Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jilin, The City

It's finally time to solidify (in words) the final 2 months of my stay in Asia. I flew up to Jilin City (in Jilin Province...but it's not the capital of the province...???) with very little knowledge about "North China". I heard that they don't eat rice (they replace it with the "bun") and they speak funny; however I found that China is still China and everybody eats rice, and also, everybody speaks funny in "Asia" as a whole, so it didn't matter much =]

But this entry will only give context to the city of Jilin, not the place where I stayed and worked and made awesome friends. This entry is about the "small Chinese city" of 5 million people. I thought I was going to the "countryside", but wow, I was mistaken. This place is a pretty big city, while it's undergoing even more development. It will grow like crazy in the next 5-10 years for sure. But the dynamic of the city is centered with the SongHua River which bends through the metropolis about 4 times, making room for a number of bridges. The bridge pictured above is the most Southern (and the coolest of all the bridges), which was a 5 minute walk from our hospital.

The river brings life to the city. It's a cultural, environmental fusion that really was my favorite aspect of the city. The river is bordered by several series of walking paths that attract all the citizens. So watch out, when 4PM rolls around (works ends), everybody and their mom (literally) comes down to the river and flies kites, skate, play MahJong, or just hang out and eat munchies from all the vendors selling anything from corn on the cob to popcorn to popsicles (even pea flavored ones). The River really does attract everybody for good reason. It's beautiful and the temperature drops a good 10-15 degrees when you're on the walkways, phenomenal natural AirCon, especially when running. Another attraction is the "water show". It's seriously beyond huge. There's this one spout that blasts water up about 100-145 feet! Crazy! But it's hooked up to music and everything, so it's legit (but it's weird, because we speculate that it's on the weekends, but they turn it on just whenever they want...So it's a spontaneous event, like everything else in China) The river itself runs from a dam, so they control the levels; however, recently there has been huge flooding in China so the river has flooded the nearby parks, even up to the road in some cases. [The floods have really taken a tole on China. Many rural people have lost homes, even died, so the amount of relief work is in high demand].

The city also has a Night Market and a couple other main shopping streets, where one could buy anything from phone charms to matching-couple T-shirts (yes, all relationships aren't complete without matching t-shirts). There's even a strip that sells pets (or animals) such as rabbits, turtles, and every type of dog imaginable (the most popular and expensive, Siberian Huskies...However, our favorite are the "mini-lions" that roam the streets =). Furthermore, the food culture is bangin' in Jilin. There's a huge Korean population here (30%) which brings great Korean cuisine, and of course there's awesome Chinese food. I feel like the cuisine needs a new post to do it justice though. =] I'm definitely miss just walking down the road about 10 minutes and finding some of the most awesome joints serving fantastic food. =[

The city lies about and hour away from the airport (or 2 hours, pending who's driving :) but not terrible, so go visit it, but be sure to stop by the Bo Hua Hospital and see the light show. Oh, and don't worry, Wal-Mart's being built as I write this so you'll have a little taste of home there =]


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