Food Market in China

Javi and I are part of a group chat in WeChat (the chinese kind of Whatsapp) with almost 400 foreigners living in Nanning. An italian girl got in touch with me before I arrived in China and we chatted a lot. On the third day after arriving in Nanning I finally got internet on my phone (it was btw NOT blocked.. I just went to a different phone company and it worked without any problems). I cancelled my spanish phone number and now I got 10 GB each month for only 6 Euros. Awesome.

So I asked the italian girl if she wants to meet up in the city centre and that’s what we did. She showed us some places and then went to a street food market in the city center. It was really interesting there. Mostly the food there was: Tofu, vegetables, dumplings (jiaozi and baozi), fried insects, a looot of different kinds of meat and many other things I have never seen in my life before. Also many interesting desserts with fruits or pudding-kind-of things. We decided to have dinner there and try the food.

I decided to eat the Jiaozi (like meat or vegetable filled dumplings) and Javi and the italian girl ordered some tofu with vegetables and mushrooms and meat on a stick. What Javi and I did not know was that most of the food here is spicy – and we both don’t like spicey. A day later Javi and I went to a normal restaurant and asked for non spicy food but there was only so little. Almost everything was spicy!

One time we bought green pepper at the supermarket. It looks like normal green pepper, like in Austria and like in Spain – but it was super spicy! I could not even eat it (yes, it may sound like I am exaggerating but I really cannot eat anything spicy).

On the other side I love the fruits here in China – there are so many fruits that we don’t have in europe and they are super delicious. On the streets you can find many people selling fruits or fresh fruit juice.

Here are some pictures of the food market:

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The first day in Nanning

We got up at 8 in the morning. Well actually Javi got up at 6 and tried to convince me for more than one hour to get up too but I was still so tired. We walked around the area to find breakfast with WiFi. Not easy at all. We then found a little supermarket where we bought water and breakfast to go. Then we found a little WiFi spot on the street where we stayed for a few minutes to answer all the messages and talk to the family. I then looked up the address to go to the police station because if you don’t stay at a hotel you have to register at a police station within 24 hours. On the map it all looked like it was close to each other but in the end it took us a long time to get there only to find out that it was closed. But closed like forever – it was completely empty and full of garbage inside. We found a shopping center with WiFi and that’s where I checked the address of a different police station. Again, it looked like kind of around the corner and only a few streets away but it was almost an hour walking in the end and it was sooo hot and humid.

Next issue: registration at the police office

We were comunicating with our phones translating english to chinese and vice versa. So we sat there trying to do the registration. I had to fill in a form on the police officer’s phone because all the printed paper is in Chinese. A required field was Chinese phone number. But I don’t have one. It took us around half an hour to figure out following: I can use a friends chinese number but I did not have any because WeChat works with username so I can’t see the number. The chinese police officer made me a hotspot and I could use his internet to find a friend with chinese number. I called a girl from Spain that I haven’t even ever met before but we talked to each other because she was going to help me with the chinese language course. She then agreed to send me her chinese phone number. The police officer sent a verification code to her and she then sent a screenshot to me. All this trouble was for nothing in the end. Why? Because the next thing he asked me for was a confirmation letter of the landlord because if it is not a hotel you are required to have a confirmation letter. Of course I did not have one so the whole thing was a waste of time.

There was a Chinese-looking guy next to us and asking us if we need any help. He spoke English perfectly and I was so relieved to be able to speak with someone. He then told us that he is from Scotland but he learnt Chinese for 3 years – awesome! He helped us a lot and in the end the police officer said that I can register online when I get a chinese phone number. The scottish guy then called a taxi for us to bring us to a shopping center with Walmart so we can buy some stuff for the flat. He said: „The taxi driver already knows where you want to go. Just get out of the car and don’t give any money – even if he asks for money. It’s already paid by me“. Since I arrived in China I was in many situations like „oh shit that sucks so much and so complicated“ and „this is awesome, so nice I can’t believe it“. If you know what I mean… it’s just a rollercoaster of feelings. It was great talking to him and we got his wechat contact. Then we went to Walmart

The apartment we are staying at now is only temporarly because in 2 days the company will give Javi another one. Javi told the company that it is important for him to have a flat for himself because I was going with him. But the flat they gave him was a shared flat so after complaining they told him that they will find a solution. So right now I am still at the shared flat. It is an empty flat. There is nothing. No toilet paper, hand soaps, kitchen stuff… not even one single pan or pot or fork or anything. Absolutely nothing. (and yes, there was someone living there… I don’t understad how you can live like that to be honest)

