Koh Samui, Paradise on Earth

大家好,

I think I won’t make any deadlines anymore because I never keep them! As of late, my internet has been so slow that each time I try to get on WordPress, it loads too slowly that I lose my patience. WordPress, like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc is blocked so to access it, I must use my VPN. Sometimes though it’s just so dang slow!

Today it’s not bad though so I will give you some more photos. Currently I’ve nothing out of the ordinary going on, but we might have a future Dalian trip with the school cancelled because of the China – S. Korea relations recently souring further.. the school worries it won’t be safe for the Korean students. In typical China fashion, they are on the TV and shit saying “If you’re real Chinese you don’t use Korean products” and a Russian student said he saw a T-Shirt for sale that shows a Chinese flag fist crushing a US and S. Korean flag.

Typical, unsurprising Chinese posturing. But whatever, soon I will go home anyway so yeah. In general I like Chinese people and history, but this kind of hyper-nationalistic BS annoys me in any country. Unfortunately, people here are, on average, more ignorant of things that don’t fit the party line so not much can be done.

Anyway, I’ll try to get some photos if I see anything like this.

Now to Koh Samui. To get there from Bangkok it’s actually quite easy, just long. Of course if money is no object you can fly there and that’s the fastest, easiest method. I’m a cheap-ass so of course we did the bus/catamaran method which is a slow 12 hour trip total, but only a sixth of the price or something like that. So it was well worth it.

Upon arrival it was a hair hectic but I mean, I’m so jaded with Asian travel so I guess I’m used it it. We were able to get a van taxi transfer and get to our hotel no problem. I think I forgot to take more photos of the hotel itself but it was super nice. The cheaper rooms are a bit worn but they were clean and cheap so I don’t really care about anything else. We stayed at the Kinnaree Resort. You can see the cheaper rooms and the more recently renovated ones on their website linked above. The red ones are the newer ones and the green themed room are the cheaper ones. I saw both and while the wood floor (as opposed to tile) and red decor is warmer and more inviting, I am a cheap-ass as I said so I didn’t care since the green ones were still clean.

I only realize now that the below is the only photo of the room I took, but you can check out the photos on their website so whatever haha.

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The presentation is so cute!

The room is like a little hut or house and they have little porches you can sit on. From our porch to the beach it was literally 10 steps, and it was great! More than a few days was just spent laying on the beach on a chair, reading the multitude of books on my Kindle. I loved it! Talk about relaxation. You could hear the breaking waves from our room as it was the second one from the beach end of the resort.

George was a salty Sally and didn’t want to sit on the beach because apparently putting on sun-block was too hard and he kept letting himself become Dr. Zoidberg.

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So friggin’ relaxing holy crap.. look at those muscley shoulders.. so manly lmao.

So yeah, the island time was mostly relaxing and not thinking too hard. One day we even played in the sand like kids. We made a sand fortress/castle? thing. Of course I asked for shells and rocks to decorate as I wasn’t sure how else to make it “pretty”.

See the rock on the top? I’ll let you guess who decided on that part. =.=
He was far too amused by that, but then again so was I. We are a lovely pair.

The whole 10-day trip in Koh Samui wasn’t only R&R but also food.. and more food. We are fatties and both of us LOVE Thai food. We found great pad thai noodles from a small little shack in a parking lot. It was delicious AND cheap. See for yourself!

In addition to eating good food, we actually took cooking classes with Smiley Cook which was pretty freaking awesome. The day started with our chef taking us to the market to buy ingredients after choosing what dishes to make.

We chose Green Curry, Steamed Fish, Papaya Salad, and Cashew Chicken. We met a nice Spanish couple in our group and it was a lot of fun watching George cook for the first time. He was definitely awkward but I was proud of him for giving it an honest attempt without getting frustrated or anything.

Other than cooking, we actually took a kayaking trip with Bluestars Kayaking to a geological park near the Thai islands. I loved this trip but George wasn’t so keen on the boat to the geological park. We discovered he gets seasick. Woopsie.

