Gặp Lại Sau Nhé
I am going to start this post off in a "Mike Krivus" fashion by listing alternate post titles:
'I Never Thought I Would Be A Millionaire At 20'
'You Know Same Same?'
'Hey Oh Ma Ma, Free My Soul'
'Do You Ever Eat Dog Before?'
'Please Sir, 5 for 2000. No? Okay Okay, How About 5 for 2000?'
It's been a bit of time since my last post and I sincerely apologize! Between the Vietnam/Cambodia trip and my finals there has been NO free time. But I am not done with school for the next two weeks until my last couple of finals and then I'll be home before you know it! I am going to try to use this post to cover my two week journey, but it was SOOO extensive that there is no way for me to truly cover it all without writing a short book. For this reason I am going to condense everything into one post and try to highlight the best parts. Upon my return I'll surely have a plethora of additional tales to tell about our adventures, but for now this is going to have to suffice.
Our first day was spent in Ho Chi Minh, formerly known as Saigon before communist rule. This is the largest city in Southern Vietnam and is extremely crowded. The city is known for being the motorbike capital of the world and rightfully so. How better to spend our day then scootering around the city like the locals? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azxQx1tX-0o
. This was us for majority of the day. It was definitely one of the most dangerous experiences of my life, but I loved every minute. Sorry mom. Of the sites we visited the most memorable was the War Remnants Museum. Full of memorabilia and photos from the "American War", it was definitely a heart wrenching experience, but very informational and highly recommended to anyone who visits.
The next day we rose at the crack of dawn to catch a bus to Mui Ne where we got to visit some of the most amazing sand dunes I have ever seen. Vietnam's landscapes are as diverse as any my eyes have ever viewed. We went from beach resort to fishing village to a desert resembling Arizona to dunes reminiscent of the Aladdin movies of my childhood, only to spend the coming days in the heights of green-towering mountains and dense jungle. After enjoying a night in a canopy near the beach with a few other backpackers from Australia and Europe we were again up early to bus it out of town.
This bus took us to a city called Dalat. Dalat is a gorgeous city located inland in Southern Vietnam and is not often frequented by tourists. It was the cleanest Asian city I've visited in Asia and has an vast array of building colors encompassing anything you can see in a rainbow. Dalat is home to a breathtaking lake/monastery, multiple waterfalls, the Gaudi inspired Crazy House, and really cheap living! But again, one day and were on our way.
Bus trips were out. Motorcycle rides were in. Steven, Benjamin, and I booked a two day motorcycle tour of the Central Highlands of Vietnam with a group of 3 English speaking guides who agreed to show us true Vietnamese living. This was by far one of the best decisions ever made. In 2 days we accomplished more on the back of a motorcycle the anyone probably thought possible. The list reads: Coffee plantation, flower farm, rice wine factory, silk factory, elephant waterfall, basket weaving with minority tribe, rainstorm coffee break in random hut, fresh fruit at border bridge, drinking and gambling with locals, "homestay", elephant riding through the lake, old church ruins, python holding, killing our own chickens, waterfall massage, swimming in mountain river, barbecuing said chicken, epic final waterfall visit, and dinner and drinks at the driver's brother's house. Not to mention the 15 hours we spent traveling through the rural countryside by bike! I've never spent better money.
With the conclusion of the motorcycle journey we joined a 3 day boat tour of the Mekong Delta which would take us from Southern Vietnam to Siem Reap Cambodia. Again, this was a jam packed three days which were filled with sun rays on the boat when we weren't busy touring shoreline districts. Visits included a coconut candy factory, fish farm, rice paper factory, minority village, two floating markets, bee hives, lots of gorgeous sunsets, and stargazing on the boat's rooftop.
The second half of our journey had us in one of the world's poorest nations to learn more about the atrocities of genocide and the building of ancient ruins. Phnom Penh is home to one of the major killing fields from the Khmer Rouge days, as well as a former school turned torturing prison for political dissidents. These sites held some of the saddest scenes and information any of us had ever seen, but it was a great experience. Siem Reap was full of scenes of a much happier breed as we explored dozens of eclectic temples built over the last 1300 years. Each temple was as unique as an individual person and it took us 3 days to explore the realms of most of the site. Besides being one of the coolest places I've visited, it was also the hottest at nearly 110F each day.
To sum it up, Southeast Asia is full of trips that are extremely affordable (most hotel rooms were $5 per person per night with internet and breakfast), super unique, not overly touristy, and a great time at every turn. Of everywhere my travels in life have taken me, Vietnam was by far the best experience. Hopefully I'll be back again some day.
“A true man never frets about his place in the world, but just slides into it by the gravitation of his nature, and swings there as easily as a star.”
Laozi is quoted as saying "a good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." These words were taken in stride during a 10 hour debacle in the Macau airport. The airport employees notified all passengers that the flight would be delayed just as the estimated boarding time rolled around. Having frequented 7 delays on 9 Asian flight with 4 encompassing times of 4+ hours, this had become customary. One hour turned into two and we killed the time with numerous games of Egyptian Ratscrew (a card game requiring fast reaction times) and an all but complete airport workout regime which drew many spectators (at time crowds) and photographs by dumbfounded locals. To be perfectly honest, the 10 hour delay before the cancellation was not nearly as bad as it sounds, mostly because good company allowed time to flow quite quickly. The last two hours were pretty frustrating as we tried to gain any information we could regarding new arrangements which never came to light. Fortunately, we were able to find affordable tickets heading out of HK tomorrow evening with United. The trip has been shortened by 3 days, but in certain cases there is not much you can do but go with the flow. Sometimes a budget airlines gets cut off from government subsidies without notice and cannot afford to purchase fuel for its planes sitting on the runway. What can you do? Hopefully you don't have a flight in the next few weeks with Viva Macau because it probably doesn't exist. If anything can be taken from the situation, at least we all gained a few marks in the patience department and got through the events in moderate spirits without any grievances towards each other. But alas, we shall again attempt to embark tomorrow evening with high hopes for what lies ahead.
Easter Break Backpacking Excursion
Easter break is right around the corner and the itinerary is set for my final international trip of the semester. Along with a group of four other students, I will spend 16 days backpacking through the realms of Vietnam and Cambodia. Because of the length, the location, and the 2 American's turning 21 over the timeslot, this is could very well be the most memorable expedition of my time in Asia.
Unfortunately, I was unable to haul my uncle's backpack onto my original flight so I will be using my everyday Ogio backpack. Things are going to be a bit cramped, but I presume it will be a good lesson for all as we survive on mostly basic amenities, excluding our cameras. In addition, this is the 3rd trip of the semester for most of us and our bank accounts aren't exactly as exorbitant as they once were. Frugality is definitely going to be well-practiced if as we still have many tasks to accomplish in Hong Kong upon our return.
My itinerary for the trip is as follows:
3/27- Plane: Hong Kong -> Ha Noi
3/28- Tour: Perfume Pagoda, Museums (Old Quarter), Train: Hanoi -> Sapa
3/29- Sapa / Villages
3/30- Train: Sapa -> Hanoi, Train to Hulang Bay
3/31- Hang out in Hulang bay, Travel back to Ha Noi at night
4/1- Plane: Ha Noi -> Nha Trang
4/2- Check out some historic sites, Night swimming
4/3- Snorkeling, Hot spring
4/4- Snorkeling, Hot spring, Train: Nha Trang -> Ho Chi Minh
4/5- Bus: Ho Chi Minh -> Siem Reap
4/6- Tour: Sunrise over Ankor Wat, Tour: Land Mine Museum
4/7- Bus: Siem Reap -> Phnom Penh, Tour: S21
4/8- Tour: killing fields
4/9- WAC factory tour, Bus: Phnom Penh -> Ho Chi Minh
4/10- Tour: Ho Chi Minh
4/11- Tour: Ho Chi Minh
4/12- Return to Hong Kong
So until I return, this is adieu.
It was 1976 when the controlling British government declared Mai Po a "Site of Special Scientific Interest." Not long after, in 1984, WWF became the designated manager of the area and still holds this position today. With all of the large losses of natural habitat to development and the ever increasing threats of pollution, one might come to think that protecting a 2,700 hectare nature reserve consisting mostly of wetland and mudflats would not be all that difficult. Think again.
In modern times WWF is usually viewed in a positive light in regards to an environmental group, often praised for finding ways for humans and wildlife to coexist without using extremist techniques. But in there time in Hong Kong they have seen locals stage protests and take to the streets, proclaiming that the group should forget about the endangered species and allow development to boost the local economy.
More recent times brought a whole new set of obstacles for the group as fishing pond developments surrounding the reserve saw decreasing profits as the bird populations slowly began to rebound. For some, killing the birds seemed to be the best option. In addition, many of the pond owners used chemicals to keep the water clean and ensure rapid growth of fish. The runoff of these treatments proved toxic to many important species in the reserve and a clash between the two groups ensued. It was within the last decade when the two finally struck a deal to ensure a peaceful coexistence. An agreement was formed in which pond owners agreed not to kill any birds and to cut the usage of additives in the ponds. What persuasion did it take? WWF offered each of the pond owners a $400,000 HKD (a little over $50,000 USD) subsidy if they would sign the agreement. It's beyond my understanding, but somehow the businessmen have been praised as heroes by the local community for their efforts to work with the WWF to ensure the protection of Hong Kong's single remaining natural wetland habitat.
To ensure the proper protection of the endangered species which call the reserve home, the area is not open to the general public. In order to gain clearance, one must apply for and purchase 2 permits roughly 3 months in advance depending on demand. Local officials are extremely strict in enforcement of these rules and one can expect heavy fines and possible jail time for trespassing. So what is all the hype about?
The nature reserve is a place of safety for 20,000-30,000 migratory water birds, encompassing over 300 species. This includes rarities such as the Black-faced Spoonbill whose population is estimated to be around 2,000 beings. Of these, over 300 call Mai Po home. This is a large increase from the 20-25 which resided in the area in the early nineties. These results mimic the overall population of the species which has risen from nearly 200 which existed in the early nineties to the 2,000 that exist today.
The area of the reserve contains 24 Gei Wai’s which were originally used for shrimp farming. These shallow salt water inlets allowed farmers to harvest shrimp as the tides came in and out. The inner areas were left as marshes which cans still be seen today. However, with the current industrialization of the area and the development of Shenzhen, only 3 of the Gei Wai’s are clean enough to harbor shrimp life. Water and air pollution are the reserve's biggest struggles today and are, without a doubt, WWF's largest obstacle yet. In this case, however, many more Hong Kongers are siding with the group to fight pollution streaming from mainland plants with little environmental oversight.
Near the edges of the wetlands and mudflats, crabs and mudskippers are quite common. These provide ample food opportunities for many species of bird, and thus great bird watching opportunities for those who are interested. Mudskippers are a fish/amphibian hybrid which can live outside of the water as long as their skin stays moist. For this reason, they are often seen crawling in and out of tiny, water-filled holes when the tide is low. Certain individuals can be seen chasing each other around while others spend their time trying to jump as high as possible to attract a mate.
The reserve is a superbly well preserved area and guarantees fantastic sights to anyone interested in seeing one of Hong Kong's most diverse ecosystems. WWF has done a great job managing the park and I have faith that the children of the next generation may be able to see these same great animals which were nearly extinct not long ago. Wildlife success stories are hard to come across these days and no group may play a larger role in protecting endangered species than the WWF and its donors.
Sorry for the delay!!! I finished all of my midterms, but still have 2 papers due this week. This is going to be the final post about my New Years trip and it will soon be time to talk about other events.
We arrived in Shanghai around 12:30. From the airport we planned to take the Maglev to the city center. The Maglev is the world's fastest commuter train and it just so happened that it only operates at top speed from 1-3 in the afternoon, exactly when we would aboard. The 30 km trip took us 7 minutes and 20 seconds with a maximum speed of 268 mph.
