Numbers (a.k.a. BdW's Index)

I had some down time at the train station the other day, so I thought it might be fun to run some of the numbers of my trip so far. Now I know most of you are muttering "nerd" under your breath. To that, I reply, "Yep!" So enjoy it if you will. Or not.

Nights away from home: 56
Nights spent on some form of moving transportation: 9 2 on a place, 6 on a train, and 1 on a boat (I'm only counting 1 night on the cruise because we were docked the majority of 2 nights
Hours spent on a train: 87 most of which have occurred in China
Postcards sent: 24 (if you haven't gotten one, e-mail me your address, then wait 6-8 weeks for delivery)
Countries visited: 3
Countries legally visited: 2 Russia, of course, is non the wiser to our visit
Maximum paid for a hotel/hostel: $22.50 (in Chongqing, China)
Minimum paid for a hotel/hostel: $2.00 (in Chaing Mai, Thailand)
Average cost for a hotel/hostel: $5.30
Median cost for a hotel/hostel: $4.00
Books read: 10
Geocaches found: 8 but one was a virtual cache which almost doesn't count
Wednesday November 8 2006File under: travel, China

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Yangtze River Cruise

The cruise was everything I expected, both for the good and bad. It was 3 nights and 2 days of being pampered and fed, but having everything planned for you. You woke up to music on the intercom, had assigned seats for all meals, and were given an iteneray sheet the day before, so you knew what to expect. Anyone who has been on a cruise probably has a similar story.

But it wasn't bad. The Three Rivers Gorge is really beautiful. There were guides to point out the elephant eye and moon goddess in the various rock formations (although they pretty much all looked the same to us). We did a couple of excursions off the boat to little touristy things along the banks, only one of which is worth noting because there was a geocache there!

I suppose you all don't really care about that stuff, though. You just want to hear the of the bum shaking incident. Well, the last night, there was to be a talent show. Since the boat was 90% full of chinese folks over the age of 60, I felt it was my duty to represent the U.S. with style. And since I have lugged these juggling clubs everywhere, I might as well. Otherwise I would have prolly skipped the whole thing. So, I get all practiced up and make friends with the MCs for the evening. It turns out that there are no other passanger performers, just the crew, so I felt a little silly. All their stuff was very well rehearsed. Anyhoo, one of the bits they had set up was a game in which 2 audience members come on stage, get belts with a box full of ping pong balls tied around their waists, and have to wriggle them out into a box on the floor. Well, of course I got called up, so wriggle I did. And I won too! I don't think my face has been redder in a long time. Afterwards, I did my juggling bit to much applause. Hopefully I will have pictures being e-mailed to me later.
Tuesday November 7 2006File under: China, travel

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Guilin it is!

Thanks so much for all the votes and information! Perhaps I should just leave my whole iteneray up to ya'll. I'm so glad you overwhelmingly picked Guilin (sorry mom, but I already got shanghai'ed in Beijing by some tea ladies). On my fancy cruise, I got the impression from talking to other passengers that Guilin is really the place to go. Sorry to all the runners-up in the poll. I still appreciate your votes. And who knows, I have a double entry visa to China so maybe I will be back to hit up that whole Shanghai area after my time in SE Asia is done.

So now I am off to figure out my way south before it gets dark and the wolves comes out. Once I get to where I am going, I'll post a little about the cruise. But a few teasers: beautiful scenery, contrived cultural demonstrations, breakfast buffet, Wren shaking his bum on stage, and so very much more. Thanks again for all the info!
Monday November 6 2006File under: China, travel

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Chongqing

What to do when you get to a city that you barely know anything about, isn't set up for a tourist in the least, hardly anyone speaks English, and your only purpose it to buy a ticket to the next destination? Well, that is basically my situation, friends. And what I chose to do is what I pretty much always do in a new town: walk.

So I went walking. Chongquin is set up kind of like, dare I say it, NYC. There is the downtown area that is quite similar to Manhattan. It is seperated from the rest of the town by two huge rivers. This little plot of land, however, is quite hilly. Atop the biggest hill, there is quite a nice little park. People were out in droves dancing, gambling, and playing mahjong. It also offered quite the views, not that there is much to see through all the smog.

The evening found me at a Time Square of sorts. The lights and people reminded me that this is the biggest city I've never heard of.

Oh, and for those of you who have been digging on the food info: here's the skinny. For lunch, I had a bowl full of potstickers (again). This time, they were made right before my eyes (wontons rolled on site and everything). For dinner, it was fried rice noodles with beef and a McDonald's ice cream cone for dessert.
Thursday November 2 2006File under: China, travel

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Beijing Wrap Up

After a rocky beginning, my time in Beijing has quickly become one of the highlights of my trip so far. The city has so much to offer for the tourist. Great food, amazing historic buildings, beautiful parks, and activities out the wazoo. All in all, I spent a week here, split into two parts, and I still feel like I only scraped the surface of the many things to do.

