As long promised: my Well That's Funny log. In this blog I will not use a lot of words. It is just intended for images instead
Nice shirt Douchebag :) To-do list?
Interesting Museum Piece! Guess this little guy doesn't like photographs..
More will follow soon, I promise!!
I just decided to post the story already. Tomorrow I will add the pictures to it! I decided to stay an extra night in Macau, so I should have some more time.
After taking another 2.5 hour flight, and a hotel shuttle bus, we got to our hotel in Hong Kong at around 5pm. For the first time in weeks, we didn't have a schedule at all, so we just decided to walk around the area a bit. There weren't that many food places so we just decided for a quick fix at the McDonald's right across the street. Later that night we grabbed a couple of beers at a local bar, after which we decided to call it a relatively early night.
The hotel offered a shuttle bus that would drive along the most useful places in the city. So we took that shuttle in the morning and ended up at one of the many parks. We walked around and took some pictures of the birds and gardens. We also took a quick look at the Science Museum, but then decided to stay outside and enjoy the sunshine instead. I was also anxious to get to the waterfront, because I had heard that the view from there would be great. And it was! Here are some pictures:
After following the waterfront for a while, we decided to head back to the hotel. Later that night we decided to head to the other side of the river where most of the night life takes place. We found a great bar where they served on of my favorite beers: Kwak! This is a delicious beer (8.4%) that comes in a very special glass. I convinced Dave to try it as well, and he did not regret the decision. We got two 750ml bottles, so there was plenty for each of us. Here is some evidence:
After those beers we headed over to Club Beijing, which my cousin Rob had recommended. We got there a bit too early though, so we decided to play some pool at another place first, where we also had a few more beers:
So by the time we got back to Club Beijing we both had had quite a lot :) After paying the $400 Dollar cover we were in. That is Hong Kong Dollars (clearly), but it still comes down to about 50 Dollars US. I guess this is normal on a Saturday night. But the club was huge, covering three floors, and the music and drinks were good too. Honestly, I do not remember most of what happened in the club, but I got home safely at around 3:30AM. I did lose Dave in the process, so we had to find our own ways home. But I'm glad to say that we both successfully did. I'm sure it was an unforgettable night, too bad I don't remember it..
The next day we just had to take it easy. So we slept in until about noon, after which we slowly headed out again for some more sight seeing. We decided to head over to the other side of the river again, so that we could do some more shopping and take a walk through some more botanical and zoological gardens. There we got to see an Orangutang, and some other interesting animals. It was funny to see that some of the "exotic" animals were actually really common to us.
After that trip we went back down to the bar street to have some food and a couple of beers. We weren't planning on making it too late, because we were going to travel to Macau the next day. But then, out of nowhere, we saw Branden and Bryant, two of the American students we had gotten to know in Wuhan and saw again in Beijing. They had been traveling around for the last week as well, and arrived that same day in Hong Kong. They also had a local friend with them, who was from the US, but had been living in Hong Kong for the last year. So instead of going back to the hotel early, we decided not to waste the opportunity and spend another night with these cool guys. We followed them to "the Peak", which Rob had also mentioned. A cable tram pulled us to the top of a hill where we entered the tower view point. This must have been one of the nicest city views I have seen. I doubt the pictures do it justice.
And that concludes our trip to Hong Kong. As you could tell, I had some catching up to do the last couple of days, so I might have rushed through things a bit. But I tried my best not to forget anything. We are in Macau now, which is dubbed as Asia's Entertainment Capital. I will spend one or two nights here. I guess I will decided in the morning whether I want to stay another day. Dave will be leaving, because it is time for him to travel back to the US. It has been a lot of fun traveling with him the last month. Let's see if we can one more awesome night to that. Hopefully one we'll fully remember this time :)
Take good care,
Hong Kong skyline with Bruce Lee
As I am uploading this text from my iPhone, i realize I have not yet talked about Day 4 in Xi'an :P I will get back to this later. While travelling today, I have finished talking about our last days in Xi'an and our days in Hong Kong. So I apologize for the gap, I will work on this later!
The fifth day in Xi'an we spent on packing, shopping and visiting the man who had been taking such good care of us.
