Tuesday, October 30, 2012

{And so am I}

Well, I supposed there are silver linings wherever you look for them. I'm back in the land of pumpkin. Please excuse the emotional eating.


Friday, October 26, 2012

{Hong Kong}

We flew into Hong Kong on Thursday. When we started saving and planning this leg of the trip, Jeff had asked me to save as much money as I could on plane tickets. Okey doke. With the help of some of the girls I worked with, I searched and found the "Chinese" price on the "Chinese" websites, and got us a dang good deal on a bare-bone, no frills, "Chinese" airline. He was pleased at the lower than expected cost... until we got onto the plane. Jeff's normal discomfort on planes was surpassed with seats made specifically for the petite Asian frame, and he spent the entire flight in a near split position doing his best to grin and bare it. I've never seen him jump out of a seat as quickly as when that plane pulled into the gate.

Excruciating flight aside, 20 minutes into being in Hong Kong, we were at ease and having a great time. It was an immediate realization of how very different HK is from mainland China. In Shanghai, it's a way of life to push and elbow your way through a crowd to get where you're going. If you don't, you get swallowed by the sea of people and you never get to the front of a "line", out the car of a metro, or across the street. When people bumped into us in HK, there was a quick "Oh, Sorry" that through us so through a loop that we were left standing in a sea of people a couple of times with our luggage on the way to our hostel. One of the customs Jeff seemed to acclimate to all to quickly in china was the lack of discretion with bodily functions, including farts, spitting, and blowing noses. In HK, there were signs posted everywhere forbidding spitting, urinating in the streets, and smoking. It was a difference in night and day, and It was a welcome change. It was definitely a clear contrast of what we had been living in since moving to China.

We got to our hostel, which was small, but located in a great part of town with a fantastic view, only to piece together that it was operating illegally. However, we had paid, were the only ones there aside from a couple of stragglers, and kept our heads down coming and going. We never had any problems, and made it out just fine.

One of the perks of working for Disney, particularly as a salaried employe, is the free access to the parks, and the attractive employee discount. We spent the entire day Friday at Disneyland Hong Kong, which was the jumping off point of Ashley's wanting to visit China. A Disney nut, one of her bucket list items is to go to all of the Disney parks in the world. So far, she's got the state parks, and Paris, and now HK. I have a feeling she'll be back to China someday, because they have already broken ground on Disneyland Shanghai. Maybe she'll take me with her ;)

It was a lot of fun, and a different experience going back as adults. For the most part, the park lives up to the expectations I had, and after 12 hours there, we were exhausted. That night was the best sleep Jeff and I have had in China.

The next morning, Jeff and I groggily drug ourselves out of bed and headed to the temple located across the bay in Kowloon. We had a rough start and some tears of frustration were shed in the attempt to get there, but we made it, and had an amazing experience. It was something that had definitely been missing from our lives this past year and it was so very wonderful to be able to visit while we were there.

While we were in the temple, Ashley and her dad went off exploring Hong Kong, and while we were supposed to meet them after, I was feeling really under the weather ( and quite honestly wiped out from the previous days exploits) so Jeff and I ended up napping the majority of our day away. We met them in the evening though for a trip around the harbor on the ferry and got to see the awesome skyline lit up at night. We ended the night with Dinner and a relaxed evening back at the hostel with a movie and packing. I was a little disappointed in myself for wimping out on seeing more of Hong Kong, but was VERY happy with what I did get to do. It's certainly a place I'd like to revisit in the future.

My little friend that I made on the flight to HK. She and I kept each other entertained for the majority of the time. Such a cutie of a kid. 

The morning view of the harbor from the hostel window.

Mickey Halloween style. So many pumpkins!

Life has certainly been like barrel full of monkeys with him. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Our interpretation of drivers in China. Nailed it.

Ironic in retrospect. We were certainly ready for our next adventure though, whether it be on the moon or not!

Fact: Jeff is afraid of heights. Fact: A mans pride will overcome most fears. I'm proud to say that He braved the paratrooping ride that raises you up in the air and drops and bounces you several times and  a decent height. Fact: He still screamed and pouted after.    


Ashley got a taste of the outrageous shoe fashion. You know you want a pair.

Feeling a bit sea sick, but enjoying the ride just the same!

I'm so glad for the opportunity to have been able to have spent this time not only in Hong Kong, but to have spent it with a dear friend, and of course Jeff. We had no idea that it would be our last experience in China, but we are very glad for it. 


{Shanghai + Suzhou + Ashley}

First, I need to let you know something that you're pretty well aware of already. I have fantastic friends. Not just the run of the mill  ,fair weather, obligatory hug on a bad day sorts. I sincerely have been blessed with a rare breed of people in my life that seem to rise to any occasion, enrich and push me to improve myself as a person, and always leave me feeling loved and overwhelmed with gratitude.

Ashley, in particular, has been a shining star in my life for quite some time now. Maid of honor extraordinaire, when I told her we were moving to China, and in particular to work for Disney, she had a travel book in her hands before I did. So, just as I was starting to feel the very real pricks of homesickness, She showed up, in China, to spend an awesome two weeks ( one with me) exploring, catching up, and enjoying a country that I had grown to appreciate in the last year.

Ashley spent her first week in China touring with a group and her father in Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai. Her tour ended in Shanghai, where Jeff and I met with her to bring her back home with us to Suzhou. We did a little light shopping in the fake markets, found some fabulous deals on shoes, and went up the Oriental pearl tower to check out the view from the observation deck.
This was as close as I could get Jeff to the observation deck. Notoriously afraid of heights, He refused to step out on the glass.

In suzhou, we took a slow pace look of the city, visiting Tiger Hill, Some of the older streets in Suzhou, and took a canal boat ride in a very old boat. I've never seen better weather than the week that she was here, and we savored every minute of it!

Red towel carrying hill toppers in China!