sexta-feira, 30 de agosto de 2013

Back in Hainan

So, I am back in China Land!

A few things about my journey from Leiria to Wenchang:

- Travelling to the other side of the world with no sleep from the night before is just a bit tiring. Also, Lisbon's airport is quite packed at 4 am.
Aeroporto de Lisboa
Ah, my second home.

- Every time I go to Shcipol Airport in Amsterdam I always get some subtly snarky Dutch staff at the counters that can turn a simple “you want a drink too?” into a sarcastic remark. I guess that’s either Dutch nature or they take my sleep deprived self for another one of those tourists who had one too many “space cookies” down town because they don’t listen when they're told those things are only supposed to hit you half an hour later.

“Sir, you’ve just been standing there for a while now. We need you to show us your ticket.” “For… the concert?”

- Listening to Artic Monkeys on a 12 hour flight is surprisingly relaxing. Especially when you play "Brianstorm" during turbulence.

"Some want to kiss, some want to kick you..."

- Some old English dude spent the whole flight kicking my chair whenever I pushed it down, trying to push it back up so he could have the business class space he so rightly deserved (while keeping his own chair pushed down to the max). Silly Brit, I control the leaver, your puny kicks are futile!

Though a bit more space would mean less tea spilled over my trousers.

- Just when we were finally reaching Guangzhou, the staff then informed us that due to bad weather conditions we would have to land in Guilin instead, and then take another plane back to Guangzhou. Then when we reached Guilin the weather conditions weren't that great either, so instead we had to land in the even further away Changsha Airport. 


- Why after 4 years of getting in and out of China I can never remember to carry a pen with me to sign the goddam customs inquiry?

I can also sign them when the are given during the flight to China, in which case pretend they're crosswords because my mp3 is out of battery and I am desperately bored.

- Because of the detour to Changsha, I lost my morning flight to Haikou and had to wait for the afternoon one. One a side note, Guangzhou's airport the world needs more dim sum restaurants. 

Really. These things are DELICIOUS!

- The taxi driver told me that the highway between Haikou's airport and Wenchang will be closed for the year, which means he gets to charge me more for a longer trip. But on the bright side, he tells me, “those roads are getting really pretty!”

"And those signs are pretty, too, even if we just use them for decoration."

Anyway, I’m back in my apartment, which contrary to my worst fears is not overrun by big cockroaches walking around everywhere like they’re having a house party and my bed is their favourite spot to hang out. There were spiders, though, but those adorably little squashable creatures not only are easy to deal with but it’s also stress reliving to do so. 
Hmm, I starting to sound a little too sadistic on those poor arachnids, so maybe it’s time for me to take a nap. Like, till tomorrow. After all, I can’t look sleepy to the Chinese policemen I have to inform my presence to in the morning. Because of my (manly) beard, they might already suspect me to be a) a terrorrist b) a rapist or c) someone who’s too much of a slob to ever shave (the latter being the most insulting for its sheer accuracy).


quinta-feira, 27 de junho de 2013

Dusting cobwebs

Apparently if you spend a long time without blogging, when you try to log back in forces you to make a post before having any more access to your website. I guess it's the internet's version of cleaning the cobwebs from a room that has been closed in a long time. Or blowing the dust of a videogame cartridge. 

Ah, the 90's, the good old days when square shaped disks were the pinnacle of technology, Will Smith was a rapper and Britney Spears was a functional human being. 

Anyway, I've done a bit of travelling ever since I last posted, but I've also come to some conclusions about travelogues. They're easier to write down when done at the same time you're travelling, but they also take time, time that you'd prefer using to go binge drinking sightseeing . Then when you're back at home you can do it on your free time, but since it's not as on-the-moment, it doesn't come off as naturally. You also have to rely on pictures, which isn't bad if you're careful enough with your camera not lose it before you upload the pics to your pc. Fortunately, I am a mindful and responsible person to whom mishaps seldom happen, so -
- ...alright, alright, write your guess in the comment section on how many times I've lost my camera(s) this year. The winner gets a delicious chocolate cookie. Are you done? Well, the correct answer is:
"More times than I would have liked." 

My point is, if I only write about travelling all the time this blog will only be updated in a date the Portuguese like to call "Saint Never's Day (at noon)" . 