Most of the afternoon was spent exploring the heart of the city and admiring the buildings. After grabbing some food and watching a group of street performers hop around on bikes like a trampoline, we headed to the Shanghai acrobatics show. It's basically the Cirque' du Soleil of China, but a little less weird. The show was incredible and I don't think anybody understands how those individuals become so good at what they do. Performers were stacked head on head, using no hands to balance while others climbed poles as if we were in zero gravity. All of the wonders aside, it was mildly depressing that none of the performers could have been above 15 and it was obvious that this training replaced their schoolwork and would only employ them for a few years.
On our second day in the city we elected to visit the city's 3rd tallest building and head up to the top to get a bird eye's view of the city. While on the subway we witnessed a lady holding up her child so he could poop on the subway floor. Let's just say mainland isn't exactly as clean as Hong Kong. I guess there aren't many other options when you can't afford diapers. To her credit, she did use newspaper to clean it up and dump it in the trash can. The view from the tower was great, minus the persistent smog. The river looked more like a highway then a waterway with the number of vessels travelling in and out.
We moved on to the Yen Gardens, an area known for traditional Chinese architecture and dirt cheap souvenir shopping. I can honestly say that I have never stood foot in a more crowded area in my life. The place was packed with locals who flocked to admire the New Year decorations, which in my opinion took away from the beauty of the area. The gorgeous Chinese building set on the lilly ponds were amassed with cheap, plastic figurines that screamed cheeziness. The water, too, was filled with the decorations.
As wandered away, we took a side route down some alleys filled with street vendors offering foods of all varieties. This is common pretty much everywhere in China and we really paid no attention. A minute or two later, two woman pushing food carts come rushing past and nearly give Jonathon a trip to the hospital. We move to the side as a stampede of carts and vendors storm past. Looking back, we see two vans emptying dozens of police into the area to bust the vendors. They appear to have caught one man, but everyone else seems to prepared and escapes, but with a valiant effort I must add. They dumped his food onto the ground and we never really did find out what happened to him.
The hostel appears before we know it and a nap ensues. After a bit of rest, we hit a local strip and do a food sampling dinner at multiple restaurants. A few hours of stomach stuffing later, we make friends with some kids from the hostel. They reign from France and Ireland and have both been on the road for many months. Our last night in China is spent sharing stories and beers in the hostel with our new friends until the early hours of the morning. One 20 hour train ride later we were back in Hong Kong, relieved to have our own beds back. We were home.
Just wanted to jump in really quickly and say sorry for my lack of posts lately. It's midterm week and I actually have a bit of schoolwork to do. I have a 1 hour presentation tomorrow morning about the effects of mood on a person's tendencies to stereotype and a 20 minute presentation on Monday about the China Investment Corporation, a Sovereign Wealth Fund, and what it means for the future of the U.S. and China. Tuesday brings and end to the madness with a quiz in Mandarin and then I have a job application or two to complete before another post. We are probably looking at least another week before I finish the posts in regards to my mainland excursion. Sorry for the lack of entertainment! In the meantime, I wish you all well and hope all is well back home, or wherever you are.
Miss you all greatly.
After one of many sleepless nights, we boarded a cab heading to the airport for our 7 AM flight. The destination of the day was Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park, an area known for its multi-colored lakes and wild Giant Pandas. Our itinerary had us spending roughly 10 hours in the park before returning, but things never really go as planned. We spent the entire morning in the airport terminal due to flight delays and departed from Chengdu 5 hours late. My frustration began to dissolve as our plane began to descend on a peak of mountain ranges barely visible from above the clouds. Our original intent was to take a bus from the airport to the park, but we’d been misinformed and the buses would not be running on the particular day. Once again we witnessed taxi collusion as the drivers all knew each other and decided that no meters would be running, but a fixed rate would be charged for all destinations. With no other option our wallets began to shrink.
20 minutes later, as we were winding down an empty road from the airport, the taxicab came to a complete stop. On one side of the vehicle stood a long abandoned gas station and the remainder of our surroundings encompassed empty grassland for miles. As we scratched our heads a black, unmarked vehicle pulled up behind us and parked. An overdressed man adorning a collard blue shirt, black knit sweater vest, and a stylish trench coat stepped out of the beige leather seats and began to talk to our driver. The taxi man informed us we must switch cars and we promptly refused. After delaying for a few minutes it became apparent that we had no option. If they wanted to kill us, they could do it right here. In either case, we weren’t moving and the valley was calling my name so we hop in the car and the two drivers exchange money behind the car where they think we can’t see. At least the back seat of this vehicle was much more comfortable. Not much longer down the road our car pulled over again followed in the rear by a taxi. What kind of shenanigans were they trying to pull? This time we were not asked to leave the vehicle, but instead were graced with the presence of another passenger. His name I cannot recall, but he was from Japan and was travelling the Chinese countryside by himself. A brave sole considering he spoke neither Mandarin or Cantonese and his English was only mid-grade. He looks over at me and says “This car changing, very very strange, huh?”
“Very strange indeed” I replied. “Did you also pay 300 RMB for this ride?”
“I did” said the stranger. “He is making a LOT of money.”
The driver erupts in laughter. His English is poor, but he fully understood that statement and he was nearly in tears for the next minute. Combining our 300 with his, the driver was making approximately $100 USD, not counting what he shared with his counterparts. In many Chinese cities $8 USD/day is considered good money. No wonder his clothes and car made him look like he was part of a mob.
Because the roads were iced over from fresh precipitation, the decent to the park took nearly 2 hours. If not for the gorgeous mountains, colorful houses, and wandering yaks (not exactly sure if they were yaks, but it gets the point across) we would have all been cramped and miserable, but in fact we all enjoyed it. Because of the plane delay, the icy descent, and a planned slow ascent back, our time in the park had been reduced to a mere 2 hours. This was going to be the most expensive hiking trip of my life which is only exacerbated by the fact that we have to bus around the park because we don’t have enough time to hike, an additional charge.
All-in-all it was still worth it because the park was fantastic. Snow glimmered through the air as we took short leaves from the bus to walk around at each viewpoint from the road. Waterfalls were as abundant as the ponds of my neighborhood in Munster, many of which were completely or partially frozen. The water was blue beyond belief and life. Natural chemicals keep the water stained in all different shades of navy blue, turquoise, and green but prevent fish from living in much of the area. One particular waterfall seemed to stretch on forever. The gentle slope caused it to grow in width instead of depth and many plants grew right in the midst of the fall creating a very intriguing sight. Although I love viewing nature more than just about anything, describing is not my forte as I am no poet. Being the case, I will let my pictures do the talking. I must warn that pictures never add up to the real experience, especially mine. And, in this particular case, many of the captured moments were taken from a moving bus with dirty windows. I apologize. If you are really interested, there are other sites on the internet with much better representations of Jiuzhaigou.
Leshan Giant Buddha/Lunar New Year Celebrations
Leshan is a small city located roughly 2.5 hours outside of Chengdu. It is well known in the Chinese community for having the world’s largest Buddha (thanks in part to Islamic radicals who destroyed the former record holder a few years back in Afghanistan). The Leshan Buddha ranks in at 71 meters, encompassing nearly the entire height of Mt. Emei out of which it is carved. Construction began 1300 years ago, but took nearly a century to complete. Standing in front of the leviathan is extremely daunting. It’s a good thing I’m not the one who had to hang from the cliff side to carve. A path leads from the head down to the feet and takes an extremely sharp slope down the jagged edges. The 20 minute walk is spotted with mini carvings completed within the same timeframe as the Buddha itself. Outside of the Giant Buddha, the area includes a monastery, thousands of additional Buddhist rock carvings, beautiful gardens, waterfalls, a large Koi pond, and another giant pagoda (check the pictures). After an afternoon of exploring we settled for some food outside of the park.
The restaurant seemed very sketch at the time, but most places were not open due to the Chinese New Year holiday so took what was offered. This was by far one of the best meals I’ve ever encountered, and was definitely the highlight of all the incredible Chinese dishes thus far. Authentic Chinese meals are typically shared; so everybody orders a multitude of plates and then everybody eats a bit of everything. If you so choose to order a plate for yourself, don’t be surprised if it comes out 30 minutes after someone else’s. Our plates this day consisted of egg fried rice, Sichuan beef and noodles, Chicken bones with an unknown vegetable, beef with bamboo shoots, the world’s greatest cucumber salad, and because of the spice levels in Sichuan, a round of large beers.
A long bus ride home allowed us some time to examine the rural countryside and reflect on all that we’d been graced with encountering thus far. Almost all of the farmers in the rural areas still do all of the harvesting by hand and live in extremely poor conditions. The lucky ones own a water buffalo which they use to increase production. There came points where we saw groups of people who lived under bridges and then went and searched for wild vegetables growing next to the highway for a food source. It wasn’t far from here that our bus driver informed us that the bus was parking for the night and would not be completing the remaining 45 minutes of driving. We glanced at each other, all dumbfounded, not knowing where to go from here. There were no taxis in sight and we were smack in the middle of a bus parking lot and a tire graveyard. Fortunately a lady from the ride back led us to a bus that was just leaving the parking lot to begin a route which would travel within walking proximity of our hotel. Who knows what would have happened otherwise.
We returned in time to clean up and go out for a nice New Year’s dinner at the Veranda Bridge Restaurant, a place famous for being stationed completely on a bridge. It was not for the thin of wallets as single bottles of wine topped $5,000 USD and steaks graced the $1,000 USD mark. Amazingly, we all managed to keep our bills under $30 USD and the food was sensational. We were able to sample everything from red bean curry to pork and seaweed to cold rabbit. Our table teetered on edge of the bridge, giving us an immediate view of the fireworks bursting over the riverfront.
With full stomachs we hiked down the riverfront to an area where individuals offered lanterns for sale. Lanterns are a typical Chinese New Year celebration where one takes a sheet of red paper and writes a wish on the exterior, places a wax candle underneath, and then watches it float away in the manner of a small hot air balloon. The air was filled with these lanterns in nearly every direction.
After a visit to the sauna, everyone was prepared for the midnight viewing from our room on the 32nd floor. Like the restaurant, we were granted a prime riverfront view of one of the most spectacular shows on Earth. Chengdu does not supply a fireworks show, like many Western cities, but does allow everyone in the downtown area to light off their own fireworks in the middle of the city. At midnight a mortar was exploding at every point on the horizon at all sorts of depths. It was near impossible to imagine how many explosions were ongoing at any given time. The entire city was lit up and the ‘pops’ and ‘booms’ were unrelenting for hours to come. This was, by a long shot, the best fireworks display any of us had ever seen. The show continued through the night, but we were to awake at 4 AM to catch a flight, so it was time to retire for the night.
Giant Pagoda, Giant Wall, Giant Hotel Room
Our second day in Xian consisted mostly of exploration before heading to Chengdu. We visited the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, a Buddhist pagoda originally constructed in the year 652. Upon entrance, the chants of monks in practice could be heard in the distance. In addition to the pagoda, the area contained many beautiful gardens still covered in snow from the previous morning. Cages with birds hanging from the trees brightened the quiescent air.
Lunch took us to a Japanese restaurant downtown. Jonathon and Lorencio sample a number of sushi plates while I took down a kimchi platter. For those of you who are unfamiliar, kimchi is a type of spicy, fermented cabbage that is usually strewn over a plate of rice. The Sichuan province is known for their spicy food and I was soon regretting the absence of a drink as my face burned a fierce red and beads of sweat emerged on my forehead. To help cool firestorm in my mouth I grabbed some beef which comes with a side of raw egg for dipping. You’d never imagine so, but it was surprisingly tasty. After some more kimchi I actually drank some of the egg to calm my taste buds down.
