hours. I decide to try and find some western food and kill time by walking around that part of the city. The food at KFC was terrible and instead of mash potatoes they had rice and brown gravy. Also, no chicken just chicken sandwiches. So I ate the overpriced food out of obligation. After all it took about an hour to find on foot. KFC was packed despite the price being the same as in the U.S. Normally fried chicken sandwiches in China costs 10 rmb. My meal cost me almost 40 rmb.

    I take walk back near the train station and find a place to sit outside and drink. 22 oz Tsingtao normally costs between 3-5 rmb at a store. Having the service of a lady buy it and bring it to me jumped the price to 25 rmb. Its no big deal to me because I am just going to have the one and a local drunk wound up buying it for me anyway. The price for that was raucous laughter at my speaking abilities. Like always, I smile and give a thumbs up when this happens and decline a hundred cigarette offers. "mei yo tobacco", I say.

    After a bit I go directly outside the station and rent a comfortable-looking lawn chair for the price of a pot of tea-which happens to be the first tea I've had in China. While ordering in Chinglish a nice looking lady comes up to be excitedly and asks if she can help me communicate to the old homeless woman in charge of the tea and chairs. I obviously let her and invite her to sit with me. It turns out I am the first American she has ever met and would love to ask me all sorts of questions. Finally, some of that good stuff I was expecting since the morning! Her train leaves before mine and we exchange numbers. I decide to buy some beer from a shop and bring it to the chair, bypassing the bottle service up-charge. I kill the next few hours enjoying a really beautiful night, and make my train. The train is a little late, but takes off before 1 am so I am confident everything is on schedule.

    I got a sleeper car, which consists of a rack similar to what I was used to on a ship. Smiling, I begin to fall asleep. Only I am in the wrong bed and am woken up by a perturbed older lady wanting to lay down. I try for about fifteen minutes to ask someone who works on the train where my bed is before figuring it out for myself. "Ah! The 5 is the car number and the 15 is the rack number." I got it now. So I strip down, climb up and am finally able to fall all the way to sleep- stretching my legs out past the end of the bed.

    I wake while it is still dark to a lady who works for the train pulling my blanket off me. I ask her if the next stop coming up is my stop. I ask in english and in mime, and a neighbor assures me yes. The lady shows him my ticket and they both agree that I should get off at the next stop. When I get out of bed to put my pants on they smile at me because apparently they all sleep in their clothes.

    An hour later the train finally stops and I get off precisely at the time I was told the train would arrive in Tae Yuan. Walking off the train someone else checks my ticket to make sure I paid to ride that far. The sun is just coming up and despite the rain I am feeling pretty good. After all I just navigated my way to a place I have never heard of all by myself.

    I decide I do not need a taxi and will try to find the building I need based on the landmarks given to me by the company I work for. Half hour goes by and I have no idea where I am or where I am going so I decide to get out of the rain by getting a taxi. I show the man the address and we drive. and drive and drive. After an hour I decide to call my contact at the company and hand the phone to the driver. They talk. He laughs and hands me back the phone.

    "you got off at the wrong stop," she says to me.
    "how? I showed my ticket to more than one person who works for the train and they told me I was at the right place. Plus, it arrived just as you said"

    "sometimes trains are late, did you go to the last stop?"

    "no, but that information would have been useful earlier"

    "I tell the driver to take you directly to the building."

    A ways later the driver drops me off at a bus station and shoos me out of the car after I pay in excess of 100 rmb.

    I call the lady back, tell her where he dropped me off and we are both baffled, but she insists I look around and find the building. I show the address to the locals and they all just shake their heads and say something I do not understand. I'm soaked, and cold and decide to just catch a bus back to Yun Cheng.

    Inside the bus station I am informed no buses go to Yun Cheng from there, but there is another bus station near.

    Another cab, another 50 rmb gone, and I am finally at a bus station that goes where I am heading. 150 rmb fee and I'm on a bus that looks like it has airplane seats.

    I'll compress the 5 hour bus ride into this: squawking passengers on their phones, dripping overhead compartment. My sleep mask and head phones were little defense again this aggression on my nerves, but the dude abided. abode?

