These last few days in China were something else.. and by something else, I mean relaxing and fun, but frustrating and angering beyond belief. Somehow China knew both of my major buttons, and pushed both of them. One (animal torture) was only tested once and I wish that I knew where to start to end that practice (I will look into it when I have time, for sure), and the other, probably the biggest bane of my life in Japan too, is smoking. I hate it. It's completely unforgiveable to me and always has been, but more recently I've been sticking up for my health. Oh but China, where I never felt truly welcomed (by the country, I mean.. my friends welcomed me very well!), made me feel like I had no legal recourse. Which is why I would not choose to live in China right now. I don't feel as if I would have a recourse to stand up for my rights as a human being. (This is hard enough in Japan, but I feel as if they are making slow but eventual progress)
Actually, this is brought on by something that happened to me in China. Which made me possibly angrier than I have ever been in my life. I will never forget what happened, and one day I will track down that scumbag and have him prosecuted for what he did. Or a heartfelt apology if he managed to change. Unlikely, but I believe that there is good in everyone, even the most cruel among us. Everyone can change, if they find the right motivation. One day when I have money and a lot of resources...
Well... despite the trying times, my last few days in China had a lot of good moments, spent with a good old friend and a good new one. ^^ On the 12th, we took a trip to a random temple, because it was on our way. It turned out to have some GORGEOUS architecture including dragons, as well as some of the most awe-inspiring Idols that I've ever seen. I wish so deeply that I could have taken pictures inside the temple, especially of the pious people praying at the feet of the Idols, but it wasn't allowed. Of course I didn't take any pictures inside, but I'm still torn with wondering whether it would have been disrespectful to take pictures of these people, or deeply respectful to want to preserve their nature. It felt so humbling, in a place that was obviously filled with such devotion. I'm not religious, and I don't believe in any gods as such, but such strong beliefs as to cause worship held by religious people fascinate me to no end. I would love to study more about the world's religions one day..
After that, we went to the former camp of Japanese Unit 731. Oh my. It was very sad, in so many ways.. Please read a little bit about it, if you're interested at all in Japanese history.
Some pictures of the outside of the pretty temple..
Burning incense is one of the traditional way to make an offering to the gods.
The amazing dragon architecture that I mentioned earlier! If this was this awesome, you can only imagine the inside, ne? ^^
Moving on to the former camp of Unit 731...
This is the outside of the building..
And.. the visitor's center, if you can believe it. They might need a few.. *ahem* repairs.. ^^;;
Inside, there was a tour of sorts, with a lot of signs like this. I felt bad actually, because there were some Chinese tour guides, and they most likely take this very seriously.. but it made me laugh. As soon as my friend said something, I realized how rude that might be. So I stopped. But, I mean.. What happened was extremely sad, but the english signs were FULL of anti-Japanese propaganda. As in "This terribly horrible thing was done to us poor defenseless Chinese by the War-mongering Fascist terror regime of the horrible fascist Japanese". Not an actual sentence, but do you see what I mean? Oh propaganda.. Is it any wonder that many Chinese people hate the Japanese? I mean, yes this was a very terrible thing to happen, and never excusable, and they're right-- it shouldn't be forgotten. But there is a difference between stating fact and purposefully writing so that China looks better than everyone else. Actually, this was a theme throughout the trip, in almost any place that had english writing-- "China is better than everyone", basically. But if that's truly so, then why are there no anti-smoking laws in China?
One of the signs that I laughed at.. ^^;; It just felt strange at the moment. Really, the displays were powerful enough to speak for themselves. I'm not a child, I know it's terrible, what happened. I don't need it pointed out to me.
I did take some pictures inside, but they didn't turn out well.. The exhibits look better in real life, so I'll show you the outside instead, which was freezing cold and so eerie.. It was pretty spooky, and I can only imagine the ghosts that may walk those halls.
Mmmmm crabs and hotpot for dinner! =D I have a serious new appreciation (read: LOVE) for hotpot after going to China!
I was not the only one who enjoyed crabs. XDXD
That night, we went to a massage spa. Oh my... what a disaster. First off, I've sworn off of public baths. I hate being naked in front of strangers (to me that is ONLY something to share with someone special), and I HATE the way that people stare at you in Japan. Because I'm not asian, it's okay to STARE. That's with my clothes off.. imagine otherwise and, yeah.... So I went to the massage place and was separated from my two guy friends to change. They swore that the staff would show me where to go, what to do, etc. Except that I don't speak any chinese, and they no english (or japanese or spanish, of course). So.. yeah. A staff of about 6 (!!) women took me to the changing room where other women were walking around naked. But I refused to change in front of them, and they wouldn't show me where a toilet was so that I could change alone!! It took more than 20 minutes to get across that no, under no circumstances would I change there with more and more people staring at me. So they took me to a toilet room, and then kept walking in on me while I'm trying to change into a robe!! ARGH!! I was understandably upset. Why should it matter to them if I want to preserve my privacy? I mean, let me have it for crying out loud.... -_-;; It's okay if they want to parade around naked, but it's my choice not to. So, that finally being over and me getting changed, I'm taken to the dinner room where I'm supposed to wait for my friends. Only, I was never told that there was actually a public bath that I was supposed to soak in. :/ They obviously saw that I was uncomfortable and they're right, I never would have gotten in the bath with other people around, but they should have told my friends to hurry it up! Having no idea that I was really confused after a half hour sitting alone, one of my friends finally showed up.
