The night we arrived in Vietnam we stayed in a hotel. We were all starving so we decided to order room service. I was voted to call and order. Kensley wanted bolognese. It’s pronounced boe-la-nese. She read it as it was spelled. We all got a kick out of that.
I called to order and the guy answered. First, he could hardly speak English. Second, I had called the local operator, not the hotel room service. I told him I wanted to order room service and he said, “We busy. Call back fifteen minutes.” My reply was, “can I not tell you my order?” I thought he said yes, but apparently he had said something else. I started ordering our food and he was mumbling something in the back ground to someone. We turned the menu over and there was the right number for room service. Needless to say the operator knew what we were eating for supper that night.
Day two in Vietnam we headed for the junk (the boat). It was a three hour ride there so we had a lot of time to see the scenery. Literally what we saw was rice paddy after rice paddy. There are rice paddies every way you turn.
On the way we also saw a funeral ceremony. It was a big group of people marching down the street. Some played Instruments. Some carried a float with a fruit bowl and incense. And some others carried the casket. One group of people had a burgundy robes and another group all had white head bands on. That was an experience, getting to compare funerals back home to that one.
We finally arrived at the boat and it was amazing. The view, the food, the company, and the staff were all great.
The first night fashionista and I went squid fishing. That was fun. We fished off if the lower deck after supper. I caught one squid and two jellyfish.
We met a lot of people too. We met a couple from Texas, we met another couple from Tennessee, a family from San Francisco, two friends from Norway, and a couple from Australia. One couple even knew one of Left Brain’s Clemson professors. Meeting and talking to people like that you realize how small the world really is.
I did not want to leave the cruise. It was great. I learned knew tricks, how to make spring rolls, how not to fall out of a kayak, I met knew people, walked in the vietnamese rainforest, went squid fishing, and got to see how others live.
It’s amazing how much you can learn and experience in just three days.
Day three in Beijing was interesting. We were still sore from walking the wall so we decided it would be a slow day. We stopped by the store on the way to the zoo to go to the ATM. Apparently the machine ate CFER’s card. Then fashionista couldn’t find her subway card. After an hour or so of searching we found fashionistas subway card in…wait for it…her jacket pocket. CFER’s card is still in the machine…
After that ordeal we headed to the zoo. Within five minutes of being at the zoo I made a new friend. An ol snub nosed monkey. We went to his enclosure and I decided to tap the glass and smile at the monkey. Fashionista, being the animal lover she is, knew not to smile at the monkeys because they take it as a sign of attack. She was trying to say “Pare don’t smile at the monkeys!”, but before she could get it out, the monkeys attacked the glass where I was standing.
My first instinct: scream. Everyone stared, as if we don’t get stared at enough.
CFER, Mother Mary, and fashionista all said it was the story of the day. I’m just thankful to still have my face.
We rode the overnight train to Beijing. We arrived in Beijing early and headed for our hotel. We ate breakfast and then went to the pearl market. After lunch we headed to the silk market. Shopping all day had me out of it. CFER gave me some money and said,”wheres your wallet? put this in different places.” I proceeded to put the money in different parts of my wallet. We all got a kick out of my blonde moment.
That night we took little carts to go get supper. Mother Mary and I piled in and got going. Our driver was insane. First he about ran over an old women, and then stopped to fuss with her. Next he scraped the side of a trash can. Then he drove right into the middle of the busy road almost running into a car or moped or hitting someone several times. I’m very thankful to be alive.
Day two was our journey to the Great Wall. We got up early and headed that way. We took a cable car up to the wall. We walked and climbed all day long. My legs have never been so tired. We all agreed if we walked the wall two or three times a week we would have amazing legs. To get down from the wall we tobogganed. That was fun. I don’t think I’ve ever been as tired as I was after the wall, but it was such an AMAZING experience.
It’s Chinese New Year! Year of the snake.
Their New Years here is like Christmas in America. It’s a big deal.
They shoot fireworks all day long for two weeks straight. When I say all day I mean ALL DAY. I was woke up this morning to the boom of fireworks and I’ve listened to them all day. What the point is in shooting fireworks during the day, I still haven’t figured that one out. China fireworks are not like fireworks in America. They’re bigger, louder, and you can shoot them anywhere. Literally anywhere.
We spent our Chinese New Years Saturday watching movies, playing Mah Jong, and I snuck in a little bit of sociology (I’m such a good student).
Tonight I suppose we will be up watching fireworks. They’re too loud for anyone to sleep. Maybe we can track down some ear plugs.
HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEARS EVERYONE!
This weekend we went to Harbin to the Snow and Ice Festival.
Saturday morning we got up bright and early to head to the train station. Once on the train, Fashionista and I decided we like traveling on trains much better than planes. We slept for most of the ride, but I did stay awake long enough to see some of the countryside. Despite the few small country villages, the country side is bare ice land. We saw several people walking, to other villages I assume, through the snow and ice. I don’t know how they do that. It’s customary to them I suppose.
When we got to the Harbin station, our driver for the weekend met us. He was very nice and helpful. We drove to the hotel, checked in, and put on a few extra layers of clothing. My attire for the entire weekend was: four layers of pants, four layers of shirts, scarf and hats, three pairs of gloves, and three pairs of thick socks. I was warm, but I couldn’t put my arms down.
