Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Home Again

In a recent email, a friend said, "Call me when you get settled." Such a simple statement, it made me laugh. My life won't be settled for several months - I don't think he wants me to wait that long before calling.

Anyway, I'm back in Los Angeles. Going back to Hong Kong was the right thing to do. I spent the weekend running around the Island and Kowloon. Friday I took the time to hike up to the to of the Island. Amazing how I took the elevator down from the 18th floor, went out the door and up the road about a 1/2 mile and was suddenly in this jungle. The trees were covered in vines, the bugs were buzzing - very tropical and exotic. Just loved it.

Back to the travel log... Sunday it rained and inhibited my enjoyment of Hong Kong. I couldn't find an umbrella in Sonya's house which made going out a challenge. Aside from a breakfast/brunch run, I wasn't able to do much until the rain let up in the afternoon. Now that I think about it, I could have gone to a museum, but I changed my mind.

Monday was wonderful and fully made up for Sunday's dreariness. I took a morning ferry over to Macau. On the ferry over I got seated next to a Chinese/American business man. He came to the US in 1958 and had a great time giving me advice on love, life and work.

Macau was beautiful, a mix of East and West. Pink palaces, a space needle, tiny little alleyways, scooters and the remains of a church facade. Just unbelievable. I did a walking tour around the southern peninsula and stopped in the Maritime museum. Lunch was in a Macau/Portuguese restaurant. I had an unusual chicken stew with onions and potatoes with my New Yorker for company.

The afternoon I continued the walking tours around the island. Such potent smells: bakeries with cookies and salt cod and dried meats. Like Hong Kong, there were hills and green spaces. I wandered around the British garden and took a minute in the protestant cemetery. Odd how all the gravestones noted who had erected the memorial. On a couple of stones the name of the shipping company, the kind folk who sponsored the marker, was almost as big as the name of the deceased. How's that for corporate sponsorship?

Monday night I treated myself to dinner at a classy Chinese joint. Had Hot and Sour soup with Lobster - but I prefer my old Chinese food joint out on 34th... it has more kick. Oh, it will be so good to go back there and have my favorites: hot and sour soup and green beans with steamed tofu.

The flight home was uneventful. I had sushi on the stop-over in Japan and slept through much of the flight across the pacific. Home is the same, but now I'm focused on getting the move in order.

Sleep tight all.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Back in Hong Kong

Whew, it is SO good to be back where cab drivers understand me. Well, as much as they do in the states... Jen-speak is an international problem.

Anyway, my mom had given me an article on cell phone tours and I went out and got one yesterday. Now, I'm still having tons of cell phone issues. I'm just leaving my T-Mobile phone on, as I'm switching around my SIM cards. But I'm back on the 2nd Hong Kong SIM (the China SIM won't work here). So getting this tour going was a 2 step process: 1)Find the bookstore with the tour 2)Find additional minutes for Hong Kong cell phone SIM. Nothing is easy here - but fun.

So I got the SIM and the tour and then get lost trying to get to the starting point, Star Ferry. They are doing construction and I got on the wrong side of the construction. But I got there and started the tour. It is FANTASTIC. So much interesting information and I get to choose what to listen to. It's called Walk the Talk. Wish they had this for every city.

But after an hour of listening I start shopping (a hazard here in Hong Kong). Found myself the cutest linen suit and then needed some dinner. Not wanting to partake in the Wan Lai Fong madness, I slipped up a side street and found a quiet bar with only one patron and a great atmosphere. I go up to the bar and order a Manhattan. The bartender didn't know how to make one, so I got to teach him. Fun and a nice way to have a conversation.

I'm back on my own here in Hong Kong - Sonya is out of town, so I don't get in much socializing. But chatting with the Scottish bartender was fun. As it turns out, he was short staffed. So I interviewed for a waitress position of the Manhattan and was told to come back at 9 pm. I ran home, dropped off my new clothes, ate and tossed on a low cut top (I wanted to get tips) and ran back.

My training was simple: when a glass is almost empty, go ask if they want another drink; clear ash trays; clear empty glasses; bring bills; converse with the patrons when things are quiet. I had a blast. Met a bunch of interesting people. Was running around the bar and being offered personal Hong Kong tours by a number of the male locals. Too funny.

