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2 pointsLong time y'all. Espanola is my side project, it was always more country than Huron, but these days it is every bit as loud and rocking as that band was. I've been slowly working on a solo record for way too long, and rather than keep songs in the can for the eventual full length I kinda just decided to put out a few songs at a time. Here are the first two: https://exclaim.ca/music/article/espanola-ever_kind_and_true_everyone_you_know Here are my dates: Thu Nov 30 - St. Catharines - WarehouseFri Dec 1 - Toronto - Monarch TavernSat Dec 2 - Ottawa - Dominion Tavern Sun Dec 3 - Hamilton - This Ain’t Hollywood I'm bringing a sweet backing band which is comprised of: Sam Cash - guitar; Anna Ruddick - bass; Dan Edmonds - keys; Cam Giroux - drums. Would be lovely to see some old familiar faces! Hope everybody is well.
1 point110417 It was our last morning at the Dongling Resort and we went to the restaurant for breakfast for the first time. I was wary; when we had eaten dinner there before I noticed a few breakfast-ish items on the menu - “crispy egg” and that sort of thing - so I was very pleased to see that they actually had a wholly different breakfast menu. I had been looking for a chance to crack open the jar of peanut butter I had brought with me so I eagerly ordered toast with butter, along with a coffee and a chicken and mushroom omelet. It was pretty pricey at Y50 but I wanted to fill up. Heather ordered a breakfast combo, French toast, bacon and egg and a cappuccino. As per usual, all of our items arrived one at a time. First came my tiny, little coffee, a small teacup half-filled with bitter, day old-tasting java. I knocked it back in two sour bites. Next came my toast, three full slices which, when peanut-buttered was a meal unto itself. Next came Heather’s cappuccino, quickly followed by her French toast, which was just deep-fried bread with honey, no egg whatsoever. After some time my omelet arrived, which was large and in no way could be called an omelet. Rather, it was a mountain of chicken, mushrooms and scrambled egg and it was absolutely delicious; the best plate of food I’ve had on the whole trip. We waited and waited for the rest of Heather’s breakfast to arrive until we decided her bacon and egg had been forgotten. We mentioned it to someone, apologies were made and in seconds her food was delivered. After breakfast we both endured some prodigious packing and checked out. It was not surprising that Chim was the cabbie that arrived to deliver us to the bus depot; clearly she’s the goto taxi driver for the hotel. When we arrived at the bus station we hadn’t even gotten out of her Volkswagen Santana when a lady started beckoning us to her bus. “Guilin, Guilin!” she shouted, pointing us towards the nearest bus. “Um, yeah,” we said, shrugging our shoulders at how easy this was turning out to be and taking the two seats directly behind the driver. In no time we were off. The bus stopped several times along the way to seek out more passengers, which made sense. When we had pulled out of the station Heather and I were two of only four passengers. Before we left town the bus was almost full. I noticed several curious things during the ninety-minute trip to Guilin. First, there was a very nice, obviously new bicycle path running alongside the highway almost all the way to Guilin, and I only saw two bicycles on it during the whole trip. I also saw about a hundred motorcycles and scooters and one car that was just flying down the bike path. I’m guessing that the path will eventually get more use; I saw lots and lots of signs promoting cycling and sport as a way to help realize “the Chinese Dream”. The propaganda machine is clearly rolling in the direction of sustainable transportation. Speaking of that, the vast majority of the scooters are electric-powered, easily 90% or more. This goes along with everything else I’ve noticed in China: everywhere I look it seems like the country is truly striving to be environmentally conscious, which frankly goes against everything I was ever led to believe. I’m guessing that they are trying to make up for past mistakes. Plus they probably are getting sick of providing free health care to the millions of people that get sick from polluted air. I also noticed that it’s not unusual for vehicles of all sizes to drive on the wrong side of the road, and most traffic lights along the way were not working at all. And while this should lead to deadly traffic bedlam, I only saw three traffic accidents on the short journey. When we hit the city limits I saw that the passengers were being let off the bus the same way they were let on; wherever they wanted to go. I asked if we could get dropped at the train station and the bus stopped in the middle of a busy street. We disembarked and walked in the direction we were pointed, soon arriving at our destination. We thought it best to take care of our ongoing transportation straight away and luckily the girl at the counter (who was baffled by everything we tried to say) found a fellow employee with moderate English skills that could help us. We