Thursday, October 17, 2013

We're Back...China was GREAT!

Kristen says...

Well, we had a wonderful 4-day weekend, in Hong Kong!

Neither Chris nor I had ever been to China before, but I lived for a while in the UK, so I was interested to see what was leftover from British rule...
Post office box with ERII
Looking the "wrong way" on the roads
 And then there were the things that were so clearly Chinese influenced:
Fish drying on the side of the road...
Those poor ducks look uncomfortable...
And of course the carryovers that have been given their own Hong Kong flavor (literally):
Hong Kong Style Milk Tea on the right, English style milk tea on the left...yummy!

We had a lot of fun on our first day exploring the city.
We saw the Man Mo Temple:
(under construction, unfortunately)
More lanterns and incense burners
Shrine within the temple
Markets: Food market, Temple Street Night Market, Fabric floor at the Western Market:

Parks: Possession Point and Hong Kong Park
Chris on the foot reflexology pad in Possession Point
Tai Chi in Hong Kong Park
Flagstaff Museum of Teaware in Hong Kong Park
View from the Hong Kong Park
We were also really excited about some general features of the city:
Trash cans everywhere--Hong Kong was so clean! There were even public litter boxes for dogs!
The only "Western" food chain we have in Vlad is Cinnabon, so I was so very happy to see the Golden Arches...we also ate at Outback Steakhouse and the Hard Rock Cafe. I would have felt guilty if I still lived in the States, but I couldn't pass up a Blooming Onion!!
We even managed to catch an Iowa State game on TV!! (it was a rerun, and unfortunately they lost, but...still. Good times!)

Later that day we met up with some State Department friends from Honduras who are now stationed just a few hours away from Hong Kong in China. We decided to take advantage of the Columbus Day weekend (and my 30th birthday!), as well as a direct flight from Vlad to HK to see them and meet their adorable son! This was our second birthday-weekend international trip with them, and it was GREAT to see them again!!

The next day we all traveled together to the Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery, which are located just outside the city.

Before you get there you pass through, of all things, an outlet mall...
Funny, we found the Chris store!
One of only two pictures of Chris and I during this trip...oops!
 Then you have the choice to take the bus or a gondola up the mountain.

We arrived to got up in the early afternoon, which of course was peak tourist time, so we opted for the shorter line of the bus. It was maybe a 30 minute trip, so nothing terrible, and we got to see some nice beaches and pretty countryside. It actually reminded all of us of our time in Honduras!

Once you arrive at the top you walk through a courtyard of statues featuring gods of different times of the day, as well as different Chinese years. Chris and I are "Year of the Boar," so here is our god:
Picture 2 of us...and that's it! :)
 Unfortunately the Monastery was closed for refurbishment but we were still able to go up and see the world's largest outdoor Buddha:
You can see how amazing the Monastery will be in just a few months...such vivid colors!
It was a loooong way up...and pretty warm, too!

A shrine between the Monastery and the Buddha
We were there at just the wrong time of day for the lighting, but it was still really spectacular to see.
The crowds were a bit thinner on the way back down, so we opted for the gondola trip...and not just any gondola, but a glass-bottomed one!

One of our last views of the Buddha...amazing
The gondola was definitely worth the price of admission!
 The next day we hopped the plane back to Vlad (and had to endure about a 40° temperature drop upon arrival...brrr!! It really is fall here in Vlad!) but we had a wonderful long weekend in China!
The view from the 32nd Floor
It looks like we might have some more international travel coming up in the coming weeks...I'll keep you posted, and hopefully have some more fun information from Vladivostok soon, too! :)


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