Hello from China,
yet again it has happened, I experienced a wonderful trip full of many things that I will NEVER forget. I arrived in Hong Kong on the 11th of November which was strange because there was no reminder or any acknowledgment for veterans day and then I depart from Shanghai China today on the 17th.
My first and only day in Hong Kong went so slowly, and I think that is between all the walking, the heat and the awe of the amount of people and the HUGE sky scrapers. Hong Kong is a country under China's control but they still have a lot of British (or even Western influence) influence between the spoken language, the Starbucks, the Jimmy Choos and the beautiful money. I did not spend anything in Hong Kong so I never had a chance to get some money in my hands but the $10 bills are SO cool! One of my favorite things about Hong Kong was the bamboo scaffolding... In Rush Hour, Jackie Chan has a fight scene on some bamboo scaffolding and they really do use it.. I found that amusing. I was leaving the following day so I had to stay local so my friend Jenn and I made up our own amazing race challenge which was to locate a specific part to an R/C helicopter part (for one of Jenn's family members).... kinda intimidating considering I cannot read a single character of their language and that the hobby street is over five kilometers long. Our berth in Hong Kong was legit (although I like SA much more) we pulled up to the side of a shopping mall, we walked off the gangway and we were in a fabulous mall with every store you could possibly desire. It was bitchin but Hong Kong is really expensive so it was window shopping heaven! After many hours of walking, Jenn and I decided to hop in a cab to give us a break with the heat and smog... our cab ride was about 10 minutes until we reached our destination.... we got out of the cab and Jenn realized that she left the piece of paper with the part on it in the cab (ugh) and then as we walked around we saw that all the stores were closed (double ugh) even though it was a Wednesday at noon. So here we are in the middle of hobby central finding our mission impossible. We opted to head to a air conditioned mall where we could hopefully find a actually toilet instead of a squatting hole... no luck even at the mall.... so then Burger King was calling our names.
When I first started this trip I told myself I would only eat authentic meals off the ship. I can honestly say that looking back, this was not very realistic goal, let me explain. You see, the food on the ship is so old right now I don't think I will have potatoes, cauliflower or pasta for a long time when I get back home.. its been an overload. Needless to say, when we get to port, all of us SAS kids hit up the franchises that all of you know including Mickey Dee's, KFC, Burger King, Starbucks and in Hong Kong's case 7/11 (cheap booze). Long story short, I ordered a whopper and it was damn good. Burger King also had a Western toilet so it was even better! After our whoppers, we walked back to the ship (which took an hour and a half on the same street) getting bombarded by Indian men trying to sell us their tailoring services... little do they know we have been all over and had all that stuff already done.
We got back to the ship, jotted down the part number and headed back out, this time hailing a cab. When we arrived to the hobby center for the second time that afternoon, it was hustling and bustling with so many asian men. I felt like I was is in the Comic Con of Hong Kong with all if these men so passionate about these R/C cars, boats and planes, the only difference is they didn't have the weird ass costumes on. Jenn and I were the only women and we really stuck out going into these tiny stores asking for this one obscure part to a helicopter that we have no idea what it looks like. As it turns out, we lost our amazing race and had to surrender as the helicopter model we needed was not sold in any of the stores... it was a bummer but something I will never forget. We took a cab back to the mall and then I decided it was my turn to drag Jenn all around so I took her to the Museum of Hong Kong.. lucky for us it was free admission, even better.
Although I am not the biggest fan of Asian art, I still enjoyed myself and loved the architecture of the place the best, some of the coolest door frames I have ever seen hands down. We left the museum and headed to the pier to take photos of the sky line because it was sunset. It was so pretty, although I must say tall buildings don't really do it for me, I would much rather see a mountain of something from God's hands opposed to mans. At night we saw a light show that happens every night on the buildings and that was really nifty, so many colors and some music even goes with lights.. asian Christmas lights I guess? It was strange to see some Christmas decorations but no greens of reds, all the trees on display were purple and pink with little fairies, scratch that, it was strange to see Christmas decorations in general. I have no sense of what day of the week it is or even the date unless it is the arrival of departure of our port. Looking at my calendar, Thanksgiving is in less that 10 days.. where has this year gone? I have not given Thanksgiving or Christmas that much thought except the fact that I will be with my family for one of the two.
I left Hong Kong early the following morning on my SAS trip that took us to beijing. I was very excited for this trip because I was staying at Tshingua University in a dorm room. After our three hour flight, we met in the 8 degree F weather to see our tour guide Cindy. Cindy had just graduated form the University and it was her job to do the whole itinerary for the 29 of us. It surpassed my India trip quite easily, I felt Like I was really a student in China. We all had our own rooms and bathrooms and hard, hard, hard beds but we were so active every day that I just conked out no problem. What I really liked about the trip was the mix of tourist attractions and things off the beaten path. For example, one day we started the morning doing Tai Chi is the freezing cold using video game like sound effects and then we went and visited the temple of Heaven. We saw so may sights and my two favorites were the National Stadium and the Great Wall. It was SO cold but two of my new friends ALex and Lizzy and a staff member frank all decided that instead of hitting up the bars, we would venture to the Bird's nest to see it lit up at night. I am really happy I did, it really is so cool and the Water cube with the nest was really neat. There was motivational music and it gave me chills, experiencing the venue over a year since the games, made me add something else to my life list and that is to go to the Olympic summer games sometime in my life.
The Great Wall was even colder but even cooler (in many ways) and I loved it. I hiked all the way up and it was so weird to be shivering but sweating. One cool fact I learned about the wall after hiking it is that, the steps were made uneven on purpose. While hiking, there would be some small steps and then a huge step that you had to put your hand down to climb over. it really messed up my cadence and I learned that is the exact purpose of the uneven steps. To prevent enemies to be able to cover a lot of distance on the wall, the steps were made uneven so it was almost impossible to run up or down. I thought that was pretty clever.
Panda Express is not chinese food, not even close. We ate like royalty on our trips and it was always family style. I put my dislikes behind me and tried every dish including the duck, pork, and other mystery meats. They use so many vegetables and I love that, I had some great green beans and bak choi (thats not how you spell it but after reading these entries you should know my spelling ability of lack there of). The rice was bomb too, sticky and perfect.. I have also mastered chopsticks, which will become handy in Japan as I plan to get legit sushi.
We had a wonderful tour guide when we went to see the Forbidden City and Tianenamen Square, her name? Blue Cathy. She always referred to herself in third person and because the wind was ripping through us she would say ' so hot, ay, ay, so hot like Miami' to trick us into thinking it was warm. Blue cathy also called herself the next Michael Phelps but she had a very difficult time saying her L's. She was a riot. Every-time I heard her speak, she reminded me of the you-tube video nail shop.. they way the girl talks in that is EXACTLY how Blue Cathy spoke.. too funny. A side-note, since China is communist, facebook, yahoo! and youtube among many others are banned... thanks Mao.
I feel like there are so many details from my China trip and it is a little overwhelming to try to write them all down at this moment so I will have to wait to share the rest in person. I have two days and then I will be in Japan where I will travel to tokyo and do some Karaoke!!!! After tokyo we have a very long stretch.. well ten days at sea and then it's to hawaii:)
I am sorry if this was boring for you, I just have so many jumbled thoughts and experiences. After finishing this I will move onto personal e-mails and then my own journal. I have a lot to catch up on. I love you all and hope you are doing well!. Happy thanksgiving if I don't get back to this before then!
much love (always)