26 January 2007

The Road to Shenyang

We will skip chronological order here for a moment, and go back a few hours before the previous post about touring Shenyang. When I travel, I often write what I see as I see it. here, in a stream of consciousness play by play is the taxi ride from the airport to the phoenix hotel in Shenyang, word for word from the journal, as it was written at the time. The only thing fixed here is my horrible spelling...

070115 12:34 TAXI

Arrived in Shenyang. Cloudy, Cold. Snow still in the fields. Some new construction near airport, cant see far due to heavy overcast. Accent sounds thicker. Low brick houses, corn stalks stacked in shed-like shapes. Newer apartment townhouses on the left. Rows of aligned trees by roadside. More stacks of corn stalks. Heavy overcast, minimal vision, but not too thick of fog. Half a mile or so, maybe less. There is a camera mounted on the windshield, facing the passenger seat. Steady beep as the meter ticks off the toll. Passing large LG facility, then a double-building with a large “hole” between the towers. Mercedes dealership. All stacked around the tollbooth. Toyota. BMW. Taller buildings under construction show dark through the haze. A train loaded with coal passes under the road. Through the thick blue-gray haze construction cranes rise and reach everywhere. On the bridge over the river, the fog thickens. The river appears partly frozen. Past the bus terminal, people wait in padded coats outside. A bus with huge advertisements for “RANS Sanitary Ware – The Trend of Global Sanitary Ware.” The street sign says no horns, no motorcycles, no tractors or horse-drawn carts, and no trucks during certain hours. A cargo truck, bright blue, Chinese movie stars taped in the windows, in their sleeveless tops, bright and sunny against the cold gray outside. Smokestacks and cell towers rise among the apartments, taller construction projects squeezed between existing structures. Past the school, kids out playing basketball on the courts. Into the town. Quilted jackets and knee-length coats. Construction. The low apartment complexes (6-7 stories) with shops on the round floor, crowding along the streets. A few Christmas trees in shop doorways or windows. Christmas decorations, Santa heads, paper wreaths, stuck to restaurant windows. “California beef Noodle King USA.” KFC on the opposite corner. Always KFC in China. A strange concrete tower. A stilled ferris wheel. Moving through the shopping district. Motor scooters with their hand warmers stuck to the handlebars. Buses packed with people. Shopping centers sporting Chinese and foreign brands. Sidewalks crammed with bicycle parking. Large statue of Mao in the middle of a traffic circle, pointing out the way to go. Our driver cant go two minutes without blowing the horn. More construction. Bank buildings everywhere. Cardboard and plywood shanties built at the edge of construction, where houses are being torn down. Garbage overflowing on side streets. The main roads are very wide, side roads much less so. Korean store here. Here, too, gray is the universal color, though several of the new apartments are pink. Hey! A cherry red Cherry taxi! Many more old low concrete apartment blocks, like Mongolia or DPRK. Communist construction. And we arrive at the Phoenix Hotel.

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