From Chicago to Narita: JAL lunch of curry and rice with soba and caesar salad and white wine
On China Airlines (share with JAL): a dinner of a poor lil shrimp that not many people I saw try on our 4 hour flight from Narita to Shanghai.
The lights at night in Shanghai (outside my hotel room window). The building on the left changes color via lights- see the next few pictures...
Now the building (moved to the middle) is green. Yes, they light the expressway with blue underlights, that is not the color of cars :P
Now a pretty purple building
Good night from Shanghai- tomorrow a train to Suzhou and then Nanjing
Shanghai at down, per my hotel window at New Jin Jiang Hotel. That one building with a "ball" in the middle looks like it's holding materia, while the ball on a stick to the right I'm not sure what it's for. On the way, in the area that I assume is the Expo Center it was a crazy light show almost like Fremont Street in Vegas- but as big an Olympic Stadium and to be used for conventions it seemed like.
More Shanghai skyline in the morning. Yes, one of the building looks almost like a tazer?
That street running down there was filled with white lights and red lanterns, almost like a Michigan Avenue of shops but decked out for permanent Christmas
View from the Revolving Restaurant's breakfast buffet in Shanghai
New Jin Jiang Hotel, Shanghai
New Jin Jiang Hotel in Shanghai, China
Tomato juice is just not the same in China.
Fish at the train station while waiting for train from Suzhou to Nanjing
This style of Chinese garden with lots of interesting rock shapes and the bridge is a traditional Suzhou garden style
My bangs are hiding the fact I banged my head hard on the taxi at 3:30 and 8 hours later can still feel it (and a bump)
Leaving the bullet train after arriving in Nanjing
Holiday Inn in Nanjing Aqua City
Who buys all this weird art for hotels anyway?
The window here (and also in the bathroom...!) looks out into a walkway that goes into the Aquacity Mall.
Walking through a market on the way to dinner
Except for the cheese and hash brown (which I couldn't resist), another traditional Chinese breakfast that I picked up from the hotel breakfast buffet. This time, from the Holiday Inn in Nanjing
Why supersize your meal when you can overload it!??
Shenzhen- a glimpse fo the skyscrapers... and the housing with hanging laundry that is everywhere
The flowers in the hotel lobby- so pretty!
I just want to take it with me!
Back to the area I was in last night- but now in the daytime
Turns out this is a big scenic area because the Confucious Temple is here.
For 5 yuan, you can buy one of those red ribbons and you throw it up to make a good wish in front of the Confucious temple
This was the big red glowing building we had seen last night on the way to dinner- it's put in front of the temple to celebrate the festival
The Confucious Temple. Unfortunately I only had an hour and was by myself, so I didn't want to pay 35 yuan to go in
A daytime look at the river and the boats from last night
The Qinhuai river in daylight
This is where all the scholars took the examination to become governmetn officials!
Street food- sticks of fruit with a strange red glaze, hot dog, and a little pan fried rice square. I had the rice square- it had a chewy crispy texture but didn't taste like much.
The area had statues like this to show how this once was a place of scholars and a thriving market. I liked this guy because he sells kids' toys
Example of kids toys in his basket :)
On Shenzhen Airlines, our flight of 2 hours included dinner. I liked the English on the box and cup :)
Marco Polo hotel in Shenzhen.
Ooo glowy shelf :X
A lunch in Shenzhen- these were like cherries...but are not cherries. No, I didn't eat them, the other people at the table did. Come on, when have you seen me eat cherries, much less mystery cherry-berry?
A slightly spicy beef
Ribs called for extra napkins to wipe my face as I tried to eat it with chopsticks
Yay, greens. Not sure what the black stuff is.
Yummy tofu/pork squares
Bleh says the tasty soft fish. Thank goodness unlike the other restaurant of nasty tofu in Nanjing, they did not bring this fish out live to see its killers.