    I finally get to Yun Cheng and by my ticket to Ping Lu. The bus leaves at 1:50, and my chinese phone says its 1:15. I buy a snack and walk around the bus station until I check my phone again and it says its 1:15. So I find a clock and it says its after two. Luckily they only charge me one rmb to change my ticket to the next bus and someone escorts me directly onto the correct bus and I think that soon my terrible trip will come to an end.

    My relief about being home quickly dissipates when I realize I have lost my key, most likely on the train when I took off my pants. My assistant is in Yun Cheng, her hometown, so I try to find yet another good samaritan (I rely on the kindness of strangers when my assistant is in her hometown) to help me the same way I did when my electricity went out due to running out of prepaid units. I manage to thoroughly confuse many strangers and eventually catch the eye of some local police. They want to know why a foreigner with a tourist visa is trying to get into an apartment without a key, and I use up their patience with my chinglish pretty quick. They get agitated when I try to hand them my cell phone to talk to the company. They put me in the back of a car and take me to a tiny police station, take my things and leave me at the counter. When I finally get their attention again they are willing to take my phone. After a few minutes they let me go and someone at the company says I have to show up next week.

    My assistant brings me the spare key and I am finally home. Dead broke. I left with 500 rmb.

    Next week before I am scheduled to appear someone from the company texts me saying I do not have to appear and that they are going to pay a fine (or something) to get my working visa in order. I have yet to go back and am still working on a tourist visa, but now the local police have a picture of me and a bunch of information including photocopies of my passport.

    A few days later I attempt to cook hamburgers for a dozen or so people and give myself a bout of food poisoning. I wound up getting two shots in the ass in front of a window at the clinic.

    Then, when I am least expecting it... the good thing finally comes my way in the form of a cute Brit with a terrible accent and after a night of dancing and second hand smoking in the clubs we get a hotel room and talk until 5 am. Yes, talk. I am as surprised as anyone.

  2. #2
    Gunnery Sergeant Trav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forums Trav's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Guangdong, China
    Posts
    5,458
    Rep Power
    609303

    Re: Trav in China

    From Shanxi to shining Shaanxi

    I went to visit the Terracotta Warriors on the outskirts of Xi'an. Xi'ian is in Shaanxi province (not to be confused with Shanxi which is where I live) three hours away by road. On the way back the high speed rail took only an hour. The inside of the train looks like an airplane. However, the ride was much smoother and quieter. I look forward to heading back again to explore the rest of the city. The hostel I stayed in was nicer than most hotels. The subway was about the cleanest thing I've seen in China. Xi'an is my new favorite place.

    The museum was an overly crowded, over priced tourist trap. I am still glad I went. The life size statues made of bronze and clay were fascinating. The faces all have different expressions. There are hundreds of them in three pits, but only the first pit had warriors still intact. The warriors were buried with the first emperor of China. He came to power at 13. By 22 he had established himself as an effective leader. By the time he died he was regarded as a tyrant who literally buried alive scholars who portrayed him against his will. Much like the Egyptian pharaohs who began working on their tomb from an early age, Qin Shi Huang began using prisoners, debtors and skilled laborers to built his elaborate resting place. In addition to the warriors and horses legend has it that the inside of his tomb is filled with mercury, pearls and other valuables to replicate the heavens and earth. The tomb is said to have been booby trapped to prevent grave robbers. Recently, Chinese authorities authorized scans of the tomb and have determined that there is high levels of mercury inside, giving credence to the rest of the elaborate display on the inside. Despite this, they have not authorized the tomb to be opened. I would think it would be quite an unveiling. Perhaps even on par with King Tut's.

    I took as many pictures as I could. Being jostled by millions of tourists and not being allowed to use a flash or a tripod made it difficult. I saw many Chinese disobeying the rules, and am pretty sure only the foreigners were the ones who followed the signs about where you could go and what you could take pictures of.

  3. #3
    Gunnery Sergeant Trav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forums Trav's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Guangdong, China
    Posts
    5,458
    Rep Power
    609303

    Re: Trav in China

    Foxxconn-Where your Apple products are made


    In order to start the paperwork on the visa that will allow me to legally work in China, I needed to go to the capital of Shanxi. It just so happens that one of the Foxconn factories is located in Tai Yuan. I have been reading many stories recently about this particular Foxconn factory, and like most articles I wondered what conflicting facts were true.

