Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And What Are You Supposed To Be?

Happy Halloween! Beijing got the jump on all you slow movers out there and got the Halloween festivities going. I went with the Hella Hyphy King outfit, which quickly got translated into the King of Harbin or the Motel 8 King because of the bathrobe. Any excuse to wear my new stunna shades. Halloween was a blast but China is still a little behind in adopting the holiday. Everyone changed into their costumes right before the party - except me. Anyway, some photos of the party below.

Going dumb.

Revelers. Peter was doing it big with the Rastafarian outfit. He admitted to me that he used to wear such clothing on days other than Halloween.

Get your game face on.

This is me winning - short roots and all.

I don't know what Kunan was supposed to be but it cracked me the hell up. Hope everyone enjoys their Halloween. No party in the Castro I hear this year although the wife and I haven't been in a couple years. It got a little rough around the edges the past few. No costume contest win this year - I would have felt pretty sad for the contest if I had won.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pandas: Vicious Killers or Notorious Snugglers?

Here are some shots from Chengdu where we stopped for a couple days before flying into Tibet. One of the things to do in Chengdu is the Panda research and breeding facility - so we did that. It was pretty cool, there were pandas. It was also a little weird. The detail that they went into with regard to the breeding process was a bit extreme. I mean, I watch as much National Geographic channel as the next guy, but I don't need to see all that. The pandas were rad. My sister described them as "freaking cute" and this seems pretty accurate.
Halloween is coming and costume pickins is slim in Beijing. We went to shop for costumes today and it was mildly successful but the costumes were a little generic. I think I have wimped out of my Chinese pop star costume, the haircut commitment is too severe.
Anyway, pandas.

This one looks angry, I don't think it was but then again, what the hell do I know?

Lazy pandas. Apparently all the pandas do is eat bamboo and sleep. Well, and then sometimes they are apparently artificially inseminated. These are the sleeping photos.

Not pandas but equally as cute.


These are the eating photos. I showed one of my coworkers the photos and she said that the pandas were too dirty. She was right. Take a bath hippies.

Yeah, Kia talked me into this one. I think it kind of looks like the panda is throwing me up.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bangkok Got a Big Old Buddha

Beijing is getting colder everywhere except my desk - for some reason it has been unbearably hot the last couple days. Things are copasetic here. Busy at work but and looking forward to the weekend. Trying to figure out my Halloween costume. There was some talk of being a Chinese pop star but I am not sure if I am willing to commit to the haircut/facial hair required for such an endeavor.
Here are some photos from Bangkok. I have mixed feelings about Bangkok. In some ways it was fantastic - good food, great sites, locals were nice - but in other ways it was obnoxious - foreign tourists.

This was a statue at the Grand Palace - note the guy's leg on the left for scale.

I love goooold!

You can kind of see the top of somebody's head on the bottom left. The Buddha was huge, scary huge. The feet were amazing - inlaid with mother of pearl.
Looking forward to hearing what people are doing for Halloween,

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Laos - Luang Prabang

Got back to Beijing on Saturday evening. Kia was supposed to fly out on Sunday at around noon but that didn't happen because their was a marathon that day and we were stuck in the Haidian district of Beijing. Literally stuck. The only people we saw coming in and out were walking off of the freeway on-ramp. Anyway, it worked out and she took the flight the next day. I'm readjusting to work and trying to shake the illness that I am assuming was brought on by lack of sleep and oxygen in Tibet.
Working through the photos that I haven't shared yet and Luang Prabang is next on the list. We spent around three days in Luang Prabang and did a couple of trips out of the city to a waterfall and to the Buddha cave.

Lots of Monks in Luang Prabang, more young monks than we saw in other places like Tibet. Lots of little kids in their robes and carrying umbrellas.

One of the Wats we went to.

Waterfall photos. The waterfall trip was fun but we decided to climb to the top of the waterfall along this path. It turns out that you have to walk through part of the waterfall to get there and by the time you get half way up, you just kind of have to complete the trip. Long story short, much more wet, muddy and without one flip flop, I made it back with a couple of photos. The lack of flip flop meant I had to walk back to the car with one flip flop on and purchase a pair of hilariously horrible flip flops from a vendor who has found an uber-niche market at the bottom of the waterfall trail.

Ride to the Buddha cave and the cave itself.

One more shot in Luang Prabang.

This was our ride to the airport. This is the only ride I will be accepting to/from the airport going forward.
Things are going alright here in China. Getting back into my routine. Liz was in town for about 24 hours and we got to have dinner together which was nice. She is headed back to the states after over a year in Asia. Good for her.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Yak Butter is Fonky

Kia and I are wrapping up our Chengdu/Tibet trip, heading back to Beijing tomorrow afternoon. Its been a blast. Tibet has been a little tough with the altitude and the temperatures fluctuate a fair amount depending on whether the sun is blasting you or not. I even got sun through my long sleeved shirt the UV rays are that strong. Its been beautiful though. Lots of touring temples, monasteries and insanely blue skies. Tons of photos to share. Looking forward to catching up with everyone.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Angkor Wat

Here are some photos from Cambodia. We spent a few days in Siem Reap and one of the days we spent at Angkor Wat touring around. It was hot, humid, sweaty and absolutely amazing. Lots of history in the photos which I won't try to explain, if you are interested check out the Wikipedia article on Angkor Wat.

I have tons more photos which I will sort out and post on my web album when I have a bit more time. Kia and I have been in Beijing for the last three days. Me, catching up on work and Kia, getting us ready for our next trip to Chengdu and then Lhasa. Hope things are kosher with everyone.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Video Games

So this little Thai kid next to me at the internet cafe/coffee house is playing some rad games. Some kind of online Transformers game which is loud as all get out. He also has half a bag of Ruffles hanging out of his mouth. I think he's not aloud to eat them while he plays.
Anyway, Kia and I are in Chiang Mai and its raining on and off. We have been exploring the city which has been fairly entertaining. It is way more my pace than Bangkok was. If other people have been to Kho San Road I would be interested in comparing notes. For me it was kind of like the worst combination of Cancun and Haight Street possible.
The weather in Chiang Mai has been conducive to chilling out which has been exactly what I have been looking for.
Back to Beijing the day after tomorrow. The trip has been pretty damn fun so far and I will blast everyone with oodles of photos when I get to a more stable computer with my memory card.

Friday, October 05, 2007

This is Why I'm Hot

Kia and I are in Bangkok and it is equally as sweaty as Laos and Cambodia. Kia says its not as hot, I respectfully disagree by sweating through my clothes instantaniously. Alaskans were not bred for tropical heat and lava temperature curries (but damn, they are tasty). Tomorrow we head for Chiang Mai where we plan to take it relatively easy and maybe go hang out with some elephants. Awww yeah.
Saw my sister and her friend Erin a couple days ago. They were on their way south to sit on the beach near the border of Malaysia (truly Asia). I told them to look up Kunan when they got there.
Back to Beijing in a few days, meaning back to work. Vacation has been a blast but I am looking forward to my own (kind of) bed. We are turning around, hopefully - pending entrance permits, to Tibet a few days after getting to Beijing. Whew, busy month.
Hope all is well with everyone. Drop me a line if you get a chance.
Matthew (and Kia)