View outside my window in 3312 at the Marco Polo. I heard those creaky cranes even at the 33rd floor, including at night (they light it up and keep working)
More buildings- this center glass building is going to be the blue building you will see in the night shots of Shenzhen
Some of the buildings outside my window in Shenzhen
That's right, that building to the left changes patterns with its light show
The two lit buildings directly behind the red striped building to the right also have a light show of turning off and on those white rows of lights on the various floors: I caught them when they were all lit up on every floor
In this shot though you can see the building on the left of the red striped building making a cross pattern with its floors
Construction crews are still working through the night, creaking away with those cranes and bulldozers and excavators, an all night construction party...
Another hotel: the Lanson Place Hotel, a little boutique hotel in the Causeway Bay part of HK. They actually have art I like here at this hotel!
Actually, that sink is a pain when you are brushing your teeth and need to rinse out, but it looks aesthetically pleasing
This room comes with a mini kitchenette
View outside my room: those are all housing apartments. It's like that everywhere in HK: like big casino size complexes that are neighborhoods of living areas each for hundreds of thousands of people. These ones aare actually short- there are ones that are like Las Vegas casino size but 3-4 times as tall, very very dense living here. In one area, the guide says there is 100,000 per square kilometer in population
The buildings below are older housing: most buildings like that get torn down to build higher complexes like the ones you see way behind the racetrack
Blurry example of the view outside my window at night... the whole city looks like this
Going to Times Square for dinner. There are thousands of people walking everywhere
A glimpse at how tall Time Square is (this is one of the two towers of Times Square). We are heading to eat dinner on one of the four floors dedicated to just restaurants
Lots of high end stores in this area: we also saw lots of luxury cars such as Mercedes (twice), Ferrari, Maserati, Bentley, along with lots of Omega and other jewelry and watch stores and we walked past a Salvatore Ferragamo
The start of Peking duck: the meat came ground up and stir fried that we ate inside lettuce wraps. Awesomely delicious
Taking the Tram up to the Peak
Glimpse of the tram's inside, which has wooden benches inside. Always sit on the 3 bench side, not the 2 seating bench side!
Across the water is the Kowloon side. The big tall building with the white top in the middle is the super tall building that you saw in the Dark Knight Batman movie
The building on the left changes color.
As you can see, the city keeps going and going around the coastline of Hong Kong. The middle, which is very mountainous, if mostly left alone. The green light you see in the distance to the right is the area our hotel is at
Unfortunately, according to our resident Hong Kong expert, it's foggy on the left side so we can't see all the lights of Kowloon down the coast of that island, so this is not the full effect of the Peak- you can barely see some of the lights hinting through the fog to the back right
Across the river on the Kowloon side, that red square U you see is the famous Pennisula hotel
To the left is my coworker Amy Bergsieker. We left the two male engineers behind in Shenzhen and are being toured around by her host sister from more then a decade ago, Flora
In Hong Kong at the Peak
Example of the people in the streets- a little blurry because I'm trying to walk to keep up! Flora said this is actually not a big crowd because it's still early, just only turning 11pm. We end up at Racks, a chill bar with lots of billiards.
Walking to the nightclub area of HK, the streets are teeming with people almost like Mardi Gras but everyone is really well dressed and no one is outrageously loud or drunk.
Example of the various bars and clubs all along the street. Everyone dresses pretty well here, polos and button down shirts for guys, heels with a cute top/jeans or trendy dresses for girls, rarely a T shirt and no loose baggy clothing everything seems fitted/tailored well
Example of the residential living/pedestrian walk ways over busy streets with buses and trolleys. It's a foggy but humid morning
More residential housing mixed with commercial, and a look at the skinny double decker trolleys (they look like buses but run on those rails). It's a little scary to see them barrelling around corners like they are about to tip
Each trolley has a specific destination, so it's not uncommon to see a whole bunch of them pile up like buses at a station and they are constantly arriving and departing
In the front there is actually what the public buses of Taiwan are like- they are very small, seating only 16 people, but they can go where the rails don't
Mid-morning view on a Saturday from the pedestrian overpass
I love checking out the beverages in the local convenience stores. This is one of the many 7-11s.
I also love checking out the snacks at convenience stores: they make the best souviniers!
Local flavors of Lays chips in HK at the 7-11
Waiting for the train. They have glass to the right so no one falls onto the tunnel's rail area and gets run over by the trains.
The transit system here is color-coded (we're on the blue line) with the inverse black background/white text being our station, and everything labeled in both Chinese and English
The trains are just one super long car
As you go from station to station the little circles light up, which is very nice feedback
We're about to take those cable cars to see the Giant Buddha
Yeah, you'll soon see how far the cable car goes...
The girl behind me is actually working there: that's their uniform, light green with orange squares on their shirts and pants
Leaving the station... the little camera telling us to say cheese had us looking everywhere for where the camera was going to be. Turns out it's at the very last station, not during the cable car ride.
We got the glass floor cars for a little extra. It also means you get to bypass most of the line
Now going over the first body of water- everyone in our car decided to stick their feet in the middle at the same time to take a picture :D
A cable car going back the other way
Looks like broccoli down there...
Looking back, you can see the new HK airport which no longer requires trying to land through mountains and skyscrapers
All orderly along the cable car path... um as expected
There's actually a pathway after you get to the mountain area after the airport where you could walk all the way... if you wanted. It would probably take several hours, going up and down the hills and sometimes walking through the trees though most of it was a clear path. It is all on wood or stone walkways
Cable cars in the air make one path, and the walkway on the mountain shows the other alternative...
Looking back after the first hill/small mountain. To the left is the airport, to the right are some residential complexes and a fishing village. And, you can see the pathway on the ground disappearing for a bit into the trees but it comes back out along the cable car path
A look at some of the face of the lil mountains we're riding through
Below us we see the pathway emerge from tree cover
First glimpse of the big Buddha to the left
A grave to the right side of the mountain carved out at what must be an awesome feng shui location for that family
Snack of a mango pancake before our walk to the Big Buddha
GIANT cotton candy that Flora and I could not stop being fascinated by.
Huge bigger then your head cotton candy, 20 HK dollars each
Time to climb 250 steps...
Blessing the talismans they sell at the bottom of the steps of the Big Buddha. They really do dress just like you see in the movie. Unfortunately, this is the only time I saw them.
I don't know what that lady behidn me was thinking, wearing a red sweater dress and heeled boots...
Looking back down once I reach the top. You can see the stone area marking where the original temple was, and they are renovating/creating new areas just outside that to continue to expand this as a tourist attraction
Some people at the top so you can get some perspective on the side.
Peaceful misty view of the islands on the back side of the Big Buddha
Lunch is... kyushu ramen which was just ok, not much meat, though I like the addition of corn, in the tourist shopping eating area right after you get off/on the cable car
A look at Mong Kok shopping area when we emerged from the subway
Yay, the smell of fermented tofu that you can smell a block away and that I got to enjoy as my two friends were waiting for bubble tea
Dinner at Agnes b Le paine grille
I really like my escargot in the porcelain rather then in the shell because then I get more garlic butter to pour on my bread. I also ordered a lobster salad to try to get some seafood in since my friends wanted to eat French and not the famous seafood places in HK. Next time!
I stopped for some famous HK custard while my two friends were sleeping in and I was waiting for our brunch time
Egg Tart Custard of Hong Kong
Gooey hot inside!
I cracked up whenever I saw these taxis with their lil cars on top of them
Asian desserts, including the mango cake there at the bottom left. The sponge cake one on the right in some sort of fruit cake but it looked almost like cream with pound cake sprinkled all around?
Walking through the market- fruits stand
Traditional chinese... stuff
All sorts of fish balls
For some reason I kept walking past the Mercedes store and I appreciated how they start their branding products at a young age
My secret breakfast before I meet my friends for breakfast... that's a egg and corn bun.
Sounds like a good lunch at Brown (where we had brunch)
examples of some of the beverages at Brown
American breakfast: omelette with ginormous toast on the left, egg benedict to the right, and my breakfast sandwich which was bigger then my face and came with doritos?
This breakfast sandwich was four times larger then anticipated and includes lettuce, sausage, ham, bacon, and egg with tomato
Part of the famous longest escalator in HK
The buildings in this area are much older then the ones we've been seeing
It's not one continuous escalator, but they are all in a row, and it is flat so it's really more of a super long moving walkway but sandwiches in between much older HK buildings
Example of what the longest escalator looks like from the walkway next to the moving pathway
This Soho area includes lots of older shorter buildings (only a few stories) and lots of cute lil restaurants offering cuisine from all over the world, almost a bit like the Gas Lamp area of San Diego
This really is like a big shopping street of... restaurants, just like the Gas Lamp area of San Diego
Example of one of the cute trendy atmospheres offered at the places here.
A small temple just a few steps from the Soho area
Very small temple literally next to the steps and down half a level from the Soho area
A better look at the context of how small this temple is- smaller then any of the restaurants and bars along this street
Cute elephant shrub
You can eat snake here
On the left hand side of the street is Joyce Baker Interior Design
And here's the bar across the street... that Joyce is at, cute!
A juxtaposition of the older HK buildings and the shiny new ones
The big pot in this Sugar Cane place where they brew the tea. The inside still has the original decorations from when it first opened
Squeezing out the sugar cane juice- he kept putting through the sugar cane over and over to press the liquid out
Another old temple, at least this one is bigger...
No pictures were allowed inside, but you can see a glimpse of the incense coils in there- and that is only 1/4 of what was just in that area. It was super smokey incense-y
The bathroom inside our hotel before we took our car back to Shenzhen... we were confused at first too
I saw this out the window of the hotel and had to come investigate... just next door to the Marco Polo Shenzhen. It's a Kung Fu something...
Apparently it's a Chinese fast food restaurant
Fast food... but they still offer the dish with just a chicken foot: find out more at http://madaboutshanghai.blogs.com/mad_about_shanghai/2006/03/kungfu_fast_foo.html
My sashimi lunch in Shenzhen
Egg with mystery mushroom and other meats buried inside (seafood, chicken, etc)
My mocha was 1/4 whipped cream. I guess the shot of hot water in case I wanted to water it down, and it also came with a little cookie with a raisin in the middle. Of course I ate around the raisin.
The usual toilet in China
The toilet stall is calling me weak.
Lobby of the Grand Hyatt in Taipei is grand
Grand Hyatt hotel in Taipei... my room!
View of Taipei 101 outside my window. It's a rainy morning
Mos Burger- a rice burger!
Scary statue in front of the New York New York mall which I expressly went to get a Sim card. At least I discovered a Mr Donut for future reference.
Taipei 101 at night
Crispy pork lunch with corn soup and a coffee gelatin dessert at Xinzhu area (parallel to San Jose in Taiwan)
6:30 pm at Linjiang market, 15 minute walk from hotel
Lots of scooters in Taiwan- driving in the streets and also parked all along the sidewalk and on the sidewalk
I wasn't hungry yet tho so didn't get anything...
A long line for something is always a sign it's good
Changing of the lights: the 3 car left turn lane waiting its turn (as are the cars in front of the red gates)
Today, Taipei 101 is blue
World's fastest elevator at Taipei 101 got me upstairs pretty fast!
View through the dirty windows of the lights of Taipei
Xinyi Shopping district of Taipei which they compare (according to the voice tour) to Manhattan
In the back left you can see the ferris wheel of Miramar
The lit up trees make it sparkly all year long
The lit bridge to the back right there is MacArther Bridge 1 (and there is a second behind it called MacArther Bridge 2)
I terrorize a replica of Taipei 101
The dampers that help the building from sway from wind or earthquake
Dampers of Taipei 101 for wind and earthquake stability control
A walkway of clouds on the way out (and through their long gift shop). The clouds part as you walk under your feet: see video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDGrsipuMS4
Another view of the dampers, along with the little humanized damper things they have in various colors
Taiwan puppets that act out Chinese fighting movies that include all the sound effects/blood and cloud of dirt special effects, flying, etc...
I also went to the outside observation deck to experience the strengh of wind so high up: you have to walk up stairs on your own
Lil heart shaped pillows at Swensons make having ice cream at Taipei 101's mall pretty romantic...
A street performer across from New York New York, on the way of me following the crowd to MRT
Blue water pixie street performer: much better then the scary painted people I think, she moved very gracefully like a nymph
I found the MRT. People wait in orderly lines to board
On my way!
Dude trying to win some fish with a paper net for his chick at the games area of the Shilin Market. Behind you can see a game where you can use a gun to shoot water balloons... or darts, or arrows and bows depending on the stall
They had a whole area for pets, including lots of lil puppies like this size (or smaller)
Dudes playing a game where they hit the little squares in time to rock to the music
More food stalls of the Shihlin Market
Lil dumpling balls
Lots of claw machines
Big dumplings of some sort
3 inch mini burgers
More of the street as I continue down in search of more snack food
Success: Hot Star Large Fried Chicken
fresh batch of the gigantic fried chicken at Hot Star Large Fried Chicken at the Night Market in Taiwan
I'm a winner: chicken as big as my face (only part is showing above the paper, the other 75% is in the paper/plastic)
This was a popular item: potatoes topped with diced ham or corn or whatever and sitting in a huge container/slathered with some sort of cheese sauce.
Look at the lines for cheesy potatoes!?
Looking back at the two branches I walked as I walk back to the MRT with still half a giant fried chicken in my bag...
Another food area of Shilin Market, but it's after midnight and I need to be ready for an 8:45 tour!
Lots of monks on the way up on both sides of stairs, with each one unique
Examples of some of the monks
Long eyebrows dude...
The circles you see are windows- I climbed to the top of the narrow stairs inside but you can't really see much
If you are wondering why there are little cars by me, this whole area was turning into some sort of weird children entertainment center with games (like you see on the left) and lots of these little cards that the kiddies can drive
Top part of wishing area... below these grates (next picture)
Below the grates are hands that you try to drop your coin on
The dudes that are being stood on seem uncomfortable?
Inside the Guanyin statue, going up the stairs (the holes are the windows seen earlier outside the statue)
Next stop on the morning tour: Yehliu Geopark, mos famous for the "Queen Rock" which you can see in the sign to the upper left: a profile rock of a woman
Artistic rendition of Queens Head on the pathway on the way to Queens Head...
Some explanation of the kind of rocks you will see. I saw all these signs AFTER I had already walked around because the guide had made us hurry in to go see them without explaining anything, just like the Guan Yin place. Mostly the tour just transports you from place to place but you are on your own to explore.
Honeycomb rocks explanation
Various rocks to see
I wish they had a map that I could have carried with me to see where everything was...
The dragon rock is pretty cool... which I only saw in the picture and not in RL. I also like that they identified a pineapple bun and bbq drumstick...
Walking towards where all the people are over there...
Looking back at the way we came from parking lot over bridge and down stairs to get to this area where Queens Head will be
Behind me you can see some of the candlestick rocks: like there are small round candles floating in melted wax in the circles. There are more pronounced ones in the map
To the left you can see the "fairy slipper" rock formation, in the middle is a "billiard rock" and to the right is an example of candlestick
Here's the correct view (sorta) of the profile- you can see a huge line of people taking pictures from the boardwalk
Looking back to the rock area I just was: you can see a lkine still of people waiting for Queens Rock photos
More mushroom rocks down there. I was running out of time (we only had an hour here) so I didn't go down there
beef noodle had a seriously beefy broth and sorta intimidating hunks o meat
Cloudy notheast coast of Taiwan that afternoon
A view of a "profile" like face at Pitou cape
Some of the hills had these lil mini-caves, some of which were housing urns or pottery of some sort
A temple at this stop
Rock that looks like a fish
The rocks in general are pretty cool though with how smooth they look and the different colors in them. And, they are huge boulders!
