Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bad blood Mary - bad.

After sleeping in and slowly getting ready, we headed back to Manifesto for brunch.

Fuck was it good.

That was until the manager gave us a treat - complimentary bloody Marys.

I was feeling fabulous until I had sip of that fuckiing drink. And then I wanted to die.

After a couple of trips to the ladies room (thank god they weren't squatters), we went to a stinky street market.

Haggling had gotten a bit tiresome at this point, so my bargains weren't over-the-top, but still so cheap.

After the shopping, Jarod demanded we go to the Sex Museum.

So we did.

It was definitely interesting and all the signs were bi-lingual, so we didn't get a dildo confused with butt plugs - phew!.

Still pooped, we headed back to the hotel to prep for our trip home.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My hat for your pants

The past several times I have gone out with Jarod and Steve, Jarod has been the one getting 'fall-out-of-the-cab' drunk. Literally.

So, I was kinda expecting the same when we were in China.

I was kinda wrong.

We left the hotel and had difficulties finding out nightspot of choice.

Finally we got there, paid $20 to get in and prepared to watch Jarod go. It just so happens though, that I was the one to be 'that-girl'.

Why, you ask? Well, I was drinking gin & tonics all night, and to my surprise, they were free-pours, equalling about 4 oz of booze (according to Jarod).


The music was great, the view was stellar and the boys were cute. So the drinks kept on coming. And coming. And coming.

Which explains why I was the way I was.

Steve had never seen me that messy, Jarod had never remembered me that messy and needless to say, I had a fucking blast.

Friday, December 19, 2008

You can't beat beer and shopping

We woke up the next morning to the sound of Steve saying "I am finding something to wear even if that is all we do."

Our itinerary was set.

So off we went to the French Concession. I find it so odd that Shanghai considers itself the Paris of the East and that the French had a presence here so long ago - just odd.

We bought a couple of cheap beers and started shopping.

After shopping for a little bit,l I had found a couple of things, Steve found a jacket and Jarod had just found bitterness. Typical.

One of the tour books we had mentioned a Propaganda Museum that was worth checking out. So we postponed the shopping and headed down to the museum.

This was so cool - these posters ran the gamut of messages, from stuff about steel to stuff about America. I thought the ones talking about American imperialism and race issues in the US were definitely the most interesting.

After the museum, we went back for some more shopping, but again, not without a beer in hand.

How lovely life is when you can shop with beer.

Also, I have to say how much I love shopping with/for boys. I got such joy out of playing stylist for Jarod and Steve and making those shopgirls WORK.

After shopping, we headed to a Lonely Planet-recommended lounge.

Manifesto was so good - the waiters were cute ex-pats who gave us some hints on where to go that night

After that, we headed back to the hotel to prep for our first night out in China.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Shanghai surprise

When we arrived at our hotel in Shanghai, we were, well ... a little surprised.

Our hotel in Beijing was very nice and in an amazing location.

This one was nice, but out of the way and surrounded by what is considered slums by Western standards. Like, I am talking derelict buildings, poverty, you know, what you visualize when you think of slums. Ok, maybe not TOTAL slums, but definitely slum-ish.

We are troopers though and started out tour of this city of 20 million! Can you imagine, 20 million other people to deal with?

Before we got to Shanghai, Jarod had described it as 'the last line of defense against alien invasion' - and he was right. I hate it when that happens.

The buildings here are straight out of the future. They are big, imposing and a little audacious. I am convinced the city planners just old a bunch of architecture students carte blanche.

Some of the buildings worked for me (Shanghai World Financial Centre) and others didn't (Oriental Pearl TV Tower). I don't know, I think new buildings are neat, they do things with architecture now that would be unimaginable, but the old stuff impresses me a lot more. Does that make sense?

Anyways, we checked out the Bund, and searched (and I mean searched) for a ferry to take us across the river. We had some guy wanting to charge us $15 each, but just said "You have to follow me" - um, no thanks.

Finally, we found the $1 ferry, and crossed the river to the Pudong, walked around for a bit and went for expensive drinks on the 87th floor of the Jin Mao Tower.

The view was sick - hello, 87th floor! - I think Steve squealed when we got up there. Getting up there was interesting in itself, the Hyatt only starts on the 54th floor and looking down is enough to cause some serious vertigo.

After the $20 drinks and the overpriced appetizers, it was off to bed. We aren't young anymore.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Smog free living

Wednesday morning we got up and were shocked - there was no smog!

It is amazing, because the day we did The Wall, it was disgusting. Seriously, you couldn't see two blocks in front of you!

