Bikini’s,Bihu’s, Earthquakes&Mountains

Trip Start Jul 18, 2010
Trip End Mar 04, 2011

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Flag of China  , Guangdong,
Thursday, November 25, 2010

Monday morning was off to a sleepy start, rudely changes by the discovery of a Bihu (gecko) in my wardrobe!  ARGH! Not so scary, but not ideal to have running around your clothes! I managed to get a couple of photos and showed to colleagues over breakfast. The Ayi on duty came up to my room to find said bihu… nope, gone. I’m getting a bit of a reputation for being a princess now?!
This week I’ve started to integrate Tongue Twisters into my English classes to help the girls with their pronunciation. All good and received well, however - I didn’t read one of the tongue twisters I got off the net prior to doing it in class - “Susie shines shoes in the shoe shop - and where she sits, she shines, and where she shines, she sits”… I taught 10 students to swear!! That was promptly deleted from the ppt!
The week got all the better on Wednesday with the main bonus of working in the fashion industry… free samples! I had mentioned to one of the designers I loved the new ranges, so she suggested me asking for some to be made up in my size. I finally plucked up the courage this week, and got not one, or two, but three bikini sets for my upcoming Christmas holiday! Incredible!
The rest of the week was fairly subdued after all the excitement of bihus and bikinis… Friday afternoon was particularly tiring. The sort that no amount of coffee can cure. However, at approximately 14:43 EST, I had the best wake up call known to man… A mini earthquake! The office shook for about 3seconds, it was nothing really - a small earthquake going through the Dongguan province, but blimey, if only Kenco could put that in their jars!
On Sunday, I had arranged with Peter to try our second attempt at conquering Lotus mountain in Chang’an. The highest in Dongguan province at 513 metres… that makes it sound small, it isn’t, my calf muscles will vouch! We decided, fool-heartedly, that beating the lunchtime rush at th peak would be a good idea and to meet in Chang’an at 8:30 a.m. No lie-ins this week then! I got the car, camera packed from the factory and was dropped off outside the Chang’an temple that Peter had wanted to take me to on National day. It was stunning, a real China-China structure. Peter meets me and we grab a taxi to the base of the mountain. The taxi’s are only allowed so far, then there is a mile-long slope to ascend. That was nearly enough for me! We reached the bottom of the steps and had a quick rest, the temperature was already picking up - about 24 degrees today.
1,500 steps to the top… each step is numbered, I’m not sure if this helped or not! Some of the steps rivalled that of the ‘Steepest hill in NZ’ in Dunedin, seems many things here remind me of my kiwi travels. I swear, I was feeling quite ‘rocky’ (not balboa) by the time we reached them, and felt so easy to sway backwards… there were no hand rails at all! Oh, yeah, that would be a Western thing to require. Peter and I got to the halfway mark and really needed a rest. So we stopped at a look out over the Golf course we had lunch at on National day holiday.  It is ENORMOUS! I’m incredibly aware of the giggling gaggle of young gilrs that has started to edge it’s way nearer to me… one girl grabs my arm and asks in very good English if she can have a photo with me! Peter is too far away to jump in, so I let it happen. Big mistake. This photo is then followed by a further 4... Peter is enjoying watching me squirm - bully! After I break free, he says his only regret is not charging for ‘Photos with the Foreigner’!!! Ha haa.
We continue up the mount, to more staring… there’s another Westerner here, an old (but annoyingly fit) American man who is surrounded by young Chinese girls… he seems to enjoy the attention though!
We reach the top and I am parched. Peter thinks there must be a drinks stand somewhere, so we head over the other side of the peak to find it. A bottle of iced green tea later and I’m ready for the summit, okay that’s a little dramatic but it’s my first Chinese Mountain!!! The path is so windy, and narrow, filled with what Benjamin would call ‘Typical-mainlanders’, pushing and shoving their way up.  When we get to the top, the view is annoyingly misty - but he ascent was incredible anyway! I want to get a photo of Peter and I to prove we made it. So walk up to a group of girls and make the Universal sign for taking a photograph creating a small rectangle with my hands and clicking the top.  I’m so glad camera’s developed past the Camera Obscura, that would be difficult in my pictionary-life! Something is wildly lost in translation, and they take this as a cue to take photos of us on their camera’s?! Peter is the star here, I get 3 photos of him with different girls… it’s quite amusing and he is really not enjoying it!! Good. Time to squirm! We finally make our way to move, leaving our crowd of ‘fans’ behind.