With stomachs full of interesting foods, we marched towards the city wall to take a walk before jetting to the airport. Though not as impressive as the great wall, Xian’s fortification is unbelievably large. The total length is 14 km, although in past times it measured nearly 26 km. Because it was near the beginning of Lunar New Year Celebrations, we pretty much had the thing to ourselves. It’s crazy to imagine that over 2000 years ago people were using what now consists of bathrooms as posts to aim their crossbows.
Our flight to Chengdu was uneventful outside of the fireworks displays visible from the plane. The hotel was extremely nice, even containing a boxing ring in case we were interested, but dinner was the kicker. Restaurants in certain Chinese cities can be really hard to come by. We had been hunting for nearly an hour with no results except the McDonald’s and KFCs that laced the street corners when Jonathon found an almost non-descript stairwell heading to the second floor of a building. It brought us to a lounge area full of couches and dim, but colorful lights. The food that graced our plates was extremely fulfilling and it was time to rest before the next day’s excursion to Leshan.
Visiting The Terracotta Warriors
When we awoke in Xian, the night had brought a fresh blanket of snow and the locals were hard at work clearing storefronts as we strode past. Shovels were somewhat of a luxury as most individuals used brooms made of reeds or boards of wood arranged in the shape of a long squeegee. The downtown was located inside of a giant wall erected in the 14th and 15th centuries. The top of the barricade was littered with ramparts every 120 meters, a strategic decision based on the 60 meter range of crossbows at the time. Nearly every building in the central district exemplified traditional Chinese roofing designs, something rarely seen in Hong Kong. A one hour search revealed no local restaurants and we eventually gave in to Pizza Hut, a great sin, I know. However, the menu contained few pizza options and definitely encompassed a good amount of Chinese dishes. After the first full meal since the previous morning, everyone’s energy levels were up and we were quickly in search of the bus station (after a quick nap).
After 2 hours of wandering in the general direction, we arrived at the bus station and purchased a ride to the location of the terracotta warriors. Before entering the gates we were faced with an army of locals trying to sell us products and services in any relation to the mausoleum ahead. After declining roughly 10 individuals offering guided tours in broken English, Jonathon gave in to a man selling food in a local shop. He quoted the price of the sandwich as 10 RMB, which is roughly $1.30. At this point, I too was tempted but decided to wait and see how it looked. The waiter soon delivered the tiny pita bread sandwich filled with shredded pork and informed Jonathon that the sandwich is $25. He looked up at the man with wrinkle in his brow, but decided to pay anyways. As he counted the cash the waiter proceeded to explain that the $25 only covered the pita and the pork was an extra $25. Jonathon simply set the sandwich down and we all got set to leave when the man lowered the price to $40. A deal was struck. I asked Jonathon “How is the sandwich.”
He stated “It’s really good actually.”
“Oh Yeah?” I enquired.
“No”, he replied, “it’s awful. The worst sandwich I have ever purchased and at over $5, one of the most expensive.”
After a few more grumbles, we were on our way. Within the hour we had all forgotten about the incident and could not take our gaze off of the marvel that bestowed our eyes. My sight was fixed on over 2,000 clay warriors whose construction began in 210 BC. Each warrior was life sized and no two warriors had identical faces. Most of the artifacts still remain in the soil and archaeologists expect that there are well over 8,000 soldiers in total. The wait to unearth the rest is primarily in demand for better removal technologies. Currently, the warriors lose their paint in the removal process and it is thought that a process could be constructed in which future unearthing could preserve the brilliant colors. In accompaniment with the warriors were 130 chariots, 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses. How one goes about building anything that large out of clay is beyond me, especially 2,000 years ago. It is speculated that the construction required the work of 700,000 individuals and took most of the emperor’s lifetime.
After spending hours viewing the “8th World Wonder” we were spent and settled for a good meal in town before catching a ride back to the hotel. Dinner was completely normal, except for a crossing with China’s Father of the Year. This man decided that it was acceptable to smoke a cigarette while changing his child’s diaper at a restaurant table. He proceeded by wiping the child’s bum with a napkin and finishing just in time for his meal to be served. No hand washing needed. Later in the meal he picked up his kids and put them in a playpen so he didn’t have to listen to them while he and his wife ate. One of the kids knocked over a glass that shattered and began to bawl. So what does he do? Lights up a cigarette and turns the kid around to face the playpen again. No need to pick up the glass on the restaurant floor. A waitress will find it eventually.
Little did we know at the time, but our ride home would soon become one of the sketchiest of our lives. Taxis were in high demand in the city (probably because of New Years visits), so after 20 minutes of standing in the freezing air we settled for a 3 wheeled motorcar driven by beastly Asian dressed like he was set to traverse Antarctica. His gloves alone were each bigger than my head. This vehicle in which we traveled could not have travelled any faster that my Yamaha Vino which topped out at 27 MPH and apparently had no brakes. This still didn’t slow us down a bit, however, as it was simply reason to take shortcuts. 3 times over the course of the 10 minute ride we found ourselves on the wrong side of the road, weaving in between this vehicle and that. At nearly point of the ride I was well within arm’s reach of surrounding vehicles. The hotel was located on one of the busier roads and our testosterone laden driver was going for the Hail Mary on the final stretch. After 20 seconds on the wrong side of the road, he made the decision to dart across the four lane road during a red light. We didn’t make it past the second lane without a driver having to slam their breaks during a stale green light. My fear tolerance in motor vehicles has definitely been raised on this trip.
Upon arrival we proceeded to pay the driver the 30 RMB he charged. At a little over $4, we definitely got our money’s worth. Lorencio, Jonathon and I resided in the hotel bar for drinks, discussing the day’s events and our great fortunes. A great start to a great trip.
Day 1: Departing from HK in pursuit of Chengdu
This is going to begin a series of posts in regards to my mainland China visit. The journey encompassed 9 days, 8 nights, 5 flights, 5 bus rides, dozens of subway and taxi trips, 1 train, and 5 cities. Everything we encountered could not possibly fit on the pages of this site and even though it all occurred within the past week or so, our short term memories are sure to already have erased some events. Nevertheless, I will attempt to describe the highlights in as brief a manner as is still enjoyable. My camera was working overtime and I have recorded over 1,000 photos and videos for your sake and well as mine. Even with my firsthand accounts and all of the documentation from my Canon, nothing can come close to rivaling the actual experiences I shared with Jonathon and Lorencio. It was without a doubt a journey that will never be forgotten and I highly recommend that you all make an attempt to visit urban and rural China as well as Jiuzhaigou Valley. Without further adieu, your journey through my memories shall commence.
Wednesday- February 10
The 3 of us met at the subway station around 12:30 and were quickly on our way. Our first flight was set to depart from Shenzhen at 4:05 and we needed to take a 45 minute subway ride to catch a bus which will take an additional 2 hours. We rush through the congested heat of Hong Kong, all sweating a tad, before landing a seat on the 1:15 bus. I rest a bit easier knowing that the rest is the hands of the bus drive and immigration officers. The bus opens its doors to the airport at 3:15and everyone rushes off, but none as quickly as us. Our arrival at the gate allows us to breathe as we notice the plane has been delayed. After viewing some 3D television in the terminal, an announcement is made that the flight is now boarding. The 40 minute delay wasn’t much to complain about and everybody seems to be in good cheer for the upcoming New Year celebrations. After a few delays on the runway, our flight departs roughly an hour and half late. I don’t complain because I understand how much worse things could be. I am extremely fortunate to even be on this plane.
The 2 and a half hour flight brings no complaints other than some minor turbulence and we are in the midst of descent. We should be in Xi’an in time for dinner. My ears pop as the plane drops from 40,000 feet to a mere 5,000. The city below is visible and everybody opens their windows in excitement. Just at this point the intercom turns on and the captain makes an announcement. He talks for quite some while, but only in Mandarin, so we have no idea what he is saying. In the midst of a sentence, the entire cabin erupts in conversation and exclamations. Jonathon, Lorencio, and I aren’t exactly sure what is happening, but we know there is big news. A stewardess then comes on and makes the announcement in English. Due to runway issues, our plane has to be rerouted and we are now scheduled to land in Chengdu where the three of us originally planned to visit in 3 days. This is comparable to hovering over O’hare before being rerouted to St. Louis. Surprisingly, none of the customers show any signs of anger or frustration and are completely okay with the status of our flight.
In another hour we are set to land for the second time tonight. The tires land abruptly on the ground and immediately bounce back into the air. After the bounce the plane again attempts to ground and swerves strongly to the right. Our pilot overcorrects and we swerve tightly to the left. In the end everything was fine, but I now understand why we couldn’t land on the icy runway of Xi’an. As the plane is strolling across the runway the televisions pop down and a movie depicting ancient Chinese warfare appears on the screen. I am thoroughly confused and somewhat upset because I know that this is a movie worth viewing all the way through. 45 minutes later it becomes apparent that my anger was shortsighted as I will be watching the entire movie from this runway. At 10:40 PM we depart for the 2nd time this evening with hopes of reaching our hotel room before sunrise. Finally, a few ticks from midnight we land and stride across the airport in search of a taxi.
Outside in the parking lot there is so much ice we can barely take a step and are forced to develop a pseudo-walk/slide technique. A line of taxis wait nearby and the drivers stand in a circle smoking cigarettes. As we approach they notify us that the meters in all of the taxis will be turned off and they are all charging a uniform rate due to the icy roads. It was a prime example of the collusion we studied in micro if I’ve ever seen one. We enter and try to make the most of our 300 RMB ($45). This may not seem like much by American standards, but in china this is roughly triple the normal price. As the freeway is closed due to ice, we must take back roads the entire way and without any other vehicles on the road our driver assumes it is safe to speed. This results in a 90 degree that nearly has us in a Tilt-A-Whirl state. Our driver simply laughs.
Finally, just after 1:00 AM we arrive at our hotel, over 12 hours after we first departed. The restaurants are closed so we stock up at a local convenience store on bowls of noodles and a bit of rice wine. We pass on the jerky chicken feet and march back to the hotel in the freezing snow-laden streets. Chinese alcohols are some of the most ornery liquids on Earth. Please, do me a solid and never attempt to drink an alcoholic beverage produced in China that is not beer or sake. After rinsing our mouths with the broths from our noodles to erase the putrid taste, we cleansed our mouths with toothpaste and rested up before our journey truly began.
Chinese New Year Break
This Wednesday, February 10th (Thursday evening in the states) I will be departing for an 11 day excursion in the Chinese mainland. Unfortunately, this means no blog updates for a while because I probably won't have computer access there. But, there will be plenty of stories to tell upon my return. If you are interested, my itinerary is as follows:
Feb. 10 (Wed)- Hong Kong to Xi'an
Feb. 11 (Thur)- View Terracotta Army, City Tour
Feb. 12 (Fri)- Biking on city wall. Xi'an to Chengdu
Feb. 13 (Sat)- Leshan Giant Budhha, Emei Mountains, City Tour, (possibly and hopefully a tour of the panda sanctuary!!!)
Feb. 14 (Sun)- Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou, 5 Colors Lake and waterfalls, Jiuzhaigou to Chengdu
Feb. 15 (Mon)- Chengdu to Shanghai
Feb. 16 (Tue)- Explore Shanghai
Feb. 17 (Wed)- Explore Shanghai, Shanghai to Shenzen
Feb. 18 (Thur)- Explore Shenzen
Feb. 19 (Fri)- Explore Shenzen
Feb. 20 (Sat)- Shenzen to Hong Kong
Look for updates upon my return!
Super Bowl Monday
The alarm rings and it's time to wake up. Not a ray of sunlight is peeking over the mountains, a sign that many exchange students would usually still be returning from the bars. Today, however, this was not the case as those same students had already been drinking in the courtyard for hours in preparation for the big game. The numbers of our posse slowly accumulate to roughly 25 and we set forth into the morning.
