September 20, 2016

Let’s see, where did I leave off? Ah yes, bike is now fixed, debit card once again retrieved, new phone purchased. Still loving my new job. They may drive me crazy sometimes but I do love these guys. Last week I was in horrible mood when I got to work for some reason, but then April arrived and threw herself at me, demanding "hug me, hug me, hug me!"How can you stay grumpy around that all day?



Not to mention Beijing has been spectacularly beautiful the past few weeks. Sunny and blue skies, starting to cool off slightly for fall.



I’ve been getting out of Beijing into the suburbs a bit more: Shunyi, Maquanying, Chongping, lots of new areas for me, much quieter than the center of Beijing. Last weekend Jess got a job photographing a golf tournament for the British Chamber and I got to tag along. The course was at Chateau Lafitte, which was gorgeous, more like a European estate than anything you’d expect to see in China. We had one of the guys on staff chauffeuring us around in a golf cart all day while we took photos. Fun day-






Then this past weekend was a four-day holiday for the Mid-Autumn Festival so we headed to Hong Kong. I’ve been there several times now but usually just for a day or so on visa runs, enough time to get there and then turn around. This time we got out to explore the city and surrounding areas. We actually stayed out on one of the islands-Cheung Chau-about a 45 minute ferry ride from Hong Kong island.

Cheung Chau is a really small island, we walked most of it trying to find our Airbnb place, but with a population of 50,000 or so. It still had a small-town feel though. As we were wandering around looking lost we were stopped by a woman, Michelle, who attempted to help us find the apartment but ended up having to call her husband, Michael, a local postmaster, who actually came to meet us. The place was a little confusing and at one point we had about 10 people gathered around us discussing loudly in Cantonese whether we were in the right place! But we got there eventually, waaay up in the hills. The view was worth it though:


The next morning we got up early and got the ferry to Hong Kong. We checked out the Stanley Market area, where I found a beautiful jade ring and got a spectacular sunburn on the beach. It’s bad. Last time I got burned Jess informed me that I looked like a strawberry donut. After the beach? “You look like a f$%#@* tomato tree…vine…something.” You can always count on your best friend to be honest. The beach was beautiful though, not too horribly crowded. Then we walked around Hong Kong Park, which was gorgeous, and free, a key consideration for us on our travels. There’s a huge aviary and a conservatory inside as well that we visited.

wp-image-369719097jpg.jpg                     wp-image-1012013167jpg.jpg

I loved this fountain and even liked the picture of me Jess managed to snap-



All this to kill time until the night markets opened. And then, oh, the shopping! There’s so many different markets, with things everywhere. I couldn’t resist some more jewelry and presents. Then we caught the ferry back to Cheung Chau.


wp-image-1038936548jpg.jpgWe had some vague plans to go back and explore more on Saturday but were too exhausted, so we spent the day touring our little island, which had more than its share of shops and street vendors, tiny private beaches, and narrow twisty alleys to explore.







Totally common sight to see people hanging their fish out to dry on their balcony alongside the laundry.


wp-image-1913210770jpg.jpgIt was so nice to have a new place to explore. There’s such an interesting feel to Hong Kong, different from places I’ve been in mainland China. More international, more accepting, people from all over the world. There are so many languages being spoken everywhere, but primarily English-nearly every person we spoke to knew at least a little. And Cheung Chau feels more like a Caribbean Island than anything else.

Also, I’m super excited because I finally booked my trip to Thailand during National Holiday-only 12 days left! And, thanks to my parents, I have a plane ticket booked to come home for two weeks around Christmas, too. Hoping to get Shanghai checked off my list before then as well. My goal is to travel as much as possible this year and book a  trip for every Chinese holiday. I have vague plans for India and Vietnam during the two-week New Year’s break in February so we’ll see how that shapes up.

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