Since we knew we would get to a different flat we did not buy much. Just a small towel to take a shower, toilet paper and food that we can eat without kitchen stuff. Even the food shopping was complicated but that would be too long of a story to explain now. In the end we just got a lunch that we did not even expect because of some communicaton problems but it was really tasty. At Walmart a chinese man came to us and asked if we need any help. After talking to him for a while he asked what we do in China. When Javi said that he works as a football coach the chinese man said that he knows a person (his ex work colleague) who works with football coaches here. He then showed Javi the contact and they found out that it is the exact same person that has been organising Javi’s arrival for a long time. The chinese man and Javi then took a picture to send it to her. In the beginning we did not expect that it is the same person because people here have 2 names: a chinese name and an english name. And Javi only knew the english name of her while the chinese man only knew her chinese name. But in the end it was super funny and such a big coincidence. I mean.. our first day in a city with 7 million people and we find some chinese guy at walmart that knows the person who works with Javi haha. Just crazy.

So that’s it for today. Now I am at the flat. Javi is at work but has a work dinner today to get to know more people etc. Since we only have one key and still no internet and no idea when he will come home I just prefer to stay in the room (after what happened yesterday I am not going to do that again). But like that I have time to organize some things.

The arrival from the airport to the city of Nanning

If you read my last post you know how long the journey was and can maybe imagine how tired I was because i was not able to sleep at the plane…not even for a minute. So I arrived in Nanning at the airport and a chinese lady, who was on my flight from Guangzhou to Nanning, helped me negotiate the taxi price (100 Yuan instead of 150 Yuan = 12 Euros). First of all – the people talking to you on the airport saying: „taxi, taxi, taxiiii“ are only wing men. They bring you outside and then call their friends who are driving around all day long to pick up people from the airport. He talked to like 3 different people and no one could take me because they either had some other customer going to another direction or whatever reason I did not understand because they were speaking chinese the whole time. After a while waiting outside he called another person and finally took me and another chinese girl to the city center. It was a lot of trouble for them to find my address and despite talking to like 5 different people nobody knew the street where I had to go to. They all tried to tell me that the address is wrong and the street name is a different but similar one but I was 100 % sure of the street name. But I did not have any interent so I was not able to show them. Anyways he took me and while driving to the city center the girl next to me helped me figure out the street name (which was correct of course!).

In the taxi it was so difficult to not fall asleep, seriously. I felt like I reached my limit. I could have fallen asleep within a second. It was a trouble for the taxi driver to find the street name but he kept driving around to find the right house number which I found really nice. So I took out another 10 Yuan of my wallet to later give him tip. The chinese girl next to me saw that and when the taxi driver was not looking she took the 10 Yuan and put it back to my wallet and pointed that I should not give any tip and that 100 are okay. So I am not sure what that means. Was 100 Yuan too much? Or are tips not usual here? No idea. (I later found out that in China it is not common to give tip)

We found the right house number and I got off the taxi. It was around 14 o’clock by that time (time in China, 6 hours more than in Austria). There was a China Mobil store right next to the entrance so I wanted to buy a SIM card to finally have internet on my phone again. But of course it would have been too good to be true. She said that my phone is blocked and the SIM card does not work on my phone. Great.

So I went back to the entrance of the apartment and waited there for my boyfriend. Of course it would have been easier to just wait for him 2 hours at the airport but that was not possible because someone from his work picked him up.

So I waited and waited… moving around to places in the shade because I was wearing long jeans and a short sleeve shirt. It was so humid and hot – I was so hot and sweaty I felt really awful there. So it was 15, then 16, then 17 o’clock. Then I thought that something cannot be right. He was supposed to arrive at 16 maximum at the apartment but I waited for one more hour because you never know (delayed flight or traffic or whatever reason).

So I walked around to find a restaurant with Wifi which btw is not easy at all. The places around that area are all small restaurants without any WiFi and because of the broken luggage I could not walk around that much. Luckily I found a fast food pizza place and they had WiFi.

And then I saw the message of my boyfriend Javi… he got picked up from the work colleague but they brought him straight to work to do his first training and he finishes at 19. They seriously cannot wait one day? Like travelling for around 20 hours is not exhausting plus the jetlag. Anyways he got to meet the whole team and all so that was great for him of course. I tried to stay at the pizza place as long as possible. I finally was able to contact my whole family to tell them that I arrived safely. After answering all these messages my phone ran out of battery. There was no plug in this restaurant…not even a toilet. So my final message to Javi was that at 19 I will go back to the entrance of the apartment and told him the street name again.

