Thursday, January 5, 2012

An Update, and Destination: Paris

HI everyone!

I'm sorry I've been such a terrible blogger. Since moving back to the states, I've been a little uninspired, especially because this blog was so China and travel focused. Truth be told, life in the U.S. can be a little boring when you're used to living in a culture not your own, and jetting away every few weeks to see another corner of the world.

In the past several months since being back, I have:

- Vacationed in Kauai, Hawaii with my husband
- Started AND quit a Master of Social Work program (I already have a masters and decided I was tired of school)
- Sent my husband off on a deployment
- Became absolutely addicted to Pilates
- Visited my family for a couple months
- Finally got a job!!
- Been crazily building my work-wardrobe during all these Christmas sales

Pretty soon, me, my mom, and my best Beijing friend will all be rendezvousing in Paris for a little winter fun before I head back to California to start my new job.

I plan to do a Kauai related travel post soon, and definitely stay tuned for my Paris trip report in the next few weeks...

I hope everything is going well for all of you, and Happy New Year!

Where do you hope to travel in 2012?


Sunday, June 26, 2011

I'm still blonde.....

but I am no longer in Beijing!

Sorry for the lack of updates... I know I have been really terrible about it recently and especially in the last month or two. We are officially back in the States... What happened to our AMAZING summer trip that was all booked and almost completely paid for, you wonder? Well - the military happened. My husband was required to report back to his new unit much earlier than planned, and we had to cancel our trip. In fact, I am supposed to be on a plane back to LAX right now after a week in the Cook Islands, a week in New Zealand and almost 2 weeks in Australia. Instead I am staying with a friend in CA while we wait to move in to our house next Friday, and my husband is flying back from Afghanistan.

Oh well! Next summer, maybe. Or maybe we'll do the South Africa trip we had to cancel due to the military... ha ha! Theme, anyone?

So, what is going to happen to this blog - I really don't know. But I do know that I have a TON of pictures and trips that we took in China that have not been posted at all... I promise I will make an effort to post those periodically.

In the mean time, if anyone ever has any questions about Beijing or China in general, please let me know and I will do my best to answer them. Between my husband and I, I think we are pretty much China travel pros, and I'd love to help others with the knowledge we have learned.

On another note, I was paid to write my first travel article! Here is a link.... keep an eye out for my husband's next article on Xizang - Tibet, and Mt. Everest Base Camp (which I did not go on).

Additionally, if you are in China and looking for a great Chinese teacher/tutor/class, my tutor is in the process of starting her own school and has the website up. The website is still under construction, but check it out - I am on there as a testimonial to how great her teaching method is!

Hope you guys are doing well! Now it's just job searching for me... this market is rough but I have an interview Wednesday.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Up close & personal with the Terracotta warriors, and Hong Kong!

Family from the States was in town visiting, and although we originally planned to take them to OUR favorite place in China (Guangxi province), we decided that due to it being the rainy season in that region, we'd take them somewhere else. We ended up spending time in Beijing, then headed to Xi'an for a VIP tour of the Terracotta Warriors, and finally, we ended up in Hong Kong.

Dinner at the Noodle Loft in Beijing - good Shaanxi noodles and fun to watch the noodle makers throwing the noodles around in front of you

My husband and our guests headed to Xi'an on an overnight train, and I flew with a friend and met them there the next day. I had a really cool cab driver drive me from the airport to my hotel. He was super chatty the entire way and loved that I could speak Chinese. When he realized I could read Chinese, too, that really sent him over the edge - he'd excitedly point out billboards on the roadsides as we passed and say "And that one?" "and THAT one?!!!" "and that one!!" as he had me read the billboards aloud to him. I'll tell ya - me and cab drivers in China - we have come a long way. I have learned that a friendly smile, a big "NI HAO!" (hello!), and a good attitude works wonders! I think it's pretty cool that since my last trip to Xi'an, I've pretty much come full circle - from 万事开头难 (everything has a difficult beginning) to what I think is now the opposite - everything has a difficult end! I leave China late next month. The adventure is almost over.

Because my friend's husband is the President of the Asian branch of a huge company - and the company contributes a huge amount of money to Shaanxi province's tax base - we were able to get the real VIP tour at the Terracotta Warriors site! This is the same tour that is extended to U.S. Presidents and other heads of state.

The average person only gets this close:

We got THISclose:

We were very careful not to even sneeze. Can you imagine stumbling into a cultural relic dating back to 210 B.C.?!!! These statues guard the tomb of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang.

After our time in Xi'an, we headed to Hong Kong. Actually, we landed in Shenzhen, which is still in mainland China just across the way from Hong Kong. Because Hong Kong is considered an international flight, prices flying in are often much more expensive than flying into Shenzhen, which is considered a domestic flight. The process of landing in Shenzhen, taking a bus to the Hong Kong border, going through customs, and being dropped off in Causeway Bay took about 3 hours. Luckily, we flew out of Hong Kong International Airport - but if the price difference is huge, it may be worth it to fly into Shenzhen.