This was the first time I ever got to kayak and I definitely have a new hobby. It’s a good workout, but still enjoyable. I think if I ever live near water, I might want to look into some kind of group or club for rowing.. I might like that, too!

But yeah so in effort to keep this not so long, here are some random photos before I go to sleep.

So yeah, I’ll work on the final Summer trip location, the Philippines when I have time and decent internet. Also I’ll try to pay attention to things going on here to share. I think I’ve become jaded and I take things for granted here now that I don’t think to blog about it, haha.

Anyway,

再见,
Laowai Shye

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To Manila!

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Oh My Shanghai!

大家好!

Finally getting caught up! I’m a bit lazy when it comes to writing.. Never liked it much, even if something I want to do. Strangely contradictory, I know.

Luckily for bloggin’ purposes, I didn’t travel really this winter break. I only went home and then stayed about 3 days in Shanghai, so there’s a bit to say, but I’m not too far behind.

While at home, I got to experience my first proper Chinese New Year with the in-laws since the holiday was a bit earlier this year which means I was around for it. I got to make dumplings with my 婆婆 (Mother-in-law) which is pretty traditional, but also I got to watch (I’m useless) her make all of the Chinese dishes you can see below. It tasted great and I rolled away from that table.

As you can guess by the title, that’s this one’s topic. But I won’t lie, it wasn’t that exciting except for the fact that that I got to meet some awesome people, KaiKai and Jinwen, who are friends of my husband’s. They were super generous as they not only picked me up from the airport, but also took me to a very spicy hotpot restaurant, which I loved.

I didn’t do too much in Shanghai because originally, some Polish girls were supposed to meet me there. Stuff happened and it ended up that they couldn’t go so I was there alone. Since I’ve been in Shanghai before, I wasn’t about to desperately see everything. It’s not necessary. As my hubs is originally from there, I will likely be back in my lifetime, so I took it easy.

The first day I went to the French Concession.. but to be honest, I’m not sure that I found it. Overall, the area wasn’t terribly interesting and so that’s why I doubt I had actually arrived there rather than kind of walking around nearby. I wander. Those who know me know my directional skills suck… so perhaps I was there, perhaps I was not.

That’s an authentic Shiloh experience, I guarantee it!

While there, I found a really cool shopping street,  much by accident. There I ate and bought a bunch of cool stuff like a handmade mint candle and charcoal mint face soap. This ended up being a really neat night market and made the day feel successful.

 

The both days I was lazy but the second day I was out a little earlier because I was less jet lagged. I decided I would go the Bund. I’ve been there before, but not at night with all the lights. The hostel was centrally located so I decided to just walk to the Bund. According to Baidu Maps (their version of Google Maps) it was a long but doable walk so I decided to just walk there and see what I find on the way.

Well, what I found was a park and a big mall with stores like Asics, MAC, and Victoria’s Secret and so I wandered that mall’s 7 floors. The mall wasn’t so wide, just very tall, typical for many big cities where land is at a premium.

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Toward the end I had seen the inside of a Hershey’s that I had seen earlier from the outside. As someone who grew up within a 1 hour drive from Hershey, PA, I took a look and treated myself to a nice Hershey Mint chocolate drink.

After the mall I just kept at it toward the Bund, stopping at various small shops on the way. Finally for my knees and bladder, I made it and got to see the swarms of people and bright lights.

 

In current news:

I just took my placement exam today, which is stupid and useless because I can ultimately choose my level anyway. I will likely be in E班. Level E out of A- F. F班 probably won’t have enough people to even exist this semester. But I’m ok with that.. F has some literary and writing aspects that are just not useful compared to the more speaking focus of E.

I find out Friday, and start classes again for my final semester on Monday. I want to catch up before then.

I’m much better at doing regular posts if I’m not behind. I noticed this last semester was really sparse for posts, and that’s partly because I was behind already and feeling like I need to “catch up” is a bit overwhelming sometimes and so I avoid it altogether. Dumb? YEP! The upside to this is that while I’m running out of space on my blog for photos (there is a limit for a free blog on WordPress) I will probably be OK now since I didn’t upload many photos the last 6 months. So yeah, silver lining.