I was relieved and thought that this time it would work. So I went back to the entrance and waited there…and waited… and waited. I put the straps of my bags around my feet in case of robbery. I sat there and just could not resist anymore and fell asleep. Not for long, always for a few minutes but it was a hard fight. Have you ever been so tired that you had to fight but you just could not resist? It’s awful. So it was 21 o’clock and I started to get really worried. Now my options are: Keep waiting but I have no battery nor wifi and everything was already closed OR look for a hotel but that means walking around with 3 luggages and one of them even broken and not knowing where to go because… well, because no internet. And old people say it was better back then without internet. People were loosing a lot of time waiting or looking for each other. If I would have had internet it all would have been much easier haha.

So I sat there thinking the whole time: „should I stay or should I go“ 😛 and I seriously was about to go look for a hotel but imagine if I go to a hotel, I would have Wifi and I could charge my phone and text him BUT Javi did not have WiFi either so he could not have read the message and maybe was looking for me the whole time and would have kept doing this for hours. It is horrible not knowing what the other person will do or where he/she is when we were supposed to meet up.

I think it was around 21:15 when he finally passed by the apartment and we saw each other. I cried of relief and he just hugged me a lot. He was running around the streets looking for me for more than one hour. We than realised that the community we live in is so huge it has many different entrances in different streets as well. He kept asking chinese people about the street name I told him and they all told him different directions although it was only 5 minutes walking distance. Not even the security guy of the building could tell him where the street is and since he did not have internet either the only thing left to do was running around.

Anyways it all ended well.

As you can imagine I fell asleep within seconds once in the apartment.

My flight to China: THE FULL STORY

After 42 hours I finally arrived in Nanning! It was the craziest trip. It all started like this: My flight had 2 stopovers (Vienna to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Guangzhou, Guangzhou to Nanning) with the company China Southern and KLM. On Friday I left my hometown at 04:00 in the morning to take the train to the airport in Vienna (2 hours train ride). It was the only train at that time so I arrived early and had to wait (3 hours) at the airport. So far so good and everything was easy in Vienna and also on the flight to Amsterdam (1 hour 50 minutes flight).

In Amsterdam I had to pick up the luggage because it was operated by KLM and then I had to go outside and check in again with China Southern. While waiting for my luggage I checked my next flight to Guangzhou. It was supposed to be a 2 hour stopover in Amsterdam.

Then I found the shocking news: My flight to Guangzhou got cancelled. I already travelled a lot but a cancelled flight has never happened to me before so naturally I became a little bit nervous. I went to the information desk of China Southern, which btw was crowded…of course….

So I had to wait for a long time until I got an information. They said that both of my flights have been cancelled because of the Typhoon. There was no flight available and the only thing they can do is book me on the same flight but one day later. So my 26 hour trip just became a 42 hour trip. So I was stuck in Amsterdam for 24 hours and the only thing I thought was fuck, what am I going to do here for so long? I had a loooot of luggage. It was heavy and also broken and walking around with it is no fun. I went to the informaton desk to ask for a plug/battery station because my phone was almost dead and I explained him my situation. The guy after me in line said: „I think I got something for you“. So he pulled out of his bag a 2-day transportation pass for Amsterdam. Valid for all busses, metro etc. And on top of that the guy at the information desk said: „I got something for you too“ and gave me a city map and told me that there is a luggage storage downstairs. I actually didn’t even plan to go to the city because of all the luggage and everything but I kind of got pushed because of these 2 guys and became really excited about it. After thanking them I went down to the luggage storage and left my luggage there for 15 Euros (price for 2 luggages for 24 hours).

I hopped on the bus and went to the city center of Amsterdam. It was a great day. It was warm and sunny and in the evening a friend of mine who I haven’t seen for a few years came to visit me after work. He even convinced me to just stay at a hostel overnight and get some energy instead of spending the night at the airport. I booked a hostel for 19 Euros, it was called Orfeo. It is very basic but cheap and I didn’t need more than just a bed. At the same time I cancelled my hotel in China because I was supposed to arrive one day before my boyfriend (who has access to the aparment) and because of the delay we arrived on the same day.

