Monday, January 31, 2005

Someone cooked - wasn't me!

I worked all day long today, so it was really nice to come home and find dinner ready! Aren't moms great? Maybe she can move to Japan and cook dinner for me every day :)

Today is my sister Jen's birthday - Happy B-day Jen!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Visiting the In-laws

Mom and Joan wanted to go down and see Hiroshi's mom, so we all piled on to the shinkansen (bullet train) this morning and headed down to Hamamatsu. Today was beautiful, and very clear, and for the first time ever on the shinkansen, I got to see Mt. Fuji! It was awesome! The shinkansen goes right by it, so we got really nice views. That was a nice treat!

When we arrived in Hamamatsu we went out for eel, which is the specialty of the area. It was really good, and both mom and Joan liked it. That was good! Then we headed out to the cemetery to do a small ceremony for Ichiro, Hiroshi's brother. In Japan, you hold a memorial service at the three year mark (as well as 1, 7, and some others).

Following that we went back to Hiroshi's house, where Yoshiko, my mother-in-law, had some friends over who entertained us with dancing and by playing traditional Japanese instruments. It was really nice. Then we had tea and exchanged gifts and things. She gave a ton of food to Hiroshi and I - I'm pretty sure she was passing on the winter gifts to us (Japanese people send food gifts during the summer and winter). I'm not complaining.

Then it was time to come home, so we all piled back onto the shinkansen and had a little nap on the way home. When we arrived back in Tokyo, we went out for dinner at Outback. Mmmmm, baked potato! It was weird - there wasn't any wait at all. Usually it is busy at that time. Maybe it was too cold out for anyone to venture very far. The wind was freezing! Anyway, tummies full and having that "ate lots" sleepy feeling, we all came home and fell into bed.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Nikko - again

We went up to Nikko yesterday for the temple / shrine tour. I've been there fifty million times it seems, but it is always a nice day trip. We actually stayed overnight though so we could go to the onsen at our pension, the Turtle Inn.

By the time we got going, it was late in the day before we got up there (as is always the case - for some reason, the Nikko departure time is always a few hours after I think it will be). We just settled into the hotel, went out for dinner and then came back and went to the onsen.

This morning we got up and had breakfast, which was good. Then we hit the shrines. After walking around and taking a bunch of photos (I got some good detail shots which I will put up soon) we wandered back to Tokyo. We stopped by Asakusa on the way home to see the shrine there and walk down Naka-mise, which is the shopping street leading up to the shrine. It has lots of good souvenirs and traditional Japanese sweeets and stuff.

By the time we got back to my place, it was 5:30, so no time for a nap today! We left shortly after to go for drinks with some of my colleagues. There was a plan for karaoke, but every one was tired or not feeling well, so that will have to be for another day.

Friday, January 28, 2005

China Updates - Next Week!

I'm slow! Didn't have time to get my updates done before mom and Joan came (cleaning ya know). So they'll have to wait until next week. Until then, I'll try to keep the current entries up to date at least!
We're off to Nikko later today, so more on our adventures tomorrow!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Playing Tour Guide

I had to work this morning so I gave Hiroshi tour guide duty. As it turned out my middle of the day classes all cancelled, so I got to join the tour. We went to Tokyo Metropolitan goverment building today. Unfortunately, it was smoggy and we couldn't see Mt. Fuji though. That kinda sucked. It has been so clear lately, that I was pretty sure we'd see it. Maybe another day.
After that, we hit Harajuku. We wanted to go to Oriental Bazaar, which is a great place to buy souvenirs, but it was closed! Why on earth does it close on Thursday? We did get to walk around Meiji Jingu though and up and down the fashion streets. There were plans to go to Shibuya to the people watch from Starbucks at Shibuya crossing, but mom and Joan were pooped. So they had to go home and have a nap LOL

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The important places first

Well, this morning my early morning student didn't show up for his class, so I'm shooting evil dagger eyes at him (where ever he may be in Tokyo). I could have slept in! Then I got tied up at work and ended up being there much later than planned, only to find the train had stopped running when I finally did make my way home. Oh well. Eventually I made it. The first stop on the tourist circuit was the 100 yen store LOL Hey, there are lots of great things there! It is also near my house too, so we got to walk around the neighbourhood. Overall, not too much of an eventful day, but we had a good visit.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