    First the riot. Some articles blamed a dispute between workers stemming from an insult regarding people from Hunan province made by a worker from Shanxi. Other articles blamed workers standing up to the strict and harsh treatment of security at the factory. Then came the "strike" that was not officially acknowledged by the company. This event occurred at a separate plant and has been attributed to an anonymous (which is patently false-there are no anonymous Weibo accounts. Registration requires state issue ID numbers) Chinese twitter user detailing the effect of the iphone demand on workers during the recent holiday that was mentioned in an earlier email. These recent newsworthy events caused many western media outlets to discuss the situation of the Chinese migrant laborer. Some say they are exploited and forced into leaving their families for work acros the country. They say the wages, while higher than anything they can make in their hometown, is still a pittance. Other voices express the opportunities that factories such as this give Chinese youth who want to travel, have better educational opportunities, and have a chance to marry someone other than the farmer next door.

    I decided to take advantage of the fact I would be in Tai Yuan, which is six hours by train from Yun Cheng, which is an hour bus ride from Ping Lu, and interview workers outside the gates with the help of my trusty side kick and interpreter. My friend was skeptical that we would find anyone who would want to talk to us. I had heard other stories of western journalists having amazing success doing this exact thing so I convinced him to come along. I told him that if they didn't want to talk I would not press the issue, and if the company's security hassled us we would leave immediately. I wondered why he was so worried about the security until he told me that the factory houses police and military inside the gates in addition to the private security.

    I was able to speak to roughly ten people before my translator began to worry that some of the workers had informed security we were asking questions about working and living conditions. Some were new workers, some had been there for years, some were hoping to find a job there, and one older couple was waiting on their son to finish work.

    The first person I got to talk to me said he had only been there less than one month and liked working there, but would not go into detail. The next person said the factory was an improvement over a smaller factory he worked at a few hours away because they paid more. I talked to two other workers who had been there for years as recruiters and were from the area originally. They said they loved it. The cards that someone just like them were handing out claimed 1,500 rmb a month for 5 days per week/8 hour days with an option for overtime. This apparently is a huge improvement over smaller factories that force workers into 7 day work weak and 12 hour days for less pay. I look forward to visiting a smaller plant and confirming this.

    The couple waiting on their son were interesting. They lived far away, the man earned 8,000 rmb per month driving a coal truck. The good money came with a risk of danger they were not willing to allow their son to take. They said he took the job after working in fast food restaurants in Beijing and another city I could not understand the name of even after repeated attempts by my translator to tell me. Their son decided to work at Foxconn as a cook because his friend works there. The minimum age is 16.5 years according to the recruiting card. He has been there one month and his parents were seeing him for the first time and did not know when they would be back.

    I also talked to some people who were not outside the gates, but knew of some stories (good and bad) about the factory. One story was of a boy killed by a machine. His parents were not given much information about the incident and were initially told he was hospitalized and that they should travel to Tai Yuan to see him. After they got there they were informed of his death. Another story was from a college student on the bus. By the way, I counted five universities near the plant in south Tai Yuan as well as an apartment complex directly acros the street from the plant that would have been considered high end in the United States. The student said he is working at the factory and also has a promise to be promoted to manager after graduation.

    It seems managers and recruiters have many breaks while the factory workers do not get many. An old man on the train who was formally a farmer near Yun Cheng now fixes machines did not mind the disparity at all. He was used to working all day anyway. It seems migrant life is like the American military. While there are certainly positives and negatives that cannot be disputed, it is what you make of it.


    Finally, I have an admission that I hope will relieve me of the incredible guilt I have had since I partook of a truly heinous act. Please try not to judge me too much. I have been in China for a few months now and a man has certain needs....