Since we would spend our last night in Xi'an in hotel that was closer to the airport, we needed to check out of the Paradise Resort in morning. Our bag were picked up in one car, while took another one to the city center. There we walked through some tiny shopping streets, and we got to try another local food specialty: Soup Packets. These are very much like dumplings, only they carry a bit of soup in them. They're gooood. After another while we decided we needed to cool down so we grabbed a nice Iced Mocha at... Yep... Dunkin' Donuts!! They even had Boston Cream donuts, so of course I had to get one. It was delicious!
Wall decoration at Xi'an's (only) Dunkin' Donuts
Afterwards we were picked up again and taken to Linzhen's uncle and his oil refinery. He is the General Manager of one of China's largest refineries, which explains how he had the means to welcome us with so much hospitality. After touring the plant he invited us for a home-cooked dinner, made by one of his personal chefs. As you might be able to guess by now, the great food was accompanied by a lot more Bajo!! We got to demonstrate our Chinese language and chop sticks proficiency, which would be met by many many toasts, whether we succeeded or not. Although I am proud to say I am becoming quite ambidextrous when it comes to chop sticks :) I would usually be the only person in our company who is left-handed, so this provided me with a great motivation to learn it right-handed as well.
Local Specialty: the Belt Noodle. Also, one of the shirts I bought here: Communist Panda!
My Chinese name in Cherry stems: Jie Fu (pronounced as Tje-Foe)
After diner and drinks we took another tour around the workers' living quarters. Apparently it is common here for worker (and their families) to live near the factory grounds. I guess this is a nice solution, because housing was cheap and many social and sports facilities are provided.
We ended our night at the hotel near the airport, where we got to spend one last night, before we would leave for our next adventure: Hong Kong! I had a hard time sleeping because of mosquitos, but it did allow me to take this nice picture that is quite symbolic for China, I guess.
Chinese sunrise.. quite symbolic
I will leave it at this again, as you can tell I am still behind. I wrote this blog while we were riding the Ferry from Hong Kong to Macau. More will follow soon. Just 7 days remain. I'll be home soon!
All the best,
We started off our third day in Xi'an with a visit to the Chinese history museum. In there we got a great tour of the most important times in chronological order. We got to see many of the tools they used and the arts they created throughout the ages. Without wasting too many words, here are some pictures. Some of the works also made me laugh, but I'll save those for my "Well That's Funny Log"
Chinese General in ancient times
There sure is a lot going on in this picture :)
After our walk through Chinese history, we had a delicious lunch in a strictly vegetarian place. Perhaps the most interesting thing was that they shaped all of their dishes like their "original" counterparts. So I had some "Beef" made out of Beans, "Fish" made out of Tofu and a whole bunch of other things. Main point: it was gooood!
Next on the agenda was a visit to the 2011 International Horticulture Festival, which Xi'an is currently hosting. In order to facilitate this, they have created a gigantic landscape which seemed more like an unfinished Themepark. There are countless gardens and huge lakes with boats, lights and fountains. In the various buildings they displayed many flowers like Golden and Rainbow color roses (which were developed by a Dutch company!). They also took the opportunity to display some of China's rarest animals, including some Great White Panda's and Golden Monkey's
1 year-old Panda Twins!
Nom Nom Nom
We walked around the Expo park for about 4 hours, but the day wasn't over yet. On our way back into the city we stopped for some Dumplings. We ended the day by visiting one of Xi'an's most popular clubs. There was had another bottle of Black Label, played some more drinking games, and had a few more attempts at dancing.
Alright, another day covered, but I'm still 4 behind! I'll try to cover two or three more tomorrow :) Right now we are getting ready to go out. My cousin Rob suggested us to go to Club Beijing in Hong Kong, so that is exactly what we will do! I'll tell you all about it soon, I'm sure.
All the best,
Hi all. Even though Dave and I have already left Xi`an earlier today, I still want to describe the rest of our time there. It was great! As I mentioned in our last blog, we got to see so many things, that I simply didn't have any time to write about them. So here it goes: day 2 in Xi`an..