My mom and my aunt Joan arrived from Canada tonight! I'm so excited to have visitors. They are pretty tired after a long flight, but we had nabe (hot pot) for dinner. I got lots of fun presents too like toothpaste, fat-reduced Miracle Whip, and Jello instant pudding. All the stuff I know and love but can't get here!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Still behind

I got one more China entry up (scroll down to the Jan 4th entry). I still need to get the 5th-8th up... they're coming! I hope tomorrow. I'll let you know once they are up so you aren't constantly scrolling to the bottom of the page. At least I'm somewhat up to date on entries from the last couple of weeks!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Friday, January 21, 2005


I have been stuffed up and fighting a runny nose ever since I came back from China. Here I was thinking it was just a cold... but it is pollen. Hay fever is in full swing in Japan. Yes, I know, it is the middle of winter and hay fever comes in spring. Supposedly it the pollen count will be 10 to 30 times higher than it was last year. Boy, won't spring be fun!

I didn't have pollen allergies when I came to Japan. After living here for three years I started to get sniffles. Last year I started to wear a mask in the spring because I was sneezing uncontrollably all the time. According to the article I linked above, last year had a very low pollen count. Might have to try some of the new products released this year - sprays for you clothes which encapsulate the pollen to prevent it from breaking and releasing alergens, and nose creams that do the same thing for pollen than winds up in your nose, or the full face masks that are now available covering from the top of your nose to under your chin. Sexy, hunh?

Pollen sucks.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

More entries below

I've added in Jan 1-3 below. Only 5 more to go LOL I just need to find time to type them up. HOpefully today or tomorrow I'll get the rest up!

Monday, January 17, 2005

World Expo

This year the World Expo is being held in Japan. While searching thru the information, I found out thatCanada was the first to sign up to take part. That's pretty cool. Go Canada. Hope I can make it down to Aichi to check it out this summer!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

World Traveller Blog Link

Now here is a world traveller... check out this guy's blog. He has been to most countries in the world. Pretty awesome.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Clear Skies

I had a beautiful view of Fuji today from where I taught my first class this morning. Too bad I didn't have my camera with me - it was one of the best views I've ever seen. What has struck me since I've been back in Japan is just how clear the skies are here. In China they were smoggy, foggy or overcast all the time. Here they are clear, beautiful blue with hardly a cloud in the sky. Amazing. I feel so much better when I can see the sky clearly. Never noticed that before.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Slowly adding in more updates

I redid the pictures for Dec 23-Dec 26. There are a few more pictures in the body as well as some new picture links. (They should load faster too now). I also got two more entries up. More to come. I have two more written, just need to upload all the pics! Now it is time for bed, because I have to go back to work tomorrow (boo!) and it is 3 am (oops!)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Walking Around Guangzhou

The train ride to Guangzhou was uneventful. I finally fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning, but still didn’t sleep well which is odd because I can always sleep on the train. I had been worried about arriving in Guangzhou at 4:30 in the morning in the dark but didn’t really have much choice in my train tickets. As it turned out, my train was actually early, and we arrived just after 4. Just before four the carriage attendant came and banged on the door to make sure we were awake, and exchange our plastic chits back for our tickets.

Walking out of the train station I arrived in a big, open square. There were tons of people around, so no need to worry about being in the dark by myself. That made me feel a lot better. And of course the suddenly warm weather was awesome. I immediately felt better than I had in days, despite the lack of sleep, just due to not having to freeze my ass off whenever I went outside.

I walked over to the taxi stand with all of my stuff and some guy tried to scam me. He quoted some ridiculous price and wouldn’t move below 40 yuan. I knew from reading the guide book that it would only cost about 15 yuan to my hotel, so I just walked away. I figured I would just take the subway, so walked over in that direction.

The subway, it turned out, didn’t open until 6am. I was debating just standing around, but didn’t really want to do that. I found a place to sit down and read my guidebook to figure out what to do, and also see just how far the walk was from my hotel to the nearest subway station (and what station that was). Eventually I just sat on the ledge I was on and got my bearings. People were staring and pointing at me (Foreigner!) but I didn’t mind too much. That is, until someone walked by and hit me in the arm. I was too shocked to say anything. At that point I figured getting a taxi, even if it did cost 40 yuan was probably a good idea.

I walked over to the other side of the plaza where there was a different taxi line. One guy made eye contact with me, so I chose him and he piled my bags in the trunk. Then I discovered that he was basically in the middle of a sea of taxis. He did some crazy Chinese driving though and made his way through them all. We made it to the hotel in no time, and it only cost 15 yuan as the guidebook said. So that was cool.

