Japanese and Chinese

A joke that is often made about Japanese is that they don’t have a word for no but just say hai in an uncertain manner. They actually do though: ie (pronounced ee e).

Now one of the very few things I’ve learnt with my very limited Chinese* is that the Chinese actually *don’t* really have a separate word for no in fact saying bu shi which translates as “negative yes”. Of course as unlike Japanese, Chinese is tonal which means it is impossible to just say yes directly in an uncertain manner as it could well mean something entirely different. Maybe at one time the Chinese had a proper word for no, it’d be an interesting thing to find out.

* this means I’ve just about made it onto really tough words like yes for example :p.

The most boring place on earth: Xi’An

Note that the title of this post is untrue, Xi’An is actually really good aside from the terracotta warriors, I was worried there wouldn’t be enough to do for more than two days and it’s simply untrue. There are another 3 full day excursions I could have done as well – and I spent nearly 3 days in Xi’An. I was worried there wouldn’t be enough for more than two days entertainment and in fact you could easily spend 5 or 6 days here (though if you see the pandas at Chengdu that is probably reduced to 4 or 5.)

Anyhow to continue my story. After I finished with the terracotta warriors I headed back to town and then with a bus/taxi combination I made my way to the big goose pagoda in the south of the city. I was unsure of which bus to get and for some reason I couldn’t figure out where to pickup a taxi at the station and they therefore kept driving past empty. Then due to the further excellence of my Canon’s battery meter my battery basically ran out at the temple. The big goose pagoda is big and tall and in a fairly interesting temple grounds which I wandered around – I was a bit late unfortunately so I didn’t get to go up the pagoda itself. After this I returned to town and tried to buy some thermal underwear and failed as either noone had it or it was well over my budget of ¥100 – in the end I got two for ¥100 each at the supermarket the next day, I got an OK stealth discount for them from the usual price of ¥149 by being given a different box with what I’m sure is exactly the same goods inside. I got the same kind of “special” discount with some postcards as well as a terracotta statue which apparently both carried a 50% discount because I’m a student* – yeah that’s about as likely to be true as the iPod’s in the market here to be a) real and b) hand delivered from the factory by Steve Jobs himself.

The next day I had a lazy morning as I was unable to go to the pandas which I’d tried to arrange the previous evening and I didn’t get up early enough to head to the apparently great Farmen Si temple complex so at about 11am I finally left the hostel to head to the Beilin museum. This contains a bunch of confucion stone tablets that were OK but I didn’t find them that interesting in a nice temple.

After seeing that I then headed south to the excellent Shaanxi history museum. This was surprisingly difficult to get into as the ticket desk was marked “baggage” in English but it was free so I can’t complain. Once inside I picked up the excellent audio guide (a must for foreigners as most of the signs aren’t in English.) which gave a good – though a little lengthy overview of the pieces. All in all I spent two hours here and was impressed. A lot was made of the first emporer and then the silk road which apparently the Chinese discovered. It’s something that isn’t said in Europe but as they generally imply the silk road magically materialized from thin air the Chinese are probably correct.

After seeing this I returned to buy the thermal underwear and have dinner before heading to the train station by bus to get my train to Beijing.

* I actually got a further discount on both and in the case of the terracotta statue it was entirely because the seller messed up the student discount speech :p. It is true though that for museum entry and stuff you do generally get a 50% student discount.