2nd World Traditional Wushu Championships 2006, Zhengzhou, China

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

More photos...

Courtesy of Mr. Tan Kim Weng, who has taken so many photos during our China trip and special thanks to him for sharing some of his collections. So I thought I should share some of them here as well...

He has only given me part of his collection and already the first part has over 300 photos, more than what I have taken over my whole week there. But I won't be posting all here. If I do get the rest, then I'll try to post them here as well.

Me on the carpet for my first event. Ash, I kept my promise of showing the photo of me in my competition attire, but for the videos, hehehe... still dunno if I'll ever get it. Haha... must go pujuk the Crystal Princess first for it (",)...
Part of the team. Mr. Tan is the one on the most left. The one at the middle is our Team Manager, Madam Lin.
I look so stupid with my pouch and jacket on my hand... but we were on the rush back to the hotel for lunch when we snapped this photo... so I guess I'll forgive myself on this.
The team. We were preparing to enter the stadium for the opening ceremony.
This was the first time I actually wore a batik. The one beside me was the model who held our name banner during the march-past. All the models that night were at least a head taller than me... sob sob, standing beside them make felt like a dwarf :( And gosh, they can actually stand so still like a lamp post the whole night... that's how disciplined they are.

These were the photos I could not have taken as I was one of them down there, lining up.

The stage pictures... nice and clear. It never turn out well from my camera.

More photos at the Shaolin Temple. Steph, here's more picures of your favourite 'baldies'... haha

It'll take forever for me to be able to do that...

2 real cuties...
Some of their tough training routine...
Training, training, training... running around with 2 water-filled buckets...
And finally... the Temple main entrance...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Day 7 - Oct 21, 2006: Our Last Day in China

[Finally, the last part of my blog series]...

Got up early that day. Finally, it was time to return home to Malaysia. Man, time sure passes quickly when you don't keep track of it. We will not be going anywhere today. After breakfast we returned to our room, supposedly to be watching tv. But I guess everyone was still tired chatting over the night. We all returned to rest and pretty soon we fell asleep again.

We slept for a short while before we got a phone call from our Team Leader to prepare ourselves for lunch. I don't know what was mentioned over the phone because it was YQ who picked up the phone but there sure was some misunderstanding among the two. The plan was to head down to the restaurant for lunch before returning back to our room to collect our luggages.

But YQ told us to actually bring our luggage down along. Taking the luggages down to the lobby made the rest waiting at the restaurant while we were waiting at the lobby for them. I sensed something not right and sent YQ to have a look at the restaurant. Yup, they were all waiting there for us. So, what to do, had to leave our luggages at the entrance lor... Got the receptionist the bell boy to look after our luggages.

Well, actually, we did not have our meals in a restaurant. The hotel doesn't have any restaurant. What they had was I think 4 dining rooms and every meal we had was in the dining room.

Our final meal in China. Just look at the amount of food served. It was a table filled with dishes. And none of our meals had rice except when fried rice was served.

Soon, we left for the airport. Our flight was scheduled to leave Zhengzhou Airport to Shenzhen at 1630. After checking in, there was a little spare time for us to do a little shopping and we all bought some souveniours home. At the airport we kept looking for a public phones just to give our 2 helpful interpreters a call before returning home but all they have are public card phones which requires phone cards. So too bad. Looks like we can only contact them via email when we reach home.

I was beginning to miss the people we met here already. The saddest thing was that we never really been able to just hang out with them. Our flight got delayed until 1725. We had to wait for almost another hour. On our flight, it was almost time for sunset.

Here are some of the views. Nice scenes can be seen but it soon turned dark pretty fast.

There was quite alot of the same photos, so I'd just post some of the sunsets on the blog.

Our precious insisted on having a photo with the sunset. Hhmmm... the sunset can't be seen much.

I felt so tired that I was sleeping almost the whole journey to the Shenzhen Airport. Once there and after collecting our luggage, we immediately proceeded to the international departure hall for check-in.

We waited for about an hour before getting onto the plane and flew home. Again, I slept almost throughout... don't know why I was feeling so tired that day.

