Thursday, October 26, 2006

Viva la revolucion!

Warning: This E-Chron is one of the least interesting thus far, I just felt like typing whatever I wanted to. Don't blame me if you are bored with the banalities of today's nonsensical ramblings. This isn't self-deprecation. I write a whole paragraph on how sad it was to lose a stick of candy...

Today is a day to remember... Today marks the day that the E-Chronicles are officially banned in China. I heard the news this morning, and wanted to see for myself. Sure enough, I typed in that simple, yet appealing url "" and lo and behold I got the "This Page is Not Available". Upon discovery of this information, I was surprised to find that my feelings were not an ominous sense of paranoia, disappointment that it will be more difficult for some to read the blog, or fear that my site will be taken down. Nope. I felt elated. Even a little empowered. I wasn't sure at first, until I spoke with Annie:

Drew: "Annie, my blog is blocked. Isn't that weird? I don't think I said something anti-China or anything."

Annie: "Whoa! You were blocked! That's so cool! You're like a revolutionary!"

Drew: "Yeah! I kinda am!"

It suddenly became clear. I was elated because I was proud of the fact that maybe - maybe - I was well-known enough to be singled out and blocked! Maybe even I could photoshop a Che-like poster of myself! I found out later that, in fact, all blogs are blocked... not just the e-chron. Bummer.

So I think I'll start a new section entitled "Scary Stuff that Moms Should Not Read". Things happen in Beijing, like the mystery people that got into my home a few days ago, or being ripped off, getting ill, being offered live chickens for dinner, etc., that seem to be the bane of all people who read this and may have loved ones travel abroad. So, I had to post this little article on the 10 things that could be improved in Beijing. I most certainly agree with these. And that leads to my first thing that Moms shouldn't read: Counting tonight, I have technically been hit by a bus and a car. I think the Xi'an thing was when I was "hit" by a bus... as in, I apparently wasn't crossing the street at a red light fast enough, so a bus decided to creep up and nudge my backpack a little. I looked at the driver, and he knew what he was doing. And then, tonight, I was nudged by a car on the way to my most favoritist Muslim food restaurant. It seems that they enjoy doing this most when they are under the inconvenience of having to let inferior bipedal humans cross in front of them while they're at a stop light. The nerve of those people who think they have to walk in Beijing!

The other day, I was walking and eating this fruit skewer they have here. Its like candy apples, but candy everything. I mean, they just take whatever fruit that exists, stab it with a long stick, and dip it into some sugary... something. So I had one with oranges on it. I ate two as I was walking across the footbridge. When I started walking through the path to my building, I did the unthinkable: I dropped the skewer. There were still probably 6 or 7 orange slices left on there. This is the random thought I wanted to post though, and I've thought this before. How come, when you do something like that, you actually stop and survey the damage for a few seconds, when it is clear that there's nothing you can do. Its kind of like when you trip, and you know you just tripped on your own clumpy foot or something, and you still look back and try to assign responsibilty to some blade of grass that jumped up and tangled itself in your shoelace.

I stopped and stared at the catastrophe heart-broken. But idiotic fleeting thoughts rushed through my head, as if I would be able to actually rectify the situation somehow and salvage what I had lost for further consumption. Why? Why would I think that. Sticky, syrupy, candied oranges fell straight into dirt. There's no 5-second rule. There's no turning back. So I just had a moment of silence for the loss and tossed the skewer in the refuse bin, and walked away, head lowered in shame and pondering where I went wrong. It was quite a defeat, I can assure you.

Ok, this has been a pointless e-chron, but I don't care. Not everything that happens over here is adventurous and epic, no matter how I much I try to exagger... I mean, tell the honest, unquestionable truth about everything that goes on in China.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Ill... that says "ill" with a capital "i".

I'm sick. Well, sickish. I woke up this morning to the sound of my phone ringing, which sounded like it was miles away from my bed. My throat was killing me. I had to /spit quite a lot, which makes me concerned that I'm becoming more and more like the citizens of Beijing with each passing day. Ich bin ein Beijinger!

But! My sickness benefits you, the ever-faithful E-Chron indulger! Due to my ailment, I stayed inside today and worked on the E-Chron more! Now the E-Chron is cooler than ever, with a YouTube enhanced intro movie/song! Now the E-Chronicles of Drew are 80% more epic! It took way longer to make that video than it should have, but who cares? Not me, I'll tell you that right now.

Ok that video took alot out of me, time for some pocky.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Xi'an, among other things.

Well, there was some good news today. Dork news, but good nonetheless. China apparently has lifted its blocking of the super-subjective yet incredibly handy website of Wikipedia. This makes me very happy. I'm sure that their concerns as a nation are legitamate. After all, anyone can post pretty much anything they want on there about any topic. So, imagine what kind of "biased" information must be on there about... things that have happened in the past. You know... with certain "4-sided geometric shapes" in the center of Beijing, if you catch my drift.

