Archive for the Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11 Category

Home for the Holidays

Posted in Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11, Travel North America with tags , , , , , , , on June 6, 2014 by Yarn Over New York

December 2010- The last time I was home for Christmas.  At the time, I was living in Macau and in the midst of a mandatory 55 day waiting period before re-entering on a new visa.  Therefore, I was traveling for 2 glorious months.  I spent a few days home for the holidays with friends and family.  I saw a bunch of high school friends and shocked my family with my blue hair.

Mandatory “kids” tree photo

The Monstrosity (NOT my house)

My cousin is SO tall

My most memorable moment was definitely my final rabies treatment.

 

See more photos here (including visits with friends).

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Empire State of Mind

Posted in Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11, Travel North America with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2013 by Yarn Over New York

The flight was very long

In mid-December 2010, it was time for me to take a three-week trip back to the USA for the holidays.  My first stop was good ol’ NYC to see my friends and enjoy the city’s unique energy.

Having never traveled half-way across the planet all in one go before, I was not prepared for the staggering jet-lag.  On my first night, my former roommate Nicole invited a friend over for a dinner party.  I remember sitting on the couch and chatting while Nicole cooked and then the next thing I remember is waking up on the couch- still seated in the exact same position at 2am.  Apparently, I simply passed out mid-conversation and missed the entire dinner.  I guess I’m lucky they didn’t put my hand in warm water or cover my face in shaving cream!

Good morning sofa!

After shaving my head in a hari krishna hair style in India, I needed to embrace the craziness.  So I bought some hair dye and headed over to Queens to see my friend Keiko.  She helped me dye my tuft bright blue.

She even gave me matching earrings!

My trip was so quick, luckily I had a chance to see a bunch of friends and also catch some beautiful sites in the city.

Lincoln Center

Dali exhibit at Time Warner Building

Pretty sky downtown

Flying cows (part of the Flying Animals installation by Caitlin Hurd)

Grace Church at night

And I’ll leave you with a quote that is not technically from a fortune cookie but should be.

See more photos of NYC here.

Read more about my travels here.

Hong Kong’s Big Buddha

Posted in Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11, Travel Asia with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2013 by Yarn Over New York

During my Asian Winter Odyssey of 2010-2011, I made several short stopovers in Hong Kong.  It was a convenient location to rest for a day or two between trips and also to meet up with friends from Macau.  One on of these stopovers, my friends and I went to Lantau Island to see Hong Kong’s Tian Tan Buddha (Heaven Buddha) and Po Lin Monastery.

Big Buddha

To travel to the Buddha from Central, you need to take a ferry to Lantau Island and then a bus to the site.  All in all it takes about an hour and a half.

As you may or may not know, Hong Kong is a fairly polluted city.  The air quality and visibility are usually pretty crappy.  Our visit happened on an average day, so the photos seems a bit yucky, but at least you can actually see the Buddha and surrounding hills.

Before heading back to Central, we had a tasty vegetarian lunch at the Po Lin Monastery.

Me and Marshall in front of the monastery

I fully recommend taking a trip to the Big Buddha if you visit Hong Kong.  It’s a peaceful location and there are several hiking trails nearby.

 

See more photos of Hong Kong here.

The One Where They Tried to Scam Me

Posted in Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11, Travel Asia with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2013 by Yarn Over New York

In December of 2010, I made a very quick (and very rainy) trip to Shanghai.

Oriental Pearl Tower in the Mist

Wikipedia says, “Shanghai is the largest city by population in the People’s Republic of China and the largest city proper by population in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities of the PRC, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010. It is a global city, with influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology, and transport. It is a major financial center and the busiest container port in the world.”  That being said, I didn’t find it too crowded or uncomfortable.  Maybe that’s because the weather was yucky the whole time and people were hiding indoors.

A very empty People’s Square

To tell the story of my trip, I’m going to go out of chronological order and tell the story of my near-scam first.  After that I’ll share the nicer highlights of Shanghai.