So we headed out - tried to do the Underground City, but it was closed.

After that, we went to The Beijing City Planning Exhibition Hall.

Sure, it was neat to see the scale model of the city, but none - and I mean none - of the signs or descriptions were in English, making it a cool, but relatively uninformative visit.

They did have a 4D movie though - we couldn't see it, but Jarod mentioned something about it being about Aquarius' age or something.

After teh Hall, it was off to shop till we dropped and to see Embassy row and where Jarod used to live.

Embassy row was neat, but just after walking past the embassies, we ended up in what seemed like little Russia. Russian restos, stores selling furs galore and a lost of writing in Ruskie.


Then we caught a cab to Jarod's old neighborhood. He hadn't been back to his hood for a number of years and was shocked at the development that now surrounded it.

It is amazing what unlimited resources will do for development.

This was also the second night we attempted to go out. The time was a bust - we just ended up going for pizza and beer (yes, you read that right).

The second time was a bit of a bust too - the gay club we went to was empty and the other clubs were full of irritating 17 year old Chinese kids on too much Red Bull, listening to bad hip-hop. Ew.

So, we went back to the hotel, happy to not be out.

Oh, and this was disturbing - we got out of our cab to go to a club and this 8 year old boy in Santa hat opens the door, wishes us Merry Christmas, asks us for money and takes a drag of his smoke!

We aren't in Communism anymore Toto.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ok, it's pretty great

Tuesday, we hired a car to head to The Great Wall.

A short one-hour drive we got the to wall-section Jarod planned for us - the Junyonguan Pass.


It is one of the restored parts of the Wall and it has a lot of stairs.

FYI - stairs are one of my great fears in life. Going up or down, all I see is the potential for death. I HATE stairs.

I had made this very clear to my travel companions early on, but more on that later.

The first few portions were packed with visitors, clammering to get up.

Once you get past them, the climb is really chill, despite all the stairs.

About an hour later, we were above the smog and could see several other parts of the Wall.


And to think this thing was built 2000 yrs ago. How the fuck did all of those poor ancients do the trek up to build it, because the end of this section is at the top of a mountain.


So, we got to the top and enjoyed the view for a while and the boys decided to take the back way down.

Now, of course, because I don't want them thinking I am a wimpe, I followed.

This was possibly the scariest thing I have ever done.

In my entire life. And I have jumped off cliffs, out of planes and climbed mountains.

I am not a fucking wimp. But the ancient Chinese were not good at making stairs a consistent size. Some were really high, others were barely stairs. It made for a descent that required a lot of attention. I got dizzy a couple of times, had to sit down and almost started crying.

I have never been more freaked in my entire life.

I was pissed and told those two idiots so.

Come to think of it, I am still pissed.


All-in-all though, the Great Wall lived up to its name.

Next time though, I am bringing some hiking boots and checking out an unrestored section.

And not follow two jerks who like to test my emotional stability.


Monday, December 15, 2008

One Ticket. One Person.

After our extensive tour through history, we headed to the market where we were accosted by booth people. Bargaining was all around and it was stressful. I actually had to get stern and tell a few booth girls to stop touching me. Someone called me a liar (which actually ended up being a bargaining tool for me) and I had had enough.

Irritated and shopped out, we headed back to our hotel.

The plan was for me to take a short nap and then for us to head out.

It ended up we all napped - until 2 AM!

Needless to say, we didn't go out.

When we awoke, we caught the subway to the Olympic sites.

Side-note: I am pro-democracy, don't get me wrong, but there is something to be said for 100% of a state's resources going to one goal. The Olympics was this goal, and beyond the Olympic sitese themselves, the Olympics has had an impact on this city - even I could see that. The subway system is second-to-none. Clean, efficient, effective and cheap as hell!

I digress, we got to the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube. Both of these sites are amazing.

It is hard to get a real sense of their impressive nature from the tv. Sure they looked cool, but they were incredible.

They are both marvels of modern architecture.

Both are beautiful, but I hate the Water Cube.


You see, the Bird's Nest was straightforward - buy a ticket at the gate, go through the gate and gawk.

The Water Cube was a convoluted example of poor planning - or at the very least, a government needing make-work jobs for people.

Walk here, go there - the whole thing from crossing the street to the Cube, to getting tickets, to getting in, to checking it out, took two hours and only 45 minutes of that was spent actually IN the Cube.


I was cursing the entire time.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Don't be rude, stop staring

One of the things that I have noticed about China thus far is that people stare at me.