Everyone is wide awake by the time we enter Dan Ryan's Chicago Bar and Grill. The menu is limited to five items for this early occasion and many of the students take the opportunity to grab some pancakes or eggs. I opt for the Chicago style hotdog and a Carlsberg Draft. Most of the first half was spent explaining the rules to the Europeans and Australians (and some Americans) who have less of a grasp on football then I do on rugby. The restaurant side of the establishment is pretty low key with some applause here and there, but for the second half it's definitely bar time.
Beers are flowing all around and the this section is definitely more suited for the occasion. The highlight of the game definitely comes with the Tracy Porter interception. Our section breaks into a rave and I finally feel some representation for the failing IU athletics department. The other Hoosiers decline to celebrate as they see their season coming to an end.
The game has come to a close and the bar breaks into a melody of "When The Saints Go Marching In" and the time comes for me to march off to pick up my Chinese Visa and head to another day of class.
The Ascent of Mount Beacon
(The picture album correlates with the story)
This hike was going to happen. For two straight weekends our plans to visit “Grass Island” had failed; once because of a wrong turn that caused us to miss a ferry and again due to some late night shenanigans. Carly and I had gotten up at 9 and were rearing to go, but the others did not wake until noon so we found a shorter journey. It was time to climb Mount Beacon, the peak that reigned over my window for the past 6 weeks. After a 2 hour breakfast session, everybody was rearing to go, except Alexis and I who had to make a quick ice cream run. Not long afterwards, our group set out from the student residence in search of higher places.
Our first steps out of the street were in stride with runoffs from the water cleansing facility. We followed the drains uphill for a few minutes, climbing over boulders and tiptoeing on rocks of various sorts. There came a point where we were forced to leap the four foot gap onto a gradient concreted slope densely covered with leaves. After a bit of hesitation, everybody made it over safely and we were once again performing a balancing act as we trodded continuously upwards. It was a matter of minutes before we were attempting the final summit to reach the highway. Once the buses and cars were flying past it was time for celebration. The base of the mountain was not much further.
At the foot of the road was the bridge to no man’s land, a cement-laden structure used to cross the overcrowded street and separate the mildly sane area of Kowloon Tong from the backwards philosophies of the mountain. The path after the bridge was surrounded by a large building with caged windows, barbed wire fences, CCTV cameras, and multiple security guards on side and another run-down building with caged windows and fences that even an un-athletic middle school student could hop. One building was a prison and the other was a water treatment facility. Why the water treatment area was under such tight watch, I still cannot understand. We received a friendly wave from the prisoners who looked like they were residing in more of a zoo exhibit than a prison yard. It must have been an area for violators of minor infractions because none of them had uniforms and the eight foot fence was not at all intimidating.
A bend or two brought us to a lookout point from which we could look through the trees and shrubbery down onto the city with a perfect view of our student residence, from which we had set out not long ago. As we progressed a roadblock appeared. The sign on the gate read “Warning, Government Restricted Area. Any person who trespasses on this site will be PROSECUTED. -Civil Aviation Department. NO TRESPASSING. DANGER. RADIATION RISK.” The gate only blocked the road and could easily have been disregarded by a group of marathon runners because it did not extend over the surrounding grassy areas, but we decided not to test our luck.
Some members of the party were ready to call it quits and head back, but this would have been the third failed hike in two weeks. I mentioned to Steven that I noticed an area a bit further back on the street that would have allowed us to follow a dried stream up the mountain side. The two of us walked around a barbed wire fence where he noticed a rock ledge with a climbing rope dangling down. At first me, him, and Jonathon simply wanted to pose for a picture, but then I started climbing, mostly out of intrigue. The rope lasted a few hundred feet before we reached a second rope that provided access to higher ground. We lost a member when discussing potential risks we would face if caught by an official, but obviously someone had climbed this area enough to find it practical to install ropes. Steven and I continued on just to see where the ropes led, figuring that we might find a cave or lookout post. One bend led to another and eventually we realized we weren’t turning back, we were going to hike to the summit and stand inside the clouds.
Some rocks and trees passed and a ledge soon appeared. From atop a large boulder the surrounding view would have been tremendous if not for the gloomy sky and permanent haze. The residence was becoming one of the few buildings that was still recognizable. A stray dog came up to greet us, but when I bent over it leaped away in a manner that would be more suiting for a mountain goat. It was at this point that Steven noticed a group of rock climbers in the distance and we decided to see if we could get some directions. They spoke no English and we spoke no Cantonese. After a few moments of pointing to the sky, one man pointed behind us and we soon found a trail. Trusting the locals, we set forth again destined mount the peak before the sun set. I can’t be exactly sure, but it must have been around 3:45 at this point. The sun typically sets around 6:30 at this time of year, but with the surrounding gray we would be lucky to get a ray of light after 6. Staring up, the mountain was still very intimidating. We weren’t even halfway and it was only going to get steeper.
The finger point communication system that we used with the climbers was apparently not to efficient because our trail simply kept winding around the mountain without a hint of heading upwards. As Steven grabbed some lunch, I took a quick uphill jog through the woods to see if I could find another trail for us follow. Luck was finally on our side as I found a path through the ever-thickening growth via a power-line access trail. A set of stairs carved into the rocky mountainside finally took us vertical and we were pleasantly surprised at our pace. The landscape was changing at a rapid pace with our ascension. Deciduous forest transformed into walls of impenetrable bamboo which finally morphed into a rain forest-esque area. Every plant was dripping with water, but rain was nowhere to be seen. We knew we weren’t far at this point. The visibility had fallen sharply and a look down the mountain side revealed nothing but gray. For the first time in my life, I stood amid the clouds.
From our current location, it was only a 5 minute walk on mostly flat ground until we arrived at a stair set that led to the summit. From the top there was no view of the ground below because we found ourselves in the midst of dense woods. Although not as gloriful as some may imagine, it was ultimately very fulfilling. At the top we were in the company of a very large, very odd building. It was walled off with double sets of barbed wire and was equipped with multiple cameras, as is the theme of Hong Kong. The building itself stretched upwards for roughly 100 feet and was constructed with mostly stacks of bamboo. It was laden with warning signs for visitors, similar to the ones we noticed near the foot of the mountain. Apparently the building is a sonar station used by the aviation department. Why this would require any radioactive substances is beyond me.
At this point we were ready to descend while there was still some light in the sky, but we were both unsure about which path to take. Our route up the mountain was pleasant enough, but would be nearly as comforting in darker hours because so much of the time had been spent in the woods searching for actual trails, not to mention the traversing of the rocky slopes with the ropes. An old man appeared out of the mist with a walking stick, hiking boots, and a New York Yankees hat. He was very mysterious in his nature and talked very slowly as he described our possibilities for the return trip. These mountains were obviously familiar terrain for the elder, who could not have been under 60. Of the various routes he described, we decided to take the shortest one and soon we were on our way again.
Our new journey was just underway when we stumbled upon a mini tree fort in a very random area. It was ultimately very primitive, but enjoyable none-the-less. Someone had taken the time to weave sticks in and out of the young tree’s branches forming a wicker chair which was covered with a tarp. A bit of plastic twine was even used to construct stairs for entrance to the resting point, which was merely 2.5 feet off the ground. The two of us each enjoyed a turn in the seat before departing. Then again we came across another weird construction. This time it was an umbrella secured by the same plastic, but tied between two trees. This contraption made little sense to us and we are still baffled.
The trail soon led to a road which we followed downhill in the direction of our destination. The going was easy and we were relieved to know that there would be no hiking through forests of bamboo in the dark tonight. While on the lookout for monkeys which are known to frequent the area, our paths crossed with a family of stray dogs. They looked very healthy and happy. As usual, I tried to greet them, but they gave me none of their time. Their disinterest in me was slightly embarrassing as their highest priorities seemed to be marking territory against other dog packs.
Further down the road we came to what was by far the oddest occurrence of the day. Feet from the road on small section of concrete stood a set of newish wood and wicker furniture including 6 chairs and 2 tables and 2 stools. A line of string tied between two trees served as a clothesline and it almost appeared as if someone lived here, except there was no house. A tube of constantly running water, probably diverted from a stream, filled an overflowing bucket. We enjoyed a rest as cars and joggers continuously passed, but with no inhabitants in sight. The well deserved rest was short lived as the sun was setting at an increasingly fast pace and our stomachs mentioned something about dinner.
Our final roadblock was just around the bend, but it was in reverse. The gate was located in the middle of the road, but bore no signs. As we passed we turned around to realize this was the “Government Restricted Area” sign that caused us to backtrack earlier in the day. It became with amount of individuals we had seen on the road that it was only off limits to motorized vehicles. We simply could’ve strode right up the road in the first place, but where is the fun in that?
It's late and my roommate is sleeping, so I'm going to keep this one short. This week was International Week at CityU and students from all over the world came together to support a variety of programs and exhibitions. One student from each representative country gave a presentation to interested students about the culture and lifestyle differences from Hong Kong. Other students set up booths to allow for food sampling. But the main exhibit was definitely the fashion show. 25 students sported costumes that would be considered 'traditional' of their home country. Needless to say, many weren't exactly traditional. Instead of pilgrim gear, the Americans donned a Ronald McDonald costume and an Uncle Sam outfit. An Australian girl came out riding an inflatable kangaroo and soccer uniforms were by far the most common selection for European students. The Czech student, Ondra, decided to take over the show by treating the runway as if he were at a Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. He walked over to the judges and bent over to give them a clear view of the stitching on the posterior of his shorts. In good humor, the judges simply laughed it off and gave him a high five.
After the show was over, we were all given a chance to sample some traditional Chinese food and take a visit to the Hope Tree and hang our wishes. This was followed by a visit to the one and only McDonald's with my friend Taju, who was sporting the Ronald McDonald costume, and other students and school faculty. We didn't get the free food or discounts we were looking for, but Taju was greeted warmly by all of the employees and children in the restaurant. KFC didn't exactly grant him the same results.
Thank Your For Your Corporation
Today commenced with a visit to the International Commerce Centre. This is the tallest building in Hong Kong and soon to be the 4th tallest in the world. Because the visit was part of a requirement for my Sustainable Development course, we spent most of our time examining the environmentally friendly aspects of the building. The scheme (since U.K. English is used in Hong Kong, the word scheme is used in place of the word program) began with a thirty minute presentation by the head of the building's environmental task force.
After discussing the building's aim for BEAM platinum and LEED gold ratings, we took a very in-depth tour. Our first stop was the generator room. It contained four generators in case of a city blackout. The walls open like blinds to allow fresh air to cool the room (If you look at the pictures, you can see a view of the courtyard from this room). Of the four machines, two were to power the building in case of an issue and the other two were specifically for Morgan Stanley's ten trading floors. Yes, they need as much energy as the entire remaining building. I-bankers were never ones for modesty.
On our way down to the next room, we took a pit stop in the Refuge Floor. For every 25 floors of the building, there is a refuge floor in case of a fire. This allows for Nearly everything you see is covered in fire-resistant material. Lines of sprinklers are prepared to create walls of water in a worse case scenario. The refuge floors provide a safe haven for those who can't make it down all 100+ flights without a break and they are only accessible via the two fire stairways. These flights are pressurized to enable easy, smoke-free breathing.
The next stops were the cooling room and the water room. Nothing special to really discuss about the occasion so I'm just going to flood you with informational facts about the tower. As the 4th largest building in the world, it will hold the world's highest hotel.
Because the number 3 is unlucky in Chinese culture, there are no floors with the number 3. In addition, the elevators are all double deckers so there are separate elevators for even and odd floors. Because of this there are no 4th floors either. The numbers go 1,2,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,14,15, etc. The double stacked elevators reduce the amount of energy needed to transport people around the building by taking twice the load with each trip. However, this means that if you want to travel from an even floor to an odd floor, or vice-versa, you will need to take one flight of stairs unless your are handicapped.