We reached KLIA on time, at around 0130 the next morning (Sun, Oct 22) but we only able to leave the arrival hall at around 0300 due to the delay at the luggage collection. We arrived before our luggages did and they were very slow at releasing our luggages as well, making us wait for so long. By then, our parents was already outside waiting. Once we left the hall, we immediately returned home.

[updated - Nov 15, 2006; 16:13]
Ok, since my precious "princess" here has started mumbling that I did not give her enough recognition, I have to give her some compliment for taking the beautiful sunsets... (only because she was sitted beside the windows, k).

And dear, sorry that I've totally forgotten about that incident. Here was what happened. During our flight back (I think from Shenzhen to KLIA), the 2 gals was actually chatting among themselves ( we were sitting in a row of 3) and they suddenly made some funny sounds of 'mmm'.... which made me really curious. So, after I asked them what's happening, Tiffany's reply was... their 'engine' could not start. That got us laughing aloud. I think it was the funniest incident during our way home, but somehow it just slipped off my mind.... hhhmmm...

Also, I forgotten to mention that some of the team mates bought local fruits for us 3. It is actually the raw Chinese 'hong chou' that we get in Malaysia, which becomes red after it has been ripen and cooked. Our 2 gals here were actually enjoying themselves separating the fruits into 4 portions at the Shenzhen Airport while waiting for our flight back to KL.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Day 6 - Oct 20, 2006: Shopping Time

All this while, we never knew of the travelling plan until we were actually told just before we begin our journey there. In the day earlier, we didn't know where we were going until we got into the van. We didn't even know of the next destination until we got back into the van.

Today was no different, only that we knew during breakfast of the day's plan. While the plan was to visit the Yellow River (Huang He), we 3 youngsters (yes, it's the same 3 of us), were sought of 'sent' shopping. I do not know where else did they visit. There wasn't space for us to sit in the van anyway. The whole time in the day earlier, the 3 of us were sitted at the back of the van at the luggage compartment because we're the youngest in the group. The rest are old uncles and aunties that could not take the ride at the back. Maybe they realised it's a little suffering to sit that way over a long distance on the road, so they allowed us to go shopping instead. Who knows?

There was nothing much to buy. It's not worth buying things in China anymore IMHO because prices are only a little cheaper than what we get in Malaysia and it also adds up to the weight of our luggage. In this case, being underweight is better than being overweight.

So we were in the city the whole day, walking about from one shopping mall to another which are all within walking distance away from one another. There are also pedestrian bridges outside, connecting all the malls around. We were looking and asking around for the local market because that's where we can get really cheap items.

Pretty soon we got tired and bored and as we were wandering around, we came to a cinema. After some discussion, we decided to watch a movie to kill some time, since we do have the whole day for ourselves. So we watch 'The Banquet'. A pretty slow moving movie and the storyline was pretty boring. The only surprise was at the end of the show. Watch it and you'll know what I mean.

After the movie, we tried to call Liu Jie (we only had her number, we couldn't get Xi Lei's) to join us in the city centre via the public phones. Unfortunately, she and Xi Lei have already started the new semester at the university. They were having classes when we called. So we were left by the 3 of us. Soon after, it was time for lunch. Fearing that we might get the right food since the local taste doesn't really suit us, we decided to try out the McDonald's there. Hey, even if it taste difference, how far the difference will it get?

The restaurant does not charge any service or government tax. We ordered the medium sized value meal which cost us RMB 17. That's around MYR 8.50, cheaper than Malaysia's prices. They have a 4-piece fried chicken which I ordered. They should not have called it 4-piece fried chickens but 4-piece fried chicks if you ask me..... The pieces are so small, that the drumsticks are only as big as my thumb. Should have ordered the burgers. At least the sizes are reasonable.
We finally found the market we were looking for after asking a McD's staff. At the market, there was so much food we could have tried, so much item we could have bought... yet, I didn't buy any simply because all these items could be found in Malaysia. I also didn't want to carry the stuff back unless it's really really really worth buying.

Walking around the market took us the whole afternoon. When it was around 1800, we wanted to return to the hotel already. On the way out of the market, I was really tempted to try the kebab there and bought one I did. Well, even before buying, I was already expecting it to be oily and salty which it was. Other than that, there's nothing special about it. It was kind of cold as well, eventhough there was a kept warm.