The descent is surprisingly harder than the ascent. Knees trembling from the surprise-exercise and the daunting gradient of the steps doesn’t help. We take a different route down. Close to the bottom, I am aware of the smell of burning incense, closer and it becomes a fog through the trees.  I make out through the dense smoke, a red-tiled roof. We turn a corner and see the most amazing site. A Buddhist temple…  outside burns tens of incense sticks with Chinese scripture along the stems.  Peter takes a rest and I have a Jen-inspired poke around. I walk into the temple, a giant, gold Buddha sits with face-laughing in the entrance hall. It feels so sacred. I want to take a photo, so use my pictionary skills to convey this to the monks, nope, they think I want them to take a photo of me! I get it, and it’s beautiful.
Outside there are two trees with Chinese lucky charm-ribbons tied in, it’s amazing… so beautiful. The monks are selling goods here, so I get one of my ‘Secret-Santa’ presents here… it could not be any more Chinese. Handmade by monks, in a temple on a mountain in China. Perfect! Thy are also selling the incense sticks… Peter spots a man lighting one - it looks like a firework, it‘s enormous!!
We head on towards the taxi rank., deciding to grab some lunch. Ever since being in HK, I’ve been craving more Western food. Peter has a good suggestion of a small restaurant/ bar which his friend set up a few years back, Gecko. We first stop at a Western-supermarket… it’s funny to see Colman’s mustard and jam. The cheese here is horrifically priced! 70 RMB for a small block of cheddar! The Brie wasn’t even priced, which worried me! I get some Meiji ice cream and Peter gets some meat paste, bleurghhh, give me deep fried pigs intestines any day!!!
Lunch is fab… thai-style chicken wings with the house-special fries, Ketchup and coke J I am a woman of simple pleasures these days.
I phone back to the factory to get my car booked. Peter and I head off for a spot of grocery shopping and stop for coffee. There is some confusion and I miss my car. Peter suggests staying for a couple of drinks, so I rearrange for 5pm pick-up. We walk back through Chang’an, stopping at the square where there are usually many attractions.  This is the site of the ‘Council building’… Oh, My, God. There is chaos-money in this council! It’s like a palace! Set against the misty peak of our now-conquered Lotus mountain, it really is a stunning site.
I spot a crowd of people not far away, and spot some monkeys in the middle. I encourage Peter to come and watch… for a few seconds this seemed like a good idea. Then I spot that 3 /4 of the monkeys have their hands bound, one is on the floor with legs and hands bound and a bag over it’s head… I can’t finish the story in case a younger family member reads this… but it was awful and I spent the rest of the day wondering how they were.
We get to the bar Peter’s friend owns, Hollywood Baby.  I am greeted with what I can only describe as a heroes-return! The group I met at Knight’s bar on National day are all here, and amazed that I have been ‘Let out’ again!! They are so funny and we bond over some nice, cold beers. One of them I haven’t met before, Stu. He’s from Melbourne and he loves NZ, so we have allot to talk about! He works in sourcing for Debenhams UK, mainly in Luggage! After a while, he pipes up asking me when my holiday is, what my current luggage is like and what my favourite colour is… 4weeks yesterday, awful and purple! He states he will be back in 15minutes. Once passed, he returns with 2 enormous suitcases and a few bags, exclaiming that the huge Purple-beauty trailling behind him is for me! A 4-piece Jasper Conran set in Purple jacquard and colour-matched patent trims… OH MY GOD!!! This is incredible. I can’t quite thank him enough! I try to offer him a drink, but seeing as this is his bar it doesn’t really work like that! Now I will really travel in style to Aus and NZ. I couldn’t be happier.  Fairly soon after I have to leave, suitcase in hand.
Back at the factory and the security guards are a bit bemused as they know I’ve been out hiking today… coming back with a huge suitcase must be quite confusing…
I get in a lovely skype chat with Daddy, mainly consisting of his sound-career advice. My review is coming up this week and I’m nervous as hell. Early night tonight.

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