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"Now is better than never.
Although never is often better than *right* now."
Tim Peters

Engrish dump incoming

It all began on the plane …

I'll try, promise.


This represents a myriad other business signs and ads messing it up

Best thing about this was a mirrored/correct version 5m to the left of this one and the exit really being to the left.

Wherever Austrians or Swiss helped build the cable cars there were also some decent German translations to be had 

That's cool with me

I sure as hell won't!

Such a shame they only had this in XXL )':

Can't argue with that

At some point they must've run out of lower case o letters

You can't even make this up

Oh, hi!

Three of these were from the same place

And the worst mess-up of them all:

20919   |   travel text 中国 photo sign language funny

Let's talk history. As you well know the best way to get to know about the most important figures in the history and culture of a country is through the money bills. Here's a roundup.

At this point I must mention that people around here generally don't like being paid in cash and most of the times don't even have suitable change on hand. Mind you, 100RMB equals roughly 13€ and it's the single largest bill they got. Shit, I've had singular legal tender a hundred times worth that amount in my hands elsewhere and could expect an exchange whithin reason. When gambling people have to come to the table with bundles of these. In some places other people even had to help me out with their WeChat, cause it was impossible to pay with cash to begin with. Thanks folks!

20919   |   travel text 中国 photo money paper

I've encountered a seemingly unnatural amount of people on these streets and at some point I couldn't help but take note of all the funny shit they've got written on their shirts. Astonishingly virtually no one rocks clothes with Chinese characters on them. It's all Engrish. A regular tee would have some inspirational/motivational stuff going like:"Always do your best.", "If it's easy everyone would be doing it.", something in that vein. If you've got the words Paris or London somewher you've probably made it good. Even better if both words appear at the same time.
And then there's, well, I don't know how they do that, but "words" composed of randomly concatenated Latin characters. Or mostly regular words garbled into a completely new term.
Have a digest:

  • Share Reality
  • Get You
  • Don't War
  • Callflower
  • Free Pass For Member
  • Swaggy
  • typeanything
  • Turn Off The Mass
  • Full Riot The Police On My Back Straight To Hell
  • Originalfake
  • Best Self
  • Faith New York Carry Trash Freedom People
  • Stargazy – Shark Fukk – Daftpunk
  • I Don't Do Spring 
  • You Had Meat
  • France Moment
  • Just To See One Eye
  • Happiness Is A Warm Puppy
  • More And Fashion
  • Science Ficn
  • Change The
  • PAPSL (I left out misspelled brands, but this was just too funny, it was the Pepsi logo …)
  • Nighty Night, Slow Acid, I Need A Sleep
  • Matratzenland (I kid you not, I checked thrice!)
  • Movement Was Happy
  • Shutterstock Brooklyn New York
  • Wo Cares What Fraikiesay
  • Geniuso Is Never Nicht Sleep
  • Who His Pen

And my favourite of them all: Neueliebe

Honorable mention goes to all the creative Supreme rip-offs: Suprome, Superme, Supremacy, Supr(:me or simply Sup

As for the band shirt count:

  • Linkin Park ||||||
  • Nirvana |||* (Half a point for a shirt saying "Surf Disorde, Surf Nirvana" with the band's logo in the text)
  • XXXTentacion ||
  • Iron Maiden |
  • Kanye West |
  • Metallica |
  • Eminem * (Half a point for his logo in "Eminem attractive")

Yes, those really were all the artist shirt I've encountered in 21 days.

And lastly, the award in the category Overall Best Shirt in the Whole Wide Country goes to this girl from Kunming:

20919   |   clothes woman man human street photo 中国 text travel

My time in Asia is drawing to a close, I'll check out in about two hours. Needless to say it's been an incredible three weeks during which I saw way too much to comprise in any form, but I'd like to keep a few things on record.