One of the most popular things to do in Shanghai is to walk along the Bund and view the skyline at Pudong.  Despite the rain, I trudged through the business district from my hostel to the Huangpu river to catch a gray and misty view of Shanghai’s famous skyscraper skyline.

At the hostel, there had been warnings posted on the bulletin board.  Handwritten notes said, “If someone offers to take you to a tea house- SAY NO- It’s scam.”  This piqued my curiosity but didn’t over concern me, so I set off towards the Bund.

On the way, I saw this AWESOME Chinglish sign.

While looking at the limited view of the buildings, a group of three Chinese tourists approached me and asked me to take their picture.  I obliged, of course, and then one of the girls started asking me a bunch of questions.  “Where do I come from?” “How long do I stay in Shanghai?” “Do I like China?” etc.  I barely had time to answer a question before she was asking another.  She said they were students from Xian and studying English.  After a few minutes of intense questioning, she asked me to go to a teahouse.  I said no that I don’t drink tea and hightailed it out of there.

Initially, I was shocked and appalled!  First, I hate being seen as a target. I’m a traveler, a woman of the world! I’m supposed to be better than that.  However, I am whitey-white-white-white and I guess that can mean “easy mark” to some people.

And then I was pissed, I should have done something.  I should have stalked them and prevented them from talking to anyone else.  I should have yelled and caused a scene.  I should have done something more than just walk away and let me move on to someone more gullible.

Later back at the hostel I googled (well, yahoo searched because google is banned) the “Shanghai Tea House Scam” to see what the deal is.  Basically, if I had gone with them to the tea house, I would have been served some decent tea at super-inflated prices and been expected to pay for their tea as well.  Other tourists have ended up with bills of $200 to $500 USD when clearly no tea should cost that much.

Luckily I dodged the scam.  I don’t even like tea anyway.

What a view, eh?

My trip to Shanghai wasn’t all the bad.  I had a nice drink at the original Blue Frog bar (only important because the Macau branch was a popular hangout when I lived there).

Armed with my trusty umbrella, I also saw a lot of the city on foot.

A welcoming shrubbery

Trash collection bikes

No visit to Shanghai would be complete without the obligatory stop at the Shanghai Museum.  It’s huge, it’s free and it’s filled with all manors of cool Chinese art (bronze, ceramic, stamps, jade, etc).   It can be a challenge to take it in at your own pace because the Chinese tourists stop and take a photo of every single object.  I’m sure they thought I was crazy because I only took pictures of the pieces of genuinely liked.

The Shanghai Museum- even the building is art.  It’s shaped like a ding (bronze vessel).

A favorite ding from inside the museum. Too bad the building doesn’t look like this one…

Some other highlights.

See more photos from the Shanghai Museum and the rest of Shanghai here.

Read more about my other Asian Winter Odyssey travels here.

Try Taipei

Posted in Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11, Travel Asia with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2013 by Yarn Over New York

My first solo expedition of my Asian Winter Odyssey was my brief stay in Taipei, Taiwan.  Now, let me tell you, I LOVED Taipei.  It is clean and efficient.  Even though it’s crowded, the people are orderly and polite.  Honestly, before moving to Asia I had an image in my mind of “what Japan would be like.”  Now having visited Japan and Taiwan, I can tell you that Taiwan is what I thought Japan would be like and Japan is ten million times MORE than what I thought.

Harvey Milk

I am not ashamed to admit that my first destination in Taipei was the Hello Kitty Cafe.  It’s so very Hello Kitty.  Everything is pink and adorned with bows.  It was so kitsch, I could not resist.

My Hello Kitty iced coffee with Hello Kitty coffee ice cubes, Hello Kitty tiramisu with macaroon and white chocolate cone with Hello Kitty sticker.
And for dessert…

Seriously, I didn’t order the Hello Kitty jello.  They simply brought it to me after I had finished the coffee and the dessert with two sides of dessert that I had ordered.  Actually I only ordered the tiramisu and the coffee, the macaroon and chocolate cone were complimentary side dishes.