The hotel was awesome too, and let me check in, even though it was 5 am. The hotel cost 180 yuan for the night and was simple, but clean. The bathroom in particular was spotless, and included a normal shower (instead of a hose on the wall and no tub), so I was happy. Of course the first thing I did was go to bed! I ended up sleeping until 2 in the afternoon, when I woke up rested and ready to explore.

The first stop of the day was at the bank to exchange some money. Despite the fifty million banks in China (I swear there is one on every corner) there was a long line. After waiting about 30 minutes it was finally my turn. The teller was not too sure about my Japanese yen though and was doing the super inspection. I didn’t even think when I got cash that the new Japanese bills might pose a problem. With all the security features in them though, the guy eventually took it and gave me Chinese yuan in exchange.

The only thing on my list for the day was to go to the market. Seeing as it was close to 3 at this point, there really wasn’t a heck of a lot more that I could do. Qingping market is a famous market in Guangzhou that is several main streets square. I just walked around with the purpose of getting lost and trying to find as many interesting things as possible. I didn't’ see any really weird animals as the guidebook had promised; however, I wonder if that had anything to do with the fact that I was actually hitting it late in the day.

I did see lots of interesting things though: dried foods including starfish and seahorses; deer antlers; scorpions: turtles: chickens in cages, often beside rabbits or ducks; ducks in cages and attached to motorcycles being brought to the butcher; snake skin; whole dead goats; lots of vegetables and fruits; chicken feet: people de-feathering chickens on the street (it wasn’t exactly plucking); a make-shift barber shop; and more. There was even a big pet area, with lots of puppies, fish and aquarium accessories, and a few birds, bunnies and kittens.

I really enjoyed walking though the back streets because there were homes and people there. It felt like I was walking through a real community rather than a downtown core, and it was a nice change. While some of the houses were old and a bit dilapidated, overall the area was clean and seemed safe. There were tons of houses all crammed together and there was an interesting mix of Chinese and Colonial style, so it was an enjoyable walk for looking around.

Eventually, I ended up at the jade market. The jade market is nowhere near Qingping, so I pulled out my map to see where I was. Turned out I had walked a long way! In the jade market there were tons of vendors selling everything from bracelets, to pendants to figurines. Not knowing a thing about jade I bought a bracelet and a pendant, paying what I felt were fair prices. I’m sure the price was hugely inflated, but I was pleased, so I guess that is all that matters. Of course I don’t even know if it is real jade, but it looks nice. (Side note: When I got home I did the hair test, and it really is jade. To do the hair test, you wrap one hair around the jade and take a lighter to it. If it is real jade, the hair won’t burn (because Jade is an excellent heat conductor)).

I decided to hoof it back to the hotel and started off in that general direction. I eventually came to a big square with tons of modern stores. I decided to take a break at KFC. I know, I’m in China! I just wanted something to drink and a place where I could sit down and look at my guide book in peace so I could figure out where I was going. After re-orienting myself on my break, I was good to go and finally made it back to the hotel, sore feet and all.

Back at the hotel, I had to deal with the internet fiasco. I was reading the hotel binder (you know, the one they have in the middle drawer of the desk – I love reading that), and discovered that some rooms actually have internet! So off I went to see if I could change rooms. It was an extra 20 yuan a night for the room, but well worth it because it would have cost a lot more of that to go to an internet cafĂ©… and I wanted to call Hiroshi (we set up Skype which is an internet telephone – free calls! (works great and I recommend it)).

Well, the first room that they moved me to had a problem with the connection, so they moved me to another one. Only that one also had a problem, so they moved me back to the first and said they would get someone to fix it in the morning. I’m like, then put me back in my old room, cuz I’m not going to pay for internet I don’t have. Eventually they said they would get a repairman to come that day. The new room was bigger than the other one, but had a smaller bathtub unfortunately. I had wanted to lay out in the tub, but this one was too short and squatty. Since the hotel didn’t have heat (just a/c) and it was a bit chilly, I decided to forego the bath. Oh well.

So I spent the night relaxing, surfing the net and organizing pictures. I also decided that I wanted to stay one more day in Guangzhou because I had enjoyed wandering around, and wanted to see a bit more of the city. It is so much nicer walking around in 10-15 degree temperatures!

To see all of my pictures from this day, check out my photoblog!

