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Discovery of the Far East!

OMG... This toddler is going down!

Joe and I didn't get seats next to each other on the flight because we were last min. flight additions, so he was about 10 rows behind me. Nice thing was that we both got isle seats. This was nice because we were two of only a handful of white people on the entire airbus. It was one of those planes that has 2 seats, an isle, 5 seats, another isle, then 2 seats again. Joe and I were in the 5 seat row on the right side isle. It was also one of those planes that has individual flat screen TVs on the back of every seat. After listening to the take off instructions in English, and then Chinese (nice to know that English is still first for the time being), we took off, and I figured out how to make my screen write in English rather than Chinese.

The stewards did that lame thing they like to do of serving drinks the min. the plane is in the air, so I waited for that, and then they left us alone for the next few hours. I never understood that. Why rehydrate us when we just got done chugging the last of our liquids before we got though security. Why not give us drinks after we've been on the plane for a while and could really use something to eat or drink. But oh well, I didn't mind b/c I talked Joe into buying a ridiculously priced water at the Honolulu airport before we took off.

Movie time:
Taking Woodstock (not a comedy like I thought it would be with Demetri Martin in it)

The Invention of Lying (first movie where Jennifer Garner was trying to be cute, but didn't convince)

Where the Wild Things Are (Joe really liked it, but it gave me a headache... the kid was ridiculously crazy, and I din't like any of the monsters).

Maybe I was just put out because of the screaming 4 year old one row back and to the right... he screamed the whole flight. Really, really, someone was murdering his mom in front of his eyes blood curtailing screams. I thought several times that I would actually put the kid out of his misery if I just killed him myself as an act of mercy. His mom was in my row with a new born baby, and the toddler was 1.) Not happy to have to be sitting with his extremely tolerant and understanding father so he kept screaming "Maaa Maaa! Maaa Maaaa!" in that voice that screeched, and then bellowed as well... he changed it up for us... isn't he sweet? 2.) He did not like the fact that he had to wear a seat belt when the stewardess told him to. Most of the time they just let hi go without, but when the pilot put the fasten safety belt sign... we we all knew what was coming. I knew what was going on because that family had Asian heritage, but they were from America.

This wasn't standard for the rest of the flight though. Most of them knew a little English, but the girl sitting next to me didn't know any at all. Joe came up to visit me occasionally, and one time the woman next to me pointed at me when he left, and then put her two pointer fingers together, then split them apart. She smiled widely at me and nodded, as if saying, "Yes? Do you understand?" I did not. She tried again several times, and I was pretty close to calling a stewardess to translate for me, but then I think I understood. So I pointed at myself, then I pointed back to Joe, then I put my fingers together and pulled them apart. Now it was my turn to smile and nod. She returned the smile, and then the charade continued. Now she was telling me that she was not with anyone, so if I would like, she could switch seats with Joe so we could be together (if only understanding our hand gestures was so easy). I told her not to worry about it, and that we were already 5 hours into the flight, so we are almost there (not really since the flight was 12 hours long... oh man).

We got a choice of American something or other, or Chinese noodles and chicken. I hadn't been to China yet, so I still thought I'd like Chinese food over the American something or other, so I got that. The food was really good and there was a lot of it. I saved the little lemon cake for later (b/c I probably wasn't going to get food again for another 4 hours).

New York, I Love You (Natalie Portman is bald again... she loves doing that)

Aladdin (The Indian live action version. I couldn't watch the whole thing. The beginning was just a bunch of bullies (do they have those in India? b/c I don't think they know how they act), making a kid rub a bunch of lamps b/c his parents named him Aladdin. Then one day when he is an adult he is forced to rub a lamp again and it turns out to have a real genii in it that loves doing big group dance numbers. I fast forwarded the whole move and just stopped to watch the big dance numbers. Otherwise it was unbearable).