Saturday night we went to eat, then we walked the streets until it got dark so that we could go to the ice festival. Harbin is such a nice place, it’s pretty and looks clean. I loved it there.
When it got dark we went to the ice festival. It was a MAD HOUSE in the ticket room. They were bringing in people by the bus load. Trying to get in we couldn’t get through to get to the ticket booth. On top of that, a group of probably fifty were pushing through and knocking us everywhere. Kristin managed to get through; Laura, Fashionista, and I were still trying to get through. Finally, I just stuck my arm out to clothes line someone so that we could get through. My plan was successful.
I can’t even begin to describe the ice park. It was AMAZING. Everything made of complete ice. There were slides on most of the ice buildings, so of course we slid down them. After a little bit of wandering around we found the snow tubing area. When we got to the top I told the worker to spin me. He spun me alright. He grabbed both of my feet and slung me down the hill, by the time I got to the bottom I was dizzy. We wandered around for a little longer and took plenty of pictures. It was awesome. We also made a new friend, a Chinese gut wanted to take a picture with us so, of course, we did.
We went back to the hotel around nine. Planning on ordering in supper. Of course the first three of the four restaurants would deliver. We were starting to get worried that we weren’t going to get supper. If you know Fashionista and I you know this was a big kadoo. We have to eat. Finally we got KFC to deliver and we were all happy. After we ate we went to bed. The beds were like sleeping on cinder blocks with sheets, but we were so tired we didn’t care.
We got up Sunday morning and went to find some breakfast and coffee. After breakfast we layered up and headed to the snow sculpture park. The sculptures were INCREDIBLE. Those are some talented, warm blooded people, to be able to be out in the cold and sculpt those things. It was unbelievable, the size and detail of them. We walked around, climbed on stuff and took lots of pictures. We also saw our friend that we met at the ice park! He recognized us and we waved and went on about our business. Frozen hair, snot-cicles, and red cheeks we left to go to the train station.
We got to the station, got some snacks, and got in line to get on the train. Guess who we saw in line! Our friend! Crazy right? We boarded and that puts me here now, riding back to shenyang, listening to my iPod and the woman behind me snoring, writing my blog.
On Wednesday we experienced our first major earthquake.
I was at the table eating. CFER and Fashionista were on the computer when everything started shaking. As I look up and ask “do y’all feel that?” CFER is already in an ‘about to take off’ stance. She was getting ready to grab her jacket and run out the door.
Being on the eleventh floor we could feel the building swaying. This really scared me because CFER had already told me about Chinese construction….apparently they build fast and carelessly.
Thursday was full of sweet potatoes. There is a street vendor who sells slow roasted sweet potatoes (which are amazing), so when I finally woke up I bundled up and headed down to get me one. I ended up getting two and eating them both, one for brunch and one for a snack.
Fashionista and I were home alone most of the day, but when CFER (who also loves the sweet potatoes) got home, she walked in with a bag of TEN sweet potatoes. (CFER here: I intended to have 4. A little miscommunication with the street vendor on that one. Didn’t have the heart to make him put them back. )
Needless to say I was happy and I’m going to be having sweet potatoes for every meal. (Fun fact: their sweet potatoes here are yellow.)
Today we went out to get some last minute things for our trip to Harbin. On the way home we grabbed a taxi. We stopped at a red light and a girl was going down the road handing flyers to the drivers. When the girl gave our driver the paper, he didn’t even look at it. He threw it back out the window onto the ground.
Either I was the only one to see him do this or I was incredibly tired, because I found this hilarious. Our driver didn’t think anyone had saw him. When I started laughing, the driver gave me the eye in the rearveiw mirror and once I told everyone what I was laughing at they laughed too.
Today we were out and about in China again. We went shopping in Wuai market and we went to the “Chinese Walmart”. The market is six buildings big, we only made it to the third floor of the first building. There is so much to look at, it’s overwhelming. Fashionista and I both bought some jewelry today and I’m sure we’ll be going back to explore the other five buildings.
To get to Carrefour, or the Chinese Walmart, we took a bus. (CFER here: To clarify, China does have the real “Walmart”. Carrefour is a French supermarket that is similar and has more import goods than the “real Walmart”.) This was our first bus ride in China. We got to Carrefour, but we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. It was like Black Friday shopping. A mad house. I don’t plan on making another trip there anytime soon.
Today was also a bit of an accomplishment. For those of you who know me very well, you know I have an extremely small bladder. Today, however, I managed to avoid all squatty potty usage, and held it until we got home. We were all proud of me.
Today was a fun filled, accomplished, adventure in Shen Yang!
Today fashionista, countryfriedeggroll, and I went to fashion street and did some shopping. It was extremely crowded and there were all sorts of things to buy!
This was definitely our kind of place. I left with a new sweater and wallet, and fashionista got a sweater as well. We will definitely be visiting fashion street again, there was so much I didn’t get to buy!!
On the way home we grabbed a McDonalds cheeseburger and a Starbucks coffee, which was very satisfying after a few hours of shopping.
Once we got back to the apartment, fashionista and I put on our running shorts and hit up the gym. Working out felt good. It had been awhile.
I would say we had an extremely productive day. Next time, however, I’ll get up earlier so we’ll have more time to shop!!