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Thursday, October 18, 2018

A View From Above of Minzu East Road in Zhongshan

The Minzu East Market (民族东市场) in Zhongshan is, not so surprisingly, located on Minzu East Road. I have photographed numerous scenes including vendors and a variety of items for sale at similar markets elsewhere in China, but in this case I didn't take many photos. Two of the photos I did take while at the market especially stand out me, in part because they happened after opportunistically looking out of a second floor window reachable only because a vending location had been vacated. Additionally, the photos are significant for how they capture a side of Zhongshan harder to see from other perspectives.

So below are two photos taken from above of life on Minzu East Road on a recent rainy October day. The scenes also include some of the older buildings which remain in the area along with newer and taller buildings in the distance.

Minzu East Road (民族东路) in Zhongshan


Minzu East Road (民族东路) in Zhongshan



For a bonus, the entrance to the Minzu East Market:

Minzu East Market (民族东市场) in Zhongshan

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Fufeng Pagoda, Mountain Climbing, and the Chongyang Festival in Zhongshan

One of the photos in the previous post which shared my excitement two days ago about seeing yet another rainbow in China included Zhongshan's Fufeng Pagoda (阜峰文塔) in the distance. Yesterday afternoon, I stopped by Zhongshan Park and climbed Yandun Hill (烟墩山) for a closer view.

Fufeng Pagoda (阜峰文塔) in Zhongshan


Had I been at this same spot when the earlier rainbow appeared, I believe I could have easily captured them together from there.

As with visits to the park in previous years, the tower was closed, so unfortunately I couldn't climb higher for a hopefully clearer view of the park's surroundings.

closed entryway to Fufeng Pagoda (阜峰文塔)


I took another path down the mountain and was surprised to see apparently new netting which not only blocked access to the adjacent green areas but also several other paths.

Stairs lined with a rope net at Zhongshan Park in Zhongshan


Stairs lined with a rope net at Zhongshan Park in Zhongshan


People walking up stairs lined with rope netting at Zhongshan Park in Zhongshan


I didn't recall seeing anything like that at the park before. The large numbers of police and China Militia around the park were also unusual.

But for anybody who was confused about the changes, there was at least one sign that explained the conditions.



They were due to the upcoming Chongyang Festival (重阳节 — Chóngyángjié), also called Double Ninth Festival in English. One of the traditional activities for the holiday is mountain climbing. The sign indicated people could begin their holiday ascent as late as half hour after midnight that night but would need to leave the park by 1:30 a.m. The park would later open at 6 a.m. on the day of the holiday and close at 6 p.m. Then the park would reopen at 5 a.m. the day following the holiday for normal operations. The sign also asked people not to light fires, smoke, or bring anything that could explode.

A little after 9 p.m. yesterday night I returned to the park and found one of the more popular entrances filled with people and lined with police.

Entry to Zhongshan Park at night for the Chongyang Festival in Zhongshan


From there, the path from there to the top of the hill was a lot more crowded than it had been during the day.

people on stairs at night in Zhongshan Park in Zhongshan


Other than the many people, security, and rope nets, there wasn't much else that was unusual at the park. I did meet some people under a tent doing some community service by highlighting the dangers of illegal drugs though.

informational display of illegal drugs


At first I feigned surprise that they were selling so many types of illegal drugs, but they quickly set things straight — perhaps an especially good idea with all of the police around.

This wasn't my first time to participate in some Chongyang Festival climbing. My most memorable experience was the time friends in neighboring Zhuhai invited me to take a night hike up Banzhang Mountain, which is a much more challenging climb and affords more open far-reaching views.

Zhongshan had other sites open this year for the holiday, such as Dajian Mountain (news article in Chinese), with higher climbs as well. But this year's holiday climb still had its charms. And now I have finally seen the Fufeng Pagoda up close at night — definitely no rainbows in the sky.

Fufeng Pagoda (阜峰文塔) with lights on at night in Zhongshan

Monday, October 15, 2018

Another Rainbow and Another Pagoda in China

After visiting a large electronics market today in Zhongshan, I found it was raining outside. I then noticed some brightening in the distance and wondered if a rainbow would appear.

I have posted before about having lived in China for many years without seeing a single rainbow in the sky. But this year I have had far better success, whether in Qingyuan or in Ganzhou. Maybe my luck would continue.

So even though it was still lightly raining, I crossed Fuhua Road for a less obstructed view in the expected direction for any potential rainbow.