On the morning of our second day were went to see another tomb. Similar to the tomb we visited the day before, this emperor had also left behind a great treasure, including a large army to protect him in the afterlife. It were these soldiers that I had already heard about: The Terracotta Army! As opposed to the previous tomb, these soldiers were made to resemble their actual size (perhaps even a little bit exaggerated). Thousand and thousands of statues were found, and we got to visit some of them. Here are some pictures:
The original pit in which the first soldiers were found. Most of them had been destroyed,
due to collapses and robberies, but they are slowly being restored to their original state.
Close up of one of the Soldiers, this one with horse
I bought two small statues that model one of these soldiers and a general. I think they will look great with my Bonsai :) After lunch we went to visit on the local hot spring that has been used by many Emperors in history. This was a beautiful setting with many old building. One of the most valuable and popular resources here is Jade. This is a type of stone, that can have a wide range of uses. Many of the old baths we saw were made out of this material, and there were also shops to buy Jade made jewelry. Behind the "spa" was Li mountain, which we also got to see from the top after taking a Gondola ride up. The pictures I took did not turn out as nicely as I had hoped, but here is one showing much of the setting from our cable cart.
View from the spa from the cable cart
After dinner we returned to the same place, because at night it is also the decor of a dance show. The show was called "A Song of Everlasting Sorrow" , but I am glad to say I was not nearly as depressing as the title might portray. In fact it was beautiful! The show must have included at least 100 dancers, and they quite literally turned the whole place into one big stage. There were panels and stairs emerging from the water, they made fog roll down the mountain passage, and giant LED screens would rise from behind the buildings. They even went as far as placing hundreds of lights on the mountain behind the resort, so it could resemble the night sky. No wonder this shows sells thousands of tickets night after night. It told the story of one of the old emperors and his love for a "lower class" lady. All the narrating would be in Chinese, but Dave and I still understood most of it. No pictures or videos were allowed, but of course I had to sneak one in for you guys ;)
The Spa functioned as the decor for the show. The "stars" are actually hundreds
of lights on the mountain, and the moon is projected by a huge LED screen.
And that concluded day 2 in Xi'an, and I will have to leave it at this for now. It is currently the first morning of our stay in Hong Kong, and I really want to go and collect some more stories to tell you. Thing will be different now that we don't get to have guided tours any more. So we will have to find our own way around the city. Hopefully I can get back to you later tonight and describe some more of our trip in Xi'an. The Internet in this hotel has been extremely unreliable, so even a short blog like this, with four pictures and a couple of words, takes me about an hour to write and upload.
I also plan on creating another blog section in which I will just upload all the funny things I've seen here. Strange signs, funny situations (or situasians), you will be able to find those soon.
As always, I hope you are all doing well.
Alright, it took me another two days to find some time again, but here it goes. In this blog I will try to describe all my travels in and around Xi'an so far. We have seen so many wonderful sights, it is really hard to decide where to begin. I guess it is probably best to start at the beginning :)
So on Sunday we flew from Beijing to Xi'an. Whereas Beijing is current capital of China, Xi'an is undoubtedly the historic capital. Many great Emperors resided in this area, and left many cultural treasures in their reign. On our way back from the Airport, we got to visit one of these sights. We visited the surroundings of the 4th Emperor in the Han Dynasty. By now all the dates have started to mix up in my mind, so I had to look it up, but this Dynasty took place between 206 BC and AD 220. From what I have seen, each of these emperors, would usually be in control for about 10-15 years, but their tombs and monuments often took longer to complete.This example was not different. The emperor has been in control for 17 years, until his death, but his tomb took about 27 years to complete. So many resources we used in the process, it pretty much made me wonder if it was worth it all, but of course these people were pretty much considered to be Gods in their time, so who am I to argue :) They did create some overwhelming monuments of their existence, which I am happy to show to you.
This first emperor we visited left behind a huge tomb and a large collection of object he wanted to accompany him to the afterlife. I could go into great detail, but I think I will just show you the pictures instead. If you really want to know more, I'm sure Wikipedia has all the answers :P
One of the many faces of the miniature figures placed near the Emperors tomb
This is the way in which most of the warriors were found. Many were damaged because of robbers and collapsing roofs. Apart from human sculptures, they also buried many pottery animal and other resources like grain, currency and various tools
Whereas these grounds were filled with thousands and thousands of miniatures statues, the next one we would visit would be quite the opposite. I will tell you more about this in the next Blog: Xi`an, Part 2. After our first afternoon, we were taken to our hotel where we found out to our great surprise that Linzhen's Uncle had booked us individual rooms. Not only did we get to stay in our own rooms, but the hotel itself was also magnificent. Here's a picture of my room, which comes fully equipped with shower and bath, as well as a desk and lounge area.
