Wednesday, October 20, 2010

10/02 Beijing

We slept in since we were exhausted from the lack of sleep the previous night and made it to a famous hot pot restaurant around 1230.
satisfying meal on a chilly day. beijing was around 60, felt great
After lunch, we took a taxi over to the Summer Palace. It was destroyed in 1860 by the English and French but has been restored and is really beautiful.

Then, we went to Old Summer Palace, which was also destroyed in 1860, but never rebuilt. It was a little empty.

some ruins
After that, we took a taxi to Laoshe Teahouse. It was a great show with martial arts and more shadow puppets. The guy next to me was crazy; a kid was standing up in front of us and he grabbed a handful of nuts and slung it at the kid. Of course, they hit other people.

Blogger's not letting me load anymore pictures right now. I'll try next month. Hope you are enjoying the blog so far, I'll have to finish it when we get back from the west leg of our cross-country road trip. Stay tuned for the Great wall tomorrow. Anyways, thanks for reading.

Tianjin 10/01

We were tired on the flight. Evelyn decided to take some pictures of me while I was sleeping.

nice. air asia flights are freezing
After landing, we took a bus to Tianjin train station. After buying tickets for an express train to Beijing that night, we took a taxi over to their Ancient Cultural Street. The traffic is crazy with nobody waiting for anybody else and bicyclists moving right along with the cars.

It was very crowded
We picked the optimal time to visit China, during their Golden Week. October 1st is their National Day when the PRC was formed in 1949 after Mao Zedong kicked out Chiang Kai-shek, who had to flee to Taiwan, along with all the national treasures. Anyways, so China is even more packed than normal during this time since many people don't have to work. So in case you haven't figured it out by now, my original statement of this being the optimal time to visit China was sarcasm.
dumplings, noodles, and beef. it tasted like crap compared to food in Taiwan.
The whole time we were in China, I kept wishing for Taiwan.
some famous building

excellent product placement
Yes that's mud on my feet, almost slipped walking over there, all the chinese were laughing at me

nice riverview. Tianjin's Italian Concession on the right.
I don't know who's scarier
We walked around this area a little while and found the crappiest Italian food I've ever had. While enjoying our meal, we were interrupted by a woman we'd seen doing some onsite news reporting. She was recruiting foriegners to wish the PRC happy 61st birthday. I asked her what I should say, and she said "speak from your heart." So all I said was happy birthday. They asked Evelyn to say happy birthday to her mother country. She just said happy birthday and said the wrong year the first time. She said we would be on the news the next night, but I wouldn't be surprised if we were edited out.
gross gnocchi

terrible tiramisu
After dinner, we took a little motorcycle taxi to the train station
cool clock
nice fresco in the train station
not an airport, a train station, with palm trees inside
The express train is fast

we took a taxi to our inn. The driver and Evelyn chatted the whole time while I looked at all the massive buildings. As soon as the taxi driver's find out Evelyn is from Taiwan, they tell her that people don't know shit so it doesn't matter if they can vote. Very patriotic to their communist country; I suppose they have to be unless they want to land in jail.
our inn in Beijing
welcome to china

9/30 Bali

We woke up at 10 with our breakfast already served poolside.
We had fun experimenting with the underwater camera function. I had broken our previous camera by getting it wet on a trip to Penghu, so we opted for a waterproof camera.

the water coming out of her nose reminds me of a raging bull
the villa's lobby. wish we had more time here.
We had to check out of the villa by 12 and to go shopping at Geneva handicraft store before our 1pm massage appointment.
she's terrifying

Evelyn's paradise
We should have skipped the market the day before, this place has four huge floors of all the same stuff with set prices that are usually lower than what you could bargain for.


We don't have many pictures here, but we were here for 3.5 hours and spent 1.1 million on our massages. Now that's total, the other prices I mentioned were per person. We got a traditional full body massage, then a hot stone massage then Yogurt and Honey Wash.

 We then changed rooms to get a facial, manicure, and pedicure. Obviously, all of those were a first for me. Finally, our hair was washed in cream. I have never been pampered so much in my life.
After the massage, we went over to Jimbaran Beach for dinner and sunset.

2 big prawns, 8 clams, and a delicious red snapper
That was a really good meal, but we couldn't savor it because we had less than a half hour to eat before we needed to head to the airport.
possibly the 2 most addicting things in the world
cool map at the airport
Bali fin.

