Sunday, June 29, 2008

Leaving China (June 29, 2008)

Well tonight will be my last night in China, as I'll be departing on an evening flight back to America manana. It indeed has been an interesting ride and very educational through and through. Was it worth it? Yeah I'd say it was. Another year in Tucson would've been just that, another year, but coming over here actually opened up a whole new can of experiences. I think I'm ready to setup base camp again, but maybe I'll get bored of that in time too. Here are a few thoughts that I'd like to leave with you all.

What I will miss:
  • Cheap food
  • Cheap toiletries
  • No tax on anything
  • People I've met; one in particular
What I will not miss:
  • Asking if a dish will be spicy, having them say no, and then being given a hella spicy dish. I'm guessing that I should've given these people an analogy of rice or water as an example of a non-spicy food
  • All the bullshit honking from drivers
  • All the spitting
  • All the pollution
  • Drivers breaking all traffic laws all the time
  • All the mysterious smells that come from urine, cooked food, garbage, BO, and every funk in between
  • Seeing parents take their babies or toddlers near a tree, having them squat (because these kids' clothes have a huge hole where their ass is), and having them defecate or piss on the tree
  • Sitting on a bus in order to get anywhere
  • Having water and/or electricity go out for hours/days on end
  • Having Internet go out for days on end
  • Having all US-based video websites completely blocked
  • Having all US-based websites go slow as hell
  • Everything buyable being fake
  • Seeing all the god-awful clothes that most people here wear
  • Seeing males walk around with their shirt rolled up, exposing their stomach to everyone.
  • Being a teacher; what an unrewarding job
What I am looking forward to:
  • Buying a celly plan
  • Having voicemail again
  • Calling people instead of texting
  • Buying a car
  • Driving a car
  • Using Mr. Credit Card again
  • Fast, reliable Internet
  • Building a gaming computer again
One crap thing about the celly is that the 3G iPhone is coming out soon and I don't have an income, so I can't really justify purchasing it. Not that I really want it, but the technology embedded in it is something to respect. I'll probably wait until the Nokia E71 is released and then buy an unlocked version. Hopefully AT&T will pick it up and make it more affordable. Another crap thing is that I can't buy the car that I want because no job and gas prices have hit me with a double-whammy. Separating fuel economy and performance really sucks. You can never get both. One of these days I'll be able to get the car I want and not worry about anything else, but not right now. At least that can still be a life goal I suppose.

And here is a picture that closes the book on my experiences here:

Translated it reads, "Fresh Dog Meat Restaurant". Freshly killed dog with freshly made noodles.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Spiderwick Chronicles (Family Adventure 2008)

For a children’s movie, this one would rank as one of the higher ones. The main actor, Freddie Highmore, is somebody that I wouldn’t mind punching in the face, but we can’t always get what we want.

The film was a fantasy film, but much better than crappy Bridge to Terabithia or others like it. It had a good mix of real acting and fantasy creatures. CG was good, as was the musical theme. The story went a little fast, but that’s to be expected from any children’s movie.
Rating - B

Sex and the City (Comedy 2008)

I was never much of a fan of the series, but I did mange to see a few episodes here and there. So although I watched this movie without having an intimate knowledge of all the characters, I did have an idea of each person’s personality.

The film as a standalone wasn’t half bad. It was overly girly in the fact that most of the concerns of the characters seemed to be very gender specific, but it was still understandable and more-less enjoyable. It did feel like an extended episode rather than a full-length movie though.

Overall it was made to close the book on the television series, much like Serenity and Firefly. It did have a thorough and strong ending, so the director did a good job with that aspect of it. If you’re a fan of the series then I’m sure you’ll like the film, and if not it was still a pretty good movie by itself.
Rating - B

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kung Fu Panda (Animated Comedy 2008)

This one looked like it would be a funny little movie, and indeed it was. The best comparison I can think of is that of the first Shrek movie. Dreamworks did that one too, and this film had the same level of humor. Although it wasn’t as polished as a Pixar film, it was still very enjoyable.