And not in the 'look at that hot piece of ass' kind of way either, but they do stare and a lot of them do.

I'm not going to lie, it makes me a little uncomfortable. In Canada, if people are caught looking at you, they will smile to acknowledge the fact that they aren't a creeper.

Here, they just stare and don't really care if you catch them.

The boys say it's because they think I am exotic. I just think it's because 'one of these things is not like the other'.

Whatever it is, during our exploration of Temple of Heaven the stares got fun.

First - Temply of Heaven was beautiful. Where Forbidden City had lost it's lustre to me - I just can't do that much history for that long - Temple of Heaven seemed more natural.

It had locals doing local things. They were playing cards, singing, working out, heck some were even playing hacky sack. This felt like a typical Sunday afternoon.

So we saw all the sites, yada yada yada.

When we were walking to the Echo Wall (which is not even a wall) this rural looking gentleman came up to me with his camera and stared speaking Chinese.

Jarod, in all his useless glory, didn't know what they were saying, but it soon became clear.

He was asking me to take a picture with two of his friends.

I laughed, put my arms around them and took the picture.

I am pretty sure they thought I was Halle Berry, but no one believes me.

Except my ego. It believes.

I'm sorry, that was HOW much??

After spending three hours strolling through the Forbidden City, we headed out to find some food.

We stumbled upon some random food joint and with much relief, sat dow.

I, like any unprepared foreigner, expect my tourguide - in this case Jarod - to handle all communications.

Since he has lived here and is essentially a bit of an 'egg' he knows what to get and he doesn't disappoint.

One of the things Jarod mentioned about BJ before we left was that beer and smokes are CHEAP, but as per usual, I didn't believe him.

I should have trusted him.

The beer at lunch was 4 yuan. Which roughly translates to $0.80!

Can you imagine?!

And, AND, that was for 580mL.

I almost died.

No-No City

On our first full day, we had been dying to sleep in, but that totally didn't happen. Up at 8AM, our day started awfully early.

We walked to Tiananmen Square, where Steve was accosted by a random Chinese dude. Buddy asked (we think he asked, Jarod's Mandarin isn't that good) to get his pic with Steve, which was fine and dandy, but then he planted a kiss on Steve's neck - HA!

After wandering around the Square for a while, we headed across the street (which we could barely see with all the smog) to the Forbidden City.

What is there to say about the Forbidden City? It's VERY old, it's very pretty and it is fucking huge.

Beijing is definitely the most foreign city I have ever been to, but it is also the most historic. Ok, well Lonjdon may be as old, but it didn't feel that way.

It was weird to think that the stones I was walking on had been walked on for six centuries.

Also, another thing I noticed at the No-No City - in China, I am exotic.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hold your breath

When we landed in Beijing, I was totally unprepared for a couple of things:

a) The smell
b) The temperature

It is hard to describe the smell. It wasn't garbage or rotting anything or sewer or anything like that. It was ... just hard to handle.

And the temperature, well I have totally become a Vancouver temperature wimp, but my ass was COLD!

After an hour-long bus ride to the hotel, listening to the annoying tour host talk about the the most auspicious tours available, we arrived at our hotel, which was surprisingly nice.

We went upstairs, slipped into something more comfortable and went exploring.

One of the things that excited me about this China trip more than anything was that Beijing is Jarod's New York. He lived there for about a year and LOVED it.

Our hotel was perfectly located a block from Tianammen Square and the Forbidden City.

After walking around the area, we began the hunt for food - Steve was getting hun-grumpy.

Because it was so late, our options were limited. But we found a nicer resto (with the best dumplings ever) and ended up paying a bit more than we expected - and by that I mean like $20 CAD.

After dinner we headed to the Sanlitun district where Jarod used to cause trouble in.

While we were too tired to get in any serious trouble, I did experience a first: the squatter.

It is self-explanatory, but I have included a link, just in case. Call me a spoiled North American, but I like my toilets to be toilets. I hate the squatter.

After the beers, in a bar where smoking was permitted, we headed back to the hotel and got ready for our first full day in Beijing.

Friday, December 12, 2008

San Francisco Treat

I really like San Francisco. I have been there several times and a) think the city is beautiful and b) think it would be a cool place to live.

I was super excited when I realized Steve and Jarod had never been there. Mainly because I felt cooler and more worldly than them both (even though they have traveled far more than I).

So, after grinning the whole flight away, we got into out hotel and took the subway downtown and went to find something to eat.

We wandered aimlessly for a bit but finally found some direction.

