Tuesday, December 16, 2008


this isn't fair. my erudite learning should be earning me millions and millions, but it is just too bad that i am not American.

How many decades are there in two millennia?

'Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader' posed this question to an adult, who is probably a professional, and guess, she doesn't know the answer! let me do the simple mathematics for you, dear friends. i hope that you wouldn't think i am insulting your intelligence.

2 times 1000 divide by 10 = 200

boooooooooooooo...she didn't know the answer, and so was dropped out of the contest, taking home ONLY U$10 000.

i think if i watch the show any more, i would be emotionally unbalanced, from sheer indignation. now, i have never begrudged winners in 'Who wants to be a millionaire', because they really, truly seem to know a lot. but this is entirely different. half the time, children in brown ask me questions like i am wikipedia and google rolled into one, and i only get a fraction of the money.

i think that the americans shouldn't embarass themselves in this way by selling these programmes that betray their woeful lack of knowledge. but guess what? we are paying big money to buy and air these shows! now...who is really smarter?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hainanese Chicken Rice

since we were already in the vicinity, HL and i decided to go and explore the origins of Hainanese chicken rice. for the record, it does exist. Hainanese chicken rice is made with the famous Wen Chang chicken, which i think refers to free-range, organic chickens, bred in the wild. otherwise, why is the meat so tough and the skin so thick? :P we asked the guide what is special about Wenchang chickens, and he said, 'the bones are exceptionally soft.' this is very strange. we don't eat the bones, do we? you can gather that we were not impressed.

here you are: Wenchang chicken, served with slices of blood curd :P

it comes with a light garlic dip, with a touch of chilli and vinegar. the rice is not very different from ours, but they use short grains.
anyway, so the mystery is solved. Hainanese chicken rice comes from...Hainan after all.

Friday, December 05, 2008

All's well that ends well

shall i just say, all's well that ends well.

i would love to have something nice to say about my trip in conclusion, but you see, there was a blackout at our hotel just as we were leaving. all in all, it does look like Hainan let itself down completely in front of these two tourists, and whom can it blame?

i have to say, it is just a little too close to home to be really interesting. why did i go from one tropical island to a bigger tropical island? the guardian gargoyle pointed out helpfully, 'that's a papaya tree', and i wanted to say, 'yeah, we used to steal from our neighbour's papaya tree.' you see what i mean? sigh, rain tree, angsana tree, mango tree...it isn't his fault, but i can't be expected to go 'ooh' and 'ahhhh', right?

at least, i am finally home safely. i shall just put it all over me, and...decided never, ever, to go back to Hainan Island again.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


on the record, the place is Effects Cafe in Hai Kou, Hainan.

it started out reasonably well. HL and i went in and happily ordered our tea sets, and they were of excellent value. before we sat down, the waitress brushed away little black crumbs from the table. guess what they are. the sofas are frayed and betray little tears. guess why.

suddenly, a mouse scuttled out from under MY seat to the opposite seat. well...that's not too bad, yet, is it? sometimes things like that happen...then its cousin ran out to join it. is the place infested with mice? we complained to the waitress and just then, a third mouse appeared. all hell broke loose. HL screamed so loudly that all the staff of the cafe dashed out to see what was wrong, and my legs were well up on the sofa. goodness me! the place is crawling with mice. now you can guess why the sofas were torn and there were black crumbs...we could puke. obviously we didn't want to eat the food in the place, so we paid up and fled.

funnily enough, nobody else was surprised or alarmed. the other customers were at first startled by our screams, but when they were told, 'it's just mice', they shrugged and continued to enjoy their tea. the waitress told us that they were not afraid until our screams frightened them. ok, i guess, i am glad that we didn't damage their business too much :P

*** ***
our guardian gargoyle abandoned us.

after bringing us back to Hai Kou, he made us fill in feedback forms, and i am sorry to say that we were honest. he got really upset with us and blustered and protested. then, he went off in a huff, leaving us stranded in our hotel and that is the very last time we saw him today. so now, we are on our own. never mind, we are going home soon and now, at least we are reasonably near the airport. sigh...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Update on my adventures in Hainan

Let me try to be a little fairer about Hainan. there are long stretches of lovely beaches here, yes, fringed with coconut trees and fine sand like what you see in pictures. we had fun dashing through the lapping waves of the South China sea. what other enjoyable moments were there? raiding the coffee factory :) and sampling different flavours of coffee, and the tea brewing session was interesting. the weather is gloriously sunny and does not come with searing heat. Hainan is an island blessed with many different natural attractions, but i am utterly underwhelmed by the human attempts to exploit the tourist factor.