had suspected quite rightly that there was no direct rail access to Macau but after about fifteen minutes of back-and-forth we purchased tickets to Zhuhai, where we supposedly will find free busses running into Macau. Given that Macau is a gambling mecca it makes sense to me that they would do all they could to make it as easy as possible for people to get there, including offering free shuttle busses from the end of the rail line. Tickets in hand, we hopped a cab to our hotel. It was the first time we actually saw a taxi meter in operation, and it turns out the cabs are dirt-cheap when they are being run legitimately. The fifteen minute ride (due to traffic) cost just $3. Our hotel was curiously named the Zen Tea House. When we entered the lobby we were immediately ushered back outside so we could exchange our shoes for slippers. The pair I was given comically covered just the ends of my toes, completely insufficient for my double-wide feet. The proprietor noticed and gave me another pair, “For you we have these special slippers,” he said, and they fit like a glove. As we walked in the door the second time the first words we heard was, “Would you like a beer?” “Yes!” I said, a little too fast and much too loudly. There is actually a sign on the wall that says, “Free Beer.” I’ve seen my share of free beer signs in this life of mine but there’s always a catch, as in “Free Beer (tomorrow).” This time there was no catch. We sipped our frosty ales as we were checked in and soon we were shown “the best room in the hotel,” room 501, on the top floor with the adjoining rooftop deck that we seemed to have all to ourselves. The room was very clean, modern, sparse, and hip. And all this for $40 a night. Just as the sun began to set we lit out for a walkabout. We crossed a few bridges and found a pedestrian street which was packed with people. It’s just amazing how populous China is; even getting a tiny taste gives one the sense of what it means to have over a billion people in the country. Halfway down the street I turned to see Heather surrounded by a half-dozen young girls asking her a million questions in halting English. “Where you came from?” “Where you go now?” “Can we eat dinner with you?” Thankfully she answered the last question in the negatory and after a few obligatory photos with us we left them and continued our wandering. Up and down the strip we went, finally settling on a small outdoor restaurant stand for dinner where the food was cheap, oily, and really tasty. So cheap in fact that when Heather realized that she ordered the wrong thing she just went back and ordered again, the price of two meals was still a bargain. Our table in the alley was across from one of the many, many restaurants that has large fish in tanks outside. Twice we watched as customers selected their dinner from amongst the swimmers, the lady netted out the critter, weighed it and gave it a quick, percussive smack on the pavement before walking in the restaurant and handing the fresh kill to the chef. I’m glad nobody ordered the veal. Something I find endlessly entertaining is reading all the poorly/randomly translated English t-shirts that people are wearing (Chinglish, as one tour operator described it). To be fair, I remember being sixteen years old and buying a shirt at the Biway just because I thought the Chinese characters on it looked cool. It probably said something like ‘True Ice Cream Dragon’ or something equally absurd. Anyway, as we hit the small night market I saw my favourite t-shirt of them all, though this one was neither misspelled nor a series of oddly juxtaposed words. Walking with her parents I saw a very cute little girl, maybe around four years old wearing a pink shirt. Printed on the front in Osh Kosh B’gosh-type comic sans font were the words, “Dead Kennedys”. Take a second to picture it. I so, so wish I had my camera at the ready. Our destination was Shan Lake with the famous Sun and Moon pagodas, each one about eight storeys tall and lit up gorgeously under the full moon. We slowly circled the entire lake, joining the throngs of tourists that stopped for picture after picture of the twin towers from every possible angle, and every shot was gold. We finally came full circle and happened upon a park with a crowd watching a presentation on a large stage. We joined them and caught the tail end of nine police officers demonstrating karate-like takedown techniques in front of a crowd that clapped and clapped. Fairly spent, we slowly walked back to our hotel as a never-ending string of scooters, cars and people zipped by. They say New York is the city that never sleeps. Well, those New Yorkers should really get a load of the Chinese in their own habitat. Nothing seems to ever close, and the crowds never seem to dissipate. It’s really quite incredible. Also incredible is how they light up the karst mountains that ring the city at night. The brightly lit bulbous mounds are a stunning sight to see, especially when shrouded in the Monet-type mist of pollution (or is it potential rain?). I never though China would be this beautiful.
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