南京感想文 Nanjing scribble

突然始まった南京の暮らしを気の向くままに紹介します。

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Life is busy

My apartment was a bit of mess when I first arrived in Nanjing. There were tons of garbage left and very few useful things. A broken printer, some empty dirty boxes, dusty artificial flowers, cans, papers, and heaps of old useless things. I thought, “Who on earth wants to keep these things in a room?” I only found a big kettle and some pans useful. I was a little surprised as I had asked the former resident to leave things which she didn’t need to take home to Japan, but I didn’t ask for this much rubbish. It took me a week to clean up the apartment. I removed ugly plastic hooks, and dirty scotch tape glue from walls, and wiped up stains everywhere. 

I had to buy everything from clothespins to household appliances. Most of my neighbors had lots of goods left over from their ex-experts. I was quite envious back then. There were many plates left in my kitchen but they were so ugly that I couldn’t stand to use them everyday. (I don’t think I am too fussy about plates but they were depressingly hideous.) So I bought some new plates, cutlery and mugs. I also bought a purified water-machine, a toaster, a CD player, a DVD player and a lamp. Even now, I keep buying things for my room, making a comfortable place to live. Shopping can be fun but it also can be time-consuming, demanding, and tiring. It requires a hard bargaining process here. It’s not easy for new comers to find the right place to buy things, so I have been spending a lot of time and energy on it since my arrival. 

But this is not the end of this story. One of my friends said that everyday is a series of small but unexpected happenings. Here in China, more accurately, everyday is a series of unexpected inconveniences. For the starters, my DVD player was already broken when I opened the box. My CD player has broken. The ink cartridge of the printer has broken. My plastic bicycle handle bar grip was broken. The paint on the wall and ceiling of my room falls down little by little; the tap is getting looser every time I use it. The radiator up stairs broke and the water dripped down into my bed room. You have to keep handling these things everyday more or less, and things won’t easily get fixed or quickly be sorted. I know these things happen sometimes but here they happen quite often. You are always busy taking care of something. The repairs are far from perfect and people don’t care much about their jobs. Therefore I am easily made very happy and grateful in China when I have a day without broken stuff. Life is good, but definitely busy with small but unexpected happenings.

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 苺の季節である。これは大粒なので500グラム6.5元。どんぶり一杯(約830グラム)で10.8元(約162円)。洗って、スプーンで適当につぶして、ミルクかヨーグルト、それにハチミツをかけて食べる。美味しくて、幸せな気持ちになる。近頃は毎日食べているので、毎日幸せである。(因みに、中国語では「草苺」と書き、cao mei と発音します。) 


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 果物屋を覘くのは楽しい。今は苺とパイナップルが盛り。ちょっと前はサトウキビだった。金柑も美味しい。蜜柑/オレンジも甘くて美味しい。果物は種類も豊富で輸入物も多く見かける。私の好物のマンゴーも大小、色々な種類のものが売られている。独断と偏見で言わせてもらえば、マンゴーはタイのマンゴーが世界一美味しい。メキシコよりフィリピンより、何と言ってもタイである。ただし、輸入物は味が落ちる。やはり現地で食べるに限るが、タイは遠い。ドラエモンの「どこでもドア」が欲しいと真剣に思う瞬間である。

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ビーチ

 何を隠そう、私はタイのビーチが大好きである。アンナプルナ・トレッキングでは温泉にも入ってきたが、帰り道も往路同様バンコク経由なので、ビーチに寄ってから帰ることにした。

 バンコクから東へ約300km、カンボジアに近いトラート沖にKoh Changという島がある。バンコクからバスとフェリーで移動。島にはいくつかビーチがあるが、私が目指したのはKai Bae Beach。最も賑やかなWhite Sand Beachとバックパッカーが集中するLonely Beachの間にある、こじんまりとした静かなビーチである。私はK.B Resortのバンガロー(sea view air con villa)に泊まったが、ここは特にオススメ。http://www.kbresort.com/ 外観は質素だが、室内はモダンでファシリティも上々、リネンやシーツは真っ白、大きなガラスのドアはよく磨かれている。目の前がすぐビーチ。敷地内もきれいに整えられていて、落ち着いた雰囲気。

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 早朝、ビーチ出て海を眺めていると犬が寄ってきて私の傍に静かに座る。僧侶が二人静かに通り過ぎていく。朝食後はプールサイドでごろごろ、ネイルやマッサージなど。昼食後はビーチでごろごろ。夕日が落ちるのを眺めてから、夕食。星空の下、ビーチを散歩。タイのビーチはあまりに居心地がよくて離れ難いのが難点。こうして私の冬休みは終わった。南京に戻ったら、すっかり春の陽気になっていた。今年は特別暖かく、梅の開花も一ヶ月くらい早かったそうだ。


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Koh Chang

I love downhill. I am good at getting down hills and it is so much fun for me. The only disappointment is that it’s always over very quickly as I go down quite fast. Anyway, I just hiked down briskly as I didn’t need to care about acclimatization any more. We went to Ghorepani and had a quick visit to Poon Hill for the panoramic view of high mountains. Then we finally hiked to Nayapul, where we ended our trekking. My sticks and trekking shoes were broken by then but I was happy as we completed the trek. We moved to Pokhara (827m) by bus and appreciated to getting back to civilization. We were smelly disgusting hikers no more. 