    In Yun Cheng while my friend and I were waiting on the train we visited an establishment that I am so ashamed of. Even more so because it was my idea, although he was a good sport and did not protest. I went to a Pizza Hut. It was just as awful as in the states. The abstinence of pizza and western food in general while in Ping Lu did not make the dry pie covered in faux italian sausage taste any better. I regretted my actions immediately. Please do not think less of me. If you do, feel free to send me a stuffed pizza from the Villa packed in dry ice. Garlic and sausage,. extra sauce and well done, please.

  4. #4
    Gunnery Sergeant Trav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forums Trav's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Guangdong, China
    Posts
    5,458
    Rep Power
    609303

    Re: Trav in China

    These are some of the mass emails i've sent my friends and family. Feel free to ask questions. I'll continue to post new emails here as my blog. I've been told I need to blog. This will have to suffice.

  5. #5

  6. #6
    Gunnery Sergeant Trav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forums Trav's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Guangdong, China
    Posts
    5,458
    Rep Power
    609303

    Re: Trav in China

    Chinese ladies are pretty traditional in the countryside. In the cities the action is better in that regard.

    Before my pallet adjusted I ate bananas, apples, oatmeal and ramen noodles. Eventually I forced my tastes to change, because everyone who befriends me insists on feeding me. I don't want to be rude so I choke down most everything that is put in front of me.

    Pollution sucks. i'm in the coal capital provence and they burn their trash here. That makes for some disgusting air.

  7. #7
    Captain Really Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forums Really Big Bama Fan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Sweet Home Alabama
    Posts
    31,045
    Rep Power
    3573197

    Re: Trav in China

    Thanks for the update, Trav. Your mentioning "mei yo tobacco," brought back memories. I used to think that “Mayo” was the favorite condiment in China since it was mentioned anytime I tried to order western food. Did you get an opportunity to walk around on top of the Xi'ian city wall? It seemed much wider to me than the Great Wall.

  8. #8
    Gunnery Sergeant Trav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forums Trav's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Guangdong, China
    Posts
    5,458
    Rep Power
    609303

    Re: Trav in China

    haha I know what you mean.

    I am going back to Xi'an and the city wall is one of the things I want to explore further. So far I have only seen it when I was walking near it looking for a cab.

    When where you in China? Which cities did you see? Favorites?

  9. #9
    Captain Really Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forumsReally Big Bama Fan has a great deal of respect on the forums Really Big Bama Fan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Sweet Home Alabama
    Posts
    31,045
    Rep Power
    3573197

    Re: Trav in China

    Quote Originally Posted by Trav View Post
    haha I know what you mean.

    I am going back to Xi'an and the city wall is one of the things I want to explore further. So far I have only seen it when I was walking near it looking for a cab.

    When where you in China? Which cities did you see? Favorites?
    Trav,
    I was there in 2001. I worked in the oil fields around Puyang. It was farming country in the Yellow River Valley. I didn't get to travel much owing to my job, but I did make it a point to see the terracotta warriors, The Forbidden City, and The Great Wall. The only big cities I saw were Zhengzhou and Beijing. I liked Puyang in the winter snow. It became picturesque instead of just drab communist architecture.

  10. #10
    Gunnery Sergeant Trav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forumsTrav has a great deal of respect on the forums Trav's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Guangdong, China
    Posts
    5,458
    Rep Power
    609303

    Re: Trav in China

    That is awesome. I would like to see the Beijing sites. I don't mind the drab communist architecture. haha It is interesting to see them while they still exist. I traveled to Hong Kong and stopped in Guangzhou and ShenZhen. The buildings are quite different than the other cities. ha

    Hong Kong was amazing. I would like to spent the rest of my life there. The vibe is very San Franciscan, but the city itself is like NYC if NYC lived up to the hype. The skyline is.... best in the world.
    SEC mother****in rah rah

    (except Tennessee. **** them)



    Vote for a 3rd party next time around.

    Fascinating project that preserves the memories of combat veterans.

    ATravLedLife.com

+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 11 123456 ... LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Trav......
    By GR8NESS in forum Major League Baseball
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 10-06-2008, 08:31 PM
  2. Trav...
    By GR8NESS in forum Major League Baseball
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 04-08-2007, 12:50 AM
  3. This is primarily for Trav but........
    By deterp in forum National Football League
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 01-22-2007, 11:21 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts