I guess it doesn’t make much sense to start a new blog …

24 02 2011

But we did. Visit here to read about our adventures living in small-town Arizona here. Who knows, maybe we’ll end up back in China eventually.


Hong Kong, Day 2 or, Missy writes the blog she promised to three months ago.

3 09 2010

I hope my notoriously poor memory serves me.

I believe the day I’m blogging about is June 18th or, the day the world met Missy. Yes, folks, it was my birthday. Wahoo!

Pearls are cheap and enormous in China and Jeremiah bought me a gasp-
inducing, extra long, loopy strand in Yangshuo and gave them to me today. We also found a crazy fake pearl headband number after leaving the Fins the night before that I declared I NEEDED as a birthday present. Is one’s 30th the Pearl birthday? It happens to be my birthstone (which I don’t give a crap about) but we’ll pretend that the giving of pearls was perfectly planned.

My beautiful headband number.

The other super fun thing about our attire today was that Jeremiah ran out of shirts and we bought him a super cute Hong Kong t shirt at the night market. He had to wear it today making him “one of those tourist guys.” I thought he could pull it off as ironic.

In this photo, he’s also wearing his $20 prescription sunglasses from a post a few months ago. As the Chinese students say, “So coooool.”

In the two photos above, we’re on the famous Hong Kong Star Ferry. 2 or 3 quai (details escape me 10 weeks later) for a 20 minute trip across the Harbor. They’ve been running since the turn of the century. Highly recommended views. And highly recommended avocado sandwich at the Subway at the North terminal. The Fins had given it a glowing review and, if you recall, avocados are impossible to find in mainland China. I needed a birthday fix!

This a ferry passing a cruise ship. Oooo… Ahhh…

We hopped on a bus to the Victoria Peak to take the famous tram. It was steep. It was fun. The top is really, really touristy. Like, we couldn’t find our way out of the mall-like structure you land in once you get to the top. But, getting lost in the mall-like structure helped us find the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum where we met Bruce Lee.

Nice package, wax dude.

The plaza at the top is a mess of restaurants, video billboards and a starbucks with this disgusting offering.

Imagine a cross between pudding and jello at the bottom of your coffee. We tried to find it back in Nanjing but it’s a Hong Kong specialty. Not getting one is still one of Jeremiah’s greatest life regrets.

We easily avoided the crowds by walking the trail at the top of the peak. Westerners don’t like exercise and we passed a person every 10 minutes or so in the 4 mile loop. People live up there so there were also neighbors with dogs and work out equipment as demonstrated by the monkey below.

The flora and fauna was very well labeled (and in English! What a treat!) and I found my new favorite plant, the stem-fig. The shiny, waxiness doesn’t come through in the photo. And, they’re enormous, which is how I like all things beautiful.

Everything on the peak was ridiculously expensive, even for Hong Kong, so we headed off to the World’s Longest Escalator. Restaurants in every language and patrons of every heritage were tossed on either side. It was really exciting to think about what our dinner options were. As you know, we get excited about food.

My sexy boyfriend (at the time) on one of the many stages of the World’s Longest Escalator.

We stopped and had a beer and cider for happy hour at a British pub where Jeremiah could catch up on some soccer footage and then walked and escalated back down again. We stumbled upon a section of steep street that had to be named Drag Queen Alley or Theatrical Road because of all of the costumes, boas, and sequins. HEAVEN!

I bought a sequined appliqué of a panda talking on the phone. I would have bought more but I was hungry. Don’t worry folks, you’ll see the panda at our engagement party in the near future.

For dinner we had a pair of great burgers and beer at a place we accidently found. We were the only patrons, which was a shame. I had a wacky falafel burger that I loved. So nice to find a legit vegetarian meal! Birthday miracle.

On our way to the harbor light show that evening… guess who we ran into AGAIN! Yup. Our friendship is meant to be. Sirpa, Laura and Kirstie are our serendipitous friends for life.

SO! The Harbor Light Show. Hilarious. Vegas. Tacky. Fantastic. We got ice cream. Did you know Hong Kong has a Mango Drumstick?


Imagine terrible electronic music and these buildings flashing.

On our way back to the hotel, we passed the Hong Kong cinema Walk of Fame.

Jeremiah with Chow Yun Fat.

All in all, a great way to turn 30.

the elderly, Missy

OK, OK, let’s talk about Hong Kong

2 09 2010

First off, let me apologize for our lack of updates on bringing our China adventure to its close, at least temporarily. We’re now residing in Portland – and incidentally, check out our new, as-yet-mostly-un-updated blog at http://mjamericablog.wordpress.com – and we’re deep in the throes of job-hunting and settling in to our new abode, so blog updates haven’t been as much of a priority as they might have been in the past.

Anyway, dear readers, our last post saw us visiting the green and beautiful locales of Guilin and Yangshuo in southern China. After spending a couple days in Guangxi (the province where both towns are located), we caught the evening train from Guilin to Shenzhen, a new and large city near Hong Kong. Interestingly, Hong Kong is still an international border crossing, so after getting off the train, we had to go through a border check station and do the usual passport-scanning, baggage-inspecting thing. After that, we hopped on the Hong Kong metro for the 45-minute ride into the city proper. For those not as in-the-know and worldly as us, Hong Kong is mostly wooded mountains. The bulk of the city is a strip on the bay as well as parts of Hong Kong Island.

Since we had been on an all-night train ride, by the time we reached the hotel, it was still early. Maybe 10 am or so? So we had a quick snack at a very good Indian cafe across the street, then walked to the Hong Kong History Museum, because that is the kind of stuff I am into. And it’s a fabulous museum if you’re interested in stuff like what a house built by the Hakka people who lived in Hong Kong looked like. I like that kind of stuff, though I understand it might not be that exciting to other people. After spending several hours in what might be objectively called one of the most dedicated and extensive history museums in the world, we headed back to our hotel. After a short stop there, we decided to take the metro up to Hong Kong’s  famous Yuen Po Street Bird Garden and Flower Street. At this point it was starting to get late in the afternoon, though, so I doubt the bird garden was quite as impressive as it might’ve been early in the morning, though we did get to see our fair share of wizened old Chinese men walking around in wife-beaters with their birds in wooden bird cages. We decided to shop a bit at local markets and picked up some cool Hong Kong-only paraphenalia before heading back to the hotel where by some weird coincidence we once more ran into our friends from Finland. Their names are Kirsti, Laura and their mom Sirpa, and they’re really fantastic, so find them on Facebook and add them, and you’ll have Finnish friends too. To Kirsti, Laura and Sirpa, I apologize in advance if you get friend requests from people you don’t know. We decided to have dinner together and went to a pleasant Thai place for good food and conversation, after which we probably went to watch the World Cup, because as all of you know, that’s pretty much all I did at night for a month straight.

Next up: Hong Kong Island

More pictures from Yangshuo and Guilin

26 07 2010

Delicious Chinese food, and we made it! (But don’t ask us to replicate it in the US)

Biking around the countryside.

Missy encounters a bit of rain on the banks of the Yulong.

Belatedly, our trip to Yangshuo and Guilin

26 07 2010

So we thought we’d be amiss if we didn’t finish our blogging on our trip to Yangshuo, Guilin and on to Hong Kong. After doing so, maybe I’ll be nice and throw in a couple pictures of our wedding. If you’re lucky. That’s right, we got married. In the United States. What will happen to the One Billion Plus Two blog after that? Well, I’m not sure. Maybe it’ll become Three Hundred Million Plus Two. I guess we’ll find out.

Due to China’s bizarre school scheduling, I finished teaching with my finals at Nanjing Foreign Language School on June 11, then I had two more days of classes (to congratulate kids on finishing their finals? I don’t know…) and then was off for a week. THEN I had to come back and turn in my grades by June 22. Missy, meanwhile had class until June 11, then had a week off for Dragon Boat Festival, before returning to teach a couple classes the final week. So our plan was to go on our pre-wedding honeymoon trip to all points south before heading back to Nanjing so Missy could teach, and we could pack up everything.

Guilin is a small city of, I don’t know, 1 million people in southern China, and it’s famed for its mountainous terrain. Most Western travelers eschew the city to make the one hour journey to Yangshuo, a small town in the mountains which is well-known for its back-packing and scenery. We did the same, just because we’ve seen plenty of mid-
sized Chinese cities, and they all tend to be the same. With that said, though, Guilin was actually a fairly nice city. Anyone, moving on …

So after a long and extremely taxing taxi drive from Guilin, where the driver took several wrong turns and ended up dropping us off at a random spot in town, from where we just ended up paying a guy with a van to drive us to the hostel, we ended up at our hostel, Outside Inn, which was in a small village outside Yangshuo near the Yulong River. Yangshuo has two rivers near it, the Yulong and the Li River, both renowned for their boating. Unfortunately, it was raining the whole time – and pretty serious rain, as it turns out, with several people in the Guangxi Province dying in flooding. Our hostel was fantastic, though. A group of ranch houses far away from the noise and lights of Yangshuo proper, complete with mosquito nets and farmers walking by with water buffalo. Here is a picture of the hostel.

And here is a picture of me near the small village where the hostel was located. Nice, eh?

We spent three days in the Yangshuo area. Due to the pouring rain, we could only do limited hiking, boating and biking, though we did manage to get out on a small boat on the Li River, where we had an excellent view of many of the karst peaks the region is famous for. Here’s one such picture!

On the boating trip, we were able to hop off on a small island and walk around a bit before returning to Yangshuo. Look at this here!

The only other big activity in Yangshuo besides watching the World Cup was when we took a cooking class. The class was relatively cheap (I think $15 each), and in addition to cooking and eating the food, we also took a trip to the market, which we’d already seen, for the most part, but this market had dog carcasses hanging on cooks, which neither of us was too into. Oh, Southern China. The cooking class was great, though. Good food, easy directions, and we made some friends from Finland, who we would see again, but more on that later. Here is some delicious Missy-cooked dan jiao (Egg dumplings):

After a couple days, we caught the bus to Guilin, where we would be catching the train on to Shenzhen, a big city that serves as the gateway into Hong Kong. Guilin, as I said, was a nice city. Bigger than Yangshuo, but still with some nice picturesque mountains throughout town. We had dinner, before moving on to the train station, where we took the 11-hour overnight trip. But more on that soon.


Wedding presents

29 06 2010

We’re not into registering and aren’t asking for wedding gifts. That being said, I MUST share with you a pretty marvelous wedding present.

Chinese commemorative wedding stamp, complete with cartoon bride and groom.

That’s right. It’s customized. Wu Si Jie and Mei Li Xia will definitely live Happy Ever After.

Kinda makes me wanna open a bar so we can stamp people’s hands.

Sarah and Fiona, the lovely gift-givers.

We made it, finally

29 06 2010

It might have taken 28 hours of travel, three hours waiting on the tarmac before we even left for the USA, one missed flight, the loss of four bags of luggage and five hours waiting on standby in Los Angeles, but we’re happy to say we are now grounded happily, albeit jet-laggy, in Weatherford, Texas.

We are supposed to get our bags back tonight, by the way.
See you soon.