Month: June 2012

Home at Last

Well, I’d wanted to write more about the trip to Xiamen yesterday, but traveling got in the way. We were supposed to take a China Airlines flight from Xiamen at 3:30 pm yesterday, and arrive in Beijing at 6:15 pm. That isn’t what happened. Instead, we were held at the gangway and then at the tarmac before finally taking-off. After that, we were put into a holding pattern around Beijing before being diverted to Shenyang.

The flight attendants told us that we might just be there for a bit, before trying to fly into Beijing. This didn’t sound logical to me. I mean, we’re not flying with Ryan Air… folks would want to at least checkout the plane before we were once again in the air. And, well, we did end-up getting herded into buses and brought into the terminal… where there were already pretty irate passengers communicating with the airport staff.

After awhile, we were once again loaded onto buses and returned to the plane. We arrive at the airport around 2 am. Tons of folks arriving about the same time. Huge queues for taxis and buses. Oh, yeah, it was raining. Hard. As in, hard enough to have been used the reason given why the planes had been diverted.

So, we took a bus to a place near our house. Shanshan had the sense to call a friend who provided a driver to meet us. While we were waiting in the pouring rain, we and the other unlucky souls who had been deposited at the San Yuan Qiao were hit-up by taxis (legit and not) offering to take folks to their destination for around 150 RMB per person (the ride probably would’ve been around 20-30 RMB under normal conditions). And, of course, they wouldn’t just take one person. Yep, what they were doing was illegal. But, nope, it didn’t stop them.

In any event, we arrived at the house at 3:30 am. Soaking wet, but in good spirits.

btw, at no time did the pilot or co-pilot address us. Or, for that matter, did anybody above front-line support get involved. No form of compensation was offered. (It is worth noting that the flight attendants were very professional.)

Day Market

We started with breakfast at the Sheraton. It was okay. After that, we walked back to the temple grounds that I photographed the night before. Instead of a stage with many people watching opera, it was fully transformed into a market. On the way in, we passed by a truck which looks to have been setup as a portable bakery. We also passed by fish and other live seafood for sale. And, what we think was perhaps the source of the smell from the night before… fresh duck. As in, live in quacking one second, and throat slit, belly gutted, and ready for the pot the next (didn’t quite see if the service involved plucking the feathers… I really like the contrast between the red plastic flowers on the woman’s flip flops and what is occurring in front of her).

Inside the courtyard were fruits, vegetables, and many kinds of meats. And, of course, people praying at the temple.

Also included in this set are some photos I took of the scenery architecture (the tall gold building is our hotel). The guy in the billboard is an NBA player (no, I don’t know who he is). The NBA seems to be very popular in China. Many of the folks at the gym back in Beijing were surprised when I said I didn’t watch basketball.

We ate dinner at the Hong Restaurant we’d dined at the night before, and then took a taxi to the beach. We passed on the chance to ride horses around a small corral… just didn’t match the pictures of foreigners romping around Inner Mongolia (or some such locale) plastered on the outside of the area. Now, if they’d let us just take off, well…

Night Opera

Shanshan and I flew into Xiamen last night to spend the long Dragon Boat Festival weekend. Xiamen is a sea-side, second-tier city with a population of only 3.5 million. (Shanshan actually commented how small it seemed as the airplane was on approach… there are over 160 cities with a population greater than one million in China.)

After checking into the Sheraton, we went out for a walk around the area. We heard an opera being performed, and decided to take a look. On the way into the venue… which was located near a temple… we passed by an area that smelled really bad. I’d compare it to how stinky tofu smells. More on that later.

We watched for a bit, and then went to dinner at a place serving Hong Kong dishes. They were playing American country and pop music on the stereo system.

My caption for that last picture is, well, “tell it to the hand”.