I would have never dreamed of staying in such nice hotels during this trip! Linzhen and her family really have been spoiling us!
At night we met up with the man who has made this all possible. He is a family friend of Linzhen's and apparently runs a large oil company in China. Those are some good connections to have! We had dinner in a great restaurant, where we some delicious food and lots of Bajo again (the 42% alcohol I was taking about earlier). We then called it a night, but not before a nice after-dinner walk around the old cities South Gate, and a cultural park, which were all beautifully light up at night, as the following pictures shows:
The South Gate Toward on the old city wall
Another beautiful section of the city which displays many statues in memory of the old Emperors that lead this country
After that walk we got back to the hotel. It had been another long day! The next day were would get up early again to go and visit the Terracotta Army, which is also located near this city. I will be happy to tell (and show) you more about this soon. But I will need to get some sleep again. As you may have noticed, I am working "in the past" now, as I am desperately trying to keep up with the events. Lately, I have not been succeeding, but that is only due to the vast amount of sightseeing that we have been doing. So the benefit of falling behind right now, is that I will get to tell and show you even more later. I hope to get back to you again tomorrow!
Take good care,
Hi everyone. It's me again. Finally found some time after three epic days to write to you again. Where do I even start? I have so much to tell you, i decided to split it up in two separate posts. In this one I'll focus on our last day in Beijing, the next will describe out first two days in Xi'an.
So I did it.. I have officially climbed The Great Wall. Capitals sure are in place here. Saturday morning, bright and early we headed out to a section of the wall near Beijing. It was a beautiful day on the weekend, so we sure weren't the only ones there. It was crowded! Apart from that is was also near 30*C (or 90*F). But we managed to hustle our way trough to the top, while we also got to take many great pictures. Unfortunately, I don't have all of these yet, but I will post some more of them once I can get my hands on them.
The long steep and windy road ahead of us. The farthest peak would be our destination
Nice view from The Great Wall
The final stretch was called "Hero Slope", and the picture will make pretty clear why that is so. It was STEEP. But as I said we made it. we could officially call ourselves heroes!! (along with about 10000 other people that day..)
One of the first things we had noticed in Beijing, was that we weren't as much of a commodity as we were in Wuhan, being foreign and all. This was not any different at the start of out climb. However, as we made it to the top, this suddenly seemed to change. I guess many people thought it would be cool to have a picture with some Westerners at the top of the Great Wall. We really should have charged money! So a few nice minutes, and a lotta pictures later, we started our way down again. Why? Because we still had other things to do! As if climbing The Great Wall at such high temperatures wasn't enough, we also went to see the Forbidden City that same afternoon. Lots and lots of walking :)
So after a cool train ride down the Wall and another nice lunch in the city we continued our program. We got to the Forbidden city pretty late, though, so we only had little time pay a visit. It was impressive, but not that overwhelming. Maybe because it's really hard to beat something like the Great Wall. Here are some pictures:
In front of the main building in the Forbidden City
I'm just going to say it was a lion with a football (the real, round kind). Yay Holland
The Imperial Garden was probably my favorite part of the Forbidden City
After our visit to the Forbidden City, we concluded our visit to Beijing with a last night out. We were taking to Club Mix, which turned out to be a great choice. We did a lot of dancing and a little too much drinking, which only added to the fun. The next day we would travel to Xi'an, which will be the topic of my next blog.
Thank god this wasn't our table.. I don't think I would have survived!
I can't wait to post the stories and pictures of our trip to Xi'an, but I really need to get some sleep as well. We have been having so much fun, and doing so much sightseeing, I barely get to spend time in my room. I always look forward to writing new things on my blog, also because I feel like simply posting pictures isn't enough. I want to tell you about everything I do as well. This does take up a lot of time, but I hope it will be worth it. The number of visitors is still very high, so I am glad to know I can keep you all interested and entertained. Thanks again, for the comments, I really enjoy hearing from you all.