Got finished at about 2 am. My pay? $40 and memories. Also a number of resources for getting a sales or office job if I want to stay here in Hong Kong.

Too bad today is rainy - I wanted to finish the tour. May have to wait until tomorrow. Next time I'll have to be sure not to visit Hong Kong in the rainy season.

Trains in the rain

The Beijing West Railroad Station is a bit chaotic - and worse for those who do not speak the language. My ticket information suggested that I'd be able to check a bag. So I packed accordingly - one big bag to check and then 2 little ones with books, food, toothbrush and clean undies. But as I was asking the people about where to check the bag I got directed to immigration. They then immigrated me and before I knew it, I was on the train - an hour early. Gave me time to settle in.

As it turns out, I got the entire 4-bunk cabin to myself. I spread out, did some journal writing, watched the green, green countryside go by, listened to the iPod and read a book. All very civilized. The least civilized thing was the smokers in the hallway and the bathrooms. But that is to be expected on foreign trains.

Another oddity is that they had food runners that ran carts up and down the hallways. I didn't realize this and so went to the dining car. The staff was enjoying their break (I thought 6:15 was average dinner hour - guess I was wrong). I tried to order a chicken dish and a veggie dish, rice and beer. But the waiter I took it upon himself to make sure I didn't wreak my figure, so he only brought the chicken dish and skipped out on the veggies. I was too weak with hunger to argue.

After dinner it was dark, so I read for a bit and then passed out. The bunk was pretty good, as train beds go.

The next day was much the same. No one disturbed me, I watched the lumpy mountains and fields and goats go by, read, danced to Black Eyed Peas on the iPod and wrote in the journal.

Getting to Hong Kong was great. I really love this place.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

No rules in China, more like guidelines

Moderately organized mayhem would describe transit in Chinese cities. Crossing the street - just dodge the cars. Bicycles can go just about anywhere, except Tiananmen Square. And they are like a school of fish - constantly darting and swerving; a success of near misses. Add in the rickshaws and there is even more to the migrating system. Today my rickshaw attempted to take me up the wrong side of the street. Since we were dodging both bicycles and cars, we took it to the sidewalk.

One step up again and we have the motorized bicycles, bicycles with flat beds on the back and scooters. All of these can go in either the car lanes or the bike lanes - whichever is moving faster.

Cars are more limited in where they can go, but they make the most of their designated spaces. Darting from one lane to another. Just honk and pull into a lane. If the driver honks back, he won't be letting you in, but going around you. If he doesn't honk, you're golden.

Left turns are my favorite. No need to wait for traffic to stop, just start nudging your nose out into traffic until they are no longer able to go around you. At lights it is common to jump the green to get 2 or 3 left turns across. Remarkably, I've only seen one accident since being in China and that was one car having rear-ended another.

But the fun doesn't stop with transit mobiles. Walking home from dinner the other night Dave and I spotted a team of men working on telephone or power cables. They just went out into the middle of the street, mind you without cones or lights and leaned a ladder up against the wires and started climbing up.

Forget about neat queues - just mob your way to the front. Once there, reach your hand over the person in front of you to get to the window.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Flying Solo in Beijing

Dave's taken off for Hong Kong and so I'm here on my own. Finally. Despite a bit of hesitation, being in China is like being illiterate, deaf and mute - challenging to say the least.

However, I got myself to Dim Sum for a lunch and was able to order the most divine feast. BBQ Pork buns, Shanghai Dumplings, some dumplings that Dave ordered yesterday that have meat and are in hot oil and my token steamed greens. Yum. It set me back $5 USD. The only bad part was that I broke the strap on one of my loafers so I had to go back to Dave's to take care of shoe business.

So I grab a cab and this idiot takes me 1/2 way to Shanghai. Now I know that we aren't going to the right place, but unable to find the words I need in the back of my guide book. So I'm screwed. What amazes me is that I gave him an address card with the address and a map on the back of it. Do none of the Taxi drivers in Beijing know their city?? It is astounding.