Monday, January 03, 2005

Last Day in Changsha

Sorry, no photos at all for today's entry - I was shopping! There will be lots of photos in the next entry though!

Woke up for our standard buffet breakfast again and then checked out of the hotel and wandered over to Jan’s apartment. Jan got herself organized and then we hit… Micky D’s! Ok, not really Chinese food, but I needed something that wasn’t laden with chili peppers!

After lunch we headed over to Jan’s office and I got myself organized. I had some postcards to mail – luckily I noticed that I hadn’t put the addresses on them before I put them into the mailbox. Once I had mailed my postcards, it was time to go shopping!

Jan had to prepare her lessons for the day so I went across the road to A-best to see what kind of cheap souvenirs I could find. First on my list was snake oil moisturizer. I had bought some at Carrefour in Chongqing (because it had snake oil in it) and I really liked it. I thought it would make good little gifts to give to students and stuff. I have so many people to buy omiyage (Japanese custom of getting souvenirs for everyone they know when they go on vacation) for that I needed small and cheap.

Luckily I found the lotion and off I went to look at other things. I found a green tea cup for Hiroshi – you put the tea down the side into a little compartment, so the tea isn’t floating around, and you won’t swollow it! As I was browsing I found a bag with wheels and a pull out handle for relatively cheap. I ended up buying it because my backpack is packed solid and there is no way I would get anything else in it.

Of course, now that I had a new bag, I needed locks. I finally found them and then had people chase after me when I started walking away. Apparently you are supposed to pay for locks there. Weird. I then thought that maybe I should go back to the second floor to see about whether or not I was supposed to pay for the lotion there or elsewhere. Good think I checked! These little mini-pay counters are interesting. Basically everyone is crowding around, pushing and shoving (there being no such thing as a line in China). You have to be quite aggressive to needle your way in to the front!

I also picked up a few snacks for the train and browsed around and talked myself out of many things that were awesome deals that I didn’t really need. Like a fuzzy Pooh blanket for only US$2! By the time I got myself out of there it was almost time to go to dinner. I ran across the street back to Jan’s office, and it turned out she was starting to get a bit worried. Shopping, what can I say…

We went for dinner at Milo Coffee which Jan often goes to. It was really nice. There were big couches around the tables and it seemed really cozy and relaxed. Good atmosphere! We had a hodgepodge dinner of onion rings (with a sweet honey sauce), pizza and cashew chicken (which was hot!). Pretty good though.

Finally it was time for me to leave. Jan saw me off in a taxi and I made my way to the train station. I arrived uneventfully and figured out what waiting room I was supposed to go to. Well, it was total and complete chaos. The room was about 50m X 50m and was jammed full of people! I had to push my way through to find a spot up against the wall that was marginally better because no one was pushing up against my back.

That is until the beggar arrived. There are a lot of beggars in China. For the most part they are pretty easy to ignore. As long as you don’t make eye contact. When I got out of the taxi a bunch of them ran up to me and shoved their cups in my face but I just kept walking and didn’t acknowledge their existence. They gave up pretty quickly. (This is a corner than Jan warned me about as being really bad).

Well, at the train station, this boy, who was about 12 years old, prostrated himself on the floor and started begging me for money. When I didn’t pay attention to him, he started grabbing at my leg. I eventually said “nothing” in Chinese and that only resulted in pitiful begging and him stroking my knee. It was not a nice experience. Of course all of the Chinese around us were fascinated and just stared at us to see what I would do. Eventually I figured he wasn’t going to stop, so I picked up my bags and wandered back into the seething crowd.

A bit later it was time to line up to get on to the train. In the room were rows and rows of seats. You had to line up in between them which was a bit of a challenge because people had all of their baggage sitting in the aisles, and there were people standing in the aisle because there was no where else to go.

I eventually made it on to the train though and lucked out! I got a compartment with only one other person. Excellent! Of course he spoke no English at all, but that was ok. He offered me disposable slippers to wear and we shared snacks. He also got a DVD player and put on English movies for us to watch. Do I want to admit that I saw Freddy vs. Jason? I think the man was some kind of official or something because when the car manager (don’t know what to call them – each car has a person who makes sure passengers get off, gives them a plastic chit in exchange for their ticket when they board, and other things) came by to check his ID, he just showed his wallet rather than the little ID books that I saw other people have. So who knows. Maybe he was spying on me.