  • That mother who held her baby over the wastebin at the subwa station so it could drop its poo in there
  • The kid in Xian practicing his Kung Fo routine against a tree
  • The bus driver who regularily spat out his window and once stopped in the middle of some random street for a woman to come in and hand him 300 kuai only to get right out again
  • The other woman who had her kid dump his diarrhea into a plastic bag in the middle of the sidewalk
  • The drastically dressed punk couple, kudos!
  • The crazy bass player from Colorful Bar that got out his magical soap bubble gun
  • How does it felling?
  • That one kid with hearing aids annoying the shit out his poor mother on the bus for over an hour
  • The fidget spinner formed by three AK-47s
  • The granny seeing a toddler being rolled into the breakfast area and handing it her unfinished toast she didn't want to eat anymore
  • That stupid idiot sitting in front of me on the train pretending not to understand what I was saying when I asked him to turn his fucking volume down only to turn on some cheap ass trance shit even louder and then suddenly turning it off completely after his girlfriend calmly uttered two syllables
  • The relaxed cab driver sporting those insanely slick flowery pants – haven't figured out where to get those :|
  • That boy pissing into the gutter right on the sidewalk
  • The doggo that niftly marked a whole pole by jumping all the way around it whilst taking his leak
  • That dude farting in the elevator
  • The professor from Yale being a total douchebag prick at the counter of the History Museum
  • Anonymous who spat on the floor of the elevator D:
  • Those two times some dudes were casually talking to someone on their phone whilst squatting over a public toilet

And some random Chinese habits I recognized:
  • They're obsessed with the close-door button on the elevator – which is actually hooked up
  • They spit, albeit noobishly and annoyingly loud
  • There doesnt seem to be a concept of how headphones work, people just keep talking to you as if you weren't wearing them and no one ever uses some but turns on videos or whatever on his phone on full volume literally everywhere
  • People talk in a freakishly loud voice
  • They still use ringtones here and of course those are maximum loud as well
  • Folks love puffing cigs, like puffing as in not really smoking
  • Plastic wrappings on everything
  • Every place can conveniently be turned into a wastebin straight away
  • Retail workers storm you as soon as you enter the store, couldn't convince them even once to just let me have a look around by myself

20919   |   travel text 中国

An addendum regarding the food customs over here.

As people love plastic items in general so do they love their plastic straws. Yoghurt at breakfast is sucked through a tiny straw that's poked through the lid, even though it doesn't really work that way and everyone struggles to punch it in. When you order or buy something to drink they proceed to get out a straw and put it in the bottle for you. If you decline people act like you misunderstood something and you have to insist that you ain't gonna need that.

Chinese breakfast seems weird to me, because it's just the same stuff they eat all day. Steamed vegetables, dumplings, cooked meat, rice, fried noodles, the whole ordeal. Sometimes even intestines. I don't think they consider the time of day at all when eating.
Some hotels offer "Western breakfast", that would be additional cold salad and toast. And cereals. In Guiyang I had to eat them out of a cup, because there weren't any bowl shaped containers around and in Xian they only offer hot milk for it. Asked a waitress and she was so nice as to fetch a box of fresh milk and get it out for me every morning when I arrived at the eatery.

After all the only Western food I had in the past three weeks were two bottles of Sprite or whatever it's called here, a cup of Fanta, two Snickers and some Oreos.
I read from a lot of foreigners that they've gotten some crave for non-Chinese food after a week or so and resorted to diners offering such. Get the fuck outta here, this food is way more awesome and diverse than everything you could get on that other hemisphere. It's just not that easy to determine what to order if you can't read the menu. Or you're just too posh to recognize that the best places to eat here are looking exactly like the ones you should avoid at home :D

There's but two things I'd really miss here, though. Real bread, obviously. Like something to chew on. You don't really utilize your teeth for 97% of the food here. And of course beer – Pilsner, please. Shit here is like water, noticed that during the concert in Chengdu. Had three bottles and it didn't do anything to me so I had to resort to longdrinks.

20919   |   travel text food

Food dump, round two, random order, best story first.

Sadly didn't get around to have me some of the famous hot pot when I was in Sichuan, so I hit the first one I saw on my first evening in Xian. And made a total fool of myself %) All the ones I saw before had you stick your items on some spikes and put them into the boiling oil, pull em out some time later and enjoy them. This was different in that you just loosely threw our stuff in (I ordered lotus root, tofu, yams, mushroom, potato – and beef which they forgot) and fish it out with your chopsticks. Didn't have any problems whatsoever handling the sticks until this meal and haven't had any since, but all the shit I had was cut thin and flat and very much impossible to get out the pot again. Even more so when it was super oily. So after watching me struggle the helpful waiter gave me lots of advice and instructions – fruitless – and in the end really showed the patience to stand by my side and get all the stuff out for me. One by one. I did manage the shrooms by myself, though. And then he even declined a tip …

After the spoiled hot pot experience it was still raining heavily on my first day in Xian, but I didn't want to go to bed, yet so I stopped by in a neat whisky bar. Got myself a double on the rock when one of the guys working there struck a conversation with me. He goes by the name Fox, really  nice dude. Told me he worked at a hostel for quite a while and was super suprised when I told him where I was from. "None of the Germans I've met were smiling!" (= After some chatting he asked me if I've been out to see the Mid-Autumn Festival (The one I've heard about earlier) and told me that it's been going on the night before. People take into the streets and dance with large dragon figures and all that good stuff, aah man, I missed it! But also there's the tradition of buying these moon cakes for your family and close friends and eat them together to wish each other luck and such. I've seen a lot of ads of those on the subway, didn't give it any further thought, of course. So he went to the back and brought out a box of these! :D
The cakes are very heavy so it stuffs you up real fast. They're filled with some fruity substance, and they actually taste very good!