But I get the shoes fixed up and I'm out the door, this time to the train station. I've given up hope on trying to get to China's interior. Just not going to happen this time around. Too much luggage and not enough planning ahead. So I've decided to revert to my original plan of trying out the Chinese trains. I very much enjoy the trips on trains I've taken in Europe. Despite my old friend Cristiano saying that I should just fly - I like seeing the country side. As I've got extra time and want to see more than the cities, I think this could work. We'll see...

So the train station is dirty. Not what I wanted to see, but I'll manage. I find my way to the Foreign Ticket Window - which takes 3 different people to tell me how to get there in English. Then I go up to the only open ticket window and the woman helps me in English, but when I want to buy the ticket she tells me to go to window #6. So I go over to window #6 which is getting opened up special for me. And then the new woman doesn't speak English. So odd, she had to get the woman from the original window to come over and help. Ok. I eventually buy my petite ticket and I'm no my way. It takes me 3 tries to find the taxi stand... There is a level below what I thought was the main level and, not speaking the language, everything takes a bit longer.

But I wade through the sea of people who are sitting or lying down around the outside of the bottom level. I don't know why they are there, but all they need is a bullhorn and they'd have a sit-in. I find the taxi stand and the taxi driver takes me to a place near where I wanted to go. He motions - up and to the left. And I meekly pay and get out of the cab. I had passed a Starbucks a block back and decide that I need a frapp to counter the sweat dripping down my chest.

Re-enforced with my frozen coffee, I head to where the taxi driver said and, after stumbling around, find the Book Shop. In the basement is the English section and I grab 3 books and a phrase book. Yippee!!

Unfortunately at this point it is 3:45 and the Forbidden City and Major Museums have ceased to allow entry, so I'm stuck wandering around Tiananmen Square. Something is going on, as I'm forced to go back and forth under the major street, as they've closed off areas to pedestrians. Whatever, I get into the square and snap the CUTEST photo of Rocco and the big red flags in front of The Monument to the People's Heros. While I'm pausing three Asian men come up and start taking pictures of me with them. Again, there is a language problem, so I just nod, smile and let them take their photos. They didn't even get my name. So odd. Those photos are going to show up somewhere to haunt me, I can just feel it.

But I walk down Xichang'an Jie (big main drag) and then duck through some alley ways to distance myself from the noise. After a bit the feet start to ache and I grab a taxi. Now, I'm showing the driver the X on the map of where to go and I search for my address card. Once I find the card I give it to him, he returns it and I get the idea to take a photo with Rocco and the card in the cab. The driver finds this highly amusing and I suddenly remember I've got my phrase book.

Between the monkey, the book and the driver I can now say, "Turn Right here", "Turn Left here" and "yes". So much fun! I even looked up how to say, "Bad traffic!" as we were stuck a lot. And true to Beijing Taxi form, he didn't quite know how to get to Dave's place, so I got to put my new vocabulary to work. Much to the taxi driver's amusement.

Now, I'm working on learning more essential phrases. Kindly, Marisa and Dave have given me the translation for, "My monkey's name is Rocco". Something I know I'll be saying for the next 10 days and possibly forever after. And I'll have fun at dinner tonight trying to order on my own. Or I'll just wimp out and go to an Ex-Pat place where I can order in English.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

One night in Shanghai

My last night in Shanghai was fantastic. It was Sarah's going away party. Have I mentioned Sarah? Shane and Kate put me in touch with her and she TOTALLY took care of me.

So we all meet up at 8:30 pm for the first party of the evening. I had come from a mani-pedi. Now manicures and pedicures here are a bit different than in the US and I was a bit disappointed. No moisture or massaging involved. Only cuticle trimming and polish. I felt a bit scammed, but she did a very good job and I had had that foot massage 2 days prior, so I really shouldn't complain.

Anyway, we're at this Japanese restaurant where we get unlimited sake, beer and food. I got placed next to some really cool people from Hong Kong, Australia and NYC. Such is the X-pat culture. Anyway, we gorge ourselves on sushi, sashimi, some yummy green salad, cook-it-yourself scallops, beef and mushrooms. We close down the joint... They were very excited to see us leave at 11:30 or so. And I have to mention, this orgy of food and drink cost of $20 USD a person.