We headed to North Beach and Littly Italy. The first time I was in Little Italy, it was with Eve and we found possibly the best gnocchi ever. No seriously, I have yet to have better.

I digress.

Because it was so late, the boy and I had abit more difficulty finding an open resto. So, to ease our pain while wandering, we brown bagged some beer. I have to say, this has become one of my favorite travel traditions with these two. So we are a little trashy, who are you to judge??

We didn't have to walk far before we found an open spot. The food was great, we were able to sit on the patio, in December, can you imagine?!

Oh, and one of the best things (which other cities don't allow, but seems crazy to me), we were able to smoke on the patio!

We were all a bit drunk by the end of dinner. We went to a blues bar for a beer, bought some of our own and headed back to the hotel to play Catan.

A lovely one-night stand with San Fran.

You drink too much!

Who thought a 12-hour flight could feel so long?

We boarded, we waited an hour for cargo and then we took off. The booze was free (yay!), but we totally got judgement. The fucking flight attendant actually said to me (me!) 'You drink too much!'

Yeah, well don't be a fucking bitch and do your job and get me a fucking beer.


Air China flight attendants are the WORST!

We played Catan, a dice game, fell asleep and woke up with five hours left on the flight.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Shut up, shut up, shut up!!!

The start of my China adventure started as most others, packed, ready to go, in a cab on my way to the airpors and headed to my gate - nothing out of the ordinary.

I was already really excited, ask my co-workers, I was annoyingly excited.

The plan was to meet Jarod and Steve in San Fran, hangout and catch our short 12-hour flight to beautiful, breezy Beijing.

I was close to my gate, having a beer and a snack when I got a call from Jarod. Apparently, their flight from Edmonton had been cancelled. Fuck.

My selfish mind immediately went to 'What will I do tonight in SF?'

I went back to my sandwich and didn't really give much thought to it. Really, what could I do about it?

I was people watching and saw a guy wearing a jacket that looked an awful lot like one of Jarod's and steps behind him was a dude that looked an awful lot like Steve.

Are you fucking kidding me?!

I yelled across the very busy terminal - SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!!!!

As I ran towards them - a scene straight out of a movie - I realized that I was causing a bit of a scene.

The sneaky boys came through Vancouver and surprised me. After the screaming stopped, I composed myself and we headed to San Fran - but I couldn't stop smiling for the rest of the night.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I had no idea

So, I leave for my China trip in two short days. TWO SHORT DAYS!!!

And I am freaking the fuck out. How am I going to get everything done? How am I going to be ensure that every project I am working on, every loose end is tied up?


I have never taken a full two-week vacation from a job. I have taken random days, here or there, a week maybe, but never more. And this will be almost three weeks of freedom from my job.

It couldn't be at a worse time though. I suffered writer's block last week and literally stared at a blank screen for hours. How is that possible? Writing comes so easily to me, somewhat naturally even, and here I was, wasting time, re-writing an opening sentence.

'Just write' my co-worker said to me.

Well that ain't workin'.

All the excitement that had been building up to this week has disappeared and turned into full on anxiety. When did this become my life? I chatted with P3 about it yesterday during a climb and he laughed. He thinks I am a little obsessed with work. That I am this uber-ambitious person who needs to chill the fuck out.

So? What is wrong with that?

Sorry, tangent.

It is 6 AM. I woke up WAY before my alarm this morning because I just couldn't sleep. My heart is racing, my head is busy and sleep is just not an option at this point.

Sucks, because I was really tired.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Musical brilliance

A co-worker sent this around today.

I think it's blog-worthy:

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Monday, December 01, 2008

I was a bad friend.

I usually consider myself a really good friend. I am there when people need me, willing to give a helping hand, always up for a fight if need be (preferably verbal, but physical if it is called for), but this past weekend I was a bad friend and feel horrible for it.

You see, I ran away when someone I care about needed me. I showed him that I don’t have his back and that he can’t rely on me when times get tough.

And this is horribly out of character for me. I will fight tooth and nail for a friend. I will stand by them when the going gets tough. But this time, rather than doing something that comes so naturally to me, I just left. I left him in the lurch and I feel horrible for it.


I don’t know how to make it up to him, to show him that my actions are in no way indicative of how much I care about him. I take my friendships seriously, and for me to leave him with the impression that I don’t is really upsetting me.

Like a lot.

I have apologized, but I know that may not be enough. This one hurt him a lot and I hate knowing that I caused someone I care about any sort of pain.

Ugh, worst Monday ever.