I thought this wind/water formed rock formation was really cool
Apparently the person who I asked to take a photo wasn't very good at it.
The rock that is jutting to the left is supposed to be a "frog" rock
Bay of Two Colors: the water is two different colors because there is also a mine here, and so the minerals changes some of the water, but you can also see the normal water color.
Jiu Fen shopping area. I found this out later in trying to find the name of the delicacy you will see later, not from my tour guide... but Jiufen, a village located on the northeast coast of Taiwan, was one of the inspirations for the village in Spirited Away. Apparently Mr. Miyasaki visited the little village on a mountain and there is even a teahouse set in the mountain that features masks similar to the black robed spirit (No Face) with a mask in the movie. If I had known that, I would have been searching for that teahouse.
Yeah, that's squid! And ohter fishies to the right. You can fry anything.
The system: he uses a big knife to scrape off shavings of peanut into each of those lil thin pancakes
She puts in two lil scoops of ice cream
Then she folds them into lil ice cream/peanut topping burritos
After one bite. It tasted pretty good - very light, the ice cream was some sort of cold taro concoction (more like gelato texture then ice cream) and the nutty shavings were flakes and soft instead of the lil bits that get stuck in your teeth like usual chopped nuts topping. The crepe was more a holder then a contributor to flavor.
Mushroom grilling in a closet sized space...
It can't possibly be poisonous because so many people were in line to get some... right?
So I got some. Actually, it didn't taste like much. Mushrooms in Oregon are pretty good, and I can get them easily at the Farmer's Market on Saturday.
This place appears well reviewed/famous. Jiufen is famous for its taro: there are taro balls which I saw but didn't try, and taro dumplings like I got from this place
Taro dumplings getting individually bagged
Of course I got one.
Yeah, I don't think I can take these home to cook the raw meat they are stuffing in
Still abuzz with people everywhere in Jiufen. According to the guide and the internet agrees, Jiufen used to be occupied by 9 households. The dad or mom would go out to buy groceries for nine people in each family, so the name Jiufen is originated from this story [jiu = nine; fen = fraction].
According to Wikipedia, Jiufen was a gold mining town that reached its peak under the time of Japanese rule in Taiwan. After the gold was exhausted, interest in this town declined significantly. Since the town was largely forgotten except by those living there, it is a well preserved example of a mountain town under Japanese colonization
I saw these many times in China and Taiwan, but I never had the fortitude to get one. If you know me, you know I don't usually eat whole fruit- I like it cut up in case there's a spider hiding inside a strawberry hull (which i've seen!). I also like fruit in liquid form. Either way, why would I try one which is covered in some sort of mystery syrup?
I didn't have the heart to take a picture of the grilled hermit crabs I saw in the market the other night.
Yeah, I had another one of these on the way out. I was rushing to get to the meeting spot, and wanted something cold. The cilantro that this vendor added was an interesting touch to the nutty/ice cream combo
Example area of what the original alleys looked like in this area. Since it's built in the mountain, they were often very makeshift so uneven and as you approach the stairs, actually got short enough even I had to duck to get through it!
The part where I had to duck to go up the stairs through this original alleyway
Lots of graffiti by visitors... or a sticker that says I <3 SD.
Origami museum at Narita airport. I know better then to buy any origami for myself- I fold terribly.
Which is funnier: a frog holding an umbrella, or a origami of a roast goose?
Examples of 3 more origami scenes
I can't believe this snack I bought (which was loads better then the "breakfast" United served) was 800 yen. But it came with parsley! How fancy!