Archive for asianwinterodyssey

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).

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.

 

Bhaktapur and Kathmandu

Posted in Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11, Travel Asia with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2012 by Yarn Over New York

Another chapter in my Asian Winter Odyssey

Bhaktapur- 21 November 2011

After a brief stay in the hills of Nagarkot, Kevin and Matt (my traveling companions) and I boarded the bus for Bhaktapur.  It is a nice little city with lots of little busy streets for walking.  It also has a “cultural protected area” with temples and historical buildings.  Tourists must buy a day pass to enter the area, which is called Durbar Square.

The tourist pass is good for 24 hours, so we were able to visit that evening and the next morning as well for one price.  We spent most of our short stay in that area making the most of the winding streets before heading to our main destination, Kathmandu.

Kathmandu- 22 thru 24 November 2011

We arrived in central Kathmandu at the outdoor market area and were mobbed by men offering us tuk-tuk rides and wanting to show us their hotels.  We managed to find a place slightly off the beaten path down a cute little alley and checked in. We were assured that there was good wi-fi (except for the rolling blackouts) but we needed to buy our own toilet paper down the street.  Ultimately, it was fine.

Similar to Bhaktapur, Kathmandu has a Durbar Square that tourists must pay to enter.  We went to this area to see the temples, markets and the famous Kumari Ghar.

The Kumari is a very young girl that has been proven to be the reincarnation of the goddess Durga.  She lives in this house (ghar) which was built by the King of Nepal in 1757.  The Kumari rarely leaves the house and is carried everywhere, so that her feet never touch the ground.  Inside the courtyard, she occasionally appears in the window.  We were fortunate enough to see her, even though tourists are not allowed to photograph her.

She appears in the center window while her guards protect and carry her.

The courtyard is full of very beautiful and intricately carved figures.

After seeing the Kumari, we visited the rest of the sprawling area.

I have so many many more photos of Durbar Square– if I uploaded them all, I’d eat up all my bandwidth.

Ok, one more 🙂

The next day we visited the Monkey Temple- Swayambhunath.  It is a Tibetan style complex with temples, a giant stupa and a monastery on top of a hill that overlooks the city.  If you have read my blog before, you know that I love monkeys.  I love real monkeys and I love crocheted monkeys.  I love all types of monkeys.

Okay, okay.  The architecture and surrounding area were interesting as well.

The Stupa with Buddha’s Eyes

Prayer Wheels

Buddha is NOT Santa

Another highlight of Kathmandu was wandering the streets around the market area.  There were so many colors and so much activity.  The market streets have a great mix of handmade goods, commercially made tourist crap, hiking gear and street food.

Our brief trip through Nepal was amazing.  See more photos of Nagarkot, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu here.