Also, yesterday we were learning how to make the "Ch" sound, as in the word "Cheese". After saying "Cheese" about 50 times, I started really missing some Western foods (i.e. pizza). So I got some Papa John's last night and doused that fire as quickly as I possibly could. I hadn't had cheese in a very long time, and I haven't had milk since I've been here. And, AND... I haven't had a single burger or burger-like sandwich either. Its shocking. I had a submarine sandwich, but it was kind of gross... mainly because they put mayonnaise on it. Mayonnaise... on a friggin pizza sub. But I think that mayonnaise in the eye's of the Chinese people is more like "America sauce". So its like, its the condiment that American's eat. So slap it on anything you want and presto! Instant Western-style food!

One more thing, I've been valiantly staving off the marauding barbarians of sickness for the past week. Its not working too well. I feel like crap right now. And I hate that I feel like crap, which just makes the crap-feeling that much more crappy. Because the weekends are usually the best time I have to hang out with Cami and co. and have fun times together. But today when I went over, all I could do was dwell on the fact that I felt like crap. So I took some medicine, which made things worse due to the groggy repercussions.

The day didn't start off so hot either, as I was jolted from sleep to consciousness from the sound of a loud banging on the front door. There were some Chinese people out there who said alot of things in not-English and then came in the house. This one guy with blue plastic bags rubber-banded to his shoes opened the kitchen cabinet and mumbled a few indiscernable things to himself, marched right back out and said really quickly, "Si bai wu shi wu kuai". This translates to, "That will be 455 yuan". I understood that much. But what the hell? He didn't do anything and then started barking to me in mumbly Chinese (and yes, I can now discern mumbly Chinese from clearly spoken Chinese, in case you were following the progress of my language acquisition) about how much out of the tush I was supposed to fork over to him. Then this collectively acrimonious lot kept saying the price over and over and holding out there palms for me to commence forkage. So I lied of course and said that I didn't have that kind of money, what do you think I'm made of Mao bills? I think not busters... and bustette! So I called Ms. Wang and several others in a desperate attempt to get someone on the phone to tell them to leave. I failed at this, since it was around 8 AM and were asleep. So I got them to leave the only way I knew how: I knew how to say "go" in Chinese, and just repeated over and over. They could have been legitimate repair folk or something, but how the hell was I supposed to know? So, I just said, "Tso! Tso! Tso! Wo bu kuai! Wo bu kuai!" I'm sure this way of saying "I have no money" was totally incorrect. But it got the point across. I think they claimed they would be back later, but I fled the apartment before I saw them again. Now I'm back and there's no sign of breaking and entering, so everything must be square. Ms. Wang called back and told me, post hoc, not to give money to strangers. Good advice.

So... back to Xi'an.

I just realized as well, that post was completely lost...

This is a huge bummer, I hated writing about the bus ride down there. Oh well, here it goes...

We got on the bus in Beijing around 5:3o-ish and made our way to Xi'an. Once we loaded on, I knew instantly that I was in for a major treat. A sensory Dante's Inferno, if you will. Filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of what must have been equivalent to the nastier parts of Dante's little trip through hell. The floors were wet with some sort of... liquid. And to make the deal even sweeter, we had to take our shoes off at the front of the bus. So if the goal was to see how many bacteria could be soaked into each passengers' socks by the time the 15 hour ride was over, they most have broken some records. The mattress provided also featured an array of several mysterious human stains of some sort. The whole bus could have seriously given even Gil Grissom a run for his money.

So anyway, lucky me, I was on the top-middle bunk. I actually went to sleep around 10 pm. Poor Laura Kavazanjian and Annie barely got any sleep though. They were on the bottom bunk. Around 7 am, I was awakened to a cacophany of lung-hacking, guffawing, snorting, and coughing, accompanied by the aromatic smell of about 10 lit cigarettes in a poorly ventilated environment. Plus, according to Laura, someone spilled a bottle of pee. People were up and playing cards and having a wee of a time laughing and often saying, "Mei guo!" again and again. They were talking about us, like Chinese people seem to like to do. It's like Americans are celebrities and performing monkeys at the same time often in China. So, to add to the excitement, our bus broke down several times along the way. A few times even, a festooned officiall-looking fellow boarded the bus and poked around in a curious fashion. That was definately comforting. I took a peek, and then pretended to be asleep. For some reason I was worried that they might throw me off the bus for being American.


What should have been a 15 hour trip, became a 19 hour trip. It was nearly unbearable, and I can tolerate a lot. I really can. This was one of the first times I've had to just concentrate as hard as I could in order to block out all the bad. It worked, I didn't flip out on anyone. But then again, it wasn't a position I'd really enjoy being in again any time soon.