After my sugar-overloaded lunch, I wandered through the artist district enjoying parks and galleries.

And a weird yellow cow
At the AIR (Artist in Residence)

If I were an actual artist, I would SO apply for a residency at this place.  AIR Taiwan.

I was fortunate enough to be visiting during the Taipei Flora Expo.  It a huge international event featuring beautiful flowers from around the world as well as eco-friendly innovations and fashion.

A cactus for La Femme Cactus

Nifty wall planter things
Huh?

My favorite part was the EcoArk, a huge building made entirely of recycled water bottles!

I also did the super-cheesy-but-totally-worth-it visit to the top of Taipei 101.  No, it’s not the world’s tallest building anymore but it’s still pretty cool.

First off, it’s shaped like BAMBOO!
The view
Fun facts
The world’s only visible damper
What could be cuter? Damper Baby

My final tourist destination was Maokong via the Maokong Gondola.

View of Taipei 101 from Maokong

See more photos of Taipei here.

Rocks and Fire in Thailand

Posted in Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11, Travel Asia with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2013 by Yarn Over New York

As part of my Asian Winter Odyssey in 2010 and 2011, I went to Thailand with my then-boyfriend Rowan and our friends Timmy and Jo.  I had been traveling with my co-worker Kevin and his boyfriend Matt, and after India they headed back to Macau and I connected with Rowan and company in Hong Kong.  Our Thailand adventure was mainly spent in Ton Sai (amazing) which was bookended by a day in Ao Nang (due to boat schedule), which in turn was bookended by a day in Bangkok (due to flight schedule).  Hey, at least it was symmetrical.  🙂

Ton Sai 3 thru 6 December

I’m skipping our first stint in Bangkok because I got a migraine and spent most of the time asleep and also skipping our first stint in Ao Nang because I spent most of that time in Krabi hospital (due to the rabies incident).

When we boarded our little boat from the beach of Ao Nang to the beach of Ton Sai, the awesomeness of our trip truly began.

Wikitravel labels Ton Sai as “rough around the edges,” which, honestly is perfect for our group.  It is quite jungly (with MONKEYS) and much less built up than neighboring Rai Leh.

Wikitravel also says that Ton Sai is more of a “doing” destination than a “seeing” destination.  And this is quite true.  Even the things “to see” involve quite an amount of “doing” to get there.

Day One

Our first day, we walked across the beach in low tide to visit Rai Leh beach (less rocky).  I was very excited to try out my new waterproof camera.

Success!

As you can see, the photo is less than impressive.  Bummer.  Shortly after this photo, the camera stopped working.  Double bummer.  Waterproof? I guess not.

That night we tried out slack-wire walking (think tight-wire, but not, you know, tight) and fire twirling.

Jo does pretty well

Ro does OK.

But how does the cat do?

Oooooh fire… (luckily my “waterproof” camera was not my only camera)

I took many many more fire twirling photos but for the sake of browser loading time, I will move on.

Day Two

The next day we took a boat trip to Phra Nang Beach and also did a rather adventurous hike to the lagoon.

You can see the Phra Nang Princess in the rock (She’s ORANGE)

We geared ourselves up for our pending climbs by watching this guy.

Fisherman plant these phalluses as a shrine for Phra Nang.

After lunch, we trekked to the lagoon.

The trail was clearly marked as dangerous and slippery.

That small sign did little to prepare us for the sheer difficulty of the hike.  The trail was quite muddy and slippery and some of it was essentially vertical and required climbing up or down ropes that have been strategically placed along more challenging areas.  I spent a good bit of the trail scooting up and down on my bum or crawling on all fours.  It was a robust workout.

A view of Rai Leh from the trail to the lagoon.

I have no pictures of the lagoon, unfortunately.  I was way too covered in mud to attempt to touch my camera.  However, the lagoon was pretty much a gigantic swamp of mud due to low rainfall.  We tromped around in the knee high mud for a while and then clambered our way through the trail back to our bungalow.

Day Three

The next day we played monkey and went climbing.

