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Prayers and Eyes, Oh My!

02 Dec

Saturday’s quest: to be annoying tourists in Tianjin! Challenge accepted.

After living here for three months, I finally ventured into one of Tianjin’s more interesting areas, 鼓楼, Gulou. And the best part is, even after a whole afternoon of adventure, there’s still more to reveal! Oh boy, more punk tourism days in the future 🙂

We began the afternoon with some all-American Pizza Hut, which I am pleased to say is downright delicious, especially when you’ve only had sad imitations of pizza for the past few months. Although the price tag for a large pizza is rather steep by Chinese standards (150 RMB for a stuffed crust pizza of amazingness), it really hit the spot.

Next up was大悲院, or Dabei Temple. At 5 RMB, it’s the cheapest temple I’ve seen to date, and it’s much more relaxed than more hyped temples in other cities. Here are my buds doing their prayer thing.

Praying friends at Dabei

Also, there was this spectacular tower where you could throw coins in exchange for good luck or whatever. My coin bounced off into oblivion, so I’m probably cursed for the rest of my life.

Coin Tower

After enjoying the peace and quiet of the temple, we braved three alleyways full of shopkeepers selling various Buddhist goods, from incense to prayer bowels to swords. Few things are more terrifying than slowing just for a moment to take a closer look at something, only to have the shop owner swoop in out of nowhere and try to ensnare you in their web of too-fast Chinese and low-but-not-as-low-as-they-should-be prices. Seriously, shopping would be a good time to not look white. I’m pretty sure every shopkeeper starts their bargaining price 50% higher than they do for Chinese people. After all, every foreigner is rich and willing to blow their money on quaint Chinese goods, right? Still, I scored a wonderful Christmas present for my folks–you just wait and see!

Next up was the Eye of Tianjin, which I prefer to call the Eye of Sauron just to make it seem more epic. It is possibly the slowest ferris wheel in the world, but it offers some legit views of Tianjin and opportunities for shenanigans. I don’t think the two Chinese guys in our car appreciated us jumping around to make it bounce.

Eye of Tianjin shenanigans

To round out the day and make our bodies shiver more (it was devastatingly cold all day, and it snowed! ), we got some Cold Stone in the nearby mall. In case you were wondering, it was entirely worth spending 28 RMB on a small bowl of dark chocolate ice cream with Heath pieces. In a country that has a hard time with dairy products (runny yoghurt, no cheese anywhere, milk scandals, etc.), having a bowl of intensely rich chocolate ice cream made even better with candy chunks was close to a spiritual experience.

Lastly, here are the top Chenglish finds of the day.

Present poeition
I’m not entirely sure why they bothered putting an English “You are here” dot on a map where all the locations are written in Chinese. Seems inadequate.

Dirty cheating door

The door of our ferris wheel car has been very unreliable as of late. Do not trust!

Dragon Head

Evidently, the sink is actually a mystical creature that can reach out and grab you if you taunt it. No really, the word for faucet is “dragon head.” Beware.

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Posted by on December 2, 2012 in Tianjin

 

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