These were great, just picked one of the dumpling images from the menu and scored a very good filling. If I had to guess it was small bricks of tofu, minced meat, spinache, onions and chives amongst others. If the waiters are afraid the sauce is too hot for you, because you only dip it in halfway, they often get you another one: 100% garlic – just as good!

This was some weird wrap-thingy with chicken and a witless salad filling topped with regular ketchup. 0/10 would buy again.

Got this  bread-like waffle with chives and stuff from the same guy, was way better.

This was a bigger serving than it seems and really delicious. Stirred egg, cold tomatoes and green stuff and super broad noodles. Check out that tiny-ass gone-in-two-gulps plastic cup they gave me for the beer ;D

This was kinda interesting, the left bowl was filled with cold seedlings and morchella, the right one had dry, fried noodles with bacon as crispy as egg shell. Was good, though.

Love me some peanuts in about everything.

I present y'all: My new favourite ice cream! I braced myself for a big disappointment after picking this by the picture on the box, but I couldn't've been more happy to be in the wrong.
What you see here is just the tip of the iceberg. Inside the crispy strawberry-sprinkled white-chocolate coating the inner workings start off with some semi-frozen Nimm2-like substance, later followed by a second stage of coating – chocolate with crunchy crisps – that surround a core of strawberry ice cream.
I often find myself getting carried away thinking of ways I could get a container of this through the customs at Hamburg port and up the Elbe.

Peanuts, hot kung pao, celery, endless stream of white tea, nuff said.

Can't even remember what's in this, but I do remember being fully satisfied and stuffed to the brim after indulging in it.

The hotel in Kunming didn't serve breakfast so I had to go out and see what's on the morning menu in the streets for the first time. Got this and it was really okay, some meaty filling in a yeast-or-whatever dumpling.

Weird image cause it looks kinda flat, but this actually had a huge heap of rice underneath. The joint I got this in was in Xian and you could hear someone singin in a Turkic language in the backroom. Made perfect sense with this dish, the combination and spices weren't like all the other food I had here, almost very familiar.

Spicy, good and topped off with Snow Beer. The looks you get when you decline a cup …

This was everything all at once. Dragon fruit, mango, several types of melon, lychee, three kinds of syrup on top and I don't know what else. But that wasn't even it. The bowl was first filled with crushed ice so you start out with a fruit salad that slowly turns into a slushy and becomes water-ice in the end. Quite fancy and refreshing.
And I suppose the two spoons were meant as a good intended hint :0

Mmmh, nothing to write home about. Other than people here don't seem to order drinks with their food and Fanta isn't Fanta at all.

Umm, well. It poured outside and my shoes were already dripping so I took my chance with the restaurant at the hotel. They actually had an app on a tablet with images to pick from and while I was waiting for my choice to arrive I noticed there was a wedding party going on in the other room. They had to escort a girl out who couldn't even stand up straight no more and several times men and adolescents roamed the area while chanting and navigating their path around the columns, that was actually fun to witness.
My dish then looked nothing like I remembered the picture. The rice had the firmness of old pudding and was speckled with parts of fried sausage. Tasted like an insult. "Ate" a quarter and left my money on the table.

The other night I ordered a basic rice and greenery dish when another guy sat behind me and we got into a conversation via his WeChat voice-to-text app. He then ordered this good stuff – with too spoons so I could also have some bites of the taste! Next day I went to the kitchen and showed them this image to get that same thing myself :D Thanks buddy!

You already know, it's good, hot, spicy noodles, peanuts, some other stuff and a nice broth to sip on on the side.

Fuck yeah, a potato thing! Didn't even need to think once before I headed over to the stand to grab one of these once I saw 'em.

Ooooh how wicked it felt when I discovered these things. And they had them right around my corner! The single very best breakfast replacement I've had over here! It was kinda like a bread-roll relative soaked in egg, sprinkled with cives.

Not too sure what kind of dough the lady fried there, but she assured me it's very good. Alright then :D It was filled with spinach and green stuff and it actually was good, apart from the heavy oil taste.