We headed off to go rollerskating. I thought that Sarah had been kidding, but no. I was in the cab with my seat-mates and, since we girls were sock-free, got some of the terrible anklets that the older, fashion-sense-free, Chinese women wear. June and I double bagged our feet, just to keep the cooties from the skates off our feet.

But we only had to pay the entrance fee and then we were in the all you can skate and drink bonanza. Just like I remember from when I was 10... Skating endlessly in a circle. Thankfully the DJ didn't say, "Ok now, couples skate" and I think YMCA had played by the time we got there. But it all came back - how to go backwards and turn and do little circles. Much fun.

About 2 AM we had had enough and so went dancing. The DJ wasn't the best, but I'm spoiled. I've got a couple mixes on my iPod (thank you Greg!) that make me happy - happy house music. But it was fun just the same. I got hit on by some attractive Nigerian guy. I just wanted to sit down and I think he though I was interested in making some money... so I had to walk away and dance some more. Odd.

But I got back to the hotel by about 4 am. I would have set my alarm clock for 6 AM (I had a car coming to pick me up at 7:30 AM and I still need to pack), but there was no alarm clock in my room. I've had to keep my iPod by my bed so that I know what time it is when I wake up. But very fearful about not getting woken up in time to get ready, I set both cell phones (I've finally got a charger for the original T-mobile phone and then my dopod is running smoothly) and called down for a wake-up call.

2 hours later I'm up... and still feeling the alcohol in my system. Drunken packing. I had to be very methodical and check everything twice. Also, I needed to grab a box of lube out of the bathroom. Now, that may sound odd, but this swank hotel caters to foreign tourists. And the room has a mini-bar and at "health-bar" - or that is what it said on the room bill... and in this "health-bar" are: condoms, female genital wipes, male "love everlasting" stuff (didn't open, so I'm unsure if it is a pill or cream), lube (with instructions saying, "rub in cunt time after time with the forepart of thruster for about 1-2 minutes) and the irresistible vibrating cock-ring/condom combination.

But the car picks me up. I'm in a Mercedes and my Chinese driver doesn't speak a word of English. I should note that in China, they like these white seat covers. I'd think they are washable, but in some cabs, it doesn't appear like that happens too often. So I'm in the Mercedes on a white seat cover, mildly intoxicated and exhausted. I'm trying to sleep, but the driver has an affinity for sappy 80's love songs. I was kept awake by Stevie Wonder telling me that he "just called to say I love you". All a bit surreal.

The flight to Beijing was uneventful. Got to Dave and Marisa's swank pad. So good to see one of my oldest friends. Since Marisa is in Hong Kong with business, he and I zipped around the neighborhood on his DARLING scooter. The thing has a silver, metal eagle head on the front with green gem eyes that light-up when the bike is running.

We enjoyed Belgum beer, DVD shopping and then the most amazing Chinese food I've ever had. Thankfully he likes Chinese food, so I'm going to be eating local cuisine for a few days. It really is getting silly. 10 days in China and I've had 3 Chinese meals. But oh - last night! We had Peking Duck, which was my least favorite and I loved it. Then dried, fried green beans (think there was some pork in there), MaBoTofu, or however that is spelled, Cucumber (super yummy with some light sauce) and some picked veggies. And beer - but American here. We had had the Belgium beer at a cute little bar that served fries and pizzas too.

I got him to watch Harold and Kumar go to White Castle because I was in the mood for silly movies after talking about them with Sonya. And crashed early last night... Nothing like travel and no sleep to take the wind out of a girl.

So, today is Sunday and I'm up (too early) and trying to read my guide books so I'll know what to see here. Am thinking of getting out of China Wednesday or Thursday. It is a bit difficult to deal with things here. I'm hearing good thinks about Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Also, I'm hearing how easy it is to get down there for a weekend... which would be fun. Now I've got to find out how to make that happen.

My Junk sunburn is now peeling, so instead of being tender, I'm itching like I have lice. So I'll have to remember the sunscreen if I end up no a beach in Bali.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Unable to view my own Blog.