This is the only picture I have of the horrid thing.

So... we arrived at Xi'an and burst forth from the stinking husk that was the remains of a thoroughly defiled sleeper bus. Then we continued on to find our way to the hotel.

We made it to the hotel, it was a beautiful sight. I indulged myself in what was, perhaps, the most rewarding shower I've had in my entire life.

More to come...

Increasingly better experiences too.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Ok maybe not that bad...

I have been trying and trying to find a place that can fix my super-cool Canon S2 IS, with people offering wildly variant estimations of times and prices, ranging from 200 yuan in one day to 1600 yuan in 3 days. Of course, the person who offered the 200 yuan in one day was someone who looked at the camera briefly and said, "I don't know what's wrong with it, but I'll give it a shot." Adam went with me to translate, I don't understand Chinese well enough to know that that is what he said, if thats what you're thinking. Adam also informed me that some freelance, rogue camera repairmen will gut the poor contraption, take out all the good parts, and replace them with crappy parts, then sell the good parts to other people. I didn't like the sound of that. So we took the camera to the official Canon repair place.

The gentleman there informed me with complete indifference and torpor that the problem can only be solved by replacing the lens, and since my American warranty doesn't apply to China (and really, why should it?), it would cost 1600 ($200) yuan to fix. He wholeheartedly recommended that I ditch the camera and buy a cheap, no-brand camera until I go back home and can cash in on the warranty there. I, of course, could not capture this instant (or any other things I do for awhile) on camera, so here's the best representation I have to offer:

Apparently, this "E18" Canon problem is one that is rampant among customers. So much that there is an entire website registered to the victims of the affliction, and a impending class-action suit against the fine folks of Canon Inc. Apparently, according to Canon, you CANNOT touch the lens as it is moving... EVER. Similarly, thou SHALT NOT power the camera on if it's close to having dead batteries. If you do, the camera will swoon and faint under the pressure of having to do too much work. Its funny too, the Canon shop had photos on the wall taken by Canon users. Things like, rambunctious tykes or galloping gazelles taken in extraordinarily hazardous-looking conditions. And yet, the S2 IS seems to have the structural integrity of a dainty little flower. I'm sure they used some super Canon camera... either that or they took 20 s2 IS' to Africa and used them like disposables.

So... I don't know what to do. I was this close (right now I'm holding my thumb and index finger extremely close together) to shelling out the dough for the fix, because I so miss the camera. I could take photos like this one of a darling little chinese youth so easily.

And yet, who's to say if I did pay for it how long I'd have a working camera for? I could shell out the cash-money, use it for another 2 weeks, and graze the lens as I take off the lens cap. Then I'm out 200 more dollars and even more disheartened.

Anyway, until I do something, here are some more photos of things some of you have wanted to see in the only way I can make them for now:

This is my 1st grade class. Aren't they cute?

My apartment. What a comfy couch!

Friday, October 13, 2006

How frustrating

I typed a post this morning about the Xi'an trip, and I guess didn't wait long enough for it to upload before I closed my laptop. I thought I had waited long enough. I could have sworn it. But obviously I didn't. We're going bowling tonight, but tomorrow there will be an update. I promise.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Somehow, the three of us, with our tenuous-at-best grasp of the Chinese language, one dog-eared copy of The Lonely Planet, and a lot of bleary-eyed wandering about, managed to make our way back to Beijing. Don't ask me how. And we did it all and only cut 2/3rds into our 3000 yuan budget. We could have done it even cheaper, if we had gone the hostel route. But still, all that for the equivalent of just over 200 dollars is pretty darn good in my opinion. We even got bamboozled a couple of times.

I bought two souverniers, one for Mom and one for Laura-Blythe. I bargained for them too, which is one thing I never thought I'd be able to do. One more thing that I thought I'd never be able to do was done on this trip. I'll give you a hint: It involves Chinese public restrooms and... well, me. Yay for quadraceps.

There is a lot to write about. A lot. And I'm going to write about it in chronological order, instead of from recent memory. Which sucks because I don't like the first part. I want to pretend it didn't happen. And the last part is my favorite. I may have found peace and enlightenment on Mt. Hua. If I did, I forgot what it was all about after playing the Nintendo DS on the bus ride back for a few hours. Oh well, I'm sure it will come back to me. So anyway, expect the next few posts to be all about the trip.

Anyway, this one doesn't count. This one is the post to say I'm back.

I'm back.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Xi'an so far

In Xi'an right now. At the hotel, but can't post much because I'm borrowing the manager's computer. Just got ripped off and had a taxi driver cackle at us. We payed 20 yuan more than we should have. It wasn't much, but still. So, I'm kind of pissed. Otherwise, things are going well. Lots of pictures/video.

Ok gotta go. Update in a few days.