Joe came up to me while I started to watch TV shows because I was getting nervous and couldn't watch just one thing anymore. The movies weren't so good now, and it was not distracting me from the fact that I am stuck in a small seat in an aircraft over the largest ocean in the world. Claustrophobic? Me? He told me that they were serving complementary wine in the back of the cabin and that they also had small sandwiches too. After 2 cups of wine and a cheese, lettuce, and bun sandwich... the fact that I was unable to exit the plane was alright. The show How I Met Your Mother however, still sucked. It has Willow from Buffy, Elliot from Scrubs, and Neil Patrick Harris (who hasn't heard of this guy considering how few things he's been in?); but even though it has these comedic actors in it... I really don't get how the show is funny. Not even when I'm drunk.

Law Abiding Citizen (Stressful movie, but I really like Gerard Butler, even though in this movie he is mad... both meanings).

Then the alcohol started to wear off and I couldn't persuade Joe to get me anymore (I don't like asking for things from strangers), I started to get nervous about when we would be arriving in Taiwan. We were flying over the international dateline, and I wasn't exactly sure what that meant about what time it really was to me, or to the people in Taiwan, but I was pretty sure that we took off an hour late, and we only had an hour and a half layover, and we were an hour in air longer than we should have been, so... what do you do when your connecting flight in a foreign country is missed and you don't speak the language? I asked a stewardess. She gave me a bunch of numbers that told me the new flight I was being transferred to since they already knew that we would be missing our connecting flight, but she didn't know which airline that flight number was for. Great.

Now the pilot told us that we would be starting our decent (a half hour early). I listened to Japanese radio the whole time as I watched the video feed from he camera positioned under the plane (so cool, especially b/c nobody liked having their window shades up... ass holes. Or maybe I'm just grumpy b/c the kid is screaming again... you have to wear you seat belts for landing... but did he have to wear it a half hour early?)

Off the plane we were directed with a bunch of other people taking our same flight to go to the such and such desk. We followed, and they all spoke to us in English. All the signs were posted in Chinese (first) and English (now second), and everyone who we asked for help spoke to us in fluent, accent free English. We got moved to the front of the line (thank god we were traveling to Shinjin and not Guangzhou b/c they split us up into those groups, and most people were going to Guangzhou), and we got our new luggage tag, and then we headed for the shuttle to terminal 2.

At terminal 2... we hit the real world. Nobody spoke English. Not with a heavy accent, not broken, not even understanding. We hadn't bought Joe a Chinese dictionary yet either, so now we were desperate, and no one could understand our questions about where we could buy one. Just get through security. We did. Then we got to the main shopping area of terminal 2's airport. Luckily the woman at the information desk spoke broken english. She told us which store had dictionaries and international calling cards... there were no prepaid cell phones in any stores at the mall. Damn. We did manage to buy calling cards though, and we did have RMB to use at pay phones (we switched out all our cash at the Honolulu airport), but Taiwan unfortunately doesn't take RMB. They do, however, accept visa. We bought Joe a dictionary too, but after reading it a little further, he realized it wasn't what he needed. It wasn't a dictionary (they didn't have one of those) but they had books about money, train travel, bus travel, etc. The phrase book we got was for bus travel b/c it seemed to have the most useful info that could be applied to other things. But after further investigation, it wasn't. So now we were back to only having 2 calling cards, no phone, and no Taiwan money. Then we saw the free internet stands. Yes!

We sent out emails to our parents and the Couchsurfers in Shinjin that we arrived in Taiwan and that we were catching a latter flight to Shinjin b/c our flight arrived after our connecting flight left. Then we surfed the internet some, looked up some phrases in Chinese, and then headed back to our gate. Now our new connecting flight that was to leave in one hour, changed its time to 2 hours. So we went back into the shopping area, sent out new emails about what time we would be hitting China, and we wondered around the mall and got some dinner (very nerve recking when you don't speak the language).