For some reason, I am unable to see my blog. I am unable to see if there are any comments. I'm unsure if it is this computer or if the government is involved. Probably the former.

Shanghai is better with Sun

China can be quite confusing. I'm having problems with the cab drivers here. Several times they try to drop me off at locations that are not where I tell them. It doesn't help to have the address in Chinese, or both have the address in Chinese and point to a map. They just pull over in the neighborhood and say, well, I don't actually know what they say, as they don't speak a word of English and I can barely pronouce Thanks You in Chinese... but it is clear through gestures that they think I am where they want to leave me.

Challenging world here.

Yesterday a typhoon came through. Made it very unpleasant. I tried to walk around the city - even with the rain, but I couldn't tell North from South or East from West and ended up walking a mile or two down Nanjing Road the wrong direction. Blew a whole morning. And it is hard to appreciate the sights when the umbrella truncates one's view. Finally broke down and got lunch near the hotel. Udon with lamb. Yummy.

The afternoon was another attempt at adventure. My tennies were soaked through. My jeans soaked. But I eventually made it to the Urban Planning Museum. Very fascinating. I had NO idea how big this city is or will be. Simply assounded at the vast scale of high rises they intend to build in this area. Just up and up and up. Most buildings with 10 or more stories. Wow. San Francisco seems so provencial. Took a taxi back to the hotel - he did, with some loud English and pointing, get me to the hotel, but damned if he were to drive up to the lobby. Had to leave me on the curb.

Today I awoke to sunshine. I could tell East and West and see things. I walked from my hotel on Shanxi Lu down to the Bund. This city is so vertical. And it has old, rickety alleys, and so much green, quiet park space. I'm really impressed. There is charm to Shanghai. Last night I was becoming convinced that the only charm was at the bottom of a bottle of crappy wine.

I think I need another massage...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Getting to Shanghai

I'm not getting the access to email and internet I thought I would with my new, dopod (here's the website: , but I'm in China, so it is all in Chinese, as I can't read anything. But I did see that the address is in Shanghai, maybe I should visit to see if I can get a tutorial, as I'm having a hell of a time getting all the features to work - but I've just got to RTFM). Anyway, I'm here at the Grand Pacific and they, thankfully, have a business center, but no wi-fi. I have gotten the wi-fi features up on the phone and that is really cool. I digress.

Hong Kong time has saddly come to an end. Monday I was on my own and a bit more challenged than expected by the Lost in Translation problems. I did eat at Hutong which it atop a tall building. I think didn't quite manage my rice bowl/serving bowl/eating bowl thing right, but the service only laughed at me in the back. The food, my first Chinese meal, was tasty. We tried several safe items: Green bean with tofu, Chicken with mushrooms and pork fennel dumplings. I got to savor the flavors I had never tried before while watching the boats go by in the harbor and helicopters landing on the sky scaper next door. Quite and experience.

Yesterday, as I was leaving Hong Kong, I decided that I should do some super-touristy thing. I headed up the Hong Kong Island hill. And between the cab ride to the tram and the tram up, nearly got sick at the top. I really should just take dramamine daily, as I've had a terrible time with motion induced nausia here. I also got accosted by the oddest turban topped Indian man who tells me there are two men in love with me and one is a big problem. Hmm, really? I think he says that to all the girls. I declined the rest of his $300 HKD ($60 USD) palm reading.

Hong Kong has a fantastic airport system. They've got this train that goes from the center to the airport, which in itself isn't all that, but you can check-in at the station and leave your bags with them.

So, I get to the in-city check-in on time, only to learn that my 2 pm flight to Shanghai had been cancelled. They offer to put me on the 1:35 and I accept, but then am unable to meet with Sonya (she had a 2:15 flight and we were going to train it over together) and I'm bummed, as I don't get to hug her goodbye.

I hurry to the airport, get some starbucks lunch - not sure if or what they will be serving on the plane. I also find that they have internet/business centers placed through the airport. These offer compters as well as charges for your cell phone - which I am in serious need, as both of my cell phones are out of juice. One completely and one has an ounce of power left. Just my luck, they don't have matching chargers for either.