Anyway, since Tiffany has reminded me to write about her Taiwan sausage eating-spree, I thought it's fair to metion it at the very least. Haha. I think she took almost 8 sausages that day. Including one that she dropped while trying to wipe away oil on the sausage because this particular one was exceptionally oily compared to the rest. Her reaction after that was like a little girl who dropped her ice-cream... muahahahaha. Sorry, just kidding. She only whined about it for a while.

The one she dropped happened when we were trying to find our way back. We tried to call our team leader to have her friend pick us up if they happened to be nearby but they were still quite far from the city centre, so we took a cab instead.

The whole time in China, we never come across any traffic jam but that evening the jam was terrible. The lady taxi driver said that it was because it was a Friday night and everyone's out for the night. Before we got into the cab, we showed the hotel business card to make sure she knows the place. She wasn't really sure and even called her friend for directions.

The night was totally dark very soon and I really felt like it was already 2200 until I saw my watch. Only 1930. After being stucked in the jam for almost an hour and a half, we finally reached a hotel only to tell the driver that it was not the hotel we stayed. Great... another long journey in the cab coming. She tried taking lots of short cuts to avoid the jams but I guess all the effort was wasted. So we had to start making phone calls.

Only then she knew the exact location of the hotel which she never knew existed. Not even her friend despite showing her the card which has the map at the back. Below are the images of the card. Sorry, I need translators myself for this.

I think she got pretty freaked-out after knowing where we were actually staying and reduced the taxi fare for us with the jam as an excuse for the reduction. I thought she would have said that because she lost her directions and it's her fault. The final fare... RMB 14, but only reduced from RMB 16. I was told that the fare was already very cheap.

We were joking over dinner that she may have thought that we were children of some minister or high ranking officials to be able to stay in this hotel that she dare not over-charge us or do anything funny with us. I'd spoke some English in the cab so I'm pretty sure she knew we're not locals.

Dinner was as usual, served with tens of dishes which we could not finish. Finally we decided to pack for our 'driver' for the past week and the team leader's friends since they're locals and are not staying in the hotel so that the food are not to be wasted.

We then headed back to our room. That night we only watched tv and had some chatting since it's our last night in China. The local TV programmes are all in Chinese. Even all the English movies were translated. We watched a drama series acted by Pamela Andersson but I can't remember the title. It was once shown on Malaysian TV many many years back. We were lucky to have found 1 channel which are totally in English. The news, movies etc are in English but spoken by locals. Naturally I would have a little hard time trying to understand their slangs, but it was ok...

After that movie, we continued chatting until past midnight. Then... bedtime.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Day 5 - Oct 19, 2006: A Day of Visiting and Travelling

Well... we were supposed to move out of our hotel (right) into another hotel because it's cheaper and better but not all of us will be moving out. Some stayed back for an extra day before moving to somewhere else to prepare for their Wushu examination. So those moving out today had their stuff packed and moved to another room before we head down for breakfast and to checkout.

A friend of the team leader made an arrangement for a van to pick us all up. Our destination... Kaifeng, the ancient capital of China. And you know who was our driver? He's a Chinese FBI and we were actually sitting in a police van. I was just a plain and simple van so I didn't even realised that it's a police van until I was told of it but the locals recognises the van immediately. Every toll we passed we need not pay for it. All the driver did was to show his pass and we're off.

The first location we went to is the 2nd oldest temple in China (or was it in Kaifeng, I can't remember). It's called Da Xiang Gou Shi. The oldest was destroy during the war but I'm not sure which war.

At the entrance:
When I was in the temple, it felt very much different than the temples in Malaysia the whole time. It was very serene... very relaxing. The whole temple was very well maintained and upkept. Being a temple, you would obvious know what to expect in it. So just enjoy the photos.

Our next stop is a place called The Millennium City Park. The place was built and decorated according to the ancient times in China. Even the workers were all dressed in ancient costumes. Because it's a tourist spot, it was obviously well maintained. For that it comes with a fee of RMB 80, if I remembered correctly. So that would make up about MYR 40. Of course there are performances, dancers and singing which we missed all of it because time disallowed us to stay there long. All the shows are either late evening or at night.