So as it’s long overdue, I wanted to finally get my Thailand post out there. Of course writing this a whole semester after the fact means that some of the finer details get lost, but photos are still nice, especially for those of you who work with my husband. I was told you were waiting for them!

AWKWARD.

Welp. Next few days is catch up time.

Thanks for not being too angry. 🙂 再见,

Laowai Shye

Rainpocalyse

大家好,

Ok so I had said it rained in Beijing while I was there, right? Perhaps I didn’t make it clear it was like Rainmageddon no joke. While perhaps not at the level of 2012’s rain storms that were the most epic in 60 years, it was still pretty awesome in all the best and worst ways.

Recent Rain in China
This link shows an article with a photo of a tunnel outside of Beijing West station on July 20th.. I was at that station only 1 day later.

Beijing West Station
This article focuses on the transportation hiccups.. That photo is exactly where I was only one day later. I notice now that the message in the middle showing cancellations has my train, the Z49. But luckily the next day it wasn’t canceled, only delayed. I guess I can count my blessings.
In other news that small smudge of a McDonalds M on the left is where I ate lunch that day.

Where I was, major streets were still reasonable but the smaller ones were quickly becoming small rivers. I wore sandals just so I could recklessly walk through them instead of trying to get around which was near impossible.

This obviously didn’t have a great effect on my train scheduled for 11:27 AM on July 21st that was to go from Beijing West Railyway Station to Chengdu North Railway Station. All together the schedule was to be a slightly longer than 21 hour ride that was to end around 8:30 AM on July 22nd.

This already sounds intense but I was prepared with The Walking Dead season 5, Kindle Paperwhite, and my phone with external power bank that can charge it to full 2 or 3 times.

Upon arrival I was a bit early and famished so I got something quick and easy which usually means Micky D’s because it’s something you can grab and take with you if necessary which is something that cannot always be said about Chinese food.

As the clock ticked closer I was stating outside of the gate waiting for my train to be called to commence boarding and about 15 min prior to the scheduled departure time I started to zone out a bit just because I was bored waiting by myself. All of a sudden, I realized that the time was 11:25 AM and my train was no longer on the board and I panicked a second, worried that I had missed my train. I found a guard and asked him about my train and he said simply, “还没到” meaning it still hasn’t arrived. I was relieved and sure that it wouldn’t be long and so I asked him when he thought it might come. He pointed up at the board and told me to look and I noticed my train was back up again but with a new arrival time, 14:22, a whole 3 hours later.

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My 3 hour delay – my train is the Z49 on the right, moments before it had said 11:27开

In my pampered hubris I thought this was the end of the world and I lamented the seemingly eternal delay before me. With 3 hours I looked for a place to sit but I wasn’t so fortunate as there were people pretty much everywhere. There is a Chinese idiom for this, 人山人海 which means literally “people mountain, people sea” or in my local dialect, “Everyone and their fucking mother is here”.

With no seats I found a shop inside selling those small portable fold-able seats often used for outside Chinese BBQ or just for sitting outside in general and I thought this would be a good thing right now. It was 20 yuan for the more sturdy one which I felt might be necessary since I have a big butt and I intended on keeping it even if it’s a bit troublesome to carry back home. I find myself wanting one every now and again so it’ll come in handy later.

I found a spot and plopped myself down and didn’t realize just how long I’d be in that spot. I saw a white dude kind of wandering past me and I asked him where he was going. Earlier I had seen him rush past me toward the 4th gate so I had a hunch he was on the same train, especially since he was much less in a haste now which would make sense if he was on the same one.

He said he was going to Chengdu and I said, “OH!? Me, too!” so he ended up sitting down and we chatted and joked which certainly made the time go faster. As the time got close to the 14:00 mark the time changed to 晚点 which means delayed. With groans of disgust we just sat and talked taking time to glance up at the board every now and again.