Last and least. I think I found that fucking jelly whale-barf shit I had back in Chengdu. So glad I got that experience over with.

19919   |   photo travel text 中国 云南 贵州 陝西 food

Spent the rest of the day in Xian's Muslim Quarter. In the olden days Xian was one end of the Silk Road and there's been a sizeable population of Muslims in the city ever since. It seems a bit touristy, because a lot of people are winding through all the small streets and there's just sooo much stuff on sale. Very much worth some visits, nonetheless. As you can imagine lots of food different from what you'd usually find in Chinese cities and again a unique vibe amongst the people that are going about their businesses.

15919   |   photo 中国 陝西 travel text street human light

After the table tennis incident I got real hyped, listened to some good Earthgang and floated through the city. Earlier while rainy-time-scouting I've read about a cool clothing store with a skate shop on the second floor, so I had me a nice lunch and went to the secluded alley to check out what they had going on. Couldn't find it, but saw signs indicating the Cat Cafe, so I thought I could enjoy a cup and ask around where I could find the intended store. Once I squeezed through the walls leading to the cafe and climbed the super tiny stairs I got greeted by, well, a bunch of cats. There was one girl half asleep with a cat purring right on her lap and as soon as I sat down at a table a fluffy hairball came out from under it and casually made at home on my legs. :3
The coffee was surprisingly alright and incidently a real Americano. Sadly I then found out that the shop I was looking for had closed down for good. Darn, again :O

15919   |   photo 中国 陝西 travel text animal cat

This morning I stepped out the door and immediately got a bit frustrated with the weather. The rain poured down since I've arrived in Xi'an (the apostrophe demarks that it's two syllables, I'll drop it from now on) and I just didn't want to waste time in my hotel. It wasn't much fun, everything turned into a puddle, I got soaked despite my precautions and returned to the hotel after an hour and a half to blow dry my shoes. Ooof.

Took a nappy nap, lo and behold: the rain had diminshed to a managable drizzle. So I went right out once again. Finally I got to really check out the city. Xian's center is a 4 by 3 or something km rectangle enclosed by a big ass chity wall. It's over 600 years old and the best preserved in all of China. If it had been dry I'd opted for a bike trip right on the wall, maybe I can squeeze that into one of the remaining days. Inside the walls there's an unnumerable amount of narrow alleyways waiting to be explored and get lost in. It feels way more intimate than the other cities I've been to so far. Everything is a store and since I've only got one train ride ahead of me I'm more than ready to bust out my last kuai and have the vendors grind down their teeth when hearing/reading my offers. At some point the rain completely stopped and that's when the day really began to take a turn for the better.

Shortly after a dream within a dream came true for me. I was just strolling about carelessly, taking some snaps when suddenly my whole body hair got teased by that old familiar sound I've already heard twice on this journey so far. It went like this:"Ping" – "Pong" – "Ping" – "Pong".
First time was when I witnessed two grannys playing in a Chengdu monastery, getting more exercise from picking up the ball than actually hitting it. Second time in the wetlands park south of Guiyang – two teenage boys who could've beaten the old ladies on a good day.
This time was different, though, the enormous frequency of the sound already gave it away. When I came past the corner I saw two senior men engaged in a fierce duel. Holy crap, they were fast! Intrigued by their playing style I planned on watching a bit, hoping to gain some insight as to what school it might've originated from and maybe find out about their secret techniques. Before I could even complete that thought one of them smiled and waved at me inviting me over. "Haa? Ja, ja ja, bin sofort dabei!". I just can't tell how excited I was, the masters really offered to teach me about their ways!! :O
So Master Badger Hermit handed me his Dragon Taming Racket to play with – outstandingly balanced, layered unusually thick, exellent grip – and I was to compete against Master Heron Hermit. After his first couple of serves I thought this was going to get very embarassing for I still am but an aspiring adept and overshot my returns by a great deal. But be that as it may, as the last remaining disciple of the School of the Raging Boar I had to stand my ground and strive with as much honor and skill as I possibly could. It took me awhile to get the hang of how the coated metal table and the racket worked together. Mind you, this was no amateur city park equipment, that stuff caused more friction than the American import tariffs and it was simply amazing how much curvature you could apply to the Snake Egg's path. A real joy! I got the knack of it and finally got to unleash my infamous Feinting Phantom Backspin. Everyone falls for that, as did my opponent. Master Heron Hermit snickered. Meanwhile the Young Master Hare Hermit appeared and went on to spar with Master Badger Hermit on the table next to us. What a turmoil, they seemed equally skilled and I swear I could sense the Nen-flares lashing out even over to our side! No one I've ever played against ever could seriously take on any of these three, straight up and down!