Up up I go!

All the way to the top!

So strong!

Soon it was time to say good-bye to Ton Sai and return to Ao Nang then Bangkok then on to a new adventure.

Good-bye Thailand, it’s been swell.

See more photos of our trip to Thailand here.

 

Let’s Pretend I Didn’t Go to Delhi…

Posted in Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11, Travel Asia with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2013 by Yarn Over New York

In late November 2010, my Asian Winter Odyssey continued as my friends Kevin and Matt and I boarded a plane from Kathmandu to Delhi.

Our time in India was split between Delhi and Agra.  I won’t write much about Delhi in this blog entry because most of my time was taken up by spending 2 days in the hospital dealing with my dog bite.  Read all about the dog bite here.

Delhi 25, 26 and 29 November

Delhi wasn’t all bad, I did have a bit of time outside the hospital.  I chose to spend that time away from the crowded touristy areas.  I wandered around more residential areas of the city.  I was inspired by the bright colors of the clothing, flowers and buildings.  Here are some photo highlights.

Agra 27 November

Agra was awesome!  Yes, it was touristy.  Yes, it was crowded.  Yes, it was dirty.  But I still had a lovely time. We visited the Agra Fort, the Mosque and Palace at Fatephur Sikri and, of course, the Taj Mahal.  We also met a couple of British guys that were traveling around the world on bicycles!

Our first stop Agra Fort

Luckily, the fort was not very crowded, which made for a perfect morning of wandering around solo and chasing the multitudes of monkeys.

Hang in there, Buddy

Not a monkey

Cool doors

A view of the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort

After spending a couple hours at Agra Fort, we joined the throngs of tourists at the Taj Mahal.

A quick history

Despite being super-crowded, the Taj Mahal experience was really fantastic.  Given the steep entry price, the area was amazingly free of the hordes of hawkers, peddlers and begging children that can be pervasive in other areas.  Thousands and thousands of tourists all crowded in to the get perfect photo of the gorgeous marble building which magically changes color with the passage of the sun.

Taj Mahal says, “My future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.”

A view back at the gate

Insane inlay details

Taj Mahal sunset

My “perfect” shot

While at the Taj Mahal, we ran into a couple of fellow travelers from our hostel.  Charlie was in the middle of a four-year world tour on bicycle.  His friend James had joined him for part of the journey, and the two were traveling from Delhi to Kathmandu.

Kevin and Matt wanted to have an upscale dinner at one of the 5 star hotels.  Wanting a more cost-effective evening, the two British bikers and I headed to the roof bar at our hostel to enjoy the remains of the setting sun and cheap beer and eats.

After a few beers, we came up with the brilliant idea to shave my head.  I hadn’t washed my hair very well in quite some time due to the rarity of running water in the past few weeks of my travels.  As we moved farther south, the weather had grown hotter and the dirt and pollution had grown thicker.  This resulted in my hair staying in a ponytail- without the aid of a rubber band.

We set out to find a barber shop and shortly found one and then began to draw a crowd as the barber began to shave my head.  Charlie convinced him to leave me a little Hari Krishna style tuft–much to my chagrin.  When I tried to make the barber shave it off, he unplugged his clippers and declared them “broken.”

Check out the crowd in the mirror!

Read about Charlie’s amazing adventures here.  He’s amazing.

Fatephur Sikri 28 November

The next morning, I awoke liberated from my former mega-dread and now sporting a comical mini-tuft.  Kevin, Matt and I headed to the nearby town of Fatephur Sikri to visit the ancient palace and mosque.

A local parrot

These guys really wanted me to take their picture

All in all, my trip to India was an adventure.  I am lucky that the dog bite was merely an inconvenience and not a major injury.  I met some awesome people and saw amazing sites.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get a good picture of how crowded the roads were.  The images will be burned onto my brain forever: people walking, scooters, cars, trucks, horses, camels (really really tall camels), trucks, cows, families of 5 on motorcycles, you name it.

See more photos of India here.

The end