Another cool elevator fact: When you enter the building you need a pass to get through a set of clear glass barricades near the elevator (pictured). When you scan your pass the elevator automatically comes for you. There is no need to push a button. The same goes inside. You cannot simply go to whichever floor you want, but the elevator knows via your pass which floor you are headed to. Our visitor passes took automatically took us to the tower's management center. If you live in the building, they will automatically take you to your floor. The same goes for hotel guests.
The escalators of the building are special too. At first they may appear very slow, but once they sense a person standing on them, the speed increases rapidly. This reduces wasted electricity 24/7.
I cannot recall the additional facts right now, but if they come to me I'll post them on here.
The title of this post refers to a statement made by a computer as you board one of the escalators. The voice has a British accent and asks you to hold the handrail at all times. When it reads: Thank you for your cooperation, it seems to sound like it is saying "thank you for your corporation."
Day -6: As discussed in a previous post, I learn that my Friday class has been canceled for the following two weeks.
Day -5: After some discussion with a few friends, my round-trip tickets for Manila are purchased.
Day -3: The airfare from Manila to Caticlan is booked.
Day -2: Michael secures 3 hotel rooms on Diniwid Beach!
Day 1: Jesse and I met on campus and hopped onto the plane. Around 11:00 PM we arrived in Manila. The first task on our agenda was to secure some Philippine Pesos so we could catch a cab. We are disappointed to notice the currency exchange is closed and are left to meet the exorbitant fees of international ATMs. Amanda and I each entered our cards and our happy-go-lucky attitudes fade when both are rejected. After an hour or so of wandering aimlessly, Jesse decided we should return and try his card. Fortunately the machine simply did not accept MasterCards. I traded him my American cash for some pesos and arrived at the hotel not much later.
Day 2: Three and a half hours later it was time to rise to another smog filled day. Manila was probably as bad, if not worse than Hong Kong. We boarded the prop plane grinning from ear to ear with eyes still half closed. The view from the plane was unbelievable. Light parading down from the sky reflected off the water, casting a brilliant outline around the volcanoes. As we approached the island, Alexis and I noticed that the plane was very low even though we were a few hundred yards from the island. We couldn't have been anything more than 100 feet over the ocean. The beach approaches and I swear our elevation had to be under 50 feet. A runway appeared and we landed less than 150 yards from the ocean. Caticland was without a doubt the smallest airport I had ever seen. The runway barefly fit one plane and the building was smaller than most American houses. This is what my landing looked like: http://www.philskies.net/images/WW/caticlan.jpg
After a small hike, we found the ferry terminal and rode over to our island. Our hotel was only $50 for a two person room with a hot breakfast every morning, but it was positioned on one of the nicest beaches in the world. The water was crystal clear for as far as the eye could see and mountains surrounded us on most sides. The sand was so white that you could feel the burn from the sun's reflection when in the shade. Our first order of business was obviously to nap for a bit followed by some personal time with the ocean. Two hours later it was time for breakfast. We crawled into a cabana where we got to eat laying down, staring out at the sea. Some beach exploring followed and we hit the main strip where there was a really good ice cream shop serving up scoops of pistachio.
An evening swim around the rocky corner revealed a Gaudi-esque hotel and we were sure to climb up and take a look. It was nice, but still under construction. Carly talked with a hotel employee for a while and discovered that there was a cliff near the edge of a viewing area we could jump from. It couldn't have been more than a 30 foot drop, but it drew us back many times. Our return swim to the beach coincided perfectly with the sunset, which for once wasn't setting behind a cloud of pollution. The night entailed a candlelit crepe session while resting on beach couches followed by an hour-long stargazing session.
Day 3: Our second day on the island entailed a lot less resting and good amount of action. A kayak tour took us around the rock cliffs, got us chased off some private beaches, and entailed some capsizing. After enjoying a lunch with the best smoothies and quesadillas I have ever encountered, we took an island hopping tour. By island hopping, I mean we visited one island. The island was typical in all but one respect, it had two small caves which could only be accessed via stairs because they led directly into the ocean. After the spelunking, we snorkeled in an area where almost nothing lived. I'm still not sure why the guides took us there of all spots. You really couldn't get much less life in the shallow waters surrounding our island. Either way, it was fun. Alexis made one of our guides fall out of the boat and while laughing, I too fell in. For the second day in a row we made it back just in time to see the sunset. This one was even more brilliant than the previous. It would be hard to top by any standards. Again, the night was closed with a stargazing session on the beach and we all went to bed exhausted, but happy.
Day 4: The girls left early in the morning for Manila, while Nathaniel and I spent majority of the morning and afternoon trying to enjoy the sun when it visited and packing while it rained. We arrived at the airport 2 hours early, which was terrific planning because it played out to be quite and adventure. It turns out that the runway at Caticlan is so small, they shut the airport down when it rains because even small planes don't have enough room to stop. The airlines shuttled the passengers for all 4 of the day's flights to Kalibo in vans that seated 8! Yes, we made a small army. Normally the drive would take only a mere 1 and 15 minutes, but on this day the locals in one town were celebrating "The Festival of Happiness." It showed every bit in their faces, which were painted black. If my camera hadn't died two days before, I could show you some of the most unique and intriguing costumes I have ever seen. So, after being stuck in the parade for nearly an hour, we the entire detour took a little over 2 hours. Nathaniel wasn't pleased because he missed his connecting flight and had to stay the night in Manila, but I was already planning on staying so the drive really just enabled me to see some great sites in the rural countryside of the Philippines. The rice patties were gorgeous in comparison to Indiana's corn. Field were dotted with Water Buffalo and homemade scarecrows. It was truly a nice diversion, minus the driver almost running over a motorcyclists helmet while trying to pass or speeding up and honking at a small group of children that was crossing the road.
The night in Manila started with another crazy driver as I hopped in a taxi to meet up with Alexis and Nathaniel. My driver decided it was okay to use the dotted white line as a passing lane between two vehicles and even had the notion that he should be the one honking. After we met up, the three of us tried to make plans for dinner. Alexis a conversation with the hotel concierge asking where we could go for dinner. Our first suggestion was the restaurant strip about a block away, but the concierge said they were closed and it was too dangerous without street lighting. So we asked if the bar scene was any good and she said that, again, it was too dangerous for us to visit the bars. She suggested we go to the Mall of Asia, the 3rd largest mall in the world, and try to get some grub there. This was the last news we wanted to hear being that we had seen more westernized malls in Hong Kong than in the rest of our lives combined, but we were hungry so we went. The search for food was unsuccessful and we actually ended up eating at the restaurant strip that the concierge claimed was closed. The menu was surprisingly small with only 3 sections, one of which was breakfast. I try ordering from the left side, which was made up of mostly burgers and fries. The cashier, however, informs me that they are sold out of all 9 items. This leaves us with the middle section, which is made up of different types of grilled chicken. The cashier then informs us that we can only select from options 1 and 2 in the middle menu. Alexis orders a number 1 and I follow suit. I am then told that I should have a number 2 because they just sold out of number 1. Yes, of the small amount of meals they offered, I was left no choice to order a chicken breast on plain white rice. It was quite an experience.
Day 5: We visited Nathaniel's room for a bit and I learned a version of the game Bananagrams. It's basically the equivalent of playing scrabble without the board. 2 AM was there before I knew it and it was time for Alexis and I to meet some other exchange students at the airport. We played another round of Bananagrams and then spent majority of our time exploring the food options and examining photos from the trip. Nobody slept until we boarded the flight at 5:40. 2 hours later we were on the bus back to campus headed for class. The vacation from vacation was over.
Behavioural Decision Making
After a week of classes it appears as though this is going to be my easiest semester of college, and it could not come with better timing. The courses almost have a high school feel and I cannot be sure whether this is common of other universities in the U.S., or if it solely a trait of the Chinese schooling system. Students often talk while the professor is lecturing and they are almost never punished. Even in classes with less than students it is common for a group of 3 or 4 to be having a side conversation. Perhaps it is only because we are in the first week, but none of the educators seem to use concrete examples or material that stimulates the mind. I have not been told to purchase a textbook for a single course. In order to give you readers the genuine feeling of a class, I am going to list a sample dialogue of what I remember from today's management course(side note, my schedule of classes has changed and I updated it on the site if you are interested). It is important to note that we received an email from the professor about a week ago stating that this course would be demanding as it is a 400 level course, and would be one of the toughest business courses the school offers.
Professor Wong: Welcome. It appears as though we only have 8 students left in the course and we may have to cancel it.
Class: (Grunts Complaints)
Student1: I need this to obtain my minor.
Student2: Yeah, this is a required course for me.
Professor: Okay. I'll have to talk to the department and persuade them to keep it. Are any of you planning on dropping?
Student 3: I may drop.
Professor: Anyone else considering dropping the course? How about you? You look hesitant.
Student 4: I might, but I'm interested in the subject.
Professor: I need everyone to let me know as soon as possible if they are planning on dropping so I can make a decision with the department. Here is a course syllabus. A lot of this is going to change now that we only have 8. Would you rather have an exam in the 6th week or a paper?
Student 1: Paper.
Student 2: How long does the paper have to be?
Professor: It seems like most of you want a paper. I will make it short. We'll set a limit of 1000 words.
Professor(speaking to the tentative students): Have either of you decided whether you want to drop the class yet?
Students: No? (Puzzled looks because it's only been 5 minutes)
Professor. Well let me know when you decide. Also, I have a lot of administrative work to do in the next two weeks so we won't have class. We do need to make it up so on what day of the week are we all free?
Class: (Can't come to a conclusion)
Professor: What if we meet over the one week break?
Class: (Appears in agreement)
Me: I'm probably going to be in Vietnam or Thailand.
Professor: Okay. Well what if we hold an extra class during finals week?
Student 4: Could we just make classes longer?
Professor: That is a great idea. For weeks 5 and 6 come to class one hour early. Okay. Great.
Professor(speaking to the tentative students): Any decisions?
Professor: Okay. We are going to have two presentations this semester. They were going to be in groups of 2, but now we don't have enough students so they will be invidual.
Student 5: I'm going to drop this class. Is it okay if I just walk out now?
Professer: Yes. I hope the rest of your classes go well.
Student 5: This is awkward. I'm sorry. I hope I didn't hurt your feelings.
Professor(Speaking to other tentative student): So have you made up your mind?
Student 4: Well, I am really interested in this topic. It's something I want to pursure when I graduate. But could you let us know before Monday if the class is going to be canceled? That is the drop deadline and I will need to add another course.
Professor: Oh, of course. So I don't really like to present information on the first class so we are going to watch a movie. How many of you have seen Se7en?
Student 3: I have. Do you think the bad guy wins in the end? My friend and I were having this conversation and I said the bad guy won but still thinks the cop won.
Professor: Shhhh. We are going to watch the movie.
Student(In Cantonese): Can we put on Cantonese subtitles? My English isn't that great.
Professor: Well, we don't have much time left. We were going to discuss the movie and the two characters portrayed by Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, but I'll just give you a quick synopsis.
Taste Testing at the Unnamed Restaurant
Since things in Hong Kong are really compact, the nice restaurants are not outside the shopping malls, but inside. Some of the best locally owned eateries are located on the 3rd floor across from the Gucci outlet. Tonight's destination did not appear to have an American name, but it was quite popular among the locals. Our table decided to let one of our local friends do the ordering. We simply told him we wanted to order a number of samples the demonstrate what the locals eat. His Cantonese was a bit fuzzy, though, and we received some plates that even lowered his jaw.
