Wednesday, April 4, 2012

coal miner transformation!

My first trip to Pingxi was during the Lantern Festival, which is probably the busiest time a person could choose to go visit this area. So when the Qingming Festival or Tomb Sweeping Day, the day people go to honor their ancestors at their grave sites, arrived I thought it would be the perfect time to visit Pingxi because everyone would be busy going to worship and we could avoid the crowds. Totally forgot about all the youngins. Of course most of them didn't go with their parents to their ancestors graves (no respect! - kidding). My family calls this "han san" or "walk mountain," not sure if this is the same holiday. I wouldn't know until later that this would be the last holiday I get. The holidays in Taiwan are bunched together and then you end up getting five or six months without any holidays. Ugh so depressing - nothing to look forward to as you trudge through the endless work days....Anyways back to the trip:

The train heading to Ruifang was super packed, more so than during the Lantern Festival! While on the train with my friend Cody I was saying random nonsense and showing off my inferior Chinese abilities. My Chinese consists of asking my students if they like me and if they say they don',t my answer is to call them a liar and say that they really do. Well a boy next to my who was staring at his phone was laughing and I'm thinking to myself this guy knows English because he's laughing to what I'm saying. It was confirmed later when he started talking to us. Very smooth Steven, very smooth.

Thankfully most of the people didn't get off at Ruifang but a large amount did. We were running around trying to get tickets to the Pingxi train because we didn't want to wait in the long line for the all day pass. We just ended up boarding the train without paying and the train station employee was fine with it cause the train was leaving. OR WAS IT?!? While standing in the train I thought about how awesome and efficient the trains in Japan were. Sure it was so annoying when the door closed one second in front of you and they would just zoom away without letting you on but that allowed for their trains to be on schedule. As we stood there waiting for the train to pull away, the conductor kept opening the doors and letting people in. Groups and groups of people would run for the train and the train just kept opening and closing the doors and WOULDN'T LEAVE. It felt like we were there for half an hour just letting the stranglers get onto the train. At least the train wasn't so crowded that we couldn't look out the windows and enjoy the nice scenery.

On our way to the Shifen Waterfalls, stopped by the Coal Mine Museum again.

This time with Cody translating I was able to find out that the museum was up in the mountain somewhere and if you purchased a ticket there, a van would bring you up to the museum. Since we had time to kill I was sure let's go check it out. While riding in the van that was heading up some obscure road we were talking about the possibility of this being a trap and how we were gonna get killed. Thankfully that didn't happen. There is a tour guide but its all in Chinese and all the info we saw was in Chinese too. While the tour guide talked to the other visitors there, Cody and I just wandered off by ourselves, messing around.

coal miners make her swoon!
The following picture is a little NC-17 haha. Look closely. Cody told me to post it up specifically for our new friend Steven.

When I first saw these pictures I didn't really look closely and thought they were just half-naked men working the coal mines. Cody was the one who noticed they had some extra bits lacking on all but the fattest of males. How crazy is it that women worked the coal mines and half naked?!? I thought Asians were super conservative, I wonder how the men acted with all those naked females around them. This picture is specifically for Steven because on the train I had noticed that his cellphone wallpaper was a picture of a sexy female. That led to a discussion that he must watch AV and then to proceed to embarrass him about it and how after meeting so soon we already knew his pervy character. So enjoy the nice naked pic Steven! Haha. One of the main attractions of this place was that you could actually ride in a coal mining tramcar, driven by a Taiwanese granny.

The tramcar didn't go fast and where it brought us wasn't all that exciting. The seats were just planks of wood. The old lady even let us sit and pose for pictures in the driver's seat. Would not have been able to do that if Cody couldn't speak in Taiwanese. Points for getting a different experience from other tourists!

The driver's seat is just the base of the open doorway with a pillow on top of it. Super uncomfortable and despite how big the first car is, the actual space for the driver is miniscule. Afterwards everyone went to watch a Chinese film about the coal mining in the area. I'm only assuming that was what they were watching since it was in Chinese so I didn't even bother to follow them in and watch it. Instead Cody and I discovered there was a dress up section in the back and proceeded to have a blast. I believe this was probably the funniest part of the whole museum since everyone was occupied watching the movie so we had everything to ourselves and could take as many photos as we want.

i'll make a fine coal miner girl!
cody will make a fine crazy lady
Afterwards the driver even dropped us off at the Shifen Waterfalls saving us a walk! Sweet. Got to approach the falls from a different direction.

This bridge offers an amazing view of the train as it speeds past. A lot of people stand here just waving. There is also a vendor or two selling some snacks. This direction is the one that goes along the train tracks which I didn't get to do last time. Last time we walked past the tourist center and up the hill since we were following the arrows. While at the falls I discovered that if you walked down some steps you got a better view of the waterfall.

While in Shifen I noticed there was a lot of Cantonese peoples. I loved eavesdropping on their conversations and then I would respond in my awesome Cantonese. People were shocked and thought I was from Hong Kong. One guy who I did it too asked me to take a picture and said he knew I would do it cause we are "gee gay yun" (the same people) sorry for not accurate pinyin but I don't know how to use it so just sound it out. Haha bow down to my amazing Canto skills! Tried to find the hundred year old rice noodle shop in Shifen (mentioned in the Pingxi tourist brochure) just to discover that the store is only opened on the weekends. Bummer!

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