I think this sign says it all :) I will talk to you all again soon
Ni Hao Everybody! Again, it's been a couple of days, but I have been busy having a wonderful time. It's getting late again, and we will have to get up at 5AM, to go visit the Great Wall, so forgive me for going through this quickly :)
We got here on Wednesday afternoon, and instantly went to see the Olympic Park, where the 2008 Olympics took place. There we met Na, who lives here in Beijing, but also studies with Linzhen at Northeastern. It is great we get to meet so many friends in a place so far away! The 'Bird's Nest' stadium must be one of the most beautiful and visually challenging structures I have ever seen. It is so surreal, I just love it. Close to the stadium was the so-called Water Cube, where all the swimming events took place. This is another example of amazingly original architecture. So we were there during the day, but we also made another drive by later that night, just so we could see the structures lit up as well. Here are some pictures:
The 'Bird's Nest' Stadium: home of the 2008 Beijing Olympics
Water Cube by day, and the very interesting looking "dragon tower" in the background, which is occupied by IBM
The Water Cube by night
After the Olympic part, we went to visit one of the older parts of Beijing. There we walked through a narrow shopping street with lots of small shops. At the end of that section, we got to a small lake in the middle of city, where a lot of popular bars and restaurants are located. We got to try another local specialty: Beijing Hot Pot. For those of you who do not know what Hot Pot is: you get a range of dishes with vegetables and thinly sliced meats, which you get to cook by yourself at your own table. In the Netherlands we call it Fondue (although I'm pretty sure we stole that name from the French). Other local food specialties we have tried so far include: Peking Duck, which is delicious, Duck tongue, never again, and Duck Bone Soup, which was actually pretty good. They also served us "Duck Hand", which (I guess) is the tiny bit of meat that is wrapped around the duck's foot. But after already trying (and really disliking) the tongue, I did not feel adventurous enough to give that a try as well.
Apart from many interesting foods, we also got to see a lot more sights. We went for drinks that first night in a bar. We all planned to take it pretty easy since it had been a short night and a long day, but once we discovered we could get two mixed drinks (Whiskey Coke's for me) for a mere $1.50, there was no taking it easy! It was quite fun. We got home at 2AM, which isn't too late, but I still had to finish a conference paper which was due at Midnight in the US. Thankfully, the time difference allowed to work on it until noon here, the next day, which is exactly the amount of time I ended up needing.
The next day we went to one of the most popular shopping centers, where you can literally find anything FAKE you could want. The only problem was that the things were so fake I didn't want them after all. I bought a couple of things that day, including a T-shirt for myself and some presents for other people. I'm gonna have a lot of luggage coming back to the Netherlands this summer! We had a delicious PIZZA dinner at the little shopping street again, with some of the other students from America. You can see a couple of them in the picture below:
Our companions for the dinner. From left to right: Li, Connor, John, Xi, Dave, Mickael, Shannon and me
I just had to show you all this traffic sign we found. No car explosions allowed?
You're not allowed to start a fire on the roof of your car? On which streets CAN you do this?
Later that night we also got to meet with Bo. Yet another friend from Northeastern who is from China, and came to Beijing for the next couple of days to help show us around. After catching up with him we decided to call it a semi-early night.
Today (Friday), we had to wake up quite early again, because we were going to visit a couple of universities here, where my advisor, Prof. Lin and Bo studied. So, we got to meet our professor too. It seems like everyone from our lab is in Beijing right now :) At the universities we got a tour of their research labs (JEALOUS!!) and Dave and I both held presentations about our own work at Northeastern. After another long day, we were invited by a friend of Linzhen's family to have dinner in one of the coolest, fanciest places in Beijing: the rotating restaurant in the city's Television tower, which is also that tallest building. This was a buffet place, but the food was absolutely fabulous. Just to give an indication of how great is was: on my first plate, I assembled: Boston Melon Salad (Yay Boston), Blueberry Grilled Pork, John Rambo Cheese Grilled Pineapple (Had to try it because of the ridiculous name, but it was just as delicious too), and Hawaiian Chicken Salad. We also had steak.. AND there was a Chocolate fountain with tons of fruit! And did I mention the place was rotating? :) We were up at a hight of 238 meters (781 ft), and beautiful views of the the city slowly passed by as the night fell. Again, here are some pictures of the night.