At some point I turned my cell phone on to check the time, and I received a text message. "Welcome to Taiwan: To call US dial 005-1-Area Code-Number. Voice rate: $1.99/min. Sprint Care: 005-1-817-698-4199." This was a surprise. Everyone, including Sprint, said that my phone wouldn't work over seas. Interesting... I guess now we have an emergency phone to use in case of... well... if we can't find a pay phone.

On another note, here are some cool things we found around the airport:

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Then we were on to China!

When we arrived in Shinjin it was around 9pm Shinjin time. We were supposed to arrive at 6pm, giving us daylight to find Linda's place where we were Couchsurfing. So at night, in the dark, with no one who spoke English, but many people who loved running up to us speaking Chinese, we tried to follow her instructions. She told us to get on the #7 bus from the Shenjin airport. We wondered around for a while, Joe told about 10 taxies "Boo Yaow", and then we saw a line up of busses. Walking through them was scary because Chinese people don't have traffic laws (as far as I can tell). I had my eyes open for Chinese numbers (one of the few things I can read in Chinese), but all the busses had Arabic numerals on them (isn't it strange that the entire world uses the number system invented by the Arabs? Just putting that out there). We found bus #7, and struggled asking how much the bus was. Eventually the bus driver took out money from his own wallet and showed it to us. Ahhh, you want 2 of the green slips of paper. Cool. Then we sat down and waited for the bus to fill up some more. The driver was asking us where we were heading (as far as Joe could figure), so we told him "Dafen" like Linda told us to, because she said that everyone in Shinjin would know Dafen the artist village. He did seem to know it, and it seemed like he would alert us when we were there (nice).

When we got off we started searching for the KFC. We got dropped off in what looked basically like downtown Chicago, and we didn't see any KFC. After wondering around in the big city (I know its big because we drove for an hour and a half through Shinjin... and the city didn't really end. It just keeps on going. So, feeling like I wasn't going to find a pay phone (and know how to use it) any time soon. I turned on my cell phone. "Welcome to China: To call US dial 00-1-area code-number. To call Sprint Care dial 00-1-817-698-4199." I dialed Linda's number. A British woman picked up the phone (I didn't know she was English). I told her where we were, and she tried to give us directions, but we were very lost, and it was almost 11:00pm now. She told us to just stay where we were and she would come and get us (thank God!)

While we waited we checked out the scenery of the place, and I don't know if this is on purpose or not, but I really liked the Feng Shui of the buildings across the street from us, so we took a pic.

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I liked how the lights were different colors. Some were blue, some yellow, some a warm orange, and they were scattered about the place as if it were done on purpose to make the building look nice.

About 10 min. later I spot our first white person since we came to China. She is about 5'3" with short blond hair, blue eyes, and a very strong, proper sounding English accent. Then she pointed out the buildings we just took a picture of earlier and said that was her apartment complex. She took us around the back of it (which was the front of it from our prospective on the street, but the front of the building led out into a central courtyard between all the apartments in that group, and we came in though the parking garage that smelled like trash. When we got to her door there was a sign written in Chinese and English that said that the person living there only spoke English. I wondered how she got along without speaking the language after being here for over a year, but I guess she knows a little, or enough to get by when she isn't with English and Chinese speakers. She told us on the way over that Shinjin is a very young city (only 30 years old), and most of the inhabitants are under 30 as well. So, many of them speak English because it is a course taught in schools now a days.

In her apartment we met her cousin Jason who was also staying with her, and I had to excuse myself. We left John and Chris's place at 5am Hawaii time. Then we took a 12 hour flight to Taiwan and got there at 4pm. Then we hit China at 9pm (according to China), and I really couldn't stay up another moment. Joe played nice for a little while, but I just hit to sofa in the computer room and I was out. And tomorrow, we told Linda that we would love to go on a hike with Jason and a bunch of other Couchsurfers. We had to get up at 7:30am to do this... and usually the fact that I needed the sleep would make me stay up all night, but not tonight. I don't even remember Joe coming to bed, and we were on a very narrow sofa.

Posted by - Rain 06:40 Archived in China

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