I get to the gate and queue up. The nice lady at the gate had given me an aisle seat with the window seat being reversed and for use by the flight attendant. I'm not sure if she wanted to spare me the close contact with the natives or vice-versa. I wouldn't have thought much of it, but the only other white person on the plane was seated on the other side of my aisle in the same situation. Hmm.

The flight, which I had rushed to, is then 45 minutes late. The delay didn't bother me, but the final approach did. In the US the final approach means we get everyone in their seats about 5-10 minutes before the wheels leave their tar on the tarmack. Here, it was a solid 30 minute approach. I was wondering if we were every going to touch down.

Once in Shanghai, I had do face mainland immigration. And I got to face it for a full hour. Fun. I finished "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night" while waiting. It took so long that by the time I got to the baggage claim, my flight was no longer listed on any of the carrosels. So I then had to wander around trying to find my bag.

Next was the taxi endeavor... since my buddy Dave hadn't gotten me a hotel until the last minute and the dopod is set to English, I did not have the Chinese Characters of the hotel written down anywhere. I did have that last bit of juice and the nice Chinese woman who set up the hotel for me/Dave and called her. I did managed to get through and she got on with the cab driver and they had a 10 minute discussion where I was sure that I was going to be sold into white woman slavery.

When we get to the neighborhood, he can't find the hotel and is trying to get me out of his cab when I look up and see the sign. Thankfully he gets us across the street and I get the most amazing $80/night hotel room I've ever seen.

I'm safe. I've got to go and see the town now. Whew! And please forgive all the spelling and grammer errors in this posting, this Chinese version of does not have a check spelling option. Also the words are all characters, which makes it a bit surreal.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Junks rock.

I've got an odd bruise on my elbow. I'm sunburnt. I'm damaged my liver. My sinuses have been completely cleased with sea water and water still seems to be dripping out.

The veiws were beautiful. The water was fine for swimming. The whole thing was a fantastic dream - but my body is not very happy today.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Round 2

Well, I'm still in love with Hong Kong - even when I'm sober.

Thursday was definitely the kick-off. Friday was difficult, tackling a new city where the signs is in odd shaped characters and taxicab drivers get me car sick, even when not hung over was a challenge. However, I managed to make it down to Central in time to meet up with Sonya for lunch.

She works in the 3rd tallest building in the world. Thankfully there are no earthquakes here and little threat from terrorism. Her office is on the 21st floor and sports a basketball court. But we don't hang out there for long, we head down to a cafe with a French name and order Thai soup. Odd yes, but it tasted good and despite the spice, it eased my tender tummy.

She walked me through a labyrinth of shops. I was on a mission to get to Marks and Spenser's to find a bathing suit in Western Women sizes. For a Caucasian woman, shopping in Hong Kong is like being in the girls section of the department store - but with cool threads there. Hence, having forgotten to pack my suit, I needed to go to a store for the big.

On the way, we pass through the land of Armani. Did you know that Armani offers flowers? I had no idea. Make-up and kitchenware too. Learn something new everyday.

But make it to Marks & Sparks, found a suit that wasn't terrible, not good either, but for $40 USD, who's complaining?

Next, calls with Ken - a friend of my buddy Dave who is going to help me get my plane tickets for the rest of my trip. He tells me to get a cab and either tell the guy to go to the Landmark, and if he doesn't understand me, to call Ken (who speaks Mandarin and Cantonese) to help. So I leave Marks & Sparks, find the cab stand and then when it is my turn, I hope in. I say Landmark and the driver points to the doorway just past the cab stand. Nice guy - he didn't charge me for the directions or take me on a spin around the block. What could be easier?

I hop out of the non-needed cab and go into The Landmark. I realize I had walked through it with Sonya 30 minutes before. Who knew? Hong Kong has a good city planner - there are elevated and air conditioned walk ways that connect the important money making and money spending locations.

Which I how I see Hong Kong so far - a great place to make and spend massive amounts of money. My buddy Greg would love this place. I hope those communists don't make too many modifications to Hong Kong. Nothing like Capitalism and Consumerism to make a city's wheels turn.