We got to KL airport around 1130pm and tried to stay at the Tune Hotel next to the airport, but they were full. So we spent the night in a cafeteria next to the airport and got maybe an hour of sleep.
Finally, we flew to China around 9am

I believe I can fly
Up next: China

9/29 Bali

We were picked up at 9am and dropped off our bags at our villa and then drove 2+ hours into the heart of Bali.

There isn't too much room for comfort when drving in Bali.

If you look closely, you can see the roads are in terrible condition. There are no highways in Bali.
 Our driver was really cool, he told us how there are only four names in Bali, the first kid in the family is always named Wayan, the second is Made, third Nyoman, and fourth Ketut. If there is a fifth child, he or she is named Wayan and it starts over again. Thus, there are tons of Wayans and Mades. They use middle names to differentiate. The village that was are starting point is home to 200 people.

One home in the village we were at, all homes have shrines like this.
Cocks being raised for fighting
After a quick lunch, we rode ATVs down to the river for tubing.
Both our driver's names were Wayan.
Ready to launch
The river we were on originates at a volcano and runs through a canyon where we are. It doesn't flow too fast and at some points is barely wide enough for the tube to squeeze through. The website said we would have to get out at a few points where the water is too fast or there is a waterfall and be able to do a zipline. However, the ziplines were out of order so we just had to walk.

example of waterfall we can't go down on a tube

the "big" one we could go down

Evelyn enjoying herself

Adventure and scenery, definitely got our money's worth
Nice statue at the end. Our guide said they made a mold of his.
There was only one ATV waiting for us at the end and I had to sit at the front. That was a great bonus adventure. The dirt road is extremely steep at some points with tons of potholes.
10 year-olds are allowed to operate scooters, apparently
When we got back to camp, we showered off, had some tea and cake, and proceeded to Ubud. It anyone has read Eat, Pray, Love, this is the city where the author lived. On the way there, we passed a procession for that days festival.
Pagerwasi holiday celebrating the Lord of the Universe- Sanghyang Pramesti Guru
I didn't spend anytime learning their religion, just found a free book that lists all of September's holidays. There are 12 holidays that month and the description for some of them is simply preparing for the next day's holiday. As our driver repeated many times: "Bali has a lot of ceremonies."

Once in Ubud, we went to a palace and saw these girls dancing really well.
Sorry I can't get videos to load, these girls were good.

I can't imagine them going to school very often for how much they must practice this dancing. I realized they were having the girls dance for free that day as a preview, because the women were doing a show later in the evening that wasn't free. Much of the palace was off-limits for that days ceremony, but was still cool and ancient looking.

As I mentioned before, Evelyn did a lot of homework before the trip and knew how to negotiate with the vendors across the street from the palace at the central market. She said that everything can be purchased for 30% or less of the starting price. Evelyn found a purse she really liked with a starting price of 400,000. We negotiated down to 180,000 and I said OK. Evelyn got a little perturbed that we didn't continue to haggle. I should just walk away and let her do it, because all the vendors can speak English, Chinese, Japanese and I don't know what else when it comes to numbers and bargaining language.

However, I didn't learn my lesson. We walked by a guy who said he was selling sandals for 1000. Remember it's 1USD=8900IDR so that's about 10 cents for a pair of sandals. After we picked out three we liked, I tried to hand him 3000 rupiah and he laughed at me saying, "Are you kidding me man? I said one HUNDRED thousand." No he didn't, it's just his sales ploy. Now at this point, I should've just walked away, but for some reason I stuck around and tried to negotiate. We ended up paying 140000 for the 3 pairs, so still only about $5 per. I still thought it was a good deal, but Evelyn was mad that I continued to do business with the guy on principle and she's right. Sorry Evelyn.
Those are two pairs she bought. Only one would make it through the next hour.

All that shopping worked up our appetites and we would do a lot of eating the rest of the day. First stop was down the street for some dirty duck.
Crispy Duck-half a duck steamed in Indonesian spices and deep fried for a crispy finish.

After that, we found a massage place and did another hour massage, but full body this time for 95,000 rupiah.

The massage place provided a driver for us back to our villa, about an hour and a half drive. Not a free driver, but it's better than trying to negotiate with one of the illegal taxis on the street, they had set prices. The guy even waited around while we got a second dinner at Naughty Nuri's.
how much would this cost in the US?
A guy from Brooklyn was backpacking around the world and stopped in Bali and met his wife crossing the street. They started this awesome restaurant with American style ribs cooked with an Indoesian sauce, best I've ever had. The decorations and atmosphere of the place are perfect.
Nuri is the wife's nickname.

read it again... there ya go
Next stop: our villa!!
so comfortable

our private pool
That's the end of our best day yet.