Besides the must-sees the city has to offer (Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, Tienamen square), I also got to do a little less touristy stuff. Yesterday, I hopped on the subway to head out west of town in search of a few geocaches (mission accomplished, BTW). The subway stopped right outside the international sculpture garden, so I thought, "Why not?". Well, I'm so glad because it was a great time. The weather was perfect for just strolling through the beautifully kept grounds looking at the sculpture collection (most of which was hardly international).

I am sorry to say that I leave Beijing this afternoon. I trust that I will visit again someday. There is still so much to see, and with the way the city is changing, there will be that much more to see next time. I recommend that if you are ever thinking of a travel destination, don't rule out Beijing.

"Next?", you ask. Well, I board a 25 hour train bound for Chongqing. I've got a couple of good books and am ready for some relax time, albeit forced relaxation. Chongqing is the typical launching spot for a cruise boat trip down the Yangtze River. We'll see what I can find on a last minute basis.
Tuesday October 31 2006File under: China, travel

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Jilin Tidbits

My visit to Tumen ended appropriately: with another scheduled power outage, so I couldn't make a final post from the cozy, non-time constrained, free internet at Trista's. But here I am, waiting up late at the Beijing hostel for my turn at the internet to bring you, dear readers, this:
  • Careful - cobra: part 2
  • Our visit to Hunchun, where Russia, North Korea, and China meet, was eventful. Trista and I watched some serious diplomacy going down
  • "Look, I'm in Russia" ("please take our picture")

  • Saturday October 28 2006File under: travel, China

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    Another food post

    What is there to do in a small town with limited tourist activities? Why, eat, of course! In what seems to be the high class tradition here in Tumen, we went out to another cook your own food place. This time, it was hot pot, which instead of grilling the plates of raw meat, you boil them in a broth. Along with the meat, we got lots of non-pickled veggies, so I got my weekly dose of greens. (Mom, you'll be happy to know that bean sprouts are my new favorite vegetable). Hot pot is really quite an experience. Good times.

    Besides the local cuisine (I am told hot pot is the most expensive meal in Tumen at a whopping $10.00 to [over]feed 3 people), I'm also getting a taste of the local transportation.
    Thursday October 26 2006File under: China, travel

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    Pictures,pictures, and more pictures

    Here at BdW, we are using this week to get caught up and betterifying the site. Latest addition: a favicon . Everyone who is anyone has one has a favicon. Hopefully there will be another functionality addition or two soon, but don't worry, I will scale back the techo-nerd speak and quit pointing them out.

    Anyhoo, the real reason for this post: I finally got a few Thailand pictures in order and have them ready for viewing. Again, no fancy slideshow (well fancy in a different sort of way), but it gets the job done. Please excuse the random order and only sometimes relevant captions.

    But enough already. On with the show (no need to sign up. Just click the "View photos now" link under the elephant.
    Wednesday October 25 2006File under: Thailand, travel

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    Outta the city!

    So far, China has been big city after big city for me. (Okay, well just 2 big cities, but they were really big.) Now I am in Tumen, which is about 25 hours by train Northeast of Beijing, right on the border with North Korea and about 3 hours from Russia.

    While it was quite a haul getting here, I love seeing this other side of China. Not only is the town much smaller than Beijing, it is somewhat of a border town, with much Korean influence. Anyway, getting to hike on real mountain and go more than an hour with out hearing a taxi honk has been awesome. (Things are so po dunk here that the electricity was out all day today.)

    Anyway, another bonus about being here is free internet (courtesy of Trista) and lots of down time. So, as saxtor so observantly pointed out, I've added a few features to the blog (ability to see old posts, and real-time comment tracking). I also threw together a little slide show. Now it isn't a BrothesrRoot worthy slideshow with autoplay, music, etc., but it will have to do. Mine does have captions though. Zing! Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.
    Tuesday October 24 2006File under: travel, China

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    The Pretty Good Wall

    Okay, just kidding. The Great Wall is exactly that: great. Even better than great, in fact. Visiting the wall is something I have been wanting to do for a long long time. Often times, that means the experience doesn't live up to any expectations. I'm so glad to report that this wasn't the case at all. Even though the day was a little overcast, and the tour that took me there dragged us through a million different government run shops and factories, my time on the great wall was spectacular.

    There are a couple different places you can go on the wall, each with its own assets. I chose to visit Mutianya, because it was supposed to be less touristy. "Less touristy" is a relative term, I guess. There was still a cable car to take visitors to the top and a tobogon slide to take them down. I did neither although the tobogon was pretty tempting. But because of the weather and time of the year, there weren't too many people.

    I got it in my mind to hike and hike and hike, so that is exactly what I did. Beyond about 3 towers from the ski lift, there were very few people, so that I could get some decent pictures. I made the 3 or so kilometers to the end of the reconstructed part, enjoying some of the best views and best hiking of my life. (Walking on such a huge part of history just seems to have that effect, I guess.) By the time I got to the end, I realized that I had to get back to the bus ASAP. So it was an almost-jog the rest of the way back, which, considering the terrain, was quite a feat.

    All in all, I must have hiked 5 miles and my body is feeling it, esp. on top of all the walking I've been doing here in Beijing (Forbidden City, Tienamen Square, etc. etc.) I think today shall be a rest day.


    Saturday October 21 2006File under: China, travel

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