The room in the hostel in Amsterdam was for 6 people (2 bunk beds with 3 levels). In the middle of the night at like 03:00 some dude that made a lot of noise arrived. He slammed the door several times, ate really loud and disgusting and smelled awful…like a mix of alcohol and weed, just really disgusting. Other than that I slept well because I was really tired.

It was my second time in Amsterdam but so much better and more beautiful than the first time. The first time I went there for Queens Day and the whole city was covered with people wearing orange shirts. This time I kind of saw the real Amsterdam and I loved it. Especially that so many people go by bike instead of car! So the short and unplanned city trip was all worth it.

In the morning after breakfast I went back to the airport. I picked up my luggage and then went to do the check in. There was a huge line and I think it took me around one hour until I finally was inside. Also because my luggage was broken (I broke some handles and then the airline broke the rest of the handles, so now I have a huge and heavy luggage without any handles – imagine going with that somewhere, every step turns into an obstacle haha) it took much time because I could not do the self-check in of the luggage and had to bring it to the „oversize and special luggage area“.

And then I finally got on the plan to China!! But first to my next stopover in Guangzhou. When I first booked China Southern I honestly was a little bit sceptical because I read so many negative references about it. But it was great. A blanket, pillow and headphones were on the seat, I got 2 full meals which tasted really good as well, I watched 2 movies, listened to music and studied some chinese. I tried to sleep but I just could not sleep at all. But it was a great flight and comfortable (I know 12 hours sitting around is not comfortable but considering the circumstances it was comfortable haha). All I wanna say is that China Southern positively surprised me. 12 hours later we arrived in Guangzhou!

When I left Amsterdam 2 different people told me that I would have to get the bag and check it back in again in Guangzhou, like I did in Amsterdam. So when I arrived in Guangzhou I asked another person and she told me that she is sure that my bag will be transferred directly to Nanning so there is no need to do the check in again. I was a little confused but I kind of trusted her and went to the next gate, waiting for 3 hours for my final flight to Nanning. While waiting for my flight a really nice chinese lady started talking to me in English. We talked a lot and exchanged our WeChat numbers (It’s the chinese kind of Whatsapp). She only had a stopover in Nanning though because she continued to her hometown in the north of China. The flight to Nanning (1 hour 40 minutes) was great too and I did not expect to get such a big snack (actually it was more like a full meal) on such a short flight. In Europe you usually just get a cookie or nuts… or nothing.

After the flight I felt so relieved to finally have arrived in Nanning. My new chinese friend helped me negotiate a price for the taxi. When you arrive somewhere in china there are most likley people standing around and following you with „taxi, taxi, taxiiii“. (Note: actually these are no real taxis) but since everyone seems to do it, I accepted. So I paid 100 Yuan (around 12 Euros) to go to the city center which was like a 45-50 minutes car ride. So cheap!

By the way: Neither in Guangzhou nor in Nanning I was able to connect to the WiFi at the airport. They require to log in with a chinese phone number which obviously I don’t have yet. So I got a little bit nervous to not be able to contact my boyfriend who is supposed to arrive 2 hours later and we agreed to meet at the new apartment. So that’s when the next drama started. But I am gonna write a new post about that because this is getting too long here haha.

Anyways: The flights were both with KLM and China Southern really good. The flight to China only cost me 300 Euros. The customer service on the airport in Amsterdam helped me well with the cancelled flight and I can only say positive things about it. For those of you thinking why they did not provide me a hotel for the cancelled flight: If a flight gets cancelled because of things like weather condition the airline does not have to provide compensation because it is not the airlines fault that it happened.

Next up: the arrival from the airport to the city of Nanning

A city full of confetti

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Last week I went to Bétera with my ex-work colleagues. Bétera is a smaller town close to Valencia. We went there because we knew there would be a festival right now. We had no idea what kind of festival or why they celebrate it but to our surprise we found part of the town covered in confetti. It was holiday (August 15th) and most of the shops and restaurants were closed but because of this festival there was a street full of bars and restaurants, food stands and attractions.

We went for a walk around the town and that`s how we discovered the confetti covered town center. It was really crazy seeing that much confetti on the street. You could not even see the street anymore because it was fully covered. We took many pictures and videos throwing confetti into the air. Apparently they do this every year and it lasts for around 10 days. On the last days they walk around throwing fireworks at night. Some people have their house, especially doors and windows, covered with wood for this reason (to protect their walls I guess).

So here are some pictures, it was a lot of fun:

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