That was easy . . .

rainbow in Zhongshan, Guangdong


Hoping for a more something more scenic, I headed down the street. I thought a pedestrian bridge and river ahead might offer good opportunities, though I figured I couldn't top a rainbow over a pagoda in Ganxian — my most recent previous rainbow sighting.

But when I reached the top of the pedestrian bridge, I excitedly realized I had yet another pagoda with rainbow opportunity.

rainbow in Zhongshan, China


Fufeng Pagoda (阜峰文塔) isn't easily noticeable in the above photo, but if you look closely you can see it standing on the top Yandun Hill (烟墩山) in Zhongshan Park.

The rainbow was mostly gone by the time I reached the river. Nonetheless the impromptu excursion was well worthwhile.

And on the way, I pointed out the rainbow to some people who may have otherwise missed it due to walking the opposite direction like what once almost happened to me. One man appeared to think I must be crazy when I first pointed at the sky behind him. But I noticed him beginning to turn around as I passed by.

I then heard an appreciative "Oooooooh!"

Friday, October 12, 2018

Three Offers in 24 Hours: Enjoying and Surviving Free Beer & Mijiu in Zhongshan

Yesterday after 6 p.m. I was ready to head back to my hotel in Zhongshan. A small bar across the street from Shishan Park (狮山公园) had earlier caught my eye due to its setting and name. Especially since the weather was rather nice and they had outdoor seating, I decided to get a single drink there first. Nothing more . . . I still had work to do.

Park Pub in Zhongshan


After walking into the Park Pub, I quickly appraised the situation. Sitting at a table were a young woman and two young men. They offered a mostly typical-in-China selection of foreign beers, and nothing particularly excited me. But one young man strongly recommended the Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. 7.5% alcohol was a little stronger than what I was aiming for, but what the heck. I asked the price and the woman told me they were treating.

They didn't offer a reason, and I wondered if they were presuming this was a worthy investment if I ended up buying many more drinks that night. So I made it clear I only wanted one drink and was happy to pay for it.

That wasn't happening. To my surprise, I was soon sitting outside next to a soccer field behind the pub drinking a free Guinness.

Bottle of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout


A little later, I noticed one of the young men locking the back door to the bar from the outside. He told me they had to go somewhere else for dinner, but that I was welcome to stay out back. He also insisted on leaving me with something more. So my view changed a bit.

two bottles of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout


After about an hour at the bar I was ready to head elsewhere, even though a soccer match was now underway. Nobody had returned to the bar, so I did my best to clean up and left via an entrance for the field.

With more alcohol in me than planned, I decided to take a walk through the old neighborhoods surrounding Shishan Park. As I approached one intersection I saw a group of men. They shouted, and I immediately realized there was no escaping.

Soon I was been treated to more drinks.

group of men eating and drinking at an outdoor table


The men were all (or mostly all) from Guangxi and had brought with them a jug of mijiu, a Chinese rice wine, from there. It appeared homemade, and I was intrigued. So although they first poured a glass of beer for me, they were excited I was game to try the mijiu and my drink changed.

Even when the jug of proper mijiu was later emptied, the drinks continued to flow. The man who was the boss of all (or mostly all) the men sometimes bought bottles of Chinese beer but generally bought Blue Girl Beer — a brand popular in Hong Kong — when he decided my glass needed filling.

After I took a photo of my new friends, a woman working at the restaurant, possibly the owner, shrewdly suggested I take one including the front of the restaurant.

local restaurant in Zhongshan


A couple of hours, some tasty chicken gizzards, and who knows how many drinks later, I gave them many hearty thanks and finally made my way back to my hotel where I soon went to sleep.

This afternoon I was exploring the same areas around Shishan Park. A man sitting in front of a small convenience store on West Road (西大街) who appeared curious about my photo taking asked if I would take one of him. I happily obliged.

man posing for photo in front of a small convenience store


Then he offered me some beer.

This time, I had to turn down the kind offer. I thanked him but explained I still had work to do and that the night before had more that satisfied my desire for beer.

While the experience at the Park Pub was somewhat unusual for me, in a positive way of course, the other two experiences were far more typical. They could be fit into the category of experiences in the past I've categorized as "Chinese being friendly to a foreigner in China".

And now I have indirectly explained why there wasn't a post here yesterday as planned. My night didn't exactly go the way I had expected.

Thanks to all for the drinks, whether I drank them or not.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Straight from National Day to Halloween: Another Toys "R" Us Promotion in China

The month-long National Day holiday promotion Toys "R" Us held in China, which featured deals on toys such a Nerf guns and Hamsters in a House, ended yesterday. Today, a Toys "R" Us store in Zhongshan hadn't skipped a beat and had already moved on to the next great thing: Halloween.