Anyway, it's gonna be another flood of photos. Enjoy.
The group photo right after we entered the area.

The sceneries are just mesmerizing.

Prior to this, we were all 'outside' the city and below is the city gate. Every gate would have rows of gold coloured cylinders (sorry, I don't have any photo to show, so had to explain). If the gate has 8 rows, it means that it's only a normal gate used by commoners. If there are 9, then it means that it's the gate the emperor uses. You get the whole idea?

[updated Nov 16, 2006]
If you can't imagine what I was talking about. Look at the gate at the background. See the yellow dots. The emperor only passes through gates with 9 rows.
[end update]

Afer that, we had lunch. Lunch was at a restaurant nearby and we were served with I think over 30 dishes of varieties. Some taste pretty good, some was ok. But ALL are oily and salty. Oil and salt must'd been really really cheap in China. We spent almost 2 hours eating and we still could not finish all the dishes. What a big waste.

After lunch, we went someone's training centre. Remember the Shaolin diciple I mentioned few post ago? He made an arrangement for us to meet with some Tai Chi master there. While everyone else was exchanging knowledge and learning from one another, I was practically stucked at where I sat (and stand) because I don't know what they are doing and perhaps will never will, simply because I don't learn Tai Chi. I think we spent almost 2 hours or so there.

We then continued with our visit. And this time, it's the Kaifeng ancient court... the court where Justice Pao used to hear his cases. The place has been made into a tourist destination with some extensions around the the court. We saw the court, the dungeons, and training ground for the army (Justice Pao has his own small recruits of army) and of course, his residence.

I'll let the pictures do the showing and talking.
Outside the main gate. Funny the entrance was not at the gate but beside.
From outside the court garden into the court arena.
The replica of Justice Pao's official seal.
Outside, at the garden.
Anyone mind translating this for me?
Ah, finally, the court itself.
The 3 beheading equipment used by the judge. The one with the dragon head (middle) was used to behead corrupt royal family members. The one with the tiger head (right) was used to behead corrupt imperial and government officials and the last one on the left, the one with the dog head was used to behead other criminals during his days.

That was the last photo of the day. After that, my camera battery died again. The court was also our last destination before we headed back to our hotel, our new hotel that is, for those who was moving out.

And now, a little description of the new hotel. To even get a stay in the hotel, you must have a diplomatic relationship with the local government or you know someone of high authority. The hotel was actually reserved for the use of high ranking officials in the Chinese government. It is actually located behind two government buildings, hidden the view of many. We must have authorisations to stay there. And because it was reserved for government officials, none of the common people knew about the hotel and its existance.

I was told that the area was guarded by over 300 policemen (I think it's on a rotation basis, because I did not see that many policemen when I was there) and to reach the hotel itself, we had to pass through 3 security guard post. The hotel guaranteed the cleanliness, hygiene and nutritious food... so we can be sure, we won't get SARS, bird flu and other diseases. Hey, the food isn't as oily or salty as the food we had so far, so it's seems all good to me.

I dare not take any photo of the hotel because I didn't want to be accused of spying. Kind of looking forward to the experience of staying there. Later, I went back to the first hotel we stayed to collect our bags. This time, the person who drove us back to the first hotel was an army man who was with us the whole trip. When we return to the new hotel along with our luggage, I don't remember seeing him showing his pass or anything. It kept me wondering. I was trying to look for any symbol or plate on his 4WD or anything to indicate or show his authorization to enter the area and I could not. Even his 4WD has no number plate. So I guess I'll be wondering this for the rest of my life.

The biggest regret of the day... we all missed the closing ceremony of the compeitition because of this trip. Today was the last day of the championship and also the day where the closing ceremony were to be held, at night. It's really something that I had not wanted to miss (in an athletes point of view), but I also didn't want to miss travelling around China (in a tourist's point of view). But I guess I can always attend another closing ceremony in my future competitions if I ever were to compete again but to miss the chance of visiting China like that, not a chance.

We were all so tired, we went straight to bed after unpacking our luggages. End of Day 5.