when we tour the End of the World Beach, i was impressed by the beauty of the sea. what i really hated was that they actually managed to broadcast one inane catchy song throughout the beach, over and over again, it does something like, 'oh what a beautiful beach, welcome to hainan island and may you enjoy yourself..' :P this is a dreadful addition to the place.

and part of our itinerary was Southeast Asia Village. i wonder if i am spoilt, but it is hard to fake interest in a replica of Chao Phraya when i have seen the real thing :P there was even an ugly statue of the Merlion. oh no, so this is what they think represents singapore! >:1

*** ***
of course, much of my experience of Hainan has been coloured by the looming presence of our guardian gargoyle. sigh...it has been one long battle of wits, will and words. this man hadn't reckoned on us fighting back this morning. there was some blustering and voice-raising on his part but we stood firm. bully. just because we have been so polite, he thought we were meek and stupid. we threatened to call the main agency in Hainan to ask them why we have turned into an illegal (and therefore underprivileged) tour group, and he finally capitulated. i am not sure what he is really doing, probably double-dealing and trying to take advantage of both the agency and us...among other things, sharing our tourist privileges as our relative *grimace*. after the lambs bucked and kicked, he spent today trying to appease us. it is just as well. at least, now there is no more of the 'table for 3' nonsense.

besides, we managed to shake him off for the evening and ran around Sanya on our own :) i forbade HL from speaking, in case she betrays our alien origins, and i put on my very best Beijing accent. if i am careful, we pass off as mainlanders. that makes us merely foreign, instead of alien.

anyway, we would be returning to Hai Kou tomorrow to spend the last night, then this curious experience would be all over.

Monday, December 01, 2008

my relative

the problem is, HL and i are criminals here in hainan, so we can't exactly run away and ask for help. you see, as soon as we arrived, we were informed that china/Hainan doesn't allow small tour groups, there are only 2 of us, which makes us...illegal. if they find out, someone would be fined. so he solemnly warned us not to tell anyone that we are tourists. we are his relatives. and since we are his relatives...

this is the first time ever, really, i have ever shared a meal with the guide. at every meal, he would sit with us, bold as brass, as if he is one of us, sharing our food and dipping his chopsticks into the same dishes...i don't think we know him well enough for this. isn't it most awkward and strange? we don't get a single moment away from him! even when we reach the hotel and wanted to walk AROUND the hotel, he tagged along, until we went back to our rooms. sigh...because he says, Hainan is a dangerous place and we are foreigners.

i really don't want to eat anymore meals with him. i don't feel like a tourist. HL and i are like two helpless little girls dragged around the country by a crafty old uncle, who is at once protective and exploitative. no one is allowed to fleece us except himself. we are at his mercy and he knows it. we don't even speak the language too well, and who can we protest to? he drinks heavily (by my standards) every dinner, then drives us back. for once, this intrepid traveller wishes that we have other guys with us.

PS, about the compulsory tour, in the end, we simply paid for a very expensive seafood dinner (yes, he shared it with us), and that was it. apparently, it was enough money spent to justify...whatever. it means we aren't getting fined, i think. wait, maybe it means we have just been fined.

in case you are wondering, he says that his company is Ye Lin, and we booked with City 99. masterofboots posted this entry in Maintint Hotel, Sanya.

Sucker's Land

why would anyone want to go to Hainan Island?

dear friends, i wish that i could post an 'wish you were here' entry, but...actually, i could. i wish that you guys were here so that there is safety in numbers.

HL and i are like lambs brought about to be fleeced and slaughtered. i am not sure whether it is the guide's fault, or the agency's anyway, someone, no, i mean, many people, are out to squeeze every drop they can. so i am very CROSS.

many of the so-called 'items on the itinerary' are merely shops in disguised. after some demonstration, the real point, of course, is to get you to buy the products - tea, medicine, silk. oh man, even if you buy anything, they would persuade you to buy more. i think i am going to have to be very rude soon. these people don't know how to take 'no' for an answer.

now we are having a ceasefire with our tour guide. notice my choice of noun. it would resume soon. he is trying to force us to go on the 'optional tour', because if not, someone would be fined! how bl*ody absurd! so friends, wish me luck, and oh yes.

wish you are here too :(