Hi, my name is Dan and I’m a TFi-ALP scholar if you’ve missed out on last weeks blog, click here to catch up on my ALP life.
Dis week do simi
Well, shortly after the presentation on Monday, and a fun singing (read: shouting) karaoke session, I was up and about packing for my trip after ALP.
That’s right, I’m going rogue, I’m taking you off the grid, I’m bringing you guys out to a wild wild ride in Chinaland.
Before all of that, some administration to be done beforehand.
How do I get all of my luggage back to Singapore? There’s no way I’m bringing a suit (I mentioned in one of my blogs that I had a suit made in Shanghai, I don’t really expect anyone to remember, but if you do, I’m glad you remember my boring stories)up to the mountains right?… Right?!?!?!
Well, I didn’t bring it up to the mountains, I had some friends, Kenneth and Khai sheen bring back some of my luggage for me. So this part of the blog is dedicated to them because otherwise, I’ll be traveling China ready for any sort of formal occasion to pop up my way.
Ok luggage settled, now what?
I headed my way to the Hangzhou airport on Sunday night, 9 pm.
My flight was at 6 am.
The airport shuttle stops at 9 pm and I don’t really want to take a 100 yuan cab so I decided to stay overnight at the airport, plus, I don’t have to pay for another day of staying at the student hostel.
Yeah, so you know how sometimes places get really crowded really fast? That’s what happened at the airport, with hordes of people pouring in when the morning arrived.
And that when I realized that I was going to avoid taking flights in China from then on. Because they confiscated my mountaineering stick on my carry on, I am very salty about that.
It was a nice stick, and what could I do? Poke someone to death?
Oi bodoh you never say where you going la.
Oops, I forgot to mention, I’ll be heading to Xi’an, the land of the Terracotta warriors the origin of the hit movie, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
That’s selling the city short but live with it, it’s how I describe things.
On the first day there, I checked into my student hostel, did a few blogs and then planned for my trip the next day. I also checked out a local gym that a friend sneaked(read: brought as a prospective customer) me into.
It was a very cool gym.
I miss the gym.
I also got conned by the pretty hostel ladies into signing up for an expensive tour of the terracotta warriors the next day.
Damn the pretty hostel ladies, and damn my weak-willed mind.
Well, at least the ladies in the hostel were pretty I guess?
The second day of Xi’an,
I woke up, pretty much ready for the tour, it’s kind of weird going for a tour since I was already going for a backpacking trip, and was already planning to go to the cheaper route, but cheated I was and here I am.
Although to be fair, the tour was really convenient, and with the tour guide, I learned quite a lot from the exhibitions as well. The weather got to go though, really insane, had me sweating in the insane Xi’an heat.
I’m lucky I have my trusty portable fan that ZJU gave to us, in anticipation of the summer heat, and I could (somewhat) beat the heat with that.
Actually no it just made me feel better about myself but didn’t help much with the heat in that case.
In case you thought the exhibition halls would be a good shelter from the heat, you’re WRONG. It just made it more humid, and somehow it didn’t feel any less warm, sometimes I just don’t get the weather.
Oh yeah we also went to this park that contained the hill that contained the Emperors body, but it was kinda lame, because the tomb is not unearthed yet(some insane mercury levels in there or something along those lines), making the hill, and subsequently the park in which the hill was contained it, really lame.
Day 3 of rouge author Dan transcripts
Well, after a night spent regretting my choice of listening to the pretty hostel ladies and their recommendation, I decided to give them a hard time about it… In my mind, I’m far too soft-spoken to talk about the trip that did not reach my expectations.
Day 3 was a relaxing day, do some blogs(now you know why the other blogs were so lame? Who wants to write a blog and upload cool pictures while still on a trip overseas?), visit some local landmarks bla bla bla.
One of the more interesting landmarks was the Chinese Muslim mosque in the Muslim quarters of Xi’an, which really piqued my mock-posh cultural inquisitiveness.
Nah it was quite cool though, although I’ve lived in Singapore for so long, and have multiple Muslim friends, I have not been into a mosque yet, so that’s a new experience for me.
Also seeing people in Muslim religious clothing and speaking Mandarin just jingles my dingleberries(did you know that dingleberry is actually slang for poop? I didn’t, I guess you just learn something new every day).
Of course, I didn’t use that slang as an insult to anyone, I just wanted to use that idiom because I’m childish like that. Oh yeah, dingleberries are also a type of berries, a location, etc, so you don’t have to take it in the most insulting way possible.
Day 4 of Xtreme Xventures in Xi’an
Day 4 was a very tiring day, I decided to climb Hua Shan (华山) that day.
It was a bad decision.
Notice I said day.
Which means it was when the Sun was still up.
In a place where I just complained about the heat.
I drank a lot of water that day.
And my leg cramped a lot of times.
And stuff and things and pain and suffering and voila, climb over, tadah~
Da– Oi stop hanging around so long in Xi’an la
I agree, I overbooked my Xi’an stay but my train is not till like, day 6 so I’ll have to deal with it I guess.