Catholic countries have a lots, lots of Saints, and respective holidays. Given the Portuguese people's love for procrastination I'm surprised and disappointed that the concept of "never" having a holiday isn't more than a old sarcastic quip. But a man can dream.

So in the meanwhile, I'm going to write about a few other topics. You can even suggest your own topic. You can even start your own blog, and write about your own topic, and then I will be jealous of your attention and will sit and cry on a corner. Good times. 

Peace out.

Ps. Obrigado, Carolina, pelo comentáriozinho no meu último post. Foi encorajador. Grande Vikinhas, e grande Google Translate.

sábado, 3 de março de 2012

Land of the Rising Sun - Tokyo 2

Note: I started writing this around last Summer's July, and I almost finished it, but then my one-man Eurotrip started, so I got kinda busy. Then MY LAPTOP WAS STOLEN BY A GODDAM JUNKIE! That made it a bit complicated to keep blogging. Then I was given a new laptop, but with the most of my pictures gone (not to mention a certain degree of lazyness), I kinda lost the heart to do it. Nevertheless, I hate to leave something unfinished, almost as much AS I HATE THE GODDAM JUNKIE WHO STOLE MY LAPTOP! And so, after the short time of one year and a half, here it is:

  Basically, for the next day we just walked around Tokyo, exploring the city. Its contrast with Beijing is quite stark. The people on the streets almost always keep to themselves, they never bump into you, never spit on the floor, the streets are always clean, and when when you buy something in a shop they always say thank you in a way that sounds like they're making a really long prayer. The food tends to be infinitely both more healthy and expensive.
    The day we arrived at the hostel, we still had some time, so we spent the afternoon visiting one of Japan's most internationally known aspects: the otaku culture (things to do with anime, manga and video game fandom).

We walked into an 8-story shop, which had everything from action figures, video games, cds, and books. Then we passed by the sega building, responsible for me wasting many hours as a youth playing Sonic the hedgehog.

The streets of Tokyo at night are quite nice to look at, but sadly this time around I didn't have time to really go out drinking and clubbing (the only place I did go out at night in my trip was Seul).

  The next day we saw the east imperial garden, but we didn't go to the palace, because unlike a certain neighbouring country, Japan still has a living, breathing emperor, so getting there is kinda tricky.

We also saw Tokyo tower, but no rampaging monster who looks suspiciously like a man in a suit... I felt so cheated!

Not pictured: GOJIRA!!!
  The third day we went to a park (called Ueno, I think) and we found... snow. Wonderful snow, which along with the cold and the wind made me catch a cold. But it was still the first snow I saw in an urban environment in years (Beijing's dry year was disappointing), which made it cool.


   A part of the park is dedicated to the Satsuma rebellion, between the now disbanded samurai and the new at the time Meiji government. It's what inspired the movie The Last Samurai.

The real life inspiration for Ken Watanabe's character.
(Thankfully) not pictured: Tom Cruise

Afterwards, we went to Tokyo's national museum.

Next day, we did some more exploring around the streets of Tokyo.

We passed by Hachiko's statue. Hachiko has the most touching real life story about a dog you will ever hear:

It made me sad, too. 

We went to a Disney store:


And the Tower Records, a giant, 7-story cd store:

And another park whose name eludes me:


Finally, at night, we went to a very strange, very interesting, a bit disconcerting, very unique place:
     It's basically the concept of transplanting the cheerful maids you see in anime into real life. When you get there, the maids basically treat you like you're back in kindergarten as a todler and they're your supervisors. They sang happy songs, and asked us to sing along. Songs with lyrics like: "Moe moe moe, moe moe moe. Moe moe moe, moe moe moe..."(Moe means "cute"). They didn't allow pictures being taken, except one at the end that you could pay for.

The next day, I left the rest of the group to alone go to Kyoto, Tokushima, Osaka and Seul, whereas they stayed in Tokyo for a couple of days more. But this would not be the last adventure of the Tokyo Tuga Team. For we would travel together again to the great land of Russia (great in the sense that it's HUGE), with a new team member: Ana, the... umm... blonde.

Everybody hates Telmo.
And it would be in Moscow that MY LAPTOP WAS STOLEN BY A GODDAM JUNKIE!!! But that's another story... that hopefully I won't wait one year and and a half to tell.