We continued to exchange some good shots for a good fifteen-twenty minutes and I was honestly quite satisfied that I landed some good hits even if I was clearly outmatched. All of us had real good fun there, I proceded to thank everyone at the tables for the great time and continued on my way.

This humbling sparring session alone just so much more than made up for all that stupid rain. I'll always remember this valuable lesson and hope that one day I've honed my skills enough to return and lose against one of the Masters in a real match.

15919   |   photo 中国 陝西 travel text sports human man ball

Can't believe it took that long, but I witnessed the first traffic accident on this trip yesterday. No one hurt, but a decent bang and I reckon that car can get scrapped now. Today then I saw a car with all doors open standing right in the street and a scooter lying next to it. The police were already taking care of the situation and the girl that must've driven the scooter was lying down right on the street, talking on the phone. What a way to handle that.

While I'm at it I just might add a couple of impressions I got from traffic in the places I've been to.

Generally I like the way of the flow. As a pedestrian you virtually never have to stop. Just keep your eyes open like you would everywhere and you'll slip over crossings just fine. Took me awhile to get used to all the scooters cruising around, though. Thing is, they're all driven by electric engines so you can't hear 'em at all and they take every path wide enough to squeeze through, coming through from all directions. To cope with that a quick glance over the shoulder whenever slightly adjusting the trajectory is totally sufficient. To me it seems that everyone's going kinda slow anyways, you won't see anyone going more than an estimated 47km/h. In the end it's like being part of a ginormous school of herring. You walk when you walk, they drive when they drive — move and let move. When in doubt use the horn.
 Street lights are mostly just another LED in the neon wilderness. That one guy from Cali who's been living in Kunming for some years told me that many of them are equipped with facial recognition devices. If you've got a bank account here and get caught jaywalking they immediately detract the penalty. Fits right into the scheme, but I'll save that for another story.

First time I took a taxi here was when I went to the Chengdu Panda Breeding Station. Germans are gonna lose their wigs about the style of driving. Highway lanes exist only as colored bars on the tarmac. Think of vehicles as salmon going upstream. It's cool, though, most involved kept a sensible distance from the one in front and honestly I felt a hundred percent more secure than being a passenger on the Autobahn with most drivers I know. Must not forget to mention the crazy run-down whips some people dare to roll out in. Worth a taxi trip in its own right.
 On the way back then I asked a guy to take me back downtown. He was like:"100¥" – "Yeah yeah, OK". Fast forward 20 minutes, back at Luomashi station I get out my wallet, point my finger at his meter. 40. "This is not a hundred, man." – "Awww whaaat? I said a hundred, no meter!" That fucking moron, he even tried to insist. I scolded him for a minute, making sure he very well understood not to fuck with me, banged 40 bucks on his dash and slammed his door shut. Tss.

The Metro is way modern and super convenient. I couldn't even make out which was the current layout for Chengdu, cause it keeps constantly expanding. Haven't used it much in Kunming, yet, cause  at roughly 4 mio. inhabitants it's not even half as large as CD and the more interesting districts are well managable by foot. What annoys me a bit, though, is that you're constantly bombarded with announcements, the very same after every station, over and over again. "To make a better environment please do not litter or spit on the train and keep your voice low!" — You wish. If there's time left in between they turn on the sound of the subway telly. Add to that the blaring shitty music from mobile phones and the still generally loud, i.e. on par with Spaniards, talking voices of everyone else and you've got yourself a proper cacophony.
 The morning rush hours add another element to the mix. There's just so many people up and about that there's officers  equipped with megaphones that have to take care of the orderly process of getting in and out the trains. On the very first station of the line I noticed they let in only about 10 people per door so as to keep enough space for the following stations. Never had to wait more than three minutes for a train in Chengdu, it's just that nice! In Kunming they frequent at six.

Railway travel is very smooth, although I only took the bullet trains so far. Even second class is comfortable and at times they go faster than our ICE. Best feature would probably be the free hot water dispensers for brewing tea and noodles. On my way down to Kunming I had the luck to sit next to a polite married couple. They shared their nice cookies with me :D

So right now I'm on the bus to Shilin, some 90 minutes east of Kunming. Man, the roads to the highway suck ass. In combination with the interior reeking of smoke and seemingly non-existing suspensors this is a bit more like the stereotypical China Westerners might imagine. Don't know if it's a good or bad sign that a police guy comes in to check everyone having their seat belts fastened or not, though :P

9919   |   travel text

Due to increasing popular demand I'll prepone my food dump. As with all the other pics I posted so far, these are raw preview files directly from the camera. They're not digitally "developed", yet, so the colors and especially the brightness values are a bit off.
So let's do this!