I guess Dave doesn't like Clowns...
(The best part is that he didn't know I was taking this picture)
I wish night-time pictures would look better on my iPhone camera, but trust me, it was a beautiful view!
At night the tower is lit up and projected with different images. Just imagine that that red ring is 238 meters (781 ft) up!
Hi all! It has been a couple of days, but I have been well. Today was our last day at the Wuhan Summer Program, so we have been very busy finishing it all up. We all had our final presentations this afternoon, which took a total of about 3,5 hours. We were the last group to present, so everyone got really excited once we were done :) After the presentations we all went for dinner and drinks, which I just returned from now. We had Beer and Baju, which is a local drink of about 42% alcohol. After drinking many beers and shots of Baju, we all went back to our rooms. Since we are flying to Beijing at 9AM, a shuttle bus will come and pick us up at 6:45AM. It will be a very short night. Especially since we still need to pack! I'm sorry that I do not have any new pictures.. Many were taken today, but none with my own iPhone/Camera. hopefully I will get to post some of those soon!
So tomorrow we will arrive at Beijing. Linzhen is coming with us, and in Beijing we might get to see Bo and Na, who both study at Northeastern as well, and maybe even Prof. Lin, who is our supervisor. It would be both ironic and exciting, since I have not seen my own supervisor since February! We will probably stay in Beijing for about 5 days, so I should have plenty of time to write to you again when I'm there,
I hope you are all doing well. Thank you once more, for showing your interest and reading my blog. The number of visitors keeps surprising me, so I will try my best to keep you all entertained :)
For those of you that have been following me for a longer time, here is that video I took of the Shanghai Sightseeing Tunnel. It is not that exciting, just mostly strange :) Enjoy!
I hope I will get to write to you again soon.
Take good care, and please know that I miss you all!
So Saturday morning, bright and early, we were picked up by a bus for our weekend trip to the Three Gorges Dam. This bus ride ended up taking over 7 (!!) hours, including three bathroom breaks, and one lunch stop. After we finally got to the area, we visited a temple that was located near the Dam site. Unfortunately, they had recently rebuilt it, so there wasn't much ancient about it. But it was still a beautiful structure to wander around. Last Monday was the national Dragon Day festival, which is celebrated with special Dragon Boat races. At the second place we visited during this long hike, they had a dragon boat on display. This is not like the typical rowing races, because these boats can hold up to 20 men, and the race track also involves turns around the lake terrain.
The temple entrance.
Me posing with one of the Dragon Boats. You can see some of the Dam structure in the background.
After this visit, and another food stop, we finally got to the hotel at 9PM. This 4-star hotel was a very welcome change from our place in Wuhan. To our pleasant surprise they even had Bowling in the hotel, so we ended we played a couple of games with some of the other American students, while enjoying some well-deserved beers. Again, we didn't make it too late, because more activities were planned again for the morning.
After breakfast we went on a boat ride. This boat toured us on the Lake that has been created by the dam. Again, we didn't have a sunny day, but the temperature and nice breeze made it a very pleasant trip. The nature was beautiful, so we got to take some more nice pictures.
A view from the tour boat
Once we got back from the boat ride, we got to visit the Dam more closely with a bus tour. This time we really got a good impression of the vast size of the project, and how it has permanently changed the landscape. They even had to relocate a mere 1.3 Million people in the process! A also visited a special area which displayed many of the construction tools they used, including some gigantic rock hauling trucks. I know my cousin Alex would have loved to see these, so I decided to include a picture :)
Posing for yet another Dam picture
They really don't mess around when it comes to CONSTRUCTION
That visit concluded all our the plans for the weekend. Only one thing remained: the 6 hour bus ride back home.. *sigh* We made it back, that's all I will say. And so I finally have the chance again to go on-line, and to provide you all with my stories and pictures of this wonderful weekend. I hope you all had a great weekend too! Tomorrow will be our last day of the project already, since we are presenting our results on Tuesday. I will get back to you again tomorrow, hopefully with some wonderful news on the project as well!
This is me commenting on my travels through China. I will spend about 5 weeks here, while visiting a still undetermined number of cities.