The dishes come out one at a time and our first was a bowl of soup. It tasted like a premium cup of chicken noodle, but had no chicken or noodle. Just broth. Not long after, our waitress delivered a plate of random chicken parts and we learned that this was used to create the broth. On top of the pile was a chicken foot, talons and all.
The next plate was scallops. No curveballs here. Pure deliciousness. They had a topping that was made primarily of garlic and were set on top of a rice noodle. I'm no scallop connoisseur, but the others claimed that these were the best scallops they had ever tasted.
This was followed by another plate of random meats. And I mean RANDOM. There was jellyfish, duck, and pork. The duck and pork warrant no real explanation as they were very typical. But the jellyfish, I just do not understand why anyone would eat that. At first it just looks like a group of noodles, but when you put it in your mouth, it's very chewy. I found myself chomping extremely hard just to separate it into smaller parts so I could ingest. For a bit I was honestly nervous that I was going to chip a tooth. And know, you can't cut it because the restaurant had no forks, knives, or spoons. Chopsticks limit so many eating possibilities. And the jellyfish really had no taste. It was like eating very bland seaweed.
Our next plate went untouched. It consisted of random parts of the chicken that people would not consider eating. Nearly 50% of the plate was made up of heads. Eyes and all. Really, there was nothing to even eat unless you felt like chewing on some skin. I asked my roommate who is from the area and even he was shocked at the fact that this was put on our table. Our Cantonese speaking host for the night thinks he may have gotten the menu confused, but it was interesting to stare into the eyes of a bird we probably drank in our soup. At least it was sauced and fried so it looked a little less like fowl head.
Next plate: fish. Nothing to say here. It was probably catfish, but who knows.
So I don't know where to start with the following dish. It was seafood. Of that I am certain. 3 or 4 types, but none of us could figure out what any of them were. The green vegetable looked like a cucumber, but was very sweet. I would eat it again. For the other random placements, not so much. If you see anything gray, and flabby with a pattern of holes, stay away.
The favorite dish of the night was the sweet and sour pork. It is a specialty of the restaurant and was one of the tastiest foods I have eaten yet. Imagine all the best Panda Express sweet and sour foods and then bring them up 10 notches. This is where we were. However, the portion was small for a table of 8 and we were all thoroughly unsatisfied. It was similar to getting the free sample from that Chinese guy at the mall when you don't have any money to buy a plate.
Our final dish before dessert was a serving of shrimp rice. It looks fried in the picture, but it definitely was not. The taste was very peculiar. I'm not a shrimp fan, but this was somewhat enjoyable. It was a nice change to the fried rice of home. I'm not sure how they cooked it up, but I would love to bring home that secret.
Dessert consisted of a sweet bun. It was by far the most unusual bread I have ever tried. It was pasty white and squishy, almost like it was purposely undercooked. There was a brown filling inside. I've learned not to ask questions. Many of the groupmates found it to be extremely tasty. A few others gave up after the first bite. I ate all of mine, but wouldn't be interested in purchasing it again. Something just wasn't working.
This dinner was relatively mild compared to some of the other foods I have seen. Last week there was a snake eating trip which I couldn't attend because of class conflicts. At the restaurant you could order a number of meals that included snake, or wine that was mixed with a large amount of snake blood. A student from IUPUI actually took one of the snakes, bit its head off, and drank the blood as it streamed out of the body due to the force of gravity. No lie. Even the locals were shocked. Crazy Americans.
It's Tuesday evening and I finished my first class of the semester. After 3 hours of Mandarin in one classroom, it's time to kick back. Me and a few of the others discuss hitting the clubs. The normal bars are a bit monotonous, so we look for something with some live music. I jump in the shower and leave the decision up to Alexis. Not long after, a group of 15 of us jumps on the MTR heading for Hong Kong Island. We get off at the Central stop and begin walking. After taking a few side roads, we find ourselves walking up a set of stone stairs with shops and restaurants all around us. However, being 10:30 at night, everything is closed. Continuing our journey onwards, Drew is browsing the alleyways as we walk past and sees a bright sign about a 100 yards into one. It reads 'The Gecko'. He reads it allowed and Alexis jumps realizing this is our destination. As we walk down the alley we are weary of trash and puddles on the ground and the pipes and supports sticking out. I admire the graffiti, but there's nothing reminiscent of Banksy, so I move on. From about 30 yards away I can feel the baseline begin to pump. Jazz night.
We enter the bar, which has a maximum capacity of roughly 35. I have to maneuver myself around the bass player and pianist to get to the seating area. The lights are low and the room is primarily candlelit. Because the joint is so small, the four-piece is dispersed throughout the place. This was the original surround sound. None of the musicians can see each other, but they are all right on tempo. They've been doing this for a while.
I step up to the bar and order a glass of French wine before taking a seat on the sofa. Our crew easily takes up nearly half the place, which draws additional attention to us, compounding on the fact that we are probably the only guests under 35 at this point. The night is in full swing, as is the band. I stare intently at the pianist, whose hands my eyes cannot even follow. The bassist and trumpet player are rocking, but drummer is truly my favorite. His hands are flying in all directions, laying down some of the funkiest rhythms I've heard in a while.
Some members of our crew get their tab covered by an Australian businessman while others receive tequila shots from a group of Sri Lankan investment bankers. I, having to awake for class at 9:30 the next morning, decline. The Jazz and wine flow throughout the night and it is 3 before we know it. As I observe the oddly flowing ceiling, my eyes begin to doze. The band plays one last song and announces that they are now on their 8th year of jamming together at The Gecko. No wonder they didn't have to look at each other. Me and a few others ask for a bill from waitress, but as she hand it to us we realize that it is so dim that we cannot read it. She acknowledges this common occurrence and pulls a lighter out of her pocket and ignites a flame. We leave the others, for whom the alcohol is still flowing freely, and say adieu until the next time.
Before this evening I really never put a second thought into Jazz genre, but I'm definitely going to have to get me some more Aaron Goldberg.
School doesn't begin until Monday, which leaves me the weekend for a trip to Macau to visit the temples and casinos. Therefore, I will update this post sometime in the coming weeks because I have not actually experienced the Chinese classroom. My current schedule is as follows.
Monday: 12:30-1:20 Asia-Pacific Capital Markets
Tuesday: 6:30-9:20 Mandarin 1
Wednesday: 10:30-12:20 Asia-Pacific Capital Markets
1:30-4:20 Sustainable Development
Thursday: 2:30-6:20 Chinese Music Appreciation
Friday: 1:30-4:20 Behavioral Decision Making
In opposite fashion of the American style, the dorm food on campus is extremely delicious and cheap. $2.50 USD will get you a plate of rice and toppings and a large soup that will take even the most adequate chopstick users nearly a third of an hour to complete. The cafeteria is subsidized by the government and is one of the cheapest eating establishments in Hong Kong. All the traditional Chinese food is available, including duck, sheep intestines, and cow blood.
Outside of campus, the menu is relatively similar, with the addition of cheap beer and even richer broths. Nearly every meal encompasses either noodles, noodles in a soup, or rice with variations of meat and vegetables. Contrary to the Chinese restaurants of the U.S., fried rice is not all that common, and noodles themselves are much more common than rice. A large majority of the meals I have eaten are noodles in a soup with additional ingredients. Oh, and although fish is common, it almost always comes in the form of fishballs, which are the Chinese version of meatballs. One can grab a tuna or ham sandwich, but with one provision: no crust. Yes, that is right, all sandwiches are served the way mom cooked them up in preschool.
If one gets sick of Chinese, rest assured there are McDonalds and KFCs near every mall and train station AND they deliver if you don't want to make the 5 minute walk. I doubt I will use this service at all this semester, but I can imagine a few situations where this would be useful back home.
In the downtown areas one can find cooking from just about any region of the world except Central/South America and Spain. Strips are dotted with Italian, French, and surprisingly, Irish eateries. The locals, however, have not taken to the American sandwich trend and Subway, Jimmy Johns, and the like do not exist.
The First Days
There are not many dorms in world that phase me, but CityU dorm 9 has taken the dorm living situation a step further than any college I have visited or read about. It is not stiff mattresses, leftover trash, dirty floors, or lack of toilet paper that increase the beats in my chest. No, it's not the smog stained window either. It's what is outside the window that blows my mind. Dorms 1-3 and 7-9 are at the edge of the Kowloon developed area leaving a wide arrange of undeveloped land in my sights. But this is not just any group of trees. From the hallway an immense peak stares down into the soul and the rocky edges beckon a visit. A closer look reveals an entire range of mountains with 6 tree-covered stone summits encompassing the entire view. On one particular I was fortunate enough to view the fog and cloud mixture come rolling in over a span of just twenty minutes. My blinds have not been shut yet and the intention is not in the near future.
Aside from the great view from my room, campus itself has been gorgeous. The walk to the classroom building is dotted with palm trees, varieties of tropical flowers, and fountains, one of which drains into a Koi Pond filled with brilliant fish and lily pads near the schools entrance.
After getting settled, I took a campus tour and we visited a local market full of fresh fruit, vegetables, and live meat. Upon purchasing some bananas from an aging man at a booth, he commented to our tour guide that I was "a very pretty man." It was interesting to say the least. This was followed by a another dealer who attempted to grab a live fish of about 5 pounds from a bucket, but failed and dropped it on top of the sewer lid. The fish squirmed around the floor and managed to prolong it's life for an extra 20 seconds or so before the lady cut off the head.
Aside from purchasing some necessities, most of my time has been spent taking the train to different areas around the city. For roughly $1 USD, one can catch a train to nearly any part of the city in about 10 minutes. The 7 stops that I have frequented in the past 6 days were all extremely different with their own unique traits. I have seen 7 floor shopping malls that could be confused for America, secret rooms offering full body massages which I can only assume contain a "happy ending", racecourses that dwarf Arlington Park, strips of bars offering continuous ladies night, locals that live in shacks constructed of sheet metal and blankets, laser shows coordinated between over 20 buildings simultaneously, caged soccer fields similar to those of FIFA street, and more Lamborghinis than need be in my entire life. There are an additional 75 stations which I can reach within 15 minutes from the station next to campus. Many adventures guaranteed to come.
After the 16 hour direct flight, I step onto a different continent for the first time in my life. It is roughly 7 PM in Hong Kong and the airport is bustling. After a bit of searching I find a pay phone to announce my arrival to my parents and then I dart for the train. This specific track will take me to the Kowloon stop, which is roughly 20 minutes from the university by taxi. However, this is irrelevant because I discovered two days prior that the university does not open until the day after my arrival.
As my feet carry me out of the station and into the city I begin to realize how deep my predicament truly is. There is a lot less spoken English than I had anticipated and hostel buildings are not nearly as close as I had thought. A taxi pulls up and we are now cruising through the largest city I have ever seen. The skyline dwarfs Chicago's and the surrounding mountains add to the charm. A 360 degree spin reveals walls of skyscrapers and mountains in every direction. From my specific vantage point, it appears as though the only way out is up and over.
We soon arrive at my destination and pull the bags out of the trunk. We are on the Golden Coast and I am blinded by neon signs. As I start to browse the surrounding area for a glimpse of the hostel, a long haired man of about 6 feet approaches me and begins to speak. He appears to be Thai, but I cannot be certain. However, it is obvious that he was originally from the area. He begins to speak broken English with a thin accent and tells me he can find a place for me to stay. Obviously my bags drew his attention. Afraid that he may try to strap me of cash, I kindly refuse his services and tell him that I already have a place to stay. He follows by refusing my refusal, insisting that he can show me the way. No, I don't want to be led into an alley where I die. There is a hotel about thirty feet from where we are standing and I pretend to have a reservation. As I step towards the building the man grabs my bags and I immediately steal them back. Again, I ask him to to leave me alone, but he refuses. At this point, I beginning to get a bit unnerved.