So I locate Ken and we take care of our errands. One of which takes us on the subway (very fun) - but seeing the equivalent of Jersey (Kowloon) and getting a cell phone/PDA not available in the states was also a lot of fun. The shop had these great Zoolander phones - the size of 2 of my fingers put together and they come in 7 colors too.

Another first was Boba drink. They don't call it that here. But back in LA I would see Boba every where. And I had recently discussed rice with Greg who was telling me how they have "glutinous rice" here. Never heard that term before, and then it was on the multi-lingual signage. So odd. But mango, ice and boba and some other stuff. Yum.

Met up with Sonya and we rushed home and back out again. We had 7:30 reservations at Aqua ( - amazing food at the top of a sky scraper. Stunning.

But we didn't last long. The jet lag was finally catching up with me. We stopped briefly in some district I can't recall and had a drink with 10,000 of our best friends. Just amazing, almost The Castro on Halloween crowded. The street was lined with 10 story buildings all touching and the bottom 2-3 stories of each had restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Drinking is allowed on the street and most in the sea of people were taking advantage of that. Mostly Ex-Pats in shorts, suits all sorts of outfits.

Another thing I noticed: each bar had a theme. We had Beirut with Hookas, Italian joints, British Pubs and more. However, I didn't see many Chinese Themed locales, nor Opium dens which I had half expected. Which made me realize I had been in China for a day and change and had yet to have any Chinese food. I write this another day later and I'm still waiting. I've had Tapas, Thai, Italian, Japanese, Cheese plates (tonight's dinner) and Califonia-esqe food, but no dim sum or Chinese. Maybe Tomorrow?

Or maybe not - we're going on a Junk boat (why I needed a bathing suit). I'll be careful to wear sunscreen, to not get burned. Need to stop eating, as I'm not sure I'll fit into that suit if I keep up at my present pace.

Today was spent visiting another Ex-Pat and wandering around Stanley Bay and Shek O. Put my feet in the water, sweated out a gallon of water (it is HOT here) and enjoyed some pinot gris with a view of the bay.

If we ever leave, (it is after 10 pm), we're going to do the obligatory tour of WanChai and possibly hit a party. I'm looking forward to it. If there is no blog by Monday AM - please contact the embassy, I may have been sold into the brothels in that 'hood. Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hong Kong

I'm a bit tipsy... so this post might not make much sense.

I'm in Hong Kong. I'm in love with this city. Amazing. Beautiful. Hills. Skyscrapers. Fog. Narrow streets with cool bars. I'm in heaven. Like San Francisco mixed with Manhattan - what could be better?

My favorite person in San Diego wrote this poem that totally describes air travel.

Seated at the bar with the
Close-cropped Business types
With their sky-blue shirts
And bulging beltlines, their
Sports pages and cell phones
the TV news mutters in the
Background, the overhead
Voice chimes in polite reminders
About heightened security
Smoking is prohibited in the
Terminal area, do not transport
Any item for someone you
Don't well
Do any of these fish-eyed
Whiteys really know the
John or Bill or Jim on
The next barstool and would
They suspect there's a Poem
Being crafted in the shadow
Of this spicy Bloody Mary?
Probably not.
Bless the little-typer
And cheers to you.

I was TERRIFED to get on the plane to China. Scared out of my mind. Ended up calling a friend to talk me onto the plane he gave me soothing words. I tried to pacify myself with Duty Free - should have bought more wine. Only because it is difficult to get CA wine here in Hong Kong.

I should go to bed. It is 1:45 AM here and 10:45 in San Francisco.

The room is spinning. There are three glasses of wine and I have no idea which belongs to me.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

From 7,500 feet

I have been working on how to describe my love of the desert for the last few days. Currently I'm staying with Bill and Regina in the mountains above Santa Fe. The air is different here. Everything is dry and distilled. The views are astounding. I can see for eternity it seems.

One of the many blessings I got from my time with Michael is a love for road trips and a love for the desert. Seeing the stratifications of the rock in the mountains is like seeing history. Here we have the history and the seams of the earth. The volcanoes, the limestone, the shale and in each is reflected a time totally unfathomable. 1.2 million years ago the volcano near Los Alamos erupted. 1.2 million years. Then the ash was compacted and turned to stone. Then came the sea and the shells and then the ground was pushed up and then eroded.