The guy was an Australian named Joel and he’s quite the witty dude. Hilarious and with a good sense of humor I feel like the delay wasn’t too bad if I’ve at least made a new friend.

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When the people were truly at their highest number

So the waiting went on well past 4 PM and such. The room got busier and busier and there were messages on the board in red that showed cancellations so I decided I wanted to go ask someone if there was even a soft estimate of when the train might come and also hit the bathroom because the line was long and I wasn’t too worried about Joel stealing my stuff. He seemed ok. So with great effort I struggled through the crowd to leave the waiting room and find a guard to ask. I finally found one about the same time a bunch of military guys came and started ushering people. The guard answered that he got notice that maybe around 18:30 the train would come and that was only about 2 hours away at this point so I was happy to take that.

Now, as I’m trying to get back in, masses of people are trying to get out so I cannot get through. I had to tell a military guy that I needed to get back in because my friend and my stuff was all in there and he helped me pave a way by walking ahead of me and helping me get through as the Chinese won’t push or bother a military man.

I got back and spread the good news and no sooner had I done so, the board updated from “delayed” to 18:50. At this point, this 5 and a half hour delay was “not bad”. So we sat and continued waiting.

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Finally a time! The 晚点 non specific entry is maddening! Taken approx 4:30 PM

Of course it was too good to be true and as the time rolled around, we found that this too, was a false hope and it changed back to “晚点” around 6:30 PM or so.

It started to become a really screwed up game, when would the train arrive? There was concern it wouldn’t arrive at all or that it would arrive like some crazy amount of time later and we’d spend the night at the train station.

But in the end the intercom voiced the oncoming train and there was an audible cheer from the crowd that was waiting for it. I wasn’t sure if it was our train so I asked some visibly happy people what the intercom said as it’s not clear enough for me. She said some train was coming and I said I was going to Chengdu and she told me it was the same train. I literally danced a jig I was so happy.

When all was said and done, Joel and I had waited over 10 hours for a train at Beijing West. If I was alone I might’ve gone a little crazy but chatting with a new friend really helped pass the time. We agreed to get hotpot in Chengdu together since we were going to the same place so I would see him there.

The seat on this train that I had was the hard sleeper seat which this time was quite nice, nicer than previous ones anyway. Not there is much of a difference but these had a bit more privacy from people walking pass the space since instead of it being open out into the aisle, there was a small wall until the door frame. On other ones that space is open with a ladder for getting to the middle and top bunks but here they were just small little fold-able steps to use with the bed themselves to go up. It’s a bit more streamlined. While not a perfect execution, I tried to get a good “PanoSphere” shot with my phone so you have a good idea of what it feels like.

I was lucky enough to get the bottom bunk which is usually slightly more expensive but a huge difference in seat. The bottom one usually has more headroom so you can sit straight up, the middle and top even I, as short as I am, must hunch over. There are seats also next to the windows for such passengers so it’s not a condemnation but it’s just less convenient. On this train, the top bunk had some storage at the very top above the entryway that is not on the other hard seat cars I’ve been in. So even the very top one isn’t bad on this car because you have your own storage space so you don’t need to come down except to use the toilet or if you want to sit up rather than hunch or lay down. On any train the middle is usually the cheapest because it doesn’t have the privacy of the top nor the convenience of the bottom.

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The wall where the footholds are is a new one for me. I’m used to that space being open and there being a ladder there. This one was really nice and more private. Even had an outlet but I didn’t use it. Fancy shmancy.

After getting on I brushed my teeth and washed my face the best I could and even changed into pajamas. For a train ride over 20 hours, comfort is a necessity. I slept pretty soundly until about 7:30 AM when they were selling breakfast. I had enough food that I didn’t need to buy anything but water until 3 hour from arrival because I didn’t want to worry about buying food when I got to Chengdu at 11PM. Which is longer than it should’ve taken. A 21 hour 13 min train ride turned into 10 hours waiting at the station and 25.5 hour ride because they had to change the train course a bit and they ran it at a slower speed, presumably for safety. I’m alive, so I won’t complain. I only got antsy the last 2 hours or so.

