Home > Chatter, Vacation > Back from China

Back from China

A very happy chinese new year to you too!  Especially to those of you whom messaged me while I was in China.

Yes, the trip was a safe and sound one.  Thanks for your prayers!

When we touched down in Nanjing, the first thing that hit us was the cold.  Thank God that we brought warm clothing with us, even though my in-laws told us that the weather was turning warm.  Apparently it turned cold again with those grey-skies-and-light-drizzles kind of weather.

Nanjing airport seems big.  From the air-bridge to the customs, we had to walk about 10 minutes.  You’ll be amazed to know that there are only 2 baggage carousels and your baggage will take 30 minutes to appear.  Ours was the only plane that landed at that time.

Onwards to Yangzhou.  My wife told me to wait aside while she negotiated fares with the taxi drivers.  She said that I’m too obvious as a foreigner and will mess up the negotiations.  So I told way aside from her negotiations, and she returned triumphantly with a rate for 360RMB straight to Yangzhou.  So we boarded the taxi and onwards to Yangzhou… not!  Along the way, I whispered to my wife… seems like it’s heading towards to Nanjing.  My wife didn’t know any better.  She’s bad with directions.  I was right.  The taxi driver took us into Nanjing, told us that it was along the way, stopped at a major bus station and searched for another driver that was heading towards Yangzhou.

So we switched vehicles somewhere in Nanjing.  My wife still didn’t know where.  Fortunately the second driver was a Yangzhou local, and my wife struck up a conversation with him.  He said that the taxi driver could never earn money from the 360RMB, it was too cheap.  It is possible for him because he was heading back to Yangzhou anyway.  In the end, for an extra 20RMB, he drove us all the way to our doorstep.  That wasn’t so bad after all.

Chinese New Year celebrations in a remote village in China is interesting.  They just won’t stop firing off crackers and fireworks.  Major fire crackers sessions fall on the first, the fifth, and if I understood the Yangzhou dialect correctly, on the twelve day of the first lunar month.  At night, they fire off fireworks.  You know those mega ones that you see at fireworks displays?  Those were the kinds that they fire.  They used those for birthday celebrations too, so I wasn’t sure if they fired them for the new year, or for their birthdays.  If it was for their birthdays, there were lots born around the Chinese New Year in that village then.

Visitations just won’t stop.  It goes on and on.  Neighbors and relatives dropped by.  It was definitely different from Singapore.  No wonder they need 15 days for the celebration!  I didn’t know most of them well, and my stupid grin was starting to freeze in the cold temperature.

My father-in-law, a vet, is now into rearing pigs.  I promised you that I’ll take a picture of a pig humping on a wooden bench.  I had an opportunity and took a picture.  I’ll put it up once I am able to.

My mum wanted me to buy some of China’s famous Wu Liang Yi (五糧液).  On a trip to Yangzhou city, we were fortunate to stumble across a shop operated by the company that manufactures this liquor.  We went in and asked for this Wu Liang Yi.  Yes, they do have stock for 56% and 68% in alcohol content.  No, they ran out of stock for the 38%.  What do you want it for, asked the sales lady.  I’m now sure that her intention was to determine what the occasion the liquor was intended for, because most people will buy this liquor as a gift.  When I replied that my mum wanted to use it for making herbal wine, her eyes popped and pursed her lips rapidly when she realised that your mouth was dropping open.  But alas, that was the truth.  I would like to assure everyone that my mum changed her mind after she learned how expensive that liquor was.

On the way back, we hired the same driver that drove us to Yangzhou.  This time round, he had a problem with the clutch pressure.  We detoured to a mechanical shop when we reached Yangzhou city.  The driver scolded the mechanic.  Apparently it wasn’t a new problem.  After repairs, we were on our way again.  As we neared Nanjing, the same problem came back.  After filling up the oil reservoir for the clutch system, it leaked empty again.  The driver drove and called the mechanic to curse him.  He said that he couldn’t stop, else he would have problems to engage gears to start the car again.  So he just drove on and on, and tried not stop as we approached traffic lights.  He managed to bring us some 6km away from our final destination, and with apologies, helped us onto a city taxi.

We spent a night in Nanjing, because the flight was at noon.  We didn’t want to rush from Yangzhou.  We wouldn’t have made it if we had technical problems like that.  So the rest of the day was spent at Fu Zhi Temple ( 父子廟 ), already a very touristy place.

When we touched down in Singapore, we lost our salted pork at the customs.  My wife who was carrying the box that contained the pork that was laboriously prepared by my mother-in-law, was stopped by a hawk-eyed customs officer.  No pork allowed (now you know!).  It was a dumped into a bin.  For your information, chicken and duck are not allowed either.  My mother-in-law is still sore over the loss of the pork.  I didn’t feel so bad, for I had a taste of it while I was in China.  It was very good, but I guess if I didn’t go through all the effort to prepare it, I won’t feel the pain as badly.

It was a good trip, with lots of experiences.  It’s also good to be back in Singapore.  The cold was too much for me.

Categories: Chatter, Vacation
  1. Computerpunk
    March 11, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Wow …. Sounds like a great adventure you had there in China.

    Do they actually buy those fire crackers in bulk? I mean something like, they buy in bulk and then use it for New year and on their birthday (if it isn’t fully expended). Then if there’s still some left on their birthday, they can use it for the next New Year and so on till the day that the whole lot of ammunition is expended.

    The ride without stopping somehow reminds me of the Movie “Speed”. Must have been one memorable experience…

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