The views remind me of the beauty and timelessness of the earth. I'm here for such a blip. The mountains don't even notice me. I drink in the views and the sunsets.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Mountains flatter the horizon

After leaving Roswell, and briefly getting lost (I can understand why the aliens crashed here... So easy to get turned around), I headed West on 70. It took a while, but then the mountains appeared on the horizon. Just there, waiting for me to come and visit them.

I kept turning slightly south and frustrating me, as I wanted to drive straight to them and climb up to see the view. But it worked out OK, as I got the hills at Sunset and everything suddenly felt right. The hills were sharp and golden - with small green shrubs dotting them in a way that just inspires painters. Part of an ancient reef, the limestone occasionally peeked through - like the stuffing from a worn doll. But up and down, in and out - they just danced. The road traced a creek that fed green, green grass at the bottom flat.

Down there were small farms and ranches. Cows, sheep, peacocks and horses all enjoyed the fields. Rimming the grass areas were tall tress, again green green green. The houses were straight from Kinkade - almost too saccharine. Aged wooden fences with rusting equipment.

Just beautiful from Sunset to Lincoln. I ended up in a little town on the desert side. Near the Valley of Fire - at the top of the same valley where I hiked in the sand. I've got to get going. On up to Albuquerque. Finally I'm back where the mountains hem me in. Drama in landscape is good.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Roswell, New Mexico

Just a travel log posting.
Made it to Austin. Cute town. Good music. Lots of skin art. Except for the lack of views and it being in a Red State, it is quite nice.

Had fun at my friend's bachelor party. I think the highlight was when I got a lap dance. The entire crew seemed exceptionally excited about it. But got to see my friend intoxicated, for the first time really.

Been thinking about drinking. There has been too many bad things of late that have happened due to excessive drinking. Am I really to the age where I'm done with excessive drinking? Done with feeling like I made a fool of myself? Worrying about what I might have said the next day. I guess I'm officially moving into adulthood, either that or I'm losing my wildside and moving towards white knuckle flying.

After Austin I made a quick run to Dallas. Got some good time with my cousins, Dave and Nate. Got to meet Nate's girlfriend too. Very fun. Nice weather. In an effort to convince me that Texas isn't the belly of the beast, Dave took me out in really CUTE areas of town. I can say that I was impressed with Dallas.

My cousins also impressed me. Dave is involved with the local Chamber of Commerce. Both he and Nate are terribly well traveled. Educated, interesting, funny and positive - wish I could seem them more often.

But there was one bad spot in Dallas. I got attacked by a bird. Just walking down the street after having a morning coffee on Tuesday. Suddenly I had this creature swooping at me. It even grabbed my hair on the 2nd attack. I'm not sure what was more embarrassing, that I was being attacked or that I was visibly angry at a bird not much larger at my fist. I'm sure I looked like a crazy woman - swinging my book as this bird came diving at me - claws out and wings extended, in attack mode. It was terrible! I am scarred.

After Dallas I took a mystery trip and landed back in Austin on Thursday night. So good to have some quiet time with my friend before the wedding. Talking about what it means and what we've both been through. Amazing to think that we'd been friends for 14 years - even if we were in the same state for less than 1/2 of that time.

Friday started the wedding craziness. Mani-pedi's, rehearsal dinners, wedding preparation. My friend's got a large clan of siblings, in-laws, cousins and family friends and I had a great time re-meeting them after 5 years. Again, educated, interesting people... So much fun to get to know. Guests from 3 continents. The reception was a huge party. Cup cakes that were a million times yummier than wedding cake.

Sunday I barely had time to recover before making my run to the boarder. Made it to Big Spring, TX. Yes, they do seem to have a Big Spring. Not that I took a tour...

Spent this AM at the Carlsbad Caverns and Oh My God it is so big!!
Had a pleasant stroll through the International UFO Museum here in Roswell, New Mexico where I am now. Waiting to catch a flight on the next UFO that passes.