Fortunately, we are on an extremely busy street full of tourists browsing the upper-end outlets. A man in a suit walks out from the hotel and tells me I can trust the man, so with no other choice I let him pull my bags as we enter through the glass doors. The receptionist tells that the rooms run for $120 USD a night. This is a bit above my price range and I really want to find the hostel. My new-found best friend pulls out a business card and which contains a map of all the surrounding housing options and I realize that he is an un-uniformed city employee whose job it is to help tourists.
My trust in him is still very weak, but I allow him to direct me towards the hostel. We walk out of the hotel and take a sharp turn down an alleyway. I stop. There is nothing he could do to move my legs which have turned to stone. He urges me to continue but I refuse. The alleyway isn't dark, but has a few booths for bartering and is still very sketchy. He points upwards and shows that there are cameras watching our every move. Still, I do not want to head any deeper into this ditch which I have dug.
After a minute of contemplation I notice a few sets of tourists from Europe head into the alley and decide to follow. Looking back, this still was not the brightest idea. We tread through the thin crevice of the building dodging some workers carrying baskets of fruit and a homeless man. He directs me towards an elevator which has a camera and live feed showing me my own frightened face. I see a sign that says Chunking Mansion and a list of hostels, all of which I recognized from prior research, and breathe a huge sigh of relief. We get up the elevator and I pay the $25 USD to get my room for the night. I stay in between a group of Swedes and French and feel much better now that I can lay my protective blanket over the hostels sheets, which I do not trust. I know I am safe in the room and decide to spend the night resting, knowing there is a security guard at a post not far from my room.
The next morning I pack my bags and set out quite early for the university. As I return the room key, I find the attendant on duty. He is sleeping on the tile floor of the hallway, which is not wide enough for me and my two bags. They is returned and the first cab in my sights is mine. The driver's English is extremely limited and we almost head to two other universities before he realizes what I was saying. Not long after I am at the university and so my journey begins.
It is 4:52 PM on the Wednesday before I depart. My plane will approach the runway in approximately 60 hours and my to-do list reads:
1. Write first blog entry
2. Finish Catch-22
3. Complete internship applications
4. Get a haircut
6. Change the voicemail message on the cell so people understand that you aren't ignoring them
Many of you fellow procrastinators would also disregard some of the panic my parents will ensue in the coming hours, but there are a few things you probably do not understand. Between this evening and tomorrow afternoon I plan to read nearly a quarter of Joseph Heller's 500 page abdomen workout regimen. For some that would consume a mere couple of hours, but with my uncanny ability to drift into dreamland while still skimming text, I typically have to read one of every three or four pages twice. This unfortunate trait probably consumed entire days of my life between grammar and high school, resulting in absolutely no productivity other than a ridiculous imagination which often blurs the lines of the actual text with the new, improved version I have written in my mind.
My distracted reading habits are only one many potential setbacks on this tentative list (I use the word tentative because my habit of procrastination already forced me to eliminate many tasks, some before they were even written. For example, I am still running Vista and not Windows 7, I have not donated or purchased any clothes from Goodwill, and those other 2 books I planned on reading over break are now being pushed to next semester). The haircut is a completely different issue. To most it would be as simple as call and make an appointment at the barber or take a walk-in at the Hair Cuttery (which is literally within walking distance). But the simplicity is a mirage. You see, tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and the salons are not likely to be open late because people want to get home to celebrate the holiday. But I have plans, as stated above, that will take up most of the morning leaving only the afternoon to accomplish this task. This will require me to drive around town to visit all the stylists to see who is still open. Not only will this consume much of my valuable time, and some say time is money, but it will also require money so I’m down twice on the cash. It would have been free in the first place had I not procrastinated during my last packing session during which I left my hair clippers at school.
As the morning of New Year’s Day will most likely be spent resting (Edit list: 7. Make plans for New Year’s Eve), I have the afternoon/evening to pack. Nothing like kicking back with the family before you leave for the longest amount of time that any of your immediate family members have been apart for the nearly 21 rotations around the sun since your birth. But I don't feel so bad because goodbyes for parents our no longer the tearjerkers our grandparents likely encountered. A goodbye is meant for a time when you will not be seeing someone for an extended period of time. My parents, however, will be plastered all over my computer screen in the coming months because technology allows them to videochat me whenever they see fit. In essence, this is no farewell at all. It is simply a gap in time where the real me will be replaced by virtual me.
Perhaps someday when our generation comes to the child-bearing age we will have technology that will eliminate even these pseudo goodbyes and real me will be able to be in both places at once. I could pack, read, blog, and get my haircut all at the same time, but even then I probably would not complete the list. Us procrastinators understand that our time is limited and should be enjoyed to the fullest extent. Those tasks which limit our happiness will be delayed and shortened to furthest extent possible and that's they way I like it.
I have a lot of living to do in the next few days so if/when I arrive at my destination, I will post again.
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Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 109.JPG 2010-03-31
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 110.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 110.JPG 2010-03-31
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 111.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 111.JPG 2010-03-31
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 112.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 112.JPG 2010-03-31
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 113.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 113.JPG 2010-03-31
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 114.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 114.JPG 2010-03-31
Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 015.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 015.JPG 2010-03-30
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 016.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 016.JPG 2010-03-30
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 017.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 017.JPG 2010-03-30
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 018.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 018.JPG 2010-03-30
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 001.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 001.JPG 2010-03-29
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 002.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 002.JPG 2010-03-29
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 003.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 003.JPG 2010-03-29
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 004.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 004.JPG 2010-03-29
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 005.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 005.JPG 2010-03-29
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 006.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 006.JPG 2010-03-29
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 007.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 007.JPG 2010-03-29
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 008.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 008.JPG 2010-03-29
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 009.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 009.JPG 2010-03-29
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 010.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 010.JPG 2010-03-29
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 011.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 011.JPG 2010-03-30
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 012.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 012.JPG 2010-03-30
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 013.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 013.JPG 2010-03-30
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 014.JPG
Spring Break 10 Vietnam-Cambodia 014.JPG 2010-03-30
Dragon's Back 005.JPG
Dragon's Back 005.JPG 2010-03-19
Dragon's Back 010.JPG
Dragon's Back 010.JPG 2010-03-19
Dragon's Back 013.JPG
Dragon's Back 013.JPG 2010-03-19
Dragon's Back 016.JPG
Dragon's Back 016.JPG 2010-03-19
Dragon's Back 018.JPG
Dragon's Back 018.JPG 2010-03-19
Dragon's Back 019.JPG
Dragon's Back 019.JPG 2010-03-19
Dragon's Back 033.JPG
Dragon's Back 033.JPG 2010-03-19
Dragon's Back 036.JPG
Dragon's Back 036.JPG 2010-03-19
Dragon's Back 037.JPG
Dragon's Back 037.JPG 2010-03-19
Dragon's Back 042.JPG
Dragon's Back 042.JPG 2010-03-19
Dragon's Back 046.JPG
Dragon's Back 046.JPG 2010-03-19
Dragon's Back 047.JPG
Dragon's Back 047.JPG 2010-03-19
Dragon's Back 049.JPG
Dragon's Back 049.JPG 2010-03-19
Dragon's Back 059.JPG
Dragon's Back 059.JPG 2010-03-19
Dragon's Back 069.JPG
Dragon's Back 069.JPG 2010-03-20
Dragon's Back 071.JPG
Dragon's Back 071.JPG 2010-03-20
Dragon's Back 073.JPG
Dragon's Back 073.JPG 2010-03-20
Dragon's Back 074.JPG
Dragon's Back 074.JPG 2010-03-20
Dragon's Back 080.JPG
Dragon's Back 080.JPG 2010-03-20
Dragon's Back 081.JPG
Dragon's Back 081.JPG 2010-03-20
Dragon's Back 082.JPG
Dragon's Back 082.JPG 2010-03-20
Mai Po 008.JPG
Mai Po 008.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 015.JPG
Mai Po 015.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 016.JPG
Mai Po 016.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 019.JPG
Mai Po 019.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 024.JPG
Mai Po 024.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 025.JPG
Mai Po 025.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 029.JPG
Mai Po 029.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 031.JPG
Mai Po 031.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 032.JPG
Mai Po 032.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 035.JPG
Mai Po 035.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 036.JPG
Mai Po 036.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 041.JPG
Mai Po 041.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 050.JPG
Mai Po 050.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 051.JPG
Mai Po 051.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 052.JPG
Mai Po 052.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 053.JPG
Mai Po 053.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 054.JPG
Mai Po 054.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 055.JPG
Mai Po 055.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 057.JPG
Mai Po 057.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 059.JPG
Mai Po 059.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 065.JPG
Mai Po 065.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 066.JPG
Mai Po 066.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 068.JPG
Mai Po 068.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 069.JPG
Mai Po 069.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 070.JPG
Mai Po 070.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 071.JPG
Mai Po 071.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 075.JPG
Mai Po 075.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 078.JPG
Mai Po 078.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 081.JPG
Mai Po 081.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 082.JPG
Mai Po 082.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 084.JPG
Mai Po 084.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 088.JPG
Mai Po 088.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 089.JPG
Mai Po 089.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 090.JPG
Mai Po 090.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 093.JPG
Mai Po 093.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 094.JPG
Mai Po 094.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 095.JPG
Mai Po 095.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 096.JPG
Mai Po 096.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 098.JPG
Mai Po 098.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 100.JPG
Mai Po 100.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 101.JPG
Mai Po 101.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 102.JPG
Mai Po 102.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 103.JPG
Mai Po 103.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 104.JPG
Mai Po 104.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 105.JPG
Mai Po 105.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 106.JPG
Mai Po 106.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 107.JPG
Mai Po 107.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 108.JPG
Mai Po 108.JPG 2010-03-12
Mai Po 109.JPG
Mai Po 109.JPG 2010-03-12
View from the plane.
China Mainland Part 2 007.JPG 2010-02-13
Trading cars. The drivers find it funny. We don't.
China Mainland Part 2 011.JPG 2010-02-13
This is where we thought we were going to die.
China Mainland Part 2 012.JPG 2010-02-13
Paying each other off.
China Mainland Part 2 015.JPG 2010-02-13
China Mainland Part 2 018.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 018.JPG 2010-02-13
China Mainland Part 2 020.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 020.JPG 2010-02-13
China Mainland Part 2 031.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 031.JPG 2010-02-13
China Mainland Part 2 037.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 037.JPG 2010-02-13
China Mainland Part 2 041.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 041.JPG 2010-02-13
China Mainland Part 2 044.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 044.JPG 2010-02-13
China Mainland Part 2 046.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 046.JPG 2010-02-13
China Mainland Part 2 059.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 059.JPG 2010-02-13
China Mainland Part 2 077.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 077.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 092.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 092.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 102.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 102.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 104.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 104.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 108.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 108.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 110.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 110.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 114.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 114.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 115.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 115.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 119.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 119.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 121.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 121.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 122.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 122.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 126.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 126.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 132.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 132.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 133.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 133.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 134.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 134.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 135.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 135.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 136.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 136.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 137.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 137.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 139.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 139.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 147.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 147.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 150.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 150.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 153.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 153.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 156.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 156.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 167.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 167.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 168.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 168.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 170.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 170.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 171.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 171.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 177.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 177.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 182.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 182.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 193.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 193.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 201.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 201.JPG 2010-02-14
China Mainland Part 2 206.JPG
China Mainland Part 2 206.JPG 2010-02-14
Sunset at the airport.