But the worst thing was.... this was supposed to be a place of health and relaxation, I thought.. I couldn't have been more wrong!! ToT People were smoking so heavily that it was like a cloud! I finally did get a massage with my friends, but it was so miserable being surrounded by smoke. Healthy and relaxing my ass. I mean, seriously? I never would have considered. My first massage, which I had been so excited about beforehand, was basically a disaster. I wanted to cry and I left pretty upset that night. It didn't help that my friends had gotten angry at each other for something unrelated to the trip, and they were in sour moods. Yeah, lots of stress....
The next day, we went shoe-shopping for me! I can't find shoes in Japan, and since Harbin was so close to Russia, and theoretically full of Russians (unless they were asian Russians, I didn't see any..), that we would be able to find my size! (Size 10 in Womens American size, or 27cm in Japanese, or 43 in UK, I think) So we went to this mall of shoes! Only shoes!!! And struck out.... They didn't carry a single thing in my size that wasn't tennis shoes for men!! ToT This is why I only have shoes that have holes in them *cries*..
So, no shoes, and then that night we had to board another HORRIBLE train to return to Beijing. I never would have chosen to ride one again myself, but it was our only option and we already had the tickets. Let's just say that I didn't sleep the entire night, and after the ordeal of the night before, I was not in a happy mood.
Especially not when the train rolled into Beijing station, and I was sitting in the carriage with two chinese guys across from me. My friends were in the next compartment down, and I wasn't really too happy with them (argument) so I didn't want to talk with them until I had to. So, the trains are non-smoking as I've said. It's clearly written on the walls in terms even I can see (ie: the universal picture of a cigarette with a slash through it). But this guy across frome me thinks that it's perfectly okay to light up. And I'm having NONE of it. When I told him "NO!" (which he didn't seem to understand but I know he got it after a few gestures) as he tried to light up, then he tried to light up anyways, in which case I said it again and gave him a hard look. Then suddenly he was lighting the lighter and shoving it in my face, threatening me!!! I was SO ANGRY, I tried to push him away but he went back to trying to light up and the same thing happened a few more times! How dense can you be! I tried to say a million times and point to the sign on the wall (which you couldn't see from here, but it was nearby). He obviously didn't care, and tried to threaten me again, in which case I got my friends and angrily explained what was happening. Which, thanks to Shi Lei, caused a HUGE scene. Involving shoving and lots of angry words (between Shi Lei, who is now my hero, and the rude asshole), and the station staff just standing around doing NOTHING. Oh man, in America or Japan you can't get away with threatening someone, and in either country I would have not left until I got his ass arrested for threatening me. But in China I felt lost and like I had no recourse. I couldn't talk until we got back to Greg's apartment, except to thank them. But I was so upset that I cried on Greg's shoulder when I got back. Sometimes guys (even gay ones..) aren't the most perceptive friends, but other times they're just what you need to feel as if you can put yourself back together.
But that's the reason that for a while, I don't have the slightest urge to return to China. It's not even what he did, it's the fact that I wasn't able to press charges against him for it. I took his picture though, and a little bit of video, because one day I WILL track him down. It's NOT okay to threaten me, and no I'm not going to step down, and one day I hope he realizes just how horrible he was that day.
Just thinking about that brings back a lot of bad memories.. And on top of the last few days where I've been pretty upset over something else, it's a little hard not to be really upset right now.. (but I don't have time to be upset for crying out loud.. no time for anything!)
That last part of day 14 after our arrival back in Beijing, I went shopping for souveniers/presents, with ShiLei in tow. He was a very good guide! ^^ And it managed to get my mind off of what had happened, for the most part (I love cheap shopping..)
This is a dirty, dirty bus.. ^^;
Then I went to an authentic Korean BBQ place with some of Greg's Japanese friends that were studying in a chinese university. It was fun, and I wasn't ready at all for leaving the next day, despite all of the hardships. It's hard for a vacation to end, and it was hard to leave behind a great friend (who has moved back to Japan since then, actually).
My airplane. I had the entire row to myself! I don't recommend China air, but I was grateful for the emptyness of the flight..
My last view of Beijing from the ground..
Bai bai China!!
Well, I've got to get to bed now... My next post will definitely be the last one about the trip-- I want to recap some of the highlights and talk a little about it in general, if I have the time at all. ^^;;