Thursday, August 28, 2008

old vs. new

one of the great things about china and hong kong in particular is their reverence for things of the past while not being afraid to venture on into the future. the mix between old and new was so strange to me...probably because i've never seen anything so old before!

here are some of my favorites since there is no possible way we could post them all...old first, then new:

the great wall...

in rain or shine!

This is part of the beautiful Po Lin Monastery on the island of lantau. ryan is a bit irreverant, don't you think?

okay, so am i...
this is also on's the Tian Tan Buddha Statue, the largest, outdoor, sitting, bronze buddha. pretty impressive. i also liked the statues that were surrounding the buddha...this is in macao, a former portuguese colony that is now owned by china. there is a part of the city there where the streets are all paved with these black and white tiles in large swirls and different designs. it was pretty cool! these are the "ruinas de st. paulo" in macao...ryan in tiananmen square with Mao's mausoleum in the background...

the forbidden city. this thing took us nearly THREE hours to walk through! amazing. a beautiful fishing village on Lantau called Tai O. the houses are built on was one of the only places in hong kong where the buildings aren't a bazillion stories high...and now for the new...
hong kong is pretty famous for this building in its skyline...the bank of is so cool in real life!
this is #2 international finance center...also lovingly referred to as "the batman building." ah, christian bale. it seems like everything and everyone is so busy in hong kong, but they're really not. i felt like i was surrounded by millions of people (because i was), but no one was really in a rush...that's just how life is for them.
On our first day there, we went up to victoria's peak to check out the view...and what a view it was! you can see the bank of china on the very far right there...
and this is the same exact view at night. bank of china is the building with the criss-crossed lights and #2 intnernational finance building is that tall one near the center. these buildings were a-ma-zing at colorful and brilliant!
and yes, ladies, he's still taken......and so am i. te he he.
(thanks for the ghosting instructions, julia!)

taking a china break for a second...

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Free-spirited and wise. You have a strong passionate spirit that touches and changes all who know you. The wisdom and common sense that you have is really what guides you through life. Even so, you also have a very playful side that loves adventure and excitement.

kind of funny since people used to call me pocahontas when i was in junior high. secretly i wanted to be belle...

Which Disney Princess Are You?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

you are what you eat...

if that saying is true, then i was all sorts of gross in china...and all sorts of good too. here goes (it's a long one, sorry...i just kept finding more and more food pictures!!):

it all started out with the food served on the plane. they even gave us a MENU. i had never been on a flight long enough to serve more than apple juice and peanuts, so this was a treat. and it was actually pretty tasty. all in all, we got 2 meals on each overseas flight. this, the first, was my fav. that's cheesecake in the upper left hand corner. if any of you know me, well, you know cheese cake was a good start to a great vacation.
each morning in hong kong, we started the day by going to a bread/pastry shop. yum! this particular type happened to be called a marron bun. i didn't try it. but, i did try coconut bread, pineapple bread, "donuts" (just a roll with frosting), sausage or ham breads and lots of other stuff.
there are lots of different fruits in china. julia got a dragonfruit courtesy of a lady she took a picture of in a street market. yum!
this is a mangosteen we ate in tuen mun:
this is basically ryan's favorite fruit. it's called a durian. if i remember correctly, he says it smells like b.o. and an onion together? mmm...they are banned on the subways in hong kong. they're thaaaat good.
this jona (and someone's rear end) modeling a delicious fresh-squeezed kiwi drink we had in the mall...i also tried a dragonfruit drink.
this is a yummy mango drink with sago (tapioca-like) pearls at the bottom. pretty delicious. peach popsicles in the forbidden city. the wades are so rich, they got two each.
this was an unexpectedly delicious pineapple/tofu twist frozen yogurt cone. i really got it to say that i had tofu frozen yogurt completely expecting it to be disgusting...and then it had to be good!!
there are also lots of street markets in hong kong that sell all sorts of fruits, vegetables and who knows what. it made me so grateful for the sanitary conditions of my local safeway...and really helped me to understand ryan's anal tendencies when it comes to cooking and cleaning up after cutting poultry and red meat in our home. sorry, ryan...i get it now.
julia and her new friend, the pig.
me and that who-knows-what i was referring to macao.

this was an all-too-perfect goes to julia.

pig tongues are much longer than maren tongues.