The scenery on the way was at times, amazing. While the photo doesn’t do any justice, here is my attempt at getting a shot. Just trust me that it’s not even close.

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I saw many villages built into the side of the mountains as we passed

Anyway, I’m in Chengdu now and I must sleep. Tomorrow I see Pandas! When I return I should be able to give you my last few days in Chengdu.

再见,

Laowai Shye

Beijing, Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

大家好,

Well folks I’m sorry to say that my Beijing arrival was disappointing. Already as I was approaching the station the rain was making me wonder if the following day visit to The Great Wall as intended would be a failure. I checked the weather and realized it would likely be rainy and miserable the entire time I was there so I figured I might not go after all. The hostel people said the tours would still happen in the rain so I considered going still, but it just felt like a lot of trouble when I can easily come back.

The messed up thing is, they said: It would be a unique experience because it doesn’t often rain in Beijing. So it rains when I get there. FANTASTIC. I won the weather lottery I didn’t want to win.

In addition, the hostel was not as clean as it was the first time. It’s the same place I went back in winter when me, Jagoda, and Gosia were in Beijing. There were a lot of people again and my dorm mates were better this time (because they were Chinese not rowdy, loud foreign kids) but the bathroom was only barely passable and I knew they didn’t clean them daily which should be a given when you have over 40 reservations at once (they said it). Also they were really rude and not helpful when it came to laundry and gouged 20 yuan for 1 load which is a load of shit. I know the price is about 8 yuan normally at hostels. 10 would be the highest “fair price” and if it’s even 15 yuan I’d say it’s stupid high but anything more is just obscene. They’re taking advantage of foreigners who won’t know the difference. For reference, before they took the coin slot off, the one in my dorm at home is only 2 yuan. I get hostels like to make money and nickel and dime the guests but there is a point it’s just greedy. Sanlitun Hostel hit that mark and I don’t think I will return if I can find another option. It’s Beijing, so that should be easy.

It would’ve been a wash if not for the fact Monica had moved back to Beijing only a week prior, so at least I had that still.. I can visit her and see her old stomping grounds from before she came to Anshan.

It was awesome seeing her again even if it wasn’t that long since I saw her last. She took me to her favorite pizza place which was really nice as it’s been a bit since I’ve had good pizza. We caught up as I tried to dry my feet a bit. I was stupid and wore my sneakers rather than sandals.

We walked around in the rain and I was immediately grateful I bought my rain jacket in Anshan for the crazy Filipino weather. Never thought I would get so much use out of it so early in my trip. Along they way I bought 2 pairs of shoes, sandals and a black lace pair of Tom’s for only 50 Yuan each. That’s a steal.. and they’re real Tom’s. Perhaps the donation isn’t happening at that price but I like them because they’re comfy and they don’t give me blisters which seems to be really easy for my feet.

I got the fickle feet to join Hana’s cheatin’ feet.

The day was full of chatting and exploring and getting rained on which sucked but well.. that’s life. She took me to a foreign foods store and I was like a kid in a candy shop. While some things I don’t care about when they’re readily available, sometimes Doritos, Salt N’ Vinegar, salami, good cheese, and CRAFT FREAKIN’ BEER is just too much a part of what I’m used to, to entirely give up. I love Chinese food, but it lacks crunch compared to the American diet and there are times I crave something crunchy (and not sweet) and I find myself wanting. Chinese people like to say Americans like sweet stuff but they can’t really talk. Everything is sweet and it drives me crazy. I know as a whole, China consumes less sugar per capita than the USA but that includes the poor and the country people who probably use next to nothing. In cities I wager it’s a bit more skewed.

At night we went to a Mexican restaurant she likes and we split a chimichanga because they were large and we weren’t starving and it was enough.