The movie was pretty funny. I laughed many times and was surprised at how well done the visuals were. CG technology is certainly improving with every passing year so it’s good to know that it’s not getting stagnant. All of the voice actors were up to par in terms of quality, and Jack Black played one of his regular, goofy characters, but this time he was a big fat panda. The panda's father, who was a duck, was one of my favorite characters. It's rare for me to find something so entertaining, but for one reason or another, he was.

I didn’t find any part of this movie boring or too child-like. It was a pretty solid, animated film, so my recommendations go out.
Rating - A

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Happening (Thriller 2008)

M. Night Shyamalan sucks. I guess his one hit wonder of a movie, The Sixth Sense , was really just that.

This film had so much potential but ended up flopping around 15 minutes into it. The initial premise was great, as was the drama while the plot started to unfold. So where did it all go wrong? Quickly after the initial introductory scenes. During the middle of the movie the audience finds out the reason why everything was “happening”, and boy was the explanation lame.

What continued hurting the movie was the dialogue coming out of Mark Wahlberg's mouth. It was really bad, like his character was a HS science teacher and he was running around mouthing off like he was some hotshot bigwig like in his other films. I’m sure his character was written in that manner so that's why Shyamalan is to be blamed. Also, the drama between Wahlberg's character and that of his wife’s was not believable at all. On top of that, nobody cared. All of this was disappointing because we all know that Wahlberg is a pretty descent actor, so seeing him spew out crappy line after crappy line was just plain embarrassing.

The blame for all of this lies with Shyamalan because he was both the writer and director. His stuff just sucks because he tries too hard to be unique and groundbreaking. We all can’t be Apple, with their ability to produce cooler and cooler stuff every single year. Shyamalan should get over his pompous self and concentrate on making one plain Jane, good movie. Is that even possible? I vote No.
Rating - D

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Semi-Pro (Comedy 2008)

This one can be categorized right along side Anchorman. Utter crap, that about sums it up. Will Ferrell's movies are usually a hit or miss, but more recently all of his stuff have been misses with the ball nowhere in sight.

No parts of this movie were funny.
Rating - F

Friday, June 13, 2008

Living in China (June 13, 2008)

Ha! It’s Friday the 13th…how coincidental.

OK so get this. It’s 73 degrees outside with 88% humidity. It is currently 7:00PM and the last time my hands touched running water was around 1:00PM. Supposedly something is “wrong with the pipes”, so the apartment complex that I live in as well as the whole campus itself is without water. Prior to this I went bathroom hunting since I had inadvertently used up the single reserve tank in my bathroom.

This school has 2 teaching buildings with around 7-12 floors each. I took a peek into the bathrooms on a few of the floors in each of the buildings and needless to say, the prevailing stench of each stall was repulsive. No AC or ventilation in the teaching buildings....fucking nasty. Supposedly for the next 3 days, we will only be “rationed” (3) 1.5 hour slots throughout the day when water use will be temporarily restored.

Can you picture what life is going to be like? I can tell you…foul. So now I’m sitting in my apartment feeling hot, sticky, dirty, and very unclean. This fucking backwards country sucks. "Developing" my ass. They have a few more centuries to go until they can measure up with what the U.S. was back in 1950.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Comedy 2008)

This one was a pretty funny movie. It was written by Jason Segel, one of the actors in Knocked Up, so there was definitely a link between the two movies and the same grade of humor used in both.