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At the end of my holiday, I dropped by Thailand again. I chose the small quiet beach in Koh Chang, one of the islands near Cambodia. I stayed in a lovely bungalow and did nothing but chill out for a couple of days. It was quite nice especially after the strenuous trek in Nepal. Beaches in Thailand are always wonderful except for one thing. There are many couples, “sugar daddies” (foreign guys, most of them old and ugly) and young Thai girls. It’s none of my business but just feel sad to see them everywhere. However I’ve got sympathy for Thai girls because people there regarded me as one of them and often gave me critical looks. I almost wore a T-shirt that said “I am neither a Thai nor a girl. I’m an independent working woman, okay?”(If someone sold that T-shirt, I might really buy and wear it.) All right, that’s it. The holiday was over and I got back to Nanjing. There is no money left in my bank account as I spent it all on the trip but I’ve got a lot of happy memories instead. Surely now is the time for working!

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Good girl gets good treat.

After Thorung pass we easily hiked down but one day we got stuck in Tatopani because of the heaviest snow in 40 years in this area. We couldn’t move to Ghorepani as it’s quite dangerous with the massive snow falling on the mountains. Our guides declared at the morning that we had to stay here for one more night. Tatopani is a small village. We enjoyed the nice hot spring there but other than that there was nothing to do particularly. Although it was kind of nice to have a relaxing day in the middle of a strenuous trekking schedule.

Actually, it was a lovely day. It was very quiet because of the snow. The scenery was more beautiful with the snow. I bought a new book to read (Louis Bernieres / Birds Without Wings) and spent most of the time with someone in our group. There was no heater in the room, so we snuggled under a sleeping bag and sipped warm milk tea sometimes. From the window we could see snowy skies, mountains, trees and branches. It was a really calm and peaceful sight. Somehow that reminded me of “a white Christmas”. However, it was St.Valentain’s day. So he took care of me for a whole day and made me feel very happy. He fed me chocolates, sweet oranges, chips and read me a book. He went down to the restaurant to order our lunch, (Ordering meals 2 hours in advance was our daily routine at every tea house because they needed a lot of time to prepare for that.) and even bought me a dinner. Unexpectedly I had a wonderful St.Valentain’s day there. How lucky I was! Okay, here is my confession; I didn’t tell him that girls are supposed to give chocolates to boys at St.Valentain’s day in Japan! 

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Indra(Our guide) got a one month puppy on the trek for his daughter. Girls always deserve to get something nice, don’t you agree?   


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The Annapurna Circuit

After the wonderful diving in Thailand, I flew to Kathmandu, Nepal. There are the great Himalayas. As some of you may know, I am very fond of trekking. Probably because I’ve been living in large cities in either China or Japan, I miss nature. Life in the city is easy and I like it, but once in a while I crave being in a natural environment. I had previously hiked the Everest B.C trek route about 2 years ago and it was awesome. I decided to hike the Annapurna Circuit this time, which was one of treks that I really have wanted to do for a long time. 


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The trek began from Besisahar which is the east village of the Annapurna area and we hiked around counter-clock wise for almost three weeks. We stayed in tea houses where we could get food/bed and we had porters carry most of our luggage for us. Therefore, we needed we hiked roughly 6-7 hours walking a day including a plenty of ascents and descents. We also needed proper acclimatization for high altitude; otherwise; we might have gotten altitude sickness and we would not have been able to complete our trek. So we slowly hiked up to higher places; Bulbule (840m), Bahun Dada (1310m), Chamje (1430m), Bagarchap (2160m), Chame (2670m), Pisang (3185m), Manang (3540m), Yak Kharta (4018m), Thorung Phedi (4450m). From there, we reached the highest point of our trek, Thorung Pass (5416m). We did it only by 4h15min, which means it’s quite a good hiking pace. I can say that everybody in our group had good fitness and stamina. We all made it!


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Throughout the Annapurna Circuit trek, you can enjoy different scenery everyday. This was a beauty of this trek. There were always the spectacular views of the Annapurna and Manaslu mountain ranges. We enjoyed looking the various mountains from Annapurna I(8091m) to the rugged local mountains which they call just a “hill”. We walked by deep valleys, waterfalls, lakes, forests, gorges, rocks and so on. We saw many goats, cows, buffalos, Yaks, donkeys, blue sheep, etc. As important as the scenery was, we also met many friendly locals and saw their basic but unique cultural life on terraced farmlands and grassy pastures. We also visited their remote monasteries and saw their interesting customs and traditions. Weather also varied; sunny, cloudy, rain, snow, hails and there were extreme variations in temperatures, too. I walked with my sleeveless tops at the beginning but day by day added more layers and by the time we reached Thorung Pass I was freezing even with my thick down jacket. So I can say we experienced pretty much everything we expected there.