Overall, despite my Great Wall plans being a wash, I had a good time just hanging out with my friend and it was  nice it that way. She also told me where to get awesome french fries and sure enough, they were just like Our Place (my and the fam’s favorite local sports bar).

Now only for some blue cheese and some buffalo sauce.

I thought that my trip has ample opportunity for exciting things so I wasn’t as broken-hearted as I thought I’d be.

Yeah.. I didn’t anticipate just how right I’d be in all the wrong ways.

再见,

Laowai Shye

Tianjin, The Return

大家好!

I have completed my trip in Tianjin with my friend Eddie Zhang who was one of the chefs at a job I had a few years ago. He was my favorite chef there and he’s always a hoot, and he hasn’t changed one bit. I got to meet his wife and daughter who were equally interesting and funny. His wife is smart and super sweet. I was almost embarrassed at the doting and worrying for me!

They were there at the station when I arrived and first took me to a fabulous restaurant with a spicy roasted fish dish that I couldn’t get enough of. I didn’t take a photo and I’m kicking myself for it now but man it was great. There was a problem though when we got to my hostel they said that they can’t take foreigners so I was quite annoyed that I wasn’t called ahead of time (which is the usual response). Nothing on C-Trip, the website I used to book, that would imply they cannot take foriegners, and that wasn’t the first place I booked. The first place was a nice hostel that had rave reviews, but C-Trip called me only 10 minutes after booking saying the hostel told them they cannot accept me.

This is due to some regulation. China and their government LOVE red tape, regulations, and rules. It’s quite exhausting sometimes. Anyway, this is not what I want to hear at 10 PM so then the owner and Eddy together looked online to find some places close to the train station. We ended up finding a simple, clean place but because it’s a hotel, not a hostel it’s a lot more expensive. But there is no use being too annoyed, at least I have private space rather than dorm space and it wasn’t SO bad, just 250 Yuan/night which is maybe around $35 and I stayed 2 nights.

They came to get me this morning and we walked along the river to get to the ancient culture street. I love that place and while I was there before, it’s nice to go again in warmer weather.

We did a lot of walking and seeing things and also caught up a bit as it’s been 4 years since I’ve seen my friend and so it was pretty cool. I got a lot of good practice too! I saw some of the same places as last time, including this mysterious “House of Nathan”.. we all still don’t know, WHO IS NATHAN?!

Later on, we went back to their house so I could meet her parents and Eddy’s niece. Their daughter was also there, of course so I just hung out and chatted as they all cooked. Mostly the grandmom was cooking but they all helped. We all made dumplings together and everyone got a good laugh at my terrible, ugly dumplings. I don’t mind, they’re pretty bad so I was laughing, too.

When finished we all sat together and chowed on what to me, felt like a feast but I was told it was a typical meal. I wouldn’t mind eating this every day, it was great! I especially liked the vegetable and shrimp dumplings.

After dinner they cleaned up and were nice enough to see me back as they wouldn’t find it acceptable to for me to go alone or taxi. Too kind, indeed. The walk was cool and pleasant with the city all lit up it was quite pretty and interesting and I kind of wish I was studying here instead but then I’m quickly reminded that staying in cheap place like Anshan allows me to travel more.

With our hugs and good-byes taken care of, I returned to my room to prepare for the next leg of my trip which is tomorrow morning at 6:55, I will depart for Beijing and see Monica! The following day will be my Great Wall trip so I’ll have some good stuff for you I’m sure.