Eventually I tried to fall asleep. The train compartment was really dry though so it was a bit difficult to breath. And I was worried about snoring or drooling or doing some other weird sleeping thing, so it was hard to fall asleep. Overall though the cabin was pretty comfortable, and first class soft sleeper looks like an awesome way to travel China when I come back in the future.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Train Station Nightmare

Sorry - not so many pictures from today

As I still wasn’t feeling that great and wanted to visit a bit more with Jan, I decided to stay one more day in Changsha. After breakfast I went back to bed and had a little nap, and then by 2:00 we were up and at’em.

The first order of business of the day was arranging my train ticket out of Changsha. This only took three hours. First we went to the CAAC office because I thought that would be easier than standing in line at the train station. They didn’t sell train tickets though (only air). So then we went to CITS, after wandering around for a bit, only they didn’t sell train tickets their either. They were able to give me information about what train I wanted though, so that was good. I tried to make a complaint about the lack of heat on our boat down the Yangtze, but they only dealt with complains for the Hunan region.

So then we went to the station to buy the ticket and there was this huge mass of people. I showed my note from CITS to the information booth and they showed me where to stand (there were about 40 lines). Well when I got to the counter the woman kept saying no tickets. I was trying to look up hard sleeper (I wanted soft sleeper with 4 bunks in a room, but soft sleeper with rows of 3 bunks down the length of the car was also ok) in my phrase book, but the woman basically waved me away and started serviing the next customer.

So then Jan and I went across the road to a travel agent. I had decided at this point to skip Guilin because it didn’t seem worth it to just go there for one day. The travel agent gave me some info on trains to Gunagzhou, but all of these arrived in the middle of the night. I wasn’t too thrilled about that as a single female travellling. At one point, the difficulty in communicating with a crap phrase book (no one spoke English) and the lack of available trains finally got to me and I ended up crying like an idiot. Stress release.

The ticket agent wanted to charge 40 yuan for running across the street to buy the ticket for me and I wouldn’t even be able to pick it up until the next day (so wouldn’t know if I even had a ticket), so I just gave up with them and decided to try it again myself. So we dodged through the crazy traffic again and back into the busy ticket area or the train station.

I went back up the information booth and said, “Please help me”. I showed the two people there the information I had on trains (train number, time, date and destination all in Chinese) and they pointed back to the line I had already been in. At this point, Jan noticed that everyone in that line had luggage with them – like there were leaving that day. She suggested that I check to make sure that line wasn’t for same day departure (I wanted the next day). Turns out I needed to be in a different line! Now why couldn’t they have just read the paper properly in the first place??!!! It was written by a Chinese person in Chinese. The whole thing was so frustrating. Especially coming from my experience in Japan where people go out of their way to help you and show you where to go etc. It should not take three hours to buy a train ticket, especially when you have the information that you need written in Chinese.

Anyway, we finally got in the right line and I was able to buy a ticket to Guangzhou. It arrived at 4:30 in the morning, but I didn’t really have any other choice,. At least I got a ticket, and was able to book in soft sleeper.

So after that stressful experience, I said “I need ice cream!”, so we walked to a coffee shop near the station and ordered coffee. I also ordered the banana boat for us to share. It was really funny because when it came, it was actually made up to look like a boat!

After distressing with coffee and ice cream, we went to look at the embroidery shop. It was amazing! There were things on the wall that looked like pictures, but they were actually embroidery. I only bought a silk handkerchief because I don’t have anywhere to hang an embroidered picture. And while they were quite nice, out of context they may have just looked tacky.

By this point the restaurant that we wanted to try was hopping with people (we had stopped by before and it was dead) so we went for dinner. The restaurant is called The Fire Palace and it serves Hunanese food. I thought it would be a good place to try because the waitresses walk around with carts of different types of food on them, and you just pick and choose what you want. A great way to try several different dishes and actually see what it is before ordering!

Pretty much as soon as we sat down the carts started coming by and we got a whole bunch of food – chili pepper shrimp, chili pepper sliced potatos, chili pepper konnyaku noodles (can you see a theme here?), dim sum dumplings and stinky tofu. I took one bite of the stinky tofu and hated it. It had this really sour spice in it that you can smell everywhere in Changsha. The smell on the street makes me a bit nauseous, so eating it wasn’t much better. Jan ate a whole piece though! Go Jan! We also got fresh fruit juice. My orange one was good, but Jan got the watermelon one which totally rocked! I was trying to think of ways I could steal it from her!