Since I still have loads of stuff from last year that I would like to post about, but I might feel like writting about current stuff, this blog is going to get a bit anachronical... just like Pulp Fiction! And Lost! With no polar bears or guns coming out of anywhere to boot! So stay tuned.

sexta-feira, 2 de março de 2012

Back in Beijing!

Okay, then. Now I'm back in Beijing, and if my internship doesn't leave me completely without free time, I hope to update more often. And updating more often than never isn't too hard...

domingo, 5 de junho de 2011

Land of the rising sun: Tokyo 1

 So here it is, the long-awaited new entry in my adventures in Nihon, where the streets are clean, the people's politeness is just this side of fanatical, the food is deliciously healthy(or healthly delicious), and the toilet seats are electricly warmed up.
 First of all, I should introduce the fine portuguese people who travelled to Tokyo with me. And Telmo.
                                           Introducing The Tokyo Tuga Team

Liane, the mum

            If we were to think of our group in terms of dynamic, Liane would be the de facto leader of our group. The woman with the plan, she's the one always with an idea of where to go next. She's also quite like a mother telling her children to hurry up. "Come on, princesses, we're going to be late." "Andem lá, Marias". That position of hers remains regardless if it's just us or an entire portuguese class. An imposing young lady, she is.

Zé, the dad

              Continuing with the family analogy, if Liane is the pratical, straightfoward mother, Zé is the cool, relaxed father. "Hey, Zé, do you know the history of this palace?""No, ask Liane." Do you know where you're going?" "Hmm, you really should ask Liane". "Can I eat some of that?"No, ask Li... actually, this food is kinda weird, you can have it". Anyway, both of them love travelling, and are the ones who came up with the idea for the "Trip to Tokyo" all the way back in September, not to mention the one to Tibet and Shangai. Um milhão de obrigados, ó Zé. Um milhão de obrigados.

Skull, the cool uncle

       Pronounced as "school", not skull, but the meaning is the same, because portuguese accents work that way, and if any anglo-saxon has a problem with that, they can try saying "arroz de coelho" properly. Go ahead, Marson.
       Skull is Zé's longtime friend(ever since they were 8, I think) so he´s basicly the uncle in the family dynamic. He can be intimidating, which is useful if you want to break a line, but annoying if you want to catch a taxi. Rumors say his name was once Luís, but personally I don't buy it.

Telmo, the... umm... creepy uncle?...



And me!!!

      Yours truly. What? The intruduction? C'mon! If your not the least bit familiar with me, why would you even be reading this blog? It's not like I typed the words naked people having sex free porn on it. Except I just did. Well, if trolls start showing up, I'll delete those.
      Anyway, my place in the group dynamic? Well, dear readers, that's what the comments' section is for. I welcome my fellow travellers and Telmo's insight on how wonderful is the experience of having me around, looking slightly autistic and taking pictures of everything (even stuff that wouldn't interest a single setient being in the universe). 

The journey

We started our journey into the (further) east on a beautiful wednesday morning, when I soon found out I lost something I shouldn't have(don't ask). After heading to the airport, we met a portuguese on the way(TU ÉS TUGA, PÁ?!!) and I was interrogated during the check-in. The lady was really nice about it though. It was either because it's random or my beard scares people. Or both. My first taste of japanese culture was the typical in-flight message "Dear passengers, yadayadayada". The difference is the way it's said: in japanese it's really sweet, like the hostess just ate a really nice cake or had a shower after a long day of work. Honestly, she could have been saying "Die, you evil westerners who corrupt our holy land", I wouldn't know.
        We then left the Narita airpot to our hostel in the old area of the city, Asakusa, apropriately named "Asakusa Smile". There I met some interesting people. Some of them included your mandatory australian girl trio, a guitar playing dannish dude, an american who literally turned japanese via mariage, a brazillian lady with the only half-decent portuguese accent I've heard from her country(she still sounded a bit Ukranian, though), and a cute austrian girl who memorized my name because it sounds like "diet youghurt"(Kathy, I might never talk to you in my life again, but I'll never forget you for that). And, most of all, the dutch couple David and Merel, who later I would catch up in other cities.


Ps. The next day, we went to a wonderful, unexpensive waffle selling place.

    I just want to take this moment to thank Belgium for the wonderful invention of waffles. Thank you Belgians!

   But not these ones. They were probably too busy getting into bar fights.