Day 5 was also a pretty chill day, after an entire day of climbing and everything like that, my legs were too jelly to even think of going anywhere.
I met some of my friends, Zile, Frank and Joshua since they decided to copy me by going to Xi’an.
They actually arrived at the same time as me, but me being the antisocial being I was, refused to go along with them.
And then I did some other boring stuff (blogsss grr)so I don’t really think it’s interesting for you guys to read about it.
The Day The Earth stood still
You must be wondering why the weird paragraph title.
Who am I kidding, all my paragraph titles are weird.
So on this fine day. I made my way to the local train station and decided to board a train.
A train that I booked a few weeks in advance.
A train from Xi’an to Urumqi.
For the uneducated, Xi’an is in the Shaanxi （陕西） province and Urumqi is in the Xinjiang （新疆） province.
They are provinces that are separated by another province.
Sounds alright right?
That province also happens to be REALLY BIG.
So that’s the story of how I took a 25-hour train ride.
“But Dan, since there are sleeper trains in China, just book a bed and you’ll be a-OK right?”
Well that sounds like a great idea, Anonymous reader # 21!
Just a small problem, since it’s the holiday season and because it’s a long ride, there are no sleeper beds for the next MONTH.
So if anyone of you is even remotely thinking of taking a 25-hour train, seated. Here’s some advice from someone who has already done it.
Advice No. 1
Alright! I hope you found my guide to sitting on a Chinese train for 25 hours straight helpful!
Oh yeah, I chose that title for a paragraph because I thought it would make me cooler and reflect on how slowly time passes on the train.
So what’s up after Xi’an?
As mentioned, I’ll be heading to Urumqi, Xinjiang, a city and province that is currently in constant turmoil in present circumstances.
I won’t try to explain why, because of 1. I don’t know enough to explain the current situation here. and 2. Eh give chance I lazy la, who wants to go into these kinds of issues for a blog post?
Before my travels, whenever I mentioned where I was headed to my Chinese friends. The number 1 response would be:
“Who are you traveling with?”
Upon telling them that I’ll be going alone, the number 1 response to that statement would be:
“Oi don’t kee siao la.”
Obviously, that sentence was dramatized, but it was always something along those lines.
Of course, me being the rebel that I am, decided ahead with my plan of going to Xinjiang alone.
Now would be a good time for me to end your misery and stop the blog here because it’s already past the last week of ALP(It’s ME time now). But I think I’ll just share(read: torture) with you my experience in Urumqi until I’m bored of it.
Urumqi got what kind of stuff to do one?
I went to the Xinjiang historical museum, which detailed the ethnic minorities and their cultures. The reason why it’s mentioned in the museum is because Xinjiang, the province where Urumqi is in, is a place with a lot of ethnic minorities.
And after my trip to the museum, I then (foolishly) went to message one of my local friends about how interesting it was, and how much effort was put into the museum and it obviously shows some kind of care and concern for them.
Hoo boy, the resulting response I got was not fun.
I got verbally slapped so much that I couldn’t even differentiate between left and right for a few hours after that.
Why Urumqi? It’s such an unheard of city.
Of course, Urumqi is not as popular when you compare it to the superstars of Chinese Cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Shen Zhen, but I would argue that it has it’s own quaint feeling, although I could make do with less rubble and sand.
You know how when sand gets into your eye? There was a dust storm on my first day here and I wore contacts out.
I quickly learned to always wear glasses, be it sunglasses or my normal spectacles.
At least the weather was pretty good! Waking up to 16 degrees Celcius in the city really makes you appreciate cold weather, and it really makes me dread going back to sunny, tropical and humid Singapore.
What are you doing so far West of the country anyway?
Well, some of you might recall this tidbit from a few blogs ago, but I’ll bore you nonetheless.
I’ll be going for a mountaineering expedition with my SUTD Mountaineering crew in Kazakhstan at the end of August, so I’m taking my time to also backpack around the country and take in pure, unfiltered and untethered China for what it is, and not just Zhejiang only.
Of course one can argue that you need more than 3 weeks to explore China, and I wholeheartedly agree, but I’ll make do with what I can get.
How did you plan your trips and everything?
I really like this paragraph styling thing because I get to force my questions onto you guys, and I don’t even need to have a proper transition and everything.
Well, a funny story, my sister was once interested in my itinerary for China and asked me to pass it to her when she plans to travel across China. (If she eventually does)
I then responded to her by saying that I don’t really have an itinerary, I just decided on which city to go to, and a hostel that I would stay.
And then I would ask for advice from the hostel about where to go.
Yeah, I’m lazy, and also I would ask other backpackers where they go and where they have been.
So I’m not one of the best people to take travel advice from because I just wing it.
Alright, so ends the tale of my adventures after ALP, of course I’m still traveling the country but I’ll be a bit busier after I post the blog because I’ll be moving around the cities of Western China quite a bit. On top of that, the mountains won’t climb themselves after all.
I’ll leave you with a few photos of the scenery that I took.
Signing off for the last time,