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トレッキング

 ネパールへ来た目的は、トレッキングである。ネパール政府によれば6000m以上のピークを目指すのが登山で、それ以下の山歩きはトレッキングというらしい。ヒマラヤ山脈はダイナミックで、写真で見るのと実際に目にするのでは雲泥の差だ。ソル・クーンブ山域は、以前歩いたことがある。カラ・パタール(5545m)からのエベレストの眺めは最高だ。サウス・コルに雪煙があがるのがよく見え、ゾクゾクする。

 今回はアンナプルナ山域を歩いた。アンナプルナ東側から時計と反対周りにぐるっと一周するコース。村々にtea houseと呼ばれる山小屋があるのでテントは要らないし、ポーターが荷物を運んでくれるので、基本的な体力があれば十分。ただしトロン・パスは5416mあるので高度順化は慎重にすべし。5000mの高さになると、酸素は低地の約半分である。
 
 このコースのいいところは、ラムジュン、アンナプルナⅠ~Ⅳ、ガンガプルナなどの山々が観られるだけでなく、日々異なる風景を楽しめることだ。私は低地では袖なしのトップスで歩きだしたが、日を追うごとに着足していき、高所ではフル装備(冬山登山並)でも寒いほどだった。天気も晴雨雪あられみぞれ雹となんでもござれ。トレイルは整備されているのでアイゼンは要らないが、雪や氷に覆われている部分もあるのでスティックはあったほうがいい。
写真はトロン・パスでの記念写真。共に歩いた仲間とガイドたちの笑顔はちょっと小さくて見えないかな。

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ネパールの友人

 カトマンズで2年ぶりにネパールの友人と再会。エベレスト登頂者のサインなどで有名なRum Doodleで夕食を共にした。彼はネパールの雨季に当たる夏の2ヶ月間はスイスのヒュッテで働いており、私たちはそこで共通の友人を介して知り合った。彼はネパールで主にドイツのトレッキンググループをガイドしている。ハイシーズンは忙しいが、少なくとも年に2ヶ月は全く仕事をせず、家族とたっぷり時間を過ごす。4年前に兄と5階建ての家を新築し、そこには親類家族合計24人が暮らしている。家には必ず誰かがいる生活だ。彼には男の子が2人いるが、妻とは結婚するまで会ったこともないと言う。ネパールではarranged marriage がまだ生きている。

 彼はスイスの高い生活水準の暮らしも見ているが、ネパールが好きで、スイスで暮らしたいとは思わないという。スイスの2ヶ月間の給料でネパールでは1年家族で暮らせるのであくせくしない。彼に限らず、人々はのんびりとしていて、家族や友だち、同僚とおしゃべりしながら日がな一日、時を送る。ネパールは農業国なので深刻な飢えはなく、ただ現代的なモノが非常に少ないだけで、家族やコミュニティが今も力強く生きている社会だ。彼はたぶん多くの日本人よりはるかにQOL(quality of life)の高い生活を送っている。翌日の昼食は彼の自宅で家庭料理をご馳走になったが、彼の様子はまさに“満たされている”という感じだった。

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Playing with Manta Ray

Nanjing is not as cold as before. It’s a time to get out from hibernation. Nanjing scribble is active now. How are you all?

When I returned from the winter holiday, I noticed many new changes here. First, there now is a branch of Bank of China open at the subway station building, next, some new shops around here, too. How fast the city, or should I say China, is changing! I mentioned it before, they don’t rest even at night. I was also amazed by the number of people. Being away from China for a few weeks really made me feel overwhelmed when I came back and saw Nanjing again. There are people everywhere-day and night.
When I was away from Nanjng in this winter break, where I was? Good question.

First of all, I visited Thailand and went diving. It was a good season in Andaman Sea and the Similan and Surin islands were well known for some of the best diving in the world. So, I flew to Phuket and got on the MV Colona VI for 4day/4nights cruise. There are nine granite islands in Similan but some of them are closed for conservation but still you can enjoy many great places to see coral gardens, a variety of fish and many sea animals. In Sirin there are the famous Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon and Koh Tachai which all are great dives especially for Manta Ray. Under the water, it’s just beautiful there. God has a great artistic talent to create nature. I am always stunned by its beauty. Every dive was amazing but one of our high lights was the dive in Koh Bon and seeing Mantas for the entire time. Here is a photo from Claudio who is one of the owners of this boat.

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