"O no! A big monster that will eat anything on sight! Right next to Godzilla!"

segunda-feira, 4 de abril de 2011

An apology

 It's been more than one month ever since my last post.
 I am very sorry.
 Originaly, I had planned to write about my stay in Japan while I was there, as in, a live blog. But the thing about Japan is that, because my stay in each city was relatively short, I had to make up for it by getting up early, and going to bed late so I could see and experience as much in the city as I could (the same applies to Korea). Which left me either to busy or too tired to do a proper blog post (those familiar with my nature know that without a decent night's sleep I'm quite useless, and clumsier than usual). So I just told myself that I would see to it as soon as I got back in Beijing. As we say in Portugal: "Leave not for today what you can do tomorrow".
 So when I got back here, I still had a whole week before the new semester would start again. But then after two whole weeks running from place to place, I was content to let my lazy ass rest on my chair and just take it easy for a while. And go out at night. And get up late. And go out at night again. Or watch a whole season of Showtime "Weeds" in one day. You get the picture. Then the new semester started. And so did homework, and lessons to catch up. No biggie, I thought. I can manage. And then I got a part-time job as an english teacher. The rest is history: every time I'd think about updating the blog, I would either remeber that I should be reviewing for the Zonghe lesson, or I'd waste time surfing the net, talking on facebook, and finding out how Nancy Botwin would talk her way out of being shot dead because she screwed up her drug-dealling again. And so time passed, with my blog simply lying here without any updates.
Until this special weekend in China, in which we had classes on Saturday(these barbarians!), but were free on Monday and Tuesday. The portuguese crew decided to take advantage of it and spend two days in the city of Datong, where we watched the Yungang Grottoes, mountain side caves with 51,000 Buddhist statues carved inside them (we didn't watch ALL of the Buhdas) and the Hanging Monastery (more on that on a future post. yeah, I know you heard that one before). Then on the way back to Beijing something funny happened: apparently our bus driver took a wrong turn, and instead of the normal highway we ended up on a highway meant only for trucks. Did you know that there are highways for trucks only? And that the one to Beijing can have a line 100 killometers long? I didn't, neither did my tuga friends, so we were quite surprised when became completely surrounded by trucks, miles and miles of them, and even more so when all of them stopped, leaving us stuck on a stuffy bus after dark. Aparently there are only so many trucks that are allowed into Beijing in the course of one night. The people in charge of the bus seemed to find it quite funny, as they explained us the situation (I use the term "explain" loosely). As the queen would put it, we were not amused. Eventually, the bus driver called the police to help us out. He seemed to be really worried about being at the airport on time (don't ask). Twenty minutes later a police car showed up and helped us get out of the "Truckway" by making the vehicles in front of us move along. However, we had go back a while before finally being on the right road to Beijing, which wasted even more of our time before arriving there. In the end, instead of the of arriving at 6 o'clock, we arrived at 10:30. Tired and hungry. Oh well. 5个小时在路上,10个小时在路上,都不是差不多吗?
 What does all of this have to do with my blog? Well, as we were stuck in the bus for hours without anything to do but talk, my colleague Zé, who travelled with me to Tokyo in February, brought the topic of my blog into the conversion. While Ponta backed him up (paraphrasing):
 (Tranlated from portuguese.Duh) Zé: "Hey Diogo, weren't you going to write this really neat blog? Cuz it's been more than 1 month and we haven't seen anything."
Me:"I've..I've... I've been busy"
Ponta:"Ohhhhhhhh - So busy. He's such a busy man".
Zé."Soooooooooooo busy..."
Me:"HEY! I could make a post TODAY if I felt like it!"
Zé:"Hey, you don't have to be so upset, we're just talking to you. If want to be agressive with someone, be with Telmo.
Ponta: "Yeah, Telmo's nobody's friend."
Ze:"But seriously, do you really think you're still going to update anything today?"
Me:"I'll do it JUST BECAUSE you said I wouldn't do it. JUST BECAUSE."
And I later said something unflattering about his mother, but that's off-topic.
 Anyway, here it is. My third blog post. Bet you were thinking that it would never come. Well, since I'm quitting my job next week, and so I'll have more free time, expect new posts soon. I'm tired, now. 10 hours on a bus will do that to you.
Take care, mes amies. 回头再说啊!