Bamboo scaffolding! I've only seen that in movies. Rush Hour, anyone?!

The famous Hong Kong trolley system, and double decker buses! (British influence, anyone?!)

Pretty views taken from a junket ride in Victoria Harbour

This is the site where in 1997 Hong Kong was officially handed back to China after more than 150 years of British rule

Night scenes, hard to get a good pic without a tripod

Me staring longingly into one of Hong Kong's many beautiful boutiques

View from The Peak

A reason I loved Hong Kong: a city built amid palm trees

Not the only car of this caliber seen on the streets of Hong Kong!

The Big Buddha at Lantau Island

I also ate at California Pizza Kitchen, which rocked my world, and the hubby and I also went to see an American movie in the super nice mall across the street from our hotel (we sort of have a tradition of seeing a movie in foreign cities we've been to - we've seen movies in Brugges, Victoria, Hong Kong, and Vienna).

And that's it. Hong Kong was truly one of the coolest cities I've ever been to. I love the tropical clime, the palm trees, the city built around it, the proximity to the ocean, and all the amazing shopping and restaurants. It's also definitely one of the most crowded (the most?) city I've ever been to - streets are very narrow, surrounded by high rises - it makes the streets of Beijing look extremely wide and spread out!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Now you can have your very own PET!!! Wait... in a *key chain*?


China China China China.


This is one of the times my brain screams out "PETA!!!! PETA where ARE you?!!!" China desperately needs PETA.

Thanks to my friend Christa for finding this little guy and FREEING him - I can share with you the trend in China - or Beijing at least - to have a pet. IN a key chain. Turtles, fish, and even newts.

My friend Katharine asks a good question. How do you feed it?

Apparently you don't? You just let them slowly suffocate and die?

Gross. This is gross on so many levels.

**Please no political comments! (don't want me to get in trouble right?!)

Anyway - I just returned from a trip to Xi'an (again).... this time we had the super special VIP tour that is only given to special people, such as heads of state and CEOs of major companies. My friend's husband is one of these special people and we were able to stand right next to the Terracotta warriors. Very very cool. Then we went onto Hong Kong - just a few words: COOLEST CITY EVER. Like, in the world.

I love Hong Kong.

Pictures to come.


The very bad absent blogger

Friday, March 18, 2011

**(Mini) Blog sale!** Cleaning out my closet!

Do you ever have a few items that you hold onto and hold onto, because they are really cute and you don't want to let them go? but then time passes, and for whatever reason, you rarely end up wearing them, if at all?

I feel this way about a few items in my closet for sure! As I was looking through my closet to take an inventory of what I will need for spring and summer, my eyes kept falling on a few things that I like, but for whatever reason just don't work for me or haven't been worn. (Okay, and I also decided that if I sold a few things, maybe some of the guilt I have over splurging at Piperlime's "Give & Get" will go away...;))

How this will work

1. If you are interested in an item, e-mail me at Misshark122 at aol dot com - use the item description as the subject line. Items are reserved first come first serve.

2. I will accept payment only through paypal: use the same e-mail address as shown above.

3. Shipping - I will ship USPS priority mail, which you will receive within 2 weeks. Shipping will vary depending on the item weight, but I will always ship the cheapest possible way. For the dresses and top, I anticipate shipping to be approximately $6, for the shoes, a little more because of weight. I will scan the receipt for you so you see exactly what I paid.

OK, here we go... not too many things at this point.

Item #1. Banana Republic Navy & White Striped Dress - on trend with Spring & Summer's nautical theme!

Size: XS
Fabric: 95% Rayon, 5% Spandex
Made in Vietnam, Hand wash or machine wash cold, gentle cycle
Worn once, item is in "like new" condition, no snags, no holes, absolutely no imperfections.

Item #2. Banana Republic Blue Dress - very pretty bright blue, great for spring and summer!

Size: XS
Fabric: 93% Rayon, 5% Spandex
Made in Vietnam, hand wash or machine wash cold, gentle cycle
Never worn (aside from trying it on and off), like-new condition, no snags, no imperfections

Item #3. Express Floral Dress
Size: 4
Fabric: 100% Silk shell, 100% polyester lining
Dry clean only
Worn once for a wedding, like-new condition, no defects or imperfections

Item #4. Anthropologie Navy Ric Rac Brand Sweetheart Ruffle Shirt

Size: S
100% Cotton, machine wash cold
Worn once or twice, in like-new condition, no defects or imperfections

Item #5. Banana Republic Brown Leather Espradille Wedges - on trend for spring and summer!

Size: 8 1/2
Brown leather upper with Espradille "straw style" wedge
Lightweight and solid, comfortable, good quality
Worn probably once for a few hours!

Item #6. Ann Taylor Deep V-neck Crimson Top
Size: S
Fabric: 96% Viscose, 4% Elastene
Machine wash
Worn once or twice, like new condition, no issues or imperfections - this fabric is very nice and soft, comfy

That's all for now. I have a few other things I KNOW I should part with, but I just can't bring myself to yet.

If you are interested in any of the above, be sure to e-mail me to reserve.