Friday, October 17, 2008

Han Zhou, Xi Hu: Day 14

Han Zhou seems to be a city worthy of cramped apartment complexes. These roof tops made me think of this video game coming out called Mirror's Edge.

So the repetitiveness of the eating cycles was starting to show. Hotel breakfast, bus, walk, bus, eat, bus, walk, bus, eat, bus, sleep.

I try to vary my diet so I don't fall into a routine. You Tiao and Xi Fan.

Bao, Fruit, and Bacon.

After getting off the bus, we arrived at Xi Hu (trans: West Lake). It's a pretty touristy location.

Out of the lake, there were nice idyllic vistas.

Occasionally interrupted by some insane symbol of capitalistic profiteering and general tourist sheisterisms.

But the reality of it was you were constantly reminded by the sheer mass of people. Thousands upon thousands of people jammed pack as far as the eye could see.

And escape by to idyllic scenery... There was the balance of mad scrambling to keep up with the tour group, not getting lost, taking in the beauty, filtering out the surrounding madness, getting just the right picture, and then catching up to avoid list item #2.

Objective achieved. We've reached the tour boat docking dock.

All aboard! These boats were dressed like floating pagoda tops or something kitchy China. Maybe this is how they really used to (apparently they still do) make boats.

An endless stream of boats flows down the lake. One after the other.

A famous bridge?

OK, so KFC is EVERYWHERE (did I mention this before?). You would think McDonalds, or even maybe Starbucks. No, KFC. Every-freaking-where. My theory is that every nation of every culture (or is it the other way around?) has their own form of fried chicken so it's like this universally known and accepted food. They all get it. They all eat it.

I mocked this poster. I mocked its lameness and lack of artistic direction. Its "intro to photoshop" looks. And then someone said "Oh, that's the thing we're going to go see tonight." Drag... It's actually Zhang Yimou and the pyrotechnics director whose name eludes me (and goggle) at the moment - who directed this theatrical piece. More on this later.

After our walk and ride around the lake, we convened for, more Bus!

Aunt Anne is seen singing and dancing in the streets.

I think we ended up not getting on the bus and just walking to the Bo Wu Guan aka "Provincial Museum" which kind of sucked because it was hot and humid but then again, I'm not 70 years old like most people in the tour group so who am I to complain? There were various museum stuffs in the museum. There was one "display" which was pretty much a Ho-lame-o-ah diorama of some primitive people and so broken pottery pieces representing China's origins. They had dug up some archeological artifacts that predated the previously oldest evidence of civilization in China and while it sounded quite interesting and exciting when we were told about it, the display grossly paled to the build up.

So instead Maria found her own for of entertainment; imitating ancient art.

1000 years of pain.

Getting serious now, breaking out the props...

Commitment to the craft...

She has finally achieved the Zen of weird faced painting dude.

I have not...

I will have a separate post on signs in China but this one was a bit... I mean... come on... overflowing with information. I just can't describe how amusingly lame it is.

I found this dude to have a resemblence to one Jackie Chan. Maybe a little Takeshi Kaneshiro?

Giant goldfish, everywhere in China. They are like the water pigeons of China, swimming day and night in their own filth.

Maria and I sped ahead of the tour group (they had a loud museum guide). Here we are resting outside.

Did you know that red and yellow in combination have been shown to psychologically make you hungry? That's why McDonalds and Burger King have red and yellow lables. What other food places can you think of that use that color combination?

So if you couldn't tell, that was my segway into the lunch portion of this post. This restaurant had this booth at the entrance. I guess to show you how awesome and fresh their food is. I guess?

Rainbow sprinkles? These are those fried corn cakes we had previously eaten.

Snow: Light (no shit) beer. So light it tastes like melted snow?

customary fish dish.

This was interesting. It was this special type of brown Bao. You would eat it with this stuffing.

WhaT tHE!!?!??!? TWO FISHES? Red fish, blue fish? This place is crazy.

But they didn't stop with double fishes. No, they had to go to the next level and bring us cake.

And now here we are in Qing He Fan, aka Han Zhou old town.

Where they leave crazy Buddhas with crazy miniature babies crawling all over him in the middle of the street.

He is a less gaudy statue. But then again, he has lion or dragon shin/knee guards on.


Food alley.

Road construction.

Brittle snacks. I forget if it was peanut, almond, seasme. I think it was Sesame brittle...

Here is a medicine shop. I found it interesting because it's like the ones I might see in a Wong Fei Hong movie, but with added tourism motif.

Gourds! Get your everyday gourd needs here!

Random food stand.

Guy making sculptures out of twine. Pretty impressive.

This reminds me of the Axe Tattoo dude from Kung Fu Hustle.

Pit stop at the "free" tea place. You know they guilt you into buying stuff.

Mmm.... Mwa-Ji aka Mochi.

Gooey sesame...

Dinner at the Jung Gong Hotel restaurant.

One thing I didn't mention is a lot of these restaurants, especially the ones in hotels, give you private rooms so you can be as noisy as you want. Or conduct various oppressive Communist actions in secret.

Dinner fish.

Here is a close up of that "furry" leaf soup I mentioned in an earlier post.

More wibble.

Random pumpkin-like squash

A better version of that brown Bao thing from lunch. What is interesting is that it is made to look like a giant mushroom.

"Reflecting" on the evening.

Ok, cheesy, no? Until you learn that this Zhang Yimou production is called Xi Hu - Impressions. Ahhh, shoot me now. Deep thoughts, by Jack Handy.

Ok, I'll be optimistic.

Here is the music video for this production. Looks promising? Actually there was a bunch of cool stuff, like the lake spaceship. Some of the ideas were cool but the execution looked sloppy and unrehearsed.

But this is more like what the view is. No fancy camera cuts, just one big lake with platforms beneath the surface as to give the impression that Chinese people are all born the Messiah. see what I did there?

Not a lot of pictures or video. I was being foolish and courteous by not taking pictures and video despite both the warning not to and the subsequent hundreds of people proceeding to take flash photography (useless at such distances) and video which for the life of me I can't understand how I can't find a single one of them on youtube. Even when I search the Chinese name. But for all the silliness of the production, they had some pretty interesting visuals. My biggest complaint was that this was supposed to be based on a Chinese fable about a man who falls in love with this woman who turns out to be a white snake and their many adventures. That was poorly communicated, if at all, and really was the missing piece to pull this thing together. Why bother with the characters and setup if you aren't going to engage me in that narrative experience? Just have a bunch of visual parlor tricks and keep me entertained. Don't pretend like you're going to tell me a story. They've got our money already anyways.

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