After dinner we went for a long walk down the main strip. I think we walked halfway back to our hotel before we got a cab. (Too cold and needed to pee!). Back at the hotel we just relaxed, checked e-mail and masked. Jan got me these cool masks for Christmas. They make your skin really soft! Oh, and I had to do laundry as well – I’ve decided that washing your underwear in the sink sucks. Give me laundry machines any day!

To see the entire 8 pictures I took today, you can check out my photoblog.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Sightseeing in Changsha

This morning we woke up in time to make the breakfast buffet. It had lots of watermelon which I love, so I was happy and got my fill. After breakfast, mom called although the connection was really crappy. We called her back after a bit of frustration (the hotel had to manually switch the call through when you dialed or something). After about 10 minutes of trying, we finally got through. Then I called Hiroshi to say Happy New Year and let him know I was still alive. Then, just as I had hung up the phone, it rang again and it was my sister Jen! That was a really nice surprise because I haven’t talked to her in ages, and I don’t think she has ever called me.

So, after a morning of talking to family on the phone, Jan and I met up with her co-worker Jurgen so we could go to the Hunan Provincial museum. We all hopped into a taxi and made it there uneventfully. At the ticket counter they tried to sell me another ticket. I had to get back in line and get a refund cuz the girl I got it from didn’t seem to understand “I don’t want this one” (which I did with gestures, pointing and the Chinese word for no).

The museum was well presented and had very good English explanations. It was interesting to see all of the things. This museum was mainly artifacts excavated from another tomb. The most amazing to me was the silk. The material was light and delicate and airy – simply amazing. More amazing that something that delicate had survived for so long. Some of it was like thin gauze.

There were also bamboo artifacts still in good condition after 2000 years. These were not so interesting in themselves, but in the fact that they were still whole. In addition there were instruments and cooking vessels and other every day items.

The main attraction at the museum is the corpse. The female ruler of the area was so well preserved that you could see the wrinkles in her skin. Different internal organs had been taken out and put in jars around her – that part wasn’t so interesting. The body was awesome though. Hard to believe it was 2100 years old. She had the thick knees of an elderly person, and you could even see her teeth.

After seeing the corpse we went up to the top floor to look at iron work (boring because I had seen a lot of similar things in Wuhan) and some paintings (scrolls). The paintings were beautiful. They were laid out in terms of time, so it was easy to see how Chinese painting style developed over time.

After the museum we wandered over to the park that was beside it, but made a quick stop at the post office. It took a bit of miming, but eventually I got the proper stamps that I wanted. Some of my postcards had prepaid stamps on them, so I needed less postage for those, and I also wanted some stamps for postcards I didn’t have with me, so it was a bit confusing. In the end it all worked out though and I popped my postcards in the mail.

Martyr’s park is quite large and there were lots of people about. Near the entrance there were zodiac statues made of what I thought were little vials of coloured water. Later in the evening though, they all lit up, so I guess they were really lights. We grabbed a cob of corn from a local vendor and made our way up the steps with zodiac signs towards a tower at the top of the hill.

On the other side of the hill at the bottom there was a large children’s amusement area as well. There were lots of rides and fun things for kids to do, like wall climbing and bouncing on cords. We walked around and Jurgen played a ball shooting game and won a neon green stuffed monkey. The rides themselves looked like carnie rejects, so who knows how safe they actually were.

After wandering through the park, we walked along the lake. There were some pagodas and other structures with Chinese architecture, which were really nice. There was a lot of construction down by the lake because they are building a boardwalk. That will be nice in the summer time. There were also tons of swan boats on the lake, so it looks like it would be a good place to hang out when it is warmer. Jan was envisioning day trips.

After we walked around for a couple hours we hailed a cab back to the hotel and went out for dinner to a Brazillian restaurant with Jan’s co-workers. Mmmm, meat! The food was pretty good, but you can only eat so much meat. I think I like a better balance between the meat and the vegetables. The bacon was awesome though – I haven’t had really bacon in eons, so that was a nice treat. I was dreaming of homemade BLT sandwiches!

After dinner we waddled across the road (dodging through 8 lines of swerving maniacal oncoming traffic – you remember the Atari game Frogger?) and went back to the hotel and played a couple games of Scattergories. We also lent our bathtub to Jurgen and Jan’s roommate Kim (separately) because they don’t have bathtubs in their apartments. Once everyone left, Jan and I just gabbed away some more before going to bed.

To see all my photos from this day, check out my photoblog!