Fried corn pancake. Tasted good but way too large a serving to not get saturated by the oil after eating half of it.

As all things Sichuan the very good kind of very spicy. And curiously I couldn't tell if it's been just the right amount of coriander or it was a large amount but it tastes less annoying here.

Can recommend. Also free refills for the white tea.

This just had to be good. Wasn't. It was some kind of fried dough but tasted like drinking the frying oil while you had to really chew the shit like years old hard toffee. I gave it my best but only got through three of these.

TIL Kung Pao actually means chicken. The owner of the place told (Many use voice-to-text translation) me that my prime minister also just ate chicken 'here'. That's how I found out Angela's been to China again.

Fuck yeah Sichuan pepper, I'm all for it!

Morchella with what might've been rumen, wasn't sure, but it had significant grooves. Also chili that was way more flavory than hot.

Friggin enormous pot of noodle soup. Lots of cabbage, leek, kelp, and so hot and hot (Get your shit together, language!) that I walked out with a fucking blister inside my mouth! Still premium dish, though.

Decided to walk into a cafe to have some non-street-food desert.Turns out it was a very posh restaurant and waiter and waitress got super confused as to how to serve two pieces of cake at once – so extraordinary! Tiramisu didn't even look remotely like we know, tasted like eternal nothingness. Coffee was alright for Chinese standards, I guess. Costing around 10€ this was the most expensive dish I've had so far, by a factor of three.

I have no idea what this was. Got it in the tropical mountain forest where several women offered them for stair-weary folks on their way up to the monastery. It had a white-purplish peel that they nimbly chopped off with a small machete. Tasted really good, remotely like watery peach and had the consistency of, I can't tell, really. Somewhere in between unripe pear and a harder melon.

Just had to get one of these :D

I'm usually not very fond of duck, but alas I'm not nearly being as picky as at home, I gave it a go. LPT: When in Sichuan do as Sichuanese do. If someone offers you a fork or spoon to your dish, take it ;) At first I was like 'Nah thx, I can handle the chopsticks just well enough', but the waitress proceeded to show me how this is done. You use a fork to open up the dumpling-like pockets then fill in the ducky duck – mind the bone splinters – close it and enjoy. No shame in using a spoon for rice either.

First meal in Yunnan first time encountering ground beef. Still a bit hot, though not as spicy. Good stuff. The bowl to the right for once didn't contain tea, but very clear broth instead.

8919   |   photo travel text 中国 四川 云南 food

You already know, I'm on vacay since almost a week, so I owe you a good old full-on rant about this time. Here goes:

Right after visiting the installation I experienced my first esophageal arrest. :! Went to a small diner in the same street and pointed on what looked like decent vegetable soup on the menu. When the waitress double asked something to, like, make sure I really wanted (just!?) that it, I didn't give it any further thought since the price seemed about right for a single person serving. Sat down, got my bowl. Soup looked delish, but fuck damn, it hat those squishy blobs in it I saw at some backstreet market the other time. There they had huge table-filling slabs of that stuff lying about. Kinda looks like grease or solidified rice water and it's wobbly like Wackelpudding. Anyways, I noticed it was supposed to be taken as a side dish to rice and/or other stuff. But since I wasn't too keen on eating it from the start but am the most polite tourist and don't want be too picky, I gave it a shot to gobble down a few chunks.

Yuck, what in tarnation? The soup was quite hot, making my lips tingle like a bullet ant's urinal. That by itself was a rather interesting sensation and way on the other end of annoying than those soap scum globs. I tried to chew each one or two times and then gulp them down quickly,  but one third in it dawned upon me that my body isn't fond of this. At all. And quickly. Shit was outright revolting, I had to fight hard not to throw up in my mouth. By doing that the soup's hotness triggered a coughing reflex and I gave into it. The stinginess spread all over my respiratory system, like someone shoved chili soaked nettles straight up my nostrils. Within seconds I teared up, blessing the fact that the guys sitting at the next table left just a minute before and nobody else came by the small room I was spazzing in. Did get the whole shit more or less under control by emptying the bottle of tea, rushed to the front, put what I owed into their palms and headed out.