"Halloween Headquarters" sign at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


Most of the related items appeared to be on a single rack sitting at the front entrance of the store.

Halloween items for sale at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


Halloween items for sale at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


Halloween items for sale at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


I wasn't at all surprised by the Halloween promotion or it lasting from October 9 to October 31. After all, I've seen more impressive displays of Halloween items for sale before, including at an RT-Mart in Shaoguan. And last year in Zhongshan I saw a promotion running during the same period of time. That one was a bit more surprising, though, since it featured a Halloween sale on cosmetics.

Late Night Broken Colors in a Zhongshan Alley

Piece of art in a broken frame in a Zhongshan alley

Monday, October 8, 2018

More Toy Guns and Hamsters Too in a Holiday Sale at Toys "R" Us in China

Last week I posted about Toys "R" Us commemorating the founding of the People's Republic of China with a holiday sale featuring Nerf guns. I had seen the toy gun special at two different stores in Zhuhai, China. The very next day after writing the post, I happened to come across a Toys "R" Us store in neighboring Zhongshan. Unsurprisingly, this store offered the same deal.

Nerf gun National Day special at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


Despite the sale, perhaps some parents don't think the best way to celebrate the holiday is to buy a gun which shoots projectiles, even if cushiony. Fear not, Toys "R" Us had another holiday special, this one on Silverlit laser tag guns.

Silverlit laser tag National Day special at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


Some people may even find creative ways to use both types of toy guns at the same time.

For people who just aren't into any sort of gun, there were some other items on special as well. For example, if you fancy hamsters with a penchant for burgers, Hamsters in a House can do that.

Hamsters in a house National Day special at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


Notably, according to the sign this special didn't start for two weeks until after the ones for the guns. I don't know why. I also don't know if these hamsters would appreciate a Nerf or Silverlit gun.

In any case, the month-long holiday promotion at Toys "R" Us ended today. This doesn't affect most toys sold there, but you will now have to pay more for some guns and rodents.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Toys "R" Us Celebrates National Day in China with a Special Deal on Toy Guns


"Golden week Toys Fun" promotion at Toys "R" US in China
A "Golden week Toys Fun" promotion at a Toys "R" Us in Zhuhai, China

Whether in Mudanjiang far to the north or in Zhongshan far to the south, during recent years I have shared some of the National Day sales I have come across in China. Recently in Zhuhai, a city bordering Zhongshan on China's southeastern coast, I saw a promotion that might strike some people as more notable than others because of the retailer and products involved.

The promotion was at Toys "R" Us. Although the U.S. based company no longer has stores in its home country, stores still exist elsewhere, including China. Asia in particular has been a bright spot, and the company hopes to sell its stores there, though there are complications at the moment.

So I wasn't very surprised to see a Toys "R" Us promotion for National Day at two different stores in Zhuhai. And I wasn't surprised the "Golden Week" holiday sale lasts for over a month. And I also wasn't surprised by the "I ♥ China" roller coaster on some of the signs.

Portion of Toys "R" Us "Golden week Toys Fun" sign with "I ♥ China" rollercoaster


But I will admit, they did do something I didn't see coming. They commemorated the founding of the People's Republic of China by featuring a special price for a Nerf toy guns combo — the N-Strike Elite Retaliator and the Microshots N-Strike Elite Firestrike.



Save 49.9 yuan! (about U.S. $7.25)


Retaliate against who? The signs didn't specifically say.

In any case, the special on Nerf guns reminded me of my old posts about children in China conducting "war training exercises". Now, to commemorate the founding of the People's Republic of China they can do it at a discount.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Another National Day Sale at War Ground in Zhongshan

Three years ago at a store in Zhongshan, War Ground — a military-themed clothing retailer — had a sale for China's National Day, which commemorates the founding of the People's Republic of China. I wasn't surprised at seeing the sale in Zhongshan, since earlier in the year I saw the same store having a sale for International Women's Day. Last year I saw the store having a sale on National Day, but none of the signs visible from the outside made an explicit reference to the holiday.

Not only is it now National Day once again in China, but today I arrived in Zhongshan once again. So of course I checked the store. This year it is back to having a clearly labeled National Day's sale.

War Ground store in Zhongshan, China, with a National Day sale


A later post will feature another National Day promotion in China this year. It is at a retailer much more familiar to people outside of China and perhaps inside as well. Their promotion has more bang in it than the one at War Ground.