So until then,

再见,

Laowai Shye

~~~~~

So yeah.. While not an exact translation, I’m writing a Chinese entry, too for my friend in Anshan who might check in my blog while I’m gone and he doesn’t speak any English other than some words. 不用太着急改错!! 哈哈

我跟我的老朋友好久不见!我四年以前左右在四川饭馆工作过。 那夏天我每星期六天工作所以那地方的人的关系很近。好像工作家庭!我的最爱的厨师是张师傅,我也用他的英语的名字,Eddy。我觉得张师傅的性格很好。他又可气又幽默,每天说话好笑的话,让我笑了。

所以他告诉我他回天津来看家庭,我很高兴。幸亏我已经打算去北京所以我改变打算,火车票所以北京以前能看他的家庭。到了天津他们不停帮我,不停爱护我。有的时候他们的着急让我很不好意思。我希望他们来加拿大看我所以我能当他们的导游,做一样的。我来的时候他们在火车站找我。他们带我去饭馆吃非常好吃的鱼和别的东西。吃完了以后,他们送我去我的年轻宿舍可是到了的时,服务员说那个地放受不了外国人。我问他,“为什么现在才来告诉我吗?” 他不知道因为他不是整理管。他很不好意思的,所以跟张师傅帮我别的地方。我们找到了合适的地方。这个旅馆又干净又离火车站很近。贵是贵一点儿,可是我没办法。

今天早上他们再找我了。我们先走一走去古文化街。当然我上次来天津已经去过可是我非常喜欢所以我想再去。我看看东西就发现很有意思的做饼的东西。不知道什么叫它。。 就是做月饼的木品。是手做的品,所以我觉得很特别。我也没看过这样的东西因此我买了。有一点贵可是他收到了便宜一点儿。

后来我们走去五大道和别的欧洲建筑的地方。那个地方都让我有费城的感觉所以我喜欢。他们马上累死了所以因为我们几个小时走。我们会他们的家去。他们的家做饭,我们一起包饺子。他们对我的饺子笑了很多因为他们真的很丑。我不是不好意思,他们说对的,哈哈。 我应该练习包饺子,能报的更漂亮。他们做了别的菜,都真的非常好吃。他们都是好的主持人所以不停给我菜。我真撑死了!!

吃完了以后张师傅和妻子都送我去我的旅馆。明天很早坐火车去北京所以不会再看他们。
我真的会很想念他们,希望在见面!

再见,

老外 Shye

Summer Shenanigans!

大家好!

So tomorrow it starts again!

I will start my summer travels and boy it’s a bit nuts. The nice thing about summer is that despite the heat, at least clothing is less bulky so I have a lot more room in my bag and I don’t have to carry so much weight or coats and stuff. That’s nice.

Of course I WILL be going to tropical locations in summer. I don’t know if I’ll regret it but I guess I’ll find out!

Tomorrow I depart for Tianjin. Why go again you might ask? Because my good friend, Eddy Zhang will be there to see his family. I worked with him back at Han Dynasty and he was always my favorite Chef there. He’s a lot of fun and I’m excited to meet the family he was always mentioning.

From there I will go to Beijing to the Great Wall and to see my friend Monica who just moved back there.

Next will be Chengdu and Chongqing, two Sichuan cities. Panda will be seen and spicy food will be eaten. I’ve been wanting to go to Sichuan for years so I’m stoked!

Then from Chongqing I will be going to Thailand which will probably be my favorite part because my husband will be joining me! So not only am I not alone, but I can see the person I’m missing the most while I’m here. It’s great! I’m planning things to do like kayaking, tours (bike and food) and things for us to go see. I think I even have a Thai cooking class booked! SO EXCITE! MUCH FOOD. WOW.

We will be seeing Bangkok and Ko Samui which is the largest Thai island to the south. I wish we had more time and then we could’ve gone to Chiang Mai but I guess that’s an excuse to return someday. We are spending a lot of time in Ko Samui because I wanted it to be a more relaxing trip and because George doesn’t really care to run around too much away. Bangkok has some cultural places but it’s more  shopping city with Chiang Mai being the one with more temples and cultural sites. Oh well. Bangkok still has some really great places to see! Ko Samui is just like a tropical paradise and I’m down for R&R before my final leg…

…The Philippines! I’m going because I have to fly out of Bangkok anyway so why go straight back to China? Anywhere in China can be visited via train from here so if I have to fly anyway, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to go someplace I want to go, that I would have to fly regardless. I settled on the Philippines because they speak a lot of English (hence my job going there twice) and because I have heard from coworkers that it was a blast. I planned it to see as much as possible so it’s definitely a tiring 2 weeks. Traveling there is a bit nuts because it’s all islands, getting places can be time consuming so a lot of planning went into it to keep my travel efficient.

I can say I succeeded, but we will know the true answer when I’m back!