we ate at lots of fun restaurants as well. in hong kong, we went to pizza hut. i have to say, i was not very excited that the other three had chosen PIZZA HUT as their restaurant of choice. come on, folks, we go thousands of miles just to eat at some american restaurant? oh man, i was so wrong. i don't like pizza hut here...way to greasy. but in china, it's great! we had some sort of thousand island dressing pizza with seafood and your regular ham and pineapple. so not greasy and oh so delicious. AND it was a delux restaurant. for a video, click on julia and jona's blog here.

eating cha siu faahn (bbq pork and rice) with choy in the park:

this poor fish didn't know what was coming for him. i think he was happily swimming in his tank when we arrived at the restaurant and look what we did to him! this was on a lovely little island called cheung chau just off lantau island. i ate THE yummiest scallops i have EVER had in the world at this place. three cheers to ryan and jona who each ate one of this fish's eyeballs and to julia ate some of the fish...yay, julia! and three cheers to me because i had to watch it all. i love this picture. it looks like ryan and i hate each other. but we don't. we went to guangzhou in mainland for a day and decided on this restaurant that was listed in our tour book...and they treated us like royalty. they took us to some back room where we were all alone and sat us down at this gigantic table. we were all sitting so far apart from each other! yummy peking duck in beijing after a miserable yet memorable day at the great wall of china. They even gave us a little card saying we they served us their 1,150, 676,350 duck. thank you little duck. xue bi, oh how i love thee. many of you know i went off carbonation when i was 14 for about 3 years. i then had a sip of sprite ('xue bi' in chinese) my junior year and it seriously burned my throat. i can count on one or two fingers the number of times i've had it in these last 10 years...until china. i don't have enough fingers and toes to count how many times i had it in those two weeks, but i sure appreciated it since i couldn't drink the water. we went into our fair share of grocery and convenience stores and found tons of strange stuff...and then, to our surprise, we found our very own safeway O organics brand crackers. many of you also might know of my affinity for mentos (kelli can vouch for me on this one). but...they have so many great flavors in china. grape is ryan's favorite. fuji apple is my new favorite. we also tried black currant, mango, lemon yogurt and some sour kinds. yum, yum and yum. my suitcase weighed a LOT on the way home thanks to these beauties.

and what would a post about food in china be without giving a shout out to our very own mickey-d's. we ate a ton of this stuff and it was our salvation. i never eat it here, but it's like home sweet home there.

Monday, August 25, 2008

planes, trains and automobiles

disclaimer: in any and all posts about china, please disregard my unkempt hair and sweaty face. 95 degrees and nearly 100% humidity do mean, mean things to my already naturally frizzy hair.

wow. transportation in china was a big eye-opener for me...but in retrospect, lots of fun.

we started off with a beautiful 13 hour flight. and actually, it wasn't all that bad. julia brought sleeping pills for everyone. and they worked great for everyone...but me. note to self: sleeping pills make maren very NOT sleepy. i was so wired! good thing lovely cathay pacific provided individual screens to play games and watch movies the entire flight. i think we look pretty good after 13 hours of flying. we landed at 5:30 am sunday morning hong kong time (2:30 pm CA time saturday afternoon).

and i got my very first stamp in my passport. yay!

this is the little beauty that brought us back home...that story will come later...

we had a great time on subways...and we let everyone know where the gun shows were...

...and in this picture you see jona and i just getting off of a subway after missing the subway that ryan and julia had already boarded. good thing it was nearly our last day in hong kong so we knew where we needed to go. the lady behind us told jonathan he needed to "push harder next time" on the subway door. um, i'm pretty sure jona is happier with four limbs than he would have been had he pushed harder.
in every subway station, there were FAST escalators. they make escalators in the U.S. look like weenies. we LOVED them. and a nice lady always reminded us to "please hold the hand RAIL" so as to not hurt ourselves. here is our creative photo taking in the mirror above us.
we rode ferries...this is the wades waiting for one...

we rode "ding dings" or trolleys...

bullet trains...

and, most importantly...we WALKED and WALKED and WALKED and WALKED and WALKED. We felt a bit like pioneer children, but in much comfier shoes. So many people in china walk everywhere. this is one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in the world at causeway bay. and the picture doesn't do it justice. i'll try to upload a video.

This is a picture of our beautiful walked-out feet on the great wall of china.

oh, and the most entertaining form of transportation was the taxi. that probably deserves its own post and i don't have anything but video of it. funny, funny video.