Long story longer, that accursed rank haunted me for the rest of the day by inducing frequent burping which brought that god awful taste right back up every now and then. And I'm still warped, that type of sauce is very common and the flashbacks I get everytime I smell it still manage to let my guts twitch. Need to find a decent dish featuring that to overlay that memory.

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Century City? Exit Line 1  after stations High-Tech Zone, Financial City and Incubation Park. I read about a good art gallery down South outside 3rd ring and headed out. They built the single largest building in the world there. Disclaimer: It's a half-assed mall.

Century city is something like a skyscraper suburb fresh out the mint. Really nice parks in between soulless giants. And this one area with an actually cool blend of traditional Eastern and modern Western architecture, albeit housing posh stores and cafes. Arrived at the art gallery only to bustle up an interview with some Mazda officials by trying to open the hellishly screeching door. Some girl outside urged me not to, so I tried the other one. Also not. Turns out fucking Mazda rented the whole space for over a week for some bullshit showcasing and the gallery is only open for the last 30 minutes of the working hours. Oh well …

Discovered a sweet temple right behind that instead. What a fantastic contrast the high-rise backdrop is to the ornate Buddhist wooden shrines.

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Hotel's wi-fi is cramped so I had to resort to something else while soothing my legs in the evening and zapped through all the CCTVs on the telly - there's 23 of them. Most of them are Greek-level TV in Chinese, the very first is on some cyber-ultra CGI-in-the-studio-tip which could be entertaining in itself, but naaah. Then there's one in Engrish called "Dialogue", but which I guess is a real-life re-enactment of a screenplay written out by our boi George O. or something and handles recent political issues. But I'd rather write about that when I'm safe back home, I think I'm being watched.
In the end I got lucky and watched Venezuela wreck the shit out of China's Basketball team in the currently ongoing FIBA world cup. There's two twists to that: The event is hosted by China itself their squad is out now, and it's not even possible to reach the official website from here. :∆

No idea when the connection stops acting up, I'll stack stories on my phone in the meantime.

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31218   |   travel Polska Warszawa

Visiting the remote monasteries up on the cliffs of Meteora has been a truly humbling experience. We've booked a guided tour so we wouldn't have to walk all the way up there ourselves and went into three of the remaining six inhabited cloisters. Apart from them being insanely inaccessible until modern times the sheer architectural accomplishment of their construction is stunning. Even more so when you see that all the buildings are super beautiful and they host a dazzling collection of relics and artifacts. Like the skull of a burned to death monk that's supposed to perform miracles of sorts and smell real nice. Also there were many other interesting exhibits like engraved weaponry dating from the battles against the Turks and Germans, old robes, crowns, traditional costumes and countless paintings of orthodox icons. The view over the villages and the now barely existing Pindus river lost in its large sandy bed into the plain of Thessaly was nothing short of magnificent and feeling the height down the vertical faces of the supporting rocks made me numb at times. There were some monks/nuns going about their daily business caught in the dilemma of retaining their solitude while making money off tourists to sustain and renovate the sites. At one point in-between monasteries our luxurious minibus stopped on the road and our guide told us that the scenery we were looking at had been used in the matte backdrop of a prison in the Eyrie from Game of Thrones!

Returning to earthly grounds we feasted - did I really fail to note that Greek food is splendid? - and rested before we explored Kalabaka (sorry, no definite transcription for Greek script) a bit more. It's obvious that people around here are a bit more well off because of the two million people coming by each year and the locals really endulge in decorating their gardens with as much flowers as they can. No shortage of stray cats here, either.

Yesterday then we took the train … oh wait, it's actually two trains and we have switch midway at some random station? We made a habit of asking several other people before we enter public transportation, cause all the folks behind the counters can go suck ass. I mean it. Despite the ongoing information ban we made it to Greece's second city Thessaloniki and moved into another penthouse apartment, seventh storey of an old industrial building with the waterfront just ahead of us, checks out :∆ After a hefty meal we dozed off during the heat of the afternoon. I was unable to do anything else, really. The simmering heat wouldn't be bearable without the AC on, even at night.

Then for the first time in a whole week the sun was covered by clouds, alas just for a mere thirty minutes or so. We spent the evening and following hours walking along the Sunset Strip explorin the city center and its randomly occurring leftover ruins. I'm a sucker for all things Byzantine since Age of Empires II and I love beholding the many small and big churches that are still around virtually everywhere.

Now we've got two days left to see the rest of the city, which strikes me a tad bit less hectic and dense or narrow than Athens. We heard there's a lot of stuff going on earning it comparisons to Berlin in that regard. Let's see if that holds true.