China Mainland Part 2 208.JPG 2010-02-14
Giant Buddha/Lunar New Year
Jonathon makes friends with a local
Mainland Trip Part 1C 045.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 047.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 047.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 055.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 055.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 056.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 056.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 059.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 059.JPG 2010-02-12
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Mainland Trip Part 1C 060.JPG 2010-02-12
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Mainland Trip Part 1C 061.JPG 2010-02-12
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Mainland Trip Part 1C 063.JPG 2010-02-12
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Mainland Trip Part 1C 066.JPG 2010-02-12
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Mainland Trip Part 1C 067.JPG 2010-02-12
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Mainland Trip Part 1C 070.JPG 2010-02-12
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Mainland Trip Part 1C 072.JPG 2010-02-12
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Mainland Trip Part 1C 075.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 084.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 084.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 089.JPG
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Mainland Trip Part 1C 090.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 090.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 093.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 093.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 094.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 094.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 096.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 096.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 100.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 100.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 101.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 101.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 102.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 102.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 107.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 107.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 120.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 120.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 121.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 121.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 124.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 124.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 125.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 125.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 128.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 128.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 130.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 130.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 132.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 132.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 133.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 133.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 136.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 136.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 139.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 139.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 160.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 160.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip Part 1C 161.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 161.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip Part 1C 162.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 162.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 004.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 004.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 005.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 005.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 011.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 011.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 013.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 013.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 014.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 014.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 016.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 016.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 025.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 025.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 036.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 036.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 037.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 037.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 041.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 041.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 044.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 044.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 045.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 045.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 047.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 047.JPG 2010-02-13
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Mainland Trip 1D 049.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 060.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 060.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 062.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 062.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 064.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 064.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 066.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 066.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 067.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 067.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 076.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 076.JPG 2010-02-13
Mainland Trip 1D 097.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 097.JPG 2010-02-13
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and More
Random Chinese Couple
Mainland Trip 1A 169.JPG 2010-02-11
The Giant Pagoda
Mainland Trip 1D 108.JPG 2010-02-11
Early morning marching
Mainland Trip 1D 112.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1D 113.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 113.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1D 122.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 122.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1D 128.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 128.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1D 129.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 129.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1D 131.JPG
Mainland Trip 1D 131.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1B 003.JPG
Mainland Trip 1B 003.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1B 007.JPG
Mainland Trip 1B 007.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1B 008.JPG
Mainland Trip 1B 008.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1B 009.JPG
Mainland Trip 1B 009.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1B 019.JPG
Mainland Trip 1B 019.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1B 023.JPG
Mainland Trip 1B 023.JPG 2010-02-11
I'm still not on the sushi bus. Soon enough.
Mainland Trip 1B 030.JPG 2010-02-11
My Kimchi Was SPICY!
Mainland Trip 1B 031.JPG 2010-02-11
Beef With Raw Eggs
Mainland Trip 1B 032.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1B 036.JPG 2010-02-11
Drinking Raw Egg
Mainland Trip 1B 038.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1B 039.JPG
Mainland Trip 1B 039.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1B 045.JPG
Mainland Trip 1B 045.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1B 050.JPG
Mainland Trip 1B 050.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1A 003.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 003.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1A 005.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 005.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1A 008.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 008.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip 1A 009.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip 1A 011.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 011.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip 1A 012.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 012.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 005.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 005.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 014.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 014.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 016.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 016.JPG 2010-02-12
Again, I display my lack of imitation skills.
Mainland Trip Part 1C 018.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 019.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 019.JPG 2010-02-12
Jonathon was popular at the airport.
Mainland Trip Part 1C 022.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 028.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 028.JPG 2010-02-12
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Mainland Trip Part 1C 037.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 039.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 039.JPG 2010-02-12
Mainland Trip Part 1C 040.JPG
Mainland Trip Part 1C 040.JPG 2010-02-12
No, it's not a police car. It's a cab.
Mainland Trip 1A 021.JPG 2010-02-10
Removing the snow. No shovels needed.
Mainland Trip 1A 024.JPG 2010-02-10
Mainland Trip 1A 026.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 026.JPG 2010-02-10
Mainland Trip 1A 029.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 029.JPG 2010-02-10
Mainland Trip 1A 032.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 032.JPG 2010-02-10
Mainland Trip 1A 035.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 035.JPG 2010-02-10
Mainland Trip 1A 038.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 038.JPG 2010-02-10
Mainland Trip 1A 046.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 046.JPG 2010-02-10
Mainland Trip 1A 051.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 051.JPG 2010-02-10
We enjoyed the meal.
Mainland Trip 1A 059.JPG 2010-02-10
Mainland Trip 1A 065.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 065.JPG 2010-02-10
Mainland Trip 1A 072.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 072.JPG 2010-02-10
Mainland Trip 1A 073.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 073.JPG 2010-02-10
Trying to purchase bus tickets.
Mainland Trip 1A 078.JPG 2010-02-10
Mainland Trip 1A 083.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 083.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1A 086.JPG
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Mainland Trip 1A 098.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 098.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1A 105.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 105.JPG 2010-02-11
Not all of them make it through the years.
Mainland Trip 1A 107.JPG 2010-02-11
Look at the detail!
Mainland Trip 1A 118.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1A 119.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 119.JPG 2010-02-11
Originally they all had brilliant colors.
Mainland Trip 1A 120.JPG 2010-02-11
This man died many years ago after being shot with a bow. The arrowhead is still lodged in the skull, just above the neck.
Mainland Trip 1A 125.JPG 2010-02-11
This was an archer. The weapons were all removed from the warriors.
Mainland Trip 1A 126.JPG 2010-02-11
Attempting to pose like one of the warriors. FAIL.
Mainland Trip 1A 133.JPG 2010-02-11
One of the ramparts of the wall.
Mainland Trip 1A 135.JPG 2010-02-11
The 3 of us all fit in back.
Mainland Trip 1A 142.JPG 2010-02-11
Mainland Trip 1A 144.JPG
Mainland Trip 1A 144.JPG 2010-02-11
Within arm's reach.
Mainland Trip 1A 152.JPG 2010-02-11
Heading DIRECTLY into traffic.
Mainland Trip 1A 155.JPG 2010-02-11
Making the final dash.
Mainland Trip 1A 160.JPG 2010-02-11
So far so good.
Mainland Trip 1A 161.JPG 2010-02-11
He was really, really angry that we made him slam the brakes.
Mainland Trip 1A 162.JPG 2010-02-11
After trying to take our money, he was off.
Mainland Trip 1A 163.JPG 2010-02-11
Mount Beacon! (Will make more sense if you read the post first).
Ice Cream Run (literally)
Mount Beacon 001.JPG 2010-02-06
Mount Beacon 002.JPG
Mount Beacon 002.JPG 2010-02-06
We are so cultured.
Mount Beacon 003.JPG 2010-02-06
Traversing the rocks near the runoff.
Mount Beacon 005.JPG 2010-02-06
Making the leap over the open sewers.
Mount Beacon 008.JPG 2010-02-06
Mount Beacon 012.JPG
Mount Beacon 012.JPG 2010-02-06
Near the summit of the mountain base!
Mount Beacon 020.JPG 2010-02-06
We made it to the base. Celebrate!
Mount Beacon 024.JPG 2010-02-06
Nearing the mountain.
Mount Beacon 032.JPG 2010-02-06
Mount Beacon 034.JPG
Mount Beacon 034.JPG 2010-02-06
Mount Beacon 037.JPG
Mount Beacon 037.JPG 2010-02-06
Checking themselves out on Jonathon's new camera.
Mount Beacon 042.JPG 2010-02-06
Mount Beacon 043.JPG 2010-02-06
We had to turn around.
Mount Beacon 046.JPG 2010-02-06
Mount Beacon 049.JPG
Mount Beacon 049.JPG 2010-02-06
First stray dog encounter.
Mount Beacon 052.JPG 2010-02-06
The uncommunicable climbers
Mount Beacon 053.JPG 2010-02-06
Mount Beacon 055.JPG 2010-02-06
Mount Beacon 060.JPG
Mount Beacon 060.JPG 2010-02-06
Mount Beacon 068.JPG
Mount Beacon 068.JPG 2010-02-06
The summit was like a rainforest!
Mount Beacon 073.JPG 2010-02-06
First glimpse of the mysterious building.
Mount Beacon 074.JPG 2010-02-06
You can obviously tell we are in a cloud.
Mount Beacon 075.JPG 2010-02-06
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Come on. Nobody is buying this.
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Last glimpse of the wise old man who gives great directions.
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It was very comfortable.
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When looking down, we could see nothing but cloud!
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The first of a few mysterious umbrellas.
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Midway through the descent.
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Another good looking stray.
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The extremely odd furniture set.
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I wouldn't trust the water.
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International Week and Museum Trips
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Being lifted by a bed of nails.
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Czech student walking the International Week Runway.
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The American costumes. I wouldn't exactly call it 'traditional clothing', but it got the point across.
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They became celebrities with the locals.
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Sampling some traditional Chinese cuisine.
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Australian soccer uniform.
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Canadian Hockey Uniform
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Thailand I believe
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The Tree of Wishes
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Traditional Chinese Dress
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French Serving Wine
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KFC didn't care for Ronald McDonald
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McDonald's chains in Hong Kong are a lot nicer than home.
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Thank You For Your Corporation
ICC towering on the right.
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Air conditioning anyone?
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This tank stores the coolant when one of the machines is under repair.
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I think this is a watter pressurizing system?
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In the cooling tower.
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Even floor elevator. There's no 14!
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Odd floor elevator. Where are the 3s?
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Elevators that know where you're going.
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Lobby is bright, even on a cloudy day.
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The ICC disappears.
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There is talk of filling a lot of these building with vertical wind turbines.
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Almost to the top
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We think it was an osprey
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You can only see the sun set behind the smog. :(
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Wonder where all that smog is coming from. Hmmm. Coal!
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This was the most dog-friendly town ever.
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Frog! It was pretty tasty, minus all the bones.
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Unplanned peace sign.
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Random drunk guy who wanted us to take his picture.
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Traditional Hong Kong food
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These scallops are on laid on top of noodles and were covered in a garlic topping.
From left to right:
Jellyfish, duck, pork
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See that thing that looks like a face staring at you? Yes, that is the head of a chicken served on a plate.
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Fish. Maybe catfish? We never know what we're eating.
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Slimy things are hard to pick up with chopsticks.
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We still have no idea what this was. Some sort of sweet cucumber and some sort of underwater vegetables and maybe some sort of aquatic animal?
Sweet and Sour Pork.
Just like Panda Express.
Served with Mangos
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Seafood rice, not fried. Rice is rarely fried.
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These were the weirdest bread I have ever tasted. And they had an even weirder filling. Not describable. Some people loved it. Others didn't. I was in the middle.
Views of Campus
Look at that smile
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The campus Koi Pond
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View from my dorm room, again
Ondra and Janos!
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My dorm is on the right, wayyy back.
In the middle you can see the "Homey Kitchen"
Walking to campus
This is the edge of the city as seen from the walk on campus.
Another view from campus
Almost looks like Arizona.
They have pavilions where you can sit, but nobody does.
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More Hong Kong 013.JPG 2010-01-11
It's like the Art Institute but with dragons instead of lions.
They aren't very fierce. Almost looks like it's laughing.
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More Hong Kong 016.JPG 2010-01-11
Beginning of Hong Kong
View from my dorm room
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The mall across from campus has 7 floors. Not particularly my favorite part of campus.
From left to right
Marie, Winnie, Taju, Josslyn, Cathy
At the train station
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Fat Men Dancing
A statue found at the rainbow station
These are EVERYWHERE in Hong Kong. Gotta love fresh fruit.
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If you look closely, you can see the mountains in the background behind the clouds. It was hard to pick them up with the camera, but it was gorgeous in person.
Do you see them?
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Living In Poverty
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Yanjing Beer- The Official State Beer of China!
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This huge track is located in the middle of downtown. It's like replacing Millenium Park with a race track.
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Red River Gorge
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