Since my trip is comparatively slower in pace, expect posts as I go instead of waiting until I’m back to do them all. This way will be better and I won’t be trying to play catch-up again. I think I might only have to do that with the last few because the Philippines part of my trip will be the fastest pace. Oh and while I’m there, I will be seeing my friend Ardie! He is the artist who designed and created my Mr. Angry Dumpling that I use for this blog! He’s a fantastic artist and super nice for agreeing to spend a weekend with me showing me Filipino culture, food, and life!

Asia

Let the adventure begin again

再见,

Laowai Shye

上有天堂,下有苏杭 – Heaven Above, Suzhou and Hangzhou Below

大家好!

Of course when I’m in my biggest hurry to catch up, my internet fights me. So here I will show you my photos from Hangzhou and Suzhou. While both are much more beautiful from spring to fall, they are still beautiful cities in winter.

Our first stop was Suzhou, which was my first visit to the city. I convinced Jagoda and Gosia that Mingtown International Youth Hostel was a good bet and MAN were we not disappointed! Check this place out! It’s not expensive either. It had a lot of the original architecture. Eye-candy building style. More importantly it was very clean!

On our way to the hostel, Jagoda snapped some shots so that’s why it seems a bit dreary and devoid of life, but it’d because it was quite early yet so the sun didn’t get to dry away the morning fog.

Many are from Suzhou’s ancient culture street which is the same street our hostel was on. This was a happy accident because I didn’t notice the street of the hostel being the same as the famous shopping street with such characteristically Suzhou buildings and canal. Some photos are from parks around the city we walked through. Unfortunately we only had one full day before setting out again. I felt like we could’ve done two full days.

I’m happy we did the boat ride though. The guy actually sang to us which was a hoot! He wasn’t half bad but it was funny and adorable all at once. Speaking of adorable guys, we met two random guys at a bar, who were German and Polish. The Polish girls and he were super surprised to find a countryman in China, as it’s not so common for them. I kind of feel like that with Americans because outside of the big, modern cities, there seem to be not so many, but I could be wrong.

Hangzhou from Suzhou is a quick ride. We take the slow trains if it’s not bad just to save money. The trip was exciting to me because Hangzhou is my first Chinese city and it was fun to go back. You never forget your first!

I even happened upon the same statue I found the first time and took the same photo.. and thus have created a new tradition. Gosia had to leave pretty much right away so she didn’t have time to explore. Me and Jagoda saw her off so she could not be stuck alone.

Jagoda and I took our time to travel the next day at Xihu (West Lake) which is probably one of my favorite places in China. We got to walk around, drank tea, and checked out some goods for sale like silk and souvenirs. We kept walking and used a map to find the Hangzhou ancient culture street. If it seems like every city has one, I’d hazard to say many do, especially cities with tourism.. Why? Because they’re cool!

Speaking of cool, we stayed in a “capsule hotel” which is a thing. It was like.. as if a 12-year old Shiloh wanted to make a hotel. I loved the capsules. It allowed for privacy and security as you need to slide a card to even get in.

So while at the ancient culture street, we got to wander around and eat some stuff. One of which was scorpions. Yeah I ate scorpions. They didn’t taste like anything.. just crunchy, until I ate the meatier, fatter one at the bottom. That one tasted like shrimp, which makes a lot of sense.

The rest of Hangzhou wasn’t so thrilling, as Jagoda left before me and by this point I was tired of travel so I mostly stayed in my capsule watching movies after she left… and sleeping. It was much needed as up until this point we were RUNNING from city to place to city. I still had 2 destinations to go so the rest was needed!

Up next, Wuhan and Hebi!

再见,

Laowai Shye