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Disclaimer: lengthy vacation report ahead, will format reasonably and add illustrative pictures when back home.

Me and my gf are traveling Greece right now, haven't come around to write a bit, yet. We've spent four days in Athens and it's been a tremendous experience! The penthouse apartment we rented boasted a huge terrace and almost 360 degrees of awesome view over the endless ocean of white houses and hills of the capital. So we had a comfy spot where we could retreat from the heat of the afternoon and went out early and late to dive into the narrow streets and alleys and get carried away by the bustling charme of the city. There's a lot to discover just by strolling through the different neighbourhoods, dodging fat guys drinking iced coffee on their motorcycles, pushing through the hoardes of Panathinaikos fans at the stadium around our corner, dealing with employees totally indifferent to their job and getting used to the constant rattling cicadas everywhere. Did I mention that it's fucking hot here? The apartment blocks look way different than what I've seen in other countries so far, maybe Spain comes closest. Literally every sibgle apartment has at least one 4m² balcony of sorts, stuffed to the brim with all kinds of plants. I've been in charge of watering "Autonomy" - a very green, supposedly magic plant, that grew on our balcony (:

Of course there's lots of ancient rubble and history oozing out of every corner and it's nice to finally set foot on the Akropolis and behold the Parthenon, but kinda to my own surprise I found it much more interesting to see how people are coping. Youth unemployment is at some 51% and rising and it shows. Lots of poor folks wandering about, taking all kinds of measures to score at least a meal. We've seen kids being loaded up onto a pickup and driven trough the city to play accordeon and what not. Old folks offering every last piece of crappy toy or old book they had on the pavement, selling napkins or pencils. Yesterday we've been waiting for the bus next to a park where everyone (it was a lot of people, mostly under 30) was busy either getting the supply, preparing their poison, shooting up, being straight up on cloud ten and half or already strung out wasted. Shit, man, the future sometimes really feels bleak around here. But luckily on the other hand there's a lot of vitality and uplifting spirit in most of the Greek people. They love to be outside, drinking their coffees, eating souflakis, chatting loudly and enjoy the summer. A bit weird that everyone looks like he's on vacation, though ;D So apart from the regular When-In-Athens-You-Can't-Miss-X-Itinerary we've been to the museums of Ceramics and Kykladic Art - both very interesting - topped all the mountains of the city proper, met myriads of dusty stray cats and went to Schinias Beach near Marathon.

That is, we tried to, really. We've been waiting at our station for the Attika regional bus to pick us up, but this being Greece, of course the destinatinis not written properly on the bus, the driver's door doesn't open and if you knock to ask if it's the one … nah dude, they won't open that door and give you any information. We tried three buses, same shit. Let me tell you that was really something pissing us off every now and then here. Not even on the operator's website is it possible to find any numbers or stations. Athina 7:30, that's as much as you'll get. In the end we asked someone working at the subway and headed to where the busses started just to make sure we'll be able to ask. That cost us two freaking hours and more asking, asking, asking the same person again thrice, because nobody's actually listening to your whole question. Some people here really need to get their shit together, even more so when tourism is really the single readily available opportunity to get out of the debt spiral. But hey, i'm only visiting, who am I to give advice here …

Finally on the bus we couldn't tell neither why it takes two people to operate a bus (one drove, the other sold tickets and shouted out the next station) nor why it takes anyone two hours to cover those 40km in a motorized vehicle. Anyhow, despite some drawbacks we had an awesome day at the beach, super warm water, an island in the far background, mountains all around and a pine forest growing right up to the beach. It's actually supposed to be part of a National Park with wetlands, where rare birds and other species dwell, but sadly it was just as piled up with cars, cig butts and trash as the gutters in central Athens.
Sometimes I just don't get it :(

Today then we took the train to our next destination: The lovely town of Kalampaka right in the famous Meteora region. The five hour ride took us through insanely beautiful and diverse mountain ridges and valleys and took us all the way up to the region of Thessaly. We've got a charming little housy to ourselves and spent the evening walking around the surreal shapes of sandstone monoliths and boulders that Hephaistos himself might've hammered into place. We could spend days just gazing at the greyish structures now smooth and elegantly curged, now carved out by aeons of rainfall and wind. The vibe amongst people here is a bit different, of course, kinda like in a village where people know and greet each other and everyone sports two full spectrums of flower in their tidy gardens. It's lovely and a good change after navigating the white ant hill further south. We even met two tortoises on our hike! And tomorrow we're gonna visit some of the famous monasteries up one the high spires, I'm super stoked!

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