Friday, November 11, 2005

Harbin Street Stories: Poundin' the Pavement

The morning slipped by like most. I wandered around my apartment, intermittently engaged with either surfing the internet, bingeing on DVDs, or (supposedly) cleaning up my place. Regardless, time ran together and memories lost definition and now nothing stands clear from that morning.

Eventually the combination of hunger, boredom, and cabin fever forced me into the outside world sometime maybe after 2. Having no business, no ambition, and no desires; I hit the street with no plan on how to occupy myself. A walk was, in the least, necessary, so I headed out in the general direction of everything. I also felt the need for a report on Harbin life for el blogomondo, and having my camera and notepad ready, I whipped out the 40G, set it shuffling Dre, Snoop, Em, 50, and Kanye, then ambitiously brought out the strut.

It only took 3 blocks before something caught my interest. Traffic here, as mentioned, finds itself a few notches beyond crazy. Outside the entrance of the big name university in town we've got this rotary dealie. Due to the flow of traffic and the layout of the exits off the circle, its only a matter of time before you'll see buses, cabs, and vans pretzled in together. Gordion Knots. It's hysterical, and makes for easy street-crossing.

Hanging a louie, I began the long, straight shot down DaZhiJie, one of the main drags of Harbin. It's a huge street, flanked by wide boulevards of sidewalks on either side (they gotta make room for 1.3 billion somehow), and one bastard of a cross wind. From my point of origin, DaZhiJie brings me past HIT, a Mao statue, some rather ugly public art (pictures have been posted on previous entries), a middle school, a handful of cell phone markets, and some other crazy stuff.

Funny thing about sidewalks here. I tried to define the word to a class once by stating "a sidewalk is the stip of pavement on the side of the road where you can walk and where cars can't drive." They didn't understand. "What do you mean, 'where cars can't drive?'" After remembering I was in China, their confusion made sense, as there really is no place "where cars can't drive." Automobiles zip up and down the sidewalk as they do the main road, dodging and honking at pedestrians the entire way.

By the way, if you didn't know, they love Jet Li here.

Arriving at the Snowflake I was forced underground. HongBo Circle, with its Snowflake axis, offered a game of Frogger I was in no mood for. Luckily a warren of tunnels weave their way under the traffic while simultaneously housing cheap, shoddy Chinese garments. Mao built these tunnels for the defence of Chinese Socialism. Now they are bastions of Capitalism. Hooray!

Crawling back up into the daylight I formed a plan. I needed to see the Fat Lady.


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