Why does the carpet say Tuesday?

During my stay in China, I jotted down notes whenever I saw something unusual. It happened a lot. It started on the first day, with the title of this post: I walked into a restaurant whose 6-foot-wide plush red welcome mat was printed with a long string of Chinese characters and, below them, the English word "Tuesday" six inches high. That's all. Why did the carpet say Tuesday? None of us could guess. Here, then, are the rest of my notes. Some come with commentary, some without.

Why aren't there any old people here in Shenzhen? Answer: this is the "new part of town", built to support the factories, so it's full of the 20-40 year olds that work in them. (anybody over 30 is a manager anyway).

Three paces backwards, everything is breaking

Chocolate mouse in the dessert case

Plane flight bullshitting with seatmates: ferret furniture; long distance Depends testing

Die-cut pancakes

Five people in a doghouse bolted to the back of a moped, making an illegal left against traffic

Rotating restaurant on 24th floor of Baolilai hotel

[Obscene comment, hover mouse here to read.]

You cannot get coffee grounds in china. It's all powdered instant.

Company cantina 3 free meals a day for employees

It's lychee season

Shenzhen Train Station mall: concierges and barkers
"Real is no good" - a barker
[Obscene comment, hover mouse here to read.]

Hills with mohawks of trees

No Facebook in China

Utterly bungled service at the "Japanese" restaurant ... that offers 1.8-liter bottles of hot sake.


World cup everywhere

When I'm tired, I create new abstractions without the usual degree of editing. Like "white is the new default headphone color" after seeing a guy wearing big white over-the-ear headphones. I have no idea how true that is, but the words came to me.

Reading my friends' blogs on my day off made me homesick. I'm kind of ready for that flight back, but I'm only half done.

[Obscene comment, hover mouse here to read.]

Gorged myself on raw seafood

I tried to wait for the shuttle in the lobby, but the cigarette smoke finally got to me.

I do feel a little bit like I'm coming down with a cold.

I'm definitely sick, and this has turned into one of the worst days I've experienced in a long time. My flight was delayed after I arrived at the airport--for two hours and then indefinitely. Then, without warning, it boarded (before the two hours was up). Now I'm on the plane, but the pilot says we're delayed due to weather. So basically I've been stuck in an airport where very few people speak English, hungry and especially thirsty, saturating tissues and paper towels with my nose literally dripping, and without internet access. I'm afraid they'll decide I have bird flu and quarantine me. I've been traveling for seven hours and I've gone nowhere; I have a 80 minute flight and a 2 hour drive ahead of me. On the bright side, I was able to contact my coworker at the site I'm traveling to, so theoretically there will still be a car waiting for me.

I'm in Quanzhou. The hotel redid its restaurant since I was here last. But the rooms are the same.

The plant is still busted up, but now they only use 1 floor of the building. Downsizing.

Awesome steak au poivre sizzling on fajita platter. This is "chinese food"? More like French executed by Mexicans. The fruit that looks like lychee but smaller and dark red is tart like a berry.

There is a Shaolin temple in use and under construction. Kaiyuan is the historic one, the site dating back 1200 years. The Luoyang Bridge (aka Wanan Bridge) is equally old.

Sick, crashed 13h without dinner. Fever, chills

The hotel staff here seem more bookish, shy. Also, there are a lot of tall guys working here. No tall guys in Shenzhen.

Strawberry guava juice is delicious.

Tshirt: "sex & bananas & rock&roll"

Traffic in China works exactly like a high school hallway between classes. Crowded but functional. Nobody crashes because everybody pays attention. When did we forget how to do that?

Soccer is like hockey, but bigger

Imaginary soccer commercial: regular team vs. Kung Fu guys. Flying, acrobatics. Beheaded regular player: red flag for the kung fu team.

Most buildings in Quanzhou are six stories or less. Until recently, the government restricted building because they didn't want Quanzhou to compete with Taiwan.

Pear juice. Wow.

Statue of hero who took Taiwan back from Holland is made of metal!

Luoyang Bridge the tide is low. Crabs, oysters, a few cranes. A Buddhist temple at the end opposite the statue of the builder.

Tallest mountain in Quanzhou, lunch on top. Tea like flowers, famous Quanzhou product. Restaurant 480m elevation. Mountain prob higher. Dam, temples, Lao Tzu. Koi and turtles in the temple pond.

Walked the streets around the Quanzhou Hotel for about an hour. Pretty intense. I soon realized it's the first time I've ever been out alone in China. I was the ONLY white guy. The intention was to buy some small gifts, but that will have to be later. Going left out the hotel entrance and following the left wall, you curve north onto Zhongshan Middle Road, mostly a garment sales area. Right from the hotel, you are forced to turn left at a gate; you soon find yourself at a major intersection with Xinmen Street. There's a liquor store across the intersection. Come back tomorrow.

Thai restaurant in the hotel. Nice - I feel like a king. Three menus easily 50 pages total. Amazing seafood red curry, best scallops I've ever had in it. Two chef demo stands in the dining room, Indian guy spinning paper-thin dough. On the way to this restaurant, I asked a tall bellhop for directions. He pointed me on my way. Behind me, the female staffer with him clapped with glee. Congratulations on your good English! You can do it!


[Obscene comment, hover mouse here to read.]

Tea ceremony in a shop: you cannot let water sit on the tea leaves. Dump the first steeping. Steep briefly, maybe a minute. You can steep the leaves many times.

Goodbye QZ. I came away with a deeper affection for all these folks - at least the ones who are left. Anson's leaving blood on the ice. And after a week of me asking Ruby for her opinion and offering my help, I think she finally got used to the idea of being taken seriously.

The road to Xiamen looks like it was gouged through the countryside by a planetary router. They're trying a lot of different anti-erosion techniques - they've got plenty of space to experiment.

China's last attempt to rip you off: duty-free at the departure gates at Xiamen. And 35-yen Evian. That's $5 US for a bottle of water in a place where you can't drink what comes out of the tap. Chutzpah.

Five minutes of searching and concentration to figure out how to turn on and off the lights in my room at the Hong Kong Novotel Citigate. And for the first time in my whole trip, I had to use the package of power outlet adapters I bought at Radio Shack. This is a live example of poor user-interface design.

Visible wine cellar outside the hotel restaurant: Sassicaia ($200) next to Marques de Caceres Rioja Crianza ($13). Marselan Big Red ($7) next to, I kid you not, Lafitte ($100).