Although it wasn’t funnier than The 40 Year Old Virgin or Knocked Up, it still traveled along the same wake. I really wasn’t expecting this film to be all that humorous just from watching the previews, but for whatever reason it was. I laughed a good number of times, and during a few scenes, I had to pause the movie because I knew the waves of outgoing chuckles would detract my attention away from the screen.
Rating - B

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Action Adventure 2008)

So I finally got a hold of this movie. I’ve been waiting to see it ever since it was announced last year. It’s been quite a long time since the 3rd film in the series was first released. I was still a tadpole when I saw The Last Crusade over and over again during one of the many lazy summers of my childhood. I was a little concerned that Harrison Ford might not be able to perform up to par in this movie because of his excessive age. He, like many other actors from the 80s generation, is a little over the hill to be doing action movies anymore.

To begin, I’ll say that I was still very impressed with the Steven Spielberg and George Lucas combo writing & directing partnership. They have always produced very entertaining films, and this movie followed in those same footsteps. It was an adventure straight from the beginning, with both witty dialogue and impressive acting. Harrison Ford didn’t seem to skip a beat, but I’m sure that a lot of make-up was added to his face to hide his aged features. Surprisingly enough, Shia LaBeouf has evolved past his adolescent character in "Even Stevens", where he started his career. He played a 50s greaser rebel and I think he did a fine job, with the jackass attitude and all.

The story itself was all over the place, but in a good way. The ending could’ve been better and left several, puzzling questions that I had to Google to get the answers. A few scenes were stupid and unnecessary, but I’ll overlook all of that just because this was Indiana Jones. I had a great time watching this movie, much like most peers from my generation probably will.
Rating - B

Monday, June 09, 2008

Living in China (June 9, 2008)

This last past weekend I went on a little trip to Sanya in Hainan Province. It’s supposed to be the “Hawaii” of China, so I wanted to see if it was really all that. If I cut to the chase, it wasn’t all that great, but if you think about it, Hawaii isn’t really all that great either. In fact, both of these locations are quite similar in terms of economy and the local population.

Some people might like tropical weather, but I discovered that I really don’t. I hate humidity with a passion. There is nothing more uncomfortable than being in a place where you’re sticky all the time, all over your body. I don’t understand how people can live in these climates. I’d never get anything done. If I were a student and didn’t have an AC’ed room, like most Chinese college students, there would be no way I could do anything, much less think and memorize.

The local people who were involved in the tourism industry seemed nicer than those in Beijing, but that’s because they're probably used to chatting it up with people from all over all year round. The local people not involved in tourism seemed seedy and dirty. Note the similarity with Hawaii. There, if you stay at a resort and do touristy stuff, then all is good, but if you go and try to interact with locals who live there, you will discover a nastier side of the island.

One thing I did find surprising was the number of stores catering to Russian tourists. You had stuff written in Chinese and Russian, but no English. Very odd. Also, almost every white person I saw there spoke Russian. I heard one guy speaking Spanish in the airport, but that was about it. I guess Russians like going there for vaca?

I went to a few beaches and a ghetto “Sea World”, consisting of 5 buildings. Yes, only five. One for alligators, one for tortoises, one for a lone sea otter, one for dolphins that I could not see, and one for birds that I could not see. It was the biggest waste of $10US.

I did get to go to a shooting range, but sadly all I was able to shoot were shotguns and rifles with .22 rounds. It was the fastest $42US I’ve ever blew in my life. If I were a little less excited, I would’ve noticed that the ammunition was ungodly overpriced.

The seafood was hella good though. I ate it at every meal. Going to a touristy restaurant is not the way to go though…they serve crap. But if you go to where the locals eat near a beach, then that is where the good stuff is kept.

Here is a pic of beef jerky on a plate. It was from one of the touristy restaurants. Boo.

This was an oversized coconut. Very heavy.

This is an advertisement of some kid who wins eating contests. Too bad it looks like he’s eating turds.

I looked it up and the word actually means something about food, but of course I thought it meant something completely different.

This last pic was great. It was a surfaced submarine wandering along the coast.

So yeah, that pretty much sums up the trip. I blew a ton of money, but it was worth the story and now I can cross yet another city